Monday, August 27, 2018

READ IT! - Introduction to Psalms 109-115

Readings for this week

Monday: Psalm 109
Tuesday: Psalm 110
Wednesday: Psalm 111
Thursday: Psalm 112
Friday: Psalm 113
Saturday: Psalm 114
Sunday: Psalm 115

Introduction to Psalms 109-115

Psalm 109 

David says, “Do not be silent, O God. For wicked mouths speak against me. May his name be blotted out! Let curses come upon him! Help me, O LORD.” 

Psalm 110 

The writer of this Davidic psalm says, “The LORD says to my Lord: ‘Sit at my right hand. You are a priest in the order of Melchizedek.’ The Lord will judge the nations.”

Throughout the New Testament, the writers of the Bible compared many things about Jesus to different passages in the Psalms. Psalm 110 is just one of many examples of this. Jesus is shown to be the true son of David, but not only as an earthly king, but as a heavenly king as well - as a king like Melchizedek, a king with no recorded beginning or end, an eternal king. 

Psalm 111 

The writer of this is acrostic psalm says, “Praise the Lord! Great are his works. He is ever mindful of his covenant. All his precepts are sure. His praise endures forever.” 

Psalm 112 

The writer of this acrostic psalm says, “Blessed are those who fear the LORD. Their righteousness endures forever. They are not afraid of evil tidings. The wicked melt away.” 

Psalm 113

This psalm is very similar to the Song of Hannah. The writer says, “Praise the LORD! Blessed be the name of the LORD forever. He is exalted over all the nations. He lifts the needy from the ash heap.” 

Psalms 114-115 

These two acrostic psalms were originally one. The writer says, “When Israel came out of Egypt, Judah became God's sanctuary. The sea looked and fled. Tremble, O earth, at the presence of the Lord. Not to us, O LORD, but to your name give glory. Idols have eyes, but they cannot see. O Israel, trust in the LORD. He will bless us.”

Saturday, August 25, 2018

READ IT! - Introduction to Psalms 107-108

Introduction to Psalms 107-108

Book V 

Psalm 107 

Overall, Psalm 107 is considered one of Israel’s historical psalms, along with Psalm 106 and many of the royal psalms, among others. The overall outline of the historical psalms is to tell a story of a God who accomplishes “wonderful works”, although the Israelites, His chosen people, have proved faithless. In fact, acts of infidelity often seem to correspond to an eventual awe-inspiring work of mercy from the Lord. Although the exact timing of the writing of Psalm 107 is unsure, it was most likely written during a time of increased union among the Jewish people during the reign of King David (1010-970 BC). The psalm also includes several more specific themes which emphasize the general tone of praise and thanksgiving for the God of Israel.

The writer says, “Oh give thanks to the LORD! Let the redeemed say so. He brought them out of darkness. He stilled the storm. He raises up the needy. He breaks down gates of bronze and cuts through bars of iron.”

City gates were normally made of wood, although here they were of bronze, the strongest gates then imaginable. Bars that secured city gates were usually constructed of wood but sometimes formed of bronze as well. “Can a man break iron…or bronze?” was a proverb of the time. 

Psalm 108 

David says, “My heart is steadfast, O God. Your love is great above the heavens. God has spoken: ‘Judah is my scepter.’ Help us against the enemy!”

Monday, August 20, 2018

READ IT! - Introduction to 1st Kings 18-22

Readings for this week

Monday: 1 Kings 18
Tuesday: 1 Kings 19
Wednesday: 1 Kings 20
Thursday: 1 Kings 21
Friday: 1 Kings 22
Saturday: Psalm 107
Sunday: Psalm 108

Introduction to 1st Kings 18-22

Chapters 18-19 

Now after three years of drought, God told Elijah to go to King Ahab and tell him that it would rain again. But on the way to Ahab’s palace in Samaria, he bumped into Ahab’s servant Obadiah. Obadiah was a secret believer in Yahweh, and he had hidden 100 prophets in two different caves from Jezebel when she was going around killing all of God’s prophets. Elijah said, “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’” And Obadiah made Elijah promise not to pull another disappearing trick. Obadiah delivered the message to King Ahab. When Elijah arrived, Ahab said, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”

Elijah told Ahab to have the prophets of Baal and all the people of Israel meet him on Mount Carmel. Mount Carmel is a high ridge next to the Mediterranean Sea, where the effects of drought would have been least apparent. Elijah said to the people, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” Both the LORD and Baal were said to ride the thunderstorm as their divine chariots (see Psalm 104:3); thunder was God’s voice (see Psalm 29:3-9) and lightning his weapon (see Psalm 18:14), and the same was purported of Baal.

