435.) Psalms 9 and 10

December 31, 2010

9. psalm9,10 rose

Psalm 9

God’s Power and Justice

1I will give thanks to the Lord with my whole heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

2I will be glad and exult in you; I will sing praise to your name, O Most High.


Let us not be half-hearted in our praise to God!

Luke 1:46-48 (Contemporary English Version)

Mary said:

With all my heart

I praise the Lord,

and I am glad

because of God my Savior.

He cares for me,

his humble servant.


3When my enemies turned back, they stumbled and perished before you.

4For you have maintained my just cause; you have sat on the throne giving righteous judgment.

5You have rebuked the nations, you have destroyed the wicked; you have blotted out their name forever and ever.


Proverbs 10:7 (New International Version)

The memory of the righteous will be a blessing,
but the name of the wicked will rot.


6The enemies have vanished in everlasting ruins; their cities you have rooted out; the very memory of them has perished.

7But the Lord sits enthroned forever, he has established his throne for judgment.

8He judges the world with righteousness; he judges the peoples with equity.

9. globe-

from the Nicene Creed:

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ . . .
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.


9The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.

10And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

To know God’s name(s) is to know who He is and what He does.  Here are three of God’s names:

Jehovah-Ropheka — The Lord our Healer

El-Shaddai — The God Who is Sufficient for the Needs of His People

Jehovah-Jireh — The Lord our Provider

11Sing praises to the Lord, who dwells in Zion. Declare his deeds among the peoples.

12For he who avenges blood is mindful of them; he does not forget the cry of the afflicted.

13Be gracious to me, O Lord. See what I suffer from those who hate me; you are the one who lifts me up from the gates of death,

14so that I may recount all your praises, and, in the gates of daughter Zion, rejoice in your deliverance.

Years ago, when I was a teacher in Izmir, Turkey, I saw a poster on the door of the US military chaplain’s office which I have never forgotten.  It said:

Let nothing so fill you with sorrow that you forget the joy of Christ risen!

Which is another way of saying, “I will rejoice in your deliverance.”


15The nations have sunk in the pit that they made; in the net that they hid has their own foot been caught.

16The Lord has made himself known, he has executed judgment; the wicked are snared in the work of their own hands. Higgaion. Selah

17The wicked shall depart to Sheol, all the nations that forget God.

18For the needy shall not always be forgotten, nor the hope of the poor perish forever.

9. Hope is the Thing Art

(Read the Emily Dickinson poem in the poster above!)

Proverbs 23:18 (New International Version)

There is surely a future hope for you,
and your hope will not be cut off.



“My Hope Is Built on Nothing Less” by the Cadet Sisters.


19Rise up, O Lord! Do not let mortals prevail; let the nations be judged before you.

20Put them in fear, O Lord; let the nations know that they are only human. Selah



9. Shawshank

The Shawshank Redemption is a story that speaks to many of the the themes the Psalmist has brought up in Psalm 9:  the suffering of the innocent, justice, judgment on the wicked, hope for those oppressed, a time of great loss followed by a new future.  Starring Morgan Freeman and Tim Robbins and released in 1994, the movie follows two imprisoned men who learn to trust each other and choose life.  My favorite line — “Fear can hold you prisoner.  Hope can set you free.”


Psalm 10

Prayer for Deliverance from Enemies

10. tree v 17-18

1Why, O Lord, do you stand far off? Why do you hide yourself in times of trouble?

2In arrogance the wicked persecute the poor— let them be caught in the schemes they have devised.

3For the wicked boast of the desires of their heart, those greedy for gain curse and renounce the Lord.

4In the pride of their countenance the wicked say, “God will not seek it out”; all their thoughts are, “There is no God.”

Psalm 53:1 (English Standard Version)

The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”

5Their ways prosper at all times; your judgments are on high, out of their sight; as for their foes, they scoff at them.

6They think in their heart, “We shall not be moved; throughout all generations we shall not meet adversity.”

7Their mouths are filled with cursing and deceit and oppression; under their tongues are mischief and iniquity.

8They sit in ambush in the villages; in hiding places they murder the innocent. Their eyes stealthily watch for the helpless;

"They are hungry lions hiding in the bushes . . ."

"They are hungry lions hiding in the bushes . . ."

9they lurk in secret like a lion in its covert; they lurk that they may seize the poor; they seize the poor and drag them off in their net.

10They stoop, they crouch, and the helpless fall by their might.

11They think in their heart, “God has forgotten, he has hidden his face, he will never see it.”

12Rise up, O Lord; O God, lift up your hand; do not forget the oppressed.

13Why do the wicked renounce God, and say in their hearts, “You will not call us to account”?

14But you do see! Indeed you note trouble and grief, that you may take it into your hands; the helpless commit themselves to you; you have been the helper of the orphan.

"You are the helper of the fatherless" -- children like these from Haiti.

15Break the arm of the wicked and evildoers; seek out their wickedness until you find none.

16The Lord is king forever and ever; the nations shall perish from his land.

17O Lord, you will hear the desire of the meek; you will strengthen their heart, you will incline your ear

18to do justice for the orphan and the oppressed, so that those from earth may strike terror no more.


  • You shall not always be forgotten at the mercy-seat; so keep praying.
  • You shall not always be forgotten in the Word; so keep reading.
  • You shall not always be forgotten from the pulpit; so keep hearing.
  • You shall not always be forgotten at the Lord’s Table; so keep receiving.
  • You shall not always be forgotten in your service; so keep serving.
  • You expected to have peace in Jesus; in Him you will have it.
  • You expected to triumph over sin; in Him you will triumph.
  • You expected to get out of trouble; in Him you will be delivered.
  • You expected to grow strong in faith; in Him you will be strengthened.
  • You expected to have spiritual joys and experiences, in Him you will have them.

—David Guzik


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Psalm 9:10.  http://www.james-2.com/Wallpaper1024/psalm9,10_1024.jpg
whole heart.    http://withmywholeheart.net/yahoo_site_admin/assets/images/with_my_whole_heart_logo.49180139.JPG
globe.  http://www.geographicguide.com/pictures/maps/globe-africa-countries.jpg
Rejoice in the Lord always.    http://bereanbaskets.com/images/nap_cc669095.jpg
“Hope is the thing with feathers / that perches in the soul / and sings the tune without the words / and never stops at all.” — from a poem by Emily Dickinson.    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_nrgBMsENTIg/SactQQ_vn_I/AAAAAAAABy8/KVmgyxErRZU/s400/Hope+is+the+Thing+Art.jpg
The Shawshank Redemption.  http://image.mcomet.com/iw/1994/0111161/2007_10_26_01_28_32_48437_0_4.jpg
lion.  http://image36.webshots.com/36/6/29/14/291462914stYmsH_fs.jpg
orphans in Haiti.   http://img2.allvoices.com/thumbs/event/609/480/47188704-orphans-haiti.jpg
tree.  http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2616/3884835950_7f256f455a.jpg

434.) Psalms 7 and 8

December 30, 2010

"Psalm 7"  by Moshe Tzvi HaLevi Berger (The Museum of Psalms, Jerusalem)

"Psalm 7" by Moshe Tzvi HaLevi Berger (The Museum of Psalms, Jerusalem)

Psalm 7   (NRSV)

Plea for Help against Persecutors


1O Lord my God, in you I take refuge; save me from all my pursuers, and deliver me,

2or like a lion they will tear me apart; they will drag me away, with no one to rescue.

3O Lord my God, if I have done this, if there is wrong in my hands,

4if I have repaid my ally with harm or plundered my foe without cause,

5then let the enemy pursue and overtake me, trample my life to the ground, and lay my soul in the dust. Selah

David is not claiming to be perfect, but that he is innocent of the charges his enemies have made against him.

6Rise up, O Lord, in your anger; lift yourself up against the fury of my enemies; awake, O my God; you have appointed a judgment.

7Let the assembly of the peoples be gathered around you, and over it take your seat on high.

8The Lord judges the peoples; judge me, O Lord, according to my righteousness and according to the integrity that is in me.


Psalm 139:23-24 (New International Version)

Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my anxious thoughts.

See if there is any offensive way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting.


9O let the evil of the wicked come to an end, but establish the righteous, you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God.

10God is my shield, who saves the upright in heart.

11God is a righteous judge,

"The heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is a judge." -- Psalm 50:6

"The heavens proclaim his righteousness, for God himself is a judge." -- Psalm 50:6

and a God who has indignation every day.

12If one does not repent, God will whet his sword; he has bent and strung his bow;

13he has prepared his deadly weapons, making his arrows fiery shafts.

14See how they conceive evil, and are pregnant with mischief, and bring forth lies.

15They make a pit, digging it out, and fall into the hole that they have made.

16Their mischief returns upon their own heads, and on their own heads their violence descends.

My mother used to say, “What you put into the lives of others, comes back into your own.”

17I will give to the Lord the thanks due to his righteousness, and sing praise to the name of the Lord, the Most High.

Psalm 8

"Psalm 8 -- Man in the Universe"  by Irv David, 2000.

"Psalm 8 -- Man in the Universe" by Irv Davis, 2000.

Divine Majesty and Human Dignity

1O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.


1 Timothy 6:15-16 (New International Version)

. . . to the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone is immortal and who lives in unapproachable light, whom no one has seen or can see. To him be honor and might forever.   Amen.


2Out of the mouths of babes and infants you have founded a bulwark because of your foes, to silence the enemy and the avenger.


a note to “the enemy and the avenger”:

“Aha! Aha! O adversary! To be overcome by behemoth or leviathan might make thee angry; but to be smitten out of infants’ mouths causes thee to bite the dust in utter dishonor. Thou art sore broken, now that ‘out of the mouth of babes and sucklings’ thou art put to shame.”

—C. H. Spurgeon



“From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise . . .”  –Psalm 8:2 (NIV)
“The Lord’s Prayer”  sung by two-year-old Zoei Toh. !


3When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars that you have established;


Science lesson:

Let’s consider, for 2 minutes, the heavens, our amazing universe.


4what are human beings that you are mindful of them, mortals that you care for them?


1 John 3:1 (New International Version)

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!


5Yet you have made them a little lower than God, and crowned them with glory and honor.


6You have given them dominion over the works of your hands; you have put all things under their feet,

7all sheep and oxen, and also the beasts of the field,

8the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, whatever passes along the paths of the seas.

9O Lord, our Sovereign, how majestic is your name in all the earth!



A peaceful presentation of Psalm 8.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Berger.  http://www.museumofpsalms.com/pics/database/art/64_main_pic.jpg
I will sing praise.  http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2126/2087657653_a254ea45c9.jpg
judge and gavel.   http://weblogs.newsday.com/news/local/longisland/politics/blog/gavel.jpg
Davis.    http://z.about.com/d/judaism/1/0/V/4/psalm8_july.gif
crown.  http://www.4catholiceducators.com/graphics/Psalm8_4-5.jpg

433.) Psalms 5 and 6

December 29, 2010


Psalm 5   (NRSV)

Trust in God for Deliverance from Enemies

1Give ear to my words, O Lord; give heed to my sighing.

2Listen to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to you I pray.

3O Lord, in the morning you hear my voice; in the morning I plead my case to you, and watch.


“In the morning”

Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where He prayed.
— Mark 1:35

“I plead my case”

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
— Philippians 4:6


4For you are not a God who delights in wickedness; evil will not sojourn with you.

5The boastful will not stand before your eyes; you hate all evildoers.

6You destroy those who speak lies; the Lord abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful.

7But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love, will enter your house, I will bow down toward your holy temple in awe of you.

This is David’s confidence — not his own righteousness, but God’s “steadfast love” and mercy.

8Lead me, O Lord, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me.

Geese flying straight, photographed on the South Platte River Valley by Marek Uliasz.

Geese flying straight, photographed on the South Platte River Valley by Marek Uliasz.

9For there is no truth in their mouths; their hearts are destruction; their throats are open graves; they flatter with their tongues.

10Make them bear their guilt, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; because of their many transgressions cast them out, for they have rebelled against you.

11But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. Spread your protection over them, so that those who love your name may exult in you.

12For you bless the righteous, O Lord; you cover them with favor as with a shield.


Luther’s shield

When Martin Luther was on his way to face a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church to answer for what they said were his heretical teachings, one of the Cardinal’s servants taunted him saying, “Where will you find shelter if your patron, the Elector of Saxony, should desert you?”  Luther answered, “Under the shelter of heaven.”

Ephesians 6:16   (NRSV)

Take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

Titus 3:5 (English Standard Version)

He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy.



“Give Ear Unto My Words, O Lord”  a piano hymn based on Psalm 5, words by Dwight Armstrong.


Psalm 6


Prayer for Recovery from Grave Illness

1O Lord, do not rebuke me in your anger, or discipline me in your wrath.

2Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am languishing; O Lord, heal me, for my bones are shaking with terror.

3My soul also is struck with terror, while you, O Lord—how long?

4Turn, O Lord, save my life; deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love.


“Deliver me for the sake of your steadfast love. . .”

Luke 13:10-13 (The Message)

He was teaching in one of the meeting places on the Sabbath. There was a woman present, so twisted and bent over with arthritis that she couldn’t even look up. She had been afflicted with this for eighteen years. When Jesus saw her, he called her over. “Woman, you’re free!” He laid hands on her and suddenly she was standing straight and tall, giving glory to God.


5For in death there is no remembrance of you; in Sheol who can give you praise?

6I am weary with my moaning; every night I flood my bed with tears; I drench my couch with my weeping.

The Lord understands the meaning of our tears, when our words fail.

7My eyes waste away because of grief; they grow weak because of all my foes.

8Depart from me, all you workers of evil, for the Lord has heard the sound of my weeping.

9The Lord has heard my supplication; the Lord accepts my prayer.


“The Lord accepts my prayer”

We are certain that God will hear our prayers when we ask for what pleases him.  And if we know that God listens when we pray, we are sure that our prayers have already been answered.
— 1 John 5: 14-15 (Contemporary English Version)

When the people recognized Jesus, the news of his arrival spread quickly throughout the whole area, and soon people were bringing all their sick to be healed.  They begged him to let the sick touch at least the fringe of his robe, and all who touched him were healed.
— Matthew 14:35-36 (New Living Translation)


10All my enemies shall be ashamed and struck with terror; they shall turn back, and in a moment be put to shame.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Psalm 5: 3.   http://www.heartlight.org/blogpics/psalm5-3.jpg
Uliasz.   http://photokayaker.fit2paddle.com/C2079147609/E20070225215203/index.html
Psalm 6: 9.   http://wonders.wallpaperdave.com/ps06-09v.jpg
bent over woman.    http://parisparfait.typepad.com/paris_parfait/images/2007/08/31/beggarwoman.jpg

432.) Psalms 3 and 4

December 28, 2010

Psalm 3

Trust in God under Adversity

This is the first Psalm with a title: “A Psalm of David when he fled from Absalom his son.”  The events are recorded in 2 Samuel 15-18, but, as David Guzik says, “the heart is recorded in this Psalm.”

1O Lord, how many are my foes! Many are rising against me;

2many are saying to me, “There is no help for you in God.” Selah

3But you, O Lord, are a shield around me, my glory, and the one who lifts up my head.

4I cry aloud to the Lord, and he answers me from his holy hill. Selah

5I lie down and sleep; I wake again, for the Lord sustains me.

Sleep is such a blessing.  When we are dead to the world, snoring away — our lungs are breathing, our livers are cleansing, our digestive tract is working, our brain is messaging, our blood is flowing:  it is the Lord sustaining us!

6I am not afraid of ten thousands of people who have set themselves against me all around.

7Rise up, O Lord! Deliver me, O my God! For you strike all my enemies on the cheek; you break the teeth of the wicked.

Romans 8:31 (English Standard Version)

What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

8Deliverance belongs to the Lord; may your blessing be on your people! Selah



“Mighty to Save,”Hillsong.


Psalm 4

Confident Plea for Deliverance from Enemies

1Answer me when I call, O God of my right! You gave me room when I was in distress. Be gracious to me, and hear my prayer.

2How long, you people, shall my honor suffer shame? How long will you love vain words, and seek after lies? Selah

3But know that the Lord has set apart the faithful for himself; the Lord hears when I call to him.

4When you are disturbed, do not sin; ponder it on your beds, and be silent. Selah


“Do not sin”

Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.

–James 1:19 (New International Version)


5Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.

6There are many who say, “O that we might see some good! Let the light of your face shine on us, O Lord!”

Numbers 6:24-26 (English Standard Version)

The LORD bless you and keep you;
the LORD make his face to shine upon you
and be gracious to you;
the LORD lift up his countenance upon you
and give you peace.


7You have put gladness in my heart more than when their grain and wine abound.



“The kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit.”
–Romans 14:17

What feeds your heart?


8I will both lie down and sleep in peace; for you alone, O Lord, make me lie down in safety.


“lie down and sleep in peace”

Jesus said, “If you are tired from carrying heavy burdens, come to me and I will give you rest.”

— Matthew 11:28 (Contemporary English Version)


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
trust stone.  http://khushi.files.wordpress.com/2007/12/trust.jpg
Aaron’s benediction.     http://www.ratnermuseum.com/includes/images/photos/bible/bible-43.jpg
baby sleeping.  http://www.babyphotospictures.com/thumb/baby-sleeping-black-and-white.jpg

431.) Psalms 1 and 2

December 27, 2010

Psalm 1

The Two Ways


1Happy are those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or take the path that sinners tread, or sit in the seat of scoffers;

I prefer the more straightforward verbs, “walk, stand, sit,” as in the old King James and the new NIV.

2but their delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law they meditate day and night.

Luther said that he could not live in paradise without the word of God, but he could live well enough in hell with it.

3They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither. In all that they do, they prosper.

from This Day with the Master
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

The Scriptures say that God is the source of all truth.  If we turn away from truth, we will end in illusion or delusion because only truth is reality.  When we walk away from truth, we lose reality and are destroyed by delusion.

I was in my sixties before I ever wondered where the word true comes from.  I pulled down my dictionary and found that the word true comes from an old Indo-European word for tree.  I was intrigued by the idea that the word truth comes from the word for tree.  The more I thought about it, the more it seemed to make perfect sense.  Trees do not move.  We can count on them to be there every morning when we wake up.  Truth is the same way.  We can count on it.  It will not deceive us.  It will not give us one face today and another tomorrow.  The best news of all is that Jesus Christ is true.  He is absolutely, totally reliable and faithful.  And when our lives are ordered by Him, we stay in reality, and we walk in truth.


4The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

5Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;

6for the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.

At least four times in the Book of Acts, Christianity is called the Way.



Robert Frost’s famous poem, “The Road Not Taken,” put to music for orchestra and voices by Randall Thompson.


Psalm 2

God’s Promise to His Anointed


1Why do the nations conspire, and the peoples plot in vain?

2The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the Lord and his anointed,

“The anointed” refers to the ideal future Davidic king, the Messiah.


3“Let us burst their bonds asunder, and cast their cords from us.”

4He who sits in the heavens laughs; the Lord has them in derision.


Through the centuries many have opposed God and His Kingdom in Jesus Christ. Each one of these opponents shall be frustrated and crushed.

A famous example of an opponent of Christianity was the Roman Emperor Diocletian (A.D. 245-313). He was such a determined enemy of Christians that he persecuted the church mercilessly, and fancied that he had defeated Christianity. He struck a medal with this inscription: “The name of Christianity being extinguished.”

Diocletian also set up two monuments on the frontier of his empire with these inscriptions:


–Diocletian Jovian Maximian Herculeus Caesares Augusti for having extended the Roman Empire in the east and the west and for having extinguished the name of Christians who brought the Republic to ruin


–Diocletian Jovian Maximian Herculeus Caesares Augusti for having everywhere abolished the superstition of Christ for having extended the worship of the gods

Diocletian is dead and gone, a footnote on the pages of history. The fame and glory of Jesus Christ is spread over all the earth. The Lord shall hold them in derision.

—David Guzik


5Then he will speak to them in his wrath, and terrify them in his fury, saying,

6“I have set my king on Zion, my holy hill.”

Zion is often a synonym for Jerusalem.  Zion and the Davidic kingship are often united in the Bible.

7I will tell of the decree of the Lord: He said to me, “You are my son; today I have begotten you.


Acts 13:26-33 (New Living Translation)

“Brothers—you sons of Abraham, and also you God-fearing Gentiles—this message of salvation has been sent to us!  The people in Jerusalem and their leaders did not recognize Jesus as the one the prophets had spoken about. Instead, they condemned him, and in doing this they fulfilled the prophets’ words that are read every Sabbath.  They found no legal reason to execute him, but they asked Pilate to have him killed anyway.

“When they had done all that the prophecies said about him, they took him down from the cross and placed him in a tomb.  But God raised him from the dead!  And over a period of many days he appeared to those who had gone with him from Galilee to Jerusalem. They are now his witnesses to the people of Israel.

“And now we are here to bring you this Good News. The promise was made to our ancestors,  and God has now fulfilled it for us, their descendants, by raising Jesus. This is what the second psalm says about Jesus:

‘You are my Son.
Today I have become your Father.’”


8Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.

9You shall break them with a rod of iron, and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

10Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth.

11Serve the Lord with fear, with trembling

12kiss his feet, or he will be angry, and you will perish in the way; for his wrath is quickly kindled. Happy are all who take refuge in him.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
two roads.  http://www.pajohnsonmediation.com/db3/00211/pajohnsonmediation.com/_uimages/Twopaths.gif
weeping willow tree.    http://www.free-picture-graphic.org.uk/images/weeping-willow-tree.jpg
Mount Zion photograph.     http://static.panoramio.com/photos/original/564693.jpg
Diocletian.    http://timothyministries.org/images/Diocletian.jpg

430.) Christmas Eve

December 24, 2010

Bethlehem, looking east


To all of my readers —

I wish you a most blessed Christmas, with the hope that our DWELLING together in the truth of the Word of God is transforming us all, day by day, more and more, into the likeness of this Child.  We rejoice that Christ was born in Bethlehem today to bring us salvation and peace!

With love in Jesus’ Name,

Rebecca Mitchell


Micah 5:2 (Contemporary English Version)

2Bethlehem Ephrath,

you are one of the smallest towns

in the nation of Judah.

But the LORD will choose

one of your people

to rule the nation–

someone whose family

goes back to ancient times.



“Oh, Little Town of Bethlehem,” sung by Shawn McDonald with photos of the present-day town of Bethlehem.  You cannot miss the 25-ft. high, barbed-wire topped Wall of Separation.  Pray today for the people who live in Bethlehem, that they may know peace — “O come to us, abide with us, our Lord Emmanuel!”


Luke 2:1-7

(Contemporary English Version)

The Birth of Jesus

"The Numbering at Bethlehem" by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, 1566. (Royal Museum of Fine Arts, Antwerp, Belgium)

1About that time Emperor Augustus gave orders for the names of all the people to be listed in record books. 2These first records were made when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3Everyone had to go to their own hometown to be listed. 4So Joseph had to leave Nazareth in Galilee and go to Bethlehem in Judea. Long ago Bethlehem had been King David’s hometown, and Joseph went there because he was from David’s family.

"The Nativity" by Scottish painter William Bell Scott, 1872 (National Galleries of Scotland)

5Mary was engaged to Joseph and traveled with him to Bethlehem. She was soon going to have a baby, 6and while they were there, 7she gave birth to her first-born son. She dressed him in baby clothes and laid him on a bed of hay, because there was no room for them in the inn.

from “Ode on the Morning of Christ’s Nativity”
by John Milton

This is the month, and this the happy morn,
Wherein the Son of Heaven’s eternal King,
Of wedded maid and virgin mother born,
Our great redemption from above did bring,
For so the holy sages once did sing,
That He our deadly forfeit should release,
And with His Father work us a perpetual peace.


And one last present to make you smile
on this wonderful day —
click here to share “A Digital Story of the Nativity!”


Next week we will be revisiting Psalms 1 – 10.

And beginning in January, with power and might:
the Acts of the Apostles (and of the Holy Spirit)!


Images courtesy of:
Bethlehem.    http://christmas.justinreeve.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/k1.JPG
Bruegel.     http://www.abcgallery.com/B/bruegel/bruegel105.html
Scott.    http://www.nationalgalleries.org/index.php/collection/online_az/4:322/results/0/5655/
Mary holding baby Jesus.    http://www.catholic-convert.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/07/MaryWithBaby.jpg
Christmas present.    http://christmasshoppingideas.info/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/christmas-present-300×300.jpg

429.) Psalm 56

December 23, 2010

Psalm 56:4 — In God I trust; I will not be afraid.

Psalm 56 (Contemporary English Version)

(For the music leader.  To the tune “A Silent Dove in the Distance.”  A special psalm by David when the Philistines captured him in Gath.)

A Prayer of Trust in God

1Have pity, God Most High!

I love that many psalms begin with an imperative, commanding God to do something:  Have mercy on me!

My enemies chase me all day.

2Many of them are pursuing

and attacking me,

3but even when I am afraid,

I keep on trusting you.

4I praise your promises!

I trust you and am not afraid.

No one can harm me.

5Enemies spend the whole day

finding fault with me;

all they think about

is how to do me harm.

6They attack from ambush,

watching my every step

and hoping to kill me.

