Observations from today’s readings and today’s S-WOD, Tuesday, 29 May 18:
1. 1 Kings 5 — Hiram king of Tyre. David’s and then Solomon’s relationship with Hiram, as with Solomon’s relationship with Egypt, seemed wise according to the world’s wisdom and brought initial prosperity to Israel, but this union with the ungodly sowed the seeds of compromise and destruction in Israel. Tyre was an opulent kingdom built on the backs of slaves whose idolatrous religious practices eventually crept into Israel; in fact, Solomon, through Hiram, hires the same craftsmen who crafted pagan idols to work on the Temple of God. In some way, you could compare Solomon’s relationship with Tyre with America’s relationship with China and other nations who have great wealth, resources, and cheap labor but also terrible ethics.
2. 1 Kings 5:13 — “King Solomon drafted forced labor out of all Israel, and the draft numbered 30,000 men.” According to 1 Kings 9:22, Solomon did not make forced laborers of the children of Israel in his building campaigns. However, 1 Kings 5:13 says Solomon raised up a labor force out of all Israel. Which one of these reports is correct? Both reports are correct. The reconciliation of these statements is found in the fact that there are different Hebrew words used of two different types of laborers in the building projects of Solomon. According to 1 Kings 5:13 (5:27 in the Hebrew text), Solomon raised up a “labor force” (mas or hammas) from all Israel. In this context, labor force was a group conscripted from the population to participate in the building project. It was apparently composed of both Israelites and non-Israelites. However, in 1 Kings 9:21 the author delineates those people from whom Solomon brought on as “slave labor.” The word used here ismas-obed which indicates forced slave labor. Then, in 9:22 the author points out that Solomon did not employ any Israelites as “slaves” (abed). There is no contradiction here, because, although Solomon did draft young men of Israel to labor in the construction of the temple, a practice which brought him great trouble later in his reign, he did not make any Israelite a slave laborer.
3. 1 Kings 5:14-18 — Solomon’s wisdom included superior planning, organizational, leadership, and management skills along with great attention to detail. The foundation of these abilities is self-leadership, personal planning and organization, self-discipline, and personal attention to detail. You cannot lead great endeavors if you cannot first lead self.
4. 1 Kings 6:11-13 — “Now the word of the LORD came to Solomon, ‘Concerning this house that you are building, if you will walk in my statutes and obey my rules and keep all my commandments and walk in them, then I will establish my word with you, which I spoke to David your father. And I will dwell among the children of Israel and will not forsake my people Israel.’” God’s presence depended on obedience, not on a building or special acts of worship. While Solomon was focused on the work of building the Temple, God was focused only on obedience to Him. God dwells in the temple of His true disciples. Religious activities and gestures are not the same as obedience produced as the natural fruit of love.
5. 1 Kings 6:38 — Wise Solomon finished what he started according to plan and on schedule. Godly character is timely, complete, and wholly reliable. Always do what you said you were going to do, when you said you were going to do it. Let your “yes” mean yes. The place most people lie is to themselves – they tell themselves they are going to do something (read their Bibles, exercise, call someone, etc) but they don’t do it. If you can’t trust yourself to follow through on commitments, no one else can trust you.
6. Proverbs 29:1 – “He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.” There is a point when it can’t be fixed. The Bible gives you this warning that you will not come to the point of no return.
7. Proverbs 29:5 – “A man who flatters his neighbor spreads a net for his feet.” If you refuse to tell sinners the truth, you are a party to their destruction, and, yes, God will hold you accountable for your part. (See Ezekiel 3 and 33)
8. Proverbs 29:9 — “If a wise man has an argument with a fool, the fool only rages and laughs, and there is no quiet.” You cannot reason with a fool, so don’t waste your time. Speak the truth, if it is not received, move on, but continue in prayer. There is no sense in arguing with a fool. It only brings needless friction.
9. Proverbs 29:18 – “Where there is no prophetic vision the people cast off restraint, but blessed is he who keeps the law.” From Henry T. Blackaby: “The world operates on vision. God’s people live by revelation. The world seeks grand and noble purposes and goals to achieve. People dream up the greatest and most satisfying things in which they can invest their lives. Institutions establish goals and objectives and then organize themselves to achieve them. God’s people function in a radically different way. Christians arrange their lives based on the revelation of God, regardless of whether it makes sense to them. God does not ask for our opinion about what is best for our future, our family, our church, or our country. He already knows! What God wants is to get the attention of His people and reveal to us what is on His heart and what is His will, for God’s ways are not our ways! (Isa. 55:8-9). Whenever people do not base their lives on God’s revelation, they “cast off restraint.” That is, they do what is right in their own eyes. They set their goals, arrange their agendas, and then pray for God’s blessings. Some Christians are living far outside the will of God, yet they have the audacity to pray and ask God to bless their efforts! The only way for you to know God’s will is for Him to reveal it to you. You will never discover it on your own. When you hear from the Father, you have an immediate agenda for your life: obedience. As the writer of Proverbs observed: ‘Happy is he who keeps the law.’”
