Monday, June 28, 2010

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Sixty

Day One Hundred Sixty, Obadiah

Today’s reading contains Obadiah’s prophecy against Edom.

If you will recall back in Genesis, Edom was another name of Esau, Jacob’s (Israel’s) older brother, and the Edomites are Esau’s descendants.

You would hope that the Edomites and the Israelites would be able to get along, considering the actions of their ancestors. I mean, let’s be honest, things got off to a really rocky start when Jacob forced his starving older brother to sell him his birthright for a bowl of stew. And if that wasn’t bad enough, things took a turn for the worse when Jacob flat-out stole Esau’s blessing. Things were so bad that Jacob literally ran for his life. He was gone for years…and still, when he was to meet back up with Esau, he still feared for his life.

However, even these two were able to reconcile with each other. They were able to let go of past mistakes, forgive each other, and accept each other as brothers. Why can’t their descendants take a page or two from their fathers’ books? I don’t know.

But Obadiah’s message to the Edomites is that they will reap what they sow. It is a message, though, that we all can pay attention to, as they are told, “You should not look down on your brother in the day of his misfortune, nor rejoice over the people of Judah in the day of their destruction…As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.”

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Fifty-Nine

Day One Hundred Fifty-Nine, II Kings 8, 3, II Chron. 20-21

Today’s reading is several small pieces of a couple of different chapters, but it still makes for a relatively short reading. We have the kings of Israel, Judah, and Edom allied together against Moab. They call upon the Lord for guidance, looking for a prophet of the Lord. For the sake of Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, Elisha gives them an answer from the Lord about victory over the Moabites.

However, after this, we have a recording of the death of Jehoshaphat, and his son Jehoram takes over the kingdom of Judah. We are told that he “walked in the ways of te kings of Israel”, that is, “he did evil in the eyes of the Lord.”

However, here, all these years later, we still have God honoring David. The Lord is unwilling to completely destroy the household of the disobedient king of Judah, because he is of the line of David. “He had promised to maintain a lamp for him and his descendants forever.”

Can I just say, yet again, that the Lord keeps his promises? All the time.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Fifty-Eight

Day One Hundred Fifty-Eight, II Kings 2, 4, 8, 6

Today’s reading contains bits of the ministry of Elisha, the successor of Elisha.

Several interesting things happen here that I can’t help but comment on. I’m impressed with Elisha’s dedication to Elijah, that he refuses to leave him. I’m also impressed with Elisha’s request of a double-portion of the spirit that Elijah has.

Of course it’s exciting that here we have recorded one of only two instances where a person did not experience physical death, but was taken from this earth. If you remember to the very beginning of Genesis, Enoch “walked with God, and then he was no more, because God took him.” Elijah, another man who obviously walked with God throughout his life, was taken up into heaven in a whirlwind as a chariot of fire and horses separated him from Elisha.

Much of Elisha’s ministry was similar to Elijah’s, starting with their names! But the next thing that strikes me as similar is the raising of a dead boy. Again, with the bringing someone back to life, we notice Elisha praying for the boy’s life, and laying his own body over that of the boy.

Finally, an important lesson we can learn from the ministry of Elisha is never to make fun of a bald man for his baldness. See II Kings 2:23-25.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Fifty-Seven

Day One Hundred Fifty-Seven, I Kings 22, II Chron. 19-20, II Kings 1,3

In today’s reading, we have yet another contrast between the goings-on in Israel and those in Judah.

In Israel, after Ahab dies, his son Ahaziah assumes the throne. He, like his father, “did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” The Moabites, who had previously been supplying Israel with sheep, decided to revolt against Israel. Later, Ahaziah becomes ill, and he sends messenger to inquire of the prophets of Baal-Zebub, to see if he would recover.

But Elijah meets those messengers half-way with a message of his own for King Ahaziah, from the Lord. He says, “Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going off to consult Baal-Zebub…You will not leave the bed you are lying on. You will certainly die!”

This was interesting to me because God pro-actively involved Himself in the affairs of Ahaziah, seeming to imply that if Ahaziah had bothered to seek Him, He would have answered. It makes me ask some of the same questions that I asked when I read about King Asa…would God have helped Ahaziah if Ahaziah had asked Him to?

On the other hand, in Judah, Jehoshaphat is still king. The Moabites, along with the Ammonites and Meunites come to make war against Judah, and Jehoshaphat inquires of the Lord. He declares a fast, and all the people of Judah come to seek help from the Lord.

Jehoshaphat’s prayer is recorded for us, and I love it, perhaps because I identify with part of it. He starts out acknowledging God for the awesome God that He is. He recalls the Lord’s previous help to the people of Israel in the past. Then he talks to God about the current situation. He requests the Lord’s justice for the people that are coming up against them. Then he humbly admits, “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are upon you.”

God, so often, I do not know what to do…but my eyes are upon You.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Fifty-Six

Day One Hundred Fifty-Six, I Kings 20—22

Today’s reading only highlights the level of evil that King Ahab and Queen Jezebel embodied.

Ahab covets the vineyard of a man named Naboth. Ahab wants it, because it is a good vineyard and it is near his palace. He offers to exchange it for a better vineyard for Naboth. Or, he offers to pay Naboth a good price for it. But because that vineyard was the inheritance of Naboth’s family, Naboth tells Ahab, “Thanks, but no thanks, it’s NOT for sale.”

So Ahab does what any grown man would do, right? He goes home, lies around sulking and refusing to eat. Jezebel gets tired of it and she’s like, “Why are you acting like this???” Ahab responds (and I can almost hear the whining in his voice), “Naboth has a vineyard that I want, and he won’t sell it to me! I made an offer and everything…”

Jezebel says, “Seriously?!?!?” Are you king or are you king??? Why don’t you just take the vineyar…wait, you know what, never mind! I’ll handle this myself!!!”

So she writes letters in Ahab’s name with his seal and sends them to the nobles who live in Naboth’s city. She says, “Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a place of honor. But then have two scoundrels lie about him, have them claim that he cursed both God and the king. Then have him stoned to death!”

The people that lived in Naboth’s city followed Jezebel’s instructions, and the innocent Naboth was killed. When Jezebel heard the news, she told Ahab, “Okay, now quit acting like a two-year-old; go take Naboth’s vineyard.”

