425.) 1 Kings 19

December 17, 2010

“Elijah and the Angel” by George Richmond, 1825 (Tate Collection, London)

1 Kings 19

(New International Version, ©2010)

Elijah Flees to Horeb

1 Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. 2 So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”

Well, she certainly missed the whole point!

3 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, 4 while he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness. He came to a broom bush, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

Actually, Elijah will never die!

5 Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep.

All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.”

“The Prophet Elijah in the Desert” by Dieric Bouts the Elder, 1464 (from the altar panel of St. Peter’s Church, Leuven, Belgium)

from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

THE INITIATIVE AGAINST DEPRESSION

The angel did not give Elijah a vision, or explain the Scriptures to him, or do anything remarkable; he told Elijah to do the most ordinary thing, viz., to get up and eat. If we were never depressed we should not be alive; it is the nature of a crystal never to be depressed. A human being is capable of depression, otherwise there would be no capacity for exaltation. There are things that are calculated to depress, things that are of the nature of death; and in taking an estimate of yourself, always take into account the capacity for depression.

When the Spirit of God comes He does not give us visions, He tells us to do the most ordinary things conceivable. Depression is apt to turn us away from the ordinary commonplace things of God’s creation, but whenever God comes, the inspiration is to do the most natural simple thing — the things we would never have imagined God was in, and as we do them we find He is there. The inspiration which comes to us in this way is an initiative against depression; we have to do the next thing and do it in the inspiration of God. If we do a thing in order to overcome depression, we deepen the depression; but if the Spirit of God makes us feel intuitively that we must do the thing, and we do it, the depression is gone. Immediately we arise and obey, we enter on a higher plane of life.

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6 He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again.

“The spirit needs to be fed, and the body needs feeding also. Do not forget these matters; it may seem to some people that I ought not to mention such small things as food and rest, but these may be the very first elements in really helping a poor depressed servant of God.”

—C. H. Spurgeon

7 The angel of the LORD came back a second time and touched him and said, “Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.” 8 So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God (also known as Mount Sinai). 9 There he went into a cave and spent the night.

The LORD Appears to Elijah

And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

11 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.”

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. 12 After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper.

13 When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 He replied, “I have been very zealous for the LORD God Almighty. The Israelites have rejected your covenant, torn down your altars, and put your prophets to death with the sword. I am the only one left, and now they are trying to kill me too.”

from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby

DISCOURAGEMENT

Kingdom work can be challenging!  You can give everything you have to God’s service and come away exhausted.  this is what happened to Elijah.  God had just used Elijah to call down fire from heaven in a spectacular display of divine power.  But Elijah’s exhilaration was soon replaced by strenuous work followed by death threats, causing him to flee for his life.  Now he was alone, exhausted, and discouraged.

Again, God came to Elijah.  This time, He came not in fire or in a loud, spectacular way, but in a still, small voice.  God’s servant was tired, and God brought him comfort.  Elijah’s focus had shifted from God to God’s enemies.  He had allowed his circumstances to overwhelm him, leaving him disoriented to God and feeling alone.  So God encouraged him.  God provided Elisha for him as a helper, friend, and companion.

God removed Elijah from the activity for a while, so that he could rest and spend time with God.  When the nation next saw Elijah, he was rejuvenated and refocused on God and His assignment.

If you are overwhelmed by kingdom work so that your focus is no longer on God but on all that there is to do, let Him comfort you.  Listen to His gentle voice.  He will encourage you and provide exactly what you need to prepare you for what comes next.  If He needs to remove you from your work for a time, He will.  He may place a friend or colaborer beside you to help carry the load.  God knows exactly how to encourage you.  Let Him do so.

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Music:

“Be Still, My Soul”  sung by the BYU Vocal Point.

Be still, my soul; the Lord is on thy side;
With patience bear the cross of grief or pain;
Leave to thy God to order and provide;
In every change He faithful will remain.
Be still, my soul; thy best, thy heavenly, Friend
Through thorny ways leads to a joyful end.

Be still, my soul; thy God doth undertake
To guide the future as He has the past.
Thy hope, thy confidence, let nothing shake;
All now mysterious shall be bright at last.
Be still, my soul; the waves and winds still know
His voice who ruled them while He dwelt below.

Be still, my soul; the hour is hastening on
When we shall be forever with the Lord,
When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,
Sorrow forgot, love’s purest joys restored.
Be still, my soul; when change and tears are past,
All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

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15 The LORD said to him, “Go back the way you came, and go to the Desert of Damascus. When you get there, anoint Hazael king over Aram. 16 Also, anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel, and anoint Elisha son of Shaphat from Abel Meholah to succeed you as prophet. 17 Jehu will put to death any who escape the sword of Hazael, and Elisha will put to death any who escape the sword of Jehu. 18 Yet I reserve seven thousand in Israel—all whose knees have not bowed down to Baal and whose mouths have not kissed him.”

God blesses Elijah by giving him more work to do (if only to stop the pity party).

The Call of Elisha

“The Call of Elisha” by Eric de Saussure, 1968

19 So Elijah went from there and found Elisha son of Shaphat. He was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen, and he himself was driving the twelfth pair. Elijah went up to him and threw his cloak around him. 20 Elisha then left his oxen and ran after Elijah. “Let me kiss my father and mother goodbye,” he said, “and then I will come with you.”

“Go back,” Elijah replied. “What have I done to you?”

21 So Elisha left him and went back. He took his yoke of oxen and slaughtered them. He burned the plowing equipment to cook the meat and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he set out to follow Elijah and became his servant.

Elisha throws himself a grand good-bye party and cheerfully sets out with Elijah.

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New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Richmond.    http://www.tate.org.uk/servlet/ViewWork?cgroupid=999999961&workid=12551&searchid=4802&tabview=image
Bouts.    http://www.wga.hu/art/b/bouts/dirk_e/lastsupp/0altar.jpg
God is faithful.    http://www.timeoutdevotions.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/god-is-faithful.jpg
de Saussure.    http://www.artbible.net/1T/1ki1901_Elijah_Sinai_Elisha/images/20%20DE%20SAUSSURE%20VOCATION%20D%20ELISEE.jpg

424.) 1 Kings 18

December 16, 2010

Statue of Elijah at the Carmelite monastery on Mount Carmel.  He is shown victorious over the prophets of Baal.

1 Kings 18

(New International Version, ©2010)

Elijah and Obadiah

1 After a long time, in the third year (and remember, it is the third year of the famine), the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” 2 So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.

Oh, to be as sensitive to the voice of God as Elijah was!  When God said, “Hide,” he went to the river and hid.  Now God says, “Present yourself,” and Elijah goes off to see someone who hates him.

Now the famine was severe in Samaria, 3 and Ahab had summoned Obadiah, his palace administrator. (Obadiah was a devout believer in the LORD. 4 While Jezebel was killing off the LORD’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) 5 Ahab had said to Obadiah, “Go through the land to all the springs and valleys. Maybe we can find some grass to keep the horses and mules alive so we will not have to kill any of our animals.”

One might have thought that Ahab would be more concerned about his people and food for them, after three years of famine.

6 So they divided the land they were to cover, Ahab going in one direction and Obadiah in another.

7 As Obadiah was walking along, Elijah met him. Obadiah recognized him, bowed down to the ground, and said, “Is it really you, my lord Elijah?”

8 “Yes,” he replied. “Go tell your master, ‘Elijah is here.’”

9 “What have I done wrong,” asked Obadiah, “that you are handing your servant over to Ahab to be put to death? 10 As surely as the LORD your God lives, there is not a nation or kingdom where my master has not sent someone to look for you. And whenever a nation or kingdom claimed you were not there, he made them swear they could not find you. 11 But now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ 12 I don’t know where the Spirit of the LORD may carry you when I leave you. If I go and tell Ahab and he doesn’t find you, he will kill me. Yet I your servant have worshiped the LORD since my youth. 13 Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the LORD? I hid a hundred of the LORD’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. 14 And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!”

15 Elijah said, “As the LORD Almighty lives, whom I serve, I will surely present myself to Ahab today.”

Elijah on Mount Carmel

At 1600 feet above sea level, the Carmel Mountains tower above the Mediterranean coastline and their limestone rocks create a cliff-like landscape. Because of the region’s large amount of rain, the slopes and peak are covered with lush natural vegetation.  The name “Carmel” means, in Hebrew, “Vineyard of God.”

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16 So Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. 17 When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?”

18 “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the LORD’s commands and have followed the Baals. 19 Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.”

Later in this chapter we will read that this is God’s idea.  God will show Himself mighty in front of many witnesses!

20 So Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. 21 Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.”

But the people said nothing.

It cannot be “both . . . and.”
It must be “either . . . or.”

David Guzik says:   “They lacked the courage to either defend their position or to change it. They were willing to live unexamined lives of low conviction.”

Alistair Begg refers to such people as “unconverted believers.”

God says, in Revelation 3:14-16:    “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.  ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.’ “

_________________________

22 Then Elijah said to them, “I am the only one of the LORD’s prophets left, but Baal has four hundred and fifty prophets. 23 Get two bulls for us. Let Baal’s prophets choose one for themselves, and let them cut it into pieces and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. I will prepare the other bull and put it on the wood but not set fire to it. 24 Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD. The god who answers by fire—he is God.”

