Sunday, October 30 – start of week 15
I love to picture in my mind the great King Solomon, in his prime, standing humbly before the newly finished temple. With his hands raised to Yahweh, he is the epitome of a great spiritual leader in that moment. And what a prayer! First, he recognizes that there is no God like our God. Then, he is grateful to Him for keeping his covenant. Solomon knows that it’s a precious privilege for him and the Israelites to have a permanent place to go to worship God and offer sacrifices. Next, he petitions for Yahweh to always hear and forgive when His people confess and repent. And Solomon wants this not only for the Israelites, but for any foreigners who would come to the Temple because they have heard of “your great name.” Finally, at the end of his remarkable dedication, he reminds the “O Sovereign LORD” that He had set Israel apart to be His “own special possession.” How cleverly and beautifully worded! It’s a reminder to all of the Israelites listening that they need to confess and repent when they do wrong for “who has never sinned?” he asks. It is vital, too, that we ask for forgiveness when we do wrong. We need to acknowledge our sin as the wickedness that it is, turn away from it, and instead turn with our whole hearts to God. There is comfort in knowing that we are His special possession too; and He will hear our heartfelt prayers and forgive.
Melissa New attends the McGintytown Church of God of Abrahamic Faith in Arkansas. She is pleased to be a part of this community of COG bloggers and is already feeling much blessed by it! Her favorite verse is Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”
Saturday, October 29
Yesterday my father was able to participate in a program called The Honor Flight, they do this all over the United States. They take veterans free of charge on a flight to Washington DC and they visit the war memorials. They give them a t-shirt, hat, etc. and everything is free. Then when they come home they encourage a huge crowd to come and meet them at the airport, there were about 500 people that came to cheer them on. Many of them were family members but also people who just wanted to show their appreciation for the service these men had provided. We sang God Bless the USA and the National Anthem. There were honor guards, boy scouts, policemen, and other veterans there to show their support of these heroes. At the end they announce their names and everyone cheers for them. It was a great honor for all of the American heroes.
I was thinking as reading these chapters about how Solomon wanted to honor God by building Him a temple in Jerusalem. He spared no expense, it was huge. He had the cedar trees brought from Lebanon because they were the best. It said the whole temple was overlaid with gold. He hired craftsmen known for their work to come to the temple, they worked with bronze, gold, silver, stone masons, and carvers. They all had a part in the building of the temple, they all did what they were good at. This also parallels how it is in our churches today, in 1 Corinthians 12:12 it says “Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” We can all work in our church in some way, for the good of the rest of the body. It took 7 years to build the temple. The reason King Solomon was so particular about building this house for God was that he wanted to honor Him.
Just like in the last chapter of the Bible there are some verses that have been repeated over and over as we have been reading the Old Testament, God repeats it again to King Solomon so I think it is something that we need to understand. I know when I have something important for my children’s future good, I will repeat it over and over, even if they think I am being annoying. This is important to the Israelites future and it’s also important for our future. We are all looking forward to the day that Jesus returns and sets up his kingdom on the Earth. It is a wonderful future that we are looking forward to and that is why God keeps telling them how to live a life that is pleasing to him. It is for our own good and for our future. I hope you are enjoying these stories and applying the lessons we are learning in our lives.
Friday, October 28
By Sherry Alcumbrack
The first verse says King Solomon made a treaty with Pharaoh, King of Egypt, and married Pharaoh’s daughter. BIG mistake. In Deuteronomy 7: 3, they were told not to intermarry with other nations, not because God was being racist, but because He said in v.4 “For they will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods.” As we will see in the later chapters this holds true for King Solomon. It also holds true for us and we are told in 2 Corinthians 6:14 “Do not be unequally yoked together with the unbeliever.” Who we marry is one of the most important decisions in our lives. We had a speaker say at one of our retreats that only 1 of every 4 kids in the youth group would stay in church. And she said it held true for her family. She had 4 children and only one was still actively involved while 2 attended sporadically and one never attends. I asked what she thought was the deciding factor and she said “Who they married.” The one married another youth group kid and the others didn’t. So when your spouse says, let’s just skip church today, it gets easier and easier to do that. It is easy to be pulled away to follow other gods, which can be sports, movies, or even the girls/guys we date or marry. DO NOT take this decision lightly. In the book Get Lost by Dannah Gresh, she said she had a shirt with this quote on it “A girl needs to be so lost in God that a guy has to seek Him to find her.” This is good advice for girls and guys. Pick someone that loves God for your spouse to help lessen the problems down the road.
Later in the chapter the Lord appears to Solomon in a dream and says, “Ask! What shall I give you?” Solomon says he wants to be able to judge God’s people justly and be able to discern between good and evil.
