1869.) Psalm 132

June 30, 2016
Artwork: Baruch Nachshon, Israel

Artwork: Baruch Nachshon, Israel

Psalm 132   (ESV)

The Lord Has Chosen Zion

A Song of Ascents.

We do not know who wrote this psalm. One possible viewpoint:  It was composed by Solomon when he brought the ark of the covenant to its proper place in the newly-constructed temple in Jerusalem. The first ten verses, then, are Solomon’s prayer that the Lord will descend in the Shekinah (the glory cloud) and dwell above the ark . . .

Remember, O Lord, in David’s favor,
    all the hardships he endured,
how he swore to the Lord
    and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
“I will not enter my house
    or get into my bed,
I will not give sleep to my eyes
    or slumber to my eyelids,
until I find a place for the Lord,
    a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”

Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;

Ephrathah is an ancient name for Bethlehem. In time, it came to refer to the district around Bethlehem.

    we found it in the fields of Jaar.
“Let us go to his dwelling place;
    let us worship at his footstool!”

Ps132 ark

Arise, O Lord, and go to your resting place,
    you and the ark of your might.

This is the only mention of the ark of the covenant in the Psalter.

Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
    and let your saints shout for joy.
10 For the sake of your servant David,
    do not turn away the face of your anointed one.

. . . Verses 11 and 12 reaffirm the covenant that God made with David . . .

11 The Lord swore to David a sure oath
    from which he will not turn back:
“One of the sons of your body
    I will set on your throne.
12 If your sons keep my covenant
    and my testimonies that I shall teach them,
their sons also forever
    shall sit on your throne.”

. . . And the last six verses contain specific promises from God corresponding to Solomon’s specific requests. 
–William MacDonald

13 For the Lord has chosen Zion;
    he has desired it for his dwelling place:

Ps132 v13

14 “This is my resting place forever;
    here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
15 I will abundantly bless her provisions;
    I will satisfy her poor with bread.
16 Her priests I will clothe with salvation,
    and her saints will shout for joy.
17 There I will make a horn to sprout for David;
    I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
18 His enemies I will clothe with shame,
    but on him his crown will shine.”

"Resplendent" acrylic on canvas by Canadian artist Melani Pyke

“Resplendent” acrylic on canvas by Canadian artist Melani Pyke

The head that once was crowned with thorns
Is crowned with glory now!
Heaven’s royal diadem adorns
The mighty Victor’s brow!

–Thomas Kelly

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Music:

Recently David and I spent some time with a dear friend, Carole McCutcheon. One morning as we had our devotions together, David read Psalm 132 and Carole mentioned this song. Thank you, Carole!

HERE  is Steve Fry and his musical version of Psalm 132, “O the Glory of Your Presence.”


1868.) Psalm 72

June 29, 2016

Psalm 72   (New International Version)

Of Solomon.

The title of this Psalm is, A Psalm of Solomon. It is possible to translate the Hebrew here (and in almost all the Psalms which reference an author) as “A Psalm to Solomon,” and some have regarded it as David’s Psalm to and about his son Solomon and his Greater Son the Messiah. Yet, the most natural way to take the title is as it is given, A Psalm of Solomon and that the line about David in 72:20 refers to the collection of Book Two of the Psalms, which is heavy with David’s Psalms, separating it from Book Three, which begins with 11 Psalms authored by Asaph.

It is possible that Solomon complied this second book of the Psalms (Psalms 42-72) and composed this Psalm as a fitting conclusion for the collection of mostly David’s Psalms. It is a fitting conclusion, because it unexpectedly does not focus upon David himself, but on the Messiah – the King of Kings and the Son of David.

–David Guzik

“The New Testament nowhere quotes it as Messianic, but this picture of the king and his realm is so close to the prophecies of Isaiah 11:1-5 and Isaiah 60-62 that if those passages are Messianic, so is this.”

–Derek Kidner

The King and the King of Kings

1 Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.

Solomon began this Psalm asking God to bless him as the monarch of Israel, and to bless him with wise judgments and a reign displaying God’s righteousness. This was the same heart behind is great request to God in 1 Kings 3:5-9.

–David Guzik

This psalm belongs to Solomon in part, but to Christ more fully and clearly. Solomon was both the king and the king’s son, and his pious father desired that the wisdom of God might be in him, that his reign might be a remembrance of the kingdom of the Messiah. It is the prayer of a father for his child; a dying blessing. The best we can ask of God for our children is, that God would give them wisdom and grace to know and to do their duty.

–Matthew Henry

2 May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.

Psalm 36:6 (NLT)

Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
      your justice like the ocean depths.

