Together, we serve
to know Christ
and to make Christ known
for the glory of God

8 August 2020

Hebrews 10:19-25

19 Therefore, brothers and sisters, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, 20 by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, his body, 21 and since we have a great priest over the house of God, 22 let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. 23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on towards love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Prayer: 

7 August 2020

Proverbs 12:18

The words of the reckless pierce like swords,
    but the tongue of the wise brings healing.

We need to understand the consequence of our rash words which we speak without giving consideration to the person to whom we are speaking. Rash words are the ones we speak in anger. They are the flippant remarks we make. They are the speaking my mind words and the I say what I think words. Understand that whatever the intent may be, the effect is that of thrusting a sword into another person’s spirit.

Saying that a person shouldn’t be so sensitive with your remark is the same as saying that he ought to wear armor for his clothing. It is placing the onus on the other person to handle better your rashness. What needs to happen is for you to learn to speak thoughtfully.

That is how the wise speak, and that is why their words bring healing. They think how their speech will actually be received. Like the doctor who checks to see what his patient may be allergic to before he prescribes medication, so the wise person observes in the other person what speech his is capable of receiving.
Of course, the presumption being made is that the wise person desires to heal. That ultimately is the difference between rash speech and wise speech. The former does not care to heal; the latter does. Once you have the right motive, you will find your rash speech declining and your wisdom growing.

 

1 Kings 8

Then King Solomon summoned into his presence at Jerusalem the elders of Israel, all the heads of the tribes and the chiefs of the Israelite families, to bring up the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Zion, the City of David. All the Israelites came together to King Solomon at the time of the festival in the month of Ethanim, the seventh month.

When all the elders of Israel had arrived, the priests took up the ark, and they brought up the ark of the Lord and the tent of meeting and all the sacred furnishings in it. The priests and Levites carried them up, and King Solomon and the entire assembly of Israel that had gathered about him were before the ark, sacrificing so many sheep and cattle that they could not be recorded or counted.

The priests then brought the ark of the Lord’s covenant to its place in the inner sanctuary of the temple, the Most Holy Place, and put it beneath the wings of the cherubim. The cherubim spread their wings over the place of the ark and overshadowed the ark and its carrying poles. These poles were so long that their ends could be seen from the Holy Place in front of the inner sanctuary, but not from outside the Holy Place; and they are still there today. There was nothing in the ark except the two stone tablets that Moses had placed in it at Horeb, where the Lord made a covenant with the Israelites after they came out of Egypt.

10 When the priests withdrew from the Holy Place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord11 And the priests could not perform their service because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled his temple.

12 Then Solomon said, ‘The Lord has said that he would dwell in a dark cloud; 13 I have indeed built a magnificent temple for you, a place for you to dwell for ever.’

14 While the whole assembly of Israel was standing there, the king turned round and blessed them. 15 Then he said:

‘Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who with his own hand has fulfilled what he promised with his own mouth to my father David. For he said, 16 “Since the day I brought my people Israel out of Egypt, I have not chosen a city in any tribe of Israel to have a temple built so that my Name might be there, but I have chosen David to rule my people Israel.”

17 ‘My father David had it in his heart to build a temple for the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 18 But the Lord said to my father David, “You did well to have it in your heart to build a temple for my Name. 19 Nevertheless, you are not the one to build the temple, but your son, your own flesh and blood – he is the one who will build the temple for my Name.”

20 ‘The Lord has kept the promise he made: I have succeeded David my father and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the Lord promised, and I have built the temple for the Name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 21 I have provided a place there for the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord that he made with our ancestors when he brought them out of Egypt.’

Solomon’s prayer of dedication

22 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the whole assembly of Israel, spread out his hands towards heaven 23 and said:

Lord, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below – you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way. 24 You have kept your promise to your servant David my father; with your mouth you have promised and with your hand you have fulfilled it – as it is today.

25 ‘Now Lord, the God of Israel, keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him when you said, “You shall never fail to have a successor to sit before me on the throne of Israel, if only your descendants are careful in all they do to walk before me faithfully as you have done.” 26 And now, God of Israel, let your word that you promised your servant David my father come true.

27 ‘But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! 28 Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day. 29 May your eyes be open towards this temple night and day, this place of which you said, “My Name shall be there,” so that you will hear the prayer your servant prays towards this place. 30 Hear the supplication of your servant and of your people Israel when they pray towards this place. Hear from heaven, your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.

31 ‘When anyone wrongs their neighbour and is required to take an oath and they come and swear the oath before your altar in this temple, 32 then hear from heaven and act. Judge between your servants, condemning the guilty by bringing down on their heads what they have done, and vindicating the innocent by treating them in accordance with their innocence.

33 ‘When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, 34 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their ancestors.

35 ‘When the heavens are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and when they pray towards this place and give praise to your name and turn from their sin because you have afflicted them, 36 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them the right way to live, and send rain on the land you gave your people for an inheritance.

37 ‘When famine or plague comes to the land, or blight or mildew, locusts or grasshoppers, or when an enemy besieges them in any of their cities, whatever disaster or disease may come, 38 and when a prayer or plea is made by anyone among your people Israel – being aware of the afflictions of their own hearts, and spreading out their hands towards this temple – 39 then hear from heaven, your dwelling-place. Forgive and act; deal with everyone according to all they do, since you know their hearts (for you alone know every human heart), 40 so that they will fear you all the time they live in the land you gave our ancestors.

41 ‘As for the foreigner who does not belong to your people Israel but has come from a distant land because of your name – 42 for they will hear of your great name and your mighty hand and your outstretched arm – when they come and pray towards this temple, 43 then hear from heaven, your dwelling-place. Do whatever the foreigner asks of you, so that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your own people Israel, and may know that this house I have built bears your Name.

44 ‘When your people go to war against their enemies, wherever you send them, and when they pray to the Lord towards the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name, 45 then hear from heaven their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause.

46 ‘When they sin against you – for there is no one who does not sin – and you become angry with them and give them over to their enemies, who take them captive to their own lands, far away or near; 47 and if they have a change of heart in the land where they are held captive, and repent and plead with you in the land of their captors and say, “We have sinned, we have done wrong, we have acted wickedly”; 48 and if they turn back to you with all their heart and soul in the land of their enemies who took them captive, and pray to you towards the land you gave their ancestors, towards the city you have chosen and the temple I have built for your Name; 49 then from heaven, your dwelling-place, hear their prayer and their plea, and uphold their cause. 50 And forgive your people, who have sinned against you; forgive all the offences they have committed against you, and cause their captors to show them mercy; 51 for they are your people and your inheritance, whom you brought out of Egypt, out of that iron-smelting furnace.

52 ‘May your eyes be open to your servant’s plea and to the plea of your people Israel, and may you listen to them whenever they cry out to you. 53 For you singled them out from all the nations of the world to be your own inheritance, just as you declared through your servant Moses when you, Sovereign Lord, brought our ancestors out of Egypt.’

54 When Solomon had finished all these prayers and supplications to the Lord, he rose from before the altar of the Lord, where he had been kneeling with his hands spread out towards heaven. 55 He stood and blessed the whole assembly of Israel in a loud voice, saying:

56 ‘Praise be to the Lord, who has given rest to his people Israel just as he promised. Not one word has failed of all the good promises he gave through his servant Moses. 57 May the Lord our God be with us as he was with our ancestors; may he never leave us nor forsake us. 58 May he turn our hearts to him, to walk in obedience to him and keep the commands, decrees and laws he gave our ancestors. 59 And may these words of mine, which I have prayed before the Lord, be near to the Lord our God day and night, that he may uphold the cause of his servant and the cause of his people Israel according to each day’s need, 60 so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the Lord is God and that there is no other. 61 And may your hearts be fully committed to the Lord our God, to live by his decrees and obey his commands, as at this time.’

The dedication of the temple

62 Then the king and all Israel with him offered sacrifices before the Lord63 Solomon offered a sacrifice of fellowship offerings to the Lord: twenty-two thousand cattle and a hundred and twenty thousand sheep and goats. So the king and all the Israelites dedicated the temple of the Lord.

64 On that same day the king consecrated the middle part of the courtyard in front of the temple of the Lord, and there he offered burnt offerings, grain offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings, because the bronze altar that stood before the Lord was too small to hold the burnt offerings, the grain offerings and the fat of the fellowship offerings.

65 So Solomon observed the festival at that time, and all Israel with him – a vast assembly, people from Lebo Hamath to the Wadi of Egypt. They celebrated it before the Lord our God for seven days and seven days more, fourteen days in all. 66 On the following day he sent the people away. They blessed the king and then went home, joyful and glad in heart for all the good things the Lord had done for his servant David and his people Israel.

6 August 2020

Proverbs 12:17

An honest witness tells the truth,
    but a false witness tells lies.

The two lines seem redundant, but the focus appears to be on the end result of each person. The truth speaker gives honest evidence. Don’t you feel good by that expression honest evidence? Your inner sense of justice is aroused, even you aesthetic sense of beauty. Honest evidence yes, this is right; this is good. That is what truth does it brings forth rightness and goodness.

But deceit the very sound of the word causes you to recoil. You hate lying; you hate the attempt of another person to deceive you. And that is the intent of the false witness. Whether for gain or protection, he wants to cover, to distort honest evidence for his own benefit. He takes what is right and good, and then covers it with what is repugnant and ugly.
That is what we do when we lie. We utter deceit, covering over honest evidence. That is what ministers do who use their pulpits to cover over the honest evidence of Scripture. That is what we Christians do when we speak and act like persons without the gospel in our lives. Remember, we ourselves are to be honest evidence of the gospel. Let us be those who both give honest evidence and exhibit honest evidence.

 

1 Kings 7

It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace. He built the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon a hundred cubits long, fifty wide and thirty high,[a] with four rows of cedar columns supporting trimmed cedar beams. It was roofed with cedar above the beams that rested on the columns – forty-five beams, fifteen to a row. Its windows were placed high in sets of three, facing each other. All the doorways had rectangular frames; they were in the front part in sets of three, facing each other.[b]

He made a colonnade fifty cubits long and thirty wide.[c] In front of it was a portico, and in front of that were pillars and an overhanging roof.

He built the throne hall, the Hall of Justice, where he was to judge, and he covered it with cedar from floor to ceiling.[d] And the palace in which he was to live, set farther back, was similar in design. Solomon also made a palace like this hall for Pharaoh’s daughter, whom he had married.

All these structures, from the outside to the great courtyard and from foundation to eaves, were made of blocks of high-grade stone cut to size and smoothed on their inner and outer faces. 10 The foundations were laid with large stones of good quality, some measuring ten cubits[e] and some eight.[f] 11 Above were high-grade stones, cut to size, and cedar beams. 12 The great courtyard was surrounded by a wall of three courses of dressed stone and one course of trimmed cedar beams, as was the inner courtyard of the temple of the Lord with its portico.

The temple’s furnishings

13 King Solomon sent to Tyre and brought Huram,[g] 14 whose mother was a widow from the tribe of Naphtali and whose father was from Tyre and a skilled craftsman in bronze. Huram was filled with wisdom, with understanding and with knowledge to do all kinds of bronze work. He came to King Solomon and did all the work assigned to him.

15 He cast two bronze pillars, each eighteen cubits high and twelve cubits in circumference.[h] 16 He also made two capitals of cast bronze to set on the tops of the pillars; each capital was five cubits[i] high. 17 A network of interwoven chains adorned the capitals on top of the pillars, seven for each capital. 18 He made pomegranates in two rows[j] encircling each network to decorate the capitals on top of the pillars.[k] He did the same for each capital. 19 The capitals on top of the pillars in the portico were in the shape of lilies, four cubits[l] high. 20 On the capitals of both pillars, above the bowl-shaped part next to the network, were the two hundred pomegranates in rows all around. 21 He erected the pillars at the portico of the temple. The pillar to the south he named Jakin[m] and the one to the north Boaz.[n] 22 The capitals on top were in the shape of lilies. And so the work on the pillars was completed.

23 He made the Sea of cast metal, circular in shape, measuring ten cubits from rim to rim and five cubits high. It took a line of thirty cubits[o] to measure round it. 24 Below the rim, gourds encircled it – ten to a cubit. The gourds were cast in two rows in one piece with the Sea.

25 The Sea stood on twelve bulls, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south and three facing east. The Sea rested on top of them, and their hindquarters were towards the centre. 26 It was a handbreadth[p] in thickness, and its rim was like the rim of a cup, like a lily blossom. It held two thousand baths.[q]

27 He also made ten movable stands of bronze; each was four cubits long, four wide and three high.[r] 28 This is how the stands were made: they had side panels attached to uprights. 29 On the panels between the uprights were lions, bulls and cherubim – and on the uprights as well. Above and below the lions and bulls were wreaths of hammered work. 30 Each stand had four bronze wheels with bronze axles, and each had a basin resting on four supports, cast with wreaths on each side. 31 On the inside of the stand there was an opening that had a circular frame one cubit[s] deep. This opening was round, and with its basework it measured a cubit and a half.[t] Around its opening there was engraving. The panels of the stands were square, not round. 32 The four wheels were under the panels, and the axles of the wheels were attached to the stand. The diameter of each wheel was a cubit and a half. 33 The wheels were made like chariot wheels; the axles, rims, spokes and hubs were all of cast metal.

34 Each stand had four handles, one on each corner, projecting from the stand. 35 At the top of the stand there was a circular band half a cubit[u] deep. The supports and panels were attached to the top of the stand. 36 He engraved cherubim, lions and palm trees on the surfaces of the supports and on the panels, in every available space, with wreaths all around. 37 This is the way he made the ten stands. They were all cast in the same moulds and were identical in size and shape.

38 He then made ten bronze basins, each holding forty baths[v] and measuring four cubits across, one basin to go on each of the ten stands. 39 He placed five of the stands on the south side of the temple and five on the north. He placed the Sea on the south side, at the south-east corner of the temple. 40 He also made the pots[w] and shovels and sprinkling bowls.

So Huram finished all the work he had undertaken for King Solomon in the temple of the Lord:

41 the two pillars;

the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;

the two sets of network decorating the two bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars;

42 the four hundred pomegranates for the two sets of network (two rows of pomegranates for each network decorating the bowl-shaped capitals on top of the pillars);

43 the ten stands with their ten basins;

44 the Sea and the twelve bulls under it;

45 the pots, shovels and sprinkling bowls.

All these objects that Huram made for King Solomon for the temple of the Lord were of burnished bronze. 46 The king had them cast in clay moulds in the plain of the Jordan between Sukkoth and Zarethan. 47 Solomon left all these things unweighed, because there were so many; the weight of the bronze was not determined.

48 Solomon also made all the furnishings that were in the Lord’s temple:

the golden altar;

the golden table on which was the bread of the Presence;

49 the lampstands of pure gold (five on the right and five on the left, in front of the inner sanctuary);

the gold floral work and lamps and tongs;

50 the pure gold dishes, wick trimmers, sprinkling bowls, dishes and censers;

and the gold sockets for the doors of the innermost room, the Most Holy Place, and also for the doors of the main hall of the temple.

51 When all the work King Solomon had done for the temple of the Lord was finished, he brought in the things his father David had dedicated – the silver and gold and the furnishings – and he placed them in the treasuries of the Lord’s temple.

5 August 2020

Proverbs 12:16

Fools show their annoyance at once,
    but the prudent overlook an insult.

The vexation of a fool is known at once because his focus is on himself. He is bothered when his opinion is not highly regarded; he is attentive to the attention he receives or doesn’t receive. His primary concern is not contributing, but getting “his due.” Thus he is frustrated a lot. Most people are not free with compliments anyhow, and a fool will receive even less.

The prudent ignores an insult because he is not wrapped around his ego. An insult loses its power to sting when aimed at a truly humble person, i.e. someone whose focus is serving and glorifying God. The prudent also recognizes the cost of paying attention to an insult. It costs emotional energy to dwell on an insult; it costs valuable time that could be used productively. The prudent ignores the insult because insults are foolishly spoken, and it is a waste of time trying to respond to foolishness. Insults are either spoken by fools with whom one cannot reason, or spoken in a foolish moment by the wise, who will recognize their own folly and repent as they come to their senses.

Thus Jesus was able to withstand the many insults hurled at him. His focus was on doing the will of his Father and carrying out the work given him. He knew the hearts of men and ignored their foolish ways. The times that he did respond, however, was not to vindicate himself, but to publicly vindicate his Father and the truth. Even then, he did not brood on the insults of the Pharisees and other enemies, but committed himself to the love and keeping of his Father.

How will you handle insults and slights that may come your way today? Keep your eyes on your Lord, and you will find yourself better able to be prudent and ignore the darts sent your way.

 

1 Kings 6

In the four hundred and eightieth[a] year after the Israelites came out of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon’s reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, the second month, he began to build the temple of the Lord.

The temple that King Solomon built for the Lord was sixty cubits long, twenty wide and thirty high.[b] The portico at the front of the main hall of the temple extended the width of the temple, that is twenty cubits,[c] and projected ten cubits[d] from the front of the temple. He made narrow windows high up in the temple walls. Against the walls of the main hall and inner sanctuary he built a structure around the building, in which there were side rooms. The lowest floor was five cubits[e] wide, the middle floor six cubits[f] and the third floor seven.[g] He made offset ledges around the outside of the temple so that nothing would be inserted into the temple walls.