Elijah proposed a test to see which God was the true God. The prophets of Baal killed a bull, put it on their altar, and called on Baal to send fire down from heaven to consume the sacrifice. The prophets of Baal called on Baal all day long to no avail. They wailed, beat themselves up, and cut themselves with swords to try and get Baal to respond.

Elijah started making fun of them, saying...

Maybe Baal’s in deep thought…
Maybe Baal’s on a long journey…
Maybe Baal’s asleep…
Maybe Baal’s in the bathroom…

Self-mutilation is an indicator of spiritual decadence. In the Ugaritic Baal myth the deities Ilu and Anatu mourn the death of the divine Baal by scraping their skin with sharp stones, cutting their faces with razors and thoroughly mutilating their bodies. Like the gods they worshiped, the Canaanites also marred their bodies in mourning rituals and other religious ceremonies in an attempt to invoke their deities. In the myth, Baal later revived and received kingly authority; the Canaanites were reenacting the mourning that had preceded Baal’s rise to prominence.

Then the people went over to watch Elijah. Elijah built an altar of 12 stones, representing the 12 tribes of Israel, he then killed a bull and put it on the altar, and then he then completely drenched the altar and the sacrifice with water ...three times!

Elijah prayed:

“LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench. The people proclaimed, “Yahweh is God!” Elijah commanded the people to kill all the prophets of Baal.

Elijah and his servant then climbed to the top of the mountain to watch for rain. After looking out to sea seven times they spotted a tiny cloud. They descended and warned Ahab to get in his chariot and go back to Jezreel before the rains came. Elijah watched as Ahab tried to drive through the storm. Elijah ran down the mountain, caught up to Ahab’s chariot, and ran ahead of him, guiding him through the storm all the way back to Jezreel. When Ahab arrived, he told Jezebel the news. But Jezebel tried to kill Elijah.

Elijah escaped and ran away to the desert, leaving his servant in Beersheba. Elijah sat under a broom bush and prayed that God would kill him, saying, “I’ve had enough!” Elijah fell asleep, but an angel suddenly appeared, woke him up, and gave him baked bread and water. Elijah ate, drank, and went back to sleep. The angel returned, woke him up again, and urged him to eat, saying, “The journey is too much for you.” Elijah was strengthened by the food, and he traveled through the wilderness for forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai.

Elijah spent the night in a cave on Mount Horeb. God spoke to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah says, “I’m the only prophet left, and they’re trying to kill me!” The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the Lord is about to pass by.” “Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind.” “After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.” “After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire.” “And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” (or “a still small voice”) Elijah covered his face with his cloak and stood before God. Again God says, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” Elijah again says, “I’m the only prophet left, and they’re trying to kill me!”

Then the LORD told Elijah to go back the way he came and go to the desert of Damascus, saying:

“...anoint Hazael king over Aram
“…anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel…”
“…anoint Elisha son of Shaphat... to succeed you as prophet.”

And then God says, “Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

Elijah then returns from the mountain and finds Elisha. He is plowing in a field behind 12 pairs of oxen. Elisha is anointed by Elijah, and receives Elijah’s cloak. He asks Elijah to wait for him so he can kiss his parents good-bye. He then kills his oxen, chops up his plow, uses the wood to cook the meat and feeds the other farmers. And Elisha feeds Elijah, and then follows Elijah. The transfer of Elijah’s cloak to Elisha signified a transmission both of Elijah’s mission and of his ability, with God’s help, to accomplish it. Elisha’s sacrifice of his oxen was a thank offering for his calling – a celebration in which his neighbors were invited to join. His burning of the farm equipment signified a complete break with his past. From that time on, Elisha became Elijah’s protégé. 

