Reading #1 – Judges 14
Reading #2 – Psalms 13
Reading #3 – Proverbs 20
Reading #4 – Acts 16
Reading #5 – 1 Kings 15
Judges 14 – Sampson’s Riddle. To understand the purpose of Sampson’s riddle, I had to look into the commentary. Matthew Henry points out a couple of areas that pertain to the climate of the time. The relationship between the Philistines and the Israelites teetered on the edge of war something the Israelites were not ready for so they did everything they could to maintain the peace. A parallel would be “living with a bully”. The child that is afraid of what a bully would do given the chance, would do everything possible to keep the bully happy. In this case, the bully was the Philistines. A pretty young Philistine catching Sampson’s eye meant opening a door to trouble. The groom had to provide for the 30 attendants. Enter the lion and the bees. This riddle brought out the true character of Philistines that they were not beneath skullduggery to cheat Sampson. The wife to be was warned that if she did not get the answer from Sampson, her family and house would be burned to the ground (15). Once the girl got the answer, she gave it to the leaders of the town and they smugly answered Sampson. Then the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon him. He went down to the town of Ashkelon, killed thirty men, took their belongings, and gave their clothing to the men who had solved his riddle. But Samson was furious about what had happened, and he went back home to live with his father and mother (19); this created two problems: the peace was broken with Israel and the people of Ashkelon would come looking for the perpetrator and find the fine linen in the hands of the people of Timneh.
1 Kings 15 – Abijah Rules In Judah. As I said yesterday, this period in Judah (Southern Kingdom) and Israel (Northern kingdom) was like a roller coaster. Israel’s king was Nadab the son of Jeroboam the son of Nebat. Jeroboam was given 10 tribes to rule over by Ahijah the prophet. Jeroboam was given the exact reasoning behind the Lord’s decision and it should have resonated in his soul that “if I take away from the house of David because of sin, I will do the same thing to you if you turn your back on me”. Jeroboam turned his back on the Lord and made pagan religion the “church of the land”. Nadab continued the work of his father. Over in Judah, king Abijam was following the teachings of his mother, Maakah. What you can derive from the “roller coaster” is that the war between the tribes was a knockdown-dragout family quarrel. Both kingdoms could trace their lineage back to David and David’s failure. When Baasha, son of Ahijah, killed Nadab and Nadab’s family line, he was merely acting on his father’s prophecy with a twist – he assumed the throne of Israel and continue the problem of sin. When Asa became king of Judah, he reigned for 41 years doing “partially right (11-15)” and “partially wrong (16-20)”; because of this lifestyle, he would spend the remaining years of his kingdom partially in control and partially out of control.
Psalms 13 – A Psalm of David (Continued). This is a “Shiggionoth” which is a deep and emotional prayer. David was facing a deep struggle that was beyond his ability to conquer. When we first face a struggle, we may think “it is no big deal – just another day” until the storm changes and enlarges. Soon, we are in deep trouble with no easy way out; everything we do just makes the problem that much more troublesome. Look at how we first made jokes about COVID19 and now it has taken over just about every area of our life. O LORD, how long will you forget me? Forever? How long will you look the other way? How long must I struggle with anguish in my soul, with sorrow in my heart every day? How long will my enemy have the upper hand (1-2)? When we realize that we are not in control and that G_d is not out of control, we then fall on our knees and ask for forgiveness. But I trust in your unfailing love. I will rejoice because you have rescued me. I will sing to the LORD because he is good to me (5-6). It must be understood that David never got out of any of the storms he created simply because he “prayed great prayers” rather, he derived strength from G_d and “face the scorn” he so rightly deserved.
Proverbs 20 – G_d’s Leading Our Mission. When allowing G_d to direct our pathways, we will not always understand his methods nor the directions he gives us; our job is to remain obedient and stay faithful. The LORD directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way (24)? When G_d sets the course, simply follow it even if it looks beyond our abilities. When we step into sin’s trap, our course may change but G_d is still in control. The Devil will point out our flops, failures, and misgivings with the attempt to make them bigger than G_d’s to bring us out; this is where “faith” comes in.
Acts 16 – Paul’s Second Missionary Trip. During Paul’s trip through Lystra, Paul ran into a young disciple named Timothy who would later be the Pastor of the church at Lystra. Paul chose to circumcise Timothy not because of the law but in deference to the Jews as a way of keeping the peace (1-5). At Lydia, Paul is charged with “They are teaching customs that are illegal for us Romans to practice (21).” The reason for the charge was due to the merchants losing their “money train” from the young girl possessed by a demon (16-20). Like Sampson and the riddle, Paul was rescued by an angel which led to the jailer receiving salvation. The jailer called for lights and ran to the dungeon and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. Then he brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved, along with everyone in your household.” And they shared the word of the Lord with him and with all who lived in his household (29-32). Under normal circumstances, sharing the gospel with a Roman jailor would never have happened. In the same way, the Roman guard who pierced Jesus’ side would never have accepted Jesus as Lord unless he saw it for himself (Luke 23:47).