Then all the people said, “What you say is good.”

25 Elijah said to the prophets of Baal, “Choose one of the bulls and prepare it first, since there are so many of you. Call on the name of your god, but do not light the fire.” 26 So they took the bull given them and prepared it.

Then they called on the name of Baal from morning till noon. “Baal, answer us!” they shouted. But there was no response; no one answered. And they danced around the altar they had made.

27 At noon Elijah began to taunt them. “Shout louder!” he said. “Surely he is a god! Perhaps he is deep in thought, or busy, or traveling. Maybe he is sleeping and must be awakened.” 28 So they shouted louder and slashed themselves with swords and spears, as was their custom, until their blood flowed. 29 Midday passed, and they continued their frantic prophesying until the time for the evening sacrifice. But there was no response, no one answered, no one paid attention.

30 Then Elijah said to all the people, “Come here to me.” They came to him, and he repaired the altar of the LORD, which had been torn down. 31 Elijah took twelve stones, one for each of the tribes descended from Jacob, to whom the word of the LORD had come, saying, “Your name shall be Israel.” 32 With the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD, and he dug a trench around it large enough to hold two seahs of seed. 33 He arranged the wood, cut the bull into pieces and laid it on the wood. Then he said to them, “Fill four large jars with water and pour it on the offering and on the wood.”

34 “Do it again,” he said, and they did it again.

“Do it a third time,” he ordered, and they did it the third time. 35 The water ran down around the altar and even filled the trench.

Elijah has given the prophets of Baal every advantage.  They could choose which bull they wanted.  They had hours to call for his aid.  Now he gives futher difficulty, so to speak, to God, by saturating the altar and the surrounding area with water.

36 At the time of sacrifice, the prophet Elijah stepped forward and prayed: “LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, let it be known today that you are God in Israel and that I am your servant and have done all these things at your command. 37 Answer me, LORD, answer me, so these people will know that you, LORD, are God, and that you are turning their hearts back again.”

38 Then the fire of the LORD fell and burned up the sacrifice, the wood, the stones and the soil, and also licked up the water in the trench.

39 When all the people saw this, they fell prostrate and cried, “The LORD—he is God! The LORD—he is God!”

40 Then Elijah commanded them, “Seize the prophets of Baal. Don’t let anyone get away!” They seized them, and Elijah had them brought down to the Kishon Valley and slaughtered there.

41 And Elijah said to Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” 42 So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.

43 “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked.

“There is nothing there,” he said.

Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”

44 The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.”


So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, ‘Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’”

45 Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain started falling and Ahab rode off to Jezreel. 46 The power of the LORD came on Elijah and, tucking his cloak into his belt, he ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel.

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Music:

“These Are the Days of Elijah” sung by the Irish evangelist Robin Mark.  He wrote this song in 1994 and says this about it:

The song came from watching a television “Review of the Year” in 1994. This was the year of the Rwandan civil war tragedy which claimed 1 million people’s lives, and also when the first ceasefires in N.I. were declared. On this TV review were a lot of daft stories, happy stories, serious stories, and then absolutely devastating stories like the Rwandan situation. As I watched the review unfold, I found myself despairing about the state of the world and, in prayer, began asking God if He was really in control and what sort of days were we living in.  I felt in my spirit that He replied to my prayer by saying that indeed He was very much in control and that the days we were living in were special times when He would require Christians to be filled with integrity and to stand up for Him just like Elijah did, particularly with the prophets of Baal. “These are ‘Elijah’ days”.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
statue of Elijah.    http://www.bibleplaces.com/images/Elijah_statue_at_Muhraqa_tb_n011400.jpg
forests on Mount Carmel.    http://www.bibleplaces.com/mtcarmel.htm
you must choose.     http://www.makeupandbeautyblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/10/makeup-and-beauty-blog-you-must-choose-100308.jpg
Elijah calls down fire from God.    http://qwickstep.com/search/elijah-prophets-of-baal.html?p=2
small cloud.    http://marcusmecum.files.wordpress.com/2009/11/small-cloud.jpg

423.) 1 Kings 17

December 15, 2010

“Elijah Receiving Bread from the Widow of Zarephath” by Giovanni Lanfranco, 1621 (J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles)

1 Kings 17

(New International Version, ©2010)

Elijah Announces a Great Drought

1 Now Elijah

The name “Elijah” means Yahweh is my God.

the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”

Elijah claims that the God of Israel is in control of the weather — not Baal, the god of the sky.  God honored what Elijah said for His own name’s sake.

James 5:17-18 (New Living Translation)

Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!  Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain and the earth began to yield its crops.

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Elijah Fed by Ravens

“Elijah and the Ravens” by He Qi

2 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: 3 “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”

Ravens were unclean animals, yet God used them to bring his prophet his daily meal.

5 So he did what the LORD had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath

7 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land.

“Ah, it is hard to sit beside a drying brook – much harder than to face the prophets of Baal on Carmel.” (Meyer) He also mentions different kinds of drying brooks we might experience:

  • The drying brook of popularity, ebbing away as from John the Baptist.
  • The drying brook of health, sinking under a creeping paralysis, or a slow consumption.
  • The drying brook of money, slowly dwindling before the demands of sickness, bad debts, or other people’s extravagance.
  • The drying brook of friendship, which for long has been diminishing, and threatens soon to cease.

“Why does God let them dry? He wants to teach us not to trust in His gifts but in Himself. He wants to drain us of self, as He drained the apostles by ten days of waiting before Pentecost. He wants to loosen our roots ere He removes us to some other sphere of service and education. He wants to put in stronger contrast the river of throne-water that never dries.” (Meyer)

—David Guzik

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8 Then the word of the LORD came to him: 9 “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there.

God keeps moving Elijah and Elijah keeps trusting God!  From home, to Jezreel, to Cherith, and finally to Zarephath, a Gentile city.

I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.”

Widows in the Bible are nearly always poor.  Could God be sending him to a wealthy widow?

10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks.

He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”

12 “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”

No — this widow is poor.  So poor she is preparing the last meal for herself and her son.  But God has a miracle in mind for her!

13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.’”

15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the LORD spoken by Elijah.

GOD’S INFINITE MERCIES

“The barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.”

See the faithfulness of divine love. You observe that this woman had daily necessities. She had herself and her son to feed in a time of famine; and now, in addition, the prophet Elijah was to be fed too. But though the need was threefold, yet the supply of meal wasted not, for she had a constant supply. Each day she made calls upon the barrel, but yet each day it remained the same.

You, dear reader, have daily necessities, and because they come so frequently, you are apt to fear that the barrel of meal will one day be empty, and the cruse of oil will fail you. Rest assured that, according to the Word of God, this shall not be the case. Each day, though it bring its trouble, shall bring its help; and though you should live to outnumber the years of Methuselah, and though your needs should be as many as the sands of the seashore, yet shall God’s grace and mercy last through all your necessities, and you shall never know a real lack.

For three long years, in this widow’s days, the heavens never saw a cloud, and the stars never wept a holy tear of dew upon the wicked earth: famine, and desolation, and death, made the land a howling wilderness, but this woman never was hungry, but always joyful in abundance. So shall it be with you. You shall see the sinner’s hope perish, for he trusts his native strength; you shall see the proud Pharisee’s confidence totter, for he builds his hope upon the sand; you shall see even your own schemes blasted and withered, but you yourself shall find that your place of defense shall be the munition of rocks: “Your bread shall be given you, and your water shall be sure.” Better have God for your guardian, than the Bank of England for your possession. You might spend the wealth of the Indies, but the infinite riches of God you can never exhaust.

–C. H. Spurgeon

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17 Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. 18 She said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”

19 “Give me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. 20 Then he cried out to the LORD, “LORD my God, have you brought tragedy even on this widow I am staying with, by causing her son to die?” 21 Then he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried out to the LORD, “LORD my God, let this boy’s life return to him!”

22 The LORD heard Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. 23 Elijah picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house. He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!”

“Elijah and the Widow’s Son,”  by Eric de Saussure, 1968

24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD from your mouth is the truth.”

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Music:

Here is a good match of chapter and music!  I like this song a lot.  The tune is easy to sing and the words speak truth.  It was written by Reuben Morgan in 1998 and is sung here by Hillsong.  As you listen, think of Elijah, and the widow — and yourself — “What the Lord has done in me.”

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New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Lanfranco.    http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=727&handle=li
dew on grass.     http://luminousinspiration.files.wordpress.com/2010/05/morning-dew-bejeweled-grass-poetry-nothing-else.jpg?w=509&h=382
He Qi.     http://www.heqigallery.com/gallery/gallery1/images/ElijahAndTheRavens.jpg
raven.    http://www.ravensravensravens.bravehost.com/raven.jpg
jar of olive oil.    http://www.marialiberati.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2009/02/oliveoil.jpg
de Saussure.    http://www.artbible.net/1T/1Ki1708_Elijah_and_the_widow/pages/20%20DE%20SAUSSURE%20ELIE%20ET%20LE%20FILS%20DE%20LA%20VEUVE.htm

422.) 1 Kings 16

December 14, 2010

In this chapter we will look at five successive kings of Israel:  Baasha, Elah, Zimri, Omri, and Ahab.