Chapter 20 

We then read about how Ben-Hadad of Aram attacked Samaria. He marched out his army and demanded gold and women from Ahab. Ahab agreed to the terms, but Ben-Hadad was looking for a fight. A prophet promised Ahab that the LORD would give him victory. Ahab gathered 7,000 men and defeated the Arameans. Ben-Hadad escaped, and the prophet warned Ahab that he would attack again next spring. Ben-Hadad attacked from the plains, thinking Israel’s God was limited to the mountains. Israel killed 100,000 soldiers and captured Ben-Hadad as he fled. Later, Ben-Hadad made a deal with Ahab and Ahab let him go.

We then read about a prophet who condemns Ahab. This first prophet goes to a second prophet and says, “Punch me in the face!” the second prophet says, “No way!” Then the first prophet says, “You will be eaten by a lion for your disobedience!” he then goes to a third prophet and says, “Punch me in the face!” And the third prophet is like, “Okay.” The first prophet then waited on the side of the road for Ahab to pass by and pretended he was someone who had been in a battle. And he says, “I captured a prisoner in battle, and I had another man guard him under penalty of death, but he let him escape. What should I do?” And Ahab is like, “That’s your problem. You figure it out.” The prophet then says, “I am God’s prophet! And you have released a man that God determined should die! It will now be your own life for his! And Israel’s for Aram’s!” Then Ahab went home “sullen and angry.” 

Chapter 21 

We then read the story of Naboth’s Vineyard. Ahab wanted Naboth’s vineyard, but Naboth wouldn’t sell. Ahab pouted for a long time until Jezebel helped him come up with a scheme. They hired some thugs to go into a crowd and accuse Naboth of cursing God and the king. The crowd dragged Naboth outside the city and stoned him. Ahab then acquired the dead man’s land.

Elijah arrived with a message from God:

“Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?”
“In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!”
“I have found you because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord.”
“I will cut off from Ahab’s descendants all who piss against the wall in Israel—slave or free.”
“Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.”

Ahab changed his attitude after this and mourned and wore sackcloth. God decided to wait until after Ahab’s death to destroy his house. 

Chapter 22 

We then read about an alliance that is made between Ahab of Samaria and Jehoshaphat of Judah. Jehoshaphat reigned over Judah for 25 years. He was a good king…but kind of dummy, too. He forbade worshiping idols, but failed to destroy them… He built ships, but they never set sail… The goal of the alliance with Ahab was to attempt to take back territory of Gilead from the Arameans. Jehoshaphat wants to inquire of the LORD first. Ahab’s prophets back his battle plan, but Jehoshaphat doesn’t buy it.

The character of Micaiah, the prophet of Yahweh, is then introduced. Jehoshaphat wants to hear Micaiah’s word, but Ahab hates him because of his negative messages about him. Pressure is put on Micaiah to agree with Ahab’s prophets, but he refuses to give in. Micaiah is sarcastic, and so Ahab makes him swear an oath of truth.


“Israel is scattered like sheep without a shepherd”
“God sits on His throne plotting Ahab’s death with the angels”
“An angel volunteers to be a ‘lying spirit’ among Ahab’s prophets”

Suddenly, a random prophet slaps Micaiah, demanding more details. Micaiah says, “You’ll get your answers on the day you flee from battle.”

Ahab locks Micaiah in prison to deal with him after the battle

Micaiah's final message:

“If you ever return safely, the Lord has not spoken through me. Mark my words, all you people!”

Ahab and Jehoshaphat fight the Arameans. Ahab disguises himself and uses Jehoshaphat as a decoy. The Arameans chase Jehoshaphat, but soon realize their mistake. Someone shot an arrow at random and it struck Ahab. The battle raged all day long and Ahab bled to death in his chariot. The battle was a disaster and everyone fled back to their hometowns. Ahab’s body was brought back to Samaria and dogs licked the blood off his chariot.

Ahaziah replaced Ahab as king of Israel when Ahab died. He was evil, too.

Monday, August 13, 2018

READ IT! - Introduction to 1st Kings 11-17

Readings for this week

Monday: 1 Kings 11
Tuesday: 1 Kings 12
Wednesday: 1 Kings 13
Thursday: 1 Kings 14
Friday: 1 Kings 15
Saturday: 1 Kings 16
Sunday: 1 Kings 17

Introduction to 1st Kings 11-17

Chapter 11 

We then hear that Solomon “loved many foreign women” and married the princesses of Moab, Ammon, Edom, Sidon, and the Hittites. The text says, “He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.” It also says that Solomon began to worship the Asherah of the Sidonians. “On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.” 