3 May the mountains bring prosperity to the people,
the hills the fruit of righteousness.
4 May he defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
may he crush the oppressor.
5 May he endure as long as the sun,
as long as the moon, through all generations.

6 May he be like rain falling on a mown field,
like showers watering the earth.
7 In his days may the righteous flourish
and prosperity abound till the moon is no more.

Ps72 sun earth

Mark 13:31 (NLT)

Heaven and earth will disappear, but my words will never disappear.

8 May he rule from sea to sea
and from the River to the ends of the earth.
9 May the desert tribes bow before him
and his enemies lick the dust.

“Tongues which rail at the Redeemer deserve to lick the dust.”

–Charles Haddon Spurgeon (British “Prince of Preachers,” 1834-1892)

10 May the kings of Tarshish and of distant shores
bring tribute to him.
May the kings of Sheba and Seba
present him gifts.
11 May all kings bow down to him
and all nations serve him.

12 For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.

13 He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
14 He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight.

15 Long may he live!
May gold from Sheba be given him.

Matthew 2:10-11 (NL)

When they saw the star, they were filled with joy!  They entered the house and saw the child with his mother, Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasure chests and gave him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

May people ever pray for him
and bless him all day long.
16 May grain abound throughout the land;
on the tops of the hills may it sway.
May the crops flourish like Lebanon
and thrive like the grass of the field.
17 May his name endure forever;
may it continue as long as the sun.

Philippians 2:6-11 (NLT)

  Though he was God,
      he did not think of equality with God
      as something to cling to.
  Instead, he gave up his divine privileges;
      he took the humble position of a slave
      and was born as a human being.
   When he appeared in human form,
    he humbled himself in obedience to God
      and died a criminal’s death on a cross.

  Therefore, God elevated him to the place of highest honor
      and gave him the name above all other names,
  that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
      in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
  and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      to the glory of God the Father.

Then all nations will be blessed through him,
and they will call him blessed.
18 Praise be to the LORD God, the God of Israel,
who alone does marvelous deeds.
19 Praise be to his glorious name forever;
may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Amen and Amen.

Jude 1:24-25 (NLT)

Now all glory to God, who is able to keep you from falling away and will bring you with great joy into his glorious presence without a single fault.  All glory to him who alone is God, our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. All glory, majesty, power, and authority are his before all time, and in the present, and beyond all time! Amen.

20 This concludes the prayers of David son of Jesse.

The prayers of David: We take this as Solomon’s postscript on the collection of Psalms gathered into Book Two. David authored most of the Psalms in Book Two, and Asaph composed the first 11 Psalms of Book Three, so this is a good marking point. We also note that these are not only songs, but also prayers.

David the son of Jesse: Because this Psalm so exalts the King of Kings, Solomon properly did not refer to David with any royal title, though deserved. David happily takes the lower place before the Greater Son of David and is simply the son of Jesse, a simple farmer of Bethlehem.

–David Guzik

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Music:

The hymn “Jesus Shall Reign,” by Isaac Watts, is a lyrical adaptation of Psalm 72.  HERE  it is, performed by the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Singers.

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Images courtesy of:
Ps. 72.5.  http://www.turnbacktogod.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/11/Psalm-72-5-Wallpaper.jpg
misty mountains.  http://media-cdn.tripadvisor.com/media/photo-s/01/be/5a/bc/the-misty-mountains.jpg
earth and sun.    http://freesoftwarekit.com/server13/photos/X9oQrDl0zrK5sM~/122946_light-sun-shining-behind-planet-Earth_1600x1000.jpg
Persian nativity.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/recent/Patrap_2006/magi.jpg
Jesus crosses.  http://i2.squidoocdn.com/resize/squidoo_images/250/draft_lens5895372module46665122photo_1248705236Jesus_Crosses.jpg
rainbow.    http://www.wunderground.com/data/wximagenew/r/RevMac/280.jpg

1867.) 1 Kings 4

June 28, 2016

President Ronald Reagan and his cabinet, 1981. I use this picture solely as an example of a leader and his team; I intend no political endorsement.

1 Kings 4 (New International Version)

Solomon’s Officials and Governors

1 So King Solomon ruled over all Israel. 2 And these were his chief officials:

This long list shows that Solomon understood the value of strong people under him; he was a leader of leaders. He achieved greatness in part because he had the right persons on each job, people who were skilled and competent. We have all seen various organizations and ministries in which the leader brings in weak people to work for him because they are no threat to him. Such leaders make themselves, and their organizations, weaker! Ah, but Solomon was wiser.

