Saturday, 28 March 2015

Search The Scriptures: Psalms

God calls us to follow “the way of righteous people” (Psalm 1:6). He directs our attention to His “Son”, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ (Psalm 2:7). He promises blessing to those who “take refuge ... In Him” (Psalm 2:12). There is much opposition: “O Lord, look how my enemies have increased! Many are attacking me. Many are saying about me, ‘Even with God on his side, he won’t be victorious’” (Psalm 3:1-2). We need not be afraid of these enemies - “Victory belongs to the Lord! ... You, O Lord, are a shield that surrounds me” (Psalm 3:8,3).

The Psalmist is experiencing great pain. His honour is being insulted; his enemies are spying on him; he is being harassed by troublemakers (Psalm 4:2; Psalm 5:8; Psalm 6:8). As well as pain, there is prayer, protection and peace. He prays with confidence in God - “The Lord has heard my plea for mercy. The Lord accepts my prayer” (Psalm 6:9). He stands upon God’s promise - “The Lord protects those who take refuge in Him” (Psalm 5:11). He rests in the peace of God (Psalm 4:8).

In Psalms 7 - 10, there is a real sense of the greatness of God. He is “majestic” (Psalm 8:1). He is “enthroned forever” (Psalm 9:7,11). He is “King forever and ever” (Psalm 10:16). He is our “Judge” (Psalm 7:8). The Psalmist teaches us to see our life in the light of God. His light shines brightly upon us. His light exposes our darkness. He’s calling us to walk in His light. He calls us to take refuge in Him: “O Lord my God, I have taken refuge in You” (Psalm 7:1). He calls us to rejoice in Him: “I will be glad and rejoice in You” (Psalm 9:2). He calls us to seek His help: “Those who know Your Name trust You, O Lord, because You have never deserted those who seek your help” (Psalm 9:10). If we are to answer God’s call - take refuge in Him, rejoice in Him and seek His help, we must leave behind the way of the wicked: “In his pride the wicked does not seek Him; in all His thoughts there is no room for God” (Psalm 10:4). When we answer God’s call, He starts changing us - our way of thinking and our way of living. He is the caring and sharing God: “You have heard the desire of oppressed people, O Lord. You encourage them. You pay close attention to them in order to provide justice for orphans, and oppressed people, so that no mere mortal terrify them again” (Psalm 10:17-18). He’s calling us to be like Him. Let’s not keep His love and His blessing to ourselves. Let’s show His love. Let’s share His love.

The Lord is the sovereign God - “The Lord is in His holy temple. The Lord’s throne is in heaven” (Psalm 11:4). The Lord is the God of salvation - “But I trust Your mercy. My heart finds joy in Your salvation. I will sing to the Lord because He has been good to me” (Psalm 13:5-6). The sovereign God, the God of salvation is our Helper - when we feel alone, forgotten and oppressed (Psalm 12:1; Psalm 13:1; Psalm 14:3-4). His salvation is not to be kept to ourselves. His joy is not only for ourselves. We are to pray that others will receive His salvation and His joy: “Oh, that salvation for Israel would come out of Zion!When the Lord restores the fortunes of His people, let Jacob rejoice and Israel be glad!” (Psalm 14:7). In the face of all that opposes God, exalting itself against Him, God is calling us to keep close to Him and to walk with Him: “O Lord, who may stay in Your tent? Who may live on Your holy mountain? The one who walks with integrity, does what is righteous, and speaks the truth within his heart, the one who does not slander with his tongue, do evil to friend, or bring disgrace on his neighbour ... He who does these things will never be shaken” (Psalm 15).

Our complete joy, pleasure and satisfaction is found in the Lord. We say, with the Psalmist, “Complete joy is in Your presence. Pleasures are by Your side forever ... I will be satisfied with seeing You” (Psalm 16:11; Psalm 17:15). We join, with the hymnwriter, in singing praise to our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: “O Christ, in Thee my soul hath found, And found in Thee alone, The peace, the joy I sought so long, the bliss till now unknown. Now none but Christ can satisfy, None other Name for me. There’s love and life, and lasting joy, Lord Jesus, found in Thee.”

In Psalm 18, the Psalmist praises God, who delivered him from his enemies. It begins and ends with the thought of God as the Rock upon which our faith is built. He is the rock of our salvation: “I love you, O Lord, my Strength. The Lord is my Rock and my Fortress and my Saviour, my God in whom I take refuge, my Shield and the Strength of my Salvation, my Stronghold” (Psalm 18:1-2). “The Lord lives! Thanks be to my Rock! May God, my Saviour, be honoured!” (Psalm 18:46).

“The heavens declare the glory of God ...” (Psalm 19:1). In God’s creation, we see His glory. “The teachings of the Lord are perfect. They renew the soul” (Psalm 19:7). He reveals Himself to us through His Word. We make our response to Him, as we worship Him - “We will joyfully sing about Your victory ... The Lord will give victory to His anointed king ...We will boast in the Name of the Lord our God” (Psalm 20:5-7). “Arise, O Lord, in Your strength. We will sing and make music to praise Your power” (Psalm 21:13). “Through the mercy of the Most High, we will not be moved” (Psalm 22:7).

“The Lord is my Shepherd” (Psalm 23:1). He is “my Saviour”(Psalm 25:5). He is also “the King of glory” (Psalm 24:8-10). He has promised to “lead us in the paths of righteousness for the sake of His Name” (Psalm 23:3). This promise is fulfilled, as we open our  hearts to Him - “Be lifted,you ancient doors, so that the King of glory may come in” (Psalm 24:9), when we pray for His leading in our lives: “Make Your ways known to me, O Lord, and teach me Your paths.Lead me in Your truth, and teach me because You are God, my Saviour” (Psalm 25:5). The Lord fulfils His promise to us: “The Lord advises those who fear Him. He reveals to them the intent of His promise” (Psalm 25:14). 

The Psalmist loved to worship God in the company of God’s people: “O Lord, I love the House where You live, the place where Your glory dwells... I will praise the Lord with the choirs in worship” (Psalm 26:8,12). “I have asked one thing from the Lord. This I will seek - to remain in the Lord’s House all the days of my life in order to gaze at the Lord’s beauty and to search for an answer in His Temple” (Psalm 27:4).”Hear my prayer for mercy when i call to You for help, when I lift my hands towards Your most holy place... Thank the Lord! He has heard my prayer for mercy! The Lord is the strength of His people and a fortress for the victory of His Messiah. Save Your people, and bless those who belong to You. Be their Shepherd and carry them forever” (Psalm 28:6-9).

“Give to the Lord glory and power” (Psalm 29:1) - God is calling us to worship Him.
“O Lord my God, I will give thanks to You forever” (Psalm 30:12) - We respond to His call. “Thank the Lord!... Love the Lord, all you godly ones!... Be strong, all who wait with hope for the Lord, and let your heart be courageous!” (Psalm 31:21,23-24). We, who have heard God’s call to worship and are learning to worship Him, are to call upon others to join with us in worshipping the Lord. Worship is to lead to witness, which will bring others to worship.

“Be glad and find joy in the Lord, you righteous people” (Psalm 32:11). “Joyfully sing to the Lord, you righteous people” (Psalm 33:1). Our joy is in the Lord. It is from Him that our “joyous songs of salvation” come (Psalm 32:7). It is “in Him” that “our hearts find joy” (Psalm 33:21). We “look to Him”, and we are “radiant” (Psalm 34:5). Even thought there are many obstacles to our spiritual growth, we are able to face all who oppose us in our walk with God. We are able to say, with confidence in the God who helps us to be strong in Him and victorious through His power, “Mt soul will find joy in the Lord and be joyful about His salvation” (Psalm 35:9).

In Psalms 36 and 37, we see the conflict between the righteous and the wicked, the godly and the ungodly. By drawing this radical contrast between these two types of people, God’s Word calls us to make our choice. What kind of people will we be? How will we live? There is no more important than the question of character. Will our lives be shaped by the character of God? or Will thy be shaped by a very different character - Satan, the evil one?

In Psalms 38-40, we have the Psalmist’s prayer and his testimony that God had heard and answered his prayer. “Do not abandon me, O Lord. O my God, do not be so distant from me. Come quickly to help me, O Lord, my Saviour... Listen to my prayer, O Lord. Open Your ear to my cry for help... I waited patiently for the Lord. He turned to me and heard my cry for help. He pulled me out of a horrible pit, out of the mud and clay. He set my feet on a rock and made my steps secure” (Psalm 38:21-22; Psalm 39:12; Psalm 40:1-2).

In Psalms 41-43, we see the Psalmist encountering great difficulties. He is not, however, overwhelmed by his problems. Each of these Psalms ends on the triumphant note of praise: “Thank the Lord God of Israel through all eternity!” (Psalm 41:13); “Put your hope in God, because I will still praise Him. He is my Saviour and my God” (Psalm 42:11; Psalm 43:5).

The people of God faced many obstacles, but the Lord gave them His victory and they praised Him - “All day long we praise our God. We give thanks to You forever” (Psalm 44:8). The words of Psalm 45 point forward to Jesus Christ, who is “King of kings and Lord of lords” (Revelation 19:16). Concerning Him, the Word of God says to us, “He is your Lord. Worship Him” (Psalm 45:11). Let our response be, “I will cause Your Name to be remembered throughout every generation. That is why the nations will give thanks to You forever” (Psalm 45:17).