7They won’t get away with these crimes, God,

because when you get angry,

you destroy people.

8You have kept record

of my days of wandering.

You have stored my tears

in your bottle

and counted each of them.

Lake Pepin, a narrow 12-mile-long section of the Mississippi River, is bounded by forests and craggy bluffs. When Father Louis Hennepin discovered the lake in 1680, he called it “Lac de Pleurs” (Lake of Tears) after observing some Sioux weeping near the lake over the death of a chief’s son.

I have a friend who is sure she will live next to a lake in heaven, a lake made of the tears she has cried here on earth and the Lord has collected for her!


9When I pray, LORD God,

my enemies will retreat,

because I know for certain

that you are with me.

Romans 8:31 (New International Version, ©2010)

What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

10I praise your promises!

11I trust you and am not afraid.

No one can harm me.

12I will keep my promises

to you, my God,

and bring you gifts.

13You protected me from death

and kept me from stumbling,

so that I would please you

and follow the light

that leads to life.



The NIV has the last clause as “that I may walk before God in the light of life.” One definition of marching is “to walk steadily forward in step with others.” Put them together and that seems to be not a bad way to envision the Church!

“Siyahamba” is a South African hymn.  The title means we are walking or we are marching in the Zulu language. Sung here by the Rondo Histriea from Pula, Croatia.


Contemporary English Version (CEV) Copyright © 1995 by American Bible Society

Images courtesy of:
mountain and verse.    http://www.christianmingler.com/wp-content/uploads/Psalm564a.jpg
bird and “When I am afraid . . . ”   http://www.billpech.com/917psalm563_800300.jpg
tears in a bottle.    http://helpforisrael.org/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/tears.jpg
Lake Pepin.    http://media.rd.com/rd/images/rdc/books/most-scenic-drives-in-america/central-states-great-river-road-04-ss.jpg
saguaro cactus.    http://wonders.wallpaperdave.com/ps56-13.jpg

428.) 1 Kings 22

December 22, 2010

We finish 1 Kings, which has been a litany of tragedy.  Beginning with the twilight of great King David’s reign and the wisdom and magnificence of Solomon’s, it quickly deteriorates into national division, civil war, idol worship, and moral decay.

1 Kings 22

(New International Version, ©2010)

Micaiah Prophesies Against Ahab

1 For three years there was no war between Aram and Israel.

According to Assyrian sources, Ahab joined a coalition of thirteen kings against Shalmaneser III of Assyria, who planned to conquer territories west of the Euphrates.  Shalmaneser’s Monolith Inscription, which covers his early western campaigns, notes that Ahab’s contribution of 2,000 chariots and 10,000 infantrymen comprised the largest single contingent.  At the battle of Qarqar, near the Orontes River, in 853 BCE, the coalition successfully halted Assyria’s advance into western Asia.  The author of Kings makes no mention of Ahab’s crucial role or of his success at Qarqar.  Since the Arameans faced a continual threat from Assyria to their northeast, Ahab may have thought that the circumstances afforded him a unique opportunity to reassert his authority easily in territories to which he had claim.

—The Jewish Study Bible

2 But in the third year Jehoshaphat king of Judah went down to see the king of Israel. 3 The king of Israel had said to his officials, “Don’t you know that Ramoth Gilead belongs to us and yet we are doing nothing to retake it from the king of Aram?”

4 So he asked Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to fight against Ramoth Gilead?”

So Ahab, king of the Northern Kingdom Israel, asks Jehoshaphat, king of the Southern Kingdom Judah, to go to war with him to regain a city.  Ramoth Gilead was less than 50 miles from Jerusalem.  It had history:  it was a central city in one of Solomon’s prefectures (1 Kings 4:13), a Levitical city (Joshua 21:38), and a city of refuge (Deuteronomy 4:43).

Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.” 5 But Jehoshaphat also said to the king of Israel, “First seek the counsel of the LORD.”

6 So the king of Israel brought together the prophets—about four hundred men—and asked them, “Shall I go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or shall I refrain?”

“Go,” they answered, “for the Lord will give it into the king’s hand.”

These were not faithful prophets of the God of Israel!  Rather, these men held the job of “prophet” and told the king what the king wanted to hear.

7 But Jehoshaphat asked, “Is there no longer a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?”

8 The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, “There is still one prophet through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.”

Micaiah is a prophet not because it is his job, but because the Lord has called him to deliver His word.

“The king should not say such a thing,” Jehoshaphat replied.

9 So the king of Israel called one of his officials and said, “Bring Micaiah son of Imlah at once.”

10 Dressed in their royal robes, the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah were sitting on their thrones at the threshing floor by the entrance of the gate of Samaria, with all the prophets prophesying before them. 11 Now Zedekiah son of Kenaanah had made iron horns and he declared, “This is what the LORD says: ‘With these you will gore the Arameans until they are destroyed.’”

12 All the other prophets were prophesying the same thing. “Attack Ramoth Gilead and be victorious,” they said, “for the LORD will give it into the king’s hand.”

13 The messenger who had gone to summon Micaiah said to him, “Look, the other prophets without exception are predicting success for the king. Let your word agree with theirs, and speak favorably.”

14 But Micaiah said, “As surely as the LORD lives, I can tell him only what the LORD tells me.”

15 When he arrived, the king asked him, “Micaiah, shall we go to war against Ramoth Gilead, or not?”

“Attack and be victorious,” he answered, “for the LORD will give it into the king’s hand.”

16 The king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear to tell me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?”

Evidently Micaiah’s tone of voice was so sarcastic and mocking that the king recognized his complete disrespect for the message of the other prophets.

17 Then Micaiah answered, “I saw all Israel scattered on the hills like sheep without a shepherd, and the LORD said, ‘These people have no master. Let each one go home in peace.’”

Now he tells the truth.  Israel will be defeated and the king will die.

18 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Didn’t I tell you that he never prophesies anything good about me, but only bad?”

Memo to Ahab:

To quote Jack Nicholson in A Few Good Men, “You can’t handle the truth!”

19 Micaiah continued, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne with all the multitudes of heaven standing around him on his right and on his left. 20 And the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab into attacking Ramoth Gilead and going to his death there?’

“One suggested this, and another that. 21 Finally, a spirit came forward, stood before the LORD and said, ‘I will entice him.’

22 “‘By what means?’ the LORD asked.

“‘I will go out and be a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all his prophets,’ he said.

“‘You will succeed in enticing him,’ said the LORD. ‘Go and do it.’