Azariah son of Zadok—the priest;

3 Elihoreph and Ahijah, sons of Shisha—secretaries;

Jehoshaphat son of Ahilud—recorder;

4 Benaiah son of Jehoiada—commander in chief;

Zadok and Abiathar—priests;

5 Azariah son of Nathan—in charge of the district governors;

Zabud son of Nathan—a priest and adviser to the king;

6 Ahishar—palace administrator;

Adoniram son of Abda—in charge of forced labor.

7 Solomon had twelve district governors over all Israel, who supplied provisions for the king and the royal household. Each one had to provide supplies for one month in the year. 8 These are their names:

Ben-Hur—in the hill country of Ephraim;

9 Ben-Deker—in Makaz, Shaalbim, Beth Shemesh and Elon Bethhanan;

10 Ben-Hesed—in Arubboth (Sokoh and all the land of Hepher were his);

11 Ben-Abinadab—in Naphoth Dor (he was married to Taphath daughter of Solomon);

12 Baana son of Ahilud—in Taanach and Megiddo, and in all of Beth Shan next to Zarethan below Jezreel, from Beth Shan to Abel Meholah across to Jokmeam;

13 Ben-Geber—in Ramoth Gilead (the settlements of Jair son of Manasseh in Gilead were his, as well as the region of Argob in Bashan and its sixty large walled cities with bronze gate bars);

14 Ahinadab son of Iddo—in Mahanaim;

15 Ahimaaz—in Naphtali (he had married Basemath daughter of Solomon);

16 Baana son of Hushai—in Asher and in Aloth;

17 Jehoshaphat son of Paruah—in Issachar;

18 Shimei son of Ela—in Benjamin;

19 Geber son of Uri—in Gilead (the country of Sihon king of the Amorites and the country of Og king of Bashan). He was the only governor over the district.

Solomon’s Daily Provisions

20 The people of Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand on the seashore;

Genesis 22:17 (ESV)

I will surely bless you, and I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore.

they ate, they drank and they were happy. 21 And Solomon ruled over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. These countries brought tribute and were Solomon’s subjects all his life.

map of the kingdom of Solomon

22 Solomon’s daily provisions were thirty cors (that is, five and a half tons) of the finest flour and sixty cors (that is, eleven tons) of meal, 23 ten head of stall-fed cattle, twenty of pasture-fed cattle and a hundred sheep and goats, as well as deer, gazelles, roebucks and choice fowl. 24 For he ruled over all the kingdoms west of the Euphrates River, from Tiphsah to Gaza, and had peace on all sides. 25 During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, lived in safety, everyone under their own vine and under their own fig tree.

All that food! Every day was Thanksgiving!

26 Solomon had four thousand stalls for chariot horses, and twelve thousand horses.

ancient stables in Morocco

Ancient stables in Meknes, Morocco. Photo by JAR from Gdansk, Poland

 

27 The district governors, each in his month, supplied provisions for King Solomon and all who came to the king’s table. They saw to it that nothing was lacking. 28 They also brought to the proper place their quotas of barley and straw for the chariot horses and the other horses.

Solomon’s Wisdom

29 God gave Solomon wisdom and very great insight, and a breadth of understanding as measureless as the sand on the seashore. 30 Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. 31 He was wiser than anyone else, including Ethan the Ezrahite—wiser than Heman, Kalkol and Darda, the sons of Mahol. And his fame spread to all the surrounding nations. 32 He spoke three thousand proverbs and his songs numbered a thousand and five. 33 He spoke about plant life, from the cedar of Lebanon to the hyssop that grows out of walls. He also spoke about animals and birds, reptiles and fish. 34 From all nations people came to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, sent by all the kings of the world, who had heard of his wisdom.

Islam holds Solomon in very high regard for his wisdom.  The Qur’an states that Solomon ruled not only people, but also hosts of Jinn (genies of Arabic folklore); that he was allowed to see some of the hidden glory in the world that was not accessible to most other human beings; and — that he was able to understand the language of the birds and ants. Which made it easy for me to choose the song for the day!

_________________________

Music:

HERE  is Louis Armstrong and “Talk with the Animals.”

If we could talk to the animals, just imagine it,
Chattin’ with a chimp in chimpanzee,
Imagine talking to a tiger, chatting with a cheetah,
What a neat achievement it would be!

If we could talk to the animals, learn their languages,
Maybe Take an animal degree,
We’d study elephant and eagle, buffalo and beagle,
Alligator, guinea pig, and flea!

We would converse in polar bear and python,
And we would curse in fluent kangaroo,
If people ask us, “can you speak rhinoceros?”
We’d say “of courserous! Can’t you?”

