There are two Sauls in Scripture. The first was the first king in Israel. The second is better known as Paul, which he was called after his conversion. The second Saul was a persecutor of Christians, a devout and learned Jew, and was at least partially responsible for having the first Christian martyr killed. Soon we’ll read about his commitment to and leadership in spreading the gospel. Isn’t it incredible how God can redeem anyone?
1 Kings 8:1-66:
- 1-11 – The temple is finally built and the priests move the Ark of the Covenant into the Holy Place of the temple, representing God’s presence. This must have been such a exciting, emotional time for all the Israelites.
- 20-21 – The Israelites were promised particular land when they left Egypt. Since then, they had wandered for years, and then fought over the land and other things for years. Now they were finally at peace and where they belonged. This ceremony solidified God’s promises being fulfilled.
- 25 – Clearly David sinned, so God was obviously not setting the bar at perfection. He was simply asking kings to follow him. Many chose not to.
- 27-53 – A beautiful prayer from Solomon asking God for favor, mercy, forgiveness, and protection. He clearly loves God and loves his people.
- 57-58 – God does not force us to choose or follow him. When we allow it, he can draw us to him or incline our hearts toward him, which makes it easier to follow him.
- 51-53 – Stephen is addressing a Jewish audience, which is why he speaks of their fathers not listening to the prophets. Saying they have uncircumcised hearts and ears would directly accuse them of not being God’s people. Circumcision was part of their culture and identity as Jews.
- 58 – This is the same Saul who becomes Paul. The Jews laying their garments at Saul’s feet shows that he was heavily involved in Stephen’s death.
- 60 – Stephen was the first martyr for Christ.
- 1 – The early Christians were scattered around 70 A.D. when the temple was destroyed.
- 3 – Saul was a terrifying persecutor of Christians. He was a devout Jew.
- This psalm denounces anyone who is against Israel and specifically Jerusalem.
- Though many of us seek wealth for our families, peace is a far greater blessing.
Both our 1 Kings reading and our Psalm are about Solomon and the temple today. This makes me think of how much the Bible connects with itself. Have you noticed it? In the Psalms they talk about God parting the waters and saving the Israelites from the Egyptians. In the gospels Jesus and John the Baptist quote Isaiah. Genealogies continually confirm the stories we’ve previously heard. When you notice one of these things, let it remind you that God is consistently giving you nods that he is real and his word can be trusted.
1 Kings 5:1-6:38:
- 5 – Note that when David was in power, he wanted to build a house for God but God stopped him because that was not what he was calling David to.
- King Solomon’s temple most likely looked something like this:
- This entire section is a recap of the history between Abraham and Moses. Stephen is proving that he knows the Israelite history and is not blaspheming against God or Moses.
- Note that this psalm is written by Solomon.
- 1 – Meaning that all our efforts are only fruitful if blessed by the Lord. It can also be attributed specifically to the temple, or house of the Lord, Solomon built.
- 3-5 – Children, particularly sons, were seen as direct blessings from God. Barrenness was often seen as having been forgotten by God.
- This explains the destructiveness of evil intent and actions.
In my old age I’ve learned a few things. One is that it is far better to humble yourself than to have someone else do it for you. Our Proverb reminds us of that today. It says “humility comes before honor”. Maybe today, instead of tooting your own horn, take a humble position on your skills, abilities, or possessions. If someone honors you anyway, great! I know I’d rather be lifted up than give someone a reason to smack me down.
2 Samuel 7:1-8:18:
- 1-17 – David felt guilty that his house was nicer than God’s. He intended to build a temple, but God doesn’t want him to. God also establishes a covenant with David and his son who will be king after him. God promises to keep David’s line in the throne forever.
- 18-29 – David humbly accepts God’s blessing of his house.
- 15-17 – Jesus is telling the disciples that the Lord will send the Holy Spirit to counsel and guide believers when Jesus is no longer on earth.
- 27-29 – It would have been very scary for Jesus to simply leave and the disciples to not understand where he went. He offers them peace and tells them what will soon happen so the completion of what Jesus says will help them believe in his identity even more.