God was angry with Solomon and told him that because of his attitude towards the Covenant, God would tear the kingdom away from him and give it to one of his subordinates. God also said that for David’s sake He would wait to do this until after Solomon’s death, and Solomon’s son would still reign over one of the 12 tribes in keeping with the Covenant.

When then hear about how Hadad of Edom rebelled against Solomon. …Remember that when Isaac “blessed” Esau, he said Edom would become Israel’s slave, but that eventually Edom would break free.

Rezon of Zobah also rebelled and set up his base in Damascus.

We then read about Jeroboam’s Rebellion. Because of his talents, Solomon had put Jeroboam of Ephraim in charge of the people who were building Jerusalem’s walls. The prophet Ahijah shows up and gives a message to Jeroboam. He gave 10 of 12 pieces of a ripped cloak to Jeroboam and told him that he would one day be leader of 10 tribes of Israel. The House of David would still have at least one tribe. “Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam fled to Egypt, to Shishak the king, and stayed there until Solomon’s death.” Solomon reigned in Jerusalem for 40 years. When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam succeeded him as king. 

Chapter 12 

After Solomon’s death, all Israel gathered at Shechem for Rehoboam’s coronation. When Jeroboam heard that Solomon was dead, he returned from Egypt to talk to Rehoboam, and he brought a delegation and said, “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.” Rehoboam first consulted the elders from Solomon’s reign, who said, “Give them a favorable answer and they’ll serve you forever.” Later he consulted his own buddies and went with their advice, and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” The people rebelled when they heard this, stoned their taskmaster, and declared Jeroboam their new king. Rehoboam managed to escape in his chariot back to Jerusalem. He called up Judah and Benjamin’s troops to go to war, but the prophet Shemaiah warned him not to, and this time Rehoboam listened to wisdom.

Later, Jeroboam realized that if the people went up to Jerusalem to offer sacrifices at the Temple, they might decide to follow Rehoboam again. So he set up two golden calves at Bethel and Dan, and said, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” This is very similar to Aaron’s calf in the book of Exodus. Jeroboam also built shrines on high places and appointed his own festivals for the people to offer sacrifices to the calves. He made himself and a bunch of random people priests of his new religion. This is very similar to Micah and the Danites in the book of Judges. 

Chapter 13 

“A man of God” from Judah approached Jeroboam while he was offering sacrifices at Bethel, and he said that “one day a king named Josiah will arise from the house of David and kill all the false priests on this very spot.” Jeroboam reached out to order his men to seize the man of God, but his hand immediately shriveled up and he could not move it. Also, the altar split apart and the ashes fell out. Jeroboam asked the man of God to pray for him. He prayed and Jeroboam’s hand was healed. Jeroboam invited him back to his house in order to give him a gift. The man of God said that God had told him not to eat or drink anything at Bethel, and he left.

As he was on his way out of town, an old prophet caught up with him, saying, “God told me to stop you and invite you over for dinner.” The man of God turned back and ate with the old prophet and his family. While they were eating, the old prophet began to prophesy against the man of God, saying that he had despised the word of the LORD by not obeying. The man of God got on his donkey and went on his way. Outside of town, a lion attacked and killed him, but did not eat him or touch the donkey. The old prophet went to go retrieve the body of the man of God and saw the donkey and lion standing beside the road doing nothing. The man of God was buried in a tomb, and the old prophet told his sons that when the time came for him to die, they should bury him in the tomb of the man of God. 

Chapters 14-16 

Later, Jeroboam’s son became very sick. He disguised his wife and sent her to Shiloh to find out the future from the prophet Ahijah. Ahijah was getting old and had gone blind, but God warned him about Jeroboam’s wife.

Ahijah’s message:

“The boy will die when you return home.”
“His death is to spare him from the disasters that will fall on his sinful family.”
“Just as God tore the kingdom from Rehoboam, so too with Jeroboam.”