If we conferred with our furry friends, man to animal,
Think of all the things wew could discuss.
If we could walk with the animals, talk with the animals,
Grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals,
And they could talk to us!

If I consult with the quadrupeds
Think what fun we’d have,
asking for the crocodiles for tea!
Or maybe lunch with three lions, walruses and sea lions
What a lovely place the world would be!

If I spoke slang to orangutans
The advantages any fool on earth could plainly see!
Discussing Eastern art and dramas
With intellectual llamas
That’s a big step forward, you’ll agree!

We’d learn to speak in antelope and turtle
And our Pekinese would be extremely good
If we were asked to sing in hippopotamus
We’d say whynotamous? and would!

If we could walk with the animals
Talk with the animals
Grunt and squeak and squawk with the animals
And they could  talk to us!

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

Images courtesy of:
the Reagan cabinet.   https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/9/9e/1981_US_Cabinet.jpg
Abraham looking at the stars.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/abraham_stars.jpg
map of Solomon’s kingdom.     http://abrahams-legacy.org/images/solomon-kingdom-map.gif
Jar photo of stables.   https://www.flickr.com/photos/jarhtc/8247978168
mosque in Malaysia.   https://cdn.shopify.com/s/files/1/1221/9418/files/Malaysia_Mosques_02_81174bb3-7f7e-4e08-b47d-c30121f77e99.gif?10352758661559046851

1866.) 2 Chronicles 9

June 27, 2016

“Solomon and the Queen of Sheba” by Giovanni Demin (1789-1859)

2 Chronicles 9   (New Living Translation)

Visit of the Queen of Sheba

1 When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon’s fame, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions.

“Hard questions” may refer to riddles, which were a popular part of the entertainment at feasts and special occasions in the ancient world. We remember that Samson, in Judges 14, presented a riddle to his Philistine guests at his wedding; only his wife’s betrayal enabled them to guess the correct answer. 

Here are two more ancient riddles. Can you guess them? Answers are at the end of this blog entry!

1)   “At night they come without being fetched,
And by day they are lost without being stolen.”  

2)   “I never was, am always to be,
No one ever saw me, nor ever will,
And yet I am the confidence of all
Who live and breathe on this terrestrial ball.”

She arrived with a large group of attendants and a great caravan of camels loaded with spices, large quantities of gold, and precious jewels.

_________________________

Music:

“In 1931 Italian composer Ottorino Respighi (1879-1936) began the composition of the music for the epic-ballet Belkis, Regina di Saba. One of his most ambitious stage works, it employed an enormous orchestra including such unconventional instruments as sitars and wind-machines, off-stage brass, a chorus, several vocal soloists and a narrator who related the legendary story in verse. The exoticism of the biblical legend of Solomon and Sheba greatly appealed to Respighi. He emulated the melodic characteristics of ancient Hebrew songs; and stressed oriental rhythms with a vast assortment of native percussion instruments.

“The ballet tells of the journey undertaken in the year 1000 B.C. by Belkis, Queen of Sheba, in response to an imperial message from Solomon, the King of Israel. The birds and the winds had told him that he is loved from afar by this beautiful young Queen of the South so he sends for her so that he may render her great honour and homage. Belkis travels across the desert in a huge treasure-laden caravan with warriors and slaves, elephants and camels, and her union with Solomon is celebrated by tumultuous rejoicing.

“Two years later Respighi preserved the best of his opulent 80-minute score in an orchestral suite of four movements. The first movement, ‘Dream of Solomon,’ is set in Solomon’s torch-lit harem in Jerusalem. The opening music broods as he gazes at the starry skies. A solemn march, with heavy bass tread and magisterial brass and vivid oriental colouring follows. The beautiful King enters, his bearing religious and majestic, lost in profound thoughts.

“The next movement is ‘The Dance of Belkis at Dawn.’ It represents Respighi’s music at its most sensual and voluptuous — an erotic picture of Belkis, as first seen in the ballet, reclining on a ruby-studded divan of green malachite watched over by four black slaves, in the luxuriant hanging gardens of Kitor. Belkis awakens, and raising her hands to salute the light of the world, dances in barefoot honour of the newly risen sun.”

http://www.musicweb-international.com/respighi/ballet.htm

HERE  is Movement 1 — The Dream of Solomon.

HERE  is Movement 2– The Dance of Belkis at Dawn.

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When she met with Solomon, she talked with him about everything she had on her mind. 2 Solomon had answers for all her questions; nothing was too hard for him to explain to her. 3 When the queen of Sheba realized how wise Solomon was, and when she saw the palace he had built, 4she was overwhelmed.