1 Kings 16

(New International Version, ©2010)

1 Then the word of the LORD came to Jehu son of Hanani concerning Baasha: 2 “I lifted you up from the dust and appointed you ruler over my people Israel, but you followed the ways of Jeroboam and caused my people Israel to sin and to arouse my anger by their sins. 3 So I am about to wipe out Baasha and his house, and I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat. 4 Dogs will eat those belonging to Baasha who die in the city, and birds will feed on those who die in the country.”

5 As for the other events of Baasha’s reign, what he did and his achievements, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 6 Baasha rested with his ancestors and was buried in Tirzah. And Elah his son succeeded him as king.

7 Moreover, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Jehu son of Hanani to Baasha and his house, because of all the evil he had done in the eyes of the LORD, arousing his anger by the things he did, becoming like the house of Jeroboam—and also because he destroyed it.

Psalm 103:8 (English Standard Version)

The LORD is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.

–which is to say, it would take quite a bit of wickedness to arouse to anger Someone who is slow to anger!

Elah King of Israel

8 In the twenty-sixth year of Asa king of Judah, Elah son of Baasha became king of Israel, and he reigned in Tirzah two years.

9 Zimri, one of his officials, who had command of half his chariots, plotted against him. Elah was in Tirzah at the time, getting drunk in the home of Arza, the palace administrator at Tirzah. 10 Zimri came in, struck him down and killed him in the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah. Then he succeeded him as king.

Proverbs 23:29-35 (Contemporary English Version)

Who is always in trouble?

Who argues and fights?

Who has cuts and bruises?

Whose eyes are red?

Everyone who stays up late,

having just one more drink.

Don’t even look

at that colorful stuff

bubbling up in the glass!

It goes down so easily,

but later it bites

like a poisonous snake.

You will see weird things,

and your mind

will play tricks on you.

You will feel tossed about

like someone trying to sleep

on a ship in a storm.

You will be bruised all over,

without even remembering

how it all happened.

And you will lie awake asking,

“When will morning come,

so I can drink some more?”

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11 As soon as he began to reign and was seated on the throne, he killed off Baasha’s whole family. He did not spare a single male, whether relative or friend. 12 So Zimri destroyed the whole family of Baasha, in accordance with the word of the LORD spoken against Baasha through the prophet Jehu— 13 because of all the sins Baasha and his son Elah had committed and had caused Israel to commit, so that they aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, by their worthless idols.

14 As for the other events of Elah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?

Zimri King of Israel

15 In the twenty-seventh year of Asa king of Judah, Zimri reigned in Tirzah seven days.

Remember that strange TV show in the 50′s called “Queen for a Day”?  Well, Zimri gets to be King for a Week!  And it turns out to be a pretty bad week at that . . .

_________________________

The army was encamped near Gibbethon, a Philistine town. 16 When the Israelites in the camp heard that Zimri had plotted against the king and murdered him, they proclaimed Omri, the commander of the army, king over Israel that very day there in the camp. 17 Then Omri and all the Israelites with him withdrew from Gibbethon and laid siege to Tirzah. 18 When Zimri saw that the city was taken, he went into the citadel of the royal palace and set the palace on fire around him. So he died, 19 because of the sins he had committed, doing evil in the eyes of the LORD and following the ways of Jeroboam and committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit.

20 As for the other events of Zimri’s reign, and the rebellion he carried out, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel?

Omri King of Israel

21 Then the people of Israel were split into two factions; half supported Tibni son of Ginath for king, and the other half supported Omri. 22 But Omri’s followers proved stronger than those of Tibni son of Ginath. So Tibni died and Omri became king.

23 In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned twelve years, six of them in Tirzah. 24 He bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver and built a city on the hill, calling it Samaria, after Shemer, the name of the former owner of the hill.

I remember reading about the building of Brazil’s new planned capital city, Brasilia, in our “Weekly Reader” pamphlets in elementary school.

Omri’s new capital, Samaria, offered some political advantages.  The city was his personal property, so he had total control over it.  Samaria also commanded a hilltop position, which made it easy to defend.  Omri died before completing the city.  So his son, Ahab, completed it, building not only the beautiful ivory palace (1 Kings 22:39; Amos 3:13-15), but also a temple to the god Baal.  Samaria served as the capital city for the rest of Israel’s dynasties until it fell to the Assyrians in 722 BCE (2 Kings 17:5).

–a footnote from the Life Application Bible

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25 But Omri did evil in the eyes of the LORD and sinned more than all those before him. 26 He followed completely the ways of Jeroboam son of Nebat, committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit, so that they aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, by their worthless idols.

27 As for the other events of Omri’s reign, what he did and the things he achieved, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 28 Omri rested with his ancestors and was buried in Samaria. And Ahab his son succeeded him as king.

The Mesha Stele was discovered in Jordan in 1868.  It bears an inscription that mentions “Omri, king of Israel” as well as a reference to the sacred Hebrew name of God — YHWH.  The black basalt stone is now in the Louvre Museum.

Omri was a powerful king, who conquered and colonized northern Moab, and who established a dynasty which lasted through three descendants.  Here is a report of some of the extra-biblical records which mention Omri (from  http://www.biblearchaeology.org):

732 BC, Annalistic Record of Tiglath-Pileser III

In 732 BC, the Assyrian king Tiglath-Pileser III campaigned in Israel, taking many captives. In their record of that event, the Assyrian scribes referred to Israel as “Omri-Land,” over 100 years after the end of the Omride dynasty: “Omri-Land… and its inhabitants and their possessions I led to Assyria” (Oppenheim 1969:284).

721 BC, Annalistic Record of Sargon II

Finally, because of their failure to follow God’s ways, Samaria was captured and its citizens taken into captivity by the Assyrian king Sargon II. As with Tiglath-Pileser before him, his record of the event refers to the land of Israel as “Omri-Land”:

I conquered and sacked the towns of Shinuhtu and Samaria, and all Omri-Land (Oppenheim 1969:285).

Although Omri was a great military leader, administrator, and builder, and accumulated vast wealth, the Bible gives him low marks. Why? Because he failed in his spiritual responsibilities. He “walked in all the ways of Jeroboam” (1 Kgs 16:26). In other words, he continued to foster the pagan worship Jeroboam, the first king of the Northern Kingdom, instituted at Dan and Bethel (1 Kgs 12:28-33). Omri, in fact, outdid Jeroboam, because he “sinned more than all those before him” (1 Kgs 6:25).

In the final analysis, our lives are not judged by our wealth, or earthly accomplishments. We are judged, rather, by our walk with the Lord and our adherence to His ways. Jesus said, “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul?” (Mt 16:26).

_________________

Ahab Becomes King of Israel

29 In the thirty-eighth year of Asa king of Judah, Ahab son of Omri became king of Israel, and he reigned in Samaria over Israel twenty-two years. 30 Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the LORD than any of those before him. 31 He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. 32 He set up an altar for Baal in the temple of Baal that he built in Samaria. 33 Ahab also made an Asherah pole and did more to arouse the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, than did all the kings of Israel before him.

Ahab is trouble, and it starts with him marrying Jezebel, a woman who had a rich evil streak in her.  In order to please her, Ahab built a temple to her god, Baal, in the new capital city.

34 In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the LORD spoken by Joshua son of Nun.

Joshua 6:26 (English Standard Version)

Joshua laid an oath on them at that time, saying, “Cursed before the LORD be the man who rises up and rebuilds this city, Jericho.

“At the cost of his firstborn shall he
lay its foundation,
and at the cost of his youngest son
shall he set up its gates.”

This should have been a warning to Ahab to pay attention to the Lord!

_________________________

Music:

All these kings of Israel mentioned here.  But only one I want to follow!  “Jesus, King of My Heart”  sung here by Rebecca St. James.

Jesus, King of my heart
Father, my peace and my light
Spirit, the joy of my soul You are

Jesus, to you none compare
Father, I rest in Your care
Spirit, the hope of my heart You are

The heavens declare You are God
And the mountains rejoice
The oceans cry Alleluia
As we worship You Lord
For this is our Song of Love

Jesus, You save my soul
I’ll thank You forevermore
Jesus, the love of my life You are

Jesus, I am in awe
Of the love that You have shown
Jesus, how precious You are to me

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
five crowns.    http://static-p3.fotolia.com/jpg/00/14/34/90/400_F_14349093_P9JMXiNWZWRUjm1ExT90fJjIAG4Is4U7.jpg
wine in glass.    http://www.hatherleymanor.com/cmsimages/wine_in_glass.jpg
Queen for a Day.    http://www.fiftiesweb.com/tv/queen-for-a-day.jpg
Brasilia.    http://www.caminandosinrumbo.com/brasil/brasilia/imagenes/Brasilia2.jpg
the Mesha Stele.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Mesha_Stele_%28511142469%29.jpg
Jericho walls falling.   http://www.reformation.org/en-walls-of-jericho.jpg

421.) 1 Kings 15

December 13, 2010

“King Asa of Judah Destroys the Idols” by Francois de Nome (Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge, UK)

1 Kings 15

(New International Version, ©2010)

Abijah King of Judah

1 In the eighteenth year of the reign of Jeroboam son of Nebat, Abijah became king of Judah, 2 and he reigned in Jerusalem three years. His mother’s name was Maakah daughter of Abishalom.

