Reading #1 – Joshua 18
Reading #2 – Psalms 143
Reading #3 – Song of Solomon 8
Reading #4 – John 16
Reading #5 – 2 Samuel 19
Joshua 18 – The Allotments of the Remaining Land. Once Israel had conquered the land, there were still seven tribes who had not received an inheritance: Levites, Gad, Rueben, half of the tribe of Manasseh, Benjamin, Simeon, and Zebulun who had not received their inheritance. The Levites would not receive a stated piece of property because their inheritance was the ministry. Gad, Reuben, and the half-tribe received their inheritance on the other side of the Jordan River. This left Benjamin, Zebulon, and Simeon who still had not built up their land. We are not told why they had not received their land but, it is Joshua’s admonishment to the 3 tribes that give us some indication that it was due to laziness. Then Joshua asked them, “How long are you going to wait before taking possession of the remaining land the LORD, the God of your ancestors, has given to you? Select three men from each tribe, and I will send them out to explore the land and map it out. They will then return to me with a written report of their proposed divisions of their new homeland. Let them divide the land into seven sections, excluding Judah’s territory in the south and Joseph’s territory in the north. And when you record the seven divisions of the land and bring them to me, I will cast sacred lots in the presence of the LORD our God to assign land to each tribe (3-6). By Joshua dividing out the land using sacred lots, it mitigated any chance of jealousy or the appearance of “favoritism”. The tract of land given to Benjamin bordered on the tract owned by the Gibeonites which would create a bigger problem later on.
2 Samuel 19 – Joab Rebukes the King. The full story of Absalom’s death had not been told to the king; David knew about Joab’s nasty tendencies so he probably had some idea what happened because Joab had murdered Saul’s army commander when he came to make peace with David and bring the nation Israel over to him. King David mourned for Absalom to the point nothing else mattered. For better or worse, Absalom was David’s son and he would have become king after David passed away. Joab rebuked the king for not encouraging his troops. David replaced Joab with Amasa as the commander of Israel’s armies. Shimei who had thrown stones at David and the troops when they evacuated ahead of Absalom’s entry into Jerusalem as king was now asking for forgiveness to Abishai’s chagrin. “Who asked your opinion, you sons of Zeruiah!” David exclaimed. “Why have you become my adversary today? This is not a day for execution, for today I am once again the king of Israel!” Then, turning to Shimei, David vowed, “Your life will be spared (22-23).” Israel welcomed David back to Jerusalem when they initially had followed Absalom until Absalom was killed. It appears that peace now reigns in Israel but only for a short time. Consider the whole story of David to be like an unfinished drama. Once the stage is set and the curtains rise, the story unfolds and any alterations will change the course of the play and the content of the characters.
Psalms 143 – A Psalm of David. Through the course of David’s life, he saw the good that the Lord had done because David maintained a righteous life and he had seen what happens when sin produced fruit in his life. This, as a pastoral friend of mine so adequately put it “how in the Name of all that is Holy did I end up here”? The Psalms from 141 – 149 speak about David’s descent into hell as he watched his kingdom and his family shatter into a million pieces. To some extent, David’s catastrophe is illustrated in Dante Alighieri’s “Divine Comedy”. I am losing all hope; I am paralyzed with fear. I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done (4-5). One may wonder why the writers of scripture included David’s failures in the canon of scripture after all, “this is the Bible”! Yet, if it hadn’t been included, the readers would never understand how Israel ended up in slavery a 2nd time and why the cross of Jesus was so important. Even with our best words, the most penitent heart, and “our rivers of tears”, once the fruit of sin has unfolded in our heart, the clock of our life is never turned back to the five minutes before we sinned. When we confess our sins, we are forgiven and G_d takes us from where we are through the course of his plan for our life.
Song of Solomon 8 – A Love Sonnet. Many glasses of water cannot quench love, nor can rivers drown it. If a man tried to buy love with all his wealth, his offer would be utterly scorned (7).
John 16 – Enter the Advocate. This was Jesus’ final words before his death. During the 3.5 years that Jesus developed the young men, he protected them by G_d’s word. Now it was the disciple’s test which would help them put into practice what they had learned by the trials they went through. Jesus combined his Father’s words with action to help the disciplines grow into spiritual powerhouses. “I have told you these things so that you won’t abandon your faith. For you will be expelled from the synagogues, and the time is coming when those who kill you will think they are doing a holy service for God. This is because they have never known the Father or me. Yes, I’m telling you these things now, so that when they happen, you will remember my warning. I didn’t tell you earlier because I was going to be with you for a while longer (1=4). The advocate, the Holy Spirit of G_d, would be sent to lead the disciples after Jesus died. And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more. Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged (8-11). In the Kingdom of G_d, there is “There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is overall, in all, and living through all (Ephesians 4:5).”