June 13

June 13

Solomon & his Wives — Solomon’s wives turn Solomon’s heart away from God.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 1Kings 11:1-40

Reading 2: Deuteronomy 17:14-20

Reading 3: Nehemiah 13:25-31

Solomon’s magnificent reign comes to a sad end with his disobedience to God leading him into great sin. God had commanded the king to avoid marrying many wives, as well as to take care not to pile up wealth for himself. Solomon appears to have disregarded both these instructions and he pays a heavy price. God takes the throne away from Solomon’s family, just as He had warned.

Later, Solomon’s example was taken up by Nehemiah in calling for purity among the Israelites resettling the land they had lost through sin. We can’t ignore sin – it will always be our downfall. The only solution is death. Thankfully this is the very solution Jesus chose for us!

So when our hearts turn away from God, the solution is to repent for our sin, and trust Jesus to forgive us, restore us, and lead us in God’s ways again.

Have a great day!

Mark.

June 11

June 11

Solomon & his Wealth — Solomon’s wealth & his thoughts on the limitations of wealth.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 1Kings 10:14-29

Reading 2: Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

Reading 3: Ecclesiastes 5:10-20

Today’s reading may be hard for us to read! Solomon had so much wealth that silver was considered worthless in his day! He had more than anyone could ever need, and his wealth kept increasing. Sounds like a candidate for an Occupy protest – a greedy one-percent king robbing the poor to line his own pockets. But that is not the reason why Solomon was rich. He was rich because he was wise, and that is a principle that is still true today. Prosperity is not a guarantee of wisdom, but wisdom is a guarantee of prosperity. Not on the scale of Solomon, but prosperity nonetheless. Not every rich person is wise, but every wise person prospers. That is why seeking wisdom from God (as Solomon did) is the best path to success anyone could take.

But when we turn over to Ecclesiastes, we learn what Solomon learned about riches – riches alone are meaningless. There is a place for wealth, and God wants us wealthy, but not in the sense of accumulated riches. Our wealth is to be in contentment, diligence, and trust. With those wisdom riches, almost any amount of money is enough!

Have a great day!

Mark.

 

June 10

June 10

Solomon & the Queen of Sheba — Solomon, Jesus, & us being ready to answer questions.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 1 Kings 10:1-13

Reading 2: Matthew 12:42

Reading 3: 1 Peter 3:15

Today’s famous meeting, between Solomon and the Queen of Sheba, is a model for us. We don’t have the material wealth that Solomon had; our households are much simpler without servants or soldiers. But we have what Solomon had: we know the God of the Universe as our Lord and Savior. That alone makes us curiosities, and attractions, to those around us who do not yet know “The Lord Your God” (verse 9). Seeing Him in us, those who are not yet believers will be drawn to Him in worship and amazement.

This attractiveness is not the result of our rational understanding of God or our observance of His rules – the Pharisees had that, but Jesus said the Queen of Sheba will condemn them for not seeking His wisdom.

Today I pray for you, that your life will be more like Solomon’s than like the Pharisees – hungry for God’s wisdom, focused on His love, and attractive to everyone around you.

Have a great day!

Mark.

June 9

June 9

Solomon & the Temple — Solomon’s speech, Solomon’s prayer, & God’s second visit.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 1 Kings 8

Reading 2: 1 Kings 9:1-9

Reading 3: 1 Kings 11:9-10

Chapter 8 is a massive chapter, full of accounts of God’s faithfulness and blessing. We see that God is worthy of praise, and all His people join in praising Him. Solomon celebrates both his father, David, and his God. He also blesses the people.

When God appears to Solomon a second time, He warns the king to be faithful, otherwise all this splendor will be lost. This is not a threat from a vindictive God, but a warning from a loving Father who wants His children to flourish and be blessed.

Yet we know that Solomon failed the faithfulness test. He did not maintain the integrity of his commitment to God, but took many foreign wives (in an echo of both his father David, and other fallible leaders such as Samson). These wives inevitably led Solomon astray, and resulted in the downfalls God warned him of before.

