Daily Bible Readings for 9/17/2022

Judges 14

Psalms 104:1-18

Proverbs 10

Isaiah 41:21-29

1 King 7

Judges 14 – Samson’s Marriage. For a fight to break out, there needed to be an impetus and that was found in young Samson. The young woman Samson was to marry was a Philistine. The crisis was over a silly riddle and the reward for figuring it out as well as a consequence for not. The men of the community felt it would be an insult to them and to the community if a filthy Israelite had gotten the best of them. So, they had to resort to conning the father of the bride into begging for the answer. The riddle was rather simple: “out of the eater something to eat. Out of the strong something sweet.” For three days the man community guessed incorrectly. So, they threaten the father of the bride if that he had not gotten the answer out of Samson, they would burn his house to the ground. The young woman was successful but at the cost of her fellow countrymen after Samson killed the rulers, took their clothing, and gave it to the men of the community. This will set the stage for the battle between the Philistines and Israel. Samson lost his bride and gained a mortal enemy.

Psalms104:1-18 – O Lord My G-d, You are Very Great. The Lord provides for his people however, it is up to them to gather the produce, grow the vegetables, and faithfully use what He has graciously provided. Working to provide for the family using the resources we are given is not tantamount to “works of salvation”. It is honoring the Lord by using what He has provided for His glory. As we honor Him, His spirit pours down into our lives.

Proverbs 10 – The Proverbs of Solomon. Solomon was a wise man in “word only”. The man who pleases G-d listens to Solomon but disregards what he does. While the Lord never took away His love for David’s son, he didn’t bless him either. How did Solomon know that the Lord blessed obedience? Because his father David did not stop helping the nation even at the expense of his family. The thing is, we have a habit of learning the right way by suffering for our foolishness. We need to keep in the back of our minds that although the Proverbs were uttered by a less than honorable individual, it did not negate the validity of his words. In the same way when we speak to our children about “do and don’t” it should never imply that our actions were right only that there is a better way to live.

Isaiah 41:21-29 – The Futility of Idols. The idols of the earth are nothing but metal and wood made from inorganic materials. They have no voice, no needs, and no wants. Simply, they sit on a shelf, and mankind speaks for them declaring unjust laws, self-serving leadership, and rules made by mankind. Shouldn’t the “G-d” speak and call all men to Himself? He has called but many have not responded. The Lord declared from the beginning the truth but mankind has preferred the “lie” because it suits his/her purpose.

1 King 7:1-12 – Solomon Builds His Palace. Solomon had scarcely finished with the Temple construction when he diverted manhours to build his home and then on to build a home for Pharaoh’s daughter. These homes were opulent even by that time’s standards. The problem was that the construction never ended. This would put a strain on the nation and create fights as we’ll find out later on.

Daily Bible Readings for 9/16/2022

Judges 13

Psalms 103

Proverbs 9

Isaiah 41:1-20

1 King 6

Judges 13 – The Birth of Sampson. Sampson would be the next judge of Israel. His parents were without children until later in life. When the angel appeared to Manoa’s wife it was unexpected and it frightened her. She was told about the child growing in her womb and what his mission would be. After telling Manoa about the message, he needed to hear from the angel how to raise this “special child”. The child was to be raised according to the law of the Nazarite or Natzrite which requires that the child not to be given any liquor, to not cut his hair, and eat nothing that was unclean.

Psalms 103 – Bless the Lord, O My Soul. How does our soul bless the Lord? By walking in obedience to Him in all that we do. The Lord forgives our inquities if we ask it of Him and turn our lives to listen to Him. Our lives are finite that is 75 or 80 if our health holds up but He is from everlasting to everlasting – infinite. When allow Him to be our fear and dread, He walks with us in paths of righteousness for His name not ours. The Lord loves all of mankind but finds special joy in those who walk according to His commands as sure as the heavens are high above the earth. Mankind will pass away but His faithfulness will never pass and nor does His word.

Proverbs 9 – The Way of Wisdom. Folly, just like Wisdom, has a voice and she knows how to use it to her benefit. Those who walk in the pathway of the wise grow wise just like the foolish grow more foolish. Sin is pleasurable and it meets a physical need in our life but in the end it bites like a snake.

Isaiah 41:1-20 – Fear Not, for I am with You. In this world of trouble, we have a solid foundation in Christ Jesus to stand on. Our strength is not in the power of the animal nor in the spirit of mankind but in the Spirit of the Lord. The foundation of the world is shaking and in dire need of the Lord. War threatens to take peace from the Lord but our faith is not in the world, it is in the Lord.

1 King 6 – Solomon Builds the Temple. Seven years after the start of construction the Temple was finished which was in Solomon’s 11th year as king. Solomon went to great lengths to ensure that the temple was built exactly as David had envisioned it. The temple was built to be the “one place of worship” but it wasn’t end all be all of their worship or at least it wasn’t supposed to be. No matter how opulent the construction, it would never take the place of “obedience to the Lord”. In the same way, no matter how much we do to make ourselves look good, it will take the place of obedience. The Lord would have been content to have the wilderness temple as small as it was and have everyone being obedient to the Lord than to have a temple and disobedience.

Bible Readings 5/7/2022

Judges 2:1-10

Psalms 89:1-14

Ecclesiastes 9:1-6

Isaiah 26

2 Samuel 19:1-13

Mike’s Notes

Judges 2:1-10 – Israel’s Disobedience. Joshua and the elders had been faithful to the Lord and carried out what was asked of them. The problem for this generation just as it has been in every generation is “time” and “changes in opinion”. The message Angel at Bochim uttered hit the people in the heart and they responded with weeping and repentance. What the people was “who the Angel was talking to” and that was the children. When you compare this time and the time after Joseph, there is little difference. As parents, we have the power to influence our children for a short period before peer pressure and social norms invade their minds. It is incumbent on us as parents and leaders to walk in obedience to the Lord not out of rote but out of love for the Lord. We may not be successful but in the court of the Lord, we will not be held guilty of the blood that will be shed.

Psalms 89:1-14 – I Will Sing of the Steadfast Love of the Lord. The Lord is faithful and just to the person who puts their trust in Him and wavers not in faith in the Lord. In the Word, we are promised by the Lord that He would be with us in times of trouble, and with long life, He would show forth His salvation (Psalms 91:10-16). The kind of life the Lord wants for His children is productive, life-giving, and joy overflowing. The problem is that many of us introduce things in our life that are not from the Lord nor are they His desire for us. When we do this, we become bogged down and lethargic, and the joy is no longer working in and through us. David was promised an enduring kingdom one that could sustain the worst the world could throw at it that way until Bathsheba entered the picture. After Bathsheba, David’s life became hectic, filled with trouble, and in constant suspense.

Ecclesiastes 9:1-6 – Death Comes to All. Death is impartial in that it takes everyone at some point in their life or another. The hope of the living is that we will spend eternity in Heaven after we die and there is nothing wrong with this notion. The problem is that living an upright life benefits us only while we are alive. If death takes everyone why should I walk uprightly? The answer is, that what we do in life and the paths we take will dictate the quality of life we live and compel the next generation to follow or go their way. While we are alive, we have hope for a better tomorrow no matter what today or yesterday was like.

Isaiah 26 – You Keep Him in Perfect Peace. Righteousness exalts a nation but sin is a reproach to anyone (Proverbs 14:34). The world says, “follow me and I will make you rich” but it does not say how nor does it say what the price will be. Herein lies the problem and the defining difference between the kingdom of the world and the Kingdom of G-d. The nation was presented with a choice “serve yourself and your interests” or “serve me and I will give you unspeakable and undefinable peace” (Philippians 4:6). The world’s version of “Peace” is tepid because it hinges on both sides giving something often times it means “giving away land that belongs to us”. Unfortunately, the wrong people are hurt in the process of the world’s peace program (5-6). Righteousness says, “I will be obedient to the law of the Lord despite how the world thinks, sees, and feels about my choices”. These two opposing forces have been around since the dawn of time. Mankind is subject to react based on what he/she sees, hears, and feels. No one at any time has seen the face of G-d which is partly why people have a hard time trusting in Him. We may not have seen G-d but we have seen and read about people like David, Daniel, Moses, Jesus, and Billy Graham.

