Three Thrones: I Chronicles 18 – II Chronicles 12

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You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.

Bruce Wilkinson has given a famous illustration of discipleship called the three chairs. In the first chair sits a Christian who came to belief in God through a radical transformation, from great sin to blessed redemption. The first chair’s personal experience of deliverance fuels a lifelong devotion. Their child grows up surrounded by the observance of faith, with Bible lessons, prayer, and attendance at worship services, but because they never have a personal experience of transformation their religious life is only one of habit rather than devotion. They sit in the second chair, and their child grows up and witnesses their tepid faith, their religiosity without conviction, their sometimes hypocritical actions, and this third chair child rejects the faith.

Substitute three thrones for the three chairs and you have the story of this week’s chapters. David sits on the first throne. His personal experience of God’s repeated acts of deliverance produces a lifelong devotion. Though far from perfect, and famous for certain failings, he truly was a man after God’s own heart. He was wholly given over to the worship of Jehovah. Near the end of his life, he proclaimed the following psalm as he made preparations for his son to build the temple:

Praise be to you, Lord,
    the God of our father Israel,
    from everlasting to everlasting.
Yours, Lord, is the greatness and the power
    and the glory and the majesty and the splendor,
    for everything in heaven and earth is yours.
Yours, Lord, is the kingdom;
    you are exalted as head over all. I Chronicles 29:10-11

Solomon sits on the second throne, and though blessed by God with great wisdom, and used by God to build the temple, he falls far short in his devotion. He holds on to the trappings of Jehovah worship, but his heart is turned away to worldly pursuits and idol worship. Chronicles highlights his accomplishments in order to further its goal of inspiring the discouraged returning exiles, but we can find better accounts of his worldliness in Kings.

He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray. As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the Lord his God, as the heart of David his father had been. I Kings 11:3-4

Solomon’s son Rehoboam sits on the third throne. No doubt he had observed the hypocrisies of his father, and we can only speculate what discipleship, if any, he received from his father. Chronicles sums up his relationship to God in this way:

He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord. II Chronicles 12:14

The lesson I learn from these three kings and Bruce Wilkinson is the importance of discipleship. Training in godliness must include personal experiences of God acting to deliver. We need to teach our children or those we mentor the truths of God’s word, but we also need to guide them through situations where they must depend on God in order to see God deliver them. Then God will become real to them, and their faith will not suffer the fate of the three chairs.

About this blog

During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered I Chronicles 18 – II Chronicles 12. Next week I will write about II Chronicles 13 – 26. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering I Chronicles 18 – II Chronicles 12.

Don’t be afraid; the LORD will do what is good: 1 Chronicles 19

A father’s advice: 1 Chronicles 22

Friends: 1 Chronicles 27

It all comes from God – 1 Chronicles 29

Shekinah: God’s presence – 2 Chronicles 5

How to find help: 2 Chronicles 7

Good or Bad Advice? 2 Chronicles 10

David, the Once and Future King: I Chronicles 1 – 17

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You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.

Chronicles may read like a repeat of Samuel and Kings, but there are important differences. Chronicles was written after the Babylonian exile, looking back over the whole span of Israelite history and bringing it forward to include those who had returned to the Promised Land. These were difficult times. The former glory had departed and it was very unclear whether the nation would prosper or survive. In that situation, David is exalted as a supreme example of what God had done for Israel.

In times past, even when Saul was king, it was you who led out and brought in Israel. And the LORD your God said to you, ‘You shall be shepherd of my people Israel, and you shall be prince over my people Israel.’” So all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, and David made a covenant with them at Hebron before the LORD. And they anointed David king over Israel, according to the word of the LORD by Samuel.  I Chronicles 11:2-3

More than merely representing past successes, David is lifted up by Chronicles as the type for Israel’s future deliverer. To that end his shortcomings are omitted by Chronicles in favor of magnifying his best qualities. But this is not just glorying in the past. Chronicles reminds us that all these excellent characteristics are coming back in the future Davidic leader and therefore the people should have great hope. The prophets had seen it before the exile. Jeremiah had said, “they shall serve the LORD their God and David their king. (Jeremiah 30:9)” Ezekiel had said, “my servant David shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd. (Ezekiel 37:24)” Now Chronicles reminds its readers that David had also seen it when he heard the good news that his son would build the temple and that God would preserve his kingdom and people.

“And now, Lord, let the promise you have made concerning your servant and his house be established forever. Do as you promised, so that it will be established and that your name will be great forever. Then people will say, ‘The Lord Almighty, the God over Israel, is Israel’s God!’ And the house of your servant David will be established before you.” I Chronicles 17:23-24

Chronicles reminds us that David had been a living, breathing, historical man who demonstrated many ideal qualities of a godly leader. More than that, he showed through flesh and blood an example of what God’s future king would be like, and for that reason the returning exiles could have great hope.