The Lord, our God, is “King of the whole earth. He rules the nations” (Psalm 46:10; Psalm 47:7-9). The Lord is great. He is “the great King” (Psalm 48:14). The Lord does not remain detached from us in isolated heavenly glory. He comes to us as the God of our salvation - “God will buy me back from the power of hell” (Psalm 49:15). By His Word, spoken to us and acted out on our behalf, God involves Himself with us as our Saviour. He is not a God who keeps His distance from us - “Our God will come.” He is not a God who keeps His silence - “and will not be silent” (Psalm 50:3). This God comes to us with His promise of salvation - “Call on Me in times of trouble. I will rescue you, and you will honour Me” (Psalm 50:15). Along with this promise of salvation comes God’s call to live in faith and obedience: “Bring your thanks to God as a sacrifice, and keep your vows to the Most High” (Psalm 50:15). To those who walk in His way, the Lord promises His blessing: “Whoever offers thanks as a sacrifice honours Me. I will let everyone, who continues in My way, see the salvation that comes from God” (Psalm 50:23).

We must trust in God’s “mercy”, which “lasts all day long” (Psalm 51:1; Psalm 52:1). We need God’s mercy, because we are sinners - “Everyone has fallen away. Together, they have become rotten to the core. No one, not even one person, does good things” (Psalm 53:3). When we come, as sinners, to the Lord, we find that He is our Saviour. We pray to Him, “O God, save me by Your Name” (Psalm 54:1). He hears ans answers this prayer for salvation. We say, “God is my helper! The Lord is the provider for my life... Your Name rescues me from trouble” (Psalm 54:4,7). Knowing the Lord as our Saviour, we are filled with a spirit of praise to Him. We say, from the heart, “I will give thanks to Your good Name, O Lord” (Psalm 54:6).          

“I call on God, and the Lord saves me” (Psalm 55:16) - This is the Psalmist’s testimony. It is followed by his call to others to turn to the Lord and discover how good He is: “Turn your burdens over to the Lord and He will take care of you” (Psalm 55:22). “I praise the Word of God, I trust God, I am not afraid. What can mere flesh and blood (mortals) do to me?” (Psalm 56:4,10-11). “My heart is confident, O God, I want to sing and make music... I want to give thanks to You among the people, O Lord, I want to make music to praise You among the nations because Your mercy is as high as the heavens. Our truth reaches the skies. May You be honoured above the heavens, O God. Let Your glory extend over the whole earth” (Psalm 57:7,9-11). As we praise God, He leads us forward in His triumph.

