Day 142: The needy

1 Kings 10-11; John 5:25-47

Key Verses

1 Kings 11:4-6
For when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods, and his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father. For Solomon went after Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and after Milcom the abomination of the Ammonites. So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and did not wholly follow the Lord, as David his father had done.

John 5:39-40
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

At the end of his life, Solomon had disobeyed every command for kings listed in Deuteronomy 17:11:16-17. In Ch 11, what the author had been hinting at throughout the book of 1 Kings was finally stated clearly: “…his heart was not wholly true to the Lord his God” (11:4).

In his old age, Solomon turned away from God to follow other gods. God was gracious and assured that the Davidic line would continue its rule – even if over just one tribe of a divided nation. God was preserving the family of David for the promised offspring… the true Forever King of Israel.

In John 5, we read of Jesus coming to the feast at Jerusalem and teaching the crowds of his authority from the Father. He rebuked the Jewish leaders for their blindness.

Only the needy come to Jesus. Solomon turned away because, from his earthly perspective, he had no need of God. The Jewish leaders refused Jesus because they depended on their rituals, traditions and outward obedience for justification. They had a formula; they didn’t need a Person.

A needy heart is a humble heart. A needy heart is someone who is desperate for help. Jesus offers life. Who will come? You have to recognize the depths of darkness in your own heart to seek out the light.

Day 141: The Temple of God

1 Kings 8-9; John 5:1-24

Key Verses

1 Kings 9:1-3
As soon as Solomon had finished building the house of the Lord and the king’s house and all that Solomon desired to build, the Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. And the Lord said to him, “I have heard your prayer and your plea, which you have made before me. I have consecrated this house that you have built, by putting my name there forever. My eyes and my heart will be there for all time.”

In 1 Kings we read of God coming down and filling Solomon’s temple with His glory (8:11)! God promised that his eyes and heart would be there for all time, but because of Israel’s sin, God’s Holy presence left the temple. Did God break his promise? No! For in John, we see God’s permanent temple…Jesus, Immanuel, God with us. Jesus was the manifestation of God’s glory on earth. He became the temple of God. Jesus is the final fulfillment of all of God’s promises to Israel!

After Jesus ascended to the Father, and the Spirit came at Pentecost, God made a new temple. God chose to manifest His glory through His people, the church. It is there, among God’s people, that we experience God’s presence. We are also His temple…

So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In him you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit (Ephesians 2:19-22).

I wonder what Solomon would think of God’s temple today?

Day 140: Glory Over All the Earth

1 Kings 5-7; John 4:31-54

Key Verses

1 Kings 5:5
“And so I intend to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord said to David my father, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, shall build the house for my name.'”

John 4:
They said to the [Samaritan] woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.”

The last time we read of Solomon in 1 Kings, he had been given incomparable wisdom, so much so that “people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard his wisdom” (1 Kings 4:34).

Solomon’s treaty with King Hiram of Tyre is another example of how Solomon’s wisdom affected the world. And the world would watch as Solomon used the finest material to build two houses… one for God and one for himself.

Solomon’s glorious temple may have made the people wonder… Is Solomon the promised King that will establish God’s Kingdom on the earth forever? It is true that the glory and power of Israel were at its highest under King Solomon’s rule, but Solomon was not to be the Forever King. Solomon’s heart was divided (1 Kings 7:1). And ultimately, his divided heart would bring about the division of Israel.

We know that it was the humble carpenter’s son that was destined to be the Forever King – not just of Israel – but of the world. Remember John 3:16? How God so loved the world? We see Jesus blessing the world in these last few chapters of John…

In John 3, we saw Jesus teach a Jewish leader how to be born again to gain eternal life. In the beginning of John 4, we saw Jesus teach a Samaritan woman how to “never thirst again” through the living water. He stayed two more days and many more Samaritans believed in Him. In the final verses of John 4, we see Jesus heal a Gentile centurion’s son.

Jesus started with the Jewish nation, and then reached out to the surrounding areas – and then finally stretched his blessing to all the earth.

Although Solomon’s temple was glorious, it was only temporary. Jesus is forever.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16)

Day 126: Solomon’s Wisdom

Proverbs 1-3

Key Verses

Proverbs 2:1-5
My son, if you receive my words
and treasure up my commandments with you,
making your ear attentive to wisdom
and inclining your heart to understanding;
yes, if you call out for insight
and raise your voice for understanding,
if you seek it like silver
and search for it as for hidden treasures,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.