Let’s remember that none of us is perfect. We all fail because we are human, marred by sin and self-centeredness. Such instability is universal and leads each of us into rebellion and sin sooner or later. We all need the grace only Jesus can offer; which is why we are all the more grateful for His atonement when we see the ups and downs of humanity in stories like today’s.

Our story has to be interwoven with His-Story to avoid becoming a tragedy.

Have a great day!

Mark.

June 8

June 8

Solomon & the Temple — Building Solomon’s temple, building a house, & building the church.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 1 Kings 6

Reading 2: Psalm 127

Reading 3: Ephesians 2:19-22

We have seen Solomon’s wisdom, and we know that God called him to be the builder of the Temple that was in David’s heart. Today we read of the details of that building. It was magnificent and awe-inspiring, as the Temple of God should be, and all Israel was involved in the building.

Psalm 127 celebrates that God is the source of success in such building endeavors – whether in the Temple, or the city, or a family.

And Paul draws a parallel in Ephesians that we are built by God into the house (Temple) that God is building, with Jesus as the chief cornerstone.

The Church is an even more awe-inspiring edifice than the Temple was – a building full of beauty and life, constructed by God, and full of His presence!

Have a great day!

Mark.

June 7

June 7

Solomon & his Wisdom — Solomon’s 3000 Proverbs & 1005 songs.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 1 Kings 4:29-34

Reading 2: Proverbs 1

Reading 3: Song of Solomon 1

It would be a mistake to think that the wisdom Solomon displayed in our reading on Saturday was a one-off! Today we read that God gave him greater wisdom than anyone on the earth. His output of wise sayings (proverbs) and songs was prodigious, and he was also a scientist with knowledge of the natural world. So Solomon combined left and right-brain excellence in artistic creativity and scientific reasoning.

And it was that combination that drew the powerful and famous to learn from him. The wise make their wisdom available to others, and we all benefit from seeking out those with more wisdom than ourselves! Our reading from Proverbs tells us that wisdom shared is wisdom grown, while foolishness can be defined as turning away from wisdom, learning, and discipline.

Solomon characterizes wisdom as feminine, just as the Holy Spirit is described in scripture with feminine pronouns. This shows us that wisdom is a gift of God’s presence. And foolishness is turning away from God to go our own way, trusting in our own wisdom.

And that romantic image of wisdom wooing us to God carries over into Solomon’s Song of Songs which is a love song celebrating God’s love for us in the love of the king and his bride.

Today, you are loved by God in just the same way!

Have a great day!

Mark.

June 6

June 6.

Solomon & his Prayer — God visits Solomon, Solomon’s prayer, dividing the child, & the Word.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 1 Kings 3

Reading 2: Matthew 7:7-11

Reading 3: Hebrews 4:12-13

Solomon is established as king, and has only one fault (according to today’s chapter) – he continues to sacrifice at local shrines rather than at the tent of meeting. In other words he wants the freedom to approach God in his own way rather than trusting God’s revealed way alone.

But God is pleased when Solomon asks for wisdom to rule rather than selfish requests such as long life, wealth, or power. And God promises to give Solomon what he has asked, along with all the other things he chose not to request. This pre-figures what Jesus promises all of His followers in Matthew 7 – that God will give us what we ask when we seek Him foremost.

And Solomon’s wisdom is proved almost immediately when his first case involves the two women fighting over one surviving baby. When Solomon commands that the baby be cut in two, the reactions reveal the hearts of the two women, just as the Word of God is a sword which reveals our hearts when we read it.

So as we embrace God’s wisdom by reading His Word, let’s expect Him to be at work in our lives and answering our prayers in the way He knows is best.

Have a great day!

Mark.