In building the temple, only blocks dressed at the quarry were used, and no hammer, chisel or any other iron tool was heard at the temple site while it was being built.

The entrance to the lowest[h] floor was on the south side of the temple; a stairway led up to the middle level and from there to the third. So he built the temple and completed it, roofing it with beams and cedar planks. 10 And he built the side rooms all along the temple. The height of each was five cubits, and they were attached to the temple by beams of cedar.

11 The word of the Lord came to Solomon: 12 ‘As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, observe my laws and keep all my commands and obey them, I will fulfil through you the promise I gave to David your father. 13 And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel.’

14 So Solomon built the temple and completed it. 15 He lined its interior walls with cedar boards, panelling them from the floor of the temple to the ceiling, and covered the floor of the temple with planks of juniper. 16 He partitioned off twenty cubits at the rear of the temple with cedar boards from floor to ceiling to form within the temple an inner sanctuary, the Most Holy Place. 17 The main hall in front of this room was forty cubits[i] long. 18 The inside of the temple was cedar, carved with gourds and open flowers. Everything was cedar; no stone was to be seen.

19 He prepared the inner sanctuary within the temple to set the ark of the covenant of the Lord there. 20 The inner sanctuary was twenty cubits long, twenty wide and twenty high. He overlaid the inside with pure gold, and he also overlaid the altar of cedar. 21 Solomon covered the inside of the temple with pure gold, and he extended gold chains across the front of the inner sanctuary, which was overlaid with gold. 22 So he overlaid the whole interior with gold. He also overlaid with gold the altar that belonged to the inner sanctuary.

23 For the inner sanctuary he made a pair of cherubim out of olive wood, each ten cubits high. 24 One wing of the first cherub was five cubits long, and the other wing five cubits – ten cubits from wing tip to wing tip. 25 The second cherub also measured ten cubits, for the two cherubim were identical in size and shape. 26 The height of each cherub was ten cubits. 27 He placed the cherubim inside the innermost room of the temple, with their wings spread out. The wing of one cherub touched one wall, while the wing of the other touched the other wall, and their wings touched each other in the middle of the room. 28 He overlaid the cherubim with gold.

29 On the walls all round the temple, in both the inner and outer rooms, he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers. 30 He also covered the floors of both the inner and outer rooms of the temple with gold.

31 For the entrance to the inner sanctuary he made doors out of olive wood that were one fifth of the width of the sanctuary. 32 And on the two olive-wood doors he carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers, and overlaid the cherubim and palm trees with hammered gold. 33 In the same way, for the entrance to the main hall he made doorframes out of olive wood that were one quarter of the width of the hall. 34 He also made two doors out of juniper wood, each having two leaves that turned in sockets. 35 He carved cherubim, palm trees and open flowers on them and overlaid them with gold hammered evenly over the carvings.

36 And he built the inner courtyard of three courses of dressed stone and one course of trimmed cedar beams.

37 The foundation of the temple of the Lord was laid in the fourth year, in the month of Ziv. 38 In the eleventh year in the month of Bul, the eighth month, the temple was finished in all its details according to its specifications. He had spent seven years building it.

4 August 2020

Proverbs 12:15

The way of fools seems right to them,
    but the wise listen to advice.

This is the problem of the fool. Because he has a foolish perspective about himself, he cannot learn and escape from his foolishness.
He thinks he is charming when he is boorish. He believes he knowledgeable about things of which he is ignorant. He cannot read the faces of those who see him as a fool; and when they do express their feelings, he attributes their reaction to jealousy. If he is a student and doing poorly, he attributes the problem to the teacher, thinking that he is a good student. If he does poorly at work, he blames others, unable to see his faults.

The wise man is wise precisely because he does listen to others. Because he is wise he knows who to listen to; he even knows how to benefit from the advice of the foolish. He is attentive to others; he observes before forming his opinions; he asks perceptive questions. He is also quick to give credit where it is due. He is unashamed to change his ideas when someone presents a better point of view; he welcomes the expertise that he does not possess; he will even accept correction by someone who has less knowledge than he.

Why the different reactions? Because the wise love wisdom and the fools love being thought wise. Thus the wise gain wisdom, while the fools remain stuck in their foolishness.

 

1 Kings 5

[a]When Hiram king of Tyre heard that Solomon had been anointed king to succeed his father David, he sent his envoys to Solomon, because he had always been on friendly terms with David. Solomon sent back this message to Hiram:

‘You know that because of the wars waged against my father David from all sides, he could not build a temple for the Name of the Lord his God until the Lord put his enemies under his feet. But now the Lord my God has given me rest on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster. I intend, therefore, to build a temple for the Name of the Lord my God, as the Lord told my father David, when he said, “Your son whom I will put on the throne in your place will build the temple for my Name.”

‘So give orders that cedars of Lebanon be cut for me. My men will work with yours, and I will pay you for your men whatever wages you set. You know that we have no one so skilled in felling timber as the Sidonians.’

When Hiram heard Solomon’s message, he was greatly pleased and said, ‘Praise be to the Lord today, for he has given David a wise son to rule over this great nation.’

So Hiram sent word to Solomon:

‘I have received the message you sent me and will do all you want in providing the cedar and juniper logs. My men will haul them down from Lebanon to the Mediterranean Sea, and I will float them as rafts by sea to the place you specify. There I will separate them and you can take them away. And you are to grant my wish by providing food for my royal household.’

10 In this way Hiram kept Solomon supplied with all the cedar and juniper logs he wanted, 11 and Solomon gave Hiram twenty thousand cors[b] of wheat as food for his household, in addition to twenty thousand baths[c][d] of pressed olive oil. Solomon continued to do this for Hiram year after year. 12 The Lord gave Solomon wisdom, just as he had promised him. There were peaceful relations between Hiram and Solomon, and the two of them made a treaty.

13 King Solomon conscripted labourers from all Israel – thirty thousand men. 14 He sent them off to Lebanon in shifts of ten thousand a month, so that they spent one month in Lebanon and two months at home. Adoniram was in charge of the forced labour. 15 Solomon had seventy thousand carriers and eighty thousand stonecutters in the hills, 16 as well as thirty-three hundred[e] foremen who supervised the project and directed the workers. 17 At the king’s command they removed from the quarry large blocks of high-grade stone to provide a foundation of dressed stone for the temple. 18 The craftsmen of Solomon and Hiram and workers from Byblos cut and prepared the timber and stone for the building of the temple.

3 August 2020

Proverbs 12:14

From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things,
    and the work of their hands brings them reward.

When a person learns the truth of both statements, he will find so much of the contentment and success he finds missing. “From the fruit of his mouth” – from speaking words that are wise, words that are loving, words that are wholesome – from such speech a person will reap great reward. The reason is that he will have blessed others. And when others are blessed, they will return the blessing. They will respond with praise and with kindness.
They will overlook mistakes. A man may be a hard worker, but if he speaks harshly he will be criticized for his work; he will not be given a break for his mistakes. A person who knows how to speak can change people’s views, enable them to admit their faults, and to be motivated to work harder. A person who speaks foolishly and harshly only reinforces stubbornness and incites resentment, making goals harder to attain. The reason that many projects are not successful have nothing to do with the inability of a team to know what to do, but everything to do with jealousy, hurt feelings, egos bruised, competition, and so on.

Others fail because they have not connected their success with their work ethic. As a high school principal, I observed the simple rule that conscientious students far excelled lazy students. I noticed that the valedictorian often was not the smartest student, but invariably proved to be hard working. Lazy students, meanwhile, attributed their failures to bad luck, teachers picking on them, and not being as smart as the successful students. They could not, or would not, attribute the problem being their own attitude.

Make the connections! If there is a pattern of offending people, examine the fruit of your mouth. If you remain stuck in your career, examine your work ethic. There are other circumstances that you may not be able to control, but you have more influence than you think. Your words are powerful if they conform to love and righteousness. Your labor is effective, if you work honestly, seeking reward from your Master, Jesus Christ. If your focus in word and work is to glorify God, to serve Christ’s kingdom, you will find good fruit and reward.

 

1 Kings 4

So King Solomon ruled over all Israel. And these were his chief officials:

Azariah son of Zadok – the priest;

Elihoreph and Ahijah, sons of Shisha – secretaries;

Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud – recorder;

Benaiah son of Jehoiada – commander-in-chief;

Zadok and Abiathar – priests;

Azariah son of Nathan – in charge of the district governors;

Zabud son of Nathan – a priest and advisor to the king;

Ahishar – palace administrator;

Adoniram son of Abda – in charge of forced labour.

Solomon had twelve district governors over all Israel, who supplied provisions for the king and the royal household. Each one had to provide supplies for one month in the year. These are their names:

Ben-Hur – in the hill country of Ephraim;

Ben-Deker – in Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth Shemesh and Elon Bethhanan;

10 Ben-Hesed – in Arubboth (Sokoh and all the land of Hepher were his);

11 Ben-Abinadab – in Naphoth Dor (he was married to Taphath daughter of Solomon);

12 Baana son of Ahilud – in Taanach and Megiddo, and in all of Beth Shan next to Zarethan below Jezreel, from Beth Shan to Abel Meholah across to Jokmeam;

13 Ben-Geber – in Ramoth Gilead (the settlements of Jair son of Manasseh in Gilead were his, as well as the region of Argob in Bashan and its sixty large walled cities with bronze gate bars);

14 Ahinadab son of Iddo – in Mahanaim;

15 Ahimaaz – in Naphtali (he had married Basemath daughter of Solomon);

16 Baana son of Hushai – in Asher and in Aloth;

17 Jehoshaphat son of Paruah – in Issachar;

18 Shimei son of Ela – in Benjamin;

19 Geber son of Uri – in Gilead (the country of Sihon king of the Amorites and the country of Og king of Bashan). He was the only governor over the district.

Solomon’s daily provisions

20 The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore; they ate, they drank and they were happy. 21 And Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the River Euphrates to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. These countries brought tribute and were Solomon’s subjects all his life.

22 Solomon’s daily provisions were thirty cors[a] of the finest flour and sixty cors[b] of meal, 23 ten head of stall-fed cattle, twenty of pasture-fed cattle and a hundred sheep and goats, as well as deer, gazelles, roebucks and choice fowl. 24 For he ruled over all the kingdoms west of the River Euphrates, from Tiphsah to Gaza, and had peace on all sides. 25 During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety, everyone under their own vine and under their own fig-tree.

26 Solomon had four[c] thousand stalls for chariot horses, and twelve thousand horses.[d]

27 The district governors, each in his month, supplied provisions for King Solomon and all who came to the king’s table. They saw to it that nothing was lacking. 28 They also brought to the proper place their quotas of barley and straw for the chariot horses and the other horses.

Solomon’s wisdom

29 God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. 30 Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite – wiser than Heman, Kalkol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. 32 He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. 33 He spoke about plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. 34 From all nations people came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom.[e]

1 August 2020

Hebrews 10:1-18

10 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming – not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. Otherwise, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshippers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins. It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.

Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:

‘Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
    but a body you prepared for me;
with burnt offerings and sin offerings
    you were not pleased.
Then I said, “Here I am – it is written about me in the scroll –
    I have come to do your will, my God.”’[a]

First he said, ‘Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them’– though they were offered in accordance with the law. Then he said, ‘Here I am, I have come to do your will.’ He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 Day after day every priest stands and performs his religious duties; again and again he offers the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. 12 But when this priest had offered for all time one sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 and since that time he waits for his enemies to be made his footstool. 14 For by one sacrifice he has made perfect for ever those who are being made holy.

15 The Holy Spirit also testifies to us about this. First he says:

16 ‘This is the covenant I will make with them
    after that time, says the Lord.
I will put my laws in their hearts,
    and I will write them on their minds.’[b]

17 Then he adds:

‘Their sins and lawless acts
    I will remember no more.’[c]

18 And where these have been forgiven, sacrifice for sin is no longer necessary.

Prayer: Grant us, Lord, we pray, the spirit to think and do always such things as are right, that we who cannot do anything that is good without You, may by You be able to live according to Your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

31 July 2020

Proverbs 12:13

An evil man is ensnared by the transgression of his lips,
but the righteous escapes from trouble.

However he might, the evil person will ensnare himself because he cannot always keep up a false appearance. A powerful political person was caught on tape speaking threats against those who would oppose him. He apologized for a lapse of character, but in truth, the image he tried to convey publicly is a lapse of his real character. The heart, sooner or later, will reveal itself.
That is why it is essential to work on real change in our hearts. Learning etiquette and methods to influence and win friends is helpful. Many times good-hearted persons offend others because they have not learned the proper customs of good communication; nevertheless, the righteous heart (and one must have a kind heart to be righteous) will time and again vindicate its owner.

The righteous person will often be protected by others who will speak up for him. His integrity will serve him well when slandered. His righteousness gives him wisdom to know how to avoid trouble and how to escape when evil comes against him.

But the true test will come at the Day of Judgment before God, when, as Jesus says, “people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37). When the recordings of our lives are played, our words will either ensnare us or vindicate us as they reveal the true condition of our hearts.

 

1 Kings 3

Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt and married his daughter. He brought her to the City of David until he finished building his palace and the temple of the Lord, and the wall around Jerusalem. The people, however, were still sacrificing at the high places, because a temple had not yet been built for the Name of the LordSolomon showed his love for the Lord by walking according to the instructions given him by his father David, except that he offered sacrifices and burned incense on the high places.

The king went to Gibeon to offer sacrifices, for that was the most important high place, and Solomon offered a thousand burnt offerings on that altar. At Gibeon the Lord appeared to Solomon during the night in a dream, and God said, ‘Ask for whatever you want me to give you.’

Solomon answered, ‘You have shown great kindness to your servant, my father David, because he was faithful to you and righteous and upright in heart. You have continued this great kindness to him and have given him a son to sit on his throne this very day.

‘Now, Lord my God, you have made your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties. Your servant is here among the people you have chosen, a great people, too numerous to count or number. So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong. For who is able to govern this great people of yours?’

10 The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this. 11 So God said to him, ‘Since you have asked for this and not for long life or wealth for yourself, nor have asked for the death of your enemies but for discernment in administering justice, 12 I will do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you, nor will there ever be. 13 Moreover, I will give you what you have not asked for – both wealth and honour – so that in your lifetime you will have no equal among kings. 14 And if you walk in obedience to me and keep my decrees and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.’ 15 Then Solomon awoke – and he realised it had been a dream.

He returned to Jerusalem, stood before the ark of the Lord’s covenant and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then he gave a feast for all his court.

A wise ruling

16 Now two prostitutes came to the king and stood before him. 17 One of them said, ‘Pardon me, my lord. This woman and I live in the same house. I had a baby while she was there with me. 18 The third day after my child was born, this woman also had a baby. We were alone; there was no one in the house but the two of us.

19 ‘During the night this woman’s son died because she lay on him. 20 So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from my side while I your servant was asleep. She put him by her breast and put her dead son by my breast. 21 The next morning, I got up to nurse my son – and he was dead! But when I looked at him closely in the morning light, I saw that it wasn’t the son I had borne.’

22 The other woman said, ‘No! The living one is my son; the dead one is yours.’

But the first one insisted, ‘No! The dead one is yours; the living one is mine.’ And so they argued before the king.

23 The king said, ‘This one says, “My son is alive and your son is dead,” while that one says, “No! Your son is dead and mine is alive.”’

24 Then the king said, ‘Bring me a sword.’ So they brought a sword for the king. 25 He then gave an order: ‘Cut the living child in two and give half to one and half to the other.’

26 The woman whose son was alive was deeply moved out of love for her son and said to the king, ‘Please, my lord, give her the living baby! Don’t kill him!’

But the other said, ‘Neither I nor you shall have him. Cut him in two!’

27 Then the king gave his ruling: ‘Give the living baby to the first woman. Do not kill him; she is his mother.’

28 When all Israel heard the verdict the king had given, they held the king in awe, because they saw that he had wisdom from God to administer justice.

30 July 2020

Proverbs 12:12

The wicked desire the stronghold of evildoers,
    but the root of the righteous endures.

The wicked sees the ill-gotten gain of other wicked persons and concludes that their way is the way of success. The wicked respect successful wicked people. They want to be like them. In a perverted way, they think that obtaining “success” by evil deeds is clever, even honorable, as they desire above all to have the same success. Indeed, best of all would be to take away from the very persons they admire.

Beyond the obvious evil motives of such persons is the exposure that they are worthless fools. The wicked cannot bear fruit, i.e. good fruit. They are a drain, a ravaging parasite that sucks out what is good and fills in its place what is toxic. The “spoil” of evildoers is an apt description of their possessions which may seem desirable, but in reality have been spoiled by evil ways.

But the root of the righteous, which dives deep in the nutrient-rich ground of righteousness and wisdom bears wholesome fruit. There is the fruit of good deeds, of good dispositions, of knowledge and love, of mercy and justice; there is the fruit of healthy relationships, and more often than not, the fruit of financial gain and security, the fruit of stability, of economic and social progress.

And this fruit bears the seeds that allow for the growth of more fruit. It is self-sustaining. Not so the spoil of the evildoers that cannot reproduce and will be wasted by the evildoers themselves. Do not covet the spoil of evildoers, for there is nothing of value to covet. Desire to plant yourself in righteous and wise soil. You will then bear your own good, lasting fruit.