Yesterday’s reading from 1 Kings ended with an extraordinary description of Solomon’s wisdom…

And God gave Solomon wisdom and understanding beyond measure, and breadth of mind like the sand on the seashore, so that Solomon’s wisdom surpassed the wisdom of all the people of the east and all the wisdom of Egypt. For he was wiser than all other men…and his fame was in all the surrounding nations. He also spoke 3,000 proverbs, and his songs were 1,005. He spoke of trees…and also of beasts, and of birds, and of reptiles, and of fish. And people of all nations came to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and from all the kings of the earth, who had heard of his wisdom (1 Kings 4:29-34).

This is the context for the book of Proverbs, a book of wisdom literature penned by Solomon. In the first chapter, we find the mantra for the entire book… “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.” We will find as we read through Proverbs** that it is the unteachable heart that receives the most ire. The wise person is humble and teachable, i.e. “listens to instruction,” whereas the fool is “wise in his own eyes.”

The beauty of studying wisdom literature alongside the gospels is that we get to see Wisdom personified in Jesus. And when we are tempted to despair because of our many shortcomings concerning wisdom… the story of the cross helps us look away from our sin and toward the one who has paid our ransom.

**For the next two weeks, we will be reading through the book of Proverbs, (alongside the New Testament) and then we will come back to 1 Kings. I have re-ordered the Old Testament books in the Bible Reading Plan to give better context for certain books and also to break up the Wisdom and Prophecy genres. You can view the order of Old Testament books at this link.**

Day 125: The motivation for obedience

1 Kings 3-4; Luke 22:1-30

Key Verses

1 Kings 3:12-14
“Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

Luke 22:25-27
And he said to them, “The kings of the Gentiles exercise lordship over them, and those in authority over them are called benefactors. But not so with you. Rather, let the greatest among you become as the youngest, and the leader as one who serves. For who is the greater, one who reclines at table or one who serves? Is it not the one who reclines at table? But I am among you as the one who serves.”

Solomon loves the Lord, and the Lord gives him great wisdom, but Solomon falters in the nitty-gritty daily-ness of his faith. He doesn’t obey God in all areas of his life, and eventually, his missteps lead him further and further away from God and God’s blessings. Specifically, we read of Solomon acquiring many horses (4:26) and turning back to Egypt to find a wife (3:1). These actions are in direct opposition to the laws for Kings written in Deuteronomy:

Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the Lord has said to you,‘You shall never return that way again.’ And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold (Deuteronomy 17:16-17).

Solomon’s mistakes are a familiar road for many of us. Compromising obedience in daily life can slowly turn us completely away from our faith. Many times, apostasy is a slow burn and not a quick blaze.

In order to keep ourselves from falling away, we must cling to the hip of our Savior. His grace and help are our lifeline to an obedient life. The sacrament of communion (instituted in today’s passage from Luke) is a gift to us to help us remember the great Sacrifice of our Savior. His death is the evidence of His incomprehensible love for us! It is this love that should motivate us to obey…

For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again (2 Corinthians 5:14-15, NIV).

Day 124: David’s Dynasty

1 Kings 1-2; Luke 21:20-38

Key Verses

1 Kings 2:1-4
When David’s time to die drew near, he commanded Solomon his son, saying, 2″I am about to go the way of all the earth. Be strong, and show yourself a man, 3and keep the charge of the Lord your God, walking in his ways and keeping his statutes, his commandments, his rules, and his testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, 4that the Lord may establish his word that he spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons pay close attention to their way, to walk before me in faithfulness with all their heart and with all their soul, you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.'”

Luke 21:33
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away.

Today we begin 1 Kings which is the story of the continuation of David’s dynasty. David’s oldest remaining son, Adonijah, plotted to make himself King apart from his father’s knowledge. But God, and therefore, David had chosen Solomon to succeed David as king. 1 Kings 1-2 is the story of David establishing his dynasty through Solomon.

David’s dynasty echoes the promise of Genesis 3 – that the seed of the woman would crush the head of the serpent. And then the rest of the Old Testament plays out as a mystery novel as we try to determine… out of which family line the Promised One would come.

The seed passed from Adam to Seth – on down to Noah and through Shem to Abraham – through Isaac, Jacob, and Judah – through Boaz, Jesse and then to David.

The Davidic covenant narrows the search for the promised seed. The covenant reveals that the Promised One would be descended from David, and He would establish David’s throne forever! But who would it be? Would Solomon be the promised King? Or would it be Solomon’s son, Rehoboam?

With each subsequent king, the author of 1 & 2 Kings builds the tension of waiting for the revelation of the Promised Eternal King. 2 Kings ends with the fall of Jerusalem and the capture of Judah. Was all hope for the King lost? Would the King ever come? Was God’s word just not true??