2 Samuel 19:1-13 – The Rebellion of Sheba. Sheba and the Devil share a common characteristic in that they are opportunists who by their nature use the times when we are at our weakest to create problems. David had been on the run from Absalom and was in no shape to fight anyone. When David got back to the castle, the first thing he did was remove the 10 concubines that had been raped by Absalom. The Biblical concept about sin is that it destroys from the inside out. When we review the timeline of David’s actions, we can see how his credibility, which was something he carefully protected all of his life, was ruined leaving him vulnerable to events like Sheba’s revolt. Joab was fiercely loyal to David until David had ordered Uriah’s death. After Uriah was murdered, Joab looked after himself and his interests. It was, for this reason, that I believe Joab killed Amasa so that Joab would get the victory and thereby retain his position.

Bible Readings for 5/1/2022

Judges 1:27-36

Psalms 88

Ecclesiastes 8:10-17

Isaiah 25

2 Samuel 18:19-33

Mike’s Notes

Judges 1:27-36 – Failure to Complete the Conquest. By failing to remove the occupants from the land, a trap lay in waiting for Israel. As I have said a couple of times now, everything we do sets the stage for the future. Manasseh, Ephraim, Zebulun, and Naphtali were not able to push the occupants out which meant that occupants would be conscripted labor. While the four tribes were abiding by the law, it wasn’t the first choice, it was the alternate and that’s where the trouble stems from. You see, as long as Israel was large and in charge the laborers would do as they were ordered to until Israel’s power waned. In the same way, the Lord gives us the power to take control of our lives which means pushing out those things that bring us down. When we allow “those things” to remain because we think “I have conscripted them to serve me” and so we go to the places that tempt us like the bars. When tragedy strikes us or trouble enters our home, we will go to those places that brought us comfort and it will drive us into the arms of another woman/man. For the Israelites, it would mean that they would fall prey to idol worship.

Psalms 88 – I Cry Out Day and Night Before You. Heman was the son of Joel the prophet and Samuel’s grandson. David had appointed Heman to be the choir leader which would be carried into the time of Solomon and the building of the House of G-d “Beth-El”. The connection to Ezra was a spiritual connection or to be wise as Ezra (Heman). The term “Mahalath Leannoth” means “sickness and affliction a lesson” (ML). The lesson in this Psalm is how a disease or mental illness should lead us to the place where hope resides. The Devil uses our illnesses whether they be mental or physical to draw us away from the Lord just as it was with Hezekiah. The writer of this Psalm was unwilling to be defeated by mental illness and chose instead to turn his eyes from the Lord. When we chose to serve and honor the Lord in sickness and in health, the illness loses its grasp on us.

Ecclesiastes 8:10-17 – Those Who Fear G-d. In the eyes of the Lord, there are two different types of people, those who fear him and those who don’t. Walking in the fear of the Lord doesn’t mean that we will live a charmed life and that everything will be “Rosey dandy”. It does mean that the Lord will walk with us through all of the pathways of our life which includes the times of immense storms. The evil person may garner all of the wealth and prestige but there will always be something missing from his/her life and will die without peace. We will never know all of G-d’s plans for our lives and this is by design. When we walk in the fear of the Lord and are obedient to what He commands, His Spirit will guide us always to the end of our life. Interestingly, mankind (mainly scientists) have attempted and still attempt to find out about the workings of this world and this “G-d” but are never able to find out which, is also by design.

Isaiah 25 – G-d Will Swallow Up Death Forever. Israel was the “Beaulah land” and the “Promised land”. For over 1000 years the nation had lived in this land. Yet, the enemy of our soul crept in to do what he does best, “break the peace” and “compel people to change their focus towards “dominion” (1-3). Nations came to join with Israel because of the prosperity in the time of David and in the early reign of Solomon yet when the party ended, the nations abandoned Israel like one would a piece of trash. The destruction of Israel served as a warning to the nations about breaking faith with the Lord (4-5). The difference between Israel and Soddom and Gomorrah was that Israel had been warned that their actions would cause problems but they didn’t listen. Only mankind thinks they are indomitable because in the eyes of the Lord we are simply humans who are susceptible to the forces of this world which include “fear of death”. The reference to the mountain referred to the mountain of the Lord the place where His throne was placed and the place where death no longer held people in its web of fear (6-9). The places of mankind’s dominion would always be squashed by those who were stronger than them. The Lord uses people like Nebuchadnezzar to humble nations (10-12).

2 Samuel 18:19-33 – David Hears of Absalom’s Death. The two men who ran with the news Ahimaaz and the Cushite had different perspectives on the events that occurred. Ahimaaz had not witnessed what Joab and 3 other men did to Absalom; The Cushite, however, had full knowledge because he was potentially one of the “three other men”. When the Cushite had relayed the story of Absalom’s death, it was natural for David to go into his chamber to mourn his son’s death. It must be understood that Joab’s action in killing Absalom was not an act of war because Absalom, for all intents and purposes, had surrendered. It was always the hope of the kings that their sons would take their place on the throne not die as the fool dies. In Joab’s mind, both Absalom and Abner deserved to be killed; in David’s mind, both deaths were senseless murders yet, how could he judge Joab? It is for this reason that Joab would be an open issue for the next king of Israel/Judah.

Bible Readings 4/30/2022

Judges 1:16-26

Psalms 87

Ecclesiastes 8:1-9

Isaiah 24

2 Samuel 18:1-18

Mike’s Notes

Judges 1:16-26 – Land Still to Conquer. When Moses was in exile in Midian, he married a Kenite woman the daughter of Jethro a Priest. During the exodus Moses and had sent his wife and children to live with Jethro for some unknown reason. When the nation was safe across the Red Sea, Jethro brought Moses’ wife and children back to Moses. Because the Kenites were skilled metalsmith workers, Moses invited them to come with Israel to the promised land (Numbers 10:29-33). The problem with this situation is that it set the stage for future issues. You see, Moses struggled with trust in the Lord, and once invited there was no “uninviting” any more than Joshua could change direction on the Gibeonites. So once we make a decision whatever happens afterward is our responsibility to deal with that will ultimately be passed down to the next generation. The nations that were not expelled from the land would serve Israel until the nation became weak due to sin.

Psalms 87 – Glorious Things of You Are Spoken. The Words of the Lord are a plumbline that has stood in place all of the years of mankind. Those who have built their homes “life” according to the plumbline, never feared that they might be out of whack. Part of the reason that incidents like David and Bathsheba, Amnon, and Absalom are recorded is not so that we can look back and tell where these men went wrong but that we might learn how sin influenced them. After sin had corrupted and destroyed these men, the Lord still loved them in the same way that he loves us. Just because Jacob was chosen by the Lord it didn’t imply that he was without sin but that he made himself available for the Lord’s purpose. In the same way, being called “Children of the Living G-d” does not mean that we are not susceptible to temptation and won’t act on sin. What it means is that because of Jesus’ sacrifice we are forgiven and the pathway will still be made available to get us home when we come to our senses.

Ecclesiastes 8:1-9 – Keep the King’s Command. If there was anyone message uttered by the teacher that would have benefited Joab it was this one. There are commands uttered by the Lord that in our sinful state make no sense like “forgive and you shall be forgiven” and “vengeance is mine I will repay”. If you will notice about all the Lord’s commands is that He never tells us why He made such an audacious claim. The reason is that He wants us to obey out of love for Him where knowing the “why” compels us to wait for the gift like a mouse in a maze. When it comes to making decisions, we have no idea what is coming down the pike anymore than we know the heart of mankind. For this reason, we need to listen to the Lord and follow His lead regardless of how we feel about it. When we act on temptation and ask for forgiveness, it doesn’t make the matter “go mysteriously away” because sin hurts the wrong people who are usually members of our family to say nothing about how it hurts us (Proverbs 8:35-36).

Isaiah 24 – Judgement of the Whole Earth. This poem tells of a shattered world that is broken, emptied, and ruined because of sin. In the beginning, the Spirit hovered over the deep. After six days or possibly six thousand years, the world could be inhabited (Genesis 1). In the same way, when we come to the Lord and confess our unrighteousness, the Lord begins a good work in us. As we walk uprightly before the Lord our life takes on a new purpose and edible fruit comes from the field of our hearts. The thing is, though, the Devil does not like it when we are walking in the shout of the King because it means he is rendered powerless. To remedy this, the Devil sends in temptation sort of like what the did to David. When sin is conceived, disillusion sets in, and what once produced joy and gladness becomes a reminder of the power we once wielded. When we see what we have done, we tend to think that if we just go back to singing songs of praise, go back to church, and even donate a little bit of money our world will be put back on its axis again. Unfortunately, going back to what we were doing “pre-fall” will once again be as empty as the life after the fall. The only true remedy is the cross, faithfulness, and patience.