God was so pleased with his answer that he gave him more wisdom than anyone before him and after him, but he also gave him riches and honor. In verse 14 he gives him his instructions for a good life. These verses have been repeated over and over in the Old Testament so we can gather that they are important. They are not only important for the Israelites, they are important for us today. “Follow God’s ways, keep his statutes and his commandments.” It really is as simple as that!
I always loved the story of the two women and the baby. Two ladies were living in the same house. They had babies within 3 days of each other. One lady’s son died in the night and she traded him for the living baby. The mother knew it was her son but the lady would not give him back to her so they took their case to King Solomon. So they argued in front of the King. Finally he makes his decree and says “Divide the baby and give a half to one, and half to the other.” The mother said “O my Lord; give her the living child, and by no means kill him!” The other lady said “Let him be neither mine nor yours, but divide him.” He had no trouble deciding which one was the real mother. News of King Solomon’s wisdom travelled far and wide, and people came just to hear his judgements.
There was peace and prosperity during the reign of Solomon and so he decided to build the temple for God that David had first envisioned but was unable to build due to being in the middle of conflict during much of his reign. 1 Kings 5:5 “Behold, I intend to build a house for the name of the Lord my God, as the Lord spoke to David my father, saying, ‘Your son, whom I will set on your throne in your place, he will build the house for My name.’” God will always fulfill his promises and that is also true for our lives. One of my favorite verses is Joshua 1:9, “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” That is a promise that we can hold on to that was spoken to the Israelites but is still true for us today.
Thursday, October 27
As we read these chapters, we may just decide our families are not so bad. So far we have had rape and attempted murder in the family of King David. Now, one of his older sons decides to make himself king before David dies and passes it on to his choice, Solomon. Adonijah proclaims himself king and even gets some of David’s advisors to go along with it. He had a celebration but did not invite Nathan the prophet, Benaiah, one of the mighty men of David, or Solomon. Nathan went to Bathsheba and warned her. She went to King David and reminded him that he had promised that Solomon would sit on the throne as king. So David did as he had promised and made Solomon the next king of Israel. As you can imagine, this did not sit well with Adonijah. After Solomon is made king, Adonijah was executed for his wicked behavior.
As the death of King David draws near, this is what he instructs Solomon. He said to follow these instructions “so that he might prosper in everything that he did and wherever he turned.”
As we continue to read in Kings we will soon see that some of the kings followed these instructions and led pretty peaceful lives while the evil kings had all sorts of trouble during their reigns. If we follow these instructions our lives could also be so much more trouble free. We would still have trouble, but some of the trouble that we face is due to foolish decisions that we make when we don’t follow the instructions that God has set before us. He did not make these laws to keep us from having fun, but to benefit us. One of the major themes of the first books of the Bible has been that the Israelites, and us today, have to make a decision. We have a choice to make. In Deuteronomy, Moses said: “Choose life and blessings or death and destruction.” Joshua said “Choose you this day whom you will serve, as for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” Here King David is passing this lesson down to Solomon. In Deuteronomy, it tells us to write these instructions on our heart, to talk to our children when we are sitting in our house, when we are walking with them, when we lie down, and when we rise up. Basically, we need to talk about the instructions that God handed down to us in every aspect of our lives. He gave Moses the 10 commandments for us to follow. They all deal with respecting and loving God and others.
In the New Testament, Jesus says that the two most important commandments are to love God and love others. When we understand these commandments, we will be living a life after God’s heart like his faithful servant David.
Wednesday, October 26
By Sherry Alcumbrack
Some of you may have noticed we have been in the middle of a contentious election race for POTUS. Here are some words of wisdom from Chapter 23:3b. “He who rules over men must be just, Ruling in the fear of God.” We need to get back to electing leaders that are Godly men and women like the leaders we have been reading about.
As we read about the mighty men of David, a couple of things struck me. Each of them had to do something. They didn’t just stay in their tent and wait for the Lord to go out and win the battle for them. Adino killed eight hundred men at one time. Eleazar, when the Israelites had retreated, “arose and attacked the Philistines until his hand was weary and his hand stuck to the sword.” Shammah stationed himself in the middle of the field, defended it, and killed the Philistines. And on and on the stories go, but at the end of the stories, they would say, “So the Lord brought about a great victory.” They took no credit for it. So, we, just like these mighty men, may have to get out there in harm’s way to be able to have a great victory. And then we need to glorify God, who is the one that brought it about. God uses His people to win His battles, but we have to be willing to go out on the battlefield with Him.
