Daily Devotion for June 24, 2014
Note the dove on his shoulder, symbolizing inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
This charming hymn is sung by the choir of the Paya Lebar Methodist Girls’ School in Singapore.
Morning Prayer (George Washington)
O Lord our God, most mighty and merciful father, I, your unworthy creation and servant, once more approach your presence. Though not worthy to appear before you, because of the many sins and transgressions which I have committed against your divine majesty; yet I pray you, for the sake of him in whom you are well pleased, the Lord Jesus Christ, to let me give you thanks and praise for your many and varied mercies extended toward me, for the quiet rest and repose of the past night, for food, clothing, health, peace, liberty, and the hopes of a better life through the merits of your dear son's bitter passion.
And O kind Father, continue your mercy and favor to me this day, and always; give resolution to all my lawful undertakings; let me have all my directions from your Holy Spirit; and success from your bountiful hand. Let the bright beams of your light so shine into my heart, and enlighten my mind in understanding your blessed word, that I may be enabled to perform your will in all things, and effectively resist all temptations of the world, the flesh and the devil. Preserve and defend our rulers in church and state. Bless the people of this land, be a father to the fatherless, a comforter to the comfortless, a deliverer to the captives, and a physician to the sick. Let your blessings guide me and all of us, this day and forever, through Jesus Christ, in whose name I pray.
[The wealth of God's compassion.]
May I go in peace, with God and with his other children, and may we love one another as Christ taught us. May I follow the example of good men of old, and may God comfort and help me and all who believe in Him, both in this world and in the world which is to come.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
“God has two dwellings – one in heaven and the other in a thankful heart.”
~ Izaar Walton
1 Kings 2:1-12 (Living Bible)
Story of Solomon (4)
As the time of King David’s death approached, he gave this charge to his son Solomon:
“I am going where every man on earth must some day go. I am counting on you to be a strong and worthy successor. Obey the laws of God and follow all his ways; keep each of his commands written in the law of Moses so that you will prosper in everything you do, wherever you turn. If you do this, then the Lord will fulfill the promise he gave me, that if my children and their descendants watch their step and are faithful to God, one of them shall always be the king of Israel—my dynasty will never end.
“Now listen to my instructions. You know that Joab murdered my two generals, Abner and Amasa. He pretended that it was an act of war, but it was done in a time of peace. You are a wise man and will know what to do — don’t let him die in peace. But be kind to the sons of Barzillai the Gileadite. Make them permanent guests of the king, for they took care of me when I fled from your brother Absalom. And do you remember Shimei, the son of Gera the Benjaminite from Bahurim? He cursed me with a terrible curse as I was going to Mahanaim; but when he came down to meet me at the Jordan River, I promised I wouldn’t kill him. But that promise doesn’t bind you! You are a wise man, and you will know how to arrange a bloody death for him.”
Then David died and was buried in Jerusalem. He had reigned over Israel for forty years, seven of them in Hebron and thirty-three in Jerusalem. And Solomon became the new king, replacing his father David; and his kingdom prospered.
Notes on the Scripture
The text today is unedited, even though the middle paragraph will be a bit difficult. We have left it in, just to remind ourselves that Solomon takes the throne with a lot of baggage. David burdens him with obligations that, in some cases, were created before Solomon was born.
Solomon is charged to kill two people. Joab, who appears to be something of a villain within the four corners of 1 Kings, actually had a record of long and faithful service; in fact, a good deal of credit for David's unification of Israel must go to Joab. He disobeyed David only once, by taking revenge on the men who had murdered his brother — and really, it is hard to side with David in the affair. But Joab and Solomon are now fixed as enemies, more by circumstance than any natural enmity.
The story of Shimei “Shimei, the son of Gera the Benjaminite from Bahurim” is quite strange. Here, David tells us all we need to know; he had promised not to kill Shimei, despite the stream of invective and curses the man had heaped on David's head as he headed to a battle. (2 Sam 16:5-14) But again, we see the not-so-savory side of David the man. He will keep the letter of his promise not to kill Shimei (2 Sam. 19:16-23), but he still seeks revenge by ordering Solomon to murder him, after David dies.
The final charge, that Solomon honor two men who had helped David during one of the many times he was in danger, is straightforward. Absalom, David's beloved son, rebelled against him and attempted to usurp the throne. He did a good job, too, and David had to flee Jerusalem; Barzillai fed and kept him while he was on the run, and so David instructs Solomon to be good to Barzillai's sons.
Finally, we are reminded of David's great achievement in becoming the king of the entire Hebrew people. To understand this and to follow the events to come, it is important to understand the rather confusing double meaning of “Israel”.
The word Israel, in its most basic sense, refers to the entire nation of Hebrews. But in the history of the Jews, Canaan was often divided into two parts. When one speaks of this division, “Israel” — sometimes called the “Northern Kingdom” to avoid all the confusion — refers to the northern land dominated by ten tribes, and it is actually the less illustrious of the two parts. The heart of Israel is not “Israel” but “Judah”, the allotted land of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. (See map.)
Although David was for seven years the King of Israel, what is called the “Kingdom of Israel” (“the Northern Kingdom”) was ruled by Ish-Bosheth, the son of Saul! David ruled a small area to the south, with its capital at Hebron, although he eventually conquered Jerusalem and made it into the great city of the Jews. The critical factors in Judah's future prominence are, first, that Jerusalem is located there; and second, it is the land of David and his heirs, God's anointed rulers.
So when the country was united, it was called the Kingdom of Israel. But when it was divided, the Kingdom of Judah was the true home of the Hebrews, even though the northern kingdom kept the name Israel. Go figure. Jesus would live in Galilee, part of the northern kingdom; but notice, Mary and Joseph traveled to Bethlehem, in Judah, for Him to be born.