3 He committed all the sins his father had done before him; his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his forefather had been. 4 Nevertheless, for David’s sake the LORD his God gave him a lamp in Jerusalem by raising up a son to succeed him and by making Jerusalem strong. 5 For David had done what was right in the eyes of the LORD and had not failed to keep any of the LORD’s commands all the days of his life—except in the case of Uriah the Hittite.

6 There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam throughout Abijah’s lifetime.

2 Chronicles 13 fills in more interesting details about the reign of Abijah. It tells us how there was war between Jeroboam of Israel and Abijah of Judah, and how Abijah challenged Jeroboam on the basis of righteousness and faithfulness to God. Jeroboam responded with a surprise attack, and victory seemed certain for Israel over Judah – but Abjiah cried out to the Lord, and God won a victory for Judah that day. 2 Chronicles 13:18 says of that war, Thus the children of Israel were subdued at that time; and the children of Judah prevailed, because they relied on the Lord God of their fathers.

–David Guzik

7 As for the other events of Abijah’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? There was war between Abijah and Jeroboam. 8 And Abijah rested with his ancestors and was buried in the City of David. And Asa his son succeeded him as king.

Asa King of Judah

9 In the twentieth year of Jeroboam king of Israel, Asa became king of Judah, 10 and he reigned in Jerusalem forty-one years. His grandmother’s name was Maakah daughter of Abishalom.

11 Asa did what was right in the eyes of the LORD, as his father David had done.

“His father David”  is actually Asa’s great-great-grandfather.  In Hebrew, “his father” is a term used to mean ancestor, a loose use of the word, according to our Western minds.

12 He expelled the male shrine prostitutes from the land and got rid of all the idols his ancestors had made. 13 He even deposed his grandmother Maakah from her position as queen mother, because she had made a repulsive image for the worship of Asherah. Asa cut it down and burned it in the Kidron Valley. 14 Although he did not remove the high places, Asa’s heart was fully committed to the LORD all his life. 15 He brought into the temple of the LORD the silver and gold and the articles that he and his father had dedicated.

Finally a good king for Judah!  Asa banished prostitutes from worship, removed his idolatrous grandmother from the throne, and burned the idols.  He also restored the silver and gold items to the temple.  All of this is doing right in the Lord’s eyes!

16 There was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel throughout their reigns. 17 Baasha king of Israel went up against Judah and fortified Ramah to prevent anyone from leaving or entering the territory of Asa king of Judah.

18 Asa then took all the silver and gold that was left in the treasuries of the LORD’s temple and of his own palace. He entrusted it to his officials and sent them to Ben-Hadad son of Tabrimmon, the son of Hezion, the king of Aram, who was ruling in Damascus. 19 “Let there be a treaty between me and you,” he said, “as there was between my father and your father. See, I am sending you a gift of silver and gold. Now break your treaty with Baasha king of Israel so he will withdraw from me.”

20 Ben-Hadad agreed with King Asa and sent the commanders of his forces against the towns of Israel. He conquered Ijon, Dan, Abel Beth Maakah and all Kinnereth in addition to Naphtali. 21 When Baasha heard this, he stopped building Ramah and withdrew to Tirzah. 22 Then King Asa issued an order to all Judah—no one was exempt—and they carried away from Ramah the stones and timber Baasha had been using there. With them King Asa built up Geba in Benjamin, and also Mizpah.

1 Corinthians 9:24 (New Living Translation)

Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win!

2 Chronicles 16 says that the Lord was not pleased with Asa for relying on the king of Syria for relief, rather than turning to God.  So it seems that Asa started well, but did not finish well.

Eugene Peterson wrote a book on discipleship called,  “A Long Obedience in the Same Direction.”  The title is actually a quote from Friedrich Nietzsche who wrote, “The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is . . . that there should be long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living.”

The Bible speaks of “a long obedience in the same direction,” calling it steadfastness, or faithfulness, or perseverance. It means to hang in there, through it all, to the end.  As Asa, it seems, did not quite do.  We understand, do we not?  God grant us all grace to render him a long obedience, and God give us mercy when we do not.

_________________________

23 As for all the other events of Asa’s reign, all his achievements, all he did and the cities he built, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? In his old age, however, his feet became diseased. 24 Then Asa rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the city of his father David. And Jehoshaphat his son succeeded him as king.

_________________________

Music:

“When It’s All Been Said and Done”  sung here by Don Moen.

_________________________

Nadab King of Israel

25 Nadab son of Jeroboam became king of Israel in the second year of Asa king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. 26 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the ways of his father and committing the same sin his father had caused Israel to commit.

27 Baasha son of Ahijah from the tribe of Issachar plotted against him, and he struck him down at Gibbethon, a Philistine town, while Nadab and all Israel were besieging it. 28 Baasha killed Nadab in the third year of Asa king of Judah and succeeded him as king.

29 As soon as he began to reign, he killed Jeroboam’s whole family. He did not leave Jeroboam anyone that breathed, but destroyed them all, according to the word of the LORD given through his servant Ahijah the Shilonite. 30 This happened because of the sins Jeroboam had committed and had caused Israel to commit, and because he aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel.

31 As for the other events of Nadab’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 32 There was war between Asa and Baasha king of Israel throughout their reigns.

Baasha King of Israel

33 In the third year of Asa king of Judah, Baasha son of Ahijah became king of all Israel in Tirzah, and he reigned twenty-four years. 34 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the ways of Jeroboam and committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit.

Who is surprised?  He assassinated his way to the throne.

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
de Nome.    http://www.wga.hu/art/n/nome/king_asa.jpg
finishing the race.    http://www.livingforimprovement.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/07/finish-strong.gif

420.) 1 Kings 14

December 10, 2010

“Jeroboam and Rehoboam” by Jack Pittman

1 Kings 14

(New International Version, ©2010)

Ahijah’s Prophecy Against Jeroboam

1 At that time Abijah son of Jeroboam became ill, 2 and Jeroboam said to his wife, “Go, disguise yourself, so you won’t be recognized as the wife of Jeroboam. Then go to Shiloh. Ahijah the prophet is there—the one who told me I would be king over this people.

Again we see that Jeroboam has no faith in his golden calves.  Instead, in times of sickness and need he turns to the God of Israel.  So he leads his nation to worship “gods” that he knows are false!

3 Take ten loaves of bread with you, some cakes and a jar of honey, and go to him. He will tell you what will happen to the boy.” 4 So Jeroboam’s wife did what he said and went to Ahijah’s house in Shiloh.

Now Ahijah could not see; his sight was gone because of his age. 5 But the LORD had told Ahijah, “Jeroboam’s wife is coming to ask you about her son, for he is ill, and you are to give her such and such an answer. When she arrives, she will pretend to be someone else.”

6 So when Ahijah heard the sound of her footsteps at the door, he said, “Come in, wife of Jeroboam. Why this pretense? I have been sent to you with bad news. 7 Go, tell Jeroboam that this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘I raised you up from among the people and appointed you ruler over my people Israel. 8 I tore the kingdom away from the house of David and gave it to you, but you have not been like my servant David, who kept my commands and followed me with all his heart, doing only what was right in my eyes. 9 You have done more evil than all who lived before you. You have made for yourself other gods, idols made of metal; you have aroused my anger and turned your back on me.

10 “‘Because of this, I am going to bring disaster on the house of Jeroboam. I will cut off from Jeroboam every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will burn up the house of Jeroboam as one burns dung, until it is all gone. 11 Dogs will eat those belonging to Jeroboam who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country. The LORD has spoken!’

We will see this prophecy fulfilled in the next chapter.

12 “As for you, go back home. When you set foot in your city, the boy will die. 13 All Israel will mourn for him and bury him. He is the only one belonging to Jeroboam who will be buried, because he is the only one in the house of Jeroboam in whom the LORD, the God of Israel, has found anything good.

We will see this prophecy fulfilled in just a few verses.

14 “The LORD will raise up for himself a king over Israel who will cut off the family of Jeroboam. Even now this is beginning to happen. 15 And the LORD will strike Israel, so that it will be like a reed swaying in the water. He will uproot Israel from this good land that he gave to their ancestors and scatter them beyond the Euphrates River, because they aroused the LORD’s anger by making Asherah poles. 16 And he will give Israel up because of the sins Jeroboam has committed and has caused Israel to commit.”

We will see this prophecy fulfilled in the book of 2 Kings.

17 Then Jeroboam’s wife got up and left and went to Tirzah. As soon as she stepped over the threshold of the house, the boy died. 18 They buried him, and all Israel mourned for him, as the LORD had said through his servant the prophet Ahijah.