June 4

June 4

Solomon & the Throne — Adonijah’s rebellion, David’s death, & a psalm of prayer for the King.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 1 Kings 1

Reading 2: 1 Kings 2

Reading 3: Psalm 72

Today we reach the end of the life of David, the man after God’s own heart. It is notable that the account of his life is so honest and transparent, recording the ups and downs, highs and lows of this fascinating man.

And to the end there is conflict among his family resulting from his unwise (although culturally accepted) decision to have many wives. The battles for succession and the sibling rivalries would have been greatly reduced if David had followed God’s plan (in Genesis 2:24) of one man and one woman for life being the definition of marriage.

Despite the factions and the fighting, David’s will is done in the end and Solomon becomes king. So the son of the woman with whom David committed adultery, before murdering her husband and making her a widow, becomes king as God promised.

And it is likely that Psalm 72 was written by Solomon after hearing his father pray shortly before his death. The famous preacher Charles Spurgeon, in his book “The Treasury of David” says of this Psalm: “It is the Prayer of David, but the Psalm of Solomon.”

So we conclude our readings for today with Solomon’s Psalm paying tribute to his father David’s prayer, and asking God to bless them both. What do you see most clearly in the Psalm?

Have a great day!

Mark.

June 3

June 3

David’s Foolish Census — David’s pride, God’s judgment, & David’s sacrifice.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Samuel 24

Reading 2: 1 Chronicles 21:1-4

Reading 3: 1 Chronicles 27:23-24

David makes a big mistake today – he listens to satan (1 Chronicles 21:1) and numbers Israel. Don’t misread the first verse of 2 Samuel 24 – most newer translations give the impression that God speaks to David and tells him to count the nation, but that is not what the text says. There is no “The Lord” in the sentence “and he caused David to harm them by taking a census.” The actual text is best translated “There was who moved David against them” – in other words it is satan who causes this. The first part of the verse joins God’s judgment in Chapter 21 (the famine) with the judgment which comes from David’s sin here.

After David listens to the enemy and commands the census, his advisors plead with him not to do this, but he insists, and so God’s judgment is invited. To his credit, David’s conscience convicts him and he admits his sin. Then, when God sends Gad the Seer to challenge David to choose his punishment, David says “let us fall into the hands of the Lord, for his mercy is great. Do not let me fall into human hands.”

So God’s judgment brings a plague to the people, until David pleads with God for the judgment to fall on his own family. At the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite he builds an altar and pays for the privilege, saying “I will not present burnt offerings to the Lord my God that have cost me nothing.”

So we learn several lessons from David: don’t take God for granted, listen to your friends, and admit your sins. God is merciful, and whatever we give to God is merely a drop in the bucket!

We all make mistakes, we all sin, the vital question is what will we do when we recognize our fault? Trust God’s mercy!

Have a great day!

Mark.

June 2

June 2

David & his Mighty Men — David’s men were mighty because God was with them.

Today’s Readings:

Reading 1: 2 Samuel 23:8-39

Reading 2: 1 Chronicles 11:10

Reading 3: Zechariah 10:5

Often at the end of a person’s life, their exploits and the highlights of their achievements are foremost in the minds of those around them. Today we read the account of David’s mighty men; the legends among the people of Israel for their exploits as David the Warrior subdued the surrounding enemies, inspired many to become great, and united the nation.

What a testimony to God’s empowering and to David’s leadership that these mighty men did all that is recorded in today’s readings. David inspired, God gave strength, and these men brought great victories to Israel. God intends us all to offer our strengths to Him, inspired by leaders above us and peers around us. As we give our best, others will also be raised up into leadership.

Notice also that there were an inner circle of three, another group of 30, and so on. Not everyone is called to the “top of the ladder” places in God’s Kingdom. There is a unique place for each one, and the exploits of the mighty men in the 30 were just as significant to the nation of Israel as the victories of the three. In fact, the passage describes several who were as famous as the three without being included. It can sometimes be a test of our humility and trust in God to be left out of some inner circles. Can we continue to give our best because God is worth it?!

Have a great day!

Mark.