Jeroboam was king of the northern tribes, now called Israel, for 22 years. Then his son Nadab becomes king. He’s just as bad. Two years later, a guy named Baasha kills Nadab, and he becomes king. He’s bad, too. After Baasha, Elah becomes king. He’s only been king for 2 years when the commander of his chariots, Zimri, kills him and becomes king himself. Everyone’s mad that Zimri killed Elah, so they surround him and Zimri burns down his own house while he’s still inside it. Next, the Israelites pick a guy names Omri to be their king. The text says that he did more evil than all the kings that came before him. After Omri, his son Ahab becomes king of Israel. Ahab married a Phoenician princess named Jezebel.

The Baal cults of Ahab and Jezebel

The people of Israel developed their faith in the wilderness. There was no doubt that Yahweh was God of the wilderness. When the Israelites entered Canaan, they found a land of farmers, not shepherds, as they had been in the wilderness. The land was fertile beyond anything the Hebrew nomads had ever seen. The Canaanites attributed this fertility to their god Baal, and that is where the Israelites problems began. Could the God who had led them out of Egypt and through the wilderness also provide fertile farms in the Promised Land? Or would the fertility god of Canaan have to be honored? Maybe, to be safe, they should worship both Yahweh and Baal.

By the time of Ahab and Jezebel, the fertility cults appeared to have the official sanction of Israel's leaders. Ahab, with his wife's encouragement, built a temple to Baal at his capital, Samaria.

The earliest deity recognized by the peoples of the ancient Near East was the creator god El. His mistress, the fertility goddess Asherah, gave birth to many gods, including a powerful god named Baal ("Lord"). There appears to have been only one Baal, who was manifested in lesser Baals at different places and times. Over the years, Baal became the dominant deity, and the worship of El faded.

Baal won his dominance by defeating the other deities, including the god of the sea, the god of storms (also of rain, thunder, and lightning), and the god of death. Baal's victory over death was thought to be repeated each year when he returned from the land of death (underworld), bringing rain to renew the earth's fertility. Hebrew culture viewed the sea as evil and destructive, so Baal’s promise to prevent storms and control the sea, as well as his ability to produce abundant harvests, made him attractive to the Israelites.

Baal is portrayed as a man with the head and horns of a bull, an image similar to that in biblical accounts. His right hand (sometimes both hands) is raised, and he holds a lightning bolt, signifying both destruction and fertility. Baal has also been portrayed seated on a throne, possibly as the king or lord of the gods.

Asherah was honored as the fertility goddess in various forms and with varying names. She is portrayed as a nude female, sometimes pregnant, with exaggerated breasts that she holds out, apparently as symbols of the fertility she promises her followers. The Bible indicates that she was worshiped near trees and poles, called Asherah poles.

Baal's worshipers appeased him by offering sacrifices, usually animals such as sheep or bulls. At times of crisis, Baal's followers sacrificed their children, apparently the firstborn of the community, to gain personal prosperity. The Bible called this practice "detestable." God specifically appointed the tribe of Levi as his special servants, in place of the firstborn of the Israelites, so they had no excuse for offering their children. The Bible's repeated condemnation of child sacrifice shows God's hated of it, especially among his people.

Asherah was worshiped in various ways, including through ritual sex. Although she was believed to be Baal's mother, she was also his mistress. Pagans practiced "sympathetic magic", that is, they believed they could influence the gods' actions by performing the behavior they wished the gods to demonstrate. Believing the sexual union of Baal and Asherah produced fertility, their worshipers engaged in sex to cause the gods to join together, ensuring good harvests. This practice became the basis for religious prostitution. The priest or a male member of the community represented Baal. The priestess or a female members of the community represented Asherah.

Many, if not all, of the Old Testament gods had disappeared, at least in name, by the time of Jesus. Beelzebub, based on the Philistine god Baalzebul, had become a synonym for the prince of demons, Satan. Many of the ancient pagan deities lived on, however, now identified with the gods of the Greeks and Romans, the nations who controlled the people of Israel before and during New Testament times. 

Meanwhile in the southern kingdom of Judah… 

After the split, Solomon’s son Rehoboam continued to reign for 17 years over Judah from Jerusalem, and the people continued to be evil during his reign. The text says, “By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than those who were before them had done. They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.” In Rehoboam’s fifth year, Judah was attacked by Shishak king of Egypt. The Egyptians took the treasures of the royal palace and the Temple. Throughout Rehoboam’s reign, he was at war with Jeroboam in the north.

