Reading #1 – Acts 24
Reading #2 – Psalms 128
Reading #3 – Songs 8
Reading #4 – Jeremiah 48
Reading #5 – Esther 3
Esther 3 – Haman’s Plot against the Jews. Haman the son of Hammedatha the Agagite was elevated to the #2 man in the kingdom. His sycophants gathered around him and bowed down to him to garner a plum position. Mordecai, on the other hand, would not bow down to him not because he “didn’t recognize the king’s signet ring nor hear about the man being promoted (2).” He didn’t bow down to the man nor recognize his existence because of G_d’s commands which overrode the King’s henchman (Exodus 20:3-5). Haman’s sycophants asked Mordecai why he didn’t just bow down to Haman. Mordecai told the delegation that he was a Jew. When Haman heard the excuse he sought to destroy anybody who was a Jew (4-6). Haman hatched a plan to kill all of the Jews and do it under the auspices of the king. To sweeten the pot, Haman offered to foot the expense which would end up in the king’s treasury. Then the king removed his signet ring from his hand [that is, the special ring which was used to seal his letters] and gave it to Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, the enemy of the Jews. The king said to Haman, “The silver is given to you, and the people also, to do with them as you please (10-11).” Haman worked expediently to get the decree issued and the deed sealed before the king changed his mind. Once the decree was issued and delivered, the kingdom descended into pandemonium because the decree made no sense.
Psalms 128 – Blessedness of the Fear of the Lord. The Hebrew word in verse 1 for “fear” is the verb form of “fear” “Yara” which means to shake (1). The implication is to point out that the one who says “I will trust the Lord” despite what the world says we should fear. Mordecai heard about the king’s command and the man he elevated and wasn’t afraid of what Haman could do even if put on the gallows all Haman could do was end the “physical life” (Matthew 10:28). When our eyes are on the Lord, the earthly issues will not cause us to shake with fear. For you shall eat the fruit of [the labor of] your hands, you will be happy and blessed and it will be well with you (2). When we read this Psalm, it might be tempting to believe the promises will be fulfilled immediately but, they won’t; this is where the Devil will wait us out and wear down our resolve. May the LORD bless you from Zion [His holy mountain], and may you see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life; Indeed, may you see your [family perpetuated in your] children’s children. Peace be upon Israel (5-6)! This is where “faith” comes into being.
Songs 8 – The Lovers Speak. We are not told a lot about Solomon’s wife only that he had a large harem which was standard for the kings of that time. Solomon was a lady’s man who loved foreign-born wives and that is where got into trouble. We are told that they loved each other intimately and this woman was the 7th wife. The wife had to wait in Egypt until a palace was built for her because Solomon did not figure it right that a woman would not live with him in the City of David (1 Kings 3:1).
Jeremiah 48 – Prophecy against Moab. Moab was the son of Lot through Lot’s incestuous union with his eldest daughter (Genesis 19:35-38). Moab was giddy knowing about the trouble Judah was facing and how Israel had been decimated. Moab thought they were secure from being attacked by Nebuchadnezzar and that was their first mistake (7). Moab was destroyed in 582 BC about 6 years after Judah and about 140 years after the northern kingdom was destroyed. According to a document found online, the Moabites faded into history after 582 BC. This is the same tragedy that we face to this very day because many kingdoms have died out and are never heard from again. “And the destroyer will come upon every city; No city will escape. The [Jordan] valley also will be ruined and the plain will be devastated, As the LORD has said. “Give a gravestone to Moab, For she will fall into ruins; Her cities (pastures, farms) will be desolate, Without anyone to live in them (8-9). Destruction does not please G_d nor does He find joy in it no matter which nation it is; however, sin has consequences. “So joy and gladness are taken away From the fruitful field and the land of Moab. And I have made the wine cease from the winepresses; No one treads the grapes with shouting. Their shouting is not joyful shouting [but is instead a battle cry] (33).
Acts 24 – Paul before Felix. Felix was the governor of Caesarea. The Sanhedrin along with Ananias and their attorney Tertulious presented their argument but not successfully. For we have found this man to be a public menace and one who instigates dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the [heretical] sect of the Nazarenes (5). Paul addressed these charges by presenting the facts as he knew them. Felix wanted to be bribed into declaring Paul innocent. Paul was respectful to Felix knowing that Felix held in his hands the power to convict and the power to acquit so he had to watch his tone where the attorney had no such concerns (Proverbs 25:15). But I confess this to you, that according to the Way, which they call a [divisive and heretical] sect, I do worship and serve the God of our fathers, [confidently] believing everything that is following the Law [of Moses] and that is written in the Prophets; having [the same] hope in God which these men cherish themselves, that there shall certainly be a resurrection of [the dead], both of the righteous and the wicked. Because of this, I also do my best and strive always to have a clear conscience before God and before men (14-16).