2 Samuel 18:1-18 – Absalom Killed. The whole ordeal with Absalom had taken a toll on David so he was urged by the men who supported him to stay home. David ordered the three battle commanders to treat Absalom well for David’s sake. By all rights, Absalom should have been put to death for acts of treason. Earlier Absalom had his servants set fire to Joab’s fields in retribution for not allowing Absalom to see the king. So, I think anyway, that Joab used Absalom’s misfortune to get retribution by killing Absalom. The young man who saw Absalom hanging from a branch would have received a warrior’s belt and gold for killing the King’s enemy. I want you to keep this in mind though, the award was a smokescreen of sorts. The reason I say this is that if the young man had killed Absalom, the young man would have received a reward alright, he would have been singled out for disobeying the king and Joab would have separated themselves from him. So Joab does the dirty work and then hides Absalom in a pit so that no one would know what he did. In a way, this event paralleled what David did to his faithful servant Uriah. The victory claimed by Joab “the blowing of the horn” was swallowed up because of Joab’s actions against Absalom. In the same way, the victory over the Ammonites was swallowed up because of David’s actions against Uriah.

Bible Readings for 4/28/2022

Judges 1:1-15

Psalms 86

Ecclesiastes 7:15-29

Isaiah 23

2 Samuel 17:15-29

Mike’s Notes

Judges 1:1-15 – The Continuing Conquest of Canaan. The book of Judges picks up where Joshua ends. There was still land to conquer as there were tribes that had not yet entered their inherited land. Caleb is the last remaining individual from the time when Moses sent spies into the land. This man was faithful and fearless. Caleb is now an old man most likely in his late 80s to early 90s although not the young man he was, yet he did not lay down and quit. He gave his daughter’s hand in marriage to the man who attacked kierethsepher which was well protected so Caleb’s nephew Othniel accepted the challenge and attacked this stronghold and captured it. Understand this, whatever we are given by the Lord is incomplete because we must put our labors into the project to see it through.

Psalms 86 – Great Is Your Steadfast Love. We are held to a higher standard because of the name by which we are called. We are never alone no matter how much the Devil compels us to see through his eyes. When we fully understand the concept that “man does not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the Father’s mouth” (Matthew 4:4) our walk with the Lord will take on a new dimension. For the writer of this Psalm, possibly David, it was understood that his help was from the Lord not from the fears of the world. G-d’s steadfast love transcends all things because, it implies that no matter how deep a pit we find ourselves in, no matter how difficult the situation we are facing, and/or how much we feel that we are failing G-d He will not abandon us. Before the Prophet Isaiah entered his ministry to the Israelites, he was told “”You are not to say, ‘It is a conspiracy!’ In regard to all that these people call a conspiracy, you are not to fear what they fear nor be in dread of it. “It is the LORD of hosts whom you are to regard as holy and awesome. He shall be your fear, He shall be your dread [not man] (Isaiah 8:12-13).

Ecclesiastes 7:15-29 – Redefining Our Purpose. Life in our world is really no different from Solomon’s time. In this snippet, we read about the ultra-right or the “Wise” and the ultra-left or the “fool”. Although the ultra-right and ultra-left are part of the same body “mankind”, they oppose each other in the same way the politicians do in our time. The wise person looks down his/her nose on the fool and condemns them not realizing that the pathway he/she is taking is one of condemnation and the individual has no peace. When it comes down to it, no one does not deal with sin at some point in his/her life unless you are Mike Krier :). Each is afforded or should be afforded the right to control their lives but the caveat is that we then need to also be held accountable for what we do. When we trip over temptation as David did, unpredictable things happen like Absalom trying to usurp the throne. David’s Kingdom was to be an enduring kingdom but sin modified the outcome to darken an otherwise stellar individual (27-29).

Isaiah 23 – An Oracle Concerning Tyre and Sidon. Tyre was a prominent seaport on the coast of Lebanon. During the Phoenician period (2000 BCE – 1 CE), the port city was used to send merchandise to the world of that time (Tyre). The port city was captured and destroyed by the Babylonian armies around 573 BCE after a prolonged conquest. 70 years later the city would be inhabited but not by its previous occupants. Sidon was the third-largest city in the known world at that time and was also a port city in what is now known as Lebanon. So these two cities played a prominent role in buying and selling merchandise. When the horde of Chaldeans came in, it upset the applecart of commerce. In time, this city too would be captured and controlled by someone else. The reference to the “song of the prostitute” implies that the cities would return to “opulence” and would flirt with the cities of the known world that traded with idols (Opulence). The problem would be that the cities would have the fashion of the old way but its purpose would be redefined.

2 Samuel 17:15-29 – Hushai’s Counsel. Ahithophel, as you might remember, had joined an alliance with Absalom out of vengeance. The counsel given to Absalom by Ahithophel would have worked had Hushai not confounded it. Hushai was working for David under the guise of allegiance to Absalom. Ahithophel was working for his benefit, not Absalom’s and he would have thrown in his lot to anyone who would have challenged David. Absalom was completely unaware of the play that was occurring all around him and these are things a good King would understand. The reason I feel that Ahithophel committed suicide was that when David came back he would be put on trial for treason. So word was sent to David by Hushai to provide direction and guidance. Once again Mahanaim comes into play. Remember Mahanaim means “place of two camps”. It was the place where Jacob stopped when he was returning to Canaan and fearing Esau’s reprisal. David was a beaten man at this juncture and his men were hungry and thirsty. Thank Heavens for people like Barsalai who provided food, drink, and a resting place for David and his men. By bringing provisions, I think, Barsalai was encouraging David and to let him know that he was not alone.

Bible Readings for 4/26/2022

Joshua 24:14-33

Psalms 85

Ecclesiastes 7:1-14

Isaiah 22:15-25

2 Samuel 17:1-14

Mike’s Notes

Joshua 24:14-33 – Choose Whom You Will Serve. The people are being presented with the choice of who they will serve. The nation had witnessed first-hand what became of the sinful nations that occupied Canaan and how the mighty hand of the Lord had made the conquest successful. It would seem to be a “no brainer” who the people would serve. Joshua had been like Eliakim who saved the nation and had seen the conquest through to the end. No matter who the people chose to serve, Joshua and his family or household would serve the Lord. The people with one voice said, “we will serve the Lord!”. The thing is, a time was coming when they would not have the great Joshua and the elders would die out leaving the next generation to carry the ball. The rock was a visual reminder of the choice they made and the law was the implication of their choice.

Psalms 85 – Revive Us Again. When we walk on the pathway of “Righteousness”, the Lord blesses our lives, our homes, and families, and peace reigns supreme. The problem is, the Devil doesn’t like peace because then he has no admirers so he stirs up trouble through pretense. When following his course trouble ensues slowly to blind us to what is going on around us. Eventually, we wake up “spiritually” and see what has become of our life and then we think, “how in the name of all that is Holy did I end up here”. This is where the people of Jerusalem are. The only recourse to overcome sin is to admit that you have sinned and that your strength will not save the city and that it is the Lord’s will that will prevail. To put it practically, when we become enamored with our success financially or in our skillset, we follow the course of the world and enjoy the trinkets. When we find out that those things will not bring lasting joy, we turn back to the Lord and seek His forgiveness and restoration which comes about slowly. The salvation experience we had the first time we came to him will not occur the 2nd or 3rd etc.. times.

Ecclesiastes 7:1-14 – The Contrast of Wisdom and Folly. The great battle between Wisdom and Folly is a play steeped in history. Folly prefers to feast and celebrate while the walls are falling down all around her. Folly’s ardent admirers follow her lead often to their destruction. Consider the Great Civil War in the US that ended in 1868. At the onset, the people reveled in the notion of a “one day battle” only to have it drag on for four years at the cost of the death of millions. Folly says, “eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we shall die” but Folly does not die she finds a new audience. Folly compels us to fear the events of life and think “the end is coming” so when the end doesn’t come the audience thinks “so much for this prophesy” and goes back to what they were doing. Wisdom, on the other hand, tells us to listen to the Lord and trust Him in times of storm and sunshine, pain and sorrow, loss and gain. We have no idea what the future holds and that is by design. If we knew about the future, we would wait until the last moment to change our minds and alter our direction. What we are told is, “obey my laws and precepts whether you agree with them or not”. When we do what is asked of us, the Lord sees us through no matter how deep or troublesome the battle may be.