So King Ahab took over the vineyard and he and Queen Jezebel lived happily ever after.

Praise God that’s not how the story ends! Our God is a God of justice, and he does not look the other way when people are treated unfairly. Rather, King Ahab and Queen Jezebel live happily until Elijah comes to them with yet another message from the Lord: “I am going to destroy you. I will cut off every male from your household. And that wife of yours…DOGS will devour her in the place where Naboth was killed.”

On an unrelated note, I was also amused in this day’s reading by Ahab’s response to Jehoshaphat, king of Judah, when they are looking for a prophet that they may inquire of the Lord. Ahab says, “There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the Lord, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad.” I wonder if it ever occurred to Ahab that his actions might be the problem there? Just wondering.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Fifty-Five

Day One Hundred Fifty-Five, I Kings 17-19

Today’s reading contains some of my favorite events in the life of the prophet Elijah. In fact, today’s reading is one thing after another that I just love about him. But rather than detail everything, as yesterday’s reading was so lengthy, I’ll try to just hit the main reasons why I love what I love about this reading. If you’re not familiar with it, look it up…starting in I Kings 17!

First of all, I am AMAZED at God’s provision! God makes sure Elijah is taken care of, and he makes sure the widow and her son are taken care of. Love His faithfulness.

Next we see Elijah perform the miracle of raising the widow’s son from the dead. Raising someone from the dead is the most impressive miracle we see done in the Bible, but about a year ago, one of my favorite Bible teachers pointed out the contrast between when we see Jesus raise someone from the dead and when we see anyone else raise someone from the dead. Whether it is Elijah or Elisha or Peter or Paul…we see the person praying repeatedly, seemingly begging the Lord to bring the person back to life. A couple of times, the person praying will also throw themselves down over the body of the deceased as they are begging God for that person’s life. Very interesting contrast with Jesus Himself, who, as God-in-the flesh, has ultimate authority over death. Whenever Jesus raises someone from the dead, there is no begging, no pleading, no throwing his body over on the deceased. He simply says, “Get up.” Or “Come forth.” He speaks, and it is.

I love the ultimate test that Elijah has with the prophets of Baal. I love how God so completely demonstrates His power and the fact that He is the One True God. When this happens, Queen Jezebel is livid. She vows to herself that she will kill Elijah before another day passes.

And this is where we see the human side of Elijah. He feels afraid. And, perhaps even worse, he feels alone. He leaves the country, flees to Judah and hides there, asking God to take his life. How can this incredible man of God be so depressed? But more importantly, how does God respond to him?

Jehovah Jireh again provides food for Elijah. With that, he is strengthened for a forty day journey to Mount Horeb, probably better-known as Mount Sinai, the mountain of God. Here, on this mountain, where God first revealed Himself to His people the Israelites, the Lord is going to reveal His presence to Elijah.

So while Elijah is in the cave at Mount Horeb, the voice of the Lord comes to Elijah not in a violent wind, nor in an earthquake, nor in a fire, but in a gentle whisper. I love this part of the story, just because it’s a reminder that God is not always what you expect Him to be and you have to be willing to pay attention to be able to hear Him.

The Lord then reminds Elijah that, “You are not alone here. I am still in charge here. I’ve got people that I will put in place of Ahab and Jezebel, and I’ve got someone to succeed you as a prophet to my people. I have reserved seven thousand in Israel who are still faithful to Me.” (I’m paraphrasing.) So the Lord sends him back to Israel, where he called Elisha to follow him and succeed him as a prophet.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Fifty-Four

Day One Hundred Fifty-Four, II Chron. 14-17, I Kings 14-16, 21

Today’s reading is an interesting one, but it’s a little lengthy and can be a little confusing as well, so you’ll have to keep up with me here, as we basically see the contrast between the kingdoms if Israel and Judah.

In Judah, Asa is king, and under him, Judah experiences peace. They are able to fight off the Ethiopians who attack them.

Asa does what is right. He rids the land of idols and high places and Asherah poles, even to the point of removing his own grandmother from her position as queen mother because she made an Asherah pole! Now that’s commitment, and you’ve gotta respect a man who is that committed to following the Lord’s commands.

Meanwhile, in Israel, there is a succession of one bad king after another. Jeroboam, the Nadab, then Baasha. Each “did evil in the eyes of the Lord.” At one point, Baasha threatens war against Judah.

Here we see a mistake of Asa, who is trying to follow the Lord. But when Baasha threatens war, rather than relying on his God, Asa makes a treaty with Syria, enlisting them to help. For this, Asa is rebuked by a prophet of the Lord named Hanani. Asa is told that because he did such a foolish thing, he will be at war for the rest of his reign. And again, I can’t help but notice a contrast in Asa’s response to rebuke, as opposed to David’s response. David’s response, when confronted with his own sin, was, “I have sinned.” Here, however, we are told that Asa becomes angry.

Again…meanwhile, in Israel, the prophet Jehu, son of Hanani, goes to warn Baasha of his coming destruction, because of the evil that he has committed. The Lord promises to destroy the house of Baasha. Baasha dies, and his son Elah becomes king. Elah reigns in Israel two years before he is promptly assassinated by one of his own officials, Zimri. Zimri kills Elah, then kills all the rest of Baasha’s family. Zimri has secured the throne for himself for a whopping seven whole days. But when the army hears that Zimri has killed the royal family, they declare Omri, their commander, to be the king over Israel.

When Zimri hears of this, he commits suicide. Omri gains control of Israel, and he arranges a marriage between his son Ahab and Jezebel, daughter of the Sidonian king. They’re an interesting couple, you’ll want to remember them, as they play a role in the trouble Israel has during the time of the prophet Elijah, which we’ll get to soon enough. I’m not typically one to pick favorites, mostly because I’m such an indecisive person, but Eljah’s one of my favorites in all the Bible!

Finally…meanwhile, in Judah, Asa is afflicted with a disease in his feet. A sad note is included that even through all of this, “he did not seek help from the Lord, but only from the physicians.” That makes me wonder…if Asa had gotten over his anger and humbled himself and prayed to the Lord his God, might the Lord have been willing to heal him? You gotta ask yourself that question, and also take the time to apply it to your life. Are you humbly seeking after your God, taking the time to talk to Him often? And if not, what blessings might you be missing out on. James tells us as Christians that we “do not have because you do not ask God.” Okay. End of sermonette. Back to the narrative.