 

1 Kings 2

2 When the time drew near for David to die, he gave a charge to Solomon his son.

‘I am about to go the way of all the earth,’ he said. ‘So be strong, act like a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: walk in obedience to him, and keep his decrees and commands, his laws and regulations, as written in the Law of Moses. Do this so that you may prosper in all you do and wherever you go and that the Lord may keep his promise to me: “If your descendants watch how they live, and if they walk faithfully before me with all their heart and soul, you will never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.”

‘Now you yourself know what Joab son of Zeruiah did to me – what he did to the two commanders of Israel’s armies, Abner son of Ner and Amasa son of Jether. He killed them, shedding their blood in peacetime as if in battle, and with that blood he stained the belt round his waist and the sandals on his feet. Deal with him according to your wisdom, but do not let his grey head go down to the grave in peace.

‘But show kindness to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead and let them be among those who eat at your table. They stood by me when I fled from your brother Absalom.

“And remember, you have with you Shimei son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, who called down bitter curses on me the day I went to Mahanaim. When he came down to meet me at the Jordan, I swore to him by the Lord: “I will not put you to death by the sword.” But now, do not consider him innocent. You are a man of wisdom; you will know what to do to him. Bring his grey head down to the grave in blood.’

10 Then David rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. 11 He had reigned for forty years over Israel – seven years in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. 12 So Solomon sat on the throne of his father David, and his rule was firmly established.

Solomon’s throne established

13 Now Adonijah, the son of Haggith, went to Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother. Bathsheba asked him, ‘Do you come peacefully?’

He answered, ‘Yes, peacefully.’ 14 Then he added, ‘I have something to say to you.’

‘You may say it,’ she replied.

15 ‘As you know,’ he said, ‘the kingdom was mine. All Israel looked to me as their king. But things changed, and the kingdom has gone to my brother; for it has come to him from the Lord16 Now I have one request to make of you. Do not refuse me.’

‘You may make it,’ she said.

17 So he continued, ‘Please ask King Solomon – he will not refuse you – to give me Abishag the Shunammite as my wife.’

18 ‘Very well,’ Bathsheba replied, ‘I will speak to the king for you.’

19 When Bathsheba went to King Solomon to speak to him for Adonijah, the king stood up to meet her, bowed down to her and sat down on his throne. He had a throne brought for the king’s mother, and she sat down at his right hand.

20 ‘I have one small request to make of you,’ she said. ‘Do not refuse me.’

The king replied, ‘Make it, my mother; I will not refuse you.’

21 So she said, ‘Let Abishag the Shunammite be given in marriage to your brother Adonijah.’

22 King Solomon answered his mother, ‘Why do you request Abishag the Shunammite for Adonijah? You might as well request the kingdom for him – after all, he is my older brother – yes, for him and for Abiathar the priest and Joab son of Zeruiah!’

23 Then King Solomon swore by the Lord: ‘May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if Adonijah does not pay with his life for this request! 24 And now, as surely as the Lord lives – he who has established me securely on the throne of my father David and has founded a dynasty for me as he promised – Adonijah shall be put to death today!’ 25 So King Solomon gave orders to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he struck down Adonijah and he died.

26 To Abiathar the priest the king said, ‘Go back to your fields in Anathoth. You deserve to die, but I will not put you to death now, because you carried the ark of the Sovereign Lord before my father David and shared all my father’s hardships.’ 27 So Solomon removed Abiathar from the priesthood of the Lord, fulfilling the word the Lord had spoken at Shiloh about the house of Eli.

28 When the news reached Joab, who had conspired with Adonijah though not with Absalom, he fled to the tent of the Lord and took hold of the horns of the altar. 29 King Solomon was told that Joab had fled to the tent of the Lord and was beside the altar. Then Solomon ordered Benaiah son of Jehoiada, ‘Go, strike him down!’

30 So Benaiah entered the tent of the Lord and said to Joab, ‘The king says, “Come out!”’

But he answered, ‘No, I will die here.’

Benaiah reported to the king, ‘This is how Joab answered me.’

31 Then the king commanded Benaiah, ‘Do as he says. Strike him down and bury him, and so clear me and my whole family of the guilt of the innocent blood that Joab shed. 32 The Lord will repay him for the blood he shed, because without my father David knowing it he attacked two men and killed them with the sword. Both of them – Abner son of Ner, commander of Israel’s army, and Amasa son of Jether, commander of Judah’s army – were better men and more upright than he. 33 May the guilt of their blood rest on the head of Joab and his descendants for ever. But on David and his descendants, his house and his throne, may there be the Lord’s peace for ever.’

34 So Benaiah son of Jehoiada went up and struck down Joab and killed him, and he was buried at his home out in the country. 35 The king put Benaiah son of Jehoiada over the army in Joab’s position and replaced Abiathar with Zadok the priest.

36 Then the king sent for Shimei and said to him, ‘Build yourself a house in Jerusalem and live there, but do not go anywhere else. 37 The day you leave and cross the Kidron Valley, you can be sure you will die; your blood will be on your own head.’

38 Shimei answered the king, ‘What you say is good. Your servant will do as my lord the king has said.’ And Shimei stayed in Jerusalem for a long time.

39 But three years later, two of Shimei’s slaves ran off to Achish son of Maakah, king of Gath, and Shimei was told, ‘Your slaves are in Gath.’ 40 At this, he saddled his donkey and went to Achish at Gath in search of his slaves. So Shimei went away and brought the slaves back from Gath.

41 When Solomon was told that Shimei had gone from Jerusalem to Gath and had returned, 42 the king summoned Shimei and said to him, ‘Did I not make you swear by the Lord and warn you, “On the day you leave to go anywhere else, you can be sure you will die”? At that time you said to me, “What you say is good. I will obey.” 43 Why then did you not keep your oath to the Lord and obey the command I gave you?’

44 The king also said to Shimei, ‘You know in your heart all the wrong you did to my father David. Now the Lord will repay you for your wrongdoing. 45 But King Solomon will be blessed, and David’s throne will remain secure before the Lord for ever.’

46 Then the king gave the order to Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and he went out and struck Shimei down and he died.

The kingdom was now established in Solomon’s hands.

29 July 2020

Proverbs 12:11

Those who work their land will have abundant food,
    but those who chase fantasies have no sense.

This proverb distinguishes between the persons who seem to have the good luck of keeping work and having enough provisions and those who keep running into the bad fortune of not finding the right job or getting the fortunate break. We all experience bad fortune one time or another. Circumstances occur beyond our control. But if we continually bounce from job to job; if we keep having the bad luck of working for the wrong boss or with the wrong colleagues; if we can’t seem to find anyone to appreciate our “unique” gifts, we need to do some serious self-examination.

Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread because he is not ever looking at his neighbor’s land wishing he had the good soil and the tools of his neighbor. He is not day dreaming about the career that is not his gift or calling. He may dream, but he works hard to reach that dream and works diligently now so as to prove himself when the opportunity comes. If a man is married, he must place the welfare of his family first. He can be sure that his calling includes providing for his family.

How do we know if what we are pursuing is a worthless pursuit? We ask. We ask those who know us well; we ask those whom we think have “made it”; we pray to God for wisdom; we commend our dreams to God. Whatever our pursuit may be, it must be for the glory of God and to serve God.

1 Kings 1

When King David was very old, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him. So his attendants said to him, ‘Let us look for a young virgin to serve the king and take care of him. She can lie beside him so that our lord the king may keep warm.’

Then they searched throughout Israel for a beautiful young woman and found Abishag, a Shunammite, and brought her to the king. The woman was very beautiful; she took care of the king and waited on him, but the king had no sexual relations with her.

Now Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith, put himself forward and said, ‘I will be king.’ So he got chariots and horses[a] ready, with fifty men to run ahead of him. (His father had never rebuked him by asking, ‘Why do you behave as you do?’ He was also very handsome and was born next after Absalom.)

Adonijah conferred with Joab son of Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest, and they gave him their support. But Zadok the priest, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, Nathan the prophet, Shimei and Rei and David’s special guard did not join Adonijah.

Adonijah then sacrificed sheep, cattle and fattened calves at the Stone of Zoheleth near En Rogel. He invited all his brothers, the king’s sons, and all the royal officials of Judah, 10 but he did not invite Nathan the prophet or Benaiah or the special guard or his brother Solomon.

11 Then Nathan asked Bathsheba, Solomon’s mother, ‘Have you not heard that Adonijah, the son of Haggith, has become king, and our lord David knows nothing about it? 12 Now then, let me advise you how you can save your own life and the life of your son Solomon. 13 Go in to King David and say to him, “My lord the king, did you not swear to me your servant: ‘Surely Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne’? Why then has Adonijah become king?” 14 While you are still there talking to the king, I will come in and add my word to what you have said.’

15 So Bathsheba went to see the aged king in his room, where Abishag the Shunammite was attending him. 16 Bathsheba bowed down, prostrating herself before the king.

‘What is it you want?’ the king asked.

17 She said to him, ‘My lord, you yourself swore to me your servant by the Lord your God: “Solomon your son shall become king after me, and he will sit on my throne.” 18 But now Adonijah has become king, and you, my lord the king, do not know about it. 19 He has sacrificed great numbers of cattle, fattened calves, and sheep, and has invited all the king’s sons, Abiathar the priest and Joab the commander of the army, but he has not invited Solomon your servant. 20 My lord the king, the eyes of all Israel are on you, to learn from you who will sit on the throne of my lord the king after him. 21 Otherwise, as soon as my lord the king is laid to rest with his ancestors, I and my son Solomon will be treated as criminals.’

22 While she was still speaking with the king, Nathan the prophet arrived. 23 And the king was told, ‘Nathan the prophet is here.’ So he went before the king and bowed with his face to the ground.

24 Nathan said, ‘Have you, my lord the king, declared that Adonijah shall be king after you, and that he will sit on your throne? 25 Today he has gone down and sacrificed great numbers of cattle, fattened calves, and sheep. He has invited all the king’s sons, the commanders of the army and Abiathar the priest. At this very moment they are eating and drinking with him and saying, “Long live King Adonijah!” 26 But me your servant, and Zadok the priest, and Benaiah son of Jehoiada, and your servant Solomon he did not invite. 27 Is this something my lord the king has done without letting his servants know who should sit on the throne of my lord the king after him?’

David makes Solomon king

28 Then King David said, ‘Call in Bathsheba.’ So she came into the king’s presence and stood before him.

29 The king then took an oath: ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, 30 I will surely carry out this very day what I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel: Solomon your son shall be king after me, and he will sit on my throne in my place.’

31 Then Bathsheba bowed down with her face to the ground, prostrating herself before the king, and said, ‘May my lord King David live for ever!’

32 King David said, ‘Call in Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet and Benaiah son of Jehoiada.’ When they came before the king, 33 he said to them: ‘Take your lord’s servants with you and put Solomon my son on my own mule and take him down to Gihon. 34 There shall Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anoint him king over Israel. Blow the trumpet and shout, “Long live King Solomon!” 35 Then you are to go up with him, and he is to come and sit on my throne and reign in my place. I have appointed him ruler over Israel and Judah.’

36 Benaiah son of Jehoiada answered the king, ‘Amen! May the Lord, the God of my lord the king, so declare it. 37 As the Lord was with my lord the king, so may he be with Solomon to make his throne even greater than the throne of my lord King David!’

38 So Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites went down and put Solomon on King David’s mule, and they escorted him to Gihon. 39 Zadok the priest took the horn of oil from the sacred tent and anointed Solomon. Then they sounded the trumpet and all the people shouted, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ 40 And all the people went up after him, playing pipes and rejoicing greatly, so that the ground shook with the sound.

41 Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it as they were finishing their feast. On hearing the sound of the trumpet, Joab asked, ‘What’s the meaning of all the noise in the city?’

42 Even as he was speaking, Jonathan son of Abiathar the priest arrived. Adonijah said, ‘Come in. A worthy man like you must be bringing good news.’

43 ‘Not at all!’ Jonathan answered. ‘Our lord King David has made Solomon king. 44 The king has sent with him Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, Benaiah son of Jehoiada, the Kerethites and the Pelethites, and they have put him on the king’s mule, 45 and Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet have anointed him king at Gihon. From there they have gone up cheering, and the city resounds with it. That’s the noise you hear. 46 Moreover, Solomon has taken his seat on the royal throne. 47 Also, the royal officials have come to congratulate our lord King David, saying, “May your God make Solomon’s name more famous than yours and his throne greater than yours!” And the king bowed in worship on his bed 48 and said, “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel, who has allowed my eyes to see a successor on my throne today.”’

49 At this, all Adonijah’s guests rose in alarm and dispersed. 50 But Adonijah, in fear of Solomon, went and took hold of the horns of the altar. 51 Then Solomon was told, ‘Adonijah is afraid of King Solomon and is clinging to the horns of the altar. He says, “Let King Solomon swear to me today that he will not put his servant to death with the sword.”’

52 Solomon replied, ‘If he shows himself to be worthy, not a hair of his head will fall to the ground; but if evil is found in him, he will die.’ 53 Then King Solomon sent men, and they brought him down from the altar. And Adonijah came and bowed down to King Solomon, and Solomon said, ‘Go to your home.’

28 July 2020

Proverbs 12:10

The righteous care for the needs of their animals,
    but the kindest acts of the wicked are cruel.

The righteous has regard for his beast because he is just, compassionate, and wise. It is a matter of justice to protect and preserve life. God is Creator of the animals, and we must have just cause to harm his creatures, especially those whom he has given to serve us. Righteousness includes compassion, as exemplified by the mercy our Righteous God has shown us. And then, it is wise to care for the beast who serves his master, thereby extending and promoting his usefulness.

Besides encouraging good care for animals, the point of the proverb is that righteousness leads us to care for everyone regardless of their status in life. The righteous have regard for the unborn, the handicapped, the terminally ill, the aged, the poor. Our regard for those who are considered the weak in society signifies our maturity in Christ.

Is there someone at work, in the neighborhood, in school who is shown little regard? By you? Take time to give him/her attention. Show regard for the life which God has made.

 

2 Samuel 22-24

22 David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:

‘The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield[a] and the horn[b] of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my saviour –
    from violent people you save me.

‘I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and have been saved from my enemies.
The waves of death swirled about me;
    the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
    the snares of death confronted me.

‘In my distress I called to the Lord;
    I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
    my cry came to his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked,
    the foundations of the heavens[c] shook;
    they trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils;
    consuming fire came from his mouth,
    burning coals blazed out of it.
10 He parted the heavens and came down;
    dark clouds were under his feet.
11 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
    he soared[d] on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness his canopy around him –
    the dark[e] rain clouds of the sky.
13 Out of the brightness of his presence
    bolts of lightning blazed forth.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven;
    the voice of the Most High resounded.
15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
    with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
16 The valleys of the sea were exposed
    and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at the rebuke of the Lord,
    at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

17 ‘He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.
18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the Lord was my support.
20 He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me.

21 ‘The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.
22 For I have kept the ways of the Lord;
    I am not guilty of turning from my God.
23 All his laws are before me;
    I have not turned away from his decrees.
24 I have been blameless before him
    and have kept myself from sin.
25 The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
    according to my cleanness[f] in his sight.

26 ‘To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
    to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
27 to the pure you show yourself pure,
    but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
28 You save the humble,
    but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.
29 You, Lord, are my lamp;
    the Lord turns my darkness into light.
30 With your help I can advance against a troop[g];
    with my God I can scale a wall.

31 ‘As for God, his way is perfect:
    the Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.
32 For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
33 It is God who arms me with strength[h]
    and keeps my way secure.
34 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he causes me to stand on the heights.
35 He trains my hands for battle;
    my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
36 You make your saving help my shield;
    your help has made[i] me great.
37 You provide a broad path for my feet,
    so that my ankles do not give way.

38 ‘I pursued my enemies and crushed them;
    I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
39 I crushed them completely, and they could not rise;
    they fell beneath my feet.
40 You armed me with strength for battle;
    you humbled my adversaries before me.
41 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
    and I destroyed my foes.
42 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them –
    to the Lord, but he did not answer.
43 I beat them as fine as the dust of the earth;
    I pounded and trampled them like mud in the streets.

44 ‘You have delivered me from the attacks of the peoples;
    you have preserved me as the head of nations.
People I did not know now serve me,
45     foreigners cower before me;
    as soon as they hear of me, they obey me.
46 They all lose heart;
    they come trembling[j] from their strongholds.

47 ‘The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!
    Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Saviour!
48 He is the God who avenges me,
    who puts the nations under me,
49     who sets me free from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
    from a violent man you rescued me.
50 Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
    I will sing the praises of your name.

51 ‘He gives his king great victories;
    he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed,
    to David and his descendants for ever.’

 

David’s last words

23 These are the last words of David:

‘The inspired utterance of David son of Jesse,
    the utterance of the man exalted by the Most High,
the man anointed by the God of Jacob,
    the hero of Israel’s songs:

‘The Spirit of the Lord spoke through me;
    his word was on my tongue.
The God of Israel spoke,
    the Rock of Israel said to me:
“When one rules over people in righteousness,
    when he rules in the fear of God,
he is like the light of morning at sunrise
    on a cloudless morning,
like the brightness after rain
    that brings grass from the earth.”