When Rehoboam died, his son Abijah became king and reigned in Jerusalem for 3 years. He was bad. He was Absalom’s grandson. He also warred against Jeroboam throughout his reign.

After Abijah died, his son Asa reigned in Jerusalem 41 years. He was good. He got rid of the idols. He even deposed the wicked Queen Mother. Baasha of Israel started a war with him during his reign. He had diseased feet in his old age.

Chapter 17 

God sent Elijah the Tishbite to King Ahab to say it would not rain in Israel for the next few years. After this, God sent Elijah away to go live by the brook in the Kirith Ravine east of the Jordan River. God sent ravens to Elijah with meat and bread for him to eat.

Later, after the brook dried up, God told Elijah to go to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay at a widow’s house. The widow wanted to help Elijah when he arrived, but they were almost completely out of food. Elijah reassured her that God would not allow her flour and oil to run out until the rains returned.

Later, the widow’s son became sick and died. The widow was upset and blamed Elijah for her son’s death. Elijah took him in his arms, carried him to the upper room of the house, and laid him on the bed. Elijah stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the LORD, “LORD my God, let this boy’s life return to him!” The boy came back to life, and Elijah gave him back to his mother. The widow said, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is the truth.” “Elijah” means “Yahweh is God.”

Monday, August 6, 2018

READ IT! - Introduction to 1st Kings 4-10

Readings for this week

Monday: 1 Kings 4
Tuesday: 1 Kings 5
Wednesday: 1 Kings 6
Thursday: 1 Kings 7
Friday: 1 Kings 8
Saturday: 1 Kings 9
Sunday: 1 Kings 10

Chapters 4-7 

We then read about Solomon building the Temple. Solomon made the people of Israel work for him. He had 30,000 men working shifts in Lebanon gathering lumber. “Solomon had seventy thousand carriers and eighty thousand stonecutters in the hills.” He had thirty-three hundred foremen. The temple was designed from the plans for the tabernacle, but larger, and made with much more extravagant materials. The inside of the temple was made from cedar and was overlaid completely with gold. After seven years of construction, the temple was completed.

Solomon then builds his palace. Solomon spent thirteen years building a palace for himself. He made his palace of cedar wood. He made a second palace like it for his Egyptian wife. 

Chapter 8 

We then read about the dedication of the Temple. Solomon had the Ark of the Covenant brought into the temple, and placed in “The Most Holy Place.” Text says the two tablets of Moses with the 10 Commandments were still in the Ark. And the people sacrificed so many animals that they lost count. After the priests withdrew from The Holy Place, the glory of the LORD filled the temple and no one could enter because it was filled with smoke.

Solomon stood in front of the altar, stretched out his arms, and offered a prayer of dedication.

“LORD, the God of Israel, there is no God like you in heaven above or on earth below—you who keep your covenant of love with your servants who continue wholeheartedly in your way.”
“…keep for your servant David my father the promises you made to him…”
“But will God really dwell on earth? The heavens, even the highest heaven, cannot contain you. How much less this temple I have built!”
“When your people Israel have been defeated by an enemy because they have sinned against you, and when they turn back to you and give praise to your name, praying and making supplication to you in this temple, then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and bring them back to the land you gave to their ancestors.”

The people celebrated for fourteen days. 

Chapter 9 

God appeared to Solomon a second time, saying: “I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.”

Instructions for Solomon…

If you walk before me faithfully:
I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever

If you or your descendants turn away from me:
I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them
I will reject this temple
Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples
This temple will become a heap of rubble.

We then read about Solomon’s other activities. Solomon made the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites who were still living in the land into slaves. He turned the Israelites into their task masters. He went to the Temple three times a year to offer sacrifices. He had a fleet of ships which brought back gold from distant lands, including 420 talents of gold from Ophir. In those days, 420 talents of gold could buy 10,054,800 sheep, or 670,320 slaves, or 167,580 houses. 

