Apparently there are certain concepts that escape us if not repeated at least a thousand times. Proverbs seems to think so. Yet again, in today’s reading, we are reminded that wisdom is shown when we are patient and slow to act or speak. Foolishness is rash and fast moving and fails to think things through. I know I could stand to hear this message on repeat. How about you?
2 Samuel 1:1-2:11:
- 11-16 – It seems very harsh to us that David kills the young Amalekite who, seemingly, was merciful to a dying Saul. David had deep regard for Saul as the anointed one of God and did not see it as the Amalekite’s job to kill him.
- 1 – David was faithful in seeking God’s guidance before he would make moves.
- 4 – David is now officially king over Judah. He needed for Saul and his sons to die and to be anointed. Now both have happened.
- 4-7 – The men of Jabesh-gilead were the ones who took Saul’s body back from the Philistines after the Philistines tortured and dishonored it. David greatly appreciated this because it was honoring to God’s anointed, Saul.
- 8-11 – One son of Saul was still alive, Ish-bosheth. A portion of the Israelites follow Ish-bosheth as their king, but the majority follow David.
- 23-24 – Jesus knew that in order to conquer sin and for his mission to multiply, he had to die.
- 29 – This is the second recording of God speaking audibly directly to or about Jesus. The first is during his baptism.
- 34-36 – The people could not understand how he could be the Christ and die since their law said the Christ would live forever. They couldn’t reconcile the two. Jesus simply encourages them to follow him while he’s still there.
- 42-43 – A very convicting passage. Too often we care more about what others think than what pleases God.
- 22 – This verse is later applied to Jesus. He was rejected, but ultimately our faith was built on him.
- 24 – A popular, very quotable verse reminding us that each day is a gift from God and should be given back to him with praise.
- 28 – The continual theme in Proverbs of wisdom being slow and thoughtful is repeated here.
Mary, in every story she’s mentioned in, is completely devoted to Jesus. Nothing seems to be able to separate her from spending time with her Lord. In today’s John reading she’s even criticized for being too extravagant towards Jesus. Don’t hear Jesus’ reply as saying we shouldn’t serve and care for the poor. Instead, hear his reminder that our devotion to Christ should be paramount. If that is true, good works will be a given.
1 Samuel 29:1-31:13:
- 1-6 – While David and the men were away from their villages, Negeb and Ziklag, the Amalekites, a perpetual enemy of the Israelites, took all the women and children captive. David’s men were furious with him when they returned. As a point of connection, the Amalekites were the people Saul was supposed to destroy completely but didn’t, which was why he was rejected as king.
- 7-8 – David, unlike Saul, is faithful in asking God what he wants him to do before he does anything.
- 9-25 – David’s men who were too exhausted stayed behind and didn’t fight. Interesting that Scripture refers to the men who, after their victory, didn’t want to return the exhausted men’s property to them, “wicked and worthless.” These were greedy men who wanted the credit for their hard work and to punish those who couldn’t fight that particular battle. David did not go for their proposition.
- 1-7 – As was prophesied, Saul and all his sons died in one day. The Philistines seem to be in complete power at this point.
- 8-10 – Because the Philistines couldn’t capture Saul alive, they torture and dishonor his corpse.
- 11-13 – Normally burning a body would be seen as shameful, but it may have been done so the Philistines could not find him and take him back. The bodies weren’t completely burned because, later, David takes Saul and Jonathan’s bones and buries them in their family burial plot.
- 1-8 – This story is mentioned when Jesus raises Lazarus from the dead even though it is written to have occurred after that. Mary is known for her devotion to Jesus and has great reason to be considering he raised her brother from the dead. Many people question why Judas’ comments are dismissed since they sound pretty valid, but he actually had no intention of helping the poor with the money. He wanted it himself.
- 12-15 – Though brief in this gospel, the Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem, which we call Palm Sunday, is one of few stories included in all four gospels. “Hosanna” means “save us”. The people of Jerusalem, who will soon have him killed, cry out for Jesus to save them. The donkey colt fulfilled a prophesy of the Messiah.
- 5-6 – Cause and effect. I cry out to the Lord. The Lord comes through. I now have increased faith in God’s protection for me. This is how our faith should work yet we so often forget the great things he does for us.
- 18 – A great perspective! Sometimes we endure consequences, but this doesn’t mean that God has forsaken or rejected us.