– The Bible helps us develop and maintain self-control through the continual counsel of the Holy Spirit.
– From Oswald Chambers: “There is a difference between holding on to a principle and having a vision. A principle does not come from moral inspiration, but a vision does. People who are totally consumed with idealistic principles rarely do anything. A person’s own idea of God and His attributes may actually be used to justify and rationalize his deliberate neglect of his duty. Jonah tried to excuse his disobedience by saying to God, “…I know that You are a gracious and merciful God, slow to anger and abundant in lovingkindness, One who relents from doing harm” (Jonah 4:2). I too may have the right idea of God and His attributes, but that may be the very reason why I do not do my duty. But wherever there is vision, there is also a life of honesty and integrity, because the vision gives me the moral incentive. Our own idealistic principles may actually lull us into ruin. Examine yourself spiritually to see if you have vision, or only principles. Ah, but a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, or what’s a heaven for? ‘Where there is no revelation [or prophetic vision]….’ Once we lose sight of God, we begin to be reckless. We cast off certain restraints from activities we know are wrong. We set prayer aside as well and cease having God’s vision in the little things of life. We simply begin to act on our own initiative. If we are eating only out of our own hand, and doing things solely on our own initiative without expecting God to come in, we are on a downward path. We have lost the vision. Is our attitude today an attitude that flows from our vision of God? Are we expecting God to do greater things than He has ever done before? Is there a freshness and a vitality in our spiritual outlook?”
10. Proverbs 29:19 — “By mere words a servant is not disciplined, for though he understands, he will not respond.”
– Those who lack internal discipline require external discipline. Choose for yourself internal discipline by continuing in obedience to God’s word through the power of the Holy Spirit.
– A servant responds to discipline in a relationship based on fear and duty. Jesus says, “I no longer call you servants…. I have called you friends (John 15:15) — This is a relationship of love. Seek to obey God not merely out of fear or a sense of duty but out of love. Without love as the motivator, it is impossible to please God. Like children who obey their parents, we usually first obey out of fear or duty, but the mark of maturity is obeying because we have a heart to do so. At that point, rules or the law are no longer required.
11. Proverbs 29:23 – “One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.” From Henry T. Blackaby: “Pride is the great enemy of the Christian. Pride is an overly high opinion of yourself. It motivates you to do things that you know are not Christlike, and it hinders you from doing what brings glory to God. Pride influenced Adam and Eve to try to become like God (Gen. 3:5). Pride motivated Cain to murder his brother (Gen. 4:5). Pride provoked Joseph’s brothers to sell him into slavery (Gen. 37:8). Pride caused King Saul to resent David so deeply that he tried to murder him (1 Sam. 18:8). Pride led King Hezekiah to foolishly reveal his nation’s wealth to his enemies (Isa. 39:2). Pride was at the root of the Pharisees’ anger toward Jesus. Pride was the reason the disciples argued over rank in the kingdom (Luke 9:46). Pride is your relentless enemy. If you succumb to its influence, there will be consequences. You may know that you have offended someone, but pride holds you back from asking forgiveness. You may realize you need to reconcile a broken relationship, but pride will lead you to deny that need. The Spirit may convict you that you are living a sinful lifestyle, but pride will discourage your admitting it. Pride will convince you that you deserve better treatment. Pride will impede your serving others. Instead, pride will have you striving for places of prominence. Pride will have you listen to flatterers and ignore honest counselors. Pride will lead you to isolate yourself so that you are not accountable to others. Humility, on the other hand, is pleasing to God and places your life in a position where God will honor you. If pride has crept into some areas of your life, ask God to give you victory over it before it robs you of God’s will for you.”
12. 2 Corinthians 3:3 – “And you show that you are a letter from Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of human hearts.” Our transformed hearts and the love that overflows from us bears witness to the power of the Spirit within our lives. Jesus said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:35). 1 John 4 expands upon the fruit of love: “Love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in them. This is how love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment: In this world we are like Jesus. There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”
13. 2 Corinthians 3:12 – “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold,True faith and hope make you bold.”
14. 2 Corinthians 3:14-17 – “But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” You cannot understand God’s word or will unless you are empowered by the Holy Spirit upon salvation through Jesus Christ and surrender to His leading day by day. Anyone can study the Bible; however only those empowered by the Holy Spirit can truly understand it. The Holy Spirit dwells in true disciples of Christ.
“Cross” Fit S-WOD (Spiritual Workout of the Day) – 29 May: Today, be particularly mindful of your pride. Where are your words and deeds still motivated by pride rather than humble, selfless love? Where is pride causing you to look down on others or denying them your very best? Where is pride causing you to isolate yourself from others who would hold you accountable? Where is pride causing you to surround yourself with those who will tell you what you want to hear? Where is pride holding you back from forgiveness? Where is pride keeping you from service? Where is your pride causing you to trust in yourself rather than God? Pray to God that He will help you overcome your strongholds of pride. (Proverbs 29:23)