When the Lord’s people face hostile persecution, their only hope is in the Lord: “God is my Stronghold, my merciful God” (Psalm 59:9,17). Looking to the Lord, we pray, “Give us help against the enemy because human assistance is worthless” (Psalm 60:11). Trusting in the Lord, we have this confidence: “With God, we will display great strength. He will trample our enemies” (Psalm 60:12). Knowing that god is with us as the God of our salvation, we can say, with glad assurance of faith, “I will triumph!” (Psalm 60:6). We are “more than conquerors through Him who loved us” (Romans 8:37). Whatever Satan does, he will not succeed. We have the victory in Christ.
"Listen to my cry for help, O Lord" (Psalm 61:1). God is the God of power and mercy: "Power belongs to God. Mercy belongs to You, O Lord" (Psalm 62:11-12), "I look to You in the holy place to see Your power and Your glory. My lips will praise You because Your mercy is better than life itself" (Psalm 63:3). When we consider how great God is - great in power, great in mercy, we are filled with thanksgiving, praise and joy - "I will thank You as long as I live ... My mouth will sing Your praise with joyful lips" (Psalm 63:4-5).
"Righteous people will find joy in the Lord and take refuge in Him" (Psalm 64:10). "You are the One who hears prayers ... You are the One who forgives our rebellious acts ... You answer us with awe-inspiring acts done in righteousness" (Psalm 65:2-3,5). In the Lord, there is true happiness. This blessing comes to us as we bring our sins to Him and receive His forgiveness. The blessing of forgiveness is a wonderful work of divine grace for which we give thanks to God - "All of them shout triumphantly. Indeed they sing" (Psalm 65:13).
The Psalmist calls upon all of us to offer our praise and thanksgiving to God - "Shout happily to God, all the earth! Make music to praise the glory of His Name. Make His praise glorious" (Psalm 66:1-2). "Let everyone give thanks to You. Let the nations be glad and sing joyfully ... Let the people give thanks to You, O God. Let all the people give thanks to You" (Psalm 67:3,5). 
“Our God is a God of victories. The Almighty Lord is our escape from death ... He gives strength and power to His people. Thanks be to God!” (Psalm 68:20,35). These words turn our thoughts to the great words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 15:57 - “Thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” This victory is the triumph of Christ, risen from the dead. The risen Christ - our Saviour and Lord - gives us victory over our greatest enemy - “death” (1 Corinthians 15:26). It is Christ’s triumph over the devil - “Jesus took on flesh and blood. He did this so that, by dying, He would destroy the one who had power over death (that is, the devil)”; “The reason that the Son of God appeared was to destroy what the devil does” (Hebrews 2:14; 1 John 3:8).
Out of a situation of great distress, the Psalmist prays to the Lord: “O God, out of the greatness of Your mercy, answer me with the truth of Your salvation” (Psalm 69:13). “Answer me, O Lord, because Your mercy is good. Out of your unlimited compassion, turn to me” (Psalm 69:16). “Let Your saving power protect me, O God” (Psalm 69:29). When God answers our  prayer for salvation, this is cause for much praise and thanksgiving: “I want to praise the Name of God with a song. I want to praise its greatness with a song of thanksgiving” (Psalm 69:30). “Let heaven and earth, the seas and everything that moves in them, praise Him” (Psalm 69:34).
The Psalmist is calling upon the Lord to be his “help and Saviour.” He is looking to the Lord for an immediate response - “Come quickly to rescue me, O God! Come quickly to help me, O Lord! ... O God, come quickly to me ... O Lord, do not delay” (Psalm 70:1,5). The Psalmist continues to pray for the Lord’s help: “”O God, do not be so distant from me, O my God, come quickly to me” (Psalm 71:12). In these prayers, we become aware of the Psalmist’s great pain. He speaks of “those who seek his life” and “want his downfall” (Psalm 70:2), his “enemies” who “talk about him” as “they watch him and plot to take his life” (Psalm 71:10). Through all his suffering, we see the light of faith shining brightly - “Because of Your faithfulness, O my God, even I will give thanks to You, as I play on a lyre. I will make music with a harp to praise You, O Holy One of Israel. My lips will sing with joy when I make music to praise You. My lips, which you have rescued, also will sing joyfully. My tongue will tell about Your righteousness all day long” (Psalm 71:22-24).
“May His Name endure forever. May His Name continue as long as the sun shines” (Psalm 72:17); “May He rule from sea to sea” (Psalm 72:8) - These words inspired the hymn, “Jesus shall reign ... “ The words of this Psalm find a glorious echo in the triumphant words of Philippians 2:9-11 - “At the Name of Jesus every knee shall bow and every tongue confess that He is Lord.”
In Psalms 73 - 75, there is inner turmoil, as the Psalmist wonders what to make of the success of the wicked who oppose the Lord and His people. There are times of great confusion - “But when I tried to understand this, it was too difficult for me” (Psalm 73:16). There are times when the Psalmist is on the edge of despair - “Why, O God, have You rejected us forever? Why does Your anger smoulder against the sheep in Your care? ... How long, O God, will the enemy insult us? Will the enemy despise You forever?” (Psalm 74:1,10). Despite all that runs counter to God, the Psalmist remains strong in faith. He triumphs over all that opposes the purpose of God in his life - “God remains the foundation of my life and my inheritance forever ... From long ago, God has been my King, the One who has been victorious throughout the earth ... We give thanks to You, O God; we give thanks. You are present, and Your miracles confirm that ... I will speak about Your miracles forever. I will make music to praise the God of Jacob” (Psalm 73:26; Psalm 74:12; Psalm 75:1,9).
“God is known in Judah. His name is great in Israel ... What god is as great as our God” (Psalm 76:1; Psalm 77:13). God is great. He’s greater than we can put into words, or even imagine. As we think of the greatness of God, we worship Him, singing, “How great Thou art”, “Great is Thy faithfulness.” To the Lord be all glory for all that He is, all that He has done for us, and all that He says to us.
Divine grace - “But He is compassionate. He forgave their sin. He did not destroy them. He restrained His anger many times. He did not display all of His fury” (Psalm 78:38) - and human sin - “How often they rebelled against Him in the wilderness! How often they caused Him grief in the desert! Again and again, they tested God and they pushed the Holy One of Israel to the limit. They did not remember His power ... “ (Psalm 78:40-43): This is the story of human history. When God’s love is thrown back at Him by persistently rebellious sinners, there will be divine judgment - “They tested God Most High and rebelled against Him ... When God heard, He became furious ... “ (Psalm 78:56-64). Where God is angry, it can lead to restoration - “ ... He struck His enemies from behind He built His holy place to be like the high heavens ... He chose His servant David ... ” (Psalm 78:65-72).
Blessed by the God of love, called to be “His people, the flock of His pasture”we “praise” Him and “give thanks” to Him (Psalm 79:13). He is our “Shepherd” (Psalm 80:1). He restores our soul. He leads us in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake (Psalm 23). He is “our Strength.” In Him, we rejoice with true happiness (Psalm 81:1). “All the nations” belong to the Lord (Psalm 82:8). He is “the Most High God of the whole earth” (Psalm 83:18). Those who know the Lord as their Shepherd and their Strength, the One who “saves” (Psalm 80:19) and “satisfies” (Psalm 81:16), are to pray and work, with the goal of bringing others to the knowledge of Him.
The way of blessing is the way of praising God and finding strength in Him (Psalm 84:4-5). As we worship God, our strength is restored. He answers our prayer - “Restore us, O God, our Saviour” (Psalm 85:4). As we worship God, our joy is restored - “Give me joy, O Lord, because I lift my soul to You” (Psalm 86:4). What a joy it is to know the Lord. He’s the Source of all our blessings (Psalm 87:7). Knowing that it is God’s desire to bless us, we come to Him, earnestly seeking His blessing: “I cry out to You for help, O Lord, and, in the morning, my prayer will come into Your presence” (Psalm 88:13).
Psalm 89 begins and ends with the faithfulness of God (Psalm 89:1,49). As we think of God, we say, concerning Him, “Your faithfulness stands firm in the heavens” (Psalm 89:2). “O Lord, the heavens praise your miracles and Your faithfulness in the assembly of the holy ones” (Psalm 89:5). “Mighty Lord, even Your faithfulness surrounds You” (Psalm 89:8).
“You are God, from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 90:2). “You are my Refuge and my Fortress, my God, in whom I trust” (Psalm 91:2). “You, O Lord, are highly honoured forever” (Psalm 92:8). As we read the Psalms, we learn of God - how great He is, how much He is worthy of praise, trust and obedience. As we centre our life on Him, we will be blessed by Him.
The Lord comes to us as our Saviour - “When I said, ‘My feet are slipping’, Your mercy, O Lord, continued to hold me up. When I worried about many things, Your assuring words soothed my soul... The Lord has become my Stronghold. My God has become my Rock of refuge” (Psalm 94:18-19,22). We are to come to him as His worshippers - “Come, let’s sing joyfully to the Lord. Let’s shout happily to the rock of our salvation.Let’s come into His presence with a song of thanksgiving. Let’s come, let’s worship and bow down. Let’s kneel before the Lord, our Maker” (Psalm 95:6). “Sing to the Lord a new song! Sing to the Lord, all the earth! Sing to the Lord! Praise His Name!” (Psalm 96:1).
As well as the joy of the Lord, there is also to be the fear of the Lord in our worship. Psalms 97, 98 and 100 speak of the joy of the Lord: “Find joy in the Lord, you righteous people” (Psalm 97:12). “Shout happily to the Lord, all the earth. Break into joyful singing” (Psalm 98:4). “Shout happily to the Lord, all the earth. Serve the Lord cheerfully. Come into His presence with a joyful song” (Psalm 100:1-2). Psalm 99 emphasizes the importance of the fear of the Lord: “The Lord rules as King. Let the people tremble. He is enthroned over the angels. Let the earth quake” (Psalm 99:1).
The Psalmist faced many difficulties. There were the problems caused by “unfaithful people” (Psalm 101:3-5). He had health problems (Psalm 102:3-5). He takes his problems to the Lord, convinced that “from everlasting to everlasting, the Lord’s mercy is on those who fear Him” (Psalm 103:17).
God is the God of providence. He is the God of redemption. He provides food - “All of them look to You to give them their food at the right time” (Psalm 104:27). He has provided salvation for His people - “... He brought His people out with joy...” (Psalm 105:42-45). We think of all that the Lord has done for us, and we say, from the heart, “Thanks be to the Lord God of Israel from everlasting to everlasting. Let all the people say, Amen. Hallelujah!” (Psalm 106:48).
Psalm 107 calls us to “give thanks to the Lord” (Psalm 107:1,8,15,21,31). When we hear the call to “give thanks to the Lord”, our response is to be ‘I want to give thanks to You among the people, O Lord” (Psalm 108:3). “With my mouth I will give many thanks to the Lord, I will praise Him among many people” (Psalm 109:30).
The opening words of Psalm 110 are applied, in Hebrews, to our Lord Jesus Christ: “The Lord said to my Lord, Sit in the highest position in heaven until I make Your enemies Your footstool.” As we consider the mighty triumph of our Lord Jesus Christ, our hearts are filled with worship - “Hallelujah!” (Psalm 11:1; Psalm 112:1; Psalm 113:1,9).
The Lord “turns a rock into a pool, filled with water, and turns flint into a spring flowing with water” (Psalm 114:8). The “Hallelujah” arises from the hearts of God’s people (Psalm 115:18; Psalm 116:19; Psalm 117:2), “The Lord is responsible for this, and it is amazing for us to see” (Psalm 118:23).
Psalm 119 is a personal prayer of devotion to the Lord. It is clear, throughout this Psalm, that our relationship with God is maintained as we build our lives upon his written Word. What blessing the Word of God has brought into the life of the Psalmist! This is still the way of blessing today - “Your Word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my faith” (Psalm 119:105). It is with the Word of God at the heart of our life that we face the future with confidence: “My hope is based on Your Word” (Psalm 119:147).
We call upon the Lord, and He answers us - “When I was in trouble, I cried out to the Lord, and He answered me” (Psalm 120:1). The Lord is our Helper - “My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:2). We worship the Lord - “I was glad when they said to me, Let’s go to the House of the Lord” (Psalm 122:1). We put our trust in the Lord - “we depend on the Lord our God” (Psalm 123:2).
“Our help is in the Name of the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth” (Psalm 124:8). This is something we must never forget. When we are conscious of being helped by the Lord, we can say with confidence in Him: “Those who trust the Lord are like Mount Zion, which can never be shaken” (Psalm 125:1). Knowing the blessing of God in our lives, we have this joyful testimony: “The Lord has done spectacular things for us. We are overjoyed” (Psalm 126:3). The Lord “builds the house” of our life (Psalm 127:1) - This is the blessing which He promises to those who walk with Him: “Blessed are all who fear the Lord and live his way” (Psalm 128:1).
“Praise the Lord” (Psalm 134:1). “Praise the Name of the Lord” (Psalm 136:1). “Give thanks to the Lord” (Psalm 136:1). God is calling us to worship Him. In a world where worshipping the Lord has been abandoned by so many people, it isn’t easy to keep on worshipping Him - “How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (Psalm 137:4). Even though many people have stopped worshipping God, we must renew our commitment to Him: “I will give thanks to you with all my heart” (Psalm 138:1). “If no one joins, still I will worship. No turning back.”
“Examine me, O God, and know my mind. Test me, and know my thoughts. See whether I am on an evil path. Then, lead on the everlasting path.” (Psalm 139:23-24). The Lord leads us away from the “evil path”, and on to the “everlasting path.” He “hears our plea for pity.” He hears our cry to Him,”Come quickly.” He comes to us as “the strong One who saves us” (Psalm 140:6-7; Psalm 141:1).
God is our “Refuge” (Psalm 142:5). In His “mercy”, He leads us in His way. He protects us and rescues us from our enemies (Psalm 143:8-9). The Lord, “the One in whom we take refuge”, is described by the Psalmist as “my Rock... My merciful One, my Fortress, my Stronghold, my Saviour, my Shield” (Psalm 144:1-2). The Lord is “great.” He is to be praised “every day.” He is to be praised “forever and ever” (Psalm 145:1-3).
Hallelujah! Each of the final five Psalms begins and ends with the word, “Hallelujah!” Again and again, in these Psalms, we hear the call to praise God: “Praise the Lord, my soul!” (Psalm 146:1), “Praise the Lord, Jerusalem! Praise your God, Zion!” (Psalm 147:12). “Praise the Lord from the heavens,Praise Him in the heights above” (Psalm 148:1). “Sing a new song to the Lord. Sing His praise in the assembly of godly people” (Psalm 149:1). “Let everything that breathes praise the Lord” (Psalm 150:6). This outburst of triumphant and glorious praise, in these final five Psalms, is a fitting conclusion to the book of Psalms. Hallelujah!  
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Search The Scriptures: Job

With God’s permission, “Satan, the accuser” attacks Job (Job 1:8). The attack is ferocious, May the Name of the Lord be praised! Through all this, Job did not sin or blame God for doing anything wrong” (Job 1:21-22). Satan’s attack on Job is really a challenge to God. The Lord is in control of the situation. Satan can only do what God permits him to do (Job 2:6).

Job’s so-called ‘friends’ were watching the situation. They intended to sympathize with him and comfort him (Job 2:11). When they saw the “great pain” he was in, they did not say anything to him (Job 2:13). They were thinking about what was happening to him, and their thoughts moved from comfort to blame. They started off with the intention of being comforters. They ended up doing the work of accusers.

In Job 3, we see Job in a state of deep depression. At this stage, there seems to be no light at the end of the tunnel. He is in desperate need of the Lord’s sustaining strength. Where will the Lord’s help come from? When will his time of suffering come to an end? Job has many questions. He doesn’t have any answers. This “the dark night of the soul.”

In Job 4 - 5, we have the first speech of Eliphaz. On the pretext of bringing comfort to Job, Eliphaz brings a message of accusation. However much Eliphaz claims to be bringing God’s Word to Job, we can be sure that he is not God’s messenger. Why? - It’s because his message conflicts with God’s understanding of Job’s situation (Job 1:8).