‘If my house were not right with God,
    surely he would not have made with me an everlasting covenant,
    arranged and secured in every part;
surely he would not bring to fruition my salvation
    and grant me my every desire.
But evil men are all to be cast aside like thorns,
    which are not gathered with the hand.
Whoever touches thorns
    uses a tool of iron or the shaft of a spear;
    they are burned up where they lie.’

 

David’s mighty warriors

These are the names of David’s mighty warriors:

Josheb-Basshebeth,[k] a Tahkemonite,[l] was chief of the Three; he raised his spear against eight hundred men, whom he killed[m] in one encounter.

Next to him was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite. As one of the three mighty warriors, he was with David when they taunted the Philistines gathered at Pas Dammim[n] for battle. Then the Israelites retreated, 10 but Eleazar stood his ground and struck down the Philistines till his hand grew tired and froze to the sword. The Lord brought about a great victory that day. The troops returned to Eleazar, but only to strip the dead.

11 Next to him was Shammah son of Agee the Hararite. When the Philistines banded together at a place where there was a field full of lentils, Israel’s troops fled from them. 12 But Shammah took his stand in the middle of the field. He defended it and struck the Philistines down, and the Lord brought about a great victory.

13 During harvest time, three of the thirty chief warriors came down to David at the cave of Adullam, while a band of Philistines was encamped in the Valley of Rephaim. 14 At that time David was in the stronghold, and the Philistine garrison was at Bethlehem. 15 David longed for water and said, ‘Oh, that someone would get me a drink of water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem!’ 16 So the three mighty warriors broke through the Philistine lines, drew water from the well near the gate of Bethlehem and carried it back to David. But he refused to drink it; instead, he poured it out before the Lord17 ‘Far be it from me, Lord, to do this!’ he said. ‘Is it not the blood of men who went at the risk of their lives?’ And David would not drink it.

Such were the exploits of the three mighty warriors.

18 Abishai the brother of Joab son of Zeruiah was chief of the Three.[o] He raised his spear against three hundred men, whom he killed, and so he became as famous as the Three. 19 Was he not held in greater honour than the Three? He became their commander, even though he was not included among them.

20 Benaiah son of Jehoiada, a valiant fighter from Kabzeel, performed great exploits. He struck down Moab’s two mightiest warriors. He also went down into a pit on a snowy day and killed a lion. 21 And he struck down a huge Egyptian. Although the Egyptian had a spear in his hand, Benaiah went against him with a club. He snatched the spear from the Egyptian’s hand and killed him with his own spear. 22 Such were the exploits of Benaiah son of Jehoiada; he too was as famous as the three mighty warriors. 23 He was held in greater honour than any of the Thirty, but he was not included among the Three. And David put him in charge of his bodyguard.

24 Among the Thirty were:

Asahel the brother of Joab,

Elhanan son of Dodo from Bethlehem,

25 Shammah the Harodite,

Elika the Harodite,

26 Helez the Paltite,

Ira son of Ikkesh from Tekoa,

27 Abiezer from Anathoth,

Sibbekai[p] the Hushathite,

28 Zalmon the Ahohite,

Maharai the Netophathite,

29 Heled[q] son of Baanah the Netophathite,

Ithai son of Ribai from Gibeah in Benjamin,

30 Benaiah the Pirathonite,

Hiddai[r] from the ravines of Gaash,

31 Abi-Albon the Arbathite,

Azmaveth the Barhumite,

32 Eliahba the Shaalbonite,

the sons of Jashen,

Jonathan 33 son of[s] Shammah the Hararite,

Ahiam son of Sharar[t] the Hararite,

34 Eliphelet son of Ahasbai the Maakathite,

Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite,

35 Hezro the Carmelite,

Paarai the Arbite,

36 Igal son of Nathan from Zobah,

the son of Hagri,[u]

37 Zelek the Ammonite,

Naharai the Beerothite, the armour-bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah,

38 Ira the Ithrite,

Gareb the Ithrite

39 and Uriah the Hittite.

There were thirty-seven in all.

 

David enrols the fighting men

24 Again the anger of the Lord burned against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, ‘Go and take a census of Israel and Judah.’

So the king said to Joab and the army commanders[v] with him, ‘Go throughout the tribes of Israel from Dan to Beersheba and enrol the fighting men, so that I may know how many there are.’

But Joab replied to the king, ‘May the Lord your God multiply the troops a hundred times over, and may the eyes of my lord the king see it. But why does my lord the king want to do such a thing?’

The king’s word, however, overruled Joab and the army commanders; so they left the presence of the king to enrol the fighting men of Israel.

After crossing the Jordan, they camped near Aroer, south of the town in the gorge, and then went through Gad and on to Jazer. They went to Gilead and the region of Tahtim Hodshi, and on to Dan Jaan and around towards Sidon. Then they went towards the fortress of Tyre and all the towns of the Hivites and Canaanites. Finally, they went on to Beersheba in the Negev of Judah.

After they had gone through the entire land, they came back to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.

Joab reported the number of the fighting men to the king: in Israel there were eight hundred thousand able-bodied men who could handle a sword, and in Judah five hundred thousand.

10 David was conscience-stricken after he had counted the fighting men, and he said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done. Now, Lord, I beg you, take away the guilt of your servant. I have done a very foolish thing.’

11 Before David got up the next morning, the word of the Lord had come to Gad the prophet, David’s seer: 12 ‘Go and tell David, “This is what the Lord says: I am giving you three options. Choose one of them for me to carry out against you.”’

13 So Gad went to David and said to him, ‘Shall there come on you three[w] years of famine in your land? Or three months of fleeing from your enemies while they pursue you? Or three days of plague in your land? Now then, think it over and decide how I should answer the one who sent me.’

14 David said to Gad, ‘I am in deep distress. Let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great; but do not let me fall into human hands.’

15 So the Lord sent a plague on Israel from that morning until the end of the time designated, and seventy thousand of the people from Dan to Beersheba died. 16 When the angel stretched out his hand to destroy Jerusalem, the Lord relented concerning the disaster and said to the angel who was afflicting the people, ‘Enough! Withdraw your hand.’ The angel of the Lord was then at the threshing-floor of Araunah the Jebusite.

17 When David saw the angel who was striking down the people, he said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned; I, the shepherd,[x] have done wrong. These are but sheep. What have they done? Let your hand fall on me and my family.’

 

David builds an altar

18 On that day Gad went to David and said to him, ‘Go up and build an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.’ 19 So David went up, as the Lord had commanded through Gad. 20 When Araunah looked and saw the king and his officials coming towards him, he went out and bowed down before the king with his face to the ground.

21 Araunah said, ‘Why has my lord the king come to his servant?’

‘To buy your threshing-floor,’ David answered, ‘so that I can build an altar to the Lord, that the plague on the people may be stopped.’

22 Araunah said to David, ‘Let my lord the king take whatever he wishes and offer it up. Here are oxen for the burnt offering, and here are threshing-sledges and ox yokes for the wood. 23 Your Majesty, Araunah[y] gives all this to the king.’ Araunah also said to him, ‘May the Lord your God accept you.’

24 But the king replied to Araunah, ‘No, I insist on paying you for it. I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.’

So David bought the threshing-floor and the oxen and paid fifty shekels[z] of silver for them. 25 David built an altar to the Lord there and sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings. Then the Lord answered his prayer on behalf of the land, and the plague on Israel was stopped.

27 July 2020

Proverbs 12:9

Better to be a nobody and yet have a servant
    than pretend to be somebody and have no food.

It is better to have shown the wisdom and done the labor to provide for oneself and one’s family, than to give the appearance of prosperity and yet in truth have nothing that is secure. Thus, it is better to not be able to join the fashionable crowd that spends freely because you are wisely keeping to your budget, than to run up debt in an effort to appear well-to-do.

We are tempted to play at being what we are not. We buy the clothes that make us seem more prosperous and more worldly than we are. We buy music, see movies, etc. based on the opinion of the crowd we want to fit in with. We “play” the part that others deem important.

But again, it is better to be lowly in the eyes of others and be true to ourselves; or rather, be true to God. For as we are true to God, so we are true to what we are made to be. As we are true to God, so we will prove to be wise. As we are true to God, so we will find true security in him.

 

2 Samuel 21-22

21 During the reign of David, there was a famine for three successive years; so David sought the face of the Lord. The Lord said, ‘It is on account of Saul and his blood-stained house; it is because he put the Gibeonites to death.’

The king summoned the Gibeonites and spoke to them. (Now the Gibeonites were not a part of Israel but were survivors of the Amorites; the Israelites had sworn to spare them, but Saul in his zeal for Israel and Judah had tried to annihilate them.) David asked the Gibeonites, ‘What shall I do for you? How shall I make atonement so that you will bless the Lord’s inheritance?’

The Gibeonites answered him, ‘We have no right to demand silver or gold from Saul or his family, nor do we have the right to put anyone in Israel to death.’

‘What do you want me to do for you?’ David asked.

They answered the king, ‘As for the man who destroyed us and plotted against us so that we have been decimated and have no place anywhere in Israel, let seven of his male descendants be given to us to be killed and their bodies exposed before the Lord at Gibeah of Saul – the Lord’s chosen one.’

So the king said, ‘I will give them to you.’

The king spared Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, because of the oath before the Lord between David and Jonathan son of Saul. But the king took Armoni and Mephibosheth, the two sons of Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, whom she had borne to Saul, together with the five sons of Saul’s daughter Merab,[a] whom she had borne to Adriel son of Barzillai the Meholathite. He handed them over to the Gibeonites, who killed them and exposed their bodies on a hill before the Lord. All seven of them fell together; they were put to death during the first days of harvest, just as the barley harvest was beginning.

10 Rizpah daughter of Aiah took sackcloth and spread it out for herself on a rock. From the beginning of the harvest till the rain poured down from the heavens on the bodies, she did not let the birds touch them by day or the wild animals by night. 11 When David was told what Aiah’s daughter Rizpah, Saul’s concubine, had done, 12 he went and took the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from the citizens of Jabesh Gilead. (They had stolen their bodies from the public square at Beth Shan, where the Philistines had hung them after they struck Saul down on Gilboa.) 13 David brought the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan from there, and the bones of those who had been killed and exposed were gathered up.

14 They buried the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan in the tomb of Saul’s father Kish, at Zela in Benjamin, and did everything the king commanded. After that, God answered prayer on behalf of the land.

 

Wars against the Philistines

15 Once again there was a battle between the Philistines and Israel. David went down with his men to fight against the Philistines, and he became exhausted. 16 And Ishbi-Benob, one of the descendants of Rapha, whose bronze spearhead weighed three hundred shekels[b] and who was armed with a new sword, said he would kill David. 17 But Abishai son of Zeruiah came to David’s rescue; he struck the Philistine down and killed him. Then David’s men swore to him, saying, ‘Never again will you go out with us to battle, so that the lamp of Israel will not be extinguished.’

18 In the course of time, there was another battle with the Philistines, at Gob. At that time Sibbekai the Hushathite killed Saph, one of the descendants of Rapha.

19 In another battle with the Philistines at Gob, Elhanan son of Jair[c] the Bethlehemite killed the brother of[d] Goliath the Gittite, who had a spear with a shaft like a weaver’s rod.

20 In still another battle, which took place at Gath, there was a huge man with six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot – twenty-four in all. He also was descended from Rapha. 21 When he taunted Israel, Jonathan son of Shimeah, David’s brother, killed him.

22 These four were descendants of Rapha in Gath, and they fell at the hands of David and his men.

 

David’s song of praise

22 David sang to the Lord the words of this song when the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. He said:

‘The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer;
    my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge,
    my shield[e] and the horn[f] of my salvation.
He is my stronghold, my refuge and my saviour –
    from violent people you save me.

‘I called to the Lord, who is worthy of praise,
    and have been saved from my enemies.
The waves of death swirled about me;
    the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me.
The cords of the grave coiled around me;
    the snares of death confronted me.

‘In my distress I called to the Lord;
    I called out to my God.
From his temple he heard my voice;
    my cry came to his ears.
The earth trembled and quaked,
    the foundations of the heavens[g] shook;
    they trembled because he was angry.
Smoke rose from his nostrils;
    consuming fire came from his mouth,
    burning coals blazed out of it.
10 He parted the heavens and came down;
    dark clouds were under his feet.
11 He mounted the cherubim and flew;
    he soared[h] on the wings of the wind.
12 He made darkness his canopy around him –
    the dark[i] rain clouds of the sky.
13 Out of the brightness of his presence
    bolts of lightning blazed forth.
14 The Lord thundered from heaven;
    the voice of the Most High resounded.
15 He shot his arrows and scattered the enemy,
    with great bolts of lightning he routed them.
16 The valleys of the sea were exposed
    and the foundations of the earth laid bare
at the rebuke of the Lord,
    at the blast of breath from his nostrils.

17 ‘He reached down from on high and took hold of me;
    he drew me out of deep waters.
18 He rescued me from my powerful enemy,
    from my foes, who were too strong for me.
19 They confronted me in the day of my disaster,
    but the Lord was my support.
20 He brought me out into a spacious place;
    he rescued me because he delighted in me.

21 ‘The Lord has dealt with me according to my righteousness;
    according to the cleanness of my hands he has rewarded me.
22 For I have kept the ways of the Lord;
    I am not guilty of turning from my God.
23 All his laws are before me;
    I have not turned away from his decrees.
24 I have been blameless before him
    and have kept myself from sin.
25 The Lord has rewarded me according to my righteousness,
    according to my cleanness[j] in his sight.

26 ‘To the faithful you show yourself faithful,
    to the blameless you show yourself blameless,
27 to the pure you show yourself pure,
    but to the devious you show yourself shrewd.
28 You save the humble,
    but your eyes are on the haughty to bring them low.
29 You, Lord, are my lamp;
    the Lord turns my darkness into light.
30 With your help I can advance against a troop[k];
    with my God I can scale a wall.

31 ‘As for God, his way is perfect:
    the Lord’s word is flawless;
    he shields all who take refuge in him.
32 For who is God besides the Lord?
    And who is the Rock except our God?
33 It is God who arms me with strength[l]
    and keeps my way secure.
34 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
    he causes me to stand on the heights.
35 He trains my hands for battle;
    my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
36 You make your saving help my shield;
    your help has made[m] me great.
37 You provide a broad path for my feet,
    so that my ankles do not give way.

38 ‘I pursued my enemies and crushed them;
    I did not turn back till they were destroyed.
39 I crushed them completely, and they could not rise;
    they fell beneath my feet.
40 You armed me with strength for battle;
    you humbled my adversaries before me.
41 You made my enemies turn their backs in flight,
    and I destroyed my foes.
42 They cried for help, but there was no one to save them –
    to the Lord, but he did not answer.
43 I beat them as fine as the dust of the earth;
    I pounded and trampled them like mud in the streets.

44 ‘You have delivered me from the attacks of the peoples;
    you have preserved me as the head of nations.
People I did not know now serve me,
45     foreigners cower before me;
    as soon as they hear of me, they obey me.
46 They all lose heart;
    they come trembling[n] from their strongholds.

47 ‘The Lord lives! Praise be to my Rock!
    Exalted be my God, the Rock, my Saviour!
48 He is the God who avenges me,
    who puts the nations under me,
49     who sets me free from my enemies.
You exalted me above my foes;
    from a violent man you rescued me.
50 Therefore I will praise you, Lord, among the nations;
    I will sing the praises of your name.

51 ‘He gives his king great victories;
    he shows unfailing kindness to his anointed,
    to David and his descendants for ever.’

25 July 2020

Hebrews 9:15-28

15 For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance – now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

16 In the case of a will,[a] it is necessary to prove the death of the one who made it, 17 because a will is in force only when somebody has died; it never takes effect while the one who made it is living. 18 This is why even the first covenant was not put into effect without blood. 19 When Moses had proclaimed every command of the law to all the people, he took the blood of calves, together with water, scarlet wool and branches of hyssop, and sprinkled the scroll and all the people. 20 He said, ‘This is the blood of the covenant, which God has commanded you to keep.’[b] 21 In the same way, he sprinkled with the blood both the tabernacle and everything used in its ceremonies. 22 In fact, the law requires that nearly everything be cleansed with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.

23 It was necessary, then, for the copies of the heavenly things to be purified with these sacrifices, but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these. 24 For Christ did not enter a sanctuary made with human hands that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God’s presence. 25 Nor did he enter heaven to offer himself again and again, the way the high priest enters the Most Holy Place every year with blood that is not his own. 26 Otherwise Christ would have had to suffer many times since the creation of the world. But he has appeared once for all at the culmination of the ages to do away with sin by the sacrifice of himself. 27 Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, 28 so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him.

Prayer: Almighty God, whose never failing power governs all things in heaven and earth: we humbly ask You to put away from us all things hurtful, and to give us those things that are good for us; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

24 July 2020

Proverbs 12:8

A person is praised according to their prudence,
    and one with a warped mind is despised.

This proverb presents a virtue that is often overlooked and underestimated, but may be the most important in success. It is the difference maker for ability to manage people and to achieve any goal that involves people. It is good sense; also known as commonsense.


A man may possess tremendous knowledge and skill, but if he lacks commonsense his genius can become a curse for him, as well as for others. A person may know the right goal, but if he lacks good sense about obtaining that goal, he will not only fail to reach it but stir up greater trouble.