“Visitation” by Mariotto Albertinelli, 1503 (Galleria degli Uffizi, Florence, Italy)

The quick fulfillment of one prophecy serves to indicate that the remaining prophecies will also come true.  Another example:  The angel Gabriel comes to Mary and tells her she will bear the Son of God, and that her cousin Elizabeth is pregnant.  When Mary visits Elizabeth and sees that she is no longer barren, Mary can be certain that her child is in fact the Messiah.

_________________________

19 The other events of Jeroboam’s reign, his wars and how he ruled, are written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel. 20 He reigned for twenty-two years and then rested with his ancestors. And Nadab his son succeeded him as king.

_________________________

Trivia for you!  A Jeroboam (pictured above) is the name for a size of wine bottle, used for Champagne and Burgundy, that holds 3 liters, which is four times the amount of a standard wine bottle.  (It is also known as a Double Magnum.)  A Rehoboam is slightly larger, holding 4.5 liters.

_________________________

Rehoboam King of Judah

21 Rehoboam son of Solomon was king in Judah. He was forty-one years old when he became king, and he reigned seventeen years in Jerusalem, the city the LORD had chosen out of all the tribes of Israel in which to put his Name. His mother’s name was Naamah; she was an Ammonite.

22 Judah did evil in the eyes of the LORD. By the sins they committed they stirred up his jealous anger more than those who were before them had done. 23 They also set up for themselves high places, sacred stones and Asherah poles on every high hill and under every spreading tree. 24 There were even male shrine prostitutes in the land; the people engaged in all the detestable practices of the nations the LORD had driven out before the Israelites.

25 In the fifth year of King Rehoboam, Shishak king of Egypt attacked Jerusalem.

Egypt and Israel had been allies in Solomon’s day; the king had married Pharaoh’s daughter.  How quickly things change!

26 He carried off the treasures of the temple of the LORD and the treasures of the royal palace. He took everything, including all the gold shields Solomon had made.

Some scholars theorize that Rehoboam gave Shishkak the treasures as a ransom to spare the city of Jerusalem.  Regardless of how it happened, the treasures are now gone.

27 So King Rehoboam made bronze shields to replace them and assigned these to the commanders of the guard on duty at the entrance to the royal palace.

a bronze shield from 1200-900 BCE, recovered from the River Thames

The gold is replaced with bronze.   The precious is replaced with the usual.  The valuable is replaced with the ordinary.

That’s how Rehoboam did it.  Now let’s see how I do it.  I am too busy for personal devotions and a golden hour with the Lord, but I have time to watch an hour of television.  I am too occupied to call a friend who is in a tough situation and pray with him or her to God on his golden throne, but I have time to check my email and facebook and watch a couple things on youtube.  I can’t find the energy to write that encouraging letter/make that hospital visit/volunteer for that ministry/pray for things beyond my own little world, but I can complain about how busy and stressed I am.  Oh, I am pretty good at replacing gold with bronze.

_________________________

28 Whenever the king went to the LORD’s temple, the guards bore the shields, and afterward they returned them to the guardroom.

29 As for the other events of Rehoboam’s reign, and all he did, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah?

The “book of the annals of the kings” of both Israel and Judah are unknown to us now.  Perhaps they were the official court records.  Or perhaps they were accounts of the reigns of the various kings compiled by prophets.  Clearly the writer refers to them to attest to the veracity of his report.

30 There was continual warfare between Rehoboam and Jeroboam. 31 And Rehoboam rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the City of David. His mother’s name was Naamah; she was an Ammonite.

So the blame goes back, in part, to Solomon and his unwise marriages to foreign women.

And Abijah his son succeeded him as king.

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Music:

Not a very cheerful chapter.  But today is my birthday, so I am going to share with you a lovely and encouraging song by one of my favorite artists.  Here Twila Paris praises the Lord in “I Can Do All Things.”  The promise is sure in Christ!

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Pittman.    http://www.jptoonist.com/portfolio/Jeroboam-Rehoboam.htm
worshiping the golden calf.     http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_ceyaMAtfLWQ/SnNMzMhbYtI/AAAAAAAAADU/fX7t__CCpyI/s320/GoldenCalfWorshipers.gif
Albertinelli.    http://www.wga.hu/art/a/albertin/visitat.jpg
Jeroboam bottle.   http://www.weimax.com/food&wine_115.htm
Egypt-Israel flags.   http://www.crossed-flag-pins.com/Friendship-Pins/Egypt/Flag-Pins-Egypt-Israel.jpg
bronze shield.    http://www.sheshen-eceni.co.uk/images/thames%20bronze%20shield%201200_900BC%20no2.jpg
Solomon and some of his wives.    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_FOIrYyQawGI/SRjhjQdinuI/AAAAAAAABTI/WydPE3D215M/s1600/SolomonWives.jpg

419.) 1 Kings 13

December 9, 2010

“Jeroboam Offering Sacrifice for the Idol” by Jean-Honore Fragonard

1 Kings 13

(New International Version, ©2010)

The Man of God From Judah

1 By the word of the LORD a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering. 2 By the word of the LORD he cried out against the altar: “Altar, altar! This is what the LORD says: ‘A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.’” 3 That same day the man of God gave a sign: “This is the sign the LORD has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out.”

4 When King Jeroboam heard what the man of God cried out against the altar at Bethel, he stretched out his hand from the altar and said, “Seize him!” But the hand he stretched out toward the man shriveled up, so that he could not pull it back. 5 Also, the altar was split apart and its ashes poured out according to the sign given by the man of God by the word of the LORD.

Since the prophecy of the man from Judah about the birth of Josiah would not be fulfilled for over three hundred years, God gave an immediate sign to prove his word.  The altar did, in fact, split apart and the ashes were poured out, as the man had said.  And God also struck Jeroboam for his violence against a man of God.  Anyone present that day should have clearly seen the truth — including King Jeroboam!

6 Then the king said to the man of God, “Intercede with the LORD your God and pray for me that my hand may be restored.”

Funny — why didn’t Jeroboam pray to the golden calf ???

So the man of God interceded with the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored and became as it was before.

7 The king said to the man of God, “Come home with me for a meal, and I will give you a gift.”

8 But the man of God answered the king, “Even if you were to give me half your possessions, I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water here. 9 For I was commanded by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water or return by the way you came.’” 10 So he took another road and did not return by the way he had come to Bethel.

11 Now there was a certain old prophet living in Bethel, whose sons came and told him all that the man of God had done there that day. They also told their father what he had said to the king. 12 Their father asked them, “Which way did he go?” And his sons showed him which road the man of God from Judah had taken. 13 So he said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me.” And when they had saddled the donkey for him, he mounted it 14 and rode after the man of God. He found him sitting under an oak tree and asked, “Are you the man of God who came from Judah?”

“I am,” he replied.

15 So the prophet said to him, “Come home with me and eat.”

16 The man of God said, “I cannot turn back and go with you, nor can I eat bread or drink water with you in this place. 17 I have been told by the word of the LORD: ‘You must not eat bread or drink water there or return by the way you came.’”

18 The old prophet answered, “I too am a prophet, as you are. And an angel said to me by the word of the LORD: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat bread and drink water.’” (But he was lying to him.)

What kind of prophet lies to another prophet?  This is just wrong, and things will go wrong . . .

19 So the man of God returned with him and ate and drank in his house.

20 While they were sitting at the table, the word of the LORD came to the old prophet who had brought him back. 21 He cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, “This is what the LORD says: ‘You have defied the word of the LORD and have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you. 22 You came back and ate bread and drank water in the place where he told you not to eat or drink. Therefore your body will not be buried in the tomb of your ancestors.’”

Death and the wrong place for burial!  It strikes me as a strict punishment for what was more a misunderstanding born out of deceit, rather than disobedience.  Really, it was only some bread and water (or for Eve, an apple), for crying out loud! —  Then I realize, that is exactly how I rationalize my own sins, too.  Not really a “sin”  — not that big of a deal — he/she made me do it — given the circumstances I really had no other choice . . . May the Lord grant us all eyes to see what is true (and obedient) and what is false (and disobedient) in our own lives.

Psalm 119:5-7 (Contemporary English Version)

I don’t ever want to stray

from your laws.

Thinking about your commands

will keep me from doing

some foolish thing.

I will do right and praise you

by learning to respect

your perfect laws.

_________________________

23 When the man of God had finished eating and drinking, the prophet who had brought him back saddled his donkey for him. 24 As he went on his way, a lion met him on the road and killed him, and his body was left lying on the road, with both the donkey and the lion standing beside it. 25 Some people who passed by saw the body lying there, with the lion standing beside the body, and they went and reported it in the city where the old prophet lived.

“The Disobedient Prophet” by Benjamin West, 1793 (National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C.)

26 When the prophet who had brought him back from his journey heard of it, he said, “It is the man of God who defied the word of the LORD. The LORD has given him over to the lion, which has mauled him and killed him, as the word of the LORD had warned him.”

27 The prophet said to his sons, “Saddle the donkey for me,” and they did so. 28 Then he went out and found the body lying on the road, with the donkey and the lion standing beside it. The lion had neither eaten the body nor mauled the donkey. 29 So the prophet picked up the body of the man of God, laid it on the donkey, and brought it back to his own city to mourn for him and bury him. 30 Then he laid the body in his own tomb, and they mourned over him and said, “Alas, my brother!”