In Job 6 - 7, Job replies. There is real pain in Job’s words. He speaks of his “grief” and “misery” (Job 6:2). There is a real longing for God to answer his prayer. Sadly, his prayer has become a cry of despair: “that God would finally be willing to crush me, that He would reach out to cut me off” (Job 6:9). Even though he is in great distress, Job retains sufficient clarity of thought to know that his so-called ‘friends’ have got it wrong - “Please change your mind ... Change your mind because I am still right about this! ...or is my mouth unable to tell the difference between right and wrong?” (Job 6:29-30). There is sadness here - “As a cloud fades away and disappears, so a person goes into the grave and doesn’t come back again” (Job 7:9). Job hasn’t broken through this sense of hopelessness to the triumphant faith, expressed in his confession of confidence in God: “I know that my Redeemer lives ...” (Job 19:25-26), a tremendous declaration of Christ’s resurrection and our resurrection in Him. It’s so wonderful that in a book, filled with so much suffering, there is this marvellous glimpse of an eternal glory, in which all suffering will be banished forever.

In Job 8, we have the first speech of Bildad. Its theme is very straightforward. Sin leads to suffering (Job 8:4). Obedience leads to prosperity (Job 8:5-7). This teaching is presented in a heavy-handed way. In Job 8:2o, we have an attack on Job’s character: “Certainly, God does not reject a person of integrity or give a helping hand to wicked people.” When this statement is applied to Job, it has the effect of saying to him, “You’re not a person of integrity. You’re a wicked person.” There’s a problem with Bildad’s words. He doesn’t recognize that there is an eternal perspective within which the divine judgment is set. Here, on earth, the wicked may be prospering, but the time of judgment will come. It may not be in this world, but it will come, in God’s final judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). Here, on earth, the righteous may suffer much, but their suffering will not be forever. The day of salvation will come. There will be “a great reward in heaven!” (Matthew 5:10-12). Our suffering is “for a little while now”, but it will not last forever: “Your faith is more precious than gold, and by passing the test, it gives praise, glory and honour to God. This will happen when Jesus Christ appears again” (1 Peter 1:6-7).

In Job 9 - 10, Job speaks. He is in a mood of deep distress. He speaks of the futility of arguing with God (Job 9:3). His situation is very depressing: “I hate my life” (Job 10:1). He is surrounded by deep darkness: “So stop this, and leave me alone. Let me smile a little before I go away to a land of darkness and doom to a dismal land of long shadows and confusion where light is as bright as darkness. I’ll never return” (Job 10:20-22).

In Job 11, we hear from Zophar. So far, so good - That’w what we can say about the basic principles of his message: “God’s wisdom is higher than heaven” (Job 11:8); “If you want to set your heart right, then pray to Him. If yo’re holding on to sin, put it far away” (Job 11:13). There’s a problem with Zophar’s message. He applies these basic principles to Job. He allows the idea that Job has sinned to dominate his thinking rather than allowing for the possibility that God, in His perfect wisdom, may have another reason, a very different reason, for permitting Job to suffer. When we have two important principles - God’s wisdom and God’s forgiveness, we must not assume that we know exactly how the two relate to each other. If we act on the basis of our own wisdom rather than God’s wisdom, we may end up showing ourselves to be fools.

In Job 12 - 14, Job speaks. He emphasizes that wisdom comes from God (Job 12:13). He charges his so-called ‘comforters’ with speaking foolishly, without the wisdom which comes from God: “Will you talk wickedly for God and talk deceitfully on His behalf? ... Doesn’t His Majesty terrify you? Doesn’t the fear of Him fall upon you?” (Job 13:7,11). Job is still unclear about what is happening to him. He is still wishing that he was dead: “I wish You would hide me in Sheol” (Job 14:13). He still insists on his innocence: “I know that I will be declared righteous” (Job 13:18).

In Job 15, we have another speech from Eliphaz. He charges in with all the subtlety of an elephant on the rampage: “you destroy the fear of God, and diminish devotion to God” (Job 15:4). He continues in the same vein, getting bolder and brasher in his word of accusation: “Your sin teaches you what to say. You choose to talk with a sly tongue. Your own mouth condemns you, not I. Your lips testify against you” (Job 15:5-6). Eliphaz did not listen to Job, but he insisted on Job listening to him: “I’ll tell you; listen to me! I’ll relate what I’ve seen, I’ll tell you what wise people have declared” (Job 15:17-18). Eliphaz gives a vivid description of the tortured life of the wicked person (Job 15:20-35). He begins with the words, “The wicked person is tortured all his days” (Job 15:20). This part of his speech is in the third person. While he doesn’t explicitly say, “I’m describing you, Job”, it is perfectly clear that this is what Eliphaz is doing. “This is what you are like, Job” - This is the message that Eliphaz wants Job to take out of his description of “the wicked person.”

Job stands up to his ‘comforters’, who are really his critics: “You are all pathetic at comforting me” (Job 16:2). He is, however, at ‘the end of his tether’, as he tries to understand what is going on in his life: “now, God has worn me out” (Job 16:7). The extent to which Job has been overcome by despair becomes clear in the final verses of Job 17. Again, he stands up to his critics: “I won’t find one wise man among you” (Job 17:10). Again, he feels that his situation is hopeless (Job 17:14-16). As we read of Job’s deep distress, we should remember also the words of our Lord Jesus Christ, as he hung on the Cross: “My God, my God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46). Christ suffered for us - but He also rose again for us. Job catches a glimpse of this when he says, “I know that my Redeemer lives” (Job 19:25).

In Job 18, Bildad, the Shuhite, shows his lack of spiritual stature. In his description of “the wicked” (Job 18:5), he implies that all that he says applies to Job. His speech ends with the summarizing words: “This is what happens to the homes of wicked people and to tose who do not know God” (Job 18:21). The opening words of the book of Job - “He was a man of integrity ... He feared God” (Job 1:1) - make it clear that Bildad’s words do not apply to Job.

For most of his speech, in Job 19, Job is in the depths of despair, then, towards the end of his speech, there is a breakthrough- “I know that my defender (or Redeemer) lives, and, afterwards, he will stand on the earth. Even after my skin has been stripped off my body, I will see God in my own flesh. I will see Him with my own eyes” (Job 19:25). There is, in Job’s heart, a great conflict. Immediately after speaking these great words of triumphant faith and glorious hope, he speaks, again, with deep agony - “My heart fails inside me!” (Job 19:27).

In Job 20, we hear, again, the voice of Zophar - the ‘so far, so good’ man. His principles concerning the judgment of God on the wicked are all right as far as they go. The problem is that they are general. They are floating over the specific case of Job, without really coming to terms with the real man to whom his harsh words are addressed. Zophar begins his speech with the claim that he has been inspired by God - “a spirit beyond my understanding gives me answer” (Job 20:3). He assumes that this spirit is God. He is, in fact, speaking in the power and service of another spirit - Satan. Zophar is serving Satan, whose purpose is to do down God’s servant, Job. Zophar speaks with arrogance, a ‘know it all’ attitude. He displays the kind of spiritual pride which is characteristic of Satan, the enemy of God and the people of God. Zophar’s speech ends with summarizing words: “This is the reward God gives to the wicked person, the inheritance God appointed for him” (Job 20:29). This is a general conclusion. The question he fails to answer is this: Does all that I have just said really apply to Job?

In Job 21, Job points out the folly of the idea that God’s judgment can be conceived solely in terms of what happens in this world. He observes that, very often, in this life, wicked people do not suffer for their sins. When the judgment of God is seen in the light of eternity rather than in connection with what happens here on earth, it becomes clear that the simplistic application to Job of the general principle - wicked people are punished by God - is very wrong. It assumes that Job was a wicked man. God’s Word tells us that Job was a righteous man (Job 1:8). Job emphasizes that God’s dealings with us are not simple and straightforward - according to an easily defined formula. Job asks, “Can anyone teach God knowledge? Can anyone judge the Mist High?” (Job 21:22). We must humble ourselves before Almighty God, acknowledging that He is God and that He knows what He is doing. This is indicated clearly in the first two chapters of Job. God has given us His explanation of what was happening to Job. In drawing attention to this God-given explanation in the case of Job, we should note that, first, that, at the time of his suffering was not given to Job; and, second, God is under no obligation to give us an explanation of all that He is doing in our lives. To those who claim that God must do one thing or another, according to their own limited understanding, we must answer, as Job did, “How can you comfort me with this nonsense when your answers continue to betray me?” (Job 21:34).

In Job 22, Eliphaz charges in with harsh words of accusation - “Aren’t you really very wicked? Is there no end to your wrongdoing?” (Job 22:5). He persists with his probing, heartless questions - “Are you following the old path that wicked people have taken?” (Job 22:15). In general terms, the words of Eliphaz were good words - “Be in harmony and at peace with God” (Job 22:21); “Keep his words in your heart” (Job 22:22). “Return to the Almighty” (Job 22:23); “Put wrongdoing out of your tent” (Job 22:24). The problem with his words is that they are bound up, in such a watertight way, with the promise of prosperity - ‘Do these things and you will prosper.” This leads to the assumption: Because Job is not prospering, he must have sinned. This is not what God says about Job (Job 1:8).

There is real sadness in the words, spoken by Job, in Job 23 - 24. There is no hint of a light at the end of the tunnel, as there was in Job 19:25 - “I know that my Redeemer lives.” That glimpse of glory has dimmed, and Job must continue in the battle for faith, without much to give him any encouragement. His words about God - “He does whatever what He wants” - are not words of complaint. They are words of faith. Job is holding on to God in the darkness of suffering - “He will carry out His orders concerning me, as He does with so many other f Job’s suffering” (Job 23:13-14). This is a statement of faith in the sovereignty of God. It is not a cheap confession, mouthed in times of ease. These words do not come easily. They are words that have power because they are words that refuse to lose sight of God, even when suffering obscures Job’s view of Him.

What are we to say about Bildad’s short speech in Job 25: “If you don’t have anything to say, don’t take a long time, saying nothing.” Bildad keeps it short. He lives up to his name - Bildad, the Shuhite (shoe height!!)! In general terms, what he says is true. He speaks about the universality of sinfulness. Lack of purity applies to all of us. It does not, however, provide us with an adequate explanation of Job’s suffering. To understand what was happening to Job, we must reckon with the activity of Satan and the permission of God. We should not blame God, saying, “It’s all God’s fault.” Satan attacks God’s people. He brings suffering upon them. We should not say, “Just pray, and everything will be okay.” This is not always true. There are times when God permits Satan to bring suffering upon His people. Why does God not answer the prayers of His people? The answer is not, “God doesn’t love us.” It’s “God loves us, but He is permitting Satan to attack us.” God does this because, in His time, He intends to bring us through our time of suffering, bringing us closer to Himself - “My grace is sufficient for you; my strength is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9). Whatever our circumstance here on earth, we take our ultimate comfort from this: “Your faith is more precious than gold, and by passing the test, it gives praise, glory and honour to God. This will happen when Jesus Christ appears again” (1 Peter 1:7).

In Job 26 - 27, Job protests his innocence - “It’s unthinkable for me to admit that you are right. Until I breathe my last breath, I will never give up my claim to integrity. I cling to my righteousness and won’t let go. My conscience won’t accuse me as long as I live” (Job 27:5-6). If these words weren’t true, they would be the height of arrogant pride. It is, however, clear, from the opening verse of the book of Job, that “Job was a man of integrity ... He feared God, and he stayed away from evil” (Job1:1). When Job protested his innocence, he was speaking words of truth. His words were not words of false pride. They were words of true godliness.

In Job 28 - 29, Job emphasizes the importance of pleasing God - “The fear of the Lord is wisdom. To stay away from evil is understanding” (Job 28:28). He describes the earlier part of his life - before his suffering: “God was in my tent ... The Almighty was still with me” (Job 29:4-5). He longs for the sense of God’s blessing to return to him: “If only my life could be like it used to be, in the days when God watched over me, when He made His lamp shine on my head, when I walked through the dark in His light” (Job 29:2). The meaning of past blessings and the hope of future blessings brings strength to Job, as he faces his present suffering.   

“When I waited for good, evil came. When I looked for light, darkness came” (Job 30:26). There is great sadness in Job’s words. He could not see any way out of this situation - “Days of misery are ahead of me” (Job 30:27). Job wonders what he has done to deserve all this suffering. There is no suggestion that the more a person has sinned, the more he will suffer. We are not to make a direct link between personal sin and personal suffering. Following on from this long speech, covering Job 28 - 31, we don’t hear any more from Job until Job 40:3-5 and Job 42:1-6.

In Job 32 - 37, we have a long speech from Elihu. He thinks that he can improve on the speeches, given by Job’s other ‘comforters’: “None of you refuted Job. None of you has an answer to what he says” (Job 32:12). He maintains that his speech is better than anything Job has already heard. That’s why he says.”Pay attention, Job! Listen to me! Keep quiet, and let me speak ... Keep quiet, and I’ll teach you wisdom” (Job 33:31-33). Elihu isn’t interested in what Job has to say. Elihu is saying, ‘Let me do the speaking. You, Job, must do the listening and learning. I have the wisdom. I’ll pass it on to you. You’ve got it wrong.Let me put you right.’

Job 34 ends with a ‘prayer’, in which Elihu shows how far his view differs from the view presented by God in Job 1. He prays, “Oh that Job might be tested to the utmost for answering like a wicked man!” (Job 34:36). Job was being thoroughly tested. God was allowing this to happen to Job. Elihu was misrepresenting the true nature of Job’s testing. Job’s was being tested before he gave answers. Whatever we may say about Job’s answers, we must point out that, despite all his despondency, Job does not speak as a wicked man. We must never forget that Job was a righteous man (Job 1:1). There is great pain in Job’s responses to his testing. There is, however, nothing to suggest that God needs to alter his view of Job. What does God say about Job? - He says this - “my servant Job” (Job 1:8).  

Elihu is scathing in his criticism of Job - “Job opens nis mouth for no good reason and talks without having any knowledge” (Job 35:16). That’s what Elihu said about Job - but it’s not what God said about His “servant, Job.” According to Elihu, Job is “given the judgment evil people deserve” (Job 36:17). This view is very different from God’s view of Job. Generally speaking, Elihu’s teaching has much to commend it: “Be careful that you are not led away with riches ... Be careful! Don’t turn to evil” (Job 37:18,21). When this teaching is combined with his false statements about Job, Elihu strays from being a true messenger of God to Job. This is highlighted in his parting words to Job - “That is why people should fear Him. He does not respect those who think they’re wise” (Job 37:24). True! - but Job does fear God, and he recognizes God as the only One who is truly wise.

In His speech, the Lord asks many questions. They underline the fact that God is God, and none can even begin to compare with Him: “Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind” (Job 38:36). Wisdom and understanding come from the Lord. In his response (Job 42:1-6), Job humbles himself before God. At the beginning of the book, Job was close to God - “My servant Job.” At the end of the book, he is even closer to God. This is highlighted in Job 42:5 - “I had heard about You with my own ears, but now I have seen You with my own eyes!” The book ends with the restoration of Job. Before we read of what became of Job, we note God’s Word to Job’s so-called ‘comforters.’ These words are spoken to Eliphaz - “I’m very angry with you and your two friends (Bildad and Zophar) because you didn’t speak what is right about Me as My servant Job has done” (Job 42:7). In this criticism of the ‘comforters’, there is also the divine approval of Job. God was pleased with him. God’s purpose concerning the ‘comforters’ remains a purpose of love - and He calls Job to love them. Job didn’t bear a grudge against his so-called ‘comforters.’ He prayed for them: “My servant Job will pray for you. Then I will accept his prayer not to treat you as godless fools” (Job 42:8). (We note that Elihu is not included in God’s criticism of the others. This may indicate that he spoke with greater wisdom than the others - although we should not overstate this point!) Eliphaz, Bildad and Zophar were restored to the Lord in answer to Job’s prayer (Job 42:10). Job was blessed with an abundance of prosperity: “twice as much as he had before ... The Lord blessed the latter years of Job’s life more than the earlier years” (Job 42:10,12).         

Search The Scriptures: Esther

Queen Vashti is removed from her position. She is replaced by Esther. There is no direct mention of God in connection with these events. That fact that the book of Esther has been included in the Word of God indicates that these events were interpreted as evidence of God’s activity among His people. It is important that we read the book of Esther as part of Scripture, and not only in terms of what is written in the book itself. Reading Esther in this way, we see it as part of God’s Story, and not only as a human story.

Although the Name of God does not appear in this book, we have here an inspiring story of the triumph of good over evil. This is a book about God and Satan. They are opposites. The victory belongs to God. He is Lord. Before the victory, there is the conflict. The people of God are in great jeopardy. Their life is in danger. The evil man, Haman, “planned to wipe out ... All the Jews in the entire kingdom of Xerxes” (Esther 3:6). Esther played a vital part in the defeat of Haman. She was willing to die for the sake of her people. She was protecting her people, even at the risk of losing her own life: “I will go to the king, even if it is against a royal decree. If I die, I die” (Esther 4:16).

Esther’s bold request - “Spare my life ... Spare the life of my people” (Esther 7:3) - was followed by an even bolder accusation of Haman - “Our vicious enemy is this wicked man, Haman!” (Esther 7:6). God honoured His servant, Esther. God’s people were spared. God’s enemy, Haman, was killed. Here, we see salvation and judgment. The Lord is the Saviour of all who put their trust in Him. He is also the Judge of those who oppose Him.

Esther showed great courage in standing up for her people - “I cannot bear to see my people suffer such evil” (Esther 8:6). The outcome of her stand for her people was wonderful - “So the Jews were cheerful, happy, joyful, and successful” (Esther 8:16). What celebration there was among God’s people - “Their grief turned to joy.” In their joy, they did not forget “the poor” (Esther 9:22).

Search The Scriptures: Nehemiah

The book of Nehemiah begins with distressing news - “The wall of Jerusalem has been broken down, and its gates have been destroyed by fire” (Nehemiah 1:3). Nehemiah takes this situation to the Lord in prayer (Nehemiah 1:4-11). With the help of God, the work of rebuilding begins. This work was pleasing to the Lord (Nehemiah 2:18). This work would not be easy. There was opposition: They “mocked and ridiculed us, ‘What is this you are doing?’” (Nehemiah 2;19). The opponents would not succeed. Why? - “The God of heaven” would give “success” to His people (Nehemiah 2:20). God’s work is done by many people, working together. Nehemiah 3 gives us a list of all the people who played their part in the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s walls.

Nehemiah and his fellow-builders face determined opposition from their enemies: “What they are building - if even a fox climbed up on it, he would break down their wall of stones!” (Nehemiah 4:3). When the enemies “heard that the repairs to Jerusalem’s walls had gone ahead and that the gaps were being closed, they were very angry. They all plotted together against Jerusalem and stir up trouble against it” (Nehemiah 4:7-8). What did God’s people do when they were faced with this opposition? - “We prayed to our God and posted a guard day and night to meet this threat” (Nehemiah 4:10). They were watching out for their enemies - and they were looking to the Lord. Nehemiah urged the workers to keep looking to the Lord: “Remember how great and awe-inspiring the Lord is ... Our God will fight for us!” (Nehemiah 4:14,20). This is what we must do. We must keep our eyes on the Lord. He is the great God. He is a great help to His people in their many times of testing.

Nehemiah works, with the help of God, for the poor of the people (Nehemiah 5:19). The enemies of Nehemiah continued to oppose the work of rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. When they came with their criticisms, Nehemiah refused to be distracted. He kept on working (Nehemiah 6:3). Work on the city walls was completed. The critics were silenced - “When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence.” God was glorified - “They realized we had done this work with the help of our God” (Nehemiah 6:19). The situation of God’s people today is still the same as it was in Nehemiah’s day. To rebuild the “walls” of God’s work, we must overcome determined opposition.

Following the list of those who returned to the city of Jerusalem from exile (Nehemiah 7), we see the people of God, hearing the Word of God, read and explained to them (Nehemiah 8:7-8). The preaching of God’s Word took the place within the context of thanksgiving and worship (Nehemiah 8:6). The ministry of the Word of God was grounded in the study of the Word of God (Nehemiah 8:13).

“Stand up and thank the Lord your God” (Nehemiah 9:5). This is a call to worship. We worship God, our Creator: “You alone are the Lord. You made heaven ... You made the earth” (Nehemiah 9:6). The God of Abraham is our God - the faithful God: “You made a promise ... You kept Your promise” (Nehemiah 9:8). Our God is the God of redemption. He’s the God who redeemed His people, Israel, from their bondage in Egypt (Nehemiah 9:9-11). He is the God who has given us “commandments, laws and teachings” (Nehemiah 9:14). He gives us “bread” and “water”, as we stumble through life’s wilderness, on our way to His promised land (Nehemiah 9:15). Our God is great: “You are a forgiving God, One who is compassionate, merciful,patient, and always ready to forgive” (Nehemiah 9:17). He is the God of “endless compassion” (Nehemiah 9:19). He has given us “His good Spirit” to teach us (Nehemiah 9:20). He blesses us, with His “vast supply of good things” (Nehemiah 9:25). “Our God” is “the great, mighty, and awe-inspiring God.” He is the “merciful and compassionate God” (Nehemiah 9:31-32).

The “separation of God’s people from the inhabitants of the land” was “for the sake of God’s teachings” (Nehemiah 10:28). There is an important principle here. We are separated from the world so that we might be separate to God. Everything revolves around this - giving glory to God by giving Him His rightful place in our hearts and lives: “We won’t neglect God’s Temple” (Nehemiah 10:39).

The walls had been rebuilt. Now, they were “dedicated” to God (Nehemiah 12:27). Was a time of great joy (Nehemiah 12:27,43). The people of God sand “songs of praise and thanksgiving to God” (Nehemiah 12:46). As well as singing praise to God, the Lord’s people listened to His Word (Nehemiah 13:1). Sometimes, after happy times among God’s people, there can be a time of decline - “Why is God’s Temple being neglected?” (Nehemiah 13:11). We must not live in the past. Our walk with God must continue. There must be an ongoing fellowship with the Lord. If there is to be a closer walk with God, we must always remember that this is not our own doing. It is the loving kindness of God, reaching out to us: “Remember Me ... My God ... Since You are very kind” (Nehemiah 13:22). His kindness brings blessing into our lives: “Remember me, my God, for my benefit” (Nehemiah 13:31).     

Search the Scriptures: Joshua

This is the story of what God was doing with His people. He was giving them the land he had promised to them. Joshua was to be the leader of God;s people. Joshua’s strength came from the Lord: “Be strong and courageous! ...The Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9).
The report of the spies - “The Lord has given us the whole country” (Joshua 2:24) - emphasizes that God is in control. God is working out His purpose, His perfect purpose, His purpose of love.
It is important to remember this. Without this understanding of the events recorded in the book of Joshua, we will lose our way and fail to see what relevance these events have for us. From these events, we learn that our strength comes from the Lord, who does great things for us because he loves us with a perfect love.

The crossing of the River Jordan was a significant event. It was an event to be remembered. It wasn’t just a geographical event. It was more than a movement from one place to another. It was a spiritual event, a work of God. The meaning of this event would bring blessing to God’s people down through the years: “The Lord did this so that everyone in the world would know His mighty power and that you would fear the Lord your God every day of your life” (Joshua 4:24). The past affects the present. It shapes the future. We remember the Lord so that we might learn to fear Him, now and always.

The victory over Jericho came immediately after the appearance of “the Commander of the Lord’s army.” It was God who told His people how they were to approach the city of Jericho. Everything about this victory marked it out as the work of God: “So the Lord was with Joshua, and his fame spread throughout the land” (Joshua 6:27). The Lord accomplishes His work when His people obey His instructions. We must never forget this. All glory must be given to the Lord. It’s not our obedience which earns His blessing. It’s His power and His love, which sends His blessing down from heaven. His blessing is sent to those who are obedient. It’s always the gift of His grace. It’s never the reward for our good works.

The victory over Ai (Joshua 7 & 8) could not take place until the sin of Achan had been dealt with. There needs to be the tearing down of sin before there can be the building up with salvation. This is a spiritual principle of the greatest importance. God withholds His blessing from us when we withhold our obedience from Him. It is to an obedient people that God sends His blessing. We must,in repentance, remove the barriers to God’s blessing. When we do this, we can, then, reach out, by faith, and receive the blessing that He is so eager to give to us.

“The Lord fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:14). This is what we must see in all the conflicts between Israel and the other nations. God is working out His purpose. He is fulfilling His promises. Without this spiritual dimension, the events recorded in the book of Joshua are of no real significance for us today. Keeping this spiritual purpose at the centre, we will learn this great lesson: The Lord fights for us.

“Don’t be afraid of them because I am going to give them to Israel” (Joshua 11:6). This is the Word of the Lord that lies at the heart of Joshua’s account of Israel’s victories. The victory comes from the Lord. He gives His people the victory. This is still God’s Word to us. As we face our enemies - everything that stands in the way of our spiritual progress, we must stand on the Word of the Lord - His promise of victory.

In the book of Joshua , there’s plenty of geography - lots of place names. There is also the spiritual emphasis on the direct connection between obedience and blessing. We see this in the life of Caleb (Joshua 14:6-9,13-14). There’s something remarkable about Caleb - “I am 85 years old” and “still as fit to go to war as I was when Moses sent me out.” He was still saying, “If the Lord is with me, I can drive them out, as He promised” (Joshua 14;10-12).

The division of the land among the tribes (Joshua 15-19) seems to be so mundane, yet it’s part of the Word of God. This reminds us that even the mundane aspects of our life are lived out “in the presence of the Lord” (Joshua 18:10; 19:51).

The cities of refuge (Joshua 20) and the cities that were given to the tribes (Joshua 21) - This isn’t particularly interesting. We should never lose sight of the spiritual dimension, with which Joshua 21 ends: “The Lord gave Israel the whole land ... The Lord allowed them to have peace on every side ... The Lord handed all their enemies over to them. Every single promise that the Lord had given the nation of Israel came true” (Joshua 21:43-45).

“The Lord is the only true God” (Joshua 22:22,34).
In this new land, the Israelites faced conflict. This was more than a conflict between nations. It was a conflict between the one God and the many gods. It was a conflict  between the true God and the false gods. God’s Word to His people was clear - “You must be loyal to the Lord your God” (Joshua 23:8). God is still speaking to His people. He is still saying, “Get rid of the gods ... Serve only the Lord” (Joshua 24:14). The choice must be made - “Choose today whom you will serve.” God is calling us to make our response: “I will serve the Lord” (Joshua 24:15). After reading many chapters, full of names, we must remember that there is one Name which is more important than all the other names. It’s the Name of the Lord our God. After reading so much about military exploits, we must remember that it is in the Name of the Lord that we are called to do battle. There’s a spiritual battle to be fought. In this battle, we fight for the Lord. We fight in His strength. In this battle, there’s one thing that matters more than anything else. It’s the glory of God. 

Search The Scriptures: Ezra

Following the return of the Jews to Jerusalem, after their captivity in Babylon and prior to the beginning of the rebuilding of the Temple, there was the resumption of worship at the Temple site (Ezra 3:1=6). Worship - This must always lie at the heart of the life of God’s people. Once the foundation had been laid at the Temple, there was joyful thanksgiving - “They prayed and gave thanks to the Lord ... He is good; His mercy toward Israel endures forever ... Praise the Lord” (Ezra 3:11).

In Ezra 4, we read of opposition to God’s work. This opposition led to a temporary hold in God’s work (Ezra 4:24). Inspired by the ministry of Haggai and Zechariah, Zerubbabel resumed the rebuilding of God’s Temple in Jerusalem (Ezra 5:1-2). The work was completed (Ezra 6:15) and dedicated to the Lord (Ezra 6:16). At the heart of the dedication of the Temple, there was worship - joyful worship (Ezra 6:19-22).

Ezra was a man of God. His life was grounded in the word of God. He brought the Word of God to others, teaching them to build their lives on the word of God. In Ezra 8:22, we have a Old Testament statement of the spiritual principle, taught by Paul in Romans 8:28 - “Our God works things out for the good of everyone who dedicates his life to serving him.” 

In His Word, God calls us to make a total commitment of our lives to Him. Where we have failed him, we must make confession of our sin and pray that He will give us the strength to live a life that is pleasing to Him and brings glory to Him.