After Asa dies, his son Jehoshaphat succeeds him as king. He is a good king as well, doing what is right. Under his leadership, Judah prospers, and…I love this part…he sends officials all throughout the land, “taking with them the Book of the Law of the Lord; they went around to all the towns of Judah and taught the people”!!!!! Not only does Jehoshaphat follow the Lord, he wants to make sure that all his people understand how and why they should follow the Lord as well!

Now, I know this is a lengthy narrative, back and forth between the goings-on in Israel and Judah, and it’s a little more detailed than most of my posts. But I wanted to recognize the stark contrast between the events/lives of those who are trying to follow the Lord and those who don’t give Him a second thought. Judah, at the time, is prospering, while it won’t be long before Israel is defeated and taken into captivity for their sins.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Fifty-Three

Day One Hundred Fifty-Three, I Kings 13-15, II Chron. 11-13

Today’s reading contains some of the chronicles of the early kings of Judah and Israel.

We’ve got a prophecy against Jeroboam, king of Israel.

Then we’ve got Judah also turning to idolatry, and because of that, Jerusalem was invaded by Shishak, king of Egypt. I love, though, that here the Lord has a change of heart. He sent the prophet Shemaiah to explain to Rehoboam, “You have abandoned me; therefore, I now abandon you to Shishak.” However, when they hear this message humble themselves. Scripture says, “When the Lord saw that they humbled themselves, this word of the Lord came to Shemaiah, ‘Since they have humbled themselves, I will not destroy them but will soon give them deliverance. My wrath will not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. They will, however, become subject to him, so that they may learn the difference between serving me and serving the kings of other lands.’”

We’ve got continual warfare between Israel and Judah in today’s reading. We’ve also got a note that while Israel had forsaken the Lord, Judah was not all bad. So the Lord delivered Judah and gave them victory over the men of Israel.

Today’s reading ends, however, with a note about Abijah, king of Judah, and the fact that “his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been. Nevertheless, for David’s sake the Lord his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by raising up a son to succeed him and by making Jerusalem strong.”

I still love that all these years later, the Lord is still honoring David.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Fifty-Two

Day One Hundred Fifty-Two, I Kings 12-13, II Chron. 11

In today’s reading, Solomon’s son Rehoboam has taken over the kingdom of Israel, and as we’ll see, the Lord did not hesitate to keep His word in tearing the kingdom away from Solomon’s descendants.

One lesson that Rehoboam learned the hard way was that he paid the price when he listened to the advice of his friends and companions, rather that to his father’s advisers, who were older and perhaps a lot wiser.

So the kingdom is torn apart, and Rehoboam retains control only of Judah and Benjamin. While the ten northern tribes of Israel were under the control of Jeroboam. We’re also told that some Levites and others fled from Israel to Judah, in order to worship the Lord, as His Temple was in Jerusalem, in Judah.

Israel, from the outset, worships idols, as Jeroboam sets up altars at Dan and Bethel. He set up high places and made idols and appointed priests so that the people could worship. Judah, on the other hand, will have their procession of ups and downs, both good kings and bad kings.

Today’s reading also includes an interesting story about a prophet who believes someone else, rather than the Lord’s command. You learn not to believe everything you hear! I don’t have time to go into all the details…but it’s a good story…look it up…I Kings 13.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Fifty-One

Day One Hundred Fifty-One, Ecclesiastes

Today's reading contains the last (and in my opinion, the best) portions of Ecclesiastes.

I love the passage about balance and timing in life:

“There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity under heaven:
a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.”

I also love the passage with the advice to remember the Lord in your youth:
“Remember your Creator
in the days of your youth,
before the days of trouble come
and the years approach when you will say,
“I find no pleasure in them”—
before the sun and the light
and the moon and the stars grow dark,
and the clouds return after the rain;
when the keepers of the house tremble,
and the strong men stoop,
when the grinders cease because they are few,
and those looking through the windows grow dim;
when the doors to the street are closed
and the sound of grinding fades;
when men rise up at the sound of birds,
but all their songs grow faint;
when men are afraid of heights
and of dangers in the streets;
when the almond tree blossoms
and the grasshopper drags himself along
and desire no longer is stirred.
Then man goes to his eternal home
and mourners go about the streets.”

The best part of Ecclesiastes is the very end, where—after everything has been discussed and it has been discovered just how empty and futile everything in this life is—here we find the answer to that ultimate question:
“Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter:
fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the whole duty of man.
For God will bring every deed into judgment,
including every hidden thing,
whether it is good or evil.”

Monday, June 14, 2010

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Fifty

Day One Hundred Fifty, Ecclesiastes

Today's reading contains various portions of Ecclesiastes. It has various proverbs that Solomon has written.

He speaks of the wisdom that comes from sorrow.

He also speaks of the danger of extremism. In fact, tomorrow's reading will have one of my favorite passages from Ecclesiastes that speaks about balance in life.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Forty-Nine

Day One Hundred Forty-Nine, Ecclesiastes

Today’s reading of Ecclesiastes continues with the search, and discovery of emptiness, in many aspects of this life. Indeed, Solomon had everything he could desire on this earth, and he had the means to search out and try to find purpose in any aspect of this life.

He writes of the emptiness of wisdom:
“For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief.”

Of pleasure/achievement:
“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my work, and this was the reward for all my labor. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.”

Of labor:
“A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? To the man who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

Of the human condition
“I saw the tears of the oppressed—and they have no comforter; power was on the side of their oppressors—and they have no comforter. And I declared that the dead, who had already died, are happier than the living, who are still alive. But better than both is he who has not yet been, who has not seen the evil that is done under the sun.

Of accumulation:
“The fool folds his hands and ruins himself. Better on ehandful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind.”

Of unshared lives
“Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: if one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up! Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone? Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

Of false worship:
“Do not be quick with your mouth, do not be hasty in your heart to utter anything before God. God is in heaven and you are on earth, so let your words be few…much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God.”

Of wealth:
“Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless.”