- 37 – How many worthless things are our eyes drawn to?
- The psalmist clearly has great love for God’s word and law. He is committed to them and recognizes how effective they are in leading him to truth and blessings.
- The phrase “humility comes before honor” is reminiscent of Jesus explaining that at a dinner party you should take one of the lesser seats. Often the host will move you to a place of more honor, but if you assume and take a place of honor, often times you will be humbled to a lesser seat.
Though, at the end of today’s reading in John, Jesus is referring to himself as the temple, the actual temple really was destroyed, twice, in fact. In 586 B.C. the temple was destroyed when the Babylonians defeated and deported the Israelites. The Israelites then spent decades in exile. It was rebuilt but then destroyed in 70 A.D., after Jesus’ death, by the Romans. It has yet to be rebuilt. Currently a mosque is on that site and all that remains of the temple is the Western Wall also known as “The Wailing Wall”.
- 11-16 – Samson was known for his incredible strength.
- 18-20 – It is a common theme that Biblical characters have some sort of extreme, miraculous experience with God and then panic and cry out to God for something that seems like an easy fix. God always comes through in both the easy and the hard.
- 4-17 – Clearly Samson is smitten by Delilah because she continually betrays him and tries to trap him into being overtaken by the Philistines even though she acts like he is in the wrong for lying to her about his source of strength.
- 25-30 – Samson’s strength is restored and he’s able to use it to take down thousands of Philistines. His death is seen as honorable and as retribution for how the Philistines treated him.
- 1-11 – This is considered Jesus’ first miracle. It seems clear that Jesus does not feel ready to begin his ministry of miracles.
- 13-17 – In Matthew this story occurs in the last week of Jesus’ ministry, but also during Passover. This story is often referenced when confirming that Jesus felt true human emotions.
- 18-23 – The temple was in fact destroyed after Jesus’ death, in 70 AD, but here, Jesus is referring to himself as the temple.
- A beautiful Psalm. One to focus on in a variety of situations, but particularly as a reminder of God’s abundant grace and great love for us.
- 9-10 – Even though Jesus had not come yet, God still offered grace. Though people received some punishments, the punishment for sin is death, so most Israelites were given the opportunity to repent and receive a second chance.
- 11-12 – A beautiful image of how God does not hold our past sins against us.
- 17 – There are several references in the Proverbs that equate quick decisions with foolishness. This would suggest that steadiness and quality of thought is considered more prudent in almost all cases.
Today we read Luke’s account of Palm Sunday known as The Triumphal Entry. Jesus has been preparing for this day for a large portion of his earthly ministry. On this day, he said “yes” not only to entering into Jerusalem, but also to arrest, betrayal, beatings, and a humiliating death. Here’s a sermon that goes deeper into this concept.
- This passage explains the boundaries and contents of the land each tribe received as an inheritance. The map mentioned in chapter 15 is a helpful visual.
- 28-35 – After 10 chapters of heading towards Jerusalem, Jesus finally enters the city. He rode an unridden colt to fulfill Scripture.
- 36-38 – During this scene, which we celebrate on Palm Sunday, Jesus’ followers are showing him many signs of praise and honor.
- 39-40 – Jesus answers the Pharisees explaining that someone was going to praise him and reveal his identity whether it be his disciples or even if rocks had to do it.
- 41-44 – Jesus is foretelling when the Romans would destroy Jerusalem in 70 A.D.
- 46 – Merchants were selling animals to be used for sacrifices. Jesus did not like that people were seeking to profit off others’ sins.
- Most Psalms, even when lamenting, crying out to God, or feeling forsaken, end with praise, adoration, and a reminder that God is still good and in control. This is one of the few that does not.
- 13-14 – These verses explain the benefit of God’s word and wisdom. God does not simply want us to grow in these things as busy work, but because they are life-giving and necessary.
Heaven and earth: though we’re not there yet, the goal is for them to be one in the same. See what the Bible says about them:
“Too much of a good thing can hurt you” is true of God’s holiness too. Check out why: