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Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Evening Devotion for February 15, 2020


Ancient passover in Jerusalem
A depiction of pilgrims entering Jerusalem for Passover, around the time of Christ. (Artist unk.)

Prayers

Scripture

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Lord’s Prayer

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.

Amen.




For a Day Filled with Joy

Oh Father God in heaven: What a great day! Thank you, thank you, thank you for this and every day when I have woken up, with my heart beating and my mind able to read and think.

Jesus rescues drowning man

Whatever physical limitations I may have, whatever aches and pains or illnesses I have this day, they can never diminish the greatness of life itself and the great world in which I have found myself. For I know, I did not earn the millions of little blessings that a human life requires: every cell, every strand of DNA, every bone and every muscle in my body is a gift. I did not make them, nor the air or water or sunshine that keeps them alive.

By the power of your Holy Spirit, fill my heart with joy for all that I have been given. Help me to shoulder the burdens of my life with strength and courage, finding my solace in your promise of eternal life. I look forward in absolute faith to the glorious new body that all of Christ’s children have been promised; but I pray to enjoy this not-so-glorious body, to see all of its wonders and remember that, being a gift, I am in no position to complain about its imperfections. Let me enjoy my life while I have it, great Lord. Let me celebrate all the little things I take for granted.

Bless also all the other people of this earth, O Lord, that they may be filled with the joy of life, and especially know that life eternal, which can come only from your Son, Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Confession

Have mercy on me, Oh Lord, for I am a humble and miserable sinner. [At this point, pause to remember specific sins you have committed during the day and speak or think them.] I renounce all of these sins, heavenly Father, and repent of them, and I promise to make every effort not to repeat them.

Have mercy on me, pardon me for these offences and any I might have omitted from forgetfulness or ignorance; in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, I pray for forgiveness. And I pray that your Holy Spirit may dwell with me in the coming day, to comfort me, to give me strength against temptation, and to guide me into the path of righteousness.

Amen.

For Peace

Christian harmony

Holy God, from whom all thoughts of truth and love and peace proceed, and whose Son is rightly called the Prince of Peace; kindle in the hearts of all men the fire of longing for peaceful existence so powerful that they may never long to do violence against another. Guide with pure wisdom those who guide the nations of the earth and the many factions who may find disagreement, that your kingdom may go forward in tranquility and goodness, free of hatred and hostility, until the earth is filled with knowledge of your love. In the name of Christ, I pray,

Amen.

Benediction

Almighty God, by your Holy Spirit you have made me one with your saints in heaven and on earth. Grant that in my earthly pilgrimage I may always be supported by this fellowship of love and prayer, and know myself to be surrounded by their witness to your power and mercy. I ask this for the sake of Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns for ever and ever.

Amen.


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.


Today’s “Remember the Bible” Question

Where does the Bible tell us to accept other Christians, even if we think they have wrong ideas and weak faith?

Answer: Romans 14:1
“Accept him whose faith is weak, without passing judgment on disputable matters.”



Pray with our hearts

Proverbs 14:2 (ESV)

Whoever walks in uprightness fears the Lord,
but he who is devious in his ways despises him.


Blue Latin Cross

1 Kings 3:1-15 (ESV)(edited)

Solomon 8 — Prayer for Wisdom
S

olomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt. He took Pharaoh’s daughter and brought her into the city of David until he had finished building his own house and the house of the Lord and the wall around Jerusalem. The people were sacrificing at the high places, however, because no house had yet been built for the name of the Lord.

Solomon loved the Lord, walking in the statutes of David his father, only he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places. And the king went to Gibeon to sacrifice there, for that was the great high place. The Lord appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.”

And Solomon said, “You have shown great and steadfast love to your servant David my father, because he walked before you in faithfulness, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart toward you.

And now, O Lord my God, you have made your servant king, although I am but a little child. I do not know how to go out or come in. And your servant is in the midst of your people whom you have chosen, too many to be numbered. Give your servant therefore an understanding mind to govern your people, that I may discern between good and evil.”

It pleased the Lord that Solomon had asked this. And God said to him,

“Because you have asked this, and have not asked for yourself long life or riches or the life of your enemies: Behold, I give you a wise and discerning mind, so that none like you has been before you and none like you shall arise after you. I give you also what you have not asked, both riches and honor, so that no other king shall compare with you, all your days. And if you will walk in my ways, keeping my statutes and my commandments, as your father David walked, then I will lengthen your days.”

Editor’s Note: See “Today in Daily Prayer,” below, if you are interested about translating the Old Testament.


Notes on the Scripture

The story of Solomon asking the Lord for wisdom is well-known and doesn’t need much comment. Solomon was indeed wise, so much so that over 50% of what Christians call the “Wisdom Books” of the Old Testament were authored by him: The Song of Solomon, the vast majority of Proverbs, at least one of the Psalms (Psalm 72), and Ecclesiastes.

