Monday, November 30, 2015

Proverbs 10: Life's Little Instruction Book

"When words are many, transgression is not lacking, but the prudent are restrained in speech" (vs. 19).  With that in mind, I'll keep this short!

Friday, November 27, 2015

Proverbs 9: The Difference

Proverbs 9 contains some fascinating parallels between wisdom and foolishness.  How can you determine which is which?  And, more importantly, how can you tell if you are wise or foolish?  Solomon gives us the test to find the difference!

Proverbs 8: Sophia Calling

You probably already know that Solomon takes wisdom quite seriously and honors it very, very highly.  His devotion comes through loud and clear in this chapter's praise of wisdom and its declarations of what has been accomplished through it.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Proverbs 7: Take It From Solomon

It doesn't take long reading through the Proverbs to find that Solomon maintains a particular interest in discouraging adultery among his audience.

Proverbs 6: Playing Nice With Others

Solomon gives some very practical advice to his audience about how to behave in such a way so as to thrive spiritually and socially.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Proverbs 5: Staying True

"Drink water from your own cistern, flowing water from your own well.
Should your streams be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets?
Let them be for yourself alone, and not for sharing with strangers.
Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth" (vs. 15-18).

Proverbs 4: David's Legacy

Should Proverbs 4:3-4 be taken literally?  If so, and if this book was indeed composed by Solomon, we have a picture of the young prince in his childhood being taught by his father King David to choose the path of wisdom.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Proverbs 3: Trust And Obey

One of the central keys to wisdom is revealed in verses 5 and 6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not upon your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths."

Proverbs 2: You Get What You Seek

Proverbs 2 invites the listener to choose carefully what he will pursue in life.  Like Jesus' promise that those who seek find and those who ask receive, this chapter indicates that we will indeed get what we look for.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Proverbs 1: The Beginning Of Knowledge

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction" (vs. 7).

Psalm 96: What Makes God So Special?

It would have been interesting to live in a polytheistic world.  In the Old Testament, Israel was surrounded by pagan nations that worshiped other gods.  I'm sure that - just like Christians get challenged about the veracity of our beliefs today - Israel found itself questioned about their commitment to the Lord above anything else.  I believe Psalm 96 can be read as a response to this challenge of faith.

Friday, November 20, 2015

The Song Of Solomon 8: The Power Of Love

"Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.  It burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame.  Many waters cannot quench love, rivers cannot wash it away.  If one were to give all the wealth of his house for love, it would be utterly scorned" (vs. 6-7).

The Song Of Solomon 7: Love Is All Around

Now back into the love song between lover and beloved, we see chapter 7 consisting of two parts where they sing to one another.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

The Song Of Solomon 6: Where Did Our Love Go?

"Where has your lover gone, most beautiful of women?  Which way did your lover turn, that we may look for him with you?" (vs. 1)

The Song Of Solomon 5: Lost In Love

Chapter 5 of the Song of Solomon describes a "missed connection" between lover and beloved, one that leads to the beloved's profession of deep feelings for the lover to the daughters of Jerusalem.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Song Of Solomon 4: The Look Of Love

The fourth chapter of the Song of Solomon contains evocative similes and metaphors that the king employed to woo his beloved, mostly describing her attractive looks and physical features.  (Warning: some of these expressions may no longer be considered complimentary in the 21st century!)

The Song Of Solomon 3: Looking For Love In All The Wrong Places

Chapter 3 seems to consist of two parts: a search for the lover by the beloved, and an image of Solomon's royal wedding procession.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Song Of Solomon 2: You Can't Hurry Love

"Daughters of Jerusalem, I charge you by the gazelles and by the does of the field: Do not arouse or awaken love until it so desires" (vs. 7).

Monday, November 16, 2015

The Song Of Solomon 1: Just An Old-Fashioned Love Song

The Song of Solomon, also known as the Song of Songs, is one of the more controversial books in the Bible.  The debate over its inclusion centered around its passionate tone and sexual imagery that is presumed to be more in keeping with romantic entanglements between humans than it is our relationship with the Lord.

Psalm 95: A Joyful Noise

Have you ever been filled with an overwhelming sense of worship for the Lord?  Have you ever felt like you could just about burst with praise to God?  If so, perhaps you can relate to the emotions of the psalmist who composed Psalm 95!