Isaiah 22:15-25 – An Oracle Concerning Jerusalem. The leaders of Jerusalem had become sinful and their poison spread to the people of the great city. This is act two in the Devil’s play but the people did not understand how they were being played. Shebna was the treasurer in the house of the king. Shebna means “he who rests himself is now captive”. Shebna thought highly of himself so he built a prominent tomb for himself in the mountains so that people would remember him, as they did for David. The Lord’s plan for Israel was that they would be the “city on a hill” but had become like the people they were to influence (Shebna). Eliakim would be the “poor man who saves the city by his wisdom” (Ecclesiastes 9:15). The problem is, that the poor man’s wisdom is good only until peace reigns in the city and then the people turn back to their evil ways. Eliakim would be captured and taken to Babylon and another king would be put installed.

2 Samuel 17:1-14 – Hushai Saves David. Ahithophel’s guidance was good and accurate. Hushai knew that David was weary and worn out and, I believe anyway, is the impetus for Proverbs 30:1-4. The thing is, Absalom was doomed to destruction the day he acted on the foolish notion to usurp the throne. Going into battle against David with the band of men that Absalom had was a sure recipe for slaughter. First of all, the men that banded with Absalom had no idea what they got themselves into or what would happen when the battle was fully engaged. Absalom’s agreement to Hushai’s plan played to the pride of life. Remember this, everything the enemy seeks to get us to do always plays out like a three-act play. In the first act, the unknowing dupe is prompted with a beautiful idea that eventually is replayed in his/her mind until the end of the act. In act two, the plan is enacted but it doesn’t play out as expected. In act three, we are utterly ruined and the Lord’s purpose prevails. In this play act one, Absalom wants to defeat David, and what could be better than for King Absalom to ride into battle?

Bible Readings 4/24/2022

Joshua 24:1-13

Psalms 84

Ecclesiastes 6

Isaiah 22:1-14

2 Samuel 16:15-23

Mike’s Notes

Joshua 24:1-13 – The Covenant Renewed at Shechem. This retelling of Israel’s life story brings out the pathway chosen by the Patriarchs. Abraham chose to believe in the Lord’s promise and because of it, the land of Canaan was inherited by the generation who conquered the land. Because of Moses and Aaron’s faith in the Lord, the people were escorted out of slavery to become an autonomous nation. Balaam’s prophecy could have been a “curse” that would have doomed the nation but the Lord changed Balaam’s mind through the presence of the Lord’s power. Oreb and Zeeb were two of the most prominent and powerful kings on the eastern side of Jordan but by standing in faith with the Lord the puny nation conquered them and took over the work of their hands. On the western side, nations that were much more powerful than Israel were defeated and the land was parceled out to the tribes for an inheritance. The reason for retelling this story was to enforce in their mind who it was that led them so that they would not become proud. Part of the reason for us getting caught in Satan’s snare is that we do not remember our past nor the work of our ancestors which compels us to become proud and arrogant.

Psalms 84 – My Soul Longs for the Courts of the Lord. Every animal has a hiding place. In the same way, we too have a hiding place or a place of rest and that is in the court of the Master. To rest in His Kingdom requires that we be obedient to His laws and precepts. His Kingdom is not an escape from the consequences of our actions and nor is it an excuse to commit sin. Only when we realize that our strength does not come from our skillset, possessions, and/or connections but from the hand of the Lord, will we not fear the future. The Valley of Baca means “valley of weeping”. In life, we will have trouble but when our heart is set on the Lord and He is on the throne of our life, we understand that the troubles and weeping are momentary (5-7, John 16:33, Valley of Baca). When we are in the midst of storms, it is very difficult to see two feet in front of us much less the hand of the Lord. The Devil uses storms to confuse us and get us to think “the Lord doesn’t exist, I’m believing in a lie”. Yet if we can just hold onto faith, the storms will end and the sun will shine again. Trust in the Lord with all of your heart and lean not on your understanding. In all of your ways, acknowledge His presence and He will guide you home (Proverbs 3:4-5).

Ecclesiastes 6 – Vanity. In life, we have many opportunities to amass things and become wealthy. Yet if we do not amass the Lord’s peace in our life, all of the stuff becomes useless. The term “instant gratification” comes to mind in this segment because we are enamored by the item until the bill comes due and then we consider which has more value. The item will fall apart or become something else to store in the home, the bill will cause restless nights and moments of tension especially when the money is not available. Vanity has been a prevalent part of humanity for countless generations. Vanity is at the core of commercialism because it shows the bad situation being “very bad” and the good “being unfathomable”. Why does it do that? Because it brings out the deepest part of the heart of man. Only when we become satisfied with who we are, where we are in life, and the limitations imposed on us by our body only then will we be at peace with ourselves. The only real power we are granted is the ability to control ourselves by making quality choices and finding joy in the days we are given.

Isaiah 22:1-14 – An Oracle Concerning Jerusalem. Jerusalem’s destruction in the years leading up to the exile was not part of G-d’s plans. Isaiah was sent to warn the people but they would not listen because the trouble had not yet come to fruition. To preclude being captured, the king and his escorts would drill a hole in the wall of Jerusalem and escape into the night. Because of this, the city would be thrown into confusion and like sheep without a shepherd. Again the people laughed about this because the city was secure and had no concern for the future. The hedge of protection that had surrounded the city (8) was due to the prayers of David and his quest to serve the Lord. The populace of Jerusalem basked in the power of David but did not fully commit to the Lord. In the same way, in the time of Jesus, many followed him wherever he would go but few put their trust and hope in the Lord. So when the hedge was removed, the full power and might of the Devil would come in. The “weapons in the house in the forest” were placed there by Solomon as a line of defense. Again the people thought the weapons would save them without considering who planned it long ago. The power of the Lord is made perfect in weakness, not in the strength of the horse or the power of the chariot (2 Corinthians 12:9).

2 Samuel 16:15-23 – Absalom Enters Jerusalem. Having started his reign at Hebron and now in Jerusalem, Absalom had followed his father’s tracks. What Absalom did was wrong on many levels and violated G-d’s laws and would end badly for him all who followed him. Ahithophel, as I mentioned yesterday, was out for vengeance. By having sex with his father’s concubines, Absalom was defying David and the law of the Lord (Repulsive actions). While the prophecy uttered by Nathan to David said this would happen, he did not say what would become of the man who did it. Ahithophel was known for being wise and his suggestions helped David because they sounded like something G-d would say. There’s a problem in this puzzle because although it seemed like a “perfect coup”, the demon called “Vendetta” altered the pieces and signed Absalom’s death warrant.

Bible Readings for 4/23/2022

Joshua 23

Psalms 83

Ecclesiastes 5

Isaiah 21

2 Samuel 16:1-14

Mike’s Notes

Joshua 23 – Joshua’s Charge to Israel’s Leaders. The nation Israel was now in the land granted to them by the Lord. For over 40 years Joshua had led the nation in the conquest of Canaan. Now well advanced in years, he was passing the baton of leadership to the next generation. The judges would be responsible for guiding the people on the pathway of righteousness. The success or failure of the people would be contingent on the decisions they made going forward. There would be foreign nations that would not give up the land they had lived in for centuries and as a result, continue to exist. These foreign nations had their gods but the Israelites were not to mention them, seek their guidance, and/or replicate them. Additionally, the Israelites were not to intermarry with the foreign nations which would cause the nations to die out due to attrition. As we’ll find out in the time of Solomon, when he married foreign princesses, that person brought in the ideals, attitudes, and gods which would alter the course of Israel.

Psalms 83 – O G-d, Do Not Keep Silence. When we ask the Lord to intervene in a situation, whatever it may be, we must be prepared to hear both sides of the argument. The Lord does not favor one side and let the other get away with murder simply because one side was favored and the other was not. The first step in rectifying the damage done by the world is “check with our heart to see if we have done anything offensive to the throne”. If we are honest with ourselves, and very few are, we have peace with the Lord and this prayer will be effective. The last thing I want to point out is that although Asaph prayed this, it doesn’t mean that the Lord destroyed the enemy. Sometimes, the way the enemy is destroyed is by His children being obedient, faithful, and kind leaving room for the Lord’s judgment to affect change.

Ecclesiastes 5 – Fear G-d. The word that comes to mind from this segment is, “balance”. Making a vow to the Lord G-d is serious business. Jesus said, “man is not defiled because of the food he eats but what comes out of his/her mouth (Matthew 15:11)”. In a court of law, to say something untrue would be called “perjury” which subjects the individual to jail time. In the Kingdom of G-d, we are held accountable for what we do or say while on earth. The problem we have is that we are subject to our passions and sentiment so when we are in church and the music stirs our soul we tend to promise things that we do not have the wherewithal nor the intention of coming through on. Consider how Ananias and Saphira had concocted a scheme to withhold a certain amount of money yet claimed that they had given the full amount (Acts 5). In our walk with the Lord, we need to be honest in our dealings whether it be financially, spiritually, and/or physically. Above all else, G-d is the one we must respect through careful words and actions (6-7).