Chapter 10 

The Queen of Sheba visited to test Solomon’s wisdom. He was able to answer all of her difficult questions. The Queen of Sheba was overwhelmed by the splendor of Solomon’s kingdom and offered him many gifts of spices and 120 talents of gold. In those days, 120 talents of gold could buy 2,872,800 sheep, or 191,520 slaves, or 47,880 houses.

All of sudden, in the middle of chapter 10, Solomon's life takes a turn for the worse, and for some unknown reason he begins to turn away from God. This all starts with the use of the number 666 in the text. The story teller intentionally uses the number to show that at this point something has gone terribly wrong with Solomon. This text begins by saying that the amount of gold that Solomon brought in annually was 666 talents in addition to everything else. He also made two hundred shields of gold using 600 shekels for each shield. He also made 300 smaller shields of gold using three minas of gold for each of them. Solomon made a grand throne of ivory and gold for himself, with six steps leading up to the throne, and six gold lions on the right and six gold lions on the left. Everything was made from gold in Solomon’s palace. Silver was worthless in Solomon’s day. He had a fleet of trading ships that returned every three years with gold, silver, ivory, apes, and baboons. He had fourteen-hundred chariots and twelve-thousand horses. He did all of this even though the law code of Deuteronomy says that the king must not have much gold and must not have many horses.

Friday, August 3, 2018

READ IT! - Introduction to 1st Kings 1-3

Introduction to 1st Kings 1-3

Structure of 1st Kings 

1st Kgs 1:1–11:43 – Solomon in glory and dishonor 
1st Kgs 12:1–16:34 – The effect of folly and sin 
1st Kgs 17:1–2nd Kgs 8:29 – Israel and the prophets 

Themes of 1st Kings 

Apostasy and reform 

It is similar to the book of Judges in some ways, in that people turn away from God, turn back again, turn away again… 

Davidic kingship 

David is looked back on as the model king
David’s descendants continue to reign in Jerusalem

Prophetic word 

1st Kings is full of prophets
The prophets interact with the kings to let them know when they get it right and when they get it wrong


Solomon’s wives

Queen of Sheba
Several women interact with prophetic figures 

Chapters 1-2 

David's son Adonijah sets himself up as king, and David’s general Joab allies himself with Adonijah. But the prophet Nathan and David’s wife Bathsheba come up with a plot to make sure Bathsheba’s son Solomon becomes the next king. Here, David is describes as very old... apparently “too old to get it on” with his concubine Abishag who keeps him warm in his bed. Nathan and Bathsheba go to David and remind him that he promised to make Solomon his successor, not Adonijah. David declares Solomon to be king. David’s charge to Solomon: “Be strong, act like a man…obey the Law of Moses.”

David dies and Solomon becomes king. Adonijah goes to Bathsheba and asks for Abishag in order to make a claim to the throne by sleeping with David's last concubine. Bathsheba tells her son Solomon about this, and Solomon assumes Adonijah is once again trying to claim rights to the throne so he kills him. Joab seeks refuge at the LORD’s altar, but Solomon kills him, too.

Solomon places Shimei (Saul's cousin who had cursed David) under house-arrest and eventually Shimei leaves his house and Solomon accuses him of treason and kills him. Before David died, he told Solomon to keep an eye on this guy because he was trouble. David had spared him, but he told Solomon that when he was king he could make his own decision about this trouble-maker, so Solomon killed him.

So essentially, when Solomon becomes king he starts off by wiping out all the competition. 

Chapter 3 

Solomon made an alliance with Pharaoh and married his daughter. Solomon is portrayed as a faithful king who did not remain faithful. God appeared to Solomon in a dream at night and said, “Ask for whatever you want me to give you.”

Solomon’s response:

“I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties.”
“So give your servant a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.”

God was pleased with Solomon’s answer and made Solomon wiser than anyone who came before him or anyone who came after him.

God additionally gave Solomon what he had not asked for:

Long life
Death to his enemies

We then read about a case the was brought before Solomon by two prostitutes. They were roommates, and they each gave birth to a son a few days apart. But one of the babies died in the middle of the night, and each woman claimed the living baby was hers.

Solomon decided to cut the baby in half. One woman thought it was a fair idea, but the other woman begged Solomon not to do this and told him to give the baby to the other woman. Solomon gave the baby to the woman who would rather have no son than half-a-son.