Friday, November 13, 2015

I Kings 11: Solomon's Downfall

Everyone has their favorite imponderables about the Bible, questions such as "How could people live so long back in the times of the patriarchs?" or "What were Jesus' growing up years like?"  Mine is - "How could the story of Solomon end so tragically when he had been given so much wisdom and had so much going for him?"

Thursday, November 12, 2015

I Kings 10: Wisdom Pays Off

That wisdom thing is really working out well for Solomon.

I Kings 9: Israel's Emergence

During the reign of Solomon, Israel begins to emerge as a regional power.  Up until this time, they had been preoccupied with local threats - pacifying Canaan, the challenge of the Philistines, conquering Jerusalem from the Jebusites, etc.  Now they are established as the rulers of the land, subjugating the other people groups (vs. 20-21) and forming alliances by treaty and marriage with other major powers such as Tyre and Egypt.  Still, this new prestige and prosperity comes with a familiar warning: as long as the people adhere to their covenant with the Lord, He will bless them (vs. 4-5).  But if they turn their back to God, He will turn His back to them (vs. 6-7)!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

I Kings 8: The Purpose Of The Temple

Israel knew that God does not require a house to live in.  In fact, even the physical universe itself cannot contain Him (vs. 27)!  So why did Solomon and the nation go the trouble of building such an elaborate and costly structure as the Temple?

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

I Kings 7: Inside The Temple

After describing the palace that Solomon built for himself in verses 1-12, I Kings 7 goes on to give us more details about the Temple, such as its furnishings and finishing touches.  A bronzeworker from Tyre named Hiram came and worked on such pieces as the two pillars of bronze, a large "sea", stands, basins and more.  The Temple wasn't just a monument or museum; it was a functioning place of corporate worship for Israel. For more information and to see some visual representations of what Solomon's Temple may have looked like, check out:

Monday, November 9, 2015

I Kings 6: From Tabernacle To Temple

What a glorious wonder Solomon's Temple must have been to behold in the ancient world!  To quote John Hammond from Jurassic Park, the king "spared no expense" in its construction.

I Kings 5: Cedars Of Lebanon

With King Solomon firmly established on the throne, it's time to begin getting serious about the major building project of his reign: the Temple!

Psalm 94: God Of Vengeance?

Psalm 94 contains some language and imagery that is decidedly non-politically correct by today's cultural standards.  "O Lord, you God of vengeance" (vs. 1)  "Give to the proud what they deserve!" (vs. 2)  "The Lord our God will wipe them out" (vs. 23).  How are we to understand and accept these passages while also maintaining the Bible's overall teaching of a God of grace and mercy?

Friday, November 6, 2015

I Kings 4: The Golden Age Of Israel

Everyone likes to reminisce about "the good ol' days."  In Israel's case, the era of Solomon's reign is fondly remembered as the golden age of national history.

I Kings 3: Asked And Answered

If you have heard nothing else about Solomon, you probably know that he is regarded as extremely wise, or the wisest man who ever lived, according to the Bible.  I Kings 3 gives us the background as to how that reputation came about.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

I Kings 2: Settling Scores

I Kings 2 brings us the death of David and the transition to King Solomon.  He encourages his son to be strong and courageous and faithful to the Lord.  In the last recorded words we have of David, he instructs Solomon to take care of some unfinished business and settle some old scores (vs. 5-9).

I Kings 1: Adonijah Vs. Solomon

Turning from the books of Samuel to those of Kings reveals that we are nearing the end of David's life.  He is now old and cold, and a beautiful young woman named Abishag is brought in to keep him warm.  As David clings to life, a battle for succession to his throne ensues between his sons Adonijah and Solomon.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

II Samuel 24: A Senseless Census

Just when you thought David might be in line for a happy ending, we have one more tale of woe concerning an occasion when he chose his own will rather than the Lord's.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

II Samuel 23: Never Underestimate The Power Of An Individual

David is one of the central figures in the Bible. In fact, he serves as an archetype (the original pattern, model, or prototype) of the promised Messiah. It is hard to overstate his influence in scripture and subsequent history. Likewise, we must also understand that David didn't accomplish everything he did alone. In addition to the Lord, David had significant help from other key individuals, who are credited in II Samuel 23.

Psalm 93: Twice and Thrice Is Nice

Psalm 93 is brief (only 5 verses) but employs the device of repetition to drive its points home.

II Samuel 22: Cross Referenced

It isn't too often that the Bible repeats itself verbatim, but we find that in II Samuel 22.  It is a duplicate of Psalm 18!