23 “So now the LORD has put a deceiving spirit in the mouths of all these prophets of yours. The LORD has decreed disaster for you.”

24 Then Zedekiah son of Kenaanah went up and slapped Micaiah in the face. “Which way did the spirit from the LORD go when he went from me to speak to you?” he asked.

25 Micaiah replied, “You will find out on the day you go to hide in an inner room.”

26 The king of Israel then ordered, “Take Micaiah and send him back to Amon the ruler of the city and to Joash the king’s son 27 and say, ‘This is what the king says: Put this fellow in prison and give him nothing but bread and water until I return safely.’”

28 Micaiah declared, “If you ever return safely, the LORD has not spoken through me.” Then he added, “Mark my words, all you people!”

Again we see that to be a prophet for the True God is a demanding position!

Ahab Killed at Ramoth Gilead

29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat king of Judah went up to Ramoth Gilead. 30 The king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will enter the battle in disguise, but you wear your royal robes.” So the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.

31 Now the king of Aram had ordered his thirty-two chariot commanders, “Do not fight with anyone, small or great, except the king of Israel.” 32 When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they thought, “Surely this is the king of Israel.”

Why did Jehoshaphat go into battle when he had heard the prophecy from the Lord that defeat was certain?  And why did he go dressed in royal robes, with all but a target painted on him?  This makes no sense to me.

So they turned to attack him, but when Jehoshaphat cried out, 33 the chariot commanders saw that he was not the king of Israel and stopped pursuing him.

As this story is told in 2 Chronicles, it is clear that Jehoshaphat cried out to the Lord:

2 Chronicles 18:31-32 (English Standard Version)

As soon as the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “It is the king of Israel.” So they turned to fight against him. And Jehoshaphat cried out, and the LORD helped him; God drew them away from him. For as soon as the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him.


34 But someone drew his bow at random and hit the king of Israel between the sections of his armor. The king told his chariot driver, “Wheel around and get me out of the fighting. I’ve been wounded.” 35 All day long the battle raged, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Arameans. The blood from his wound ran onto the floor of the chariot, and that evening he died. 36 As the sun was setting, a cry spread through the army: “Every man to his town. Every man to his land!”

The battle is lost and the king is dead.  The prophet Micaiah is vindicated!

37 So the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried him there. 38 They washed the chariot at a pool in Samaria (where the prostitutes bathed), and the dogs licked up his blood, as the word of the LORD had declared.

39 As for the other events of Ahab’s reign, including all he did, the palace he built and adorned with ivory, and the cities he fortified, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Israel? 40 Ahab rested with his ancestors. And Ahaziah his son succeeded him as king.

Jehoshaphat King of Judah

41 Jehoshaphat son of Asa became king of Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel. 42 Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem twenty-five years. His mother’s name was Azubah daughter of Shilhi. 43 In everything he followed the ways of his father Asa and did not stray from them; he did what was right in the eyes of the LORD. The high places, however, were not removed, and the people continued to offer sacrifices and burn incense there. 44 Jehoshaphat was also at peace with the king of Israel.

45 As for the other events of Jehoshaphat’s reign, the things he achieved and his military exploits, are they not written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah? 46 He rid the land of the rest of the male shrine prostitutes who remained there even after the reign of his father Asa. 47 There was then no king in Edom; a provincial governor ruled.

48 Now Jehoshaphat built a fleet of trading ships to go to Ophir for gold, but they never set sail—they were wrecked at Ezion Geber. 49 At that time Ahaziah son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my men sail with yours,” but Jehoshaphat refused.

50 Then Jehoshaphat rested with his ancestors and was buried with them in the city of David his father. And Jehoram his son succeeded him as king.


The writer of 1 Kings summarized some of the remarkable accomplishments of Jehoshaphat, who was one of the better kings of Judah. From 2 Chronicles we learn many of Jehoshaphat’s other accomplishments.

  • He sent teachers of God’s Word out to all his kingdom (2 Chronicles 17:7-9).
  • He established a permanent military garrison along the northern frontier (2 Chronicles 17:1-2, 12).
  • He trained and equipping a sizable army (2 Chronicles 17:14-19) that was able to quell a Transjordan invasion (2 Chronicles 20:1-30).
  • He placed Edom under Judean control, controlling an important caravan route to the south (2 Kings 3:8-27; 2 Chronicles 20:36).
  • God blessed his reign so much that the fear of the Lord came upon neighboring nations so that they did not make war against Jehoshaphat (2 Chronicles 17:10).
  • Jehoshaphat was also an able administrator, implementing judicial reforms (2 Chronicles 19:5-11) and religious reforms (2 Chronicles 17:3-9).
  • Jehoshaphat was also the king connected to the famous incident when the army of Judah saw a great victory won as the Levites led the battle with praise (2 Chronicles 20:15-23).

—David Guzik


Ahaziah King of Israel

51 Ahaziah son of Ahab became king of Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned over Israel two years. 52 He did evil in the eyes of the LORD, because he followed the ways of his father and mother and of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who caused Israel to sin. 53 He served and worshiped Baal and aroused the anger of the LORD, the God of Israel, just as his father had done.

The End of 1 Kings



As we close this book of 1 Kings, with all its problems, and as we live in our own lives, with our own problems — what more can I offer to you than the “Deep Peace” of Christ — sung here by one of our favorite choirs, Libera.  The lyrics (below) were taken from an old Irish prayer.

Deep peace of the running wave to you
Deep peace of the flowing air to you

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you
Deep peace of the shining stars to you

Deep peace of the gentle night to you
Moon and stars pour their healing light on you

Deep peace of Christ
Of Christ
The light of the world to you

Deep peace of Christ to you


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

Images courtesy of:
1 Kings.    http://metroimages.s3.amazonaws.com/albumart/1kings-web720.png
map showing Ramoth-Gilead.    http://www.visualbiblealive.com/image-bin/Public/014/01/014_01_0026_TH-Atlas_prev.jpg
“You can’t handle the truth.”     http://publicfrenemy.files.wordpress.com/2010/02/you-cant-handle-the-truth1.jpg
target man.    http://www.prwatch.org/files/images/target_man.jpg
“I called to the Lord”     http://www.motivationalquotes.com/postcards/cards/Jonah2_2.jpg
Jehoshaphat.    http://www.christcenteredmall.com/teachings/kings/jehoshaphat.gif

427.) 1 Kings 21

December 21, 2010

Naboth had a vineyard . . .