We know who the seed of the woman is. And we know who the promised King is. Jesus. And in today’s reading in Luke, we find him in Jerusalem – warning of its destruction – and promising that he will return.

Jesus’ words are permanent – the forever kind of permanent. When he says he will come again – there is 100% chance that he will come again. Even though the story seems hopeless at times – we must never stop waiting for His return. He tells us to be ready. When he comes, not if, but when he comes, will he find us faithful? Oh God, I hope so – but only by Your grace!

Day 117: Sin, Repentance and Grace

2 Samuel 10-12; Psalm 51

Key Verses

2 Samuel 11:13-15
David said to Nathan, “I have sinned against the Lord.” And Nathan said to David, “The Lord also has put away your sin; you shall not die. Nevertheless, because by this deed you have utterly scorned the Lord, the child who is born to you shall die.” Then Nathan went to his house.

Psalm 51:3-4
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned
and done what is evil in your sight (Psalm 51:3-4).

Chapter 10 begins the war against the Ammonites. And nestled in this story of war… is David’s great sin.

It is obvious from 11:1 that David was lounging at home when he should have been at war with Joab (the commander of his army). Verse 2 even begins, “David arose from his couch…” This is a very different David than the one that was fleeing from Saul and scrounging for food with his vagabond army in the wilderness. David has grown accustomed to leisure and luxury. Not only has he become lazy physically, but the ease of his life has lulled him to sleep spiritually as well.

This is the only explanation for how David, a man after God’s own heart, could have slipped so far away from God’s ways that he would covet, commit adultery, and then cover it all up with murder.

When Nathan confronts David with his gross sin, David repents. Psalm 51 is David’s cry for mercy…

God is gracious to David and spares his life. But there will be consequences. Horrible consequences that we will read over the next few days.

Mysteriously, God brings good out of the ashes… through Solomon – son of Bathsheba and in the family line of Christ – he will be the King of Israel at its height!

Day 342: The Reverse of the Curse

Song of Solomon 5-8

Chapters 5 & 6 record an argument between the newly married couple. What do you think they argue about?? Sex!

He asks to come into her chambers (5:2), and she complains in verse 3… “I’m in my nightgown—do you expect me to get dressed? I’m bathed and in bed—do you want me to get dirty?” She’s being self-centered and is not considering him.

But instead of reacting angrily toward his new wife, the husband somehow reaches his hand through the latch of the door and leaves fragrant and sweet myrrh as a sign of his love (5:4-5), and then he leaves…not willing to force his way into her bed chambers. He doesn’t react to his mate. Instead, he responds to God.

His gentle reproach melts her heart toward him as we read of her love in verses 5:10-16.

And then we see reconciliation and forgiveness in Chapter 6. Their reconciliation is based on their covenant commitment to one another. She says in 6:3, “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine.” Their commitment is steadfast.

Chapters 7-8 show a deepening faithfulness and intimacy between the couple. As time goes by, their knowledge of one another deepens and their passion increases! It is in this context of God’s design for marriage that we see a subtle lifting of the curses given in the first garden to the first married couple…

In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve sinned, God handed down curses to the serpent, the woman and the man. The woman’s curse was this:

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be for your husband,
and he shall rule over you.” (Genesis 3:16).

The Hebrew word translated “desire” is used only three times in the Old Testament…The first instance is here in Genesis 3. The next is in Genesis 4. God is warning Cain.

…sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it (Genesis 4:7).

The Hebrew word translated as “desire” in these instances does not necessarily mean a good sexual desire. Within the context of Eve’s curse and Cain’s warning, it is best understood as a passionate desire to consume or control.

The curse on Eve – which is inherited by every woman in every generation – is the desire to have control. Married women want to control their husbands. Single women want to control their futures. And all women want to feel in control all the time. This desire for control is part of the woman’s sin nature and must be fought against – especially in the marriage relationship!!

In the last half of the Song of Solomon, we see the ideal marriage. We watch as the couple faces conflict in Chapters 5-6, and we read as their devotion and intimacy deepen in Chapters 7-8. It is in the context of a vibrant, intimate, tender and exciting marriage relationship that we see the third and final use of the Hebrew word “desire.” The woman says,

I am my beloved’s,
and his desire is for me (Song of Solomon 7:10).

He is the one with the desire to consume, and she is the one with the power to satisfy him. In this context, the desire is good, for contrary to her sin-nature default of desiring to control her husband, she has given herself totally to him and rejoices in the fact that she is pleasing to him.

May we look forward to the day when every curse is not only reversed, but vanquished and our new Garden awaits its bride!!! For we, the church, are the bride of Christ, ready to meet our husband and enjoy him forever!!