Of materialism:
“All man’s efforts are for his mouth, yet his appetite is never satisfied. What advantage has a wise man over a fool? What does a poor man gain by knowing how to conduct himself before others? Better what the eye sees than the roving of the appetite. This too is meaningless, a chasing after the wind.”

Of prosperity:
“Who can straighten what he has made crooked? When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider: God has made the one as well as the other.”

Of defiance:
“Obey the kings’ command, I say, because you took an oath before God. Do not be in a hurry to leave the king’s presence. Do not stand up for abad cause, for he will do whatever he pleases. Since a king’s word is supreme, who can say to him, ‘What are you doing?’”

Of wickedness:
“Although a wicked man commits a hundred crimes and still lives a long time, I know that it will go better with God-fearing men, who are reverent before God.”

Of injustice:
“There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: righteous men who get what the wicked deserve, and wicked men who get what the righteous deserve. This too, I say, is meaningless.

Of strength:
“The quiet words of the wise are more to be heeded than the shouts of a ruler of fools.”

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Forty-Eight

Day One Hundred Forty-Eight, Ecclesiastes

Today’s reading begins what is probably one of my favorite books of the Bible, though I don’t read this one as often as I should. In fact, usually whenever I read it, I realize that I’ve forgotten how great it is, how much there is to glean from it. It was likely written by Solomon, the wisest man to live, and written late in his years, after he’d spent his life on the things of this life.

I don’t particularly care for the way Ecclesiastes is organized in this daily reading Bible, though. F. LaGard Smith took the liberty of arranging Ecclesiastes in topical order (much like he did the Psalms and Proverbs), but it’s one that just seems to make more sense to me in the order that it was originally written. Regardless, that’s what I’ve got to blog with, so bear with me.

Today’s reading starts out with the ultimate question:
“What does man gain from all his labor at which he toils under the sun?”
Or we might phrase it, “What is the meaning of life?”

He talks about the cyclical nature of life:
“Generations come and generations go, but the earth remains forever. The sun rises and the sun sets, and hurries back to where it rises…what has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.”

He talks about mortality, how the same fate seems to await everyone. Man and animals, the foolish and the wise, the righteous and the wicked:
“As one dies, so does the other. All have the same breath…all come from dust, and to dust all return…the same fate overtakes them both.”

Because of this, he talks about the importance of living in the present and enjoying what you do:
“Go, eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart, for it is now that God favors what you do. Always be clothed in white, and always anoint your head with oil. Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun. Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.”

He follows up the importance of living in the present with the reason why—because we do not know when we will die:
“The race is not to the swift or the battle to the strong, nor does food come to the wise or wealth to the brilliant or favor to the learned; but time and chance happen tot hem all. Moreover, no man knows when his hour will come.”

Today’s reading ended with a section in which he basically throws his hands up and says it can’t be done—answering that ultimate question can’t be done:
“When I applied my mind to know wisdom and to observe man’s labor on earth—his eyes not seeing sleep day or night—then I saw all that God has done. No one can comprehend what goes on under the sun. Despite all his efforts to search it out, man cannot discover its meaning. Even if a wise man claims he knows, he cannot really comprehend it.”

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Project 4;4--Day One Hundred Forty-Seven

Day One Hundred Forty-Seven, I Kings 11

If you recall Solomon first became king, you’ll remember all the encouragement that David gave him to remain faithful to the Lord and walk in His ways. It was of utmost importance that Solomon follow the Lord as he ruled over Israel.

Solomon seemed to start out well. When the Lord offered him anything his heart desired, he asked the Lord to grant him wisdom to distinguish right from wrong, and a discerning heart to govern the people well. Admirable, indeed. In fact, the Lord was so impressed that because Solomon asked for something so admirable, God decided to bless him with riches and power as well as wisdom, more so than anyone else who lived.

However, the riches that the Lord blessed Solomon with soon became his downfall. Not only was Solomon wealthy, he continued to amass great wealth and horses—contrary to the Lord’s command for the king of His people, given in Deut. 17. He also took in many, many wives (700) and concubines (300)—also contrary to the Lord’s command in Deut. 17.

It was this wealth, and these wives, that led Solomon astray, so that rather than serving the Lord, Solomon followed his own desires and worshiped other gods. Because the Lord was unhappy with him for this, the Lord decided to tear the kingdom away from Solomon.

However, I find it interesting that for the sake of David, the Lord both would not do this during Solomon’s lifetime, and He would not take the entire kingdom away. He would leave a portion of the Israelites for a descendant of David to rule over.

Reminds me of the Lord’s promise that he remembers the sin to the third and fourth generation, but he blesses to the thousandth generation of those who obey Him.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Forty-Six

Day One Hundred Forty-Six, Psalm 127, Song of Solomon

I love Psalm 127, which is the psalm written by Solomon. I love how it expresses the importance of reliance on God for everything that we intend to accomplish.

Unless the Lord builds the house,
Its builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
The watchmen stand guard in vain.
In vain you rise early
And stay up late,
Toiling for food to eat—
For he grants sleep to those he loves.

Sons are a heritage from the Lord,
children a reward from him.
Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are sons born in one’s youth.
Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their enemies in the gate.

Also in today’s reading was the Song of Solomon. As someone who’s never been married and someone who really never has…I don’t really wanna touch this one with a ten-foot pole.

I mean, take, for example, chapter 7, verses 6-8, where the Lover says,

“How beautiful you are and how pleasing,
O love, with your delights!
Your stature is like that of the palm,
And your breasts like clusters of fruit.
I said, ‘I will climb the palm tree;
I will take hold of its fruit.’”

Really??? Seriously????? I’m not sure I’m even old enough to be reading this stuff!

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Forty-Five

Day One Hundred Forty-Five, Proverbs

Joy and Grief

Prov. 14:13

Even in laughter the heart may ache,
and joy may end in grief.


Good news

Prov. 25:25

Like cold water to a weary soul
is good news from a distant land.


Curiosity

Prov. 27:20

Death and Destruction are never satisfied,
And neither are the eyes of man.


Sayings of Agur

Prov. 30:1-9

I am the most ignorant of men;
I do not have a man’s understanding.
I have not learned wisdom,
nor have I knowledge of the Holy One.
Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
Who has gathered up the wind in the hollow of his hands?
Who has wrapped up the waters in his cloak?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is his name, and the name of his son?
Tell me if you know!