"King Solomon and the Queen of Sheba," by Piero della Francesca

“Meeting between the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon,” by Piero della Francesca, 1460 (Basilica di San Francesco, Arezzo, Italy)

Luke 11:31   (NIV)

The Queen of the South will rise at the judgment with the people of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom; and now one greater than Solomon is here.

She was also amazed at the food on his tables, the organization of his officials and their splendid clothing, the cup-bearers and their robes, and the burnt offerings Solomon made at the Temple of the Lord.

5 She exclaimed to the king, “Everything I heard in my country about your achievements and wisdom is true! 6 I didn’t believe what was said until I arrived here and saw it with my own eyes. In fact, I had not heard the half of your great wisdom! It is far beyond what I was told. 7 How happy your people must be! What a privilege for your officials to stand here day after day, listening to your wisdom! 8 Praise the Lord your God, who delights in you and has placed you on the throne as king to rule for him. Because God loves Israel and desires this kingdom to last forever, he has made you king over them so you can rule with justice and righteousness.”

This Queen of Sheba doll features authentic Ethiopian fabric and jewelry designs.

9 Then she gave the king a gift of 9,000 pounds of gold, great quantities of spices, and precious jewels. Never before had there been spices as fine as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon.

10 (In addition, the crews of Hiram and Solomon brought gold from Ophir, and they also brought red sandalwood and precious jewels. 11 The king used the sandalwood to make steps for the Temple of the Lord and the royal palace, and to construct lyres and harps for the musicians. Never before had such beautiful things been seen in Judah.)

12 King Solomon gave the queen of Sheba whatever she asked for—gifts of greater value than the gifts she had given him. Then she and all her attendants returned to their own land.

"Solomon and the Queen of Sheba," by Konrad Witz, 1434 (Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland)

“Solomon and the Queen of Sheba,” by Konrad Witz, 1434 (Kunstmuseum Basel, Basel, Switzerland)

Solomon’s Wealth and Splendor

13 Each year Solomon received about 25 tons of gold.

2 Chronicles 9:13   (English Standard Version)

Now the weight of gold that came to Solomon in one year was 666 talents of gold.

This is a vast amount of gold, which came to Solomon yearly. One commentator sets the value of the 666 talents of gold at $281,318,400. This speaks not only to the great wealth of Solomon, but it also makes him the only other person in the Bible associated with the number 666.

 The other Biblical connection to 666 is the end-times world dictator and opponent of God and His people often known as the Antichrist (Revelation 13:18). In fact, the Revelation passage specifically says that the number 666 is the number of a man, and the man may be Solomon.

 This isn’t to say that Solomon was the Antichrist or that the coming Antichrist will be some weird reincarnation of Solomon. But it may indicate that the Antichrist may not be someone purely evil from the very beginning. Instead, he may be like Solomon — a good man corrupted.

–David Guzik

14This did not include the additional revenue he received from merchants and traders. All the kings of Arabia and the governors of the provinces also brought gold and silver to Solomon.

15 King Solomon made 200 large shields of hammered gold, each weighing more than 15 pounds. 16 He also made 300 smaller shields of hammered gold, each weighing more than 7½ pounds. The king placed these shields 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.”  Beautiful! — but only for show.  Gold is too heavy and too soft to be useful as a shield in battle.

17 Then the king made a huge throne, decorated with ivory and overlaid with pure gold. 18 The throne had six steps, with a footstool of gold. There were armrests on both sides of the seat, and the figure of a lion stood on each side of the throne. 19 There were also twelve other lions, one standing on each end of the six steps. No other throne in all the world could be compared with it!

20 All of King Solomon’s drinking cups were solid gold, as were all the utensils in the Palace of the Forest of Lebanon. They were not made of silver, for silver was considered worthless in Solomon’s day!

21 The king had a fleet of trading ships manned by the sailors sent by Hiram. Once every three years the ships returned, loaded with gold, silver, ivory, apes, and peacocks.

Do you remember the first time you saw a real live peacock fan its tail feathers?  Imagine that moment for Solomon and the other Israelites!

22 So King Solomon became richer and wiser than any other king on earth. 23 Kings from every nation came to consult him and to hear the wisdom God had given him. 24 Year after year everyone who visited brought him gifts of silver and gold, clothing, weapons, spices, horses, and mules.

25 Solomon had 4,000 stalls for his horses and chariots, and he had 12,000 horses. He stationed some of them in the chariot cities, and some near him in Jerusalem. 26 He ruled over all the kings from the Euphrates River in the north to the land of the Philistines and the border of Egypt in the south. 27 The king made silver as plentiful in Jerusalem as stone. And valuable cedar timber was as common as the sycamore-fig trees that grow in the foothills of Judah. 28 Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and many other countries.