Search The Scriptures: 1 Chronicles

In 1 Chronicles 1 - 9, there are lots of names. Each one of us is known, by name, to the Lord. This is a very precious truth. It is summed up, for us, in the wonderful words of love, spoken by the Good Shepherd, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

“So Saul died because of his unfaithfulness to the Lord. He did not obey the Word of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 10:13). Here, we read of Saul’s sin, shame and sadness. This was more than a personal thing. It had a profound effect on the whole nation. God looked at the effect Saul was having on His people. The Lord decided that it was time for a change, a new beginning:“So the Lord killed him, and turned the kingship over to David, Jesse’s son” (1 Chronicles 10:14).

David becomes king (1 Chronicles 11:3). David is helped by his supporters. He has more than the help of other people. His help comes from the Lord (1 Chronicles 12:18). The work, done by David, was, first and foremost, the work of God - the restoration of God to His proper place among His people (1 Chronicles 13:3): “The Lord is enthroned on the praises of His people ... David and all Israel were celebrating in God’s presence with all their might ... “ (1 Chronicles 13:6,8).

The defeat of the Philistines was God’s doing: “God has gone ahead of you to defeat the Philistine army” (1 Chronicles 14:15). Along with this victory over the Philistines, there was the bringing to Jerusalem of “the ark of the Lord’s promise.” This was an occasion of joyful worship (1 Chronicles 15:28). In worship, there is “singing songs of thanks to the Lord” (1 Chronicles 16:7) - “Give thanks to the Lord” (1 Chronicles 16:8,34).

“I will place him in My royal House forever, and his throne will be established forever” (1 Chronicles 17:14). This is a word of prophecy concerning Jesus Christ, the King of kings. It is a prophecy, which highlights the eternal purpose of God - the eternal Kingdom of the eternal God. “You made the people of Israel to be Your people forever. And You, Lord, became their God ... Your Name will endure and be respected forever ... Almighty Lord ... You were please to bless my house, so that it may continue in Your presence forever. Indeed, You, Lord, have blessed it. It will be blessed forever” (1 Chronicles 17:22,24,26-27). This is the eternal perspective within which we must read these Old Testament stories. God is the eternal God. His Kingdom is eternal. It will stand forever.

As we read of David and his many exploits, we must remember that this is part of the great story of the mighty works of the Lord. To God’s people, there is the command, “Be strong.” From God’s people, there is the commitment: “Let’s prove ourselves strong for our people and the cities of our God” (1 Chronicles 19:13). This commitment is not only a commitment to the people. It’s a commitment to the Lord. From the Lord, there is His promise: “The Lord will do what He considers right” (1 Chronicles 19:13). This is something we must never forget. God is in control. Without Him, there can be no salvation and no victory. These blessings come from Him.

“Satan stood up against Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:1). This is ominous. Satan spells trouble - trouble for God’s people. Later on, we read of God’s judgment upon Israel (1 Chronicles 21:14). Beyond God’s judgment, there is God’s mercy (1 Chronicles 21:15). In 21:30-22:1, we read about the fear of the Lord - “David was afraid because of the sword of the angel of the Lord” (1 Chronicles 21:30) - and the grace of God - “this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel” (1 Chronicles 22:1). Here, we learn that “the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom” (Proverbs 1:7). The burnt offering points us forward to to Jesus Christ, laying down His life as a sacrifice for our sins. When we are afraid to come into God’s presence, because of our sin, God speaks to us of the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, crucified and risen for us, and we sing, from the heart, “’Twas grace that taught my heart to fear and grace my fears relieved.”

The name, “Solomon” means “peace” - “in his time I will give Israel peace and quiet” (1 Chronicles 22:9). The peace came from the Lord. It came from the presence of the Lord with Solomon (1 Chronicles 22:18). When we think of all that the Lord has done for us and all that He has given to us, we must give our hearts and lives to Him, to live as His faithful people - “So dedicate your hearts and lives to serving the Lord your God. Start building the holy place of the Lord your God” (1 Chronicles 22:19).

The work of God is to be carried out by many people, working together as a team - God’s team. The importance of teamwork must be recognized if God’s work is to be moved forward in God’s way. Reading over the many names and numbers in 1 Chronicles 23 - 27, we are reminded of Paul’s words concerning the body of Christ: “the body is one unit and yet has many parts. As all the parts form one body, so it is with Christ” (1 Corinthians 12:12).

The Lord’s work requires the generous and wholehearted support of God’s people (1 Chronicles 29:9). It needs more than human enthusiasm. We need the presence of the Lord. This is what the Lord promises to us: “The Lord God, my God, will be with you. He will not abandon you before all the work on the Lord’s temple is finished.” This promise of God gives God’s courage to God’s servants: “Be strong and courageous, and do the work.” God’s promise gives us victory over fear: “Don’t be afraid or terrified” (1 Chronicles 28:20). In the service of the Lord, we need both hard work and worship. Without worship, hard work amounts to nothing. It will be service that is offered to God in the flesh - and it will accomplish nothing which brings glory to God. God is glorified only when His servants do all things in the Spirit of worship. This is the lesson that we learn from the song of praise in 1 Chronicles 29:10-15. Everything comes from God. He gives us what we need to do His work. He equips us for His service. He enables us to carry His work forward. At the heart of the life of God’s people, we have the continuation of the scene, described in 1 Chronicles 29:20 - “Then David said to the whole assembly, ‘Praise the Lord your God!’” The worship of God is to be a joyful celebration (1 Chronicles 29:22).       
  

Search The Scriptures: 2 Chronicles

“Give me wisdom and knowledge so that I may lead these people ... This great people of Yours” (2 Chronicles 1:10). Wisdom is not given to us for our own benefit, It is given to us for the benefit of others - so that we might lead them to the Lord. We are to follow in the footsteps of our Lord. He “came not to be served but to serve” (Mark 10:45).

“I want to build the Temple for the Lord my God. I want to dedicate it to Him” (2 Chronicles 2:4). Everything that we do is to be done for God. Everything that we do is to be dedicated to Him. This is the lesson that we learn from Solomon and the building of the Temple. We are to do all things for the glory of God. He alone is worthy of our praise. We are not only to worship Him in the place of worship and at the time set aside for worship. We are to worship Him all of the time, wherever we are. We are to praise Him in His House. We are to continue to praise Him, as we go out from His House to the world.

The building of the Temple - It was “the Lord’s Temple” (2 Chronicles 3:1). It was being built “for the Lord’s Name” (2 Chronicles 2:1). The glory of the Lord - This must never be forgotten. There is nothing more important than this. God is to be glorified. This was the reason for the building of the Temple.This must be the driving force in our lives - in everything we do. Let God be glorified in all things. Blessing will only come to us when we give the glory to God. We must not seek glory for ourselves.

“The Lord’s glory filled the Lord’s Temple” (2 Chronicles 5:14), The emphasis is not on Solomon. It is the Lord who must be the focus of our attention. It is the Lord who is to receive glory. Solomon emphasizes this: “I’ve built the Temple for the Name of the Lord God of Israel” (2 Chronicles 6:11). In his prayer (2 Chronicles 6:14-42), Solomon prays for “salvation” (2 Chronicles 6:41). He does not only pray for himself. He prays for others. He prays that they will come to God, praying for “salvation”. He asks God to hear and answer these prayers.

The continuation of God’s blessing is conditional on the continuation of Israel’s obedience. The Temple does not guarantee the continuation of God’s blessing: “If you and your descendants turn away from Me ... I will reject this Temple that I declared holy for My Name. I will make it an example and an object of ridicule for all the people of the world” (2 Chronicles 7:19-20). These are God’s words of warning. He also gives His promise of blessing to those who turn to Him - “If My people ...” (2 Chronicles 7:14-16).

The grandeur of Solomon was most impressive. After reading about all of his glory, we come to the point where he dies. This is a reminder that we cannot take our riches with us. It’s a reminder of Jesus’ words: “Do not lay up treasures on earth.Lay up treasures in heaven” (Matthew 6:19-20), We must never lose sight of the eternal dimension of our life.

In the history of Israel, there were low points - “all Israel abandoned the Lord’s teaching” (2 Chronicles 12:1) - as well as high points - “Asa did what the Lord his God considered right and good” (2 Chronicles 14:2). Even Asa was not consistently faithful to the Lord. Despite the statement, “Asa remained committed to the Lord his entire life” (2 Chronicles 15:17), there are signs that, at the end of his life, his faith was not as strong as it should have been. God is calling us to move forward in faith and obedience. He is calling us to walk in His ways all the days of our life.

The reign of Jehoshaphat was a good reign. He was the “king of Judah” (2 Chronicles 20:31). He was very different from “King Ahab of Israel” (2 Chronicles 18:3). Good kings, bad kings - Each has his influence on the people: a good influence, a bad influence. Reading about these things makes us think about ourselves and the influence we have on other people. Is it good or bad? What about our own commitment to the Lord? Is it real? Is it changing us - and others?

Good kings and        

Search The Scriptures: 2 Kings


Near to the end of his life on earth, Elijah remained faithful to God. He stands up for God against “Baalzebub, the god of Ekron” (2 Kings 1:6,16). He spoke the Word that had been given to him by God (2 Kings 1:3-4). When Elijah was taken by God “to heaven in a windstorm” (2 Kings 2:11), the question was asked by Elisha, “Where is the Lord God of Elijah?” (2 Kings 2:14). The answer to this question is given in 2 Kings 2:15: “Elijah’s spirit rests on Elisha.” The names of the prophets change from generation to the next. The Name of the Lord remains constant. It is in the Name of the Lord that God’s servants speak and act.