1 Kings 21

(New International Version, ©2010)

Naboth’s Vineyard

1 Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. 2 Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.”

Remember at the end of the last chapter, we left Ahab feeling “sullen and angry.”  In his bad mood, he has developed an obsession for something that he thinks will make him feel better.

3 But Naboth replied, “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.”

Naboth’s response was an emphatic “no.” His rejection of the otherwise reasonable offer was rooted in the ancient Israelite idea of the land. They believed that the land was an inheritance from God, parceled out to individual tribes and families according to His will. Therefore land was never really sold, only leased – and that only under the most dire circumstances. Real Estate offices in ancient Israel didn’t do very good business.

—David Guzik

4 So Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat.

Sullen, sulking, peevish . . . nice qualities for your king!  He didn’t get his way, so he is acting out, like a big baby.

5 His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?”

6 He answered her, “Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, ‘Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”

7 Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! Cheer up. I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

Well, this little conversation makes it clear who wears the pants here!

8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name, placed his seal on them, and sent them to the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city with him. 9 In those letters she wrote:

“Proclaim a day of fasting and seat Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 10 But seat two scoundrels opposite him and have them bring charges that he has cursed both God and the king. Then take him out and stone him to death.”

“Ninety percent of politics is deciding whom to blame.”

—Meg Greenfield

11 So the elders and nobles who lived in Naboth’s city did as Jezebel directed in the letters she had written to them.

Alexander Maclaren noted three types of dangerous characters in this chapter: 1.)  Ahab, who was wicked and weak; 2.)  Jezebel, who was wicked and strong; 3.) and the elders of Jezreel, who were wicked and subservient.

12 They proclaimed a fast and seated Naboth in a prominent place among the people. 13 Then two scoundrels came and sat opposite him and brought charges against Naboth before the people, saying, “Naboth has cursed both God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death.

Ahab is willing to overlook anything illegal or immoral to get what he wants.

14 Then they sent word to Jezebel: “Naboth has been stoned to death.”

15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” 16 When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard.

17 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: 18 “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. 19 Say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the LORD says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours!’”

Prophets must be men/women of great courage!  To go to the king and say — You are guilty of murder and theft, and dogs will lick up your blood — to deliver such a message is not for the faint of heart!

Am I bold to confront what is wrong in my own life, or in the lives of those with whom I have connection?

20 Ahab said to Elijah, “So you have found me, my enemy!”

Elijah tells Ahab the truth;  Elijah is Ahab’s best friend!

“I have found you,” he answered, “because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD. 21 He says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. 22 I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have aroused my anger and have caused Israel to sin.’

23 “And also concerning Jezebel the LORD says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’

24 “Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country.”

25 (There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the LORD, urged on by Jezebel his wife. 26 He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols, like the Amorites the LORD drove out before Israel.)

Paul uses similar language:

Romans 7:14 (Amplified Bible)

We know that the Law is spiritual; but I am a creature of the flesh [carnal, unspiritual], having been sold into slavery under [the control of] sin.

27 When Ahab heard these words, he tore his clothes, put on sackcloth and fasted. He lay in sackcloth and went around meekly.



My husband David suggested this song for this chapter:  “Turn Your Eyes upon Jesus,” with violin and Michael W. Smith.


28 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite: 29 “Have you noticed how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself, I will not bring this disaster in his day, but I will bring it on his house in the days of his son.”

So the dogs will lick up instead his son’s blood in Naboth’s vineyard, as we will read in 2 Kings 9.

“In view of Ahab’s sincere contrition, God tells Elijah—who does not tell Ahab—that the destruction of his dynasty, announced to Ahab in verses 21-22, will not occur in his lifetime.  This qualification highlights the power of repentance while emphasizing that misdeeds must at some point be punished.”

—The Jewish Study Bible


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

Images courtesy of:
vineyard.    http://www.annerobertson.com/uploaded_images/vineyard-742253.jpg
No!    http://images.sodahead.com/polls/000195406/polls_No_20Art_20050425e_4505_696132_answer_2_xlarge.jpeg
Ahab looking over his new vineyard.    http://www.randalldsmith.com/.a/6a00e553b601d6883401053698280e970b-800wi
He who sins . . .      http://watchmangospelsigns.businessdatatech.net/images/JPEG%20files%20-%20ready%20for%20website/He%20who%20sins%20is%20the%20slave%20of%20sin.jpg

426.) 1 Kings 20

December 20, 2010

King Ahab, as pictured in Mural Mosaic, a collection of 100 rulers that have changed the world, by Lewis Lavoie.

1 Kings 20

(New International Version, ©2010)

Ben-Hadad Attacks Samaria

1 Now Ben-Hadad king of Aram mustered his entire army. Accompanied by thirty-two kings with their horses and chariots, he went up and besieged Samaria and attacked it. 2 He sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel, saying, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: 3 ‘Your silver and gold are mine, and the best of your wives and children are mine.’”

4 The king of Israel answered, “Just as you say, my lord the king. I and all I have are yours.”

Ben-Hadad demands payments from Ahab alone, and Ahab accedes.

5 The messengers came again and said, “This is what Ben-Hadad says: ‘I sent to demand your silver and gold, your wives and your children. 6 But about this time tomorrow I am going to send my officials to search your palace and the houses of your officials. They will seize everything you value and carry it away.’”

7 The king of Israel summoned all the elders of the land and said to them, “See how this man is looking for trouble! When he sent for my wives and my children, my silver and my gold, I did not refuse him.”

8 The elders and the people all answered, “Don’t listen to him or agree to his demands.”

Seeing Ahab’s docile response, Ben-Hadad changes the terms and demands the right to loot property from Ahab’s courtiers.  The elders and the people see that this would be the beginning of the end for their nation.

9 So he replied to Ben-Hadad’s messengers, “Tell my lord the king, ‘Your servant will do all you demanded the first time, but this demand I cannot meet.’” They left and took the answer back to Ben-Hadad.

10 Then Ben-Hadad sent another message to Ahab: “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if enough dust remains in Samaria to give each of my men a handful.”

11 The king of Israel answered, “Tell him: ‘One who puts on his armor should not boast like one who takes it off.’”

Like, “Don’t count your chickens before they hatch.”

12 Ben-Hadad heard this message while he and the kings were drinking in their tents, and he ordered his men: “Prepare to attack.” So they prepared to attack the city.

Ahab Defeats Ben-Hadad

13 Meanwhile a prophet came to Ahab king of Israel and announced, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Do you see this vast army? I will give it into your hand today, and then you will know that I am the LORD.’”