There are two themes from Proverbs that are especially relevant to Solomon’s wisdom. First, the starting point of the book: “Fear of the Lord is the beginning of all knowledge [wisdom]”, which is repeated several times (e.g. Proverbs 1:7, 9:10). The concept is discussed at length and informs the entire book. But “fear”, a rather poor attempt to approximate the meaning of the Hebrew word yirah, does not mean “being scaredThe same word is actually used in Hebrew to denote pure fear, being scared of something; however, it also has other meanings, and these other meanings are the ones intended in Proverbs.”. Although it encompasses a healthy understanding that God punishes the wicked, it more accurately connotes a profound respect and reverence. God does not want us trembling in a corner all our lives; He wants us to live life in confidence and boldness, worshipping Him and following His holy ordinances.

Bible land of milk and honey
“A land flowing with milk and honey.”

Secondly, Proverbs seeks to prove that wisdom leads to gain. Solomon’s life is an object lesson to that very effect. Where he is wise, his reward is great, and since he is the king, his reward blesses his subjects as well. Where his wisdom fails, it causes setbacks and even disaster.

Oddly, this same passage shows a degree of disobedience to God. Notice the word “only” (also translated “except”) in the second paragraph. Sacrificing in high places, that is, worshipping and sacrificing on the tops of hills or structures, is a practice associated with paganism and idolatry. But God apparently — if you will excuse the slang — cuts young Solomon some slack. As we will see in the next chapter, it is possible that the Lord tolerated such sacrifice because He had not yet designated a permanent location for worship.

Gibeon, the site of the primary action in today’s Scripture, was the highest of high places but, unlike most, was apparently a lawful location for an altar. So Solomon’s great sacrifice was righteous. Gibeon was one of the special Levitical citiesSpecific cities were designated for the residence and support of priests, who were from the Tribe of Levi and thus called Levites. and David had located the tabernacle (the tent built by Moses for worship) there, even though he moved the Ark to Jerusalem. (1 Chronicles 16:39.)

The marriage to Pharaoh’s daughter is even more problematic. A commandment, given to Moses and incorporated into the fundamental law of Judaism, forbade marrying foreign women (especially the tribes of Canaan — Exodus 34:11-16.) Here, again, it seems that God forgave Solomon’s marriage to the Egyptian princess; for although he will have trouble with foreign wives in the future, she does not appear to be the cause of any of it. Many have speculated that she gave up idolatry and practiced Judaism. And a marriage to an Egyptian or Edomite seems to be less offensive than a marriage to a woman of any other tribe. (Deuteronomy 23:2-8.)



endless knot

Daily Inspiration

“The Wordless Voice”

Current Memory Verse     Remember the Bible

Printable Format for Today’s Devotion





Today in Daily Prayer


Translating Hebrew

One of the problems in reading the Old Testament is that Hebrew idioms are untranslatable. If you think about it, you will know exactly what I mean: the language used in an English Bible for O.T. books is distinct and identifiable. This springs from Hebrew idioms that lack an equivalent word in English. Translators must sometimes use the literal translation and expect the reader to learn, from context, the full meaning of the term. Unfortunately this means that the Old Testament cannot be read with full understanding, except by study.

Today's Notes discussed two such idioms: “high places” and “fear of the Lord.” There are two more that could use explanation, but we ran out of room in the Notes. “Come in and go out” is an idiom that means, very roughly, everything a person does. From the context of this and other passages, we might also infer that “go out” refers to external events and “come in” refers either to personal affairs or possibly to one’s thoughts and decisions about oneself, one's internal life of the mind.

The other, “name of the Lord,” is more difficult. There are two specific difficulties. First, God to the Hebrews had an actual name, and they placed great significance upon knowing it. If one did not know His name, one could not worship Him. We can partially understand their attitude by thinking of the name, “Jesus Christ,” and what it means to us. But added to the holiness of the word “Yahweh” was a sense of secrecy and privilege.

More frequently, “name of the Lord” (Hebrew shem, pronounce “shame”) is misleading. Sometimes it means name, but often has nothing to do with the proper noun by which God is identified. It encompasses related meanings, such as reputation and friendship. But to approach the most extreme meaning, one must forget completely the English dictionary definition of “name.” To the Hebrews, God actually lived in a specific place. His power and presence could appear anywhere, but the Jews lacked the indwelling of the Holy Spirit and they could not be assured of God’s presence except in one place. They called this presence His “name.”

“Name of the Lord” is actually used by the Hebrews as a synecdoche of sorts. (A synecdoche uses a part of something to stand for the entirety - think of how “head” is used in “twenty head of cattle,” or saying “my wheels” to refer to one's car.)

To understand the power of this concept, remember that the only person who could even enter the room where the Ark was kept was the high priest, and him only once a year, on the Day of Atonement. A good parallel is the use of the “Word” to refer to Christ. When we call Christ the “Word” or the “Living Word,” we refer primarily to His divine essence and role in creation. It has nothing to do with the dictionary definition of word - it is just a clumsy definition of convenience for the Greek word “logos.”

So, when you read “name of God” in the Old Testament, understand that in many cases — especially in 1 and 2 Kings — “name” means something much more than the English dictionary definition.

Memory Verse

Deuteronomy 10:17-19: The Lord your God . . . loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.



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