Reading #1 – Judges 10
Reading #2 – Psalms 9
Reading #3 – Proverbs 16
Reading #4 – Acts 12
Reading #5 – 1 Kings 11
Judges 10 – Tola and Jair. Tola ruled as judge over Israel for 23 years and by the sentiment did nothing special for the nation. Jair ruled next and his sons were given a donkey to ride on which symbolized “royalty”. During this time, the nation had drifted back into “idol worship” and served the gods of the nations that the Lord left to test the nation Israel to see if they would be obedient. Israel would find out that coalescing to the ways of the world did not remove them from the “hitlist of the kings”. So Israel was once again in bondage to the Ammonites and so they cried out to the Lord for relief. Finally, they cried out to the LORD for help, saying, “We have sinned against you because we have abandoned you as our God and have served the images of Baal.” The LORD replied, “Did I not rescue you from the Egyptians, the Amorites, the Ammonites, the Philistines, the Sidonians, the Amalekites, and the Maonites? When they oppressed you, you cried out to me for help, and I rescued you (10-12). It is an odd commonality between the people of that generation and the people of this generation: when the world is “right and peace prevail” it is “G_d who”? When the world turns sour and peace is taken away, we turn back and cry out “G_d save us”!
1 Kings 11 – Solomon and the Many Wives. Solomon had been solemnly warned by the Lord about remaining faithful to the Lord. Yet, Solomon had a taste for beautiful women and married whoever he wanted to. These women would become a snare for Solomon and lead him to serve the gods of the nations the women came from. After being warned two more times, the Lord acted on his word and Solomon’s world was turned upside down. Unbeknownst to Solomon, there were enemies hidden in the cloak that would be the fire that would destroy him. But Hadad and a few of his father’s royal officials escaped and headed for Egypt. (Hadad was just a boy at the time.) (17) to escape Joab and the army of Israel who had thought they killed every last male in the town. Rezon was Israel’s bitter adversary for the rest of Solomon’s reign, and he made trouble, just as Hadad did. Rezon hated Israel intensely and continued to reign in Aram (25). Jereboam son of Nebat a relative of Joab whose mother was Zeruah. During the first days of Solomon’s reign, Solomon put Joab to death for his crimes. The prophet Ahijah prophesied to Jereboam that he would get 10 tribes of Israel to rule over because of Solomon’s behavior and subsequent murderous rage. This would set the stage for the next 400 years of roller-coaster rides for the nation from “For His glory” to “G_d who” and the 70 years of exile in Babylon.
Psalms 9 – A Psalm of David. Of all things I admire about David, it was his heart. David had his fair share of trouble and caused most of it himself. Yet, when it came to worship the Lord G_d, he did so in spirit and truth (John 4:24). This quality is what endeared the Heart of G_d and from this, we get the phrase “A man after G_d’s own heart” (1 Samuel 13:14). I will praise you, LORD, with all my heart; I will tell of all the marvelous things you have done. I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High (1-2). David was a threat to the Devil. For this reason, the Devil had to do his best to destroy David but always failed. When David succeeded, the nation enjoyed peace and prosperity. When David sinned, the nation was decimated by plagues (2 Samuel 24). The “Bathsheba incident” would haunt David the rest of his life and render him incapable of judging the nation. This did not stop David from serving the Lord G_d rather, it propelled him further into the arms of G_d the remaining days of his life. But the LORD reigns forever, executing judgment from his throne. He will judge the world with justice and rule the nations with fairness. The LORD is a shelter for the oppressed,
a refuge in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, O LORD, do not abandon those who search for you (7-10).
Proverbs 16 – The Ways of Mankind. We are presented with choices by the circumstances we find ourselves in. We can make our plans, but the LORD gives the right answer (1). When we are hungry, we can sit and complain or do something about it. Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vines; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren; even though the flocks die in the fields, and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the LORD! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation! The Sovereign LORD is my strength! He makes me as surefooted as a deer, able to tread upon the heights (Habakkuk 3:17-19). Temptation and sin are a never-ending struggle for mankind; yet, in the face of both, we are still presented with the choice “cave in or overcome”. Unfailing love and faithfulness make atonement for sin. By fearing the LORD, people avoid evil (6).
Acts 12 – Peter’s Miraculous Escape From Prison. Peter had been imprisoned by Herod Agrippa which pleased the Jews. This would seem odd to me had I been there because Peter had been healing people. Peter’s message flew in the face of the prescribed message of the Sanhedrin which is where the trouble began for Jesus and would continue into the early days of the 1st-century church. While Peter was in prison, the church was in prayer. But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him (5). This single act brought about Peter’s escape more than any riot could ever do. Herod was not let off of the hook because he paid for his sin with his life in the most painful way possible. The people gave him a great ovation, shouting, “It’s the voice of a god, not of a man!” Instantly, an angel of the Lord struck Herod with a sickness, because he accepted the people’s worship instead of giving the glory to God. So he was consumed with worms and died. Meanwhile, the word of God continued to spread, and there were many new believers (22-24).