Day 341: A tender & passionate Love

Song of Solomon 1-4

Song of Solomon has many different interpretations. Some interpret the book solely as a figurative portrayal of the love of God for his people. Others interpret it literally as the love story between Solomon and a Shulammite woman. Still others argue that since the Bible has no record of Solomon marrying a Shulammite woman, that it is the love story between an unnamed shepherd and a Shulammite woman with Solomon as a background figure.

No matter what your interpretation, this is a beautiful book of love poetry that reminds us that the love shared between a man and his wife, specifically erotic love, is holy and good. Song of Solomon is full of erotic images that quench the old notion that sexual desire is sinful.

In our two, brief days in this book, I am using Tommy Nelson’s sermon series as my primary resource. He teaches that Song of Solomon is the literal love story between Solomon and his Shulammite bride. (You can listen to his six-part sermon series on Song of Solomon at his church’s website, dentonbible.org.)

The first three chapters describe the courtship between Solomon and the Shulammite woman. Notice how the woman is initially attracted to Solomon’s character:

…your name is like perfume poured out.
No wonder the young women love you! (Song of Solomon 1:3, NIV)

His name is sweet like perfume. His name refers to his reputation or character. She was initially attracted to his sweet and tender nature, not necessarily to his physical appearance.

We learn from the woman that she, unlike other women, did not protect her skin from the sun with a customary veil, but was forced to labor in the vineyards – making her skin dark from the sun (vs. 5-6). From her words, we can infer that she was submissive to authority, hard-working and responsible. She, like Solomon, was a woman of noble character.

In verses 1:9-3:4, we read of how they relate to one another. Above all, they are tender. The man calls her “darling,” the Hebrew word for “an intimate buddy,” or “best friend.” He esteems her in public and speaks tenderly to her in private. His tenderness awakens her sexual desire (2:5-6), but he stops the fire of her desire with the refrain,

I adjure you, O daughters of Jerusalem,
by the gazelles or the does of the field,
that you not stir up or awaken love
until it pleases (Song of Solomon 2:7; 3:5).

Chapter 3 ends with the exciting scene of King Solomon arriving to his wedding. The imagery is anticipatory and vibrant,

Go out, O daughters of Zion,
and look upon King Solomon,
with the crown with which his mother crowned him
on the day of his wedding,
on the day of the gladness of his heart (Song of Solomon 3:11).

Which brings us to Chapter 4!! The first seven verses are Solomon’s thoughts toward his bride. And then we read of the honeymoon!!

(He) A garden locked is my sister, my bride,
a spring locked, a fountain sealed. (4:12)

(She) Let my beloved come to his garden,
and eat its choicest fruits.

(He) I came to my garden, my sister, my bride,
I gathered my myrrh with my spice,
I ate my honeycomb with my honey,
I drank my wine with my milk (5:1).

This, friends, is the consummation of their love.

Interpreting this book as a literal love story can leave the unmarried or unhappily married feeling despondent. But no matter your personal interpretation, your marital status or degree of marital bliss, we will all experience the joy of this wedding scene!!!

We, as members of Christ’s church, wait expectantly for our bridegroom, Jesus Christ. At the end of the age, we will be united with the lover of our souls – the one who fulfills our deepest longings – who loves us tenderly and passionately.

In verses 3:1-4, the Shulammite woman searches the city for her lover because she cannot bear to be separated from him. This is the love we are to have for Christ. We are to seek his presence with the passion of a lover. He is our bridegroom, and we are his radiant bride!

Day 296: Ending Remarks

Ecclesiastes 10-121 Thessalonians 5

Wow! I think this might be the first time in 296 posts that we come to the end of both an Old and New Testament book on the same day! So yes, we end both Job and 1 Thessalonians today :)

After Paul reassures the young Thessalonian church of their salvation and exhorts them to continue working (as opposed to being idle) until the day of the Lord comes, like a thief in the night…Paul ends his book with a plethora of miscellaneous commands.

Similarly, after Solomon makes his case that wisdom is better than folly, he spends the last few chapters of Ecclesiastes giving a plethora of wisdom sayings.

With so much miscellaneous information, it’s hard to find a common thread! But each man makes a focused summary at the end of his book.

Solomon ends Ecclesiastes with the decisive statement:

Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, with every secret thing, whether good or evil (Ecclesiastes 12:14).

And Paul ends his letter to the Thessalonian church with profound encouragement:

Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).

I can’t think of better ending sentiments… A command to fear God, a prayer for God’s sanctification, and the assurance of God’s faithfulness to complete the work he’s started in us. That sounds like the gospel. That sounds like good news!