31 After burying him, he said to his sons, “When I die, bury me in the grave where the man of God is buried; lay my bones beside his bones. 32 For the message he declared by the word of the LORD against the altar in Bethel and against all the shrines on the high places in the towns of Samaria will certainly come true.”

33 Even after this, Jeroboam did not change his evil ways, but once more appointed priests for the high places from all sorts of people. Anyone who wanted to become a priest he consecrated for the high places. 34 This was the sin of the house of Jeroboam that led to its downfall and to its destruction from the face of the earth.

Jeroboam set a pattern that virtually all of the kings of the Northern Kingdom followed.  We will read over and over again:

He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, following the ways of Jeroboam and committing the same sin Jeroboam had caused Israel to commit.

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Music:

Reading these chapters that show people so flagrantly disobeying the Lord inspires me to cling more tightly to Christ, to “delight in your will and walk in your ways.”  Here Susuan Evans McCloud sings, “Lord, I Would Follow Thee.”

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New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Fragonard.   http://www.lib-art.com/imgpainting/0/7/10170-jeroboam-offering-sacrifice-for-the-jean-honore-fragonard.jpg
King Josiah.    http://www.eden.co.uk/images/300/9780758614537.jpg
apple with a bite out of it.    http://fashionbizinc.org/blog/wp-content/uploads/2009/01/apple-with-bite.jpg
West.    http://www.nga.gov/fcgi-bin/timage_f?object=62775.0&oimage=0&c=
follow the leader.   http://fc05.deviantart.net/images/i/2002/43/6/1/Follow_the_Leader.jpg

418.) 1 Kings 12

December 8, 2010

After Solomon’s death, the northern tribes revolt and form the Northern Kingdom.  Since they were larger, they kept the name Israel.  The Southern Kingdom, with only two tribes, went by the name of the larger tribe, Judah.  This map shows the Divided Kingdom and the surrounding nations.

1 Kings 12

(New International Version, ©2010)

Israel Rebels Against Rehoboam

1 Rehoboam went to Shechem, for all Israel (that is, the entire kingdom, all twelve tribes) had gone there to make him king. 2 When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard this (he was still in Egypt, where he had fled from King Solomon), he returned from Egypt. 3 So they sent for Jeroboam, and he and the whole assembly of Israel went to Rehoboam and said to him: 4 “Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but now lighten the harsh labor and the heavy yoke he put on us, and we will serve you.”

5 Rehoboam answered, “Go away for three days and then come back to me.” So the people went away.

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The negotiation at Shechem:

Although prophets, acting on instructions from God, might anoint individuals as kings, the authority of any persons so anointed had to be publicly acclaimed by those over whom they ruled, as in the case of Saul (1 Samuel 11:14-15), David over Judah (2 Sam. 2:4-7), David over all the tribes (2 Sam. 5:1-5), and Solomon (1 Kings 1:39-40).  The northern tribes were ready to acclaim Rehoboam as their king, but only if he agreed to certain general conditions.  The text has a clear polemical slant, and makes Rehoboam look foolish, thereby justifying the establishment of the Northern Kingdom.

–Ziony Zevit, The Jewish Study Bible

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6 Then King Rehoboam consulted the elders who had served his father Solomon during his lifetime. “How would you advise me to answer these people?” he asked.

7 They replied, “If today you will be a servant to these people and serve them and give them a favorable answer, they will always be your servants.”

Off to a good start!  Rehoboam goes to his father’s wise men, and they give him good advice. But . . .

8 But Rehoboam rejected the advice the elders gave him and consulted the young men who had grown up with him and were serving him. 9 He asked them, “What is your advice? How should we answer these people who say to me, ‘Lighten the yoke your father put on us’?”

10 The young men who had grown up with him replied, “These people have said to you, ‘Your father put a heavy yoke on us, but make our yoke lighter.’ Now tell them, ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s waist. 11 My father laid on you a heavy yoke; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.’”

12 Three days later Jeroboam and all the people returned to Rehoboam, as the king had said, “Come back to me in three days.” 13 The king answered the people harshly. Rejecting the advice given him by the elders, 14 he followed the advice of the young men and said, “My father made your yoke heavy; I will make it even heavier. My father scourged you with whips; I will scourge you with scorpions.” 15 So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the LORD, to fulfill the word the LORD had spoken to Jeroboam son of Nebat through Ahijah the Shilonite.

16 When all Israel (that is, the northern ten tribes only) saw that the king refused to listen to them, they answered the king:

“What share do we have in David,
what part in Jesse’s son?
To your tents, Israel!
Look after your own house, David!”

Here’s how The Message has this verse:

When all Israel realized that the king hadn’t listened to a word they’d said, they stood up to him and said,
Get lost, David! We’ve had it with you, son of Jesse! Let’s get out of here, Israel, and fast! From now on, David, mind your own business.

So the Israelites went home. 17 But as for the Israelites who were living in the towns of Judah, Rehoboam still ruled over them.

Rehoboam says — “I’ll do it my way!’
We could ask — “How’s that working for you?!”

18 King Rehoboam sent out Adoniram, who was in charge of forced labor, but all Israel stoned him to death. King Rehoboam, however, managed to get into his chariot and escape to Jerusalem. 19 So Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day.

20 When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David.

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It looks as if Jeroboam got the better deal — more land and more people.  BUT (and this is hugely important!) Rehoboam has the Temple in Jerusalem, the center of Jewish life.  It will stand the Southern Kingdom in good stead for several centuries.

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We come to the idea of leadership again.

Rehoboam shows himself a poor leader by not taking the good advice he was given by people who knew both him and  the situation very well.  And Jeroboam sets up a way to keep his kingdom in good shape in the short term, while losing its true direction in the long term.  Think of how many times you have seen these very same mistakes in leaders, both in the church and in the world.  Christ showed us the best way to lead:  by doing the Father’s will, by being a true servant, by giving His life for others.

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21 When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered all Judah and the tribe of Benjamin—a hundred and eighty thousand able young men—to go to war against Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon.

22 But this word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: 23 “Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to all Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, 24 ‘This is what the LORD says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing.’” So they obeyed the word of the LORD and went home again, as the LORD had ordered.

Golden Calves at Bethel and Dan

King Jeroboam sets up two idols in the Kingdom of Israel, one far north in Dan, the other far south in Bethel.

25 Then Jeroboam fortified Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim and lived there. From there he went out and built up Peniel.

26 Jeroboam thought to himself, “The kingdom will now likely revert to the house of David. 27 If these people go up to offer sacrifices at the temple of the LORD in Jerusalem, they will again give their allegiance to their lord, Rehoboam king of Judah. They will kill me and return to King Rehoboam.”

28 After seeking advice, the king made two golden calves. He said to the people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, Israel, who brought you up out of Egypt.” 29 One he set up in Bethel, and the other in Dan. 30 And this thing became a sin; the people came to worship the one at Bethel and went as far as Dan to worship the other.

Holy cow!!  Choices and convenience for the people of Israel!

31 Jeroboam built shrines on high places and appointed priests from all sorts of people, even though they were not Levites. 32 He instituted a festival on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, like the festival held in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. This he did in Bethel, sacrificing to the calves he had made. And at Bethel he also installed priests at the high places he had made. 33 On the fifteenth day of the eighth month, a month of his own choosing, he offered sacrifices on the altar he had built at Bethel. So he instituted the festival for the Israelites and went up to the altar to make offerings.

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Such a telling phrase:  “a month of his own choosing”:  To think that we can determine what is right in God’s eyes!

From the book Habits of the Heart:  Individualism and Commitment in American Life, by Robert N. Bellah, et al :

Sheila Larson is a young nurse who has received a good deal of therapy and describes her faith as “Sheilaism.” This suggests the logical possibility of more than 235 million American religions, one for each of us. “I believe in God,” Sheila says. “I am not a religious fanatic. [Notice at once that in our culture any strong statement of belief seems to imply fanaticism so you have to offset that.] I can’t remember the last time I went to church. My faith has carried me a long way. It’s Sheilaism. Just my own little voice.” Sheila’s faith has some tenets beyond belief in God, though not many. In defining what she calls “my own Sheilaism,” she said: “It’s just try to love yourself and be gentle with yourself. You know, I guess, take care of each other. I think God would want us to take care of each other.”

This reminds me of that infamous verse in Judges:  “Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”  You know this strategy will not have a happy ending, for Jeroboam or for the Sheilas of the world.  Praise God that while we are wandering, he seeks us out!

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Music:

Here is a better way than the ones chosen by Rehoboam, Jeroboam, the Israelites who worshiped the golden calves, Shiela, etc.  “O Love that Will Not Let Me Go”  by Indelible Grace.  I have read that this was the favorite hymn of Oswald Chambers (My Utmost for His Highest).