Every word of God is flawless;
he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.
Do not add to his words,
or he will rebuke you and prove you a liar.

Two things I ask of you, O Lord;
do not refuse me before I die.
Keep falsehood and lies far from me;
give me neither poverty nor riches,
but give me only my daily bread.
Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you
and say, “Who is the Lord?”
Or I may become poor and steal,
and so dishonor the name of my God.




The Wife of Noble Character

A wife of noble character who can find?
She is worth far more than rubies.
Her husband has full confidence in her
and lacks nothing of value.
She brings him good, not harm,
all the days of her life.
She selects wool and flax
and works with eager hands.
She is like the merchant ships,
bringing her food from afar.
She gets up while it is still dark;
she provides food for her family
and portions for her servant girls.
She considers a field and buys it;
out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.
She sets about her work vigorously;
her arms are strong for her tasks.
She sees that her trading is profitable,
and her lamp does not go out at night.
In her hand she holds the distaff
and grasps the spindle with her fingers.
She opens her arms to the poor
and extends her hands to the needy.
When it snows, she has no fear for her household;
for all of them are clothed in scarlet.
She makes coverings for her bed;
she is clothed in fine linen and purple.
Her husband is respected at the city gate,
where he takes his seat among the elders of the land.
She makes linen garments and sells them,
and supplies the merchants with sashes.
She is clothed with strength and dignity;
she can laugh at the days to come.
She speaks with wisdom,
and faithful instruction is on her tongue.
She watches over the affairs of her household
and does not eat the bread of idleness.
Her children arise and call her blessed;
her husband also, and he praises her:
“Many women do noble things,
but you surpass them all.”
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Give her the reward she has earned,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Forty-Four

Day One Hundred Forty-Four, Proverbs

Parents and children

Prov. 23:22-25

Listen to your father, who gave you life,
and do not despise your mother when she is old.
Buy the truth and do not sell it;
get wisdom, discipline and understanding.
The father of a righteous man has great joy;
he who has a wise son delights in him.
May your father and mother be glad;
may she who gave you birth rejoice!


The elderly

Prov. 16:31

Gray hair is a crown of splendor;
it is attained by a righteous life.


Women and wives

Prov. 12:4

A wife of noble character is her husband’s crown,
but a disgraceful wife is like decay in his bones.


Kings and rulers

Prov. 25:2-7

It is the glory of God to conceal a matter;
to search out a matter is the glory of kings.

As the heavens are high and the earth is deep,
so the hearts of kings are unsearchable.

Remove the dross from the silver,
and out comes material for the silversmith;
Remove the wicked from the king’s presence,
and his throne will be established through righteousness.

Do not exalt yourself in the king’s presence,
and do not claim a place among great men;
It is better for him to say to you, “Come up here,”
than for him to humiliate you before a nobleman.


Messengers

Prov. 25:13

Like the coolness of snow at harvest time
is a trustworthy messenger to those who send him;
he refreshed the spirit of his masters.


Companions

Prov. 18:24

A man of many companions may come to ruin,
but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother.


Caution

Prov. 22:3

A prudent man sees danger and takes refuge,
but the simple keep going and suffer for it.


Reputation

Prov. 22:1

A good name is more desirable than great riches;
to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.


Courage

Prov. 3:25-26

Have no fear of sudden disaster
or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked,
for the Lord will be your confidence
and will keep your foot from being snared.


Hope

Prov. 13:12

Hope deferred makes the heart sick,
but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Forty-Three

Day One Hundred Forty-Three, Proverbs

Wealth and poverty

Prov. 3:9-10

Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of your crops;
then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.


Benevolence and generosity

Prov. 19:17

He who is kind to the poor lends to the Lord,
and he will reward him for what he has done.


Oppression of the poor

Prov. 14:31

He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker,
but whoever is kind to the needy honors God.


Industriousness

Prov. 24:30-34

I went past the field of the sluggard,
past the vineyard of the man who lacks judgment;
thorns had come up everywhere,
the ground was covered with weeds,
and the stone wall was in ruins.
I applied my heart to what I observed
and learned a lesson from what I saw:
a little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest—
and poverty will come on you like a bandit
and scarcity like an armed man.
As a door turns on its hinges,
so a sluggard turns on his bed.


Conservation

Prov. 21:20

In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil,
but a foolish man devours all he has.


Surety for another

Prov. 11:15

He who puts up security for another will surely suffer,
but whoever refuses to strike hands in pledge is safe.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Forty-Two

Day One Hundred Forty-Two, Proverbs

Solicitation to evil

Prov. 28:10

He who leads the upright along an evil path
will fall into his own trap;
but the blameless will receive a good inheritance.


Violence

Prov. 3:31-32

Do not envy a violent man
or choose any of his ways,
for the Lord detests a perverse man
but takes the upright into his confidence.


Murderers

Prov. 28:17

A man tormented by the guild of murder
will be a fugitive till death;
let no one support him.


Causing others harm

Prov. 3:29-30

Do not plot harm against your neighbor,
who lives trustfully near you.
Do not accuse a man for no reason—
when he has done you no harm.


Revenge

Prov. 20:22

Do not say, “I’ll pay you back for this wrong!”
Wait for the Lord, and he will deliver you.


Dissension and strife

Prov. 17:1

Better a dry crust with peace and quiet
than a house full of feasting, with strife.


Meddling

Prov. 26:17

Like one who seizes a dog by the ears
is a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel not his own.


Truthfulness

Prov. 24:26

An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.


Accurate weights

Prov. 11:1

The Lord abhors dishonest scales,
but accurate weights are his delight.


Boundary stones

Prov. 22:28

Do not move an ancient boundary stone
set up by your forefathers.


Wrongfully obtained gains

Prov. 13:11

Dishonest money dwindles away,
But he who gathers money little by little makes it grow.


Bribery

Prov. 17:8

A bribe is a charm to the one who gives it;
wherever he turns, he succeeds.


False witnesses

Prov. 14:25

A truthful witness saves lives,
But a false witness is deceitful.


Open-mindedness

Prov. 18:17

The first to present his case seems right,
till another comes forward and questions him.