King Solomon:  Wealthy?  Yes.  Important?  Yes.  Obedient to God?  No.

Deuteronomy 17:14-20   (NIV)

The King

When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,”  be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your own people. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite.  The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.” He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.

When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests.  It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees  and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.

Summary of Solomon’s Reign

29 The rest of the events of Solomon’s reign, from beginning to end, are recorded in The Record of Nathan the Prophet, and The Prophecy of Ahijah from Shiloh, and also in The Visions of Iddo the Seer, concerning Jeroboam son of Nebat. 30 Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years. 31 When he died, he was buried in the City of David, named for his father. Then his son Rehoboam became the next king.

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Riddles:   1) stars   and   2) tomorrow.

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New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Demin.    http://www.artrenewal.org/pages/artwork.php?artworkid=10389&size=large
riddle – question.    http://triplecrownleadership.com/assets/Stick-Figure-in-Question-Mark.jpg
doll.     http://www.ethidolls.com/site_images/fullMakeda.jpg
Witz.   http://www.wikiart.org/en/konrad-witz/king-solomon-and-the-queen-of-sheba?utm_source=returned&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=referral
gold shield.     https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/achilles-gold-shield-flaxmanshield.gif
peacock.     http://www.itsnature.org/wp-content/uploads/2008/02/peacock-baby.jpg
Egyptian horse.   http://media.photobucket.com/image/horses%20from%20Egypt/etc_trvl/festival/ed1abcb805547ac4daad1fd7614ccd76.jpg

1865.) Psalm 95

June 24, 2016

Psalm 95 (New International Version)

A call to exuberant praise to the Lord!

1 Come, let us sing for joy to the LORD;
let us shout aloud to the Rock of our salvation.
2 Let us come before him with thanksgiving

Thanksgiving:  A “confession, praise” of God’s character and works. The verb is used to express one’s public proclamation or declaration (confession) of God’s attributes and his works.

–Ralph F. Wilson (and all following in green)

and extol him with music and song.

Ps95 created

The reason to praise — the Lord’s greatness as Creator and King!

3 For the LORD is the great God,
the great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth,
and the mountain peaks belong to him.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and his hands formed the dry land.

Ps95 sheep

A call to bow down in humble worship before our God our Shepherd!

6 Come, let us bow down in worship,
let us kneel before the LORD our Maker;
7 for he is our God
and we are the people of his pasture,
the flock under his care.

We worship, we bow down, because we recognize both God’s ownership of us and his responsibility to care for us. As Jesus put it, he is not a hireling, but the owner of the sheep. Therefore, he is willing to lay down his life for the sheep — and did! He is the Shepherd, we are the sheep, the flock. He cares for us.

Ps95 obey

A warning and exhortation to obey the Lord!

Today, if only you would hear his voice,
8Do not harden your hearts as you did at Meribah,
as you did that day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 where your ancestors tested me;
they tried me, though they had seen what I did.
10 For forty years I was angry with that generation;
I said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they have not known my ways.’
11 So I declared on oath in my anger,
‘They shall never enter my rest.’”

Why did the psalmist insert this warning right after high praise and prostrate submission in Psalm 95? The topic of the psalm is worship. His point is that worship not only consists of praise, thanksgiving, and outward submission, but also submissive hearts before the Lord. This is not an outward worship, but inward. Too often our worship is empty words, rather than a submissive spirit full of faith in God and a readiness to obey him. The Apostle Paul reminds us:

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.” (Romans 12:1)

The way we live our lives comprises our worship of God, not just what we say with our mouths on “worship days.”

_________________________

Music:

Psalm 95 is a favorite for singers and composers!

HERE  is the oldest piece offered to you today, “Venite, exultemus Domino,” by William Byrd, an English composer of the Renaissance, 1607.

HERE  the psalm is put to music by the Sons of Korah, an Australian folk band.

HERE  is John Michael Talbot and “Come Worship the Lord.”

_________________________

New International Version (NIV)   Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica

Images courtesy of:
Psalm 95:1.   http://oneyearbibleimages.com/psalm95_1.jpg
Psalm 95:3-4.   http://kellydavenport.zenfolio.com/img/s/v-3/p587217046-3.jpg
Psalm 95:6-7.     http://www.xarisxpressions.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Psalms-9567.jpg
obey.    https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/d1/70/08/d17008d7307ad9dd79c2643b8943c582.jpg

1864.) 1 Kings 10

June 23, 2016

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)

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—

_________________________

Music:

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

_________________________

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.