Good-hearted Christians often create trouble for lack of good sense. We read a command in Scripture, and in our effort to obey it we set ourselves up for failure, as well as offend others. We overestimate our abilities and those of others. We don’t think through how to speak in love, so intent we may be to speak the truth (as we interpret it). We don’t use commonsense. We may not have twisted minds, but we earn for ourselves the same reward – resentment.

Pray today that you will use good sense in your interactions with others and as you work to achieve your goals. Seek the counsel of others, especially those who have earned a reputation for good sense. Humbly learn from them.

 

2 Samuel 19-20

19 [a]Joab was told, ‘The king is weeping and mourning for Absalom.’ And for the whole army the victory that day was turned into mourning, because on that day the troops heard it said, ‘The king is grieving for his son.’ The men stole into the city that day as men steal in who are ashamed when they flee from battle. The king covered his face and cried aloud, ‘O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!’

Then Joab went into the house to the king and said, ‘Today you have humiliated all your men, who have just saved your life and the lives of your sons and daughters and the lives of your wives and concubines. You love those who hate you and hate those who love you. You have made it clear today that the commanders and their men mean nothing to you. I see that you would be pleased if Absalom were alive today and all of us were dead. Now go out and encourage your men. I swear by the Lord that if you don’t go out, not a man will be left with you by nightfall. This will be worse for you than all the calamities that have come on you from your youth till now.’

So the king got up and took his seat in the gateway. When the men were told, ‘The king is sitting in the gateway,’ they all came before him.

Meanwhile, the Israelites had fled to their homes.

 

David returns to Jerusalem

Throughout the tribes of Israel, all the people were arguing among themselves, saying, ‘The king delivered us from the hand of our enemies; he is the one who rescued us from the hand of the Philistines. But now he has fled the country to escape from Absalom; 10 and Absalom, whom we anointed to rule over us, has died in battle. So why do you say nothing about bringing the king back?’

11 King David sent this message to Zadok and Abiathar, the priests: ‘Ask the elders of Judah, “Why should you be the last to bring the king back to his palace, since what is being said throughout Israel has reached the king at his quarters? 12 You are my relatives, my own flesh and blood. So why should you be the last to bring back the king?” 13 And say to Amasa, “Are you not my own flesh and blood? May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if you are not the commander of my army for life in place of Joab.”’

14 He won over the hearts of the men of Judah so that they were all of one mind. They sent word to the king, ‘Return, you and all your men.’ 15 Then the king returned and went as far as the Jordan.

Now the men of Judah had come to Gilgal to go out and meet the king and bring him across the Jordan. 16 Shimei son of Gera, the Benjaminite from Bahurim, hurried down with the men of Judah to meet King David. 17 With him were a thousand Benjaminites, along with Ziba, the steward of Saul’s household, and his fifteen sons and twenty servants. They rushed to the Jordan, where the king was. 18 They crossed at the ford to take the king’s household over and to do whatever he wished.

When Shimei son of Gera crossed the Jordan, he fell prostrate before the king 19 and said to him, ‘May my lord not hold me guilty. Do not remember how your servant did wrong on the day my lord the king left Jerusalem. May the king put it out of his mind. 20 For I your servant know that I have sinned, but today I have come here as the first from the tribes of Joseph to come down and meet my lord the king.’

21 Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said, ‘Shouldn’t Shimei be put to death for this? He cursed the Lord’s anointed.’

22 David replied, ‘What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? What right do you have to interfere? Should anyone be put to death in Israel today? Don’t I know that today I am king over Israel?’ 23 So the king said to Shimei, ‘You shall not die.’ And the king promised him on oath.

24 Mephibosheth, Saul’s grandson, also went down to meet the king. He had not taken care of his feet or trimmed his moustache or washed his clothes from the day the king left until the day he returned safely. 25 When he came from Jerusalem to meet the king, the king asked him, ‘Why didn’t you go with me, Mephibosheth?’

26 He said, ‘My lord the king, since I your servant am lame, I said, “I will have my donkey saddled and will ride on it, so that I can go with the king.” But Ziba my servant betrayed me. 27 And he has slandered your servant to my lord the king. My lord the king is like an angel of God; so do whatever you wish. 28 All my grandfather’s descendants deserved nothing but death from my lord the king, but you gave your servant a place among those who eat at your table. So what right do I have to make any more appeals to the king?’

29 The king said to him, ‘Why say more? I order you and Ziba to divide the land.’

30 Mephibosheth said to the king, ‘Let him take everything, now that my lord the king has returned home safely.’

31 Barzillai the Gileadite also came down from Rogelim to cross the Jordan with the king and to send him on his way from there. 32 Now Barzillai was very old, eighty years of age. He had provided for the king during his stay in Mahanaim, for he was a very wealthy man. 33 The king said to Barzillai, ‘Cross over with me and stay with me in Jerusalem, and I will provide for you.’

34 But Barzillai answered the king, ‘How many more years shall I live, that I should go up to Jerusalem with the king? 35 I am now eighty years old. Can I tell the difference between what is enjoyable and what is not? Can your servant taste what he eats and drinks? Can I still hear the voices of male and female singers? Why should your servant be an added burden to my lord the king? 36 Your servant will cross over the Jordan with the king for a short distance, but why should the king reward me in this way? 37 Let your servant return, that I may die in my own town near the tomb of my father and mother. But here is your servant Kimham. Let him cross over with my lord the king. Do for him whatever you wish.’

38 The king said, ‘Kimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him whatever you wish. And anything you desire from me I will do for you.’

39 So all the people crossed the Jordan, and then the king crossed over. The king kissed Barzillai and bade him farewell, and Barzillai returned to his home.

40 When the king crossed over to Gilgal, Kimham crossed with him. All the troops of Judah and half the troops of Israel had taken the king over.

41 Soon all the men of Israel were coming to the king and saying to him, ‘Why did our brothers, the men of Judah, steal the king away and bring him and his household across the Jordan, together with all his men?’

42 All the men of Judah answered the men of Israel, ‘We did this because the king is closely related to us. Why are you angry about it? Have we eaten any of the king’s provisions? Have we taken anything for ourselves?’

43 Then the men of Israel answered the men of Judah, ‘We have ten shares in the king; so we have a greater claim on David than you have. Why then do you treat us with contempt? Weren’t we the first to speak of bringing back our king?’

But the men of Judah pressed their claims even more forcefully than the men of Israel.

 

Sheba rebels against David

20 Now a troublemaker named Sheba son of Bikri, a Benjaminite, happened to be there. He sounded the trumpet and shouted,

‘We have no share in David,
    no part in Jesse’s son!
Every man to his tent, Israel!’

So all the men of Israel deserted David to follow Sheba son of Bikri. But the men of Judah stayed by their king all the way from the Jordan to Jerusalem.

When David returned to his palace in Jerusalem, he took the ten concubines he had left to take care of the palace and put them in a house under guard. He provided for them but had no sexual relations with them. They were kept in confinement till the day of their death, living as widows.

Then the king said to Amasa, ‘Summon the men of Judah to come to me within three days, and be here yourself.’ But when Amasa went to summon Judah, he took longer than the time the king had set for him.

David said to Abishai, ‘Now Sheba son of Bikri will do us more harm than Absalom did. Take your master’s men and pursue him, or he will find fortified cities and escape from us.’[b] So Joab’s men and the Kerethites and Pelethites and all the mighty warriors went out under the command of Abishai. They marched out from Jerusalem to pursue Sheba son of Bikri.

While they were at the great rock in Gibeon, Amasa came to meet them. Joab was wearing his military tunic, and strapped over it at his waist was a belt with a dagger in its sheath. As he stepped forward, it dropped out of its sheath.

Joab said to Amasa, ‘How are you, my brother?’ Then Joab took Amasa by the beard with his right hand to kiss him. 10 Amasa was not on his guard against the dagger in Joab’s hand, and Joab plunged it into his belly, and his intestines spilled out on the ground. Without being stabbed again, Amasa died. Then Joab and his brother Abishai pursued Sheba son of Bikri.

11 One of Joab’s men stood beside Amasa and said, ‘Whoever favours Joab, and whoever is for David, let him follow Joab!’ 12 Amasa lay wallowing in his blood in the middle of the road, and the man saw that all the troops came to a halt there. When he realised that everyone who came up to Amasa stopped, he dragged him from the road into a field and threw a garment over him. 13 After Amasa had been removed from the road, everyone went on with Joab to pursue Sheba son of Bikri.

14 Sheba passed through all the tribes of Israel to Abel Beth Maakah and through the entire region of the Bikrites,[c] who gathered together and followed him. 15 All the troops with Joab came and besieged Sheba in Abel Beth Maakah. They built a siege ramp up to the city, and it stood against the outer fortifications. While they were battering the wall to bring it down, 16 a wise woman called from the city, ‘Listen! Listen! Tell Joab to come here so that I can speak to him.’ 17 He went towards her, and she asked, ‘Are you Joab?’

‘I am,’ he answered.

She said, ‘Listen to what your servant has to say.’

‘I’m listening,’ he said.

18 She continued, ‘Long ago they used to say, “Get your answer at Abel,” and that settled it. 19 We are the peaceful and faithful in Israel. You are trying to destroy a city that is a mother in Israel. Why do you want to swallow up the Lord’s inheritance?’

20 ‘Far be it from me!’ Joab replied, ‘Far be it from me to swallow up or destroy! 21 That is not the case. A man named Sheba son of Bikri, from the hill country of Ephraim, has lifted up his hand against the king, against David. Hand over this one man, and I’ll withdraw from the city.’

The woman said to Joab, ‘His head will be thrown to you from the wall.’

22 Then the woman went to all the people with her wise advice, and they cut off the head of Sheba son of Bikri and threw it to Joab. So he sounded the trumpet, and his men dispersed from the city, each returning to his home. And Joab went back to the king in Jerusalem.

 

David’s officials

23 Joab was over Israel’s entire army; Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; 24 Adoniram[d] was in charge of forced labour; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; 25 Sheva was secretary; Zadok and Abiathar were priests; 26 and Ira the Jairite[e] was David’s priest.

23 July 2020

Proverbs 12:7

The wicked are overthrown and are no more,
    but the house of the righteous stands firm.


Good guys finish. The wicked may think that such persons finish last, but what matters is that – first, second, or last – the good guys are left standing in the end. The wicked, no matter how fast and how tough they may be, will eventually be overthrown. Someone faster and stronger will come along and bring them down. Or their wicked means of achieving success will be found out, and they will be disgraced. Regardless of momentary achievement, the truth is that God will overthrow the wicked. As Jude so chillingly declares, they are “wandering stars, for whom the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved forever” (Jude 13).

Meanwhile, the house of the righteous will stand because they are built on the foundation of solid rock – the words of Christ (Matthew 7:24ff), who is himself the Rock. Do not yield to temptation to compromise your obedience to Christ in an effort to keep up with the wicked. Stay with the sure win; stay with Christ.

 

2 Samuel 17-18

17 Ahithophel said to Absalom, ‘I would[a] choose twelve thousand men and set out tonight in pursuit of David. I would attack him while he is weary and weak. I would strike him with terror, and then all the people with him will flee. I would strike down only the king and bring all the people back to you. The death of the man you seek will mean the return of all; all the people will be unharmed.’ This plan seemed good to Absalom and to all the elders of Israel.

But Absalom said, ‘Summon also Hushai the Arkite, so that we can hear what he has to say as well.’ When Hushai came to him, Absalom said, ‘Ahithophel has given this advice. Should we do what he says? If not, give us your opinion.’

Hushai replied to Absalom, ‘The advice Ahithophel has given is not good this time. You know your father and his men; they are fighters, and as fierce as a wild bear robbed of her cubs. Besides, your father is an experienced fighter; he will not spend the night with the troops. Even now, he is hidden in a cave or some other place. If he should attack your troops first,[b] whoever hears about it will say, “There has been a slaughter among the troops who follow Absalom.” 10 Then even the bravest soldier, whose heart is like the heart of a lion, will melt with fear, for all Israel knows that your father is a fighter and that those with him are brave.

11 ‘So I advise you: let all Israel, from Dan to Beersheba – as numerous as the sand on the seashore – be gathered to you, with you yourself leading them into battle. 12 Then we will attack him wherever he may be found, and we will fall on him as dew settles on the ground. Neither he nor any of his men will be left alive. 13 If he withdraws into a city, then all Israel will bring ropes to that city, and we will drag it down to the valley until not so much as a pebble is left.’

14 Absalom and all the men of Israel said, ‘The advice of Hushai the Arkite is better than that of Ahithophel.’ For the Lord had determined to frustrate the good advice of Ahithophel in order to bring disaster on Absalom.

15 Hushai told Zadok and Abiathar, the priests, ‘Ahithophel has advised Absalom and the elders of Israel to do such and such, but I have advised them to do so and so. 16 Now send a message at once and tell David, “Do not spend the night at the fords in the wilderness; cross over without fail, or the king and all the people with him will be swallowed up.”’

17 Jonathan and Ahimaaz were staying at En Rogel. A female servant was to go and inform them, and they were to go and tell King David, for they could not risk being seen entering the city. 18 But a young man saw them and told Absalom. So the two of them left at once and went to the house of a man in Bahurim. He had a well in his courtyard, and they climbed down into it. 19 His wife took a covering and spread it out over the opening of the well and scattered corn over it. No one knew anything about it.

20 When Absalom’s men came to the woman at the house, they asked, ‘Where are Ahimaaz and Jonathan?’

The woman answered them, ‘They crossed over the brook.’[c] The men searched but found no one, so they returned to Jerusalem.

21 After they had gone, the two climbed out of the well and went to inform King David. They said to him, ‘Set out and cross the river at once; Ahithophel has advised such and such against you.’ 22 So David and all the people with him set out and crossed the Jordan. By daybreak, no one was left who had not crossed the Jordan.

23 When Ahithophel saw that his advice had not been followed, he saddled his donkey and set out for his house in his home town. He put his house in order and then hanged himself. So he died and was buried in his father’s tomb.

 

Absalom’s death

24 David went to Mahanaim, and Absalom crossed the Jordan with all the men of Israel. 25 Absalom had appointed Amasa over the army in place of Joab. Amasa was the son of Jether,[d] an Ishmaelite[e] who had married Abigail,[f] the daughter of Nahash and sister of Zeruiah the mother of Joab. 26 The Israelites and Absalom camped in the land of Gilead.

27 When David came to Mahanaim, Shobi son of Nahash from Rabbah of the Ammonites, and Makir son of Ammiel from Lo Debar, and Barzillai the Gileadite from Rogelim 28 brought bedding and bowls and articles of pottery. They also brought wheat and barley, flour and roasted grain, beans and lentils,[g] 29 honey and curds, sheep, and cheese from cows’ milk for David and his people to eat. For they said, ‘The people have become exhausted and hungry and thirsty in the wilderness.’

18 David mustered the men who were with him and appointed over them commanders of thousands and commanders of hundreds. David sent out his troops, a third under the command of Joab, a third under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and a third under Ittai the Gittite. The king told the troops, ‘I myself will surely march out with you.’

But the men said, ‘You must not go out; if we are forced to flee, they won’t care about us. Even if half of us die, they won’t care; but you are worth ten thousand of us.[h] It would be better now for you to give us support from the city.’

The king answered, ‘I will do whatever seems best to you.’

So the king stood beside the gate while all his men marched out in units of hundreds and of thousands. The king commanded Joab, Abishai and Ittai, ‘Be gentle with the young man Absalom for my sake.’ And all the troops heard the king giving orders concerning Absalom to each of the commanders.

David’s army marched out of the city to fight Israel, and the battle took place in the forest of Ephraim. There Israel’s troops were routed by David’s men, and the casualties that day were great – twenty thousand men. The battle spread out over the whole countryside, and the forest swallowed up more men that day than the sword.

Now Absalom happened to meet David’s men. He was riding his mule, and as the mule went under the thick branches of a large oak, Absalom’s hair got caught in the tree. He was left hanging in mid-air, while the mule he was riding kept on going.

10 When one of the men saw what had happened, he told Joab, ‘I have just seen Absalom hanging in an oak tree.’

11 Joab said to the man who had told him this, ‘What! You saw him? Why didn’t you strike him to the ground right there? Then I would have had to give you ten shekels[i] of silver and a warrior’s belt.’

12 But the man replied, ‘Even if a thousand shekels[j] were weighed out into my hands, I would not lay a hand on the king’s son. In our hearing the king commanded you and Abishai and Ittai, “Protect the young man Absalom for my sake.[k]” 13 And if I had put my life in jeopardy[l] – and nothing is hidden from the king – you would have kept your distance from me.’

14 Joab said, ‘I am not going to wait like this for you.’ So he took three javelins in his hand and plunged them into Absalom’s heart while Absalom was still alive in the oak tree. 15 And ten of Joab’s armour-bearers surrounded Absalom, struck him and killed him.

16 Then Joab sounded the trumpet, and the troops stopped pursuing Israel, for Joab halted them. 17 They took Absalom, threw him into a big pit in the forest and piled up a large heap of rocks over him. Meanwhile, all the Israelites fled to their homes.

18 During his life-time Absalom had taken a pillar and erected it in the King’s Valley as a monument to himself, for he thought, ‘I have no son to carry on the memory of my name.’ He named the pillar after himself, and it is called Absalom’s Monument to this day.