David was the head of God’s people, the prince of the congregation of Israel, not only in their civil affairs, but in ecclesiastical affairs also, and their leader in all things appertaining to religion and the worship of God. Herein he was as the Messiah is represented in the prophecies, which speak of Him as a prophet like unto Moses, and as the head of God’s people, as their great king, prophet and priest. And indeed, almost all that the prophecies say of the Messiah does [imply] that he shall be the great head of God’s people in their religious concerns. – Jonathan Edwards

About this blog

During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered I Chronicles 1-17. Next week I will write about I Chronicles 18 – II Chronicles 12. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering I Chronicles 1-17.

The person God chooses: I Chronicles 1-2

An honorable man: 1 Chronicles 4

And he will purify the sons of Levi: 1 Chronicles 6

Blessings delayed but fulfilled: 1 Chronicles 7

Mighty because… 1 Chronicles 11

The dangerous side of holiness: 1 Chronicles 14

Go tell: 1 Chronicles 16

Failings, then the Fall: II Kings 6 – 25

5747022171_a7519831bc_bYou can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.

Few are the faithful men described in this week’s chapters from II Kings, and many are the failings which culminate in the fall of both the northern kingdom of Israel and the southern kingdom of Judah. The events which are covered begin around 850 BC in the days of the prophet Elisha, continue through the fall of Israel in 722 BC, and end with the destruction of Jerusalem in 586 BC. This history is important for providing context for the writings of the prophets, but it also shows again and again the failings of men and the faithful justice of God.

Israel never had a godly king, but there may have been none worse than Ahab. II Kings details how Jehu was anointed by God as king over Israel, and how he fulfilled prophecy by tracking down and killing the descendants of Ahab. Those descendants extended even into Judah through the marriage of Athaliah, Ahab’s daughter, to King Jehoram of Judah. After Jehoram’s death and the death of his son,  King Ahaziah, Athaliah took control of Judah and killed all of the royal family she could find. One grandchild of Athaliah, Joash, was kept safe and hidden, however. He was made king at seven years of age in a coup that also saw the death of Athaliah. Jesus was descended from this King Joash, and so along with other unexpected ancestors like Rahab and Ruth we find the family of Ahab and Jezebel.

These chapters chronicle the rise and fall of nations. To begin with, Syria (also called Aram) with its capitol of Damascus, reigned as the world power that threatened God’s people.  In the days of King Jehu of Isreal, Syria captured all the lands east of the Jordan River. Later Syria fell to the Assyrians with their chief city of Nineveh. The Assyrians conquered Israel, took over most of Judah, and threatened to take over Jerusalem during the reign of King Hezekiah (701 BC). God delivered Judah then, but the wickedness of Hezekiah’s son, Manasseh, sealed the fate of the nation.

And the Lord said by his servants the prophets, “Because Manasseh king of Judah has committed these abominations and has done things more evil than all that the Amorites did, who were before him, and has made Judah also to sin with his idols, therefore thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: Behold, I am bringing upon Jerusalem and Judah such disaster that the ears of everyone who hears of it will tingle… And I will forsake the remnant of my heritage and give them into the hand of their enemies, and they shall become a prey and a spoil to all their enemies, because they have done what is evil in my sight and have provoked me to anger, since the day their fathers came out of Egypt, even to this day.” II Kings 21:10-15

During the days of Hezekiah he proudly and foolishly showed the treasures of his kingdom to a visiting delegation from the country of Babylon. That nation rose in power and defeated the Assyrians in 609 BC, setting the stage for Babylon’s domination of Judah. Judah became a vassal of Babylon in 605 BC, but after a revolt Jerusalem was besieged and captured in 597 BC. Subsequent revolts led to the destruction of the city in 586 BC.

And he burned the house of the Lord and the king’s house and all the houses of Jerusalem; every great house he burned down. And all the army of the Chaldeans, who were with the captain of the guard, broke down the walls around Jerusalem. And the rest of the people who were left in the city and the deserters who had deserted to the king of Babylon, together with the rest of the multitude, Nebuzaradan the captain of the guard carried into exile. But the captain of the guard left some of the poorest of the land to be vinedressers and plowmen. II Kings 25:9-12

Thus God kept his word to execute judgment on his people if they failed to keep his covenant. But God was faithful in a double fashion. He kept his promise of judgment, but in grace he was faithful to redeem and restore his people after their discipline was accomplished.

About this blog

During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered II Kings 6 – 25. Next week I will write about I Chronicles 1 – 17. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering II Kings 6- 25.

Spiritual warfare: 2 Kings 6

Unfinished business: 2 Kings 9-11

Pride before the fall: 2 Kings 14

The end of Israel: 2 Kings 17

Even the good suffer: 2 Kings 19

The power of prayer … and a lost opportunity: 2 Kings 20

After so many failings, the fall of Jerusalem: 2 Kings 23-25

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The Age of Prophets: I Kings 10 – II Kings 5

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You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.