Judicial justice

Prov. 21:15

When justice is done, it brings joy to the righteous
but terror to evildoers.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Forty-One

Day One Hundred Forty-One, Proverbs

Wise and foolish talk

Prov. 16:23

A wise man’s heart guides his mouth,
and his lips promote instruction.


Righteous and wicked talk

Prov. 13:2

From the fruit of his lips a man enjoys good things,
but the unfaithful have a craving for violence.


Appropriate speech

Prov. 27:14

If a man loudly blesses his neighbor early in the morning,
it will be taken as a curse.


Maintaining silence

Prov. 17:28

Even a fool is thought wise if he keeps silent,
and discerning if he holds his tongue.


Controlled speech

Prov. 15:1

A gentle answer turns away wrath,
but a harsh word stirs up anger.


Flattery

Prov. 26:28

A lying tongue hates those it hurts,
and a flattering mouth works ruin.


Slander and gossip

Prov. 20:19

A gossip betrays a confidence;
so avoid a man who talks too much.


Hurtful talk

Prov. 11:12

A man who lacks judgment derides his neighbor,
but a man of understanding holds his tongue.


Quarreling

Prov. 17:14

Starting a quarrel is like breaching a dam;
so drop the matter before a dispute breaks out.


Lying

Prov. 12:22

The Lord detests lying lips,
but he delights in men who are truthful.


Power of tongue

Prov. 18:20-21

From the fruit of his mouth a man’s stomach is filled;
with the harvest from his lips he is satisfied.
The tongue has the power of life and death,
and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Forty

Day One Hundred Forty, Proverbs

Self-control

Prov. 25:28

Like a city whose walls are broken down
is a man who lacks self-control.


Rashness

Prov. 29:20

Do you see a man who speaks in haste?
There is more hope for a fool than for him.


Temper and patience

Prov. 12:16

A fool shows his annoyance at once,
But a prudent man overlooks an insult.


Drunkenness and gluttony

Prov. 23:19-21

Listen, my son, and be wise,
and keep your heart on the right path.
Do not join those who drink too much wine
opr gorge themselves on meat,
for drunkards and gluttons become poor,
and drowsiness clothes them in rags.


Adultery

Prov. 5:15-20

Drink water from your own cistern,
running water from your own well.
Should your springs overflow in the streets,
your streams of water in the public squares?
Let them be yours alone,
never to be shared with strangers.
May your fountain be blessed,
and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth.
A loving doe, a graceful deer—
may her breasts satisfy you always,
may you ever be captivated by her love.
Why be captivated, my son, by an adulteress?
Why embrace the bosom of another man’s wife?


Prostitution

Prov. 23:26-28

My son, give me your heart
and let your eyes keep to my ways,
for a prostitute is a deep pit
and a wayward wife is a narrow well.
Like a bandit she lies in wait,
and multiplies the unfaithful among men.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Thirty-Nine

Day One Hundred Thirty-Nine, Proverbs

Motive and the heart

Prov. 21:2

All a man’s ways seem right to him,
but the Lord weights the heart.


False worship

Prov. 21:3

To do what is right and just
is more acceptable to the Lord than sacrifice.


Duplicity

Prov. 11:3

The integrity of the upright guides them,
but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.


Love and faithfulness

Prov. 16:6

Through love and faithfulness sin is atoned for;
through the fear of the Lord a man avoids evil.


Love, hatred, and compassion

Prov. 10:12

Hatred stirs up dissension,
but love covers over all wrongs.


Kindness and mercy

Prov. 12:25

An anxious heart weighs a man down,
but a kind word cheers him up.


Overstaying welcome

Prov. 25:16-17

If you find honey, eat just enough—
too much of it, and you will vomit.
Seldom set foot in your neighbor’s house—
too much of you, and he will hate you.


Pride and humility

Prov. 13:7

One man pretends to be rich, yet has nothing;
another pretends to be poor, yet has great wealth.


Selfishness

Prov. 18:1

An unfriendly man pursues selfish ends;
he defies all sound judgment.


Jealousy

Prov. 27:4

Anger is cruel and fury overwhelming,
but who can stand before jealousy?


Envy

Prov. 14:30

A heart at peace gives life to the body,
but envy rots the bones.


Greed

Prov. 28:25

A greedy man stirs up dissension,
but he who trusts in the Lord will prosper.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Thirty-Eight

Day One Hundred Thirty-Eight, Proverbs

Advice and rebuke

Prov. 27:17

As iron sharpens iron,
so one man sharpens another.


Value of advisers

Prov. 15:22

Plans fail for lack of counsel,
but with many advisers they succeed.


Discipline

Prov. 3:11-12

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline
And do not resent his rebuke,
Because the Lord disciplines those he loves,
As a father the son he delights in.


Lawkeeping

Prov. 29:18

Where there is no revelation, the people cast off restraint;
but blessed is he who keeps the law.


Repentance

Prov. 28:13

He who conceals his sins does not prosper,
but whoever confesses and renounces them finds mercy.


Righteousness and wickedness

Prov. 12:2-3

A good man obtains favor from the Lord,
but the Lord condemns a crafty man
A man cannot be established through wickedness,
but the righteous cannot be uprooted.


Integrity and perversion

Prov. 10:9

The man of integrity walks securely,
but he who takes crooked paths will be found out.


Appropriate consequences

Prov. 16:7

When a man’s ways are pleasing to the Lord,
He makes even his enemies live at peace with him.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Thirty-Seven

Day One Hundred Thirty-Seven, Proverbs

Purpose of the Proverbs:

Prov. 1:1-7

The proverbs of Solomon son of David, king of Israel:

for attaining wisdom and discipline;
for understanding words of insight;
for acquiring a disciplined and prudent life,
doing what is right and just and fair;
for giving prudence to the simple,
knowledge and discretion to the young—
let the wise listen and add to their learning,
and let the discerning get guidance—
for understanding proverbs and parables,
the sayings and riddles of the wise.

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge,
but fools despise wisdom and discipline.


Fear of the Lord:

Prov. 9:10-12

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,
and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.
For through me your days will be many,
and years will be added to your life.
If you are wise, your wisdom will reward you;
if you are a mocker, you alone will suffer.


