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Daily Devotion for July 1, 2014

<i>The Judgment of Solomon</i> by Peter Paul Rubens, ca. 1617.
The Judgment of Solomon by Peter Paul Rubens, ca. 1617. Notice the three bands of shading: dark for the advisors, cold and bright for the false petitioner and baby, and warm middle tones for Solomon, the mother, and the executioner. The harlots wear the shining silver and gold of a gay aristocratic ball, while the advisors wear solemn, modest dark wool. Even Solomon's notorious splendor is played down.



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lessons and scripture

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.


This rendition of the tuneful Swing Down Chariot, with its locomotive rhythm, will put some steam in your engine!

For a Cheerful Disposition in All I Do Today

Holy God, who has filled me with the joy of your grace and salvation, assist me this day that I may do all things I am called to do without grumbling or disputing. I call on your Spirit to assist me, that I may be blameless and innocent, a child of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation.

Let me follow holy Christ and all his saints: Let me shine as a light, a beacon in a world where darkness seeks to overcome us in every thing and at every moment. And help me to hold fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ's return I may be proud that I did not strive in vain.

I pray this not for my own glory, but in all humility before you, to whom be all glory and honor,


Prayer to Remove Hardness in My Heart

Precious Lord God, I am deeply distressed at my failure to know you as fully as I want to. I do things that I do not want to do and I think things that I regret. Sometimes I feel like a phony Christian, for there is a hard place in my heart that urges me to live, not in your Spirit, but in the world. Please, God, I beg of you, in your mighty power, melt the hardness of my heart. Of my own free will, I ask you into the deepest crevice of my being, that I may be filled with your love and holiness. I depend on your without any backup plan, Lord; for you and only you have the power to change me.



[Change my heart.]


Holy God, I pray to be filled with your Holy Spirit for the rest of this day. Let me go forth, walking with your Spirit in my heart, that I may be filled with the joy and energy and praise for your entire creation, thankful in the many gifts you have given me, and showing forth your light in my every word and deed. This I pray in Christ's name,


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.

Psalm 1 illuminated with an image of David as a harpist, <i>Alphono Psalter</i> (British ca. 1284)
Psalm 1 illuminated with an image of David as a harpist, Alphono Psalter (British ca. 1284)

Psalm 72:1-4 (CJB)

God, give the king your fairness in judgment,
endow this son of kings with your righteousness,
so that he can govern your people rightly
and your poor with justice.

May mountains and hills provide your people
with peace through righteousness.
May he defend the oppressed among the people,
save the needy and crush the oppressor.

Blue Latin Cross

1 Kings 3:16-28 (Complete Jewish Bible)

The Story of Solomon (8) — Two Women and a Baby

After this, there came to the king two women who were prostitutes. After presenting themselves to him, one of the women said, “My lord, I and this woman live in the same house; and when she was in the house, I gave birth to a baby. Three days after I gave birth, this woman also gave birth. We were there together; there was no one else with us in the house except the two of us.

During the night this woman’s child died, because she rolled over on top of it. So she got up in the middle of the night and took my son from next to me, while your servant was sleeping, and put it in her arms; and she laid her dead child in my arms. When I awoke in the morning to feed my child from my breast, there it was, dead. But when I took a closer look later in the morning, why, it wasn’t my son at all — not the one I gave birth to!” The other woman broke in, “No! The living one is my son, and the dead one is your son!”

The first one said, “No! The dead one is your son and the living one is my son!” This is how they spoke in the presence of the king.

Then the king said, “This woman says, ‘The living one is my son; your son is the dead one’; while the other says, ‘No, the dead one is your son, and the living one is my son.’ Bring me a sword,” said the king. They brought a sword to the king. The king said, “Cut the living child in two; give half to the one and half to the other.”

At this, the woman to whom the living child belonged addressed the king, because she felt so strongly toward her son: “Oh, my lord, give her the living child; you mustn’t kill it!” But the other one said, “It will be neither yours nor mine. Divide it up!”

Then the king answered, “Give the living child to the first woman, don’t kill it, because she is its mother.”

All Isra’el heard of the decision the king had made and held the king in awe, for they saw that God’s wisdom was in him, enabling him to render justice properly.

Notes on the Scripture

This story is one of the greatest and most familiar in the Bible; anyone who went to Sunday school as a child will remember it. Its anecdotal nature and reliance upon universal human characteristics make it easily understandable, and the clever twist makes it entertaining.

The proceedings are undignified — this is more Judge Judy than Queen's Bench — and the author makes note that the litigants' familiarity and coarseness are not the norm, in a slightly shocked side comment: “This is how they spoke in the presence of the king.” But the purpose of the story is twofold, and the ribald proceedings help with one of them: to demonstrate Solomon's wisdom to the common folk and spread his reputation throughout Israel, giving his subjects confidence in him and enhancing his support.

The other purpose, of course, is to give a concrete example of the effectiveness of the preceding verses (where Solomon asked God for wisdom). So God grants Solomon wisdom in verses 1-15, and in verses 16-28 we immediately see the gift exemplified. Moreover, we see the breadth of wisdom with which he is blessed: He will have the deeper, more educated type of wisdom, which becomes abundantly clear from his writings in Proverbs and Ecclesiastes. But he also has “street smarts”, a high degree of what we call common sense.

endless knot

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1 Peter 2:9: [Y]ou are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

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