- 25 – Pride normally means we rely on ourselves but wisdom tells us the Lord is the only one we can rely on. Everything else crumbles.
If you need a reason to jump back into our daily readings, this week will give it to you. We’re starting 2 new books! One today, and one on Friday!
In the Old Testament, we’re finishing out Judges and beginning Ruth. In Judges, you will read about a very famous judge named Samson. Samson was known for his strength, but it’s also noteworthy that he’s a Nazirite. This is a special form of priest – John the Baptist was one too – who holds strictly to certain standards. Nazirites didn’t drink alcohol, cut their hair, come in contact with dead things, and much more.
And Ruth is a fascinating book! If you want to learn what it means to be loyal or see how God can use anyone, even if they seemingly have nothing to offer, this is the right book for you. Ruth is also one of only two books with a female lead character, so pump up “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” and get to reading.
And today we get to start the final gospel, John. John is very different from the other three gospels, which tend to share stories and sound somewhat similar. John uses more poetic language. It even begins with a brief poem. Here are a few things to notice in John:
- A “beloved disciple” is mentioned frequently. It’s assumed this “beloved disciple” is John, but no one knows for sure
- There is no narrative of Jesus’ birth, but he is introduced as “the Word”
- Jesus makes a number of statements attempting to define himself that start with the words, “I am…”
Note also in your Proverbs readings this week the continued emphasis on acting and speaking slowly and avoiding rash decisions. This isn’t always natural for us, but it is wise.
Keep up the good reading! We’re already at Week 18! Before we know it, we’ll be half way finished!!
Do you find yourself saying the same thing over and over in prayer? It’s fine if there’s a specific, ongoing prayer request, but what about the fairly meaningless fillers? Do you tend to drone on and on without a whole lot of meaning or thought behind it? Why not try to pray like Psalm 98:1 encourages us to? Try to offer God a new praise for each new blessing you receive. You will end up feeling much more connected to him through prayer.
- 2-8 – The Midianites were a powerful fighting nation, but God only sent Gideon with 300 men to fight them because he did not want them to be able to say that they defeated Midian by their own power. This sounds extreme, but it is extremely easy to believe we succeed on our own power.
- 20-25 – The trumpets and jars were used to scare the Midianite army into fleeing and God blessed the Israelites’ swords as they pursued the Midianites.
- 4-9 – The men of Succoth and Penuel did not believe that Gideon would defeat the kings of Midian so they refused to help the Israelite army. Because of this Gideon explains that he will repay them once he overtakes the Midianite kings.
- 18-25 – It was custom for Pilate to release one prisoner at Passover. The crowds chose a murderer and asked that Jesus still be killed even though no fault was found in him.
- 27 – Not everyone had turned against Jesus. He still had a faithful following who were distraught over his impending death.
- 28-31 – Jesus is saying that if these people will reject and crucify Jesus when he’s on earth, how much less will they honor him when he’s not present. In a way he’s saying, it would be better to not even have children than to have to watch them dishonor Christ so greatly.
- 34 – Even when he’s about to be crucified, he’s still offering forgiveness.
- 43 – An unlikely candidate, this is the only person, other than the disciples, Jesus explicitly tells that they will be in heaven with him.
- 1 – Though God loves to hear our prayers, it seemingly would honor him more if we offer new praise with each blessing instead of a generic blanket prayer for all our blessings.
- 4-9 – We can all find a joyful song to sing in praise to God. Even the oceans and rivers have their way of praising. No matter what ours sounds like, we should make a joyful noise to God.
- 8 – Our wisdom is not simply for good looks or just convenient. Our wisdom should be used to discern where God is calling us and where we should go.
Today’s Luke, Psalm, and Proverbs reading all have a similar theme. There is wise instruction, which would offer protection, but the hearer refuses to listen. In the Prodigal Son parable, the young man squanders his inheritance and leaves his father’s home. In the psalm, the Israelites are finally allowed to feel the consequences of their wayward ways, and the proverb reminds us that when we are wise we listen to the faithful instruction of those who love us. Seems like God might be trying to tell some of us something…
- 1 – Clearly other nations had heard of the power of the God of Israel. Though they worshipped other gods, they knew of the wonders God had performed.
- 10-12 – A powerful illustration that God provides for us in different ways, but he always provides.