Elijah and Elisha dominate the spiritual landscape in the books of First and Second Kings and usher in the age of prophets, which will continue up to the fall of Jerusalem (Jeremiah), during the exile (Daniel and Ezekiel), and as the exiles return (Haggai to Malachi). Yes, there had been earlier prophets, men like Moses and Samuel who spoke forth God’s word, but something different was going on with the arrival of Elijah and his followers. What was it?

The people were turning away from God, and many times their kings led the way. After the breakup of the united kingdom, there were 19 kings in the north and all were described as evil. There were 20 kings in the southern kingdom of Judah, and 12 of these were evil. The priests were often complicit in the idolatry of the evil kings. With so many turning away, God turned to individual men to try and turn the people back.

God appointed these men and empowered them to speak his truth to those in power. They did not always foretell the future, but they always told forth God’s word to highlight the sins of the present and the hope for redemption. Some other characteristics of the prophets that still apply to those who want to speak God’s word today:

  • No prophet is beyond reproach but must remain obedient to God.
  • Everything about the prophet’s life, even his death, is a message to others about the truth of God’s word.
  • There must be integrity between the message and the messenger.
  • Prophets live with conflict, even personal danger
  • Prophets depend on God for provision
  • The prophet’s life is not his own, but God’s
  • Prophets may experience the same effects of God’s discipline as their countrymen (Elijah suffered in the drought along with everyone else)

With the coming of the Holy Spirit to all believers the age of prophets has passed, but now each of us has access to God’s word revealed in the Bible, and the power of the Spirit to tell forth that word. Yes, there are some who are spiritually gifted with prophetic power, but all of us have a role to play as messengers of God’s truth.

About this blog

During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered I Kings 10 – II Kings 5. Next week I will write about II Kings 6 – 25. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering I Kings 10 – II Kings 5.

An amazing witness lost: 1 Kings 10-11

The age of prophets: 1 Kings 13

Elijah – the life of a prophet: 1 Kings 17

The stinking thinking of depression: 1 Kings 19

Repentance: 1 Kings 21

It’s up to you to take it up: 2 Kings 2

He conquered the grave: 2 Kings 4

Counsel and Calamity: II Samuel 16 – I Kings 9

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You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.

Without counsels do a people fall, And deliverance [is] in a multitude of counselors. Proverbs 11:14

Good advice isn’t hard to find, it’s just hard to accept. We are more apt to listen to the words that echo what we want to hear, that soothe our fears, rather than truths that cast doubt on our heart desires. Throughout these chapters that close out the life of King David, much counsel is given and sometimes heeded, but too often the wise words fall on hard hearts. In an especially glaring example David ignores a rebuke and as a result a plague falls upon his country and kills 70,000 Israelites.

Absalom received counsel from Ahithophel during his rebellion against David. Ahithophel’s words were said to be like those of God, but when he counseled Absalom to strike quickly against his father, Absalom instead laid back and played it safe. Ahithophel saw immediately that the rebellion was doomed and went home to end his life rather than face the judgment that would come when David returned to the throne.

When David’s grief for Absalom threatens to do more harm than Absalom himself did, Joab commands the King to stop crying and act like a king. David does exactly as he was told and the people restore him to the throne.

When another rebel named Sheba threaten’s David, the King’s men surround him in a town named Abel Beth-Maacah. They besiege the city and prepare to destroy it until a wise woman reaches an agreement with Joab. If he will spare the city, she will make sure that Sheba’s head is delivered to them. Joab agreed, and everyone but Sheba was happy.

God’s counsel is the most valuable advice, of course, and David acknowledges this in a psalm that we find here in II Samuel 22 and again in Psalm 18:

For You are my lamp, O Lord;
And the Lord illumines my darkness.
For by You I can run upon a troop;
By my God I can leap over a wall.
As for God, His way is blameless;
The word of the Lord is tested;
He is a shield to all who take refuge in Him.

Yet David failed to consider God when he ordered a census of the fighting-age men in his kingdom. Joab, for all his shortcomings, saw the peril and warned his king, but David obstinately proceeded. Was it pride? Was it a desire to know what next conquest he could pursue? The Bible doesn’t say, but it was a God-less desire and it led to God’s discipline as the angel of death swept across the land.

Many people ask if our current plaque is God’s judgment on the world. You could ask the same question about the 1918 influenza pandemic, or the Black Death of the 1300’s. God is sovereign over all these calamities, but I don’t think we can know the purpose of his plans beyond his desire for all men to give him glory. To that end we should not ignore the wise counsel to distance ourselves from others during the coronavirus pandemic, but we should also follow David’s action and humble ourselves in repentance before God.