How generous and kind of the Lord to come with an offer of help to a king who had promoted idolatry and turned the people away from God!

14 “But who will do this?” asked Ahab.

The prophet replied, “This is what the LORD says: ‘The junior officers under the provincial commanders will do it.’”

Ahab might have expected someone new and exciting to come and command the army.  Instead, they were to do it themselves.  “For nothing is impossible with God!”

“And who will start the battle?” he asked.

The prophet answered, “You will.”

15 So Ahab summoned the 232 junior officers under the provincial commanders. Then he assembled the rest of the Israelites, 7,000 in all. 16 They set out at noon while Ben-Hadad and the 32 kings allied with him were in their tents getting drunk. 17 The junior officers under the provincial commanders went out first.

Now Ben-Hadad had dispatched scouts, who reported, “Men are advancing from Samaria.”

18 He said, “If they have come out for peace, take them alive; if they have come out for war, take them alive.”

Sounds like the king has already had enough to drink!

19 The junior officers under the provincial commanders marched out of the city with the army behind them 20 and each one struck down his opponent. At that, the Arameans fled, with the Israelites in pursuit. But Ben-Hadad king of Aram escaped on horseback with some of his horsemen. 21 The king of Israel advanced and overpowered the horses and chariots and inflicted heavy losses on the Arameans.

God is true to His word and the Israelites are victorious!



“The Lord liveth, and blessed be the Rock, and let the God of my salvation be exalted!”


22 Afterward, the prophet came to the king of Israel and said, “Strengthen your position and see what must be done, because next spring the king of Aram will attack you again.”

23 Meanwhile, the officials of the king of Aram advised him, “Their gods are gods of the hills. That is why they were too strong for us. But if we fight them on the plains, surely we will be stronger than they.

“Many today think that God is a God of hills but not of the plains. They think God is a God of the past but not of the present. They think God is a God of a few special favorites but not of all His people. They think that God is God of one kind of trial, but not of another kind. Do you really think, my brethren, that God cannot preserve his Church in the particular trial through which she is now passing? Is he the God of the hills of persecution, but not the God of the valleys of prosperity?  Will God aid a Whitfield and not help a poor local preacher holding forth upon the green? Will he assist the earnest minister who addresses thousands, and desert the simple girl who teaches a dozen little children the old, old story of the cross? Is this after the fashion of God, to patronise the eminent and neglect the lowly? Does Jesus despise the day of small things?”

—C. H. Spurgeon

24 Do this: Remove all the kings from their commands and replace them with other officers. 25 You must also raise an army like the one you lost—horse for horse and chariot for chariot—so we can fight Israel on the plains. Then surely we will be stronger than they.” He agreed with them and acted accordingly.

26 The next spring Ben-Hadad mustered the Arameans and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel. 27 When the Israelites were also mustered and given provisions, they marched out to meet them. The Israelites camped opposite them like two small flocks of goats, while the Arameans covered the countryside.

Ben-Hadad is not about to suffer the same humiliation as before!  He comes in force!

28 The man of God came up and told the king of Israel, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Because the Arameans think the LORD is a god of the hills and not a god of the valleys, I will deliver this vast army into your hands, and you will know that I am the LORD.’”

29 For seven days they camped opposite each other, and on the seventh day the battle was joined. The Israelites inflicted a hundred thousand casualties on the Aramean foot soldiers in one day. 30 The rest of them escaped to the city of Aphek, where the wall collapsed on twenty-seven thousand of them.

Ben-Hadad gets a painful one-two punch.

And Ben-Hadad fled to the city and hid in an inner room.

31 His officials said to him, “Look, we have heard that the kings of Israel are merciful. Let us go to the king of Israel with sackcloth around our waists and ropes around our heads. Perhaps he will spare your life.”

32 Wearing sackcloth around their waists and ropes around their heads, they went to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-Hadad says: ‘Please let me live.’”

The king answered, “Is he still alive? He is my brother.”

33 The men took this as a good sign and were quick to pick up his word. “Yes, your brother Ben-Hadad!” they said.

“Go and get him,” the king said. When Ben-Hadad came out, Ahab had him come up into his chariot.

34 “I will return the cities my father took from your father,” Ben-Hadad offered. “You may set up your own market areas in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.”

Ahab said, “On the basis of a treaty I will set you free.” So he made a treaty with him, and let him go.

Ahab is trusting an untrustworthy man who had blasphemed the Lord.

A Prophet Condemns Ahab

35 By the word of the LORD one of the company of the prophets said to his companion, “Strike me with your weapon,” but he refused.

36 So the prophet said, “Because you have not obeyed the LORD, as soon as you leave me a lion will kill you.” And after the man went away, a lion found him and killed him.

37 The prophet found another man and said, “Strike me, please.” So the man struck him and wounded him. 38 Then the prophet went and stood by the road waiting for the king. He disguised himself with his headband down over his eyes.

A familiar manner in which to give a king hard news — tell him a story, give him an object lesson.

39 As the king passed by, the prophet called out to him, “Your servant went into the thick of the battle, and someone came to me with a captive and said, ‘Guard this man. If he is missing, it will be your life for his life, or you must pay a talent of silver.’ 40 While your servant was busy here and there, the man disappeared.”

“That is your sentence,” the king of Israel said. “You have pronounced it yourself.”

Ahab figures that the man is irresponsible in letting the prisoner escape, and so deserves his punishment.  Little does he know he is pronouncing judgment on himself.

41 Then the prophet quickly removed the headband from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets. 42 He said to the king, “This is what the LORD says: ‘You have set free a man I had determined should die. Therefore it is your life for his life, your people for his people.’” 43 Sullen and angry, the king of Israel went to his palace in Samaria.

“Sullen and angry” . . . but not repentant for his sins.  He keeps thinking it is all about HIM, when as the king of Israel, he should know that it is all about GOD.

Yes, I can see some King Ahab in me!


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

Images courtesy of:
King Ahab.    http://www.muralmosaic.com/King/panels/047ahab.html
hatched chick.   http://activerain.com/image_store/uploads/1/4/6/4/9/ar119679683394641.jpg
hills and plains in China.  http://big5.showchina.org:81/gate/big5/en.showchina.org/Gallery/Scenery/200907/W020090722377150022042.jpg
you will die, cat.    http://trollcats.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/03/you_will_die_friendless_and_alone_trollcat.jpg