“The hard questions were not just riddles, but included difficult diplomatic and ethical questions . . . The test was not an academic exercise but to see if he would be a trustworthy business party and a reliable ally capable of giving help.”

–Donald J. Wiseman

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.

1K10 rose_bee

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.

*                *               *

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 (NLT)

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.

In Christian iconography, Solomon represents Jesus and Sheba represents the gentile Church. Thus Sheba’s meeting with Solomon bearing rich gifts foreshadows the adoration of the Magi.

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

 

Many traditions point to the Queen of Sheba as a black woman.

1K10 map Ethiopia

And here is another interesting tradition! A large part of the history of Ethiopia is centered on the legend of the Queen of Sheba of Ethiopia and King Solomon of Israel. Many Ethiopians believe that the relationship between Sheba and Solomon resulted to a son who founded the Solomonic Dynasty in Aksum. Read more  HERE.

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.

When we think of Solomon’s great wealth, we also consider that he originally did not set his heart upon riches. He deliberately asked for wisdom to lead the people of God instead of riches or fame. God promised to also give Solomon riches and fame, and God fulfilled His promise.

We also consider that Solomon gave an eloquent testimony to the vanity of riches as the preacher in the Book of Ecclesiastes. He powerfully showed that there was no ultimate satisfaction through materialism. We don’t have to be as rich as Solomon to learn the same lesson.

–David Guzik

_________________________

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

Images courtesy of:
Solomon and Sheba.   http://lh6.ggpht.com/-jo8GFdMEL0g/TjpmvFtz3xI/AAAAAAAAdJQ/7ikJ6B84fZQ/movie_queen_of_sheba2_thumb3.jpg?imgmax=800
bee on a wild rose.    https://deborahsmall.files.wordpress.com/2010/08/rose_bee_xcu_8643.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://img14.deviantart.net/f5b8/i/2015/127/d/d/queen_of_sheba_by_rita_ria-dre14r.jpg
map of Ethiopia.    http://ichef-1.bbci.co.uk/news/304/media/images/87044000/gif/_87044077_c4e4781e-48f6-44fd-8971-f157bad9d748.gif
gold shield of Achilles.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/12/achilles-gold-shield-flaxmanshield.gif
horse in Egypt.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/horses%20from%20Egypt/etc_trvl/festival/ed1abcb805547ac4daad1fd7614ccd76.jpg

1863.) 2 Chronicles 8

June 22, 2016

David and Solomon at dinner when Sol was in high school .

2 Chronicles 8   (New Living Translation)

Solomon’s Many Achievements

1 It took Solomon twenty years to build the Lord’s Temple and his own royal palace.

Bob the Builder? Not in this chapter! SOLOMON the Builder! He energetically settled new cities and built storage cities, fortifications, chariot cities, and cities of the cavalry.

At the end of that time, 2Solomon turned his attention to rebuilding the towns that King Hiram had given him, and he settled Israelites in them.

A problem comes in reconciling the mention of the cities that Hiram gave to Solomon, because 1 Kings 9:11-14 indicates that they were given by Solomon to Hiram. “While textual disturbance is possible, it seems more probable that they had been returned to Solomon, either because they were unacceptable (1 Kings 9:12-13) or because they had been collateral for a loan (1 Kings 9:14).” (Selman)

–David Guzik

3 Solomon also fought against the town of Hamath-zobah and conquered it. 4 He rebuilt Tadmor in the wilderness and built towns in the region of Hamath as supply centers. 5 He fortified the towns of Upper Beth-horon and Lower Beth-horon, rebuilding their walls and installing barred gates. 6 He also rebuilt Baalath and other supply centers and constructed towns where his chariots and horses could be stationed. He built everything he desired in Jerusalem and Lebanon and throughout his entire realm.

7 There were still some people living in the land who were not Israelites, including the Hittites, Amorites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites. 8 These were descendants of the nations whom the people of Israel had not destroyed. So Solomon conscripted them for his labor force, and they serve in the labor force to this day. 9 But Solomon did not conscript any of the Israelites for his labor force. Instead, he assigned them to serve as fighting men, officers in his army, commanders of his chariots, and charioteers. 10 King Solomon appointed 250 of them to supervise the people.

Solomon used the people of neighboring conquered nations as slave labor in his building projects. Israelites were used in the building of the temple and the king’s palace, but usually as the overseers of the forced labor.

11 Solomon moved his wife, Pharaoh’s daughter, from the City of David to the new palace he had built for her. He said, “My wife must not live in King David’s palace, for the Ark of the Lord has been there, and it is holy ground.”