Isaiah 21 – Fallen, Fallen Is Babylon. Babylon, although a historic kingdom, is also symbolic of earthly kingdoms in whose hearts the Lord G-d is not feared nor respected. The name Babylon is mentioned over 280 times in the Christian Bible beginning in the time of Nimrod who was Noah’s great-grandson “The hunter before the Lord” (Genesis 10:6-11, Bable). After the flood, the people gathered and built the great tower “Babel” which means, “confused tongue”.  Babylon’s history is steeped in defiance of the one G-d which was further complicated by the presence of the Hebrew children like David, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednigo. Initially, Babylon had strong leadership until the end of its days when the weak king Belshazzar held his infamous feast which was concluded by the writing on the wall. At this juncture, Babylon and its greatness were no match for the power of the Medes and Persians (Daniel 5, Fallen Babylon). For the remaining portions of scripture, the name Babylon would be a curse word to say, “Don’t be such a Babylon don’t be over wicked why destroy yourself. Don’t be over righteous (Ecclesiastes 7:16)”.

2 Samuel 16:1-14 – David and Ziba. Ziba was the assigned caretaker for Mephibesheth’s fields. The story Ziba told to David was not completely correct. Mephibosheth, as you will remember, had two bad feet so he was unable to move as quickly as others were in essence, Ziba beat him to the punch. Shimei’s actions were an insult to the king and retribution for the bloodshed by David. We are not given conclusive proof that Shimei’s actions were from the Lord or not. Either way, David knew that what Shimei said was true and this was just punishment. Abishai wanted to kill Shimei for daring to insult the king but David knew Shimei was not lying and so he would not die for telling the truth.

Bible Readings for 4/22/2022

Joshua 22:10-34

Psalms 82

Ecclesiastes 4

Isaiah 20

2 Samuel 15:18-37

Mike’s Notes

Joshua 22:10-34 – Eastern Tribes Altar of Witness. Because the tribal leaders would not be around for all time, the 2.5 tribes built an altar at the demarcation line. This altar would remind the future generations on both sides of the Jordan that the people on the eastern side did participate in the conquest and that the same Lord who is worshipped on the west side is the same one on the east side. Unfortunately, the only true way to keep a record of the promises is to put things in writing. At that time there was no lawyer to go to and no paper to write on so the people chiseled the promises on an unmovable wall. As I mentioned yesterday, the men who chiseled a covenant to serve the Lord spoke for themselves and not for the people they left behind.

Psalms 82 – Rescue the Weak and Needy. One of the biggest questions many people ask is, “what’s my purpose here on earth?”. When we feel we have no purpose or use, we tend to become depressed, lonely, and just want life to be over with. Our purpose is to help other people and uplift them so that they would in turn help others. When we go before the Father at our appointed time, we will bring a gift to Him for all He has done for us. If we have no gift to give Him that would sum up our life, His gift for us will have been wasted. We are children of the Living G-d, made in His image, filled with His  Spirit. The gift He gave us the day we were born is beyond anything mankind can ever hope to accomplish.

Ecclesiastes 4 – Evil Under the Sun. Where does our satisfaction come from? Is it from our job, home, or connections? Many people, including me, have worked their entire life to accomplish an objective like building up a retirement, buying a home, and/or meeting family needs. While there is nothing wrong with these objectives, where we get into trouble is when our income becomes our god and our home becomes our fort. When we accomplish these goals but do not have a solid relationship with the Lord, these things leave us as empty as the day we started. Being rich or poor does not guarantee that we will enjoy a life free from loneliness. You see, we need a support system in our lives no matter which end of the spectrum we may reside.

Isaiah 20 – A Sign Against Egypt and Cush. The Prophet Isaiah was instructed to walk in the nude in Israel which is a sign of abject humiliation. The nation thought they would have a place of refuge in Egypt only to see their hopes crushed. To circumvent this, Sargon was sent to attack Egypt and do the same thing to them as he would do to the Israelites. So who would rely on who? When the Lord seeks to get through to His children, He will take away as much as it takes to get our attention. You may be wondering, “why doesn’t the Lord look away from us and leave us alone”? The answer is that do not like being humiliated or dealing with the consequences of sin. As human beings, we are prone to complaining to the Lord about our lot in life although we are the cause of the problems just as the nation Israel complained about the lack of food and water. It would be a whole lot easier if the Lord just answered all of our prayers with a positive response and filled our every wish but that would be a terrible miscarriage of justice.

2 Samuel 15:18-37 – David Flees Jerusalem. At first, it would seem foolish for David to flee for his life but when you consider the kingdom was amassed after Saul’s death, it makes sense. The Israelites or the people of the northern portion of Canaan had more manpower than the people of Jerusalem. Add to the mix, I am pretty sure that David did not want a civil war and the blood of innocent people on his hands. David’s absence paved the way for Absalom to enter Jerusalem uncontested. Absalom had no battle experience and running David out must have seemed like a “win” for him. Ahithophel was David’s counselor and an old man. Ahithophel’s decision to follow Absalom was not a mistake in judgment, it was retribution for David’s affair with Bethsheba. Bathsheba was Ahithophel’s granddaughter through his son Eliam (2 Samuel 11:3, Ahithophel). David sent the priests back to Jerusalem with the Ark, which I believe, was for the inhabitants of the kingdom’s sake because the Ark did not belong to David. Hushai and Zadok were sent back to spy on Absalom and deal with Ahithophel or to confound his counsel. The mount of olives is east of the old city of Jerusalem. It was on this mount that Jesus ascended into Heaven it was named this because olive trees once dotted the landscape (Acts 11, Mount of Olives).

Bible Readings for 4/20/2022

Joshua 22:1-9

Psalms 81

Ecclesiastes 3:16-22

Isaiah 19:16-25

2 Samuel 15:13-17

Mike’s Notes

Joshua 22:1-9 – The Eastern Tribes Return Home. After fulfilling their obligation, the Eastern tribes were let go from their commission and sent back home again. The 2.5 tribes had honorably discharged their vow to see the 9.5 tribes into their inheritance and to defeat the Canaanites. Remember this, it was not the Lord’s best nor His desire for the 2.5 tribes to stay on the Eastern side because He knew the dangers that lurked behind the curtain of separation from the families and what was happening to the people while the men were away at war. The children were not adults who had grown up without their father to teach them. While the men were engaged in battle, they served the Lord G-d and honored His commands. So the men were going back home with wealth but to an unknown and unpredictable future.

Psalms 81 – Oh, That My People Would Listen to Me. For thousands of years, Israel has been in an up and down relationship with the Lord G-d. In the time of Moses, the Lord laid out His commands, precepts, and festivals that the people would know the righteous acts of the Lord. The Lord G-d sent His Spirit to lead His people out of slavery to a place of abundance. In the same way, when we come to the Lord, confess our sins, and admit our need for Him in our lives, He releases the shackles that held us bound and sets us free. Staying in the place where we were in bondage will compel us to become ensnared by another sin because the enemy of our soul is that clever. After the enemy is robbed of the power to condemn us, we are freed from his hold. The problem is, once we are free from ___ we think, “I am free from ____ so it’s no longer a temptation not knowing how wrong we are. The Devil knows that the only way to get a foothold on us is to plug up our spiritual ears. When we are unable to hear the voice of the Spirit of G-d, we tend to think “G-d doesn’t find anything wrong with our actions. The thing is G-d never condones sin and while He will seek to get through to us, in the end, we are given over to our stubborn ways. Remember this, when we are set free from ___ and then go back to it, the next bout will be on us to work our way through. After escaping from Egypt, the Israelites went back to Egypt of sorts and would spend the next 2-3000 years going from one tyrant to another and never get free.

Ecclesiastes 3:16-22 – From Dust to Dust. The teacher, presumably Solomon, said “do not be over righteous” as to believe “I am above temptation and sin”. Solomon received wisdom but did not apply it to himself. Each of us will be judged by history for what we have done on this earth and that is unavoidable. Every action known to mankind is granted a period but the individual will be judged. To judge too early allows the person to escape unjudged or judged harshly for something he/she had no control over. Each of us has an appointment with death which makes us no different than the beasts of the field. Where we differ from the beasts of burden is that we are granted the ability to consider our actions and make a decision about the pathway we choose to walk. While we are alive, we can love and be joyful despite the conditions of the world.