About this blog

During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered II Samuel 16 – I Kings 9. Next week I will write about I Kings 10 – II Kings 5. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering II Samuel 16 – I Kings 9.

Worldly Wisdom: 2 Samuel 17

God doesn’t forget: 2 Samuel 21

The importance of place: 2 Samuel 24

Don’t exalt yourself: 1 Kings 1

Wisdom and Solomon: 1 Kings 3-5

Temple trivia (or not): 1 Kings 6-7

A seven-fold prayer: 1 Kings 8

Image by Jesslee Cuizon on Flickr, CC by 2.0

Personalities in Contrast: I Samuel 21 – II Samuel 15

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You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.

First and Second Samuel repeatedly show the contrast between David and those around him. Many times, but not always, David fares better in these comparisons. As readers, we always learn from these personality contrasts.

David’s battle with Goliath reveals his utter dependence on God. Goliath’s pride and boasting paper over hidden weaknesses that lead to his downfall.

In the conflict between David and Saul we see the contrast between a man who loves God with his whole heart and another who loves God halfheartedly at best. David honors God by refusing to kill Saul while Saul relentlessly pursues David to eliminate him. Even while on the run, David never fails to consult with God before he makes a decision. Saul loses his ability to communicate with God because of his disobedience, and in the end resorts to seeking a medium.

The encounter with Abigail shows us that wisdom wins out over emotion. David was ready to take matters into his own hands and seek vengeance, but Abigail left room for God to act. As a result both David and Abigail were blessed.

After David becomes king his general, Joab, takes on the role of avenger while David seeks peace. David descends into adultery and murder after success and idleness overtake him. In contrast, Uriah, the husband of his illicit lover, remains loyal, righteous, and devoted to his king.

Finally, the relationship between David and his son, Absalom, show us the sad workings of a dysfunctional family. David’s lack of discipline and aloofness alienate his son, and Absalom’s scheming leads to open rebellion that threatens to end David’s life and rule. At the center we still find David, the chief subject in both First and Second Samuel, and the one who teaches us the most through both his virtues and his failings.

About this blog

During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered I Samuel 21 – II Samuel 15. Next week I will write about II Samuel 16 – I Kings 9. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering I Samuel 21 – II Samuel 15.

Life on the run: I Samuel 23

A woman’s wisdom: I Samuel 25

Hearing from God: I Samuel 28-31

Honesty and treachery: 2 Samuel 1-3

With his whole heart: 2 Samuel 6-7

The danger of success: 2 Samuel 11-12

The high price of neglect: 2 Samuel 13-15

The Rise of the House of David: Ruth – I Samuel 20

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You can find a one-year Bible reading plan here.

In the book of Ruth the Israelites have no king. It is the time of the Judges when every man does what is right in his own eyes. Yet in that time of repeated falling away from the Lord, He continues to shower His grace on His chosen people. The union of a Moabite woman and a man from Bethlehem produces a son, Obed, who will become the grandfather of David.

God is the only true king of his people, but the Israelites reject God in favor of the worldly pattern of human kings. God grants them their request but warns them of the unintended consequences their action will bring.

“He will take the best of your fields and your vineyards and your olive groves and give them to his servants. He will take a tenth of your seed and of your vineyards and give to his officers and to his servants. He will also take your male servants and your female servants and your best young men and your donkeys and use them for his work. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his servants. Then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” I Samuel 8:14-18

Israel’s first king is Saul, but he only serves God halfheartedly.  The prophet Samuel announces that God has taken the kingdom from Saul because of his disobedience, but it will be decades before the announcement becomes reality. In the meantime, God raises up a shepherd from Bethlehem who is a man after God’s own heart, and puts him on a path that will one day bring him to the throne. Best of all, God’s grace will work through this shepherd-king, as it worked through Ruth and Boaz, to continue a family line that will culminate in the Messiah.

What made the difference between Saul and David? How can you be a person after God’s own heart? Do what David did as he battled Goliath.

  • He lifted up the LORD’s name
  • He hungered for the LORD’s honor
  • He believed God would empower him and acted accordingly
  • He understood that the battle was spiritual and that God determined the outcome

About this blog

During 2020 I plan to post weekly writings covering the material you would read during each week as you proceed from Genesis to Revelation in one year. And so for this week I have covered Ruth-I Samuel 20. Next week I will write about I Samuel 21-II Samuel 15. I hope you will continue along with me. You can find daily posts about these chapters archived here on the Bible in a Year blog. For your convenience here are the previous posts covering Ruth-I Samuel 20.

The triumph of grace: Ruth 1-4

The good, the bad, and the church: I Samuel 2

Religion vs. Relationship: I Samuel 4

Who is the king? I Samuel 12

My timing or God’s? I Samuel 13

The Panic Button

Matters of the heart: I Samuel 15-17

Friendship greater than kinship: I Samuel 20