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New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
map of the Divided Kingdom.    http://www.solarnavigator.net/geography/geography_images/Middle_East_Levant_map.png
crown.   http://halloweenmart.com/media/core/JA15694_HAT_FULL_KING_CROWN.jpg
leadership.    http://buy-expo.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Leadership-and-Business-Quotes1.jpg
map of Northern Kingdom.   http://www.rapturechrist.com/mapisrael3g.gif
“Holy Cow!”  Photograph by John Lund.     http://www.johnlund.com/ArticleImages/Artcl15-cows/holycow2cp.jpg
My Way Way.    http://www.schteingart.com/MyWay.jpg

417.) 1 Kings 11

December 7, 2010

“The Idolatry of Solomon” by Frans Francken II, 1622 (Getty Museum)

1 Kings 11

(New International Version, ©2010)

Solomon’s Wives

1 King Solomon, however, loved many foreign women besides Pharaoh’s daughter—Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, Sidonians and Hittites. 2 They were from nations about which the LORD had told the Israelites, “You must not intermarry with them, because they will surely turn your hearts after their gods.” Nevertheless, Solomon held fast to them in love. 3 He had seven hundred wives of royal birth and three hundred concubines, and his wives led him astray.

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Deuteronomy 17:17 (New Living Translation)

The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the Lord.

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Solomon Sore Lips
by Calvin Miller

King Solomon of Israel
Had seven hundred wondrous wives,
And when he kissed them all good night
He puckered seven hundred times.

Although he kissed them at the rate
Of two-o-three-point-five per hour,
It still took three-point-four long hours—
Before his last wife was in bed,
And Solomon was nearly dead,
Overwhelmed by halitosis,
Lip-fatigued by puckerosis!

When Solomon first married them
He really didn’t have a clue
(Although it make an awful racket
When the great horde said, “I do!”)
All seven hundred nagging wives
Meant just as many pairs of jaws
And several million gripes and groans
And quite a lot of mom-in-laws!

At first he kissed frenetically,
But soon just alphabetically.
He’d kiss his way from Abigail
To Zelpha of Judea,
Taking two ten-minute breaks
At Bilpah and at Leah.

He mostly hated Thursdays,
For that was “concu-night.”
That night besides his hordes of brides
He had to kiss the concubines.
While “concues” were less favored,
He owned two hundred fifty-one,

So kissing them required an hour
If he kissed them on the run.

As Solomon grew very old,
He left his alphabet technique
And tried a different way to go
That he believed was quite unique.
And started with the ugliest
(To get the worst out of the way).
Then he kissed the sick ones
(Who had been in bed all day).
And then he kissed the ones with colds
And those with nasal hair,
Smooching rapidly along
Until he gladly reached the fair.

But kissing all the wives goodnight
Gave Solomon his greatest strain:
He kissed and kissed and kissed and kissed
Until his whole mouth felt the pain!

Each evening when his job was done,
Somewhere near three o’clock a.m.,
He always went straight to his bed,
Because he had to wake at five
To kiss them all good morn again.

I’ve heard that when he finally died
And went up to his home on high,
His welcome wasn’t quite divine;
It made a chill run down his spine
To see a thousand concubines,
Standing puckered in a line.
He cried, “I’m doomed, alas, poor me!
I wish I’d married sensibly!”

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4 As Solomon grew old, his wives turned his heart after other gods, and his heart was not fully devoted to the LORD his God, as the heart of David his father had been. 5 He followed Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, and Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 6 So Solomon did evil in the eyes of the LORD; he did not follow the LORD completely, as David his father had done.

7 On a hill east of Jerusalem, Solomon built a high place for Chemosh the detestable god of Moab, and for Molek the detestable god of the Ammonites. 8 He did the same for all his foreign wives, who burned incense and offered sacrifices to their gods.

“Solomon Sacrifices to Idols” by Sebastien Bourdon (The Louvre, Paris)

9 The LORD became angry with Solomon because his heart had turned away from the LORD, the God of Israel, who had appeared to him twice. 10 Although he had forbidden Solomon to follow other gods, Solomon did not keep the LORD’s command. 11 So the LORD said to Solomon, “Since this is your attitude and you have not kept my covenant and my decrees, which I commanded you, I will most certainly tear the kingdom away from you and give it to one of your subordinates. 12 Nevertheless, for the sake of David your father, I will not do it during your lifetime. I will tear it out of the hand of your son. 13 Yet I will not tear the whole kingdom from him, but will give him one tribe for the sake of David my servant and for the sake of Jerusalem, which I have chosen.”

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God promised the entire kingdom of Israel to the descendants of David forever, if they only remained obedient. David reminded Solomon of this promise shortly before his death (1 Kings 2:4). Yet they could not remain faithful even one generation.

–David Guzik

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Music:

“Find Us Faithful”  by Steve Green.

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Solomon’s Adversaries

Two foreign adversaries . . .

14 Then the LORD raised up against Solomon an adversary,

In 1 Kings 5:4, Solomon says to King Hiram, who is helping him build the temple, “But now the LORD my God has given me rest on every side, and there is no adversary or disaster.” Yet here we read, “the LORD raised up an adversary.”  God will try various methods to get our attention when we stray away from his ways.  Heavenly Father, help us follow you in all things.

Hadad the Edomite, from the royal line of Edom. 15 Earlier when David was fighting with Edom, Joab the commander of the army, who had gone up to bury the dead, had struck down all the men in Edom. 16 Joab and all the Israelites stayed there for six months, until they had destroyed all the men in Edom. 17 But Hadad, still only a boy, fled to Egypt with some Edomite officials who had served his father. 18 They set out from Midian and went to Paran. Then taking people from Paran with them, they went to Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt, who gave Hadad a house and land and provided him with food.

19 Pharaoh was so pleased with Hadad that he gave him a sister of his own wife, Queen Tahpenes, in marriage. 20 The sister of Tahpenes bore him a son named Genubath, whom Tahpenes brought up in the royal palace. There Genubath lived with Pharaoh’s own children.

21 While he was in Egypt, Hadad heard that David rested with his ancestors and that Joab the commander of the army was also dead. Then Hadad said to Pharaoh, “Let me go, that I may return to my own country.”

22 “What have you lacked here that you want to go back to your own country?” Pharaoh asked.

“Nothing,” Hadad replied, “but do let me go!”

23 And God raised up against Solomon another adversary, Rezon son of Eliada, who had fled from his master, Hadadezer king of Zobah. 24 When David destroyed Zobah’s army, Rezon gathered a band of men around him and became their leader; they went to Damascus, where they settled and took control. 25 Rezon was Israel’s adversary as long as Solomon lived, adding to the trouble caused by Hadad. So Rezon ruled in Aram and was hostile toward Israel.

Jeroboam Rebels Against Solomon

. . . and an Israelite adversary.

26 Also, Jeroboam son of Nebat rebelled against the king. He was one of Solomon’s officials, an Ephraimite from Zeredah, and his mother was a widow named Zeruah.

27 Here is the account of how he rebelled against the king: Solomon had built the terraces and had filled in the gap in the wall of the city of David his father. 28 Now Jeroboam was a man of standing, and when Solomon saw how well the young man did his work, he put him in charge of the whole labor force of the tribes of Joseph.

29 About that time Jeroboam was going out of Jerusalem, and Ahijah the prophet of Shiloh met him on the way, wearing a new cloak. The two of them were alone out in the country, 30 and Ahijah took hold of the new cloak he was wearing and tore it into twelve pieces.

“Jeroboam” by Gabriel Picart.  In Who’s Who in the Bible”(1994). Reader’s Digest.

31 Then he said to Jeroboam, “Take ten pieces for yourself, for this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘See, I am going to tear the kingdom out of Solomon’s hand and give you ten tribes. 32 But for the sake of my servant David and the city of Jerusalem, which I have chosen out of all the tribes of Israel, he will have one tribe. 33 I will do this because they have forsaken me and worshiped Ashtoreth the goddess of the Sidonians, Chemosh the god of the Moabites, and Molek the god of the Ammonites, and have not walked in obedience to me, nor done what is right in my eyes, nor kept my decrees and laws as David, Solomon’s father, did.

34 “‘But I will not take the whole kingdom out of Solomon’s hand; I have made him ruler all the days of his life for the sake of David my servant, whom I chose and who obeyed my commands and decrees. 35 I will take the kingdom from his son’s hands and give you ten tribes. 36 I will give one tribe to his son so that David my servant may always have a lamp before me in Jerusalem, the city where I chose to put my Name.

The image of a lamp becomes a special metaphor for David and for the continuity of his line.

Psalm 132:17 (Amplified Bible)

There will I make a horn spring forth and bud for David; I have ordained and prepared a lamp for My anointed [fulfilling the promises of old].

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37 However, as for you, I will take you, and you will rule over all that your heart desires; you will be king over Israel. 38 If you do whatever I command you and walk in obedience to me and do what is right in my eyes by obeying my decrees and commands, as David my servant did, I will be with you. I will build you a dynasty as enduring as the one I built for David and will give Israel to you. 39 I will humble David’s descendants because of this, but not forever.’”

What a magnificent and astonishing opportunity is knocking at Jeroboam’s door!  He can follow the Lord, and God promises to make him an illustrious dynasty, like that of David!  (Now guess what he will actually do . . .)

40 Solomon tried to kill Jeroboam, but Jeroboam fled to Egypt, to Shishak the king, and stayed there until Solomon’s death.

