Reading #1 – Luke 12
Reading #2 – Psalms 80
Reading #3 – Song of Solomon 8
Reading #4 – Isaiah 58
Reading #5 – 2 Chronicle 6
2 Chronicles 6 – Solomon Praises the LORD. This sincere prayer was honored by G_d, not because of the elaborate temple that was built but by the cry of Solomon’s heart. I am not ashamed; for I know Him [and I am personally acquainted with Him] whom I have believed [with absolute trust and confidence in Him and the truth of His deity], and I am persuaded [beyond any doubt] that He can guard that which I have entrusted to Him until that day (2 Timothy 1:12). The temple was a building albeit a very extravagant building. The message that Solomon reiterated was true to some extent just as David’s version of it was “true to some extent.” When you compare the three versions of it, you will notice that key elements were left out which is what causes the listener problems in time. Solomon’s prayer was heartfelt which is the part that makes all of the difference. “And now, O LORD, God of Israel, carry out the additional promise you made to your servant David, my father. For you said to him, ‘If your descendants guard their behavior and faithfully follow my Law as you have done, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.’ Now, O LORD, God of Israel, fulfill this promise to your servant David. “But will God live on earth among people? Why even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built (16-18)! Obedience is the key factor in the success or failure of this prayer. G_d did not listen to the prayer because “it followed His prescribed model” but that Solomon was not lying about it nor overstating it.
Psalms 80 – A Psalm of Asaph. How do we know if G_d has turned our prayers to stone? When our prayers become rocks that weigh us down and the joy we once held firmly to begins to diminish, we will know without a doubt that the Lord G_d has abandoned us although, he is not too far away from us. When we come to our senses like the young prodigal son and make our way back home again, He is standing by to forgive us. Turn us again to yourself, O God. Make your face shine down upon us. Only then will we be saved. O LORD God of Heaven’s Armies, how long will you be angry with our prayers? You have fed us with sorrow and made us drink tears by the bucketful. You have made us the scorn of neighboring nations. Our enemies treat us as a joke (3-6). When we give way to sin, the enemy of our soul will be the first in line to criticize us. The Devil will ridicule us and say, “Some child of G_d you are”! When we tell people about this G_d we serve, the Devil will equally point out our faults. Come back, we beg you, O God of Heaven’s Armies. Look down from heaven and see our plight. Take care of this grapevine that you have planted, this son you have raised for yourself. (14).
Song of Solomon 8 – Solomon has a vineyard at Baal-Hamon, which he leases out to tenant farmers. Each of them pays a thousand pieces of silver for harvesting its fruit. But my vineyard is mine to give, and Solomon need not pay a thousand pieces of silver. to those who care for its vines (11-12). Jesus when talking about the two types of Shephards – the ones who were hired and the one that carries out his selfless ministry for free (John 10:11-18). The gardeners who were hired hands might show up but, then again, they may not because they understand that all that they lose is the “money”. The young woman who gave her garden freely to the king for his use gains nothing and is a much better offering because it is a selfless offering. O my darling, lingering in the gardens. your companions are fortunate to hear your voice. Let me hear it, too (13)! When we give our heart to the Lord, He uses it and nothing is wasted; conversely, what we give to the world could be partly used, partly wasted, partly cherished, and partly disdained; yet, the Lord will never refuse your offering when you do it with the right frame of mind.
Isaiah 58 – True and False Worship. The prophet or school of prophets is excoriating the Jews for their version of “Pius worship.” Like Solomon’s prayer in the light of Solomon’s elaborate temple, what we intend to do with our praises to the Lord, the outcome will always be in line with the intention and heart that went into it. When Solomon lent out his garden in Baal-Hamon, he most likely had quite a few people standing in line to use the land. The tenants were instructed to give a 10th of the produce for the king’s table and this was a noble offering; yet, the people could have easily given Solomon a 10th of the worst part of the product and still met their obligation but he would not have been pleased with it. In the same way, the nation Israel boasted about being “the Lord’s chosen” but lived contrary to the name they called themselves by. Tell my people Israel of their sins! Yet they act so piously! They come to the Temple every day and seem delighted to learn all about me. They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God. They ask me to take action on their behalf, pretending they want to be near me (1-2). When our actions defy our words, nothing we do spiritually, like fasting, will do any good (3). The Sanhedrin were professional “fasters and prayers” yet their actions flew in the face of their pious actions (Matthew 6:16). Fasting, like worship, is not about the songs or “going hungry” but to set aside our selfish will to care for others (6-7). “Keep the Sabbath day holy. Don’t pursue your interests on that day, but enjoy the Sabbath and speak of it with delight as the LORD’s holy day. Honor the Sabbath in everything you do on that day, and don’t follow your desires or talk idly. Then the LORD will be your delight. I will give you great honor and satisfy you with the inheritance I promised to your ancestor Jacob. I, the LORD, have spoken (13-14)!”
Luke 12 – Warning Against Hypocrisy. Among the religious circles of the 1st century just as it is in the 21st century, there is and was a pension for “hypocrisy.” The Sanhedrin held the monopoly on the “voice of G_d” and spoke with fervency on the Word of Moses yet also spoke with a forked-tongue. While what they said was somewhat in line with the Torah, it was missing a key element and that was “righteousness.” Solomon’s prayer (2 Chronicles 6) was fine and rivaled some of the best-written speeches of its time but what made the prayer effective was Solomon’s heart for the Lord G_d. The people who listened to the Pharisees might learn what the Torah says but they will never learn the power of absolute servitude to the Lord G_d. “Beware of the yeast of the Pharisees—their hypocrisy. The time is coming when everything that is covered up will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. Whatever you have said in the dark will be heard in the light, and what you have whispered behind closed doors will be shouted from the housetops for all to hear! “Dear friends, don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot do any more to you after that. But I’ll tell you whom to fear. Fear God, who has the power to kill you and then throw you into hell. Yes, he’s the one to fear (1-5). The religious leaders spent a good part of their day speaking badly about Jesus to the listening ear “Don’t listen to Jesus. If you don’t listen to me, you will never know the truth and you will be kicked out of the Temple (John 9:22).” What we possess on this earth is our “soul” and it is the only thing that we have control over (23-26).