- 15 – The parallels between Joshua and Moses continue. When God called Moses from the burning bush, he also told Moses to take off his shoes because he was on holy ground.
- 1-25 – Joshua toppling the walls of Jericho is a fairly familiar story, but often we don’t know why or when it happened. Now we see that Jericho was part of the Promised Land that Israel was to take it over.
- 25 – Phrases like, “to this day” in Scripture remind us that the stories of the Bible were told by actual people about actual events. This culture had an oral tradition meaning they passed down their history and faith through telling stories to one another. These stories were repeated again and again. Clearly, when the book of Joshua was written down, Rahab was still living under Israelite protection.
- The three parables in this section all have to do with God’s willingness to pursue anyone who is sinning and straying. It also describes the joy that occurs when anyone repents from their sins and chooses to follow Christ.
- 12 – This is the younger son basically telling his father he wishes he was dead because inheritances were not normally distributed until the father was dead.
- 15-16 – This would have been detestable to the Jews listening to Jesus because Jews viewed pigs as unclean animals.
- 22 – The ring the story speaks of is a family ring designating that the son is fully embraced back into the family.
- 11-32 – This familiar parable, often called, “The Prodigal Son,” is easy to relate to. A wayward child sins and then returns and is welcomed back by a gracious, loving father. The older, faithful brother is angry because the younger son’s shortcomings are seemingly being celebrated simply because he’s returned home. It is easy for us to relate to the father or the younger son. It is hard for us to relate to the older son, though most likely, that’s the role that many of us play.
- 12 – It is explained that God finally gave the Israelites what they wanted. They didn’t want to obey God’s commands, but they didn’t think about how that meant God could no longer protect them. This is like when a parent finally allows their disobedient child to experience the consequences of their actions.
- This Proverb relates perfectly to the parable of the Prodigal Son as well as the Psalm. Both the father to the son and God to the Israelites gave wise counsel on how to live. They had the choice to listen or to choose their own way. When we choose our own way, we suffer the consequences.
There have been a number of famous declarations throughout human history, a personal favorite is the Declaration of Independence, which our forefathers signed in 1776. But in today’s Luke reading, we find a declaration far more significant in the life of one man as well as human history. Peter, one of Jesus’ disciples, is the first of his followers to recognize and vocalize that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah the people were expecting. Each of us, in our own ways, must also make this declaration confessing Jesus as the Christ and as our Savior. If you want to talk about that, let me know.
- 5-6 – Eventually God will choose Jerusalem as the place where the Israelites were to offer Passover sacrifices.
- 21 – Asherah poles were built in homage to another god.
- 2-5 – Keeping the Israelites worship pure was a high priority and taken very seriously.
- Later, when the Israelites actually ask for a king, God says it is because they are rejecting him. They want to be like the other countries around them when God has set them apart to be different.
- 10-17 – This story is also found in Matthew and Mark. Matthew, Mark, and Luke are known as the synoptic gospels. The writers most likely worked from each others accounts to help create their gospels.
- 18-20 – Peter is the first of Jesus’ followers to declare him as the Messiah.
- 23-24 – A powerful image of following after Christ even to the greatest of lengths. It does us no good ultimately to live a good life but never know or follow Christ.
- Solomon was the son of David who took over as king after him. He was known for his wisdom.
- 1-7 – A prayer all leaders should pray.
Moses spends 40 days in the presence of God, fasting the entire time. Jesus, too, completed a 40 day fast. Fasting is a fairly foreign concept to us American consumers. It’s not just about powering through the time and not eating. We are supposed to allow our desire for food, or whatever we’ve given up, to remind us of our need for God. As much as we want food, we want God more.
- 10 – God makes another covenant with Israel.
- God was very explicit not to leave any remnants of other gods in their land so they weren’t tempted to worship them.
- 26 – We are called to give to God off the top. Give to him first before we buy or pay for other things.
- 28 – Jesus also did a 40 day fast.
- 30-35 – It is believed that Moses’ face shone from the glory of the Lord.
- 15-23 – It must have been so hurtful to Jesus that the crowds asked for a criminal to be released instead of him.
- Crucifixion was already a humiliating punishment, but the soldiers saw to it that Jesus was even more humiliated than normal.
- 16-17 – Just like today, people of ancient Israel put their hope in everything but the Lord.
- Wisdom is something we can all gain if willing.
Wisdom is both something we have and something we do.