Isaiah 19:16-25 – Egypt, Assyria, Israel Blessed. Oddly, we go through our entire lives thinking “I am and there is none else besides me”. The Nile was/is a tremendous source for the people of Aswan and Sudan. When everything is stripped away, we find the courage to reach out across the nations so that our nation is healed. For over 200 years the USA has had its independence and autonomy which has been taken for granted just as the Egyptians took the Nile for granted. When things are taken from us that we pride ourselves on, we are humbled just as Egypt and Assyria were. While these are unpleasant when the storm has passed and we come to our senses, healing begins to take form (21-23). When the healing and restoration are completed, a highway that connects us to other people is made where pride and arrogance or “sin” kept people at arm’s length.

2 Samuel 15:13-17 – David Flees Jerusalem. Sin is a beast that hates everyone connected to it and destroys every thread that holds people’s lives together. David was on track to be the most successful and prolific King of the known world but temptation slipped in where it had previously failed. Before David had even ascended the throne, many temptations were put in his path to get him to trip over but he refused to be part of it. Now, the kingdom was fully in his hands, the old enemies were defeated, and David had risen above them. The people loved David because he was an honest and upright King who studied to show himself approved as a workman with no need for reproof (2 Timothy 2:15). That was, until Bathsheba. David’s firstborn son, Amnon, had been killed because of his savagery to Amnon’s sister Tamar. Now, Absalom is on the verge of a coup. David had never run from a battle in his life until he sinned and broke G-d’s law and sought to cover it up. Absalom was a few miles from Jerusalem with an army to capture David. Everything Nathan had prophesied was about to come to fruition like an unstoppable fire. When temptation first shows its ugly face, it will never tell its target what the long-range ramifications of listening to it will be.

Bible Readings for 4/19/2022

Joshua 21

Psalms 80

Ecclesiastes 3:9-15

Isaiah 19:1-15

2 Samuel 15:1-12

Mike’s Notes

Joshua 21 – Cities and Pasturelands Allotted to Levi. Concerning the Lord’s command, pasturelands were allotted to the tribe of Levi. The pasturelands were used to raise livestock for “sacrifice”. The cities were the living quarters for the priests in each community. The Priests were not exonerated from working to feed themselves. So all of the promises that the Lord gave to the nation were fulfilled in the closing years of Joshua’s life.

Psalms 80 – Restore Us, O G-d. The Israelites, like all of mankind, lived an up and down spiritual life. In the times of the good kings, the people served the Lord wholeheartedly. When the evil kings and the one evil queen came to power, the people went with the flow. In the good times, the people served the gods of the world. When the bad times set in, they were humbled and changed the direction of their life. The question is, “How long will G-d put up with rebellion?”. Does He have limits? The answer to those questions is, that He does not put up with rebellion and gives us trouble in increasing amounts until we say “Uncle”; the problem is, many, including me, refused to listen until we reach the bottom. When we set our hearts on serving the Lord and are faithful to see our vows through, He will begin the healing process. Will we cry over our misgivings and be painfully reminded of those we hurt? Absolutely! Being restored does not mean everything is back as it was before our actions, it means a new course is charted.

Ecclesiastes 3:9-15 – The G-d-Given Task. Finding joy in our labors is sometimes difficult because we see the workload ahead of us. We have no control over our world and nor do we have “tomorrow”. So we are to make use of “today”. This is G-d’s enduring world, He made it, He watches over it, and He heals it. He is from all eternity, He has seen countless generations come and go, watched their foolishness, and admired their beauty. It is for these reasons that we need to serve him not our idols which are our jobs, our religion, and/or life.

Isaiah 19:1-15 – An Oracle Concerning Egypt. In the ancient world, Egypt was a powerful kingdom and had many dealings with Israel (Egypt). In the time of Joseph Egypt opened its arms to welcome the Israelites in honor of Joseph. In the time of Moses, Egypt was the evil taskmaster. When the people left Egypt, they were commanded “do not go back to Egypt” but, the nation did not listen. At the time of this writing, the exile was about to come to fruition. When Babylon set out on conquest, it captured every kingdom in its wake that would include Egypt. The problems Egypt experienced started with Civil War. The Egyptians worshipped Pharaoh and their gods were mere idols to whom they brought their offerings. When the wars started, the people which included Pharaoh sought out guidance from their gods, necromancers, sorcerers, and mediums (1-3). The Nile is an ancient river that provides irrigation for the crops of Egypt for millennia. According to climatologists, the mighty Nile is drying up due to extreme drought and this prophecy was uttered over 3000 years ago. In essence, the Lord is taunting Egypt and yet challenging them to see who is G-d and who is not. The Israelites waited over 400 years before holding a prayer vigil before they were freed from Egypt. How long will you wait to be freed from your “Egypt”?

2 Samuel 15:1-12 – Absalom’s Conspiracy. If ever there was something that Joab regretted, it was bringing the young man Absalom back from exile. Absalom’s conspiracy was a “Grassroots movement” in that he first had 50 men run ahead of his chariot which made it seem like something big was about to happen. The reason for making his ostentatious claims was to impress the people and make it seem like “He would be the champion for the people”. Remember, these were simple, not learned people it was for this reason that they were referred to as “the sheep of the pasture” because they needed to be led and directed or they would listen to anything. David carefully led these people and did so with integrity until the time of Bathsheba. The people had no idea what Absalom was up to nor what kind of man he was all they had was an “empty promise”. The reason for going to Hebron was because it was where David first established his kingdom. This play was 4 years in the making and because nothing was done, it set the stage for the next Act.

Bible Readings 4/18/2022

Joshua 20

Psalms 79

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Isaiah 18

2 Samuel 14

Mike’s Notes

Joshua 20 – Cities of Refuge. The cities of refuge were designed to protect people who although having been responsible for the death of someone, did so by accident. This would or should have precluded a family member from taking revenge without first hearing the case. In the Middle Eastern culture, “honor” is everything so killing a family member means the death must be avenged (Revenge). The problem with vengeance is that when we do not know all of the facts, we cause wars to occur and those are very difficult to end. The person who committed the murder accidentally would have his case heard by an unbiased third party and jury who would hear the case and render a verdict. The person who ran to the city would be required to stay where they are until the death of the High Priest.

Psalms 79 – How Long, O Lord? This Psalm was most likely written during the 70-year exile in Babylon. This was an intolerable situation because the people no longer lived in Beaulah land, no longer had their temple to sacrifice, and no longer dressed in finery. Instead, they were a defeated and deflated nation with no hope and no idea when the situation would change. The thing is, no one in the known world of that time had things better or worst than Judah all of the exiles got treated the same. So why were they complaining? The answer is, that they were used to better circumstances. The problem is that when these people were in their land and the Temple was still erected, it was “G-d who?”. The thing is, what happen to Jerusalem wasn’t a “one-off” situation as many of us have also had our “G-d who?” moments and when we had a change of fortune we did exactly as the people of Judah did. You see, while it may seem to be “unfair”, the Lord knows how to humble us so if we won’t humble ourselves, He will do it for us and we won’t like it.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 – A Time for Everything. This segment of chapter 3 is quoted at funerals, songs, and greeting cards. There’s an inherent problem with time and that although its cadence never changes, people perceive it differently. To the hired worker and the prisoner, time ticks by slow and painfully. To the one who has been given six months to a year to live, time passes by quickly. When things do happen according to our time clock, we as humans become impatient and that is where we get into trouble. Consider the case of David and Absalom, how murder separated David from his son. Joab, although most likely for selfish reasons, contrived a way to get the two linked up again and it failed miserably. The Lord has his time and He will not move faster just to appease mankind. So mankind takes it upon themselves to make G-d’s will come to fruition which causes the problem to be bigger than the initial problem and will take much longer to resolve.

Isaiah 18 – An Oracle Concerning Cush. The Cushites were the inhabitants of the Lower Nubia or Ethiopia which means “Burnt of face”. Present-day, this nation is in Sudan. The Cushites were in constant conflict with Egypt in the 8th and 7th centuries BC. By the end of the 4th century BC, the Cushites ceased to exist as a ruling kingdom. In the time of Hezekiah, the Cushites were called upon to help the Judites conquer the imposing army. The problem is, that the Judites would end up being committed to a vassal relationship with Cush which would continue to be a problem until about the beginning of the exile and would not become an autonomous nation until the time of the Maccabean revolt (Cushites).