Solomon’s Death

41 As for the other events of Solomon’s reign—all he did and the wisdom he displayed—are they not written in the book of the annals of Solomon? 42 Solomon reigned in Jerusalem over all Israel forty years. 43 Then he rested with his ancestors and was buried in the city of David his father. And Rehoboam his son succeeded him as king.

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New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Francken.    http://www.getty.edu/art/gettyguide/artObjectDetails?artobj=656&handle=li
smooch.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/smooch/xluckiiduckiiOox/smooch.gif
Bourdon.    http://www.culture.gouv.fr/Wave/image/joconde/0002/m503604_91de2069_p.jpg
Picart.    http://www.gabrielpicart.com/english/illustration.htm
ancient Canaanite lamp.    http://www.victorie-inc.us/images/Oil-Lamps/CananiteOilLamp.jpg
Opportunity knocking.     http://realdiablog.typepad.com/photos/uncategorized/2007/11/11/opportunity_knocking.jpg

416.) 1 Kings 10

December 6, 2010

In December 1959 Hollywood released the movie “Solomon and Sheba,” starring the Italian actress Gina Lollobrigida and a young Yul Brynner.

1 Kings 10

(New International Version, ©2010)

The Queen of Sheba Visits Solomon

1 When the queen of Sheba

Ancient Sabea is modern-day Yemen.

heard about the fame of Solomon and his relationship to the LORD, she came to test Solomon with hard questions. 2 Arriving at Jerusalem with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—

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Music:

“The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba”  from the oratorio Solomon (written in 1749) by George Frideric Handel.

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she came to Solomon and talked with him about all that she had on her mind. 3 Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for the king to explain to her. 4 When the queen of Sheba saw all the wisdom of Solomon and the palace he had built, 5 the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, his cupbearers, and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the LORD, she was overwhelmed.

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Solomon and the Bees

by John Godfrey Saxe

When Solomon was reigning in his glory,
Unto his throne the Queen of Sheba came;
(So in the Talmud you may read the story)
Drawn by the magic of the monarch’s fame,
To see the splendours of his court, and bring
Some fitting tribute to the mighty King.

Nor this alone:  much had Her Highness heard
What flowers of learning graced the royal speech;
What gems of wisdom dropped with every word;
What wholesome lessons he was wont to teach
In pleasing proverbs; and she wished in sooth
To know if rumor spake the simple truth.

Besides, the Queen had heard (which piqued her most)
How through the deepest riddle he could spy;
How all the curious arts which women boast
Were quite transparent to his piercing eye;
And so the Queen had come—a royal guest—
To put the Sage’s cunning to the test.

And straight she held before the monarch’s view
In either hand a radiant wealth of flowers;
The one, bedeckt with every charming hue,
Was newly culled from Nature’s choicest bowers.
The other, no less fair in every part,
Was the rare product of divinest art.

“Which is the true, and which the false?” she said.
Great Solomon was silent.  All amazed,
Each wondering courtier shook his puzzled head;
While at the garlands long the Monarch gazed,
As one who sees a miracle, and fain,
For very rapture ne’er would speak again.

“Which is the true?”  Once more the woman asked,
Pleased at the fond amazement of the King;
“So wise a head is scarcely to be tasked,
Most learned Liege, with such a trivial thing!”
But still the Sage was silent; it was plain
A deep’ning doubt perplexed his royal brain.

While thus he pondered, presently he sees,
Close by the casement—so the story goes—
A little band of busy bustling bees,
Hunting for honey in a withered rose.
The monarch smiled, and raised his royal head:
“Open the window!”—that was all he said.

The window opened at the King’s command.
Within the room the eager insects flew
And sought the flowers in Sheba’s out-stretched hand;
And so the King and all the courtiers knew
That wreath was Nature’s—and the baffled Queen
Returned to tell the wonders she had seen.

My story teaches (every tale should bear
A fitting moral) that the wise may find,
In trifles light as atoms of the air,
Some useful lesson to enrich the mind—
Some truth designed to profit or to please—
As Israel’s King learned wisdom from the bees.

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6 She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. 7 But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard. 8 How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom! 9 Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the LORD’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king to maintain justice and righteousness.”

10 And she gave the king 120 talents (that is, four and a half tons) of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones. Never again were so many spices brought in as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

Isaiah 60:5-7 (New Living Translation)

Your eyes will shine,
and your heart will thrill with joy,
for merchants from around the world will come to you.
They will bring you the wealth of many lands.
Vast caravans of camels will converge on you,
the camels of Midian and Ephah.
The people of Sheba will bring gold and frankincense
and will come worshiping the Lord.
The flocks of Kedar will be given to you,
and the rams of Nebaioth will be brought for my altars.
I will accept their offerings,
and I will make my Temple glorious.

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11 (Hiram’s ships brought gold from Ophir; and from there they brought great cargoes of almugwood and precious stones. 12 The king used the almugwood to make supports for the temple of the LORD and for the royal palace, and to make harps and lyres for the musicians. So much almugwood has never been imported or seen since that day.)

13 King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba all she desired and asked for, besides what he had given her out of his royal bounty. Then she left and returned with her retinue to her own country.

The Queen of Sheba, painted by Rita Ria

Luke 11:31 (English Standard Version)

The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here.

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Solomon’s Splendor

14 The weight of the gold that Solomon received yearly was 666 talents (that is 25 tons), 15 not including the revenues from merchants and traders and from all the Arabian kings and the governors of the territories.

16 King Solomon made two hundred large shields of hammered gold; six hundred shekels (that is, 15 tons) of gold went into each shield. 17 He also made three hundred small shields of hammered gold, with three minas (that is, three and three-fourth pounds) of gold in each shield. The king put them in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon.

a model of the ceremonial gold shield of Achilles, the Greek hero of the Trojan War and the central character in Homer’s “Iliad”

These were display models only.  Gold is too heavy and too soft to be useful as a shield in battle.

18 Then the king made a great throne covered with ivory and overlaid with fine gold. 19 The throne had six steps, and its back had a rounded top. On both sides of the seat were armrests, with a lion standing beside each of them. 20 Twelve lions stood on the six steps, one at either end of each step. Nothing like it had ever been made for any other kingdom. 21 All King Solomon’s goblets were gold, and all the household articles in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon were pure gold. Nothing was made of silver, because silver was considered of little value in Solomon’s days. 22 The king had a fleet of trading ships at sea along with the ships of Hiram. Once every three years it returned, carrying gold, silver and ivory, and apes and baboons.

23 King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. 24 The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. 25 Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift—articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules.

26 Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. 27 The king made silver as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills. 28 Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue—the royal merchants purchased them from Kue at the current price. 29 They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty (that is, three and three-fourth pounds). They also exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and of the Arameans.

_________________________

Psalm 72  (English Standard Version)

Of Solomon.

1Give the king your justice, O God,
and your righteousness to the royal son!
2May he judge your people with righteousness,
and your poor with justice!
3Let the mountains bear prosperity for the people,
and the hills, in righteousness!
4May he defend the cause of the poor of the people,
give deliverance to the children of the needy,
and crush the oppressor!

5May they fear you while the sun endures,
and as long as the moon, throughout all generations!
6May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass,
like showers that water the earth!
7In his days may the righteous flourish,
and peace abound, till the moon be no more!

8May he have dominion from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth!
9May desert tribes bow down before him,
and his enemies lick the dust!
10May the kings of Tarshish and of the coastlands
render him tribute;
may the kings of Sheba and Seba
bring gifts!
11May all kings fall down before him,
all nations serve him!

12For he delivers the needy when he calls,
the poor and him who has no helper.
13He has pity on the weak and the needy,
and saves the lives of the needy.
14From oppression and violence he redeems their life,
and precious is their blood in his sight.

15Long may he live;
may gold of Sheba be given to him!
May prayer be made for him continually,
and blessings invoked for him all the day!
16May there be abundance of grain in the land;
on the tops of the mountains may it wave;
may its fruit be like Lebanon;
and may people blossom in the cities
like the grass of the field!
17 May his name endure forever,
his fame continue as long as the sun!
May people be blessed in him,
all nations call him blessed!

18 Blessed be the LORD, the God of Israel,
who alone does wondrous things.
19Blessed be his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory!

Amen and Amen!

_________________________

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2010 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Solomon and Sheba. http://www.asiawelcome.com/Spices_History_Sheba.html
bee on a rose.   http://www.plantforlife.info/uploaded_files/3645//images/Bee%20flower%20picture.jpg
the three kings and their offerings of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.   http://bridlington.seasidevoices.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/417-801.jpg
Ria.    http://images.epilogue.net/users/rita/QueenSheba3.jpg
gold shield of Achilles.    http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_4Oy_7FFvAeg/SbaT0ZWhNfI/AAAAAAAACiA/XY5dQSHhoS4/s400/achilles.gold.shield.FlaxmanShield.gif
horse in Egypt.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/horses%20from%20Egypt/etc_trvl/festival/ed1abcb805547ac4daad1fd7614ccd76.jpg
Psalm 72:11.  http://free-wallpaper-christian.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Free-Wallpaper-Christian-Christmas-Psalm-72-11.jpg

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