After all these victorious battles, David decides to take a census of the Israelites, which in and of itself is no sin. But the sin lies in the fact that David was feeling pretty prideful about what his armies were able to do and forgot to give God the glory. He started trusting in men and not God.
2 Samuel 24:10 b says, “So David said to the Lord, ‘I have sinned greatly in what I have done; but now, I pray, O Lord, take away iniquity of Your servant, for I have done very foolishly.’” A prophet came to David and told him he had a choice for his punishment: seven years of famine, three months with his enemies pursuing him, or three days’ plague in the land. In verse 14 he says, “I am in great distress. Please let us fall into the hand of the Lord, for his mercies are great: but do not let me fall into the hand of man.” We know that there are consequences for our actions, especially when they go against the laws of God. But we also know that God is a merciful father and will forgive us of our sins.
At the end of chapter 24, it shows David as the shepherd of the people of Israel and he pleads with God, “Surely I have sinned, and I have done wickedly; but these sheep, what have they done? Let Your hand, I pray, be against me and against my father’s house.” Jesus is our good shepherd and he pleads for us to his father. It is comforting to know that we have an advocate that is speaking.
Tuesday, October 24
By Sherry Alcumbrack
As we are reading through the Old Testament, we are seeing wonderful stories of the patriarchs of our faith and the history of the Israelites. I love history, so to me it’s fascinating, but it’s not just history. We need to read it with an eye toward, thinking about how this affects us in our lives today. In every chapter it speaks to characters that will help us develop into godly people that will impact the world around us.
In Chapter 21, life for the Jewish people follows a similar pattern. While King David is leading them, God continues to be them. But not all is hunky dory. The Philistines still really hate them and would like nothing better than to annihilate them. They have to go up to battle them 3 times. They even kill Goliath’s brother and other members of the family, one was a giant with 6 fingers on each hand and 6 toes on each foot (24 in all)…ewww!!! But they defeated them in every battle. When we pray for a miracle and God answers our prayers, how do we act? King David knows how to be thankful. Chapter 22 is a beautiful song of praise for God.
What are some characteristics of a rock or fortress? They are solid, unmovable, and unshakeable. These are some of the characteristics of God and we can confidently place our trust in him.
King David went through a lot of things in his life with King Saul trying to kill him, many battles with the enemies of Israel, and even his son trying to kill him. He looked to God to be his protector, his hiding place. Verse 7 says, “In my distress I called upon the Lord and cried out to my God.” We need to realize that God is our only hope as we go through the different struggles in our lives.
The creator of the universe, the one who created thunder, lightning, the sea, and the foundations of the world is our defender. King David tells us who his deliverer was in verses 17-20, he did not try to take any of the glory. He said, “He is my support and He delivered me because He delighted in me.” We need to realize that God delights in giving us his help and shelter during our storms. He is there for us just as he was there to help King David. He tells why God delights in him; because he kept the ways of the Lord, he did not depart from God, he kept His judgements before him, and did not depart from His statutes. But verse 23 is key. “Therefore the Lord has recompensed me according to my righteousness, According to my cleanness in His eyes.” Like I said yesterday, once God forgives you, you are forgiven. We can be thankful that when he looks at us he doesn’t see the sins we have committed in our lives, he sees his son Jesus who was sinless.
God’s way is perfect, the word of the Lord is proven. He is a shield to those who trust in Him.
Monday, October 24
By Sherry Alcumbrack
King David has a distinction that no one else in the Bible has. Act 13:22 “ After He had removed him, He raised up David to be their king, concerning whom He also testified and said, ‘I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.” God calls David a man after his own heart. When we read about King David, we read how he committed adultery with Bathsheba, had her husband killed, etc. But when God forgives us after we repent, he forgives and it is like it never happened.
What made David a man after God’s heart? One of his characteristics that stand out in these chapters is his kindness. He was kind to several people, and he wasn’t kind to these people because he thought they could repay him.
The first instance is with Shimei, now you may not remember that name but in Chapter 16 he was the man, from the family of Saul, who came out cursing King David and throwing stones at him and his servants when Absalom was pursuing him. After Absalom is killed and David is coming back to Jerusalem, Shimei meets King David at the Jordan River, he bowed before him and asked for his forgiveness. Abishai advised the king to put him to death because he had cursed the Lord’s anointed. King David said in 22b and23 “Should any man be put to death in Israel today? For do I not know that I am king over Israel today?” The king said to Shimei, “You shall not die.” Thus the king swore to him.
