Saturday, June 3, 2017

June 3: 2 Samuel 20:14-22:20; Psalm 121; Proverbs 16:18; Acts 1


            2 Samuel: Sheba took protection in the town of Abel. Joab besieged the city and was trying to break down its walls and wipe out the town when a wise woman of the town negotiated with Joab. The town’s people killed Sheba and tossed his head to Joab ending the conflict.
            A list of David’s officers is provided.
            There was a famine of three years. The Lord revealed to David it was a result of Saul trying to wipe out the Gibeonites against the promise made by Israel in the time of Joshua. David asked the remaining Gibeonites what would satisfy them for the injustice. They wanted seven of Saul’s descendants killed. David had seven of his grandsons executed. One of Saul’s daughters guarded the bodies until David had them properly buried.
            There was war with the Philistines and once, David grew weary and was almost killed. David’s men wouldn’t let him go out to battle with them again. In other battles with Philistines four giants were killed.
            David composed a song to the Lord after he had been delivered from his enemies and Saul. In it, he describes God as his rock, fortress and deliver. He describes his distress as being near death and drowning. When he called to the Lord, he describes God’s deliverance in terms of supernatural intervention with smoke from his nostrils and earthshaking events. God rescued him and brought him to a broad place.
            Psalm: Looking at God’s creation reminds us that our help comes for the maker of creation. He keeps us steady and keeps us from falling. He always watches over us and protects us. He keeps us from evil from the time we rise to going back to bed and forever.
            Proverbs: Pride and arrogance are precursors to failure.
            Acts: Luke continues to write to Theophilus about the Christian faith. He picks up with describing Jesus’ ascension and the last few words before he left. He promised the coming of the Holy Spirit and the power they would have to witness when He comes. After he ascended, two angels asked why they were looking up into heaven. They said Jesus would come back in the same way.
            The disciples returned to Jerusalem to wait for the promise. While about 120 of them were waiting and praying in one accord, Peter quoted some Scripture to propose that they should find a replacement for Judas. He explained that the replacement should be a disciple who had been with them from the beginning at John’s baptism until Jesus’ ascension. They selected two men then cast lots to see which one God had chosen (Acts 1:24). Matthias was chosen.

What Stood Out

            2 Samuel: “There is bloodguilt on Saul and on his house, because he put the Gibeonites to death” (2 Sam 21:1).
            Psalm: “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come” (Ps 121:1)?
            Proverbs: “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Prov 16:18).
            Acts: “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).


            2 Samuel: The issue with David putting to death seven of Saul’s grandsons is a rather shocking event. The Lord caused a famine and it was a result of Saul’s reneging on Israel’s promise to be allies of the Amorites of Gibeon. I don’t think this episode condones David’s punishment of the grandsons. David asked the Gibeonites what would avenge the injustice. In their eyes and that of their culture, not God’s command, this was the way things were. It was actually a violation of God’s law in Deuteronomy 24:16 to put one generation to death for the sins of another.
            However, the famine points out that promises that made in God’s name are extremely important. In fact, any promise we make should be taken just as seriously. James 5:12 says we shouldn’t change our “yes” and our “no” or we will enter condemnation. Jesus emphasizes the same thing in Matthew 5:34-37. We should honor not only our word but valid promises made by our predecessors.
            Psalm: This Psalm is all about God’s sovereign protection over our lives. While the Old Testament usually views this as physical protection, we can be assured that the one who made the universe is the one who knows everything that happens to us. It doesn’t mean bad things will never happen, but it is all part of his glorious plan for us even into eternity.
            Proverbs: Pride is one of the root sins. It isn’t the only one, but it often is the cause of sin and destructive behaviors and falling into other sins. It is also devious because we seldom recognize it in ourselves.
            Acts: The most important principle in this reading is Jesus telling his disciples that they would receive power to witness when the Holy Spirit came upon them. Because he specified the ends of the earth, this promise must therefore extend to all disciples in all ages. Without the Holy Spirit, we have no power to witness about salvation through Jesus. The reason is very simple. Without the Holy Spirit, we aren’t even Christians. However, it also implies that we must trust and depend on the Holy Spirit to witness and not depend on ourselves, our abilities, or as one of my trainees once said, our sales techniques. If we are doing that, then we have the wrong attitude. In all witnessing, God should get the glory, not us.
            Perhaps one of the least important and most contested portions of this reading is the selection of Matthias as the new Apostle. Most people accept that he was God’s chosen replacement for Judas because it was written that the other disciples accepted it. However, there are others who believe God’s real choice was Paul. Look at the beginning of Acts. The Holy Spirit had not been given. Was Peter’s interpretation of Scripture inspired or did Luke simply record what an uninspired person said? I think the latter is correct. How was the person chosen? Of all the disciples that had followed Jesus from the beginning, THEY chose two. These two were chosen not by God but the crowd of uninspired disciples. Then they cast lots for the two. Had they cast lots for all of the disciples, I would be more inclined to say that God chose. However, as we go on in Acts, we see how God chose Paul. It wasn’t by lot or committee. He was handpicked, just as the other Apostles were.
            We need to be careful about how we decide what God chooses. We can make presumptions that actually eliminate the direction God may want us to take.


             I need to be careful about making promises and keeping them. They are important to God and as a witness to other.

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