Trust in God or self:

Prov. 3:5-8

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.


Divine providence

Prov. 16:9

In his heart a man plans his course,
but the Lord determines his steps.


Wisdom and folly

Prov. 16:22

Understanding is a fountain of life to those who have it,
but folly brings punishment to fools.


Dealing with fools

Prov. 26:4-11

Do not answer a fool according to his folly,
or you will be like him yourself.

Answer a fool according to his folly,
or he will be wise in his own eyes.

Like cutting off one’s feet or drinking violence
is the sending of a message by the hand of a fool.

Like a lame man’s legs that hang limp
is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

Like tying a stone in a sling
is the giving of honor to a fool.

Like a thornbush in a drunkard’s hand
is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.

Like an archer who wounds at random
is he who hires a fool or any passer-by

As a dog returns to its vomit,
so a fool repeats his folly.


Discernment and understanding

Prov. 16:16

How much better to get wisdom than gold,
to choose understanding rather than silver!


Knowledge

Prov. 23:12

Apply your heart to instruction
And your ears to words of knowledge.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Thirty-Six

Day One Hundred Thirty-Six, Proverbs

Today’s reading begins a section of our scripture reading that is organized a little bit differently. We start into the book of Proverbs, and rather than being in order, they are listed in categories. So, much like I did with the Psalms, I will share with you a favorite Proverb from each category that is covered.

Introduction to wisdom:

Prov. 3:13-24

Blessed is the man who finds wisdom,
the man who gains understanding,
for she is more profitable than silver
and yields better returns than gold.
She is more precious than rubies;
nothing you desire can compare with her.
Long life is in her right hand;
in her left hand are riches and honor.
Her ways are pleasant ways,
and all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who embrace her;
those who lay hold of her will be blessed.

By wisdom the Lord laid the earth’s foundations,
by understanding he set the heavens in place;
by his knowledge the deeps were divided,
and the clouds let drop the dew.

My son, preserve sound judgment and discernment,
do not let them out of your sight;
they will be life for you,
an ornament to grace your neck.
Then you will go on your way in safety,
and your foot will not stumble;
when you lie down, you will not be afraid;
when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Thirty-Five

Day One Hundred Thirty-Five, I Kings 7, I Kings 9-10, II Chron. 7-8, I Kings 4, Psalm 72

At the beginning of today’s reading, God confirms the covenant with Solomon which He had made with David. He promised to be with Solomon and establish him over Israel, so long as Solomon obeys His commands and walks in His ways.

Strangely enough, it’s in this reading that we begin to see Solomon first drift away from the Lord’s commands, as he begins taking wives and amassing great wealth. These are a couple of things that the Lord had specifically commanded that the king over Israel NOT do. Why? Not because He’s mean or wants to keep the king from having good things and enjoying life. Rather, the Lord wants to make sure that the leader of His people remains devoted to Him.

Solomon began to do the things the Lord commanded against, and his heart became more focused on the things of this life and less devoted to the Lord.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Thirty-Four

Day One Hundred Thirty-Four, II Chron. 5-7, I Kings 8

Today’s reading is full of the beautiful prayers of Solomon at the dedication of the Temple to the Lord.

It begins with “He is good; His love endures forever.”

And it ends with “He is good; His love endures forever.”

Sandwiched between those two statements of gospel truth are Solomon’s praise for the Lord and his supplications, asking the Lord to be with the Israelites in defeat, in drought, in famine or plague, in war, in captivity. I love how he expresses a complete reliance on the Lord.

One statement that he makes is an incredulous, “But will God really dwell on earth with men? The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built! Yet give attention to your servant’s prayer and his plea for mercy, O Lord my God.”

Reminds me of the fact that God dwelling with men was God’s intention all along. In Genesis God was “walking in the garden in the cool of the day.” And in Revelation it is declared, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and He will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Thirty-Three

Day One Hundred Thirty-Three, I Kings 5-7, II Chron. 3-4

Today’s reading contains the descriptions for the building of Solomon’s Temple. I’ll admit, it’s a little difficult for me, a little reminiscent of the readings back in February with the instructions for the Tabernacle, though not quite as detailed/difficult.

A couple of things that stand out to me are:

The Lord’s promise to Solomon: “As for this temple you are building, if you follow my decrees, carry out my regulations and keep all my commands obey them, I will fulfill through you the promise I gave to David your father. And I will live among the Israelites and will not abandon my people Israel."

I love the idea that God no longer dwells in a temple built by human hands, but that He lives inside us, as our bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.

The veil.

Just the description of the veil for the temple that separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies. There’s not but one sentence to describe it here. But every time I see/hear mention of the veil of the Tabernacle or the Temple, I just can’t help but think of the magnitude of what it represented—the separation from God that we experience in our sin—and the magnitude of the fact that the veil was torn!

“Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us through the curtain, that is, His body, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”—Hebrews 10:19-25

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Thirty-Two

Day One Hundred Thirty-Two, I Kings 2, 3, 9, 3, II Chron. 1, I Kings 3

The most impressive part of today’s reading is simply Solomon’s request.

This is a story I’ve heard thousands of times. I remember learning it as far back as when I was in preschool. It is one of our kids’ stories that we love to teach our children.

But I think it means so much more to me now that I’m older.

God tells Solomon, “Ask me for ANYTHING.”
Anything? Really??? Anything at all?????

If I could have anything that my heart desires, I’m not entirely sure what I would ask for.

But I love that when given that astounding opportunity, the desire of Solomon’s heart was to have a heart like His, distinguishing right from wrong.

I’m reminded of the Psalm that says to “Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.”

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Thirty-One

Day One Hundred Thirty-One, I Kings 1, II Sam. 23, I Kings 2

Today’s reading is when Solomon becomes king over Israel. It contains an interesting little bit about Solomon’s brother, another of David’s sons, Adonijah, who tries to usurp the throne, despite the fact that David has named Solomon as his successor.

However, Solomon shows mercy to Adonijah as long as he is willing to submit, so he allows Adonijah to return to his home.

Most interesting to me in this reading is David’s last words to Solomon. He again advises him to obey the Lord and walk in His ways. But in it, he also includes some instructions on how he would like Solomon to deal with certain people.