 

David mourns

19 Now Ahimaaz son of Zadok said, ‘Let me run and take the news to the king that the Lord has vindicated him by delivering him from the hand of his enemies.’

20 ‘You are not the one to take the news today,’ Joab told him. ‘You may take the news another time, but you must not do so today, because the king’s son is dead.’

21 Then Joab said to a Cushite, ‘Go, tell the king what you have seen.’ The Cushite bowed down before Joab and ran off.

22 Ahimaaz son of Zadok again said to Joab, ‘Come what may, please let me run behind the Cushite.’

But Joab replied, ‘My son, why do you want to go? You don’t have any news that will bring you a reward.’

23 He said, ‘Come what may, I want to run.’

So Joab said, ‘Run!’ Then Ahimaaz ran by way of the plain[m] and outran the Cushite.

24 While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates, the watchman went up to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked out, he saw a man running alone. 25 The watchman called out to the king and reported it.

The king said, ‘If he is alone, he must have good news.’ And the runner came closer and closer.

26 Then the watchman saw another runner, and he called down to the gatekeeper, ‘Look, another man running alone!’

The king said, ‘He must be bringing good news, too.’

27 The watchman said, ‘It seems to me that the first one runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok.’

‘He’s a good man,’ the king said. ‘He comes with good news.’

28 Then Ahimaaz called out to the king, ‘All is well!’ He bowed down before the king with his face to the ground and said, ‘Praise be to the Lord your God! He has delivered up those who lifted their hands against my lord the king.’

29 The king asked, ‘Is the young man Absalom safe?’

Ahimaaz answered, ‘I saw great confusion just as Joab was about to send the king’s servant and me, your servant, but I don’t know what it was.’

30 The king said, ‘Stand aside and wait here.’ So he stepped aside and stood there.

31 Then the Cushite arrived and said, ‘My lord the king, hear the good news! The Lord has vindicated you today by delivering you from the hand of all who rose up against you.’

32 The king asked the Cushite, ‘Is the young man Absalom safe?’

The Cushite replied, ‘May the enemies of my lord the king and all who rise up to harm you be like that young man.’

33 The king was shaken. He went up to the room over the gateway and wept. As he went, he said: ‘O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you – O Absalom, my son, my son!’[n]

22 July 2020

Proverbs 12:6

The words of the wicked lie in wait for blood,
    but the speech of the upright rescues them.

The intent of the wicked is to harm. Out of anger they may try to ruin another’s reputation, perhaps to coax the other to anger and sin. That is what Jesus’ enemies tried to do with their questions and slander. The wicked use words to draw blood. Sometimes, though, the wicked are acting merely out of their own desire for advancement. You happen to be a competitor for promotion, to get a sale, to earn the academic award, to buy the house. The wicked will lie, cheat, do whatever to get the advantage, not concerned about the blood that is drawn from you.

How, then, do you respond? Play by the same rules so that you are on the same playing field? Use the eye-for-an-eye principle? The best course of action is to speak and act righteously; not self-righteously with arrogance, but in biblical righteousness in which you speak and act in the spirit of Christ. You are called of God to live as a citizen of his kingdom, following the standard Jesus lay forth in his teachings and lived out for us as an example. Your true words spoken in love and in integrity will time and again deliver you.

But more to the point is that God hears the prayers of the upright who cry out to him. He is your deliverer. Put your trust in him to meet your daily needs and protect you. His guarantee is that he will always do what is good for you and allows you to glorify him. The mouth of the upright delivers them for they put their confidence, not in man, but in God.

 

2 Samuel 16

16 When David had gone a short distance beyond the summit, there was Ziba, the steward of Mephibosheth, waiting to meet him. He had a string of donkeys saddled and loaded with two hundred loaves of bread, a hundred cakes of raisins, a hundred cakes of figs and a skin of wine.

The king asked Ziba, ‘Why have you brought these?’

Ziba answered, ‘The donkeys are for the king’s household to ride on, the bread and fruit are for the men to eat, and the wine is to refresh those who become exhausted in the wilderness.’

The king then asked, ‘Where is your master’s grandson?’

Ziba said to him, ‘He is staying in Jerusalem, because he thinks, “Today the Israelites will restore to me my grandfather’s kingdom.”’

Then the king said to Ziba, ‘All that belonged to Mephibosheth is now yours.’

‘I humbly bow,’ Ziba said. ‘May I find favour in your eyes, my lord the king.’

 

Shimei curses David

As King David approached Bahurim, a man from the same clan as Saul’s family came out from there. His name was Shimei son of Gera, and he cursed as he came out. He pelted David and all the king’s officials with stones, though all the troops and the special guard were on David’s right and left. As he cursed, Shimei said, ‘Get out, get out, you murderer, you scoundrel! The Lord has repaid you for all the blood you shed in the household of Saul, in whose place you have reigned. The Lord has given the kingdom into the hands of your son Absalom. You have come to ruin because you are a murderer!’

Then Abishai son of Zeruiah said to the king, ‘Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Let me go over and cut off his head.’

10 But the king said, ‘What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, “Curse David,” who can ask, “Why do you do this?”’

11 David then said to Abishai and all his officials, ‘My son, my own flesh and blood, is trying to kill me. How much more, then, this Benjaminite! Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. 12 It may be that the Lord will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today.’

13 So David and his men continued along the road while Shimei was going along the hillside opposite him, cursing as he went and throwing stones at him and showering him with dirt. 14 The king and all the people with him arrived at their destination exhausted. And there he refreshed himself.

 

The advice of Hushai and Ahithophel

15 Meanwhile, Absalom and all the men of Israel came to Jerusalem, and Ahithophel was with him. 16 Then Hushai the Arkite, David’s confidant, went to Absalom and said to him, ‘Long live the king! Long live the king!’

17 Absalom said to Hushai, ‘So this is the love you show your friend? If he’s your friend, why didn’t you go with him?’

18 Hushai said to Absalom, ‘No, the one chosen by the Lord, by these people and by all the men of Israel – his I will be, and I will remain with him. 19 Furthermore, whom should I serve? Should I not serve the son? Just as I served your father, so I will serve you.’

20 Absalom said to Ahithophel, ‘Give us your advice. What should we do?’

21 Ahithophel answered, ‘Sleep with your father’s concubines whom he left to take care of the palace. Then all Israel will hear that you have made yourself obnoxious to your father, and the hands of everyone with you will be more resolute.’ 22 So they pitched a tent for Absalom on the roof, and he slept with his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel.

23 Now in those days the advice Ahithophel gave was like that of one who enquires of God. That was how both David and Absalom regarded all of Ahithophel’s advice.

21 July 2020

Proverbs 12:5

The plans of the righteous are just,
    but the advice of the wicked is deceitful.

To whom do you look for counsel? Where do you go for advice? You may unwittingly be using counselors who present to you a deceitful view of life. Your counselors may be TV shows through whom you are learning about relationships. They may be movies from which you are learning to accept violence and easy sex. They may be through advertisements, secular books and magazines. All these venues are giving you counsel. Do you understand that most of such counsel is deceitful, either telling outright lies or distorting truth. Every work of fiction is doing more than telling a story; it is presenting a point of view that you may even unconsciously be taking in.

All the more reason then that you should be receiving the “thoughts of the righteous.” You need to be attending worship. David says in Psalm 73:16-17 that he had a distorted view of life until he “went into the sanctuary of God.” Paul says in Philippians 4:8, “whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.” Expose yourself to good counsel, whether it be that you are seeking godly counselors or that you are exposing yourself to godly influences.

Today, whom will you listen to? Who will inform your worldview? Who will set the pace for how you look at your day and respond to the circumstances in your life? Pray to God for wise counselors.

2 Samuel 15

15 In the course of time, Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men to run ahead of him. He would get up early and stand by the side of the road leading to the city gate. Whenever anyone came with a complaint to be placed before the king for a decision, Absalom would call out to him, ‘What town are you from?’ He would answer, ‘Your servant is from one of the tribes of Israel.’ Then Absalom would say to him, ‘Look, your claims are valid and proper, but there is no representative of the king to hear you.’ And Absalom would add, ‘If only I were appointed judge in the land! Then everyone who has a complaint or case could come to me and I would see that they receive justice.’

Also, whenever anyone approached him to bow down before him, Absalom would reach out his hand, take hold of him and kiss him. Absalom behaved in this way towards all the Israelites who came to the king asking for justice, and so he stole the hearts of the people of Israel.

At the end of four[a] years, Absalom said to the king, ‘Let me go to Hebron and fulfil a vow I made to the LordWhile your servant was living at Geshur in Aram, I made this vow: “If the Lord takes me back to Jerusalem, I will worship the Lord in Hebron.”[b]

The king said to him, ‘Go in peace.’ So he went to Hebron.

10 Then Absalom sent secret messengers throughout the tribes of Israel to say, ‘As soon as you hear the sound of the trumpets, then say, “Absalom is king in Hebron.”’ 11 Two hundred men from Jerusalem had accompanied Absalom. They had been invited as guests and went quite innocently, knowing nothing about the matter. 12 While Absalom was offering sacrifices, he also sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s counsellor, to come from Giloh, his home town. And so the conspiracy gained strength, and Absalom’s following kept on increasing.

 

David flees

13 A messenger came and told David, ‘The hearts of the people of Israel are with Absalom.’

14 Then David said to all his officials who were with him in Jerusalem, ‘Come! We must flee, or none of us will escape from Absalom. We must leave immediately, or he will move quickly to overtake us and bring ruin on us and put the city to the sword.’

15 The king’s officials answered him, ‘Your servants are ready to do whatever our lord the king chooses.’

16 The king set out, with his entire household following him; but he left ten concubines to take care of the palace. 17 So the king set out, with all the people following him, and they halted at the edge of the city. 18 All his men marched past him, along with all the Kerethites and Pelethites; and all the six hundred Gittites who had accompanied him from Gath marched before the king.

19 The king said to Ittai the Gittite, ‘Why should you come along with us? Go back and stay with King Absalom. You are a foreigner, an exile from your homeland. 20 You came only yesterday. And today shall I make you wander about with us, when I do not know where I am going? Go back, and take your people with you. May the Lord show you kindness and faithfulness.’[c]

21 But Ittai replied to the king, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king may be, whether it means life or death, there will your servant be.’

22 David said to Ittai, ‘Go ahead, march on.’ So Ittai the Gittite marched on with all his men and the families that were with him.

23 The whole countryside wept aloud as all the people passed by. The king also crossed the Kidron Valley, and all the people moved on towards the wilderness.

24 Zadok was there, too, and all the Levites who were with him were carrying the ark of the covenant of God. They set down the ark of God, and Abiathar offered sacrifices until all the people had finished leaving the city.

25 Then the king said to Zadok, ‘Take the ark of God back into the city. If I find favour in the Lord’s eyes, he will bring me back and let me see it and his dwelling-place again. 26 But if he says, “I am not pleased with you,” then I am ready; let him do to me whatever seems good to him.’

27 The king also said to Zadok the priest, ‘Do you understand? Go back to the city with my blessing. Take your son Ahimaaz with you, and also Abiathar’s son Jonathan. You and Abiathar return with your two sons. 28 I will wait at the fords in the wilderness until word comes from you to inform me.’ 29 So Zadok and Abiathar took the ark of God back to Jerusalem and stayed there.

30 But David continued up the Mount of Olives, weeping as he went; his head was covered and he was barefoot. All the people with him covered their heads too and were weeping as they went up. 31 Now David had been told, ‘Ahithophel is among the conspirators with Absalom.’ So David prayed, ‘Lord, turn Ahithophel’s counsel into foolishness.’

32 When David arrived at the summit, where people used to worship God, Hushai the Arkite was there to meet him, his robe torn and dust on his head. 33 David said to him, ‘If you go with me, you will be a burden to me. 34 But if you return to the city and say to Absalom, “Your Majesty, I will be your servant; I was your father’s servant in the past, but now I will be your servant,” then you can help me by frustrating Ahithophel’s advice. 35 Won’t the priests Zadok and Abiathar be there with you? Tell them anything you hear in the king’s palace. 36 Their two sons, Ahimaaz son of Zadok and Jonathan son of Abiathar, are there with them. Send them to me with anything you hear.’

37 So Hushai, David’s confidant, arrived at Jerusalem as Absalom was entering the city.

20 July 2020

Proverbs 12:4

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,
    but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.

An excellent wife is her husband’s glory (1 Corinthians 11:7). She is the fulfillment of the original intention of being a “helper fit for him” (Genesis 2:18). She is her husband’s joy, and he delights in praising her: “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all” (Proverbs 31:29). And likewise an excellent husband is the joy of his wife. He makes her secure in his protection and in his love, for, like Christ for the church, he gives himself up for her to present her to Christ in splendor.

All the reason then, husbands and wives, that you should strive for excellence as wives and as husbands. You have power to be great blessing; wives have the potential to be the glory of their husbands, and husbands to be as Christ for their wives.

But the wife who brings shame is like rottenness to her husband’s bones. She has the power to tear down his spirit through her shameful behavior. She is the one in whom he delights; instead, she brings him shame. So the shameful husband for his wife. The one whom she is to look up to becomes the very one who acts disgracefully, and so it shatters her spirit.

Again, all the more reason, wives and husbands, to strive for excellence. Your sins do not merely affect yourselves, but can devastate your partner who is one with you. Keep before you to glorify God through the way you honor and love your spouse. For Christ so glorified his Father by sacrificial love for the church.

2 Samuel 13-14

13 In the course of time, Amnon son of David fell in love with Tamar, the beautiful sister of Absalom son of David.

Amnon became so obsessed with his sister Tamar that he made himself ill. She was a virgin, and it seemed impossible for him to do anything to her.

Now Amnon had an advisor named Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother. Jonadab was a very shrewd man. He asked Amnon, ‘Why do you, the king’s son, look so haggard morning after morning? Won’t you tell me?’

Amnon said to him, ‘I’m in love with Tamar, my brother Absalom’s sister.’

‘Go to bed and pretend to be ill,’ Jonadab said. ‘When your father comes to see you, say to him, “I would like my sister Tamar to come and give me something to eat. Let her prepare the food in my sight so that I may watch her and then eat it from her hand.”’

So Amnon lay down and pretended to be ill. When the king came to see him, Amnon said to him, ‘I would like my sister Tamar to come and make some special bread in my sight, so that I may eat from her hand.’

David sent word to Tamar at the palace: ‘Go to the house of your brother Amnon and prepare some food for him.’ So Tamar went to the house of her brother Amnon, who was lying down. She took some dough, kneaded it, made the bread in his sight and baked it. Then she took the pan and served him the bread, but he refused to eat.

‘Send everyone out of here,’ Amnon said. So everyone left him. 10 Then Amnon said to Tamar, ‘Bring the food here into my bedroom so that I may eat from your hand.’ And Tamar took the bread she had prepared and brought it to her brother Amnon in his bedroom. 11 But when she took it to him to eat, he grabbed her and said, ‘Come to bed with me, my sister.’

12 ‘No, my brother!’ she said to him. ‘Don’t force me! Such a thing should not be done in Israel! Don’t do this wicked thing. 13 What about me? Where could I get rid of my disgrace? And what about you? You would be like one of the wicked fools in Israel. Please speak to the king; he will not keep me from being married to you.’ 14 But he refused to listen to her, and since he was stronger than she, he raped her.

15 Then Amnon hated her with intense hatred. In fact, he hated her more than he had loved her. Amnon said to her, ‘Get up and get out!’

16 ‘No!’ she said to him. ‘Sending me away would be a greater wrong than what you have already done to me.’

But he refused to listen to her. 17 He called his personal servant and said, ‘Get this woman out of my sight and bolt the door after her.’ 18 So his servant put her out and bolted the door after her. She was wearing an ornate[a] robe, for this was the kind of garment the virgin daughters of the king wore. 19 Tamar put ashes on her head and tore the ornate robe she was wearing. She put her hands on her head and went away, weeping aloud as she went.

20 Her brother Absalom said to her, ‘Has that Amnon, your brother, been with you? Be quiet for now, my sister; he is your brother. Don’t take this thing to heart.’ And Tamar lived in her brother Absalom’s house, a desolate woman.

21 When King David heard all this, he was furious. 22 And Absalom never said a word to Amnon, either good or bad; he hated Amnon because he had disgraced his sister Tamar.

 

Absalom kills Amnon

23 Two years later, when Absalom’s sheep-shearers were at Baal Hazor near the border of Ephraim, he invited all the king’s sons to come there. 24 Absalom went to the king and said, ‘Your servant has had shearers come. Will the king and his attendants please join me?’

25 ‘No, my son,’ the king replied. ‘All of us should not go; we would only be a burden to you.’ Although Absalom urged him, he still refused to go but gave him his blessing.

26 Then Absalom said, ‘If not, please let my brother Amnon come with us.’

The king asked him, ‘Why should he go with you?’ 27 But Absalom urged him, so he sent with him Amnon and the rest of the king’s sons.

28 Absalom ordered his men, ‘Listen! When Amnon is in high spirits from drinking wine and I say to you, “Strike Amnon down,” then kill him. Don’t be afraid. Haven’t I given you this order? Be strong and brave.’ 29 So Absalom’s men did to Amnon what Absalom had ordered. Then all the king’s sons got up, mounted their mules and fled.