We heard about the kindness of King David to Mephibosheth earlier but he wasn’t finished. Mephibosheth did not leave with King David, and his servant Ziba lied to David about Mephibosheth. King David asked him “Why did you not go with me, Mephibosheth?” It had hurt King David because he thought another friend had deserted him. By this time King David had given Ziba the land that belonged to Mephibosheth but he restored it to him and said that he and Ziba would divide the land. But Mephibosheth was such a loyal friend that he said, “Let him take it all, since my lord the king has come safely to his own house.
The third story involves Barzillai, an old man who had taken care of the king when he was in Mahanaim. Barzillai was also someone that showed kindness to others and thought nothing of taking in the King even when he might have brought death to his own family if Absalom came after him. King David wanted to show his appreciation by taking him back to Jerusalem. Barzillai went with him as far as Jordan. He told King David, I am an old man, hard of hearing, I can’t taste what I eat or drink and I do not want to be a burden to you. Let me go back to my city to die near the grave of my father and mother. But he offered someone in his place, Chimham, (probably his son.) King David said “Chimham shall cross over with me, and I will do for him what is good in your sight; and whatever you require of me, I will do for you.” Later it is noted in 1 Kings 2:7 David tells his son Solomon to “show kindness to the sons of Barzillai of Gilead and let them be among those who eat at your table.”
Showing love and kindness to others who cannot repay us is a hallmark of Christians. It is what we are called to do in Matthew 7:12
Sunday, October 23 – Week 14
By Sherry Alcumbrack
In these chapters we read about a struggle between a King and his son, Absalom. I know from being raised in a family with 8 children that there are struggles within the family as the children try to assert their independence. In this story Absalom asks for advice from 2 friends. Ahithophel encourages him to go into his father’s concubines in the sight of all Israel, to show the disdain that he had for King David. He also told him to choose 12,000 men to pursue King David. Then Absalom calls Hushai to ask his advice. He tells him that the advice that Ahithophel had given him was bad advice. He reminds him that his father, King David, was surrounded by mighty and valiant men who were loyal to King David and would fight and die for him. Absalom decides to take Ahithopel’s advice, to his detriment. In Proverbs it says a lot about taking advice from others and to listen to wise counsel. I recently heard someone say that he could tell you what your future holds by the friends we surround ourselves with. If they are foolish, we will make foolish decisions, as well. We need to make sure that we are listening to that Godly advice.
Hushai also shows his loyalty to King David by going and warning him of Absalom’s plans. King David was surrounded by people who were loyal to him, down to the servant girl who hid 2 of his friends in a well to keep them safe.
Even through all this, one of the things that stands out is the fact that King David loves Absalom and asks the people to treat him gently. This is his son that is trying to kill him. In 2 Samuel 18:5, David says “Deal gently for my sake with the young man Absalom.” The last verse of chapter 18 is King David mourning for his son, after he heard of his death.
This is the type of love that God shows to us. He is constantly wanting the best for us. He grieves when we turn against him. 2 Peter 3:9 “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” He is just waiting for us to turn back to him, like the father in the Prodigal Son parable that Nathaniel mentioned in a previous devotion.
We thank Sherry Alcumbrack for writing this week. Sherry is a wife to Bob, mother to Morgann, Marshall, Grant and Jacob. She lives in lovely Anderson, SC and attends Guthrie Grove. She enjoys traveling, has been to 48 states, and looks forward to visiting Alaska and Hawaii. She loves flowers,lighthouses, waterfalls and sunsets and taking pictures of her family in front of them (her children love this as well.) Spring and Fall are her favorite seasons. She also loves to read and walk her dog.
Saturday, October 21
Let’s quickly take a look and see a parallel story in the parable of the lost son. In Luke 15, starting in verse 11, Jesus starts to tell the story of a son who took his inheritance and squandered it in reckless living. This son is a lot like King David’s son, Absalom. We know from Jesus’ parable that there are two types of sons. The first is like the lost son, the son who ran away and made his father worry. The other son was the one who stayed with his father. He did everything right; he worked hard for his father and followed the rules. But when his brother came home and his dad accepted him with loving arms, he resented his brother in his heart. Sometimes we can be like the first son. We openly rebel against God and choose not to listen to him. And sometimes we can be like the second son. We try our best to follow all the rules but we still end up sinning in our hearts. The bad news is, all of us fall into one camp or the other (Romans 3:23). The good news is “God does not take away life; instead, he devises ways so that a banished person may not remain estranged from Him” (2 Samuel 14:14). How great is that? Maybe you feel like you’ve been running away from God for a while now. You keep trying to find your way back but you seem to stumble all the way. Relax, God is pursuing you right now. He is coming up with ways to get you back onto his path and working you into his plan. God doesn’t want to stay separated from you.