The power of God was upon Elisha. God was at work in mighty power. When we red about Elisha, we say, in our hearts, ‘This is not about Elisha. This is about God - - God working through Elisha.’ We must always remember to give all the glory to the Lord. The praise does not belong to the servant. It belongs to the Lord. He alone is worthy of praise.

The ministry of Elisha was filled with the power of God. Elisha was “the prophet”, “the man of God” (2 Kings 5:3,8). Before we can speak and work for God, we must belong to Him. We must be the people of God before we can be prophets for God. The power of God changes us. We become “a new creation in Christ Jesus” (2 Corinthians 5:17). The power of God equips us for service - “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you, and you shall be My witnesses” (Acts 1:8). 

“Don’t be afraid. We have more forces on our side than they have on theirs.” We need our eyes opened to see “the mountain ... Full of fiery horses and chariots” (2 Kings 6:16-17), The victory comes from “the Lord” (2 Kings 7:6). “This is a day of good news” (2 Kings 7:9). In the Lord, we have the victory, Strengthened by Him, we triumph over our enemies.

Reading about those who do what the Lord considers evil is not happy reading. Reading about God’s judgment upon such people is serious reading. It brings the challenge of God’s Word - “Be not deceived. God is not mocked. What a man sows, he shall also reap” (Galatians 6:7). This challenge is stated clearly in the words, “Sow a thought, reap an action. Sow an action, reap a habit. Sow a habit, reap a destiny.”

Royalty and loyalty - The two things are different. Jehus was regarded as royalty, but he wasn’t fully loyal to the Lord. Jehu did some good things, with which the Lord was pleased - “Jehu got rid of Baal worship throughout Israel ... The Lord said to Jehu, ‘You did what I consider right’” (2 Kings 10:28,30). Jehu’s good actions were not the full story of his life. There was also much that was displeasing to the Lord - “Jehu did not turn away from the sins that Jeroboam led Israel to commit - the worship of the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan ... Jehu didn’t wholeheartedly obey the teachings of the Lord God of Israel” (2 Kings 10:29,31).

The history of God’s people, under their various kings, is like a rollercoaster. There are high-points - “They would be the Lord’s people” (2 Kings 11:17). These high-points are often followed by low-points - “Joash did what the Lord considered right ...but the illegal places of worship weren’t torn down” (2 Kings 12:2-3). The reign of Jehoahaz was one of decline - “He did what the Lord considered evil” (2 Kings 13:2). The decline continued under the reign of Jehoash - “He did what the Lord considered evil” (2 Kings 13:11). Despite all the sins of the kings, there was still hope. This hope did not come from the kings. It came from the Lord: “The Lord was kind and merciful to the Israelites because of His promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob” (2 Kings 13:23).

There were so many kings, and so little submission to the real King, the Lord. Over many generations, the Lord’s purpose for His people seemed to be at a low ebb. Behind all the depressing details of so many disobedient kings, we must learn to see God’s determination to fulfil His promise of blessing. Even in the hard times, God is there. He is ready to revive His work. He waits for His people to call upon in his Name in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24).

The great decision is always the same. Who will you serve - God or the gods? God’s Word is clear - “Never  worship other gods. Instead, worship the Lord your God” (2 Kings 17:38-39). Our response is not always so clear - “The people of Israel had refused to listen and made up their own rules ... These other nations worshipped the Lord, but also served their own idols” (2 Kings 17:40-41).

“Hezekiah trusted the Lord God of Israel. No king among all the kings of Judah was like Hezekiah. He was loyal to the Lord and never turned away from Him. He obeyed the commands the Lord had given through Moses, so the Lord was with him. He succeeded in everything he tried” (2 Kings 18:5-7). This description of Hezekiah is so encouraging. It’s an oasis in the middle of a desert of so many godless kings.

The history, which is recorded for us in the Scriptures, is always more than a human history. It is the history of the unfolding of God’s purpose: “This is the message that the Lord speaks”, “This is what the Lord says”, “Hear the Word of the Lord” (2 Kings 19:21,32; 2 Kings 20:16). Understanding the meaning of history comes from listening to the Word of the Lord. When we listen to God’s Word, we will learn to see the deepest meaning of the events of our history.

Following on from reigns of two kings, Manasseh and Amon, who did what was “evil” in the eyes of the Lord (2 Kings 21:2,20), we have the reign of good king, Josiah: “Josiah did what the Lord considered right” (2 Kings 22:2). During Josiah’s reign, there is the rediscovery of God’s Word (2 Kings 22:8) and the reading of His Word ti the people (2 Kings 23:2). This led to a true commitment of Josiah’s life to the Lord (2 Kings 22:25). Sadly, Josiah’s reign was followed by the evil reigns of His two sons, Jehoahaz (2 Kings 22:32) and Jehoiakim (2 Kings 22:37).

In 2 Kings 24 - 25, we read of human sin and divine judgment. This is a timely reminder that we must never allow ourselves to become complacent about our sin and God’s holy judgment.      


 

Search The Scriptures: 1 Kings

The throne is handed on to Solomon by David. This is seen as part of the ongoing purpose of God: “Praise the Lord God of Israel who has let me see the heir to my throne” (1 Kings 1:48). The kingship was given to Solomon by “the Lord” (1 Kings 2:15) - “The Lord set me on my father David’s throne ... As He promised” (1 Kings 2:24). When we read the history of the kings of Israel, it is important that we do not lose sight of this spiritual dimension. This is more than the story of men. It’s the story of God’s dealings with His people.

Solomon was a wise man. His wisdom came from God: “He possessed wisdom from God”, “God gave Solomon wisdom” (1 Kings 3:28; 1 Kings 4:29). The work done by the king required wisdom. The gift of wisdom is to be received with praise to God: “May the Lord be praised today: He has given David a wise son to rule this great nation” (1 Kings 5:7). God gave wisdom for spiritual leadership - building the Lord’s Temple (1 Kings 6:1,37-38). God gives wisdom to us as we gather together in His House to hear His Word (1 Kings 6:19). We are not only to hear His Word. We are to do His work (1 King 7:51). For His work, God gives us His wisdom - holy wisdom.

Solomon prays (1 Kings 8:22-53). The Lord answers Solomon’s prayer (1 Kings 9:3-9). We must seek the blessing of God. Without His blessing, all our efforts are fruitless. When our work is “in the Lord”, it is “not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58). Together with work, there needs to be prayer. We are to look to God for the blessing. As we pray to God and work for Him, we must remember this: God is faithful - He fulfils His promises to His people (1 Kings 8:56). When God blesses us, we must remember to give thanks to Him. As well as praying to Him, working for Him and thanking Him, we must make sure that we keep on living for Him (1 Kings 8:61). At the centre of our life of obedience, there is to be worshipping Him in His House (1 Kings 9:3).

In 1 Kings 10, we read about Solomon’s wealth. In 1 Kings 11, we read about his weakness - women. There is sadness about Solomon’s reign - “He was no longer committed to the Lord his God as his father David had been ... He did not wholeheartedly follow the Lord as his father David had done” (1 Kings 11:4,6). Solomon’s sin led to God’s judgment: “So the Lord grew angry with Solomon because his heart had turned from the Lord God of Israel” (1 Kings 11:9).

1 Kings 12 tells us about Rehoboam (verses 1-19) and Jeroboam (verses 20-33). God was looking beyond both of these men. He was looking ahead to the reign of King Josiah (1 Kings 13:2). For the fulfilment of this prophecy, we must look on to 2 Kings 23:15-20. God is always ahead of us. We live in our present. He is calling us on to His future.

As we read about various king, there is something that we must never forget - the Lord is King. He is King of all kings. Over all kings, there is One who reigns supreme. The Lord reigns. His reign is greater than any earthly king. He is the King of heaven. There is no other king like the Lord. He is the One who sits on the heavenly throne. His throne is established forever.

We read about Elijah in his high-points of strength - the triumph over the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:36-39) - and his low-points of weakness - he is ready to give up: “I’ve had enough now, Lord” (1 Kings 19:4). How did Elijah get into such a mess? He forgot this: “The Lord’s power was on Elijah” (1 Kings 18:46). In all life’s ups and downs, we must hold on to this: The Lord has sent His Spirit of power to live in us (2 Timothy 1:7). How are we to live in the power of the Spirit? We need to feed on the Word of God and drink in the Word of God (1 Kings 17:4). We need to pray that the Lord will send His showers of blessing (1 Kings 17:14). We are to live our life “according to the Word of the Lord” (1 Kings 17:16). For our life of faith to be strong in the Lord, we need to listen attentively to the preaching of God’s Word (1 Kings 17:24).

Following the death of the evil king, Ahab, things changed. The new king, Jehoshaphat, was a different kind of man - “Jehoshaphat did what the Lord considered right” (1 Kings 22:43). Sadly, things took a turn for the worse after Jehoshaphat died: “Ahaziah ... Did what the Lord considered evil .... Ahaziah served Baal, worshipped him, and made the Lord God of Israel furious ...” (1 Kings 22:51-53). In all the changing circumstances of our lives, we must remember that the Lord is King. We are not to put our trust in kings. There are good kings. There are bad kings. There is only one true King. There is only One who is King over all. The Lord is the King of kings. This is the thought which we must take with us as we move on from 1 Kings to 2 Kings. The Lord is king. No human king can even begin to compare with the Lord, who is King over all.         

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Bible Reading Notes: Year One - April

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