2 Samuel 14 – Absalom Returns to Jerusalem. Absalom had been in his hometown of Geshur in a self-imposed exile in the wake of killing his brother Amnon. While we are given a specific answer why Joab cared if Absalom ever returned, it is surmised that the young man had not paid restitution according to the law for the death of his brother (Commentary). To solve his dilemma, Joab used a convoluted scheme in the same way that Nathan had used to confront David. So Joab was given permission to bring Absalom back the problem is, this was one of those situations where things should have been left well enough alone. The provision was that Absalom was never to come into the King’s presence. Absalom was most likely happy in Geshur so coming back home again and sitting in isolation, he took matters into his hands and burned Joab’s field. While it most certainly got Joab’s attention, it was the wrong type and set the stage I believe for Absalom’s untimely death. Absalom was forgiven by David but it wasn’t the end of the issue, it was the beginning of the next chapter.

Bible Readings for 4/17/2022

Joshua 19

Psalms 78:32-72

Ecclesiastes 2:12-26

Isaiah 17

2 Samuel 13:23-39

Mike’s Notes

Joshua 19 – Remaining Inheritance. Of the tribes mentioned in this segment, only the tribe of Simeon would be part of the southern kingdom. The remaining tribes would become part of the “Lost tribes who lived in plain sight”. Joshua inherited Timnath-Serah” which is where Samson was from. Timnath-Serah is where the one place would be. Unfortunately, all of the Northern kingdom and some portions of the southern kingdom would fall back into the hands of the Assyrians between 721 and 586.

Psalms 78:32-72 – Tell the Next Generation. This teaching Psalm addresses the many aspects of Jewish history. First, it talks about the current situation – “sinning against the Lord” despite all He had done on their behalf. Second, G-d did not expel his wrath until the situation was beyond repair and then he brought in the old enemies in the time of Solomon. Third, the history the nation had with Egypt and the decimation of Egypt in the time of Moses, the people were reminded of what happened to the Egyptians with the advent of the plagues. Fourth, in the time of David it was the tribe of Judah that inherited the throne and the Ephraimites, children of Joseph, were rejected. David was promised an enduring kingdom before he sinned with Bathsheba. Under David, the nation flourished and became the premier kingdom in the land. All of the other kingdoms brought tribute to David or, “the wealth of nations”.

Ecclesiastes 2:12-26 – The Vanity of Living Wisely. The King switched gears from living on the fringe to make wise choices about his life. While there was more to gain from making wise choices than foolish ones, in the end, both sides go to the same place “the grave”. The difference between the two is that wisdom builds up where foolishness tears down. To understand why Solomon saw life as being “vanity” and “chasing the wind” was that he had all that he ever could possibly use and 100 times that. Yet no matter how rich he got, he never found joy and for that reason felt life for him was an abject failure.

Isaiah 17 – An Oracle Concerning Damascus. The tribe of Naphtali received Damascus as part of their inheritance. When the kingdom was divided into Northern and Southern kingdoms, Naphtali became part of the Northern kingdom in 922 BC. In 721, Damascus was conquered by Assyria and the people were deported to a slum by order Tiglath-Pilesar III. While in slavery, the Naphtalites lost their identity as they became more like Assyrians. The 10 tribes given to Solomon’s servant Jeroboam the son of Nebat in 922 would become known as the “lost tribes” of Hebrew legend (1 King 11:26, Naphtali). Because of how the Assyrians treated the Naphtalites, they too would be decimated in the time of Nebuchadnezzar. The 10 lost tribes would pay dearly for the sin that was started by Jeroboam.

2 Samuel 13:23-39 – Absalom Murders Amnon. After two years and not being confronted by his actions, Amnon most likely thought “the matter is resolved and there are no hard feelings”. The thing is though Absalom was a schemer as we will find out 3 years later. The sheep-shearing season is a time of rejoicing and it is held in the spring after the winter has passed (Sheep-Shearing). This was the perfect environment for Absalom to get revenge on his brother because, during the festival, wine was poured liberally. Absalom’s servants, under his direction, killed Amnon which was the same way Amnon had raped Tamar when he least expected it. After the murder, the rest of the King’s sons mounted their donkeys and left the area as quick as possible. If you will notice, Jonadab the son of Shimeah was in the castle when the report came about the death of all the king’s sons. If you will notice he corrected the report by telling King David “only Amnon was killed” so he was playing both sides of the fight. In Amnon’s case, it was “what is the best way to get Tamar alone”. In Absalom’s case, it was “how to get revenge”. Our common enemy hides in the background and gets fools to do his bidding under the guise of a “kind friend”. The word of the Lord says, “Revenge is mine, I will repay” (Deuteronomy 32:35) which is part of the law of Moses.


Bible Readings for 4/16/2022

Joshua 18:11-28

Psalms 78:21-31

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11

Isaiah 16

2 Samuel 13:1-22

Mike’s Notes

Joshua 18:11-28 – Inheritance for Benjamin. Benjamin was the youngest son of Jacob through his beloved wife Rachel. Interestingly, Benjamin received the first city that Israel captured “Jericho”. The tribe would inherit over 2300 square miles which or roughly about 1/3rd of the overall size of Israel’s inheritance (Inheritance). Jacob favored Benjamin because as a child Joseph was taken away from Jacob which left a hole in his heart. The problem for the tribe was that the Gibeonites would live among them which would create problems for Benjamin.

Psalms 78:21-31 Tell the Coming Generations. Of all the things that irritate the Lord, it is whining and complaining. The nation left Egypt under the mighty hand of the Lord’s Shekinah glory. They witnessed everything the Lord had done for them, they watched the Egyptians being washed into the sea, and yet they complained about their poor disposition. Whining and complaining tell the listener, “I have no faith that you will provide so I do not ask”. The Lord will provide for all of our needs if we will but ask for them. When the Lord had had enough with the noise of complaints, he gave them what they asked for in keeping the sin of their hearts. So they got all of the meat they could possibly eat and more until they were sick of it. The problem was that the food they ate was not good for them and they died from the food.

Ecclesiastes 2:1-11 – Vanity of Self-Indulgence. The King wanted to know what the draw was to “self-indulgence” so he acted on it. After obtaining everything that would normally bring pleasure to a human being, “joy” did not fill his heart. He had more women than any man could possibly handle yet there was still a void in his heart. There was no King past, present, or future who was like or would be like Solomon. Because “things” didn’t bring joy to his heart, he started building structures, planting beautiful trees and flowers, and setting up parks for people to come and see. When we don’t possess these things, we think we’d be more than thrilled to have all of them. Yet, it is joy and peace that brings more life than anything or anyone could possibly do.

Isaiah 16 – Moab’s Pride. Moab was known for being a boisterous nation but had never been tried in battle. Before the battle people had left Moab and sojourned in Zion. The occupants of the land believed what the leaders had told them “this land will never be attacked” so they were woefully ill-prepared. When the battle commenced the people in Zion remained safe. After the battle, these people returned to Moab to reestablish the throne in righteousness. This segment has implications for the world around us today. Our politicians portray a problem that only they can solve and they do so by funneling funds to keep people happy. When the wheels come off the of the axel, it is too late to change our minds. This parallels the events of Revelations 18.

2 Samuel 13:1-22 – Amnon and Tamar. Sin never stays in a confined space, it always seeks outlets in this case it was Amnon. Amnon should have been the crown prince and Tamar could have been his wife but, the events that unfolded forever quashed his chances. Lust by its very nature presents a beautiful picture in our minds of what it would be like to have ____ in our hands. These illusions play in our minds until we take the next step by stealing it or lying to get ___. Once we have obtained ___ we find out that it was nothing like what we expected and it causes trouble for us that we have no hope of ever escaping judgment. Tamar could very well have become the next Queen of Israel and Amnon the King but sin erased all of that with a single move. David was powerless to judge Amnon much less to decree a death sentence according to the law because David was as guilty as Amnon so all he could do was “be angry”.

Joshua 18:1-10 – Allotment of the Remaining Land. Gad, Reuben, ½ tribe of Manasseh would get the land on the east side of the Jordan. The remaining ½ tribe of Manasseh, Ephram, and Judah had been given a tract of land and went to take over the land. The remaining tribes sat around waiting for Joshua. So the remaining portion of the land was surveyed and lots would be cast by the leadership. The Levites would not receive land, they would be parceled a small tract in each community to grow their food. The remaining tribes would receive their property “by chance”. The practice of casting lots or “cleromancy” was used many times in the Old and New Testaments. This was seen as the only “fairway” for making decisions.