“To build a house for Pharaoh’s daughter outside the Holy City is to open its gates sooner or later to Pharaoh’s gods.”

–G. Campbell Morgan (English evangelist and scholar, died in 1945)

12 Then Solomon presented burnt offerings to the Lord on the altar he had built for him in front of the entry room of the Temple. 13 He offered the sacrifices for the Sabbaths, the new moon festivals, and the three annual festivals—the Passover celebration, the Festival of Harvest, and the Festival of Shelters—as Moses had commanded.

14 In assigning the priests to their duties, Solomon followed the regulations of his father, David. He also assigned the Levites to lead the people in praise and to assist the priests in their daily duties. And he assigned the gatekeepers to their gates by their divisions, following the commands of David, the man of God. 15 Solomon did not deviate in any way from David’s commands concerning the priests and Levites and the treasuries.

16 So Solomon made sure that all the work related to building the Temple of the Lord was carried out, from the day its foundation was laid to the day of its completion.

2Chron8 keep-on

After reading much in these chapters prior about the extraordinary celebration as the temple was dedicated, this portion brings us round to the on-going regular worship. No community can exist on great occasions alone. The temple was built to be the center of routine worship for Israel. Solomon is meticulous and makes sure all the ordinary, daily activities are done correctly. This orderly organization was a reflection of his great wisdom and an answer to his prayer for help in leading the kingdom of Israel (1 Kings 3).

So much of our lives is lived in the routine! Up — work — home — dinner — bed. Yet even in these “days of small things” (Zechariah 4:10), our hearts can be praising and thanking God for the blessings of the day, and we can be witnessing to those in our circle of influence about the kindness of our Lord Jesus.

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”
—Mother Teresa

17 Later Solomon went to Ezion-geber and Elath, ports along the shore of the Red Sea in the land of Edom. 18 Hiram sent him ships commanded by his own officers and manned by experienced crews of sailors. These ships sailed to Ophir with Solomon’s men and brought back to Solomon almost seventeen tons of gold.

A Phoenician ship from the general era of Solomon.

This is new for Israel. Although we think of their land as bordering the Mediterranean, ancient Israelites were not known as sailors or sea faring people. That skill belonged to the Phoenicians. Ezion-geber and Elath have often been identified as ports at the north end of the Gulf of Aqaba; from there ships could sail to the Red Sea and beyond. Modern scholars are uncertain as to the location of Ophir and all its gold.

_________________________

Music:

HERE.  This song was popular in Israel during Solomon’s building phase!  Maybe it can encourage us today!

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
most likely to succeed cartoon.    http://www.cartoonstock.com/newscartoons/cartoonists/kmh/lowres/kmhn325l.jpg
Bob the Builder.     http://www.infobarrel.com/media/image/15873.jpg
Keep on.    http://skinnywrapgirls.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/11/keep-on-keepin-on.jpg
Phoenician ship.    http://www.kidspast.com/images/Phoenician-ship.jpg

1862.) 1 Kings 9

June 21, 2016

King Solomon

1 Kings 9   (New International Version)

The LORD Appears to Solomon

1 When Solomon had finished building the temple of the LORD and the royal palace, and had achieved all he had desired to do,

The task Solomon had had before him the entire time of his reign (commentators say he had ruled 24 years by now) was completed. At last he could relax! But that attitude can be dangerous to one’s faith walk . . .

2 the LORD appeared to him a second time, as he had appeared to him at Gibeon. 3 The LORD said to him:

“I have heard the prayer and plea you have made before me; I have consecrated this temple, which you have built, by putting my Name there forever. My eyes and my heart will always be there.

4 “As for you, if you walk before me faithfully with integrity of heart and uprightness, as David your father did, and do all I command and observe my decrees and laws, 5 I will establish your royal throne over Israel forever, as I promised David your father when I said, ‘You shall never fail to have a successor on the throne of Israel.’

Matthew 7:24-25 (NLT)

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock.  Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock.”

6 “But if you or your descendants turn away from me and do not observe the commands and decrees I have given you and go off to serve other gods and worship them, 7 then I will cut off Israel from the land I have given them and will reject this temple I have consecrated for my Name. Israel will then become a byword and an object of ridicule among all peoples. 8 This temple will become a heap of rubble. All who pass by will be appalled and will scoff and say, ‘Why has the LORD done such a thing to this land and to this temple?’ 9 People will answer, ‘Because they have forsaken the LORD their God, who brought their ancestors out of Egypt, and have embraced other gods, worshiping and serving them—that is