Reading #1 – Ruth 3
Reading #2 – Psalms 23
Reading #3 – Proverbs 30
Reading #4 – Acts 26
Reading #5 – 2 King 3
Ruth 3 – Ruth at the Threshing Floor. Naomi sent Ruth into the fields belonging to Boaz with specific instructions. take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do (3).” The purpose of this venture was not to “trap the man” but to give one’s self in his service. It was known throughout the community that Ruth was a virtuous woman and had learned this behavior from her mother-in-law (11). Naomi had sent Ruth to Boaz because he was a “kinsman-redeemer” that is a close family member who would have the responsibility to marry the widow of a deceased family member and fulfill the family obligation. The problem is that Ruth was not part of the clan, she was an outsider and would “cause certain problems for the redeemer’s name in the community.” But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the LORD lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning (12-13).”
2 Kings 3 – War Between Israel and Moab. Moab had been a vassal kingdom to Israel from the time of Ahab. When Joram, son of Ahab, became king of Israel, the Moabite king stopped the flow of money which led to war between the two kingdoms. Joram calls on Jehosaphat, king of Judah, to join him in which the king of Judah does so without asking YWHY’s direction. On the way to battle Moab a few days outside of Israel, the water runs out and then king Joram cries out “What should we do?” the king of Israel cried out. “The LORD has brought the three of us here to let the king of Moab defeat us (10).” Jehoshaphat knew exactly what to do and probably wished by now he had asked before heading into battle. But King Jehoshaphat of Judah asked, “Is there no prophet of the LORD with us? If there is, we can ask the LORD what to do through him (11).” Up to this point, though, Johram had followed the detestable ways of his father and grandfather so going to Elisha was a “last-ditch effort” and it turned out to be the one that “won the battle”. “Why are you coming to me?” Elisha asked the king of Israel. “Go to the pagan prophets of your father and mother!” But King Joram of Israel said, “No! For it was the LORD who called us three kings here—only to be defeated by the king of Moab!” Elisha replied, “As surely as the LORD Almighty lives, whom I serve, I wouldn’t even bother with you except for my respect for King Jehoshaphat of Judah. Now bring me someone who can play the harp (13-15).”
Psalms 23 – A Psalm of David. This very famous Psalm has been quoted at funerals, on plaques in people’s homes, and was at one time memorized in Sunday school. David was a sheepherder by occupation so he understood the shepherd’s responsibility for the sheep. David also understood that sheep roam and follow other sheep not knowing what dangers lurk in the dark. The shepherd had to remain vigilant and get the sheep all to one place “home” often at his/her peril. David was guarding the sheep and the Lord G__d was watching over him so that he was never alone. The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need (1). Through cold lonely watches of the night, David ensured no sheep were lost to the wolves and other wild animals. The Lord’s hand upon his life gave him the strength so that he could stand the watch in the late-night hours. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams. He renews my strength. He guides me along the right paths, bringing honor to his name (2-3). Being sheepherder at that time was a dangerous occupation due to the people who would steal the animals or kill the shepherd. David did not run away from his responsibilities as we’ll find out when David confronts Goliath (1 Samuel 17:32-39). Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me (4). The ending of this Psalm speaks about a feast at the end of the day when the battle is won and the enemy loses. You prepare a feast for me in the presence of my enemies. You honor me by anointing my head with oil. My cup overflows with blessings. Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will live in the house of the LORD forever (5-6).
Proverbs 30 – The Sayings of Agur. What is more waring on the body and mind than the ways of man? This individual and we are not told who he is, presents a common dilemma to mankind. Who is G_d and who is not? Who has the power and authority and who does not? Man has ruled by his/her authority and believes he or she is right from their perspective and expects other people to agree with them. Some people curse their fathers and do not thank their mothers. They are pure in their own eyes, but they are filthy and unwashed. They look proudly around, casting disdainful glances. They have teeth like swords and fangs like knives. They devour the poor from the earth and the needy from among humanity (11-14). In man’s eyes, there is no bottom to the demands (15). Mankind finds nothing wrong with sin; man consumes women and vice versa (18-20). Only when the seed of sin gives way to fruit does mankind understand why G_d is opposed to sin. As the beating of cream yields butter and striking the nose causes bleeding, so stirring up anger causes quarrels (33).
Acts 26 – 28 – Paul’s Journey to Rome. Paul was held over for inquiry by King Agrippa before being taken to Rome. Paul addressed his reasoning what he said in the temple and all it did was further agitate the people. Festus heard a little bit and judged Paul by what he said, “you are out of your mind” (26:24). King Agrippa knew about the Jewish customs due to his upbringing but back-pedaled trying to get out of the trap. “Do you think you can persuade me to become a Christian so quickly? (26:28)” The writer of Proverbs 30, Agur, addressed this issue by calling it in a roundabout way a “common dilemma of mankind”. Who is G_d and would the right one kindly step forward. Paul endured storms, a shipwreck, and arguments over who was G_d of the seas and who was simply a man making the best decision possible to meet the objective.