30 While they were on their way, the report came to David: ‘Absalom has struck down all the king’s sons; not one of them is left.’ 31 The king stood up, tore his clothes and lay down on the ground; and all his attendants stood by with their clothes torn.

32 But Jonadab son of Shimeah, David’s brother, said, ‘My lord should not think that they killed all the princes; only Amnon is dead. This has been Absalom’s express intention ever since the day that Amnon raped his sister Tamar. 33 My lord the king should not be concerned about the report that all the king’s sons are dead. Only Amnon is dead.’

34 Meanwhile, Absalom had fled.

Now the man standing watch looked up and saw many people on the road west of him, coming down the side of the hill. The watchman went and told the king, ‘I see men in the direction of Horonaim, on the side of the hill.’[b]

35 Jonadab said to the king, ‘See, the king’s sons have come; it has happened just as your servant said.’

36 As he finished speaking, the king’s sons came in, wailing loudly. The king, too, and all his attendants wept very bitterly.

37 Absalom fled and went to Talmai son of Ammihud, the king of Geshur. But King David mourned many days for his son.

38 After Absalom fled and went to Geshur, he stayed there for three years. 39 And King David longed to go to Absalom, for he was consoled concerning Amnon’s death.

 

Absalom returns to Jerusalem

14 Joab son of Zeruiah knew that the king’s heart longed for Absalom. So Joab sent someone to Tekoa and had a wise woman brought from there. He said to her, ‘Pretend you are in mourning. Dress in mourning clothes, and don’t use any cosmetic lotions. Act like a woman who has spent many days grieving for the dead. Then go to the king and speak these words to him.’ And Joab put the words in her mouth.

When the woman from Tekoa went[c] to the king, she fell with her face to the ground to pay him honour, and she said, ‘Help me, Your Majesty!’

The king asked her, ‘What is troubling you?’

She said, ‘I am a widow; my husband is dead. I your servant had two sons. They got into a fight with each other in the field, and no one was there to separate them. One struck the other and killed him. Now the whole clan has risen up against your servant; they say, “Hand over the one who struck his brother down, so that we may put him to death for the life of his brother whom he killed; then we will get rid of the heir as well.” They would put out the only burning coal I have left, leaving my husband neither name nor descendant on the face of the earth.’

The king said to the woman, ‘Go home, and I will issue an order on your behalf.’

But the woman from Tekoa said to him, ‘Let my lord the king pardon me and my family, and let the king and his throne be without guilt.’

10 The king replied, ‘If anyone says anything to you, bring them to me, and they will not bother you again.’

11 She said, ‘Then let the king invoke the Lord his God to prevent the avenger of blood from adding to the destruction, so that my son shall not be destroyed.’

‘As surely as the Lord lives,’ he said, ‘not one hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground.’

12 Then the woman said, ‘Let your servant speak a word to my lord the king.’

‘Speak,’ he replied.

13 The woman said, ‘Why then have you devised a thing like this against the people of God? When the king says this, does he not convict himself, for the king has not brought back his banished son? 14 Like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be recovered, so we must die. But that is not what God desires; rather, he devises ways so that a banished person does not remain banished from him.

15 ‘And now I have come to say this to my lord the king because the people have made me afraid. Your servant thought, “I will speak to the king; perhaps he will grant his servant’s request. 16 Perhaps the king will agree to deliver his servant from the hand of the man who is trying to cut off both me and my son from God’s inheritance.”

17 ‘And now your servant says, “May the word of my lord the king secure my inheritance, for my lord the king is like an angel of God in discerning good and evil. May the Lord your God be with you.”’

18 Then the king said to the woman, ‘Don’t keep from me the answer to what I am going to ask you.’

‘Let my lord the king speak,’ the woman said.

19 The king asked, ‘Isn’t the hand of Joab with you in all this?’

The woman answered, ‘As surely as you live, my lord the king, no one can turn to the right or to the left from anything my lord the king says. Yes, it was your servant Joab who instructed me to do this and who put all these words into the mouth of your servant. 20 Your servant Joab did this to change the present situation. My lord has wisdom like that of an angel of God – he knows everything that happens in the land.’

21 The king said to Joab, ‘Very well, I will do it. Go, bring back the young man Absalom.’

22 Joab fell with his face to the ground to pay him honour, and he blessed the king. Joab said, ‘Today your servant knows that he has found favour in your eyes, my lord the king, because the king has granted his servant’s request.’

23 Then Joab went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24 But the king said, ‘He must go to his own house; he must not see my face.’ So Absalom went to his own house and did not see the face of the king.

25 In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him. 26 Whenever he cut the hair of his head – he used to cut his hair once a year because it became too heavy for him – he would weigh it, and its weight was two hundred shekels[d] by the royal standard.

27 Three sons and a daughter were born to Absalom. His daughter’s name was Tamar, and she became a beautiful woman.

28 Absalom lived for two years in Jerusalem without seeing the king’s face. 29 Then Absalom sent for Joab in order to send him to the king, but Joab refused to come to him. So he sent a second time, but he refused to come. 30 Then he said to his servants, ‘Look, Joab’s field is next to mine, and he has barley there. Go and set it on fire.’ So Absalom’s servants set the field on fire.

31 Then Joab did go to Absalom’s house, and he said to him, ‘Why have your servants set my field on fire?’

32 Absalom said to Joab, ‘Look, I sent word to you and said, “Come here so that I can send you to the king to ask, ‘Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me if I were still there!’” Now then, I want to see the king’s face, and if I am guilty of anything, let him put me to death.’

33 So Joab went to the king and told him this. Then the king summoned Absalom, and he came in and bowed down with his face to the ground before the king. And the king kissed Absalom.

18 July 2020

Hebrews 8:1-9:14

8 Now the main point of what we are saying is this: we do have such a high priest, who sat down at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven, and who serves in the sanctuary, the true tabernacle set up by the Lord, not by a mere human being.

Every high priest is appointed to offer both gifts and sacrifices, and so it was necessary for this one also to have something to offer. If he were on earth, he would not be a priest, for there are already priests who offer the gifts prescribed by the law. They serve at a sanctuary that is a copy and shadow of what is in heaven. This is why Moses was warned when he was about to build the tabernacle: ‘See to it that you make everything according to the pattern shown you on the mountain.’a] But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises.

For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. But God found fault with the people and saidb]:

‘The days are coming, declares the Lord,
    when I will make a new covenant
with the people of Israel
    and with the people of Judah.
It will not be like the covenant
    I made with their ancestors
when I took them by the hand
    to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
    and I turned away from them,
declares the Lord.
10 This is the covenant I will establish with the people of Israel
    after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
    and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
    and they will be my people.
11 No longer will they teach their neighbours,
    or say to one another, “Know the Lord,”
because they will all know me,
    from the least of them to the greatest.
12 For I will forgive their wickedness
    and will remember their sins no more.’c]

13 By calling this covenant ‘new’, he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and outdated will soon disappear.

 

Worship in the earthly tabernacle

9 Now the first covenant had regulations for worship and also an earthly sanctuary. A tabernacle was set up. In its first room were the lampstand and the table with its consecrated bread; this was called the Holy Place. Behind the second curtain was a room called the Most Holy Place, which had the golden altar of incense and the gold-covered ark of the covenant. This ark contained the gold jar of manna, Aaron’s staff that had budded, and the stone tablets of the covenant. Above the ark were the cherubim of the Glory, overshadowing the atonement cover. But we cannot discuss these things in detail now.

When everything had been arranged like this, the priests entered regularly into the outer room to carry on their ministry. But only the high priest entered the inner room, and that only once a year, and never without blood, which he offered for himself and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. The Holy Spirit was showing by this that the way into the Most Holy Place had not yet been disclosed as long as the first tabernacle was still functioning. This is an illustration for the present time, indicating that the gifts and sacrifices being offered were not able to clear the conscience of the worshipper. 10 They are only a matter of food and drink and various ceremonial washings – external regulations applying until the time of the new order.

 

The blood of Christ

11 But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here,d] he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. 12 He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, so obtaininge] eternal redemption. 13 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. 14 How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death,f] so that we may serve the living God!

Prayer: God our Father, You have prepared for those who live You such good things as pass man’s understanding: pour into our hearts such love towards You, that we, loving You above all things, may obtain Your promises which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

17 July 2020

Proverbs 12:3

No one can be established through wickedness,
    but the righteous cannot be uprooted.

No one is established by wickedness because the soil of such a heart is too poor to sustain strong roots. The soil is rocky and prevents roots from burrowing deep; it is barren of nutrients that feed the roots; it is infested with weeds and thorns that choke whatever may be lasting. Thus, though the wicked may appear to be established; though they may appear to grow quickly, they will wither or be plucked. God sees them and he will pluck them easily from the harvest.
The root of the righteous, on the other hand, grow deep because of fertile clean soil. They are fed with the water of the Holy Spirit; they feed upon the nutrients of God’s Word. They are tended by the Good Gardener, who protects them from blight and pests. Thus, they grow strong and fruitful.

How is your prayer life? Your study of God’s Word? Your fellowship with God’s people? These things are meant to nurture your spiritual roots. Now that you are planted in Christ by Christ, all the more give attention to the means he has provided for your growth in him.

2 Samuel 12

12 The Lord sent Nathan to David. When he came to him, he said, ‘There were two men in a certain town, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had a very large number of sheep and cattle, but the poor man had nothing except one little ewe lamb that he had bought. He raised it, and it grew up with him and his children. It shared his food, drank from his cup and even slept in his arms. It was like a daughter to him.

‘Now a traveller came to the rich man, but the rich man refrained from taking one of his own sheep or cattle to prepare a meal for the traveller who had come to him. Instead, he took the ewe lamb that belonged to the poor man and prepared it for the one who had come to him.’

David burned with anger against the man and said to Nathan, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, the man who did this must die! He must pay for that lamb four times over, because he did such a thing and had no pity.’

Then Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: “I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul. I gave your master’s house to you, and your master’s wives into your arms. I gave you all Israel and Judah. And if all this had been too little, I would have given you even more. Why did you despise the word of the Lord by doing what is evil in his eyes? You struck down Uriah the Hittite with the sword and took his wife to be your own. You killed him with the sword of the Ammonites. 10 Now, therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you despised me and took the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your own.”

11 ‘This is what the Lord says: “Out of your own household I am going to bring calamity on you. Before your very eyes I will take your wives and give them to one who is close to you, and he will sleep with your wives in broad daylight. 12 You did it in secret, but I will do this thing in broad daylight before all Israel.”’

13 Then David said to Nathan, ‘I have sinned against the Lord.’

Nathan replied, ‘The Lord has taken away your sin. You are not going to die. 14 But because by doing this you have shown utter contempt for the Lord, the son born to you will die.’

15 After Nathan had gone home, the Lord struck the child that Uriah’s wife had borne to David, and he became ill. 16 David pleaded with God for the child. He fasted and spent the nights lying in sackcloth on the ground. 17 The elders of his household stood beside him to get him up from the ground, but he refused, and he would not eat any food with them.

18 On the seventh day the child died. David’s attendants were afraid to tell him that the child was dead, for they thought, ‘While the child was still living, he wouldn’t listen to us when we spoke to him. How can we now tell him the child is dead? He may do something desperate.’

19 David noticed that his attendants were whispering among themselves, and he realised that the child was dead. ‘Is the child dead?’ he asked.

‘Yes,’ they replied, ‘he is dead.’

20 Then David got up from the ground. After he had washed, put on lotions and changed his clothes, he went into the house of the Lord and worshipped. Then he went to his own house, and at his request they served him food, and he ate.

21 His attendants asked him, ‘Why are you acting in this way? While the child was alive, you fasted and wept, but now that the child is dead, you get up and eat!’

22 He answered, ‘While the child was still alive, I fasted and wept. I thought, “Who knows? The Lord may be gracious to me and let the child live.” 23 But now that he is dead, why should I go on fasting? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.’

24 Then David comforted his wife Bathsheba, and he went to her and made love to her. She gave birth to a son, and they named him Solomon. The Lord loved him; 25 and because the Lord loved him, he sent word through Nathan the prophet to name him Jedidiah.

26 Meanwhile Joab fought against Rabbah of the Ammonites and captured the royal citadel. 27 Joab then sent messengers to David, saying, ‘I have fought against Rabbah and taken its water supply. 28 Now muster the rest of the troops and besiege the city and capture it. Otherwise I shall take the city, and it will be named after me.’

29 So David mustered the entire army and went to Rabbah, and attacked and captured it. 30 David took the crown from their king’s head, and it was placed on his own head. It weighed a talent of gold, and it was set with precious stones. David took a great quantity of plunder from the city 31 and brought out the people who were there, consigning them to labour with saws and with iron picks and axes, and he made them work at brickmaking. David did this to all the Ammonite towns. Then he and his entire army returned to Jerusalem.

16 July 2020

Proverbs 12:2

Good people obtain favour from the Lord,
    but he condemns those who devise wicked schemes.

This proverb seems to make the case that we do earn favor from the Lord, that he will accept us into heaven according to our goodness. Those who are good obtain favor; those who are bad lose out.

That last sentence is actually true. God does not receive the unrighteous into heaven. The problem is that no one is good. “None is righteous, no, not one” (Romans 3:10). And as Jesus said, “A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit” (Matthew 7:18). Every person then must somehow be made good for his deeds to be truly good and thus obtain God’s saving favor.

Thanks be to God for sending the one Good Man, who perfectly fulfilled the law and obtained favor from the Lord that he might save his people. He has given to us his righteousness that we might be “good” before God and thus obtain his favor. Give thanks to God today for the Good Son of Man who has made you good before God. All the more determine to live in such a way, not to win, but to show your delight in God’s favor.

 

2 Samuel 10-11

10 In the course of time, the king of the Ammonites died, and his son Hanun succeeded him as king. David thought, ‘I will show kindness to Hanun son of Nahash, just as his father showed kindness to me.’ So David sent a delegation to express his sympathy to Hanun concerning his father.

When David’s men came to the land of the Ammonites, the Ammonite commanders said to Hanun their lord, ‘Do you think David is honouring your father by sending envoys to you to express sympathy? Hasn’t David sent them to you only to explore the city and spy it out and overthrow it?’ So Hanun seized David’s envoys, shaved off half of each man’s beard, cut off their garments at the buttocks, and sent them away.

When David was told about this, he sent messengers to meet the men, for they were greatly humiliated. The king said, ‘Stay at Jericho till your beards have grown, and then come back.’

When the Ammonites realised that they had become obnoxious to David, they hired twenty thousand Aramean foot soldiers from Beth Rehob and Zobah, as well as the king of Maakah with a thousand men, and also twelve thousand men from Tob.

On hearing this, David sent Joab out with the entire army of fighting men. The Ammonites came out and drew up in battle formation at the entrance of their city gate, while the Arameans of Zobah and Rehob and the men of Tob and Maakah were by themselves in the open country.

Joab saw that there were battle lines in front of him and behind him; so he selected some of the best troops in Israel and deployed them against the Arameans. 10 He put the rest of the men under the command of Abishai his brother and deployed them against the Ammonites. 11 Joab said, ‘If the Arameans are too strong for me, then you are to come to my rescue; but if the Ammonites are too strong for you, then I will come to rescue you. 12 Be strong, and let us fight bravely for our people and the cities of our God. The Lord will do what is good in his sight.’

13 Then Joab and the troops with him advanced to fight the Arameans, and they fled before him. 14 When the Ammonites realised that the Arameans were fleeing, they fled before Abishai and went inside the city. So Joab returned from fighting the Ammonites and came to Jerusalem.

15 After the Arameans saw that they had been routed by Israel, they regrouped. 16 Hadadezer had Arameans brought from beyond the River Euphrates; they went to Helam, with Shobak the commander of Hadadezer’s army leading them.

17 When David was told of this, he gathered all Israel, crossed the Jordan and went to Helam. The Arameans formed their battle lines to meet David and fought against him. 18 But they fled before Israel, and David killed seven hundred of their charioteers and forty thousand of their foot soldiers. He also struck down Shobak the commander of their army, and he died there. 19 When all the kings who were vassals of Hadadezer saw that they had been routed by Israel, they made peace with the Israelites and became subject to them.

So the Arameans were afraid to help the Ammonites any more.

 

David and Bathsheba

11 In the spring, at the time when kings go off to war, David sent Joab out with the king’s men and the whole Israelite army. They destroyed the Ammonites and besieged Rabbah. But David remained in Jerusalem.

One evening David got up from his bed and walked around on the roof of the palace. From the roof he saw a woman washing. The woman was very beautiful, and David sent someone to find out about her. The man said, ‘She is Bathsheba, the daughter of Eliam and the wife of Uriah the Hittite.’ Then David sent messengers to get her. She came to him, and he slept with her. (Now she was purifying herself from her monthly uncleanness.) Then she went back home. The woman conceived and sent word to David, saying, ‘I am pregnant.’

So David sent this word to Joab: ‘Send me Uriah the Hittite.’ And Joab sent him to David. When Uriah came to him, David asked him how Joab was, how the soldiers were and how the war was going. Then David said to Uriah, ‘Go down to your house and wash your feet.’ So Uriah left the palace, and a gift from the king was sent after him. But Uriah slept at the entrance to the palace with all his master’s servants and did not go down to his house.

10 David was told, ‘Uriah did not go home.’ So he asked Uriah, ‘Haven’t you just come from a military campaign? Why didn’t you go home?’