Earlier, we discussed a man named Shimei, who cursed David when he was being driven out of Jerusalem by Absalom. Then after Absalom died, Shimei begged David for forgiveness and David showed him remarkable mercy. However, I also noted then that the story doesn’t end there. Unfortunately, we have as part of the last instructions, for Solomon to “bring his gray head down to the grave in blood.” Wow. That’s a little different change of heart.

This little tidbit was pointed out to me in a sermon probably two and a half years ago, and it has stayed with me, because David has always been one of my favorite people in the Bible, and this incident makes him seem just a little more human to me.

Sure, there was the whole Bathsheba thing, but I’ve always heard David taught as an incredible “man after God’s own heart” who had one big screw-up in his life. This shows him to be more like any of us, someone who is constantly struggling with something like forgiveness.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Thirty

Day One Hundred Thirty, Psalm 45, 47-48, 87, 110

I appreciate Psalm 110 because this psalm is used many, many years later by the author of my favorite book of the Bible (Hebrews) to teach about Jesus.

The Lord says to my Lord:
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”

The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion;
you will rule in the midst of your enemies.
Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy majesty,
from the womb of the dawn
you will receive the dew of your youth.

The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”

The Lord is at your right hand;
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
He will drink from a brook beside the way;
Therefore he will lift up his head.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Twenty-Nine

Project 4:4—Day One Hundred Twenty-Nine

Day One Hundred Twenty-Nine, Psalm 2, 22, 27

Today’s reading begins the “Psalms of the Messiah”. Psalm 22 seems to have the most references to the Messiah, and indeed, it was on His lips as He was crucified.

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from the words of my groaning?
O my God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, and am not silent.

Yet you are enthroned as the Holy One;
you are the praise of Israel.
In you our fathers put their trust;
they trusted and you delivered them.
They cried to you and were saved;
in you they trusted and were not disappointed.

But I am a worm and not a man,
scorned by men and despised by the people.
All who see me mock me;
they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
“He trusts in the Lord;
let the Lord rescue him.
Let him deliver him,
since he delights in him.”

Yet you brought me out of the womb;
you made me trust in you
even at my mother’s breast.
From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother’s womb you have been my God.
Do not be far from me,
for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.

Many bulls surround me;
strong bulls of Bashan encircle me.
Roaring lions tearing their prey
open their mouths wide against me.
I am poured out like water,
And all my bones are out of joint.
My heart has turned to wax;
it has melted away within me.
My strength is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;
you lay me in the dust of death.
Dogs have surrounded me;
a band of evil men has encircled me,
they have pierced my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones;
people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my garments among them
and cast lots for my clothing.

But you, O Lord, be not far off;
O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
Deliver my life from the sword,
my precious life from the power of the dogs.
Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;
save me from the horns of the wild oxen.

I will declare your name to my brothers;
in the congregation I will praise you.
You who fear the Lord, praise him!
All you descendants of Jacob, honor him!
Revere him, all you descendants of Israel!
For he has not despised or disdained
the suffering of the afflicted one;
he has not hidden his face from him
but has listened to his cry for help.
From you comes the theme of my praise in the great assembly;
Before those who fear you will I fulfill my vows.
The poor will eat and be satisfied;
they who seek the Lord will praise him—
may your hearts live forever!
All the ends of the earth
will remember and turn to the Lord,
and all the families of the nations
will bow down before him,
for dominion belongs to the Lord
and he rules over the nations.

All the rich of the earth will feast and worship;
all who go down to the dust will kneel before him—
those who cannot keep themselves alive.
Posterity will serve him;
future generations will be told about the Lord.
They will proclaim his righteousness
to a people yet unborn—
for he has done it.



I love the sentiment expressed in Psalm 27…that the only thing David wants—the one thing he seeks—is to dwell with the Lord.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?
When evil men advance against me
to devour my flesh,
when my enemies and my foes attack me,
they will stumble and fall.
Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then will I be confident.

One thing I ask of the Lord,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to seek him in his temple.
For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his tabernacle
and set me high upon a rock.
Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his tabernacle will I sacrifice with shouts of joy;
I will sing and make music to the Lord.

Hear my voice when I call, O Lord;
be merciful to me and answer me.
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!”
Your face, Lord, I will seek.
Do not hide your face from me,
do not turn your servant away in anger;
you have been my helper.
Do not reject me or forsake me,
O God my Savior.
Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me.
Teach me your way, O Lord;
lead me in a straight path
because of my oppressors.
Do not turn me over to the desire of my foes,
for false witnesses rise up against me,
breathing out violence.

I am still confident of this:
I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.
Wait for the Lord;
be strong and take heart
and wait for the Lord.

Project 4:4--Day One Hundred Twenty-Eight

Day One Hundred Twenty-Eight, Psalm 111, 130-131, 141, 146

Psalm 130 poses the frightening question that, “If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand?” Praise God that He is love, and that love keeps no record of wrongs (I Cor. 13:5)

Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord;
O Lord, hear my voice.
Let your ears be attentive
to my cry for mercy.

If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins,
O Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness;
therefore you are feared.

I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.
My soul waits for the Lord
more than watchmen wait for the morning,
more than watchmen wait for the morning.

O Israel, put your hope in the Lord,
for with the Lord is unfailing love
and with him is full redemption.
He himself will redeem Israel
from all their sins.


I appreciated Psalm 146 because, with its emphasis on making sure that the hungry are fed, the oppressed are freed, the blind are given sight, and the widows and orphans are taken care of, I am reminded yet again, that our God of the Old Testament (who sometimes seems much more harsh than our God of the New Testament) is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

Praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord, O my soul.
I will praise the Lord all my life;
I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.

Do not put your trust in princes,
in mortal men, who cannot save.
When their spirit departs, they return to the ground;
on that very day their plans come to nothing.

Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord his God,
the Maker of heaven and earth,
the sea, and everything in them—
the Lord, who remains faithful forever.
He upholds the cause of the oppressed
and gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets prisoners free,
the Lord gives sight to the blind,
the Lord lifts up those who are bowed down,
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the alien
and sustains the fatherless and the widow,
but he frustrates the ways of the wicked.

The Lord reigns forever,
your God, O Zion, for all generations.

Praise the Lord.