Bible Readings for 4/15/2022

Joshua 18:1-10

Psalms 78:1-20

Ecclesiastes 1

Isaiah 15

2 Samuel 12:15-31

Mike’s Notes

Joshua 18:1-10 – Allotment of the Remaining Land. Gad, Reuben, ½ tribe of Manasseh would get the land on the east side of the Jordan. The remaining ½ tribe of Manasseh, Ephram, and Judah had been given a tract of land and went to take over the land. The remaining tribes sat around waiting for Joshua. So the remaining portion of the land was surveyed and lots would be cast by the leadership. The Levites would not receive land, they would be parceled a small tract in each community to grow their food. The remaining tribes would receive their property “by chance”. The practice of casting lots or “cleromancy” was used many times in the Old and New Testaments. This was seen as the only “fairway” for making decisions.

Psalms 78:1-20 – Tell the Coming Generations. This is a teaching Psalm and reiterates the words of Moses the servant of the Lord. When the Lord teaches us things whether in writing or as part of a life lesson, we owe it to ourselves and our posterity to document them. In the years following the walk across the Red Sea, not all of the people who crossed the sea on dry land were the same ones at the mountain. There were no books and no internet to document the events so it was incumbent on the parents to tell their children. G-d’s laws have not changed since the time of Moses as seen in the scriptures. What changes is “names and faces” and they will not learn if we do not tell them. When you read the Old Testament books, you will notice that the writers did not omit the events that could bring egg on their faces. The reason for this is that by knowing what happens when people are disobedient as well as those who were obedient, the reader can make an informed decision. Disobedience is nothing new to the world around us today. The reason sin is prevalent in our world today has always been that we did not read G-d’s law and write a copy for ourselves so that we can study all of the days of our life.

Ecclesiastes 1 – All is Vanity. This book is a rather sad commentary about what happens when life becomes meaningless. Solomon the king and teacher in Jerusalem was granted wisdom to lead the kingdom of his father David. According to him, Solomon had nothing else he could learn on earth because everything has already happened and will happen again. When we find no joy in the small but precious of G-d, we become despondent and simply go through the motions never growing and never finding joy – How pitiful. The date this book was written is a matter of debate. Some believe, because of the appearance of the Greek Fatalistic style that the book was written post-exilic and attributed to Solomon. Others believe the book was written toward the end of his life as a reflection (Biologos).

Isaiah 15 = An Oracle Concerning Moab. The Moabites whose lineage stems from Lot’s oldest daughter (Genesis 19:30-38) had been in existence from the 14th – to 5th century BC. In 582, Babylon would capture the kingdom and completely destroy it (Moab). The Moabites, are related to Abraham through his nephew Lot which is where we get the meaning of Moab “water of the father” (meaning). The tribe lived on the Western Bank of what is now known as Jordan. During the time when there was an extreme famine in Bethlehem, Naomi, her husband Elimelech, and her two sons Malon and Chilian relocated to Moab (Ruth 1). The thing is, Moab was a wicked kingdom as had been their history. This was the reasoning behind the nation’s utter and complete destruction down to the last man/woman/child.

2 Samuel 12:15-31 – David’s Child Dies. The illegitimate child of David and Bathsheba died as was prophesied. For seven days David prayed fasted hoping upon hope that the Lord would change His mind. The problem, as David knew all too well, it was a closed matter and the Lord wasn’t about to change His mind. Remember this whole drama was over David’s doing and I believe in keeping with His grace, the child died so that the child would not suffer for the parent’s actions. A point must be made here and that is, once a matter is closed and the judgment was given, it is time to move. David later took Bathsheba into his home and they had another child through the union – Solomon or Jedidiah “Loved by G-d”. Joab captured Rabah of the Ammonites to which David and the remaining soldiers helped to capture the land. The gold crown was taken off of the king and put on David’s head. If David had not come Joab would have assumed the throne and named the city after himself. Joab was an opportunist although fiercely loyal to David. The Ammonites that were captured would be subscripted to forced labor until the time Solomon’s kingdom was in collapse.

Bible Readings 4/14/2022

Joshua 17

Psalms 76

Proverbs 31:10-31

Isaiah 14

2 Samuel 12:1-14

Mike’s Notes

Joshua 17 – Further Division of the Land. The ½ tribe of Manasseh, the 1st born child of Joseph, was allotted land on the East bank side of Jordan. The Canaanites lived in this land as they had for centuries. Because the tribe was not strong enough to eradicate the Canaanites, the Canaanites became slaves to Israel when she grew too strong for them. Although not specifically stated, an alternate outcome would be, “When the Canaanites became stronger than the Israelites, the Israelites served Canaan. The tribe of Joseph combined Manasseh and Ephraim” wanted more land but would not conquer the land given to them (14-18). Zealophad’s daughters would receive a tract of land in honor of Zealophad their father.

Psalms 76 – Who Can Stand Before You? Is G-d known in your life? The easy answer is “Yes He is”. The problem is the “fruit won’t lie”. Having peace in your home and life is foundational evidence of the true intent of our hearts. Sin creates confusion and trouble through the progression of time. In the same way, righteous practices seem like “utter nonsense” until the fruit comes and the person is not shaken by evil times. Having peace in your life does not mean that trouble is absent but that the trouble steels your heart to grow closer to the Lord.  Serving the Lord and honoring His commands and precepts are two different things. We can serve the Lord by works that create confusion or “Babylon” in our lives and those who follow us. In light of this, “Who can stand”? Those who honor the Lord’s laws and precepts by being obedient to them.

Proverbs 31:10-31 – Listen to Mother. This woman was a virtuous woman and a standard that should be sought after. This woman gave her life for her family and servants that they would be provided for. I believe this woman was King Hezekiah’s mother. Hezekiah was a good king and he ruled the kingdom in obedience to the Lord he learned this at his mother’s knee. Conversely, when the parent does not care for his/her child and follows an evil pathway, the children will glom on to that as a standard. The thing is just as righteousness gains strength and morphed into greater moves of G-d, evil practices also morph and become eviler. My point is that every righteous or evil movement always has a starting point. Look at Israel/Judah under David’s competent leadership and the events following his sinful actions.

Isaiah 14 – Restoration of Jacob. This vision and prophecy were uttered in the time of Ahaz. Ahaz was a wicked king who would be responsible for bankrupting Jerusalem and was the initial seed of the nation’s destruction. For the people who were honoring the Lord through faithful service, the things he did had to concern them. In the same way, when we look at our world today, is disconcerting to see the evil practices that go unnoticed. It had been prophesied since the early days of Ahaz that the nation would endure a time of exile something that was not uncommon to the Jews. The word “Babylon” in Hebrew means “confused” (Genesis 11, Babylon). Because of the sinful practices of the leadership the people had become confused as to who was “G-d and who was not”. In the closing days of their exile, the nation Babylon would be under attack which would create confusion and be the impetus for the nation to return to their homeland. Under Nebuchadnezzar, as I said before, the nation Babylon would be in its “golden era”. Israel was given to Babylon to take care of and they failed in this endeavor and would be taunted because the nation would survive the 70 years of torture and misery (3-21). Babylon, like many other evil nations, would become a “curse word” sort of like Soddom and Gomorrah. The thing to keep in mind when it comes to prophecy is that providing no changes are made on one side or the other, the events will unfold. Case studies of Nineveh in the light of G-d’s promise to Solomon (Jonah, 2 Chronicles 7).

2 Samuel 12:1-14 – Nathan Rebukes David. There are a couple of things that we need to be aware of when it comes to the Kingdom of G-d. First, “nothing goes unnoticed”. Second, “we are forgiven of the bloodguilt”. Third, although tempted by our enemy, we are in charge of what we do in our lives. David knew the law of G-d because he had walked with Him since his youth. David had everything and could have received more if he just asked but it wasn’t “need” that drove David to Bathsheba, it was a spirit of “lust”. The reason for the parable instead of direct confrontation was to allow David to decree his punishment. Being forgiven the “bloodguilt” in no way implies “this matter is forgotten” because David was human and would see the implosion of his family in the eyes of the world. The reason G-d does not blank out the sinful activities “as though it never happened” is because He is a Just G-d and no one is exempt from the consequences of sin. Part of the reasoning behind mentioning his activities and those of the kings that followed is to remind the reader that “we are human and make mistakes in judgment”.