Daily Devotion for August 8, 2014
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.
The lovely voice of soprano Sandrine Piau gives a quiet and lovely moment of praise to the glory of God.
(Laudate pueri, Dominum:
Sicut erat in principio,
Prayer of Saint Clement of Rome
You, Lord, through your works have revealed the everlasting structure of the world. You, Lord, created the earth. You are faithful throughout all generations, righteous in your judgments, marvelous in strength and majesty, wise in creating and prudent in establishing what exists, good in all that is observed and faithful to those who trust in you, merciful and compassionate; forgive us our sins and our injustices, our transgressions and our shortcomings.
Do not take into account every sin of your servants, but cleanse us with the cleansing of your truth, and “direct our steps to walk in holiness and righteousness and purity of heart,” and “to do what is good and pleasing in your sight” and in the sight of our rulers. Yes, Lord, “let your face shine upon us” in peace “for our good,” that we may be sheltered “by your mighty hand” and delivered from every sin “by your uplifted arm”; deliver us as well from those who hate us unjustly.
Give harmony and peace to us and to all who dwell on the earth throughout the day to come, just as you did to our fathers when they reverently “called upon you in faith and trust,” that we may be saved, while we render obedience to your almighty and most excellent name, and give harmony and peace to our rulers and governors on earth.
For Those in Pain
Holy Lord God, bless and uphold all who are sick and suffering this day. Console them with your Holy Spirit, and if it is your will, bring their suffering to a quick conclusion. In Christ's name I pray,
[Remembering all those who are in great pain.]
May God the Father bless us; may Christ take care of us; the Holy Ghost enlighten us all the days of our life. The Lord be our defender and keeper of body and soul, both now and for ever, to the ages of ages.
(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Psalm 78:21-22 (ESV)
Therefore, when the Lord heard, he was full of wrath;
a fire was kindled against Jacob;
His anger rose against Israel,
because they did not believe in God
and did not trust his saving power.
1 Kings 15:9-24 (NLT)
Israel after Solomon (9): Asa, King of Judah
Asa began to rule over Judah in the twentieth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel. He reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years.
Asa did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, as his ancestor David had done. He banished the male and female shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made. He even deposed his grandmother Maacah from her position as queen mother because she had made an obscene Asherah pole. He cut down her obscene pole and burned it in the Kidron Valley. Although the pagan shrines were not removed, Asa’s heart remained completely faithful to the Lord throughout his life.
There was constant war between King Asa of Judah and King Baasha of Israel. Asa removed all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of the Temple of the Lord and the royal palace. He sent it to the king of Aram, in Damascus, along with this message:
“Let there be a treaty between you and me like the one between your father and my father. See, I am sending you a gift of silver and gold. Break your treaty with King Baasha of Israel so that he will leave me alone.”
The king of Aram agreed to King Asa’s request and sent the commanders of his army to attack the towns of Israel.
The rest of the events in Asa’s reign—the extent of his power, everything he did, and the names of the cities he built—are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah. In his old age his feet became diseased. When Asa died, he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David.
Then Jehoshaphat, Asa’s son, became the next king.
Notes on the Scripture
We have backtracked to look at one king of Judah, before we leave 1 Kings. Asa's reign in Judah (capital - Jerusalem) began about 25 years before Ahab took the throne in Israel (capital - Samaria).
There were wide variations between the kings of both kingdoms, but we can see a general theme develop if we compare Asa to Ahab. Ahab was simply wicked and his wife, Jezebel, might be the most evil (human) character in the entire Bible, promoting the worship of Ba'al and Asherah and murdering the prophets of God wholesale.
Assyrian chariot attacking Israel.
The reason was in great part political. The large Northern Kingdom, called Israel, had its capital in Samaria. It was cut off from Jewish worship, because its kings were jealous of their power and did not want their subjects travelling to Jerusalem - the capital of Judah as well as the site of the Temple - to worship God in the Temple, as the law of Moses required.
Asa, on the other hand, is mostly good. The Southern Kingdom, Judah, constantly swung between idolatrous kings and those who, like Asa, would initiate Jewish revival and restoration, suppressing the worship of Baal and Asherah and promoting the Temple. Asa took half-steps in the direction of godliness, cutting down his grandmotherHis grandmother was actually the daughter of Absalom, David's rebellious son.'s obscene Nazareth pole. And note, “obscene” here does not mean just “highly offensive to God”; it means obscene. Asherah was a fertility goddess, and her images were sometimes so graphic that they would have been illegal in the U.S. before about 1960.
The most dire fault of Asa, though — like most of the early kings of Judah — was being sucked into sin by politics. He commits a grievous wrong in today's passage, which also turns out to be a colossal political miscalculation: He allies with the Arameans against Israel. These are the precursors of the Assyrian Empire that will annihilate the Northern Kingdom, leaving Judah alone against a great enemy. There has never been a more vivid demonstration that “a house divided against itself cannot stand”, than Israel and Judah.
Worse still: to cement the alliance, Asa robs the treasury of the Temple.
The last two paragraphs of today's passage are a formula that repeats throughout 1 and 2 Kings. Concluding an account of a king (of either kingdom), there is generally a recitation that “the rest of the events in the reign of ____________” can be found in a book that no longer exists; the manner of his death and burial; and the name of his successor.