11 Uriah said to David, ‘The ark and Israel and Judah are staying in tents, and my commander Joab and my lord’s men are camped in the open country. How could I go to my house to eat and drink and make love to my wife? As surely as you live, I will not do such a thing!’

12 Then David said to him, ‘Stay here one more day, and tomorrow I will send you back.’ So Uriah remained in Jerusalem that day and the next. 13 At David’s invitation, he ate and drank with him, and David made him drunk. But in the evening Uriah went out to sleep on his mat among his master’s servants; he did not go home.

14 In the morning David wrote a letter to Joab and sent it with Uriah. 15 In it he wrote, ‘Put Uriah out in front where the fighting is fiercest. Then withdraw from him so that he will be struck down and die.’

16 So while Joab had the city under siege, he put Uriah at a place where he knew the strongest defenders were. 17 When the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, some of the men in David’s army fell; moreover, Uriah the Hittite died.

18 Joab sent David a full account of the battle. 19 He instructed the messenger: ‘When you have finished giving the king this account of the battle, 20 the king’s anger may flare up, and he may ask you, “Why did you get so close to the city to fight? Didn’t you know they would shoot arrows from the wall? 21 Who killed Abimelek son of Jerub-Besheth? Didn’t a woman drop an upper millstone on him from the wall, so that he died in Thebez? Why did you get so close to the wall?” If he asks you this, then say to him, “Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.”’

22 The messenger set out, and when he arrived he told David everything Joab had sent him to say. 23 The messenger said to David, ‘The men overpowered us and came out against us in the open, but we drove them back to the entrance of the city gate. 24 Then the archers shot arrows at your servants from the wall, and some of the king’s men died. Moreover, your servant Uriah the Hittite is dead.’

25 David told the messenger, ‘Say this to Joab: “Don’t let this upset you; the sword devours one as well as another. Press the attack against the city and destroy it.” Say this to encourage Joab.’

26 When Uriah’s wife heard that her husband was dead, she mourned for him. 27 After the time of mourning was over, David had her brought to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing David had done displeased the Lord.

15 July 2020

Proverbs 12:1

Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge,
    but whoever hates correction is stupid.

That’s a blunt translation! It gets, however, to the essential difference between the wise and the foolish; indeed, it expresses the reason why the wise are wise and the foolish are foolish. The lover of knowledge loves discipline because discipline leads him to knowledge. He wants to be corrected when his thinking is going astray because more dear to him than his ego is obtaining truth.

The fool hates reproof because more important to him than truth is his pride. It is more important to him to think that others consider him knowledgeable than to actually be knowledgeable. Opinion – opinion about himself – is what matters most.

That kind of thinking, according to the proverb, is plain stupid because it leaves the fool with a stupid mind. He is stupid about what truly matters and is stupid in relation to how much knowledge he possesses. The wise use reproof to their benefit to train their minds, to gain further knowledge, to become more self-disciplined and thus lead to respect and usefulness.

Apply this spiritually. Remember, God disciplines us because we are his children. We are to desire discipline so that we may grow in righteousness, that we may know God rightly, that we may be useful in Christ’s kingdom. We should desire to be corrected about our speech, our doctrine, our behavior so that all the more we will conform to Christ Jesus. Be alert to God’s ways of correcting you today through your circumstances and the words of others, however they may be said to you.

 

2 Samuel 8-9

8 In the course of time, David defeated the Philistines and subdued them, and he took Metheg Ammah from the control of the Philistines.

David also defeated the Moabites. He made them lie down on the ground and measured them off with a length of cord. Every two lengths of them were put to death, and the third length was allowed to live. So the Moabites became subject to David and brought him tribute.

Moreover, David defeated Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah, when he went to restore his monument at the River Euphrates. David captured a thousand of his chariots, seven thousand charioteers and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung all but a hundred of the chariot horses.

When the Arameans of Damascus came to help Hadadezer king of Zobah, David struck down twenty-two thousand of them. He put garrisons in the Aramean kingdom of Damascus, and the Arameans became subject to him and brought tribute. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.

David took the gold shields that belonged to the officers of Hadadezer and brought them to Jerusalem. From Tebah and Berothai, towns that belonged to Hadadezer, King David took a great quantity of bronze.

When Tou king of Hamath heard that David had defeated the entire army of Hadadezer, 10 he sent his son Joram to King David to greet him and congratulate him on his victory in battle over Hadadezer, who had been at war with Tou. Joram brought with him articles of silver, of gold and of bronze.

11 King David dedicated these articles to the Lord, as he had done with the silver and gold from all the nations he had subdued: 12 Edom and Moab, the Ammonites and the Philistines, and Amalek. He also dedicated the plunder taken from Hadadezer son of Rehob, king of Zobah.

13 And David became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.

14 He put garrisons throughout Edom, and all the Edomites became subject to David. The Lord gave David victory wherever he went.

 

David’s officials

15 David reigned over all Israel, doing what was just and right for all his people. 16 Joab son of Zeruiah was over the army; Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud was recorder; 17 Zadok son of Ahitub and Ahimelek son of Abiathar were priests; Seraiah was secretary; 18 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was over the Kerethites and Pelethites; and David’s sons were priests.

 

David and Mephibosheth

9 David asked, ‘Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’

Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They summoned him to appear before David, and the king said to him, ‘Are you Ziba?’

‘At your service,’ he replied.

The king asked, ‘Is there no one still alive from the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?’

Ziba answered the king, ‘There is still a son of Jonathan; he is lame in both feet.’

‘Where is he?’ the king asked.

Ziba answered, ‘He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel in Lo Debar.’

So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.

When Mephibosheth son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honour.

David said, ‘Mephibosheth!’

‘At your service,’ he replied.

‘Don’t be afraid,’ David said to him, ‘for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.’

Mephibosheth bowed down and said, ‘What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?’

Then the king summoned Ziba, Saul’s steward, and said to him, ‘I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephibosheth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.’ (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)

11 Then Ziba said to the king, ‘Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.’ So Mephibosheth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.

12 Mephibosheth had a young son named Mika, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephibosheth. 13 And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table; he was lame in both feet.

14 July 2020

Proverbs 11:31

If the righteous receive their due on earth,
    how much more the ungodly and the sinner!

This proverb aptly sums up chapter 11. “Righteousness delivers from death”; “a gracious woman gets honor”; “a man who is kind benefits himself”; “the one who sows righteousness gets a sure reward”; “whoever is steadfast in righteousness will live”; “the desire of the righteous ends only in good”; “one gives freely, yet grows all the richer”; “whoever brings blessing will be enriched”; “whoever diligently seeks good seeks favor”; “the righteous will flourish like a green leaf.”

Now if the righteous is repaid with blessing, all the more the wicked will be repaid with condemnation. The wicked receive disgrace, destruction, captivity, perished hope, trouble, hurt, deceptive wages, death, punishment, want, cursing, evil, empty inheritance.

If you care about yourself; if you want what is best for you, which path, then, should you choose? Whom should you choose to follow? In whom should you place your hope? Should you be angered by the person who uses wicked ways to get ahead of you, or should you pity him? Who is richer: your unscrupulous neighbor or you? Perhaps this prayer needs to be made for you today: “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you a spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints” (Ephesians 1:17-18).

2 Samuel 6-7

6 David again brought together all the able young men of Israel – thirty thousand. He and all his men went to Baalah in Judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the Name, the name of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim on the ark. They set the ark of God on a new cart and brought it from the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. Uzzah and Ahio, sons of Abinadab, were guiding the new cart with the ark of God on it, and Ahio was walking in front of it. David and all Israel were celebrating with all their might before the Lord, with castanets, harps, lyres, tambourines, rattles and cymbals.

When they came to the threshing-floor of Nakon, Uzzah reached out and took hold of the ark of God, because the oxen stumbled. The Lord’s anger burned against Uzzah because of his irreverent act; therefore God struck him down, and he died there beside the ark of God.

Then David was angry because the Lord’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah, and to this day that place is called Perez Uzzah.

David was afraid of the Lord that day and said, ‘How can the ark of the Lord ever come to me?’ 10 He was not willing to take the ark of the Lord to be with him in the City of David. Instead, he took it to the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite. 11 The ark of the Lord remained in the house of Obed-Edom the Gittite for three months, and the Lord blessed him and his entire household.

12 Now King David was told, ‘The Lord has blessed the household of Obed-Edom and everything he has, because of the ark of God.’ So David went to bring up the ark of God from the house of Obed-Edom to the City of David with rejoicing. 13 When those who were carrying the ark of the Lord had taken six steps, he sacrificed a bull and a fattened calf. 14 Wearing a linen ephod, David was dancing before the Lord with all his might, 15 while he and all Israel were bringing up the ark of the Lord with shouts and the sound of trumpets.

16 As the ark of the Lord was entering the City of David, Michal daughter of Saul watched from a window. And when she saw King David leaping and dancing before the Lord, she despised him in her heart.

17 They brought the ark of the Lord and set it in its place inside the tent that David had pitched for it, and David sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings before the Lord18 After he had finished sacrificing the burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, he blessed the people in the name of the Lord Almighty. 19 Then he gave a loaf of bread, a cake of dates and a cake of raisins to each person in the whole crowd of Israelites, both men and women. And all the people went to their homes.

20 When David returned home to bless his household, Michal daughter of Saul came out to meet him and said, ‘How the king of Israel has distinguished himself today, going around half-naked in full view of the slave girls of his servants as any vulgar fellow would!’

21 David said to Michal, ‘It was before the Lord, who chose me rather than your father or anyone from his house when he appointed me ruler over the Lord’s people Israel – I will celebrate before the Lord22 I will become even more undignified than this, and I will be humiliated in my own eyes. But by these slave girls you spoke of, I will be held in honour.’

23 And Michal daughter of Saul had no children to the day of her death.

 

God’s promise to David

7 After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, ‘Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.’

Nathan replied to the king, ‘Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.’

But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:

‘Go and tell my servant David, “This is what the Lord says: are you the one to build me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as my dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, ‘Why have you not built me a house of cedar?’”

‘Now then, tell my servant David, “This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth. 10 And I will provide a place for my people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people shall not oppress them any more, as they did at the beginning 11 and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.

‘“The Lord declares to you that the Lord himself will establish a house for you: 12 when your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He is the one who will build a house for my Name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom for ever. 14 I will be his father, and he shall be my son. When he does wrong, I will punish him with a rod wielded by men, with floggings inflicted by human hands. 15 But my love will never be taken away from him, as I took it away from Saul, whom I removed from before you. 16 Your house and your kingdom shall endure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.”’

17 Nathan reported to David all the words of this entire revelation.

 

David’s prayer

18 Then King David went in and sat before the Lord, and he said:

‘Who am I, Sovereign Lord, and what is my family, that you have brought me this far? 19 And as if this were not enough in your sight, Sovereign Lord, you have also spoken about the future of the house of your servant – and this decree, Sovereign Lord, is for a mere human!

20 ‘What more can David say to you? For you know your servant, Sovereign Lord21 For the sake of your word and according to your will, you have done this great thing and made it known to your servant.

22 ‘How great you are, Sovereign Lord! There is no one like you, and there is no God but you, as we have heard with our own ears. 23 And who is like your people Israel – the one nation on earth that God went out to redeem as a people for himself, and to make a name for himself, and to perform great and awesome wonders by driving out nations and their gods from before your people, whom you redeemed from Egypt? 24 You have established your people Israel as your very own for ever, and you, Lord, have become their God.

25 ‘And now, Lord God, keep for ever the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house. Do as you promised, 26 so that your name will be great for ever. Then people will say, “The Lord Almighty is God over Israel!” And the house of your servant David will be established in your sight.

27 Lord Almighty, God of Israel, you have revealed this to your servant, saying, “I will build a house for you.” So your servant has found courage to pray this prayer to you. 28 Sovereign Lord, you are God! Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant. 29 Now be pleased to bless the house of your servant, that it may continue for ever in your sight; for you, Sovereign Lord, have spoken, and with your blessing the house of your servant will be blessed for ever.’

13 July 2020

Proverbs 11:30

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
    and the one who is wise saves lives.

The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life because good fruit comes from good trees. Jesus noted this. You can tell the heart of a person by the fruit he bears. One can try to imitate goodness, but if his heart is not good his outward goodness will appear superficial.

There is a difference between controlling one’s tongue from saying angry words and from not thinking of angry words at all. There certainly is a difference between learning to act good so as to get one’s way and taking delight in blessing others. Focus on righteousness and the good fruit will come. Make Christ the model of righteousness, and trust in him to provide that righteousness. A good tree is good because its roots draw rich nourishment. Find your nourishment in God’s Word, in Christ’s work, and in the Spirit’s indwelling.

Finally, seek to be a soul-winner. There are different ways to capture. There is the face-to-face witness, doing good deeds, being a good friend; writing, praying. One thing that stymies us is projecting activities that unnerve us and may be what we are not gifted in doing; often the result is missing out on opportunities given us. Thus, as we fret about doing street evangelism, we miss the opportunity given when our neighbor strikes up a conversation with us. We don’t need to ask God to give opportunity to witness, so much as to ask him to open our eyes to the many opportunities he already places before us.

Pray today that you will be a tree of life to your neighbor; pray that you may capture a soul through your love and good fruit. And thank God that he captured you!

2 Samuel 4-5

4 When Ish-Bosheth son of Saul heard that Abner had died in Hebron, he lost courage, and all Israel became alarmed. Now Saul’s son had two men who were leaders of raiding bands. One was named Baanah and the other Rekab; they were sons of Rimmon the Beerothite from the tribe of Benjamin – Beeroth is considered part of Benjamin, because the people of Beeroth fled to Gittaim and have resided there as foreigners to this day.

(Jonathan son of Saul had a son who was lame in both feet. He was five years old when the news about Saul and Jonathan came from Jezreel. His nurse picked him up and fled, but as she hurried to leave, he fell and became disabled. His name was Mephibosheth.)

Now Rekab and Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, set out for the house of Ish-Bosheth, and they arrived there in the heat of the day while he was taking his noonday rest. They went into the inner part of the house as if to get some wheat, and they stabbed him in the stomach. Then Rekab and his brother Baanah slipped away.

They had gone into the house while he was lying on the bed in his bedroom. After they stabbed and killed him, they cut off his head. Taking it with them, they travelled all night by way of the Arabah. They brought the head of Ish-Bosheth to David at Hebron and said to the king, ‘Here is the head of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, your enemy, who tried to kill you. This day the Lord has avenged my lord the king against Saul and his offspring.’

David answered Rekab and his brother Baanah, the sons of Rimmon the Beerothite, ‘As surely as the Lord lives, who has delivered me out of every trouble, 10 when someone told me, “Saul is dead,” and thought he was bringing good news, I seized him and put him to death in Ziklag. That was the reward I gave him for his news! 11 How much more – when wicked men have killed an innocent man in his own house and on his own bed – should I not now demand his blood from your hand and rid the earth of you!’

12 So David gave an order to his men, and they killed them. They cut off their hands and feet and hung the bodies by the pool in Hebron. But they took the head of Ish-Bosheth and buried it in Abner’s tomb at Hebron.

 

David becomes king over Israel

5 All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, ‘We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, “You shall shepherd my people Israel, and you shall become their ruler.”’

When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.

David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah for seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah for thirty-three years.

 

David conquers Jerusalem

The king and his men marched to Jerusalem to attack the Jebusites, who lived there. The Jebusites said to David, ‘You will not get in here; even the blind and the lame can ward you off.’ They thought, ‘David cannot get in here.’ Nevertheless, David captured the fortress of Zion – which is the City of David.

On that day David had said, ‘Anyone who conquers the Jebusites will have to use the water shaft to reach those “lame and blind” who are David’s enemies.’ That is why they say, ‘The “blind and lame” will not enter the palace.’

David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the terraces inwards. 10 And he became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him.

11 Now Hiram king of Tyre sent envoys to David, along with cedar logs and carpenters and stonemasons, and they built a palace for David. 12 Then David knew that the Lord had established him as king over Israel and had exalted his kingdom for the sake of his people Israel.

13 After he left Hebron, David took more concubines and wives in Jerusalem, and more sons and daughters were born to him. 14 These are the names of the children born to him there: Shammua, Shobab, Nathan, Solomon, 15 Ibhar, Elishua, Nepheg, Japhia, 16 Elishama, Eliada and Eliphelet.

 

David defeats the Philistines

17 When the Philistines heard that David had been anointed king over Israel, they went up in full force to search for him, but David heard about it and went down to the stronghold. 18 Now the Philistines had come and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; 19 so David enquired of the Lord, ‘Shall I go and attack the Philistines? Will you deliver them into my hands?’

The Lord answered him, ‘Go, for I will surely deliver the Philistines into your hands.’

20 So David went to Baal Perazim, and there he defeated them. He said, ‘As waters break out, the Lord has broken out against my enemies before me.’ So that place was called Baal Perazim. 21 The Philistines abandoned their idols there, and David and his men carried them off.

22 Once more the Philistines came up and spread out in the Valley of Rephaim; 23 so David enquired of the Lord, and he answered, ‘Do not go straight up, but circle round behind them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. 24 As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move quickly, because that will mean the Lord has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.’ 25 So David did as the Lord commanded him, and he struck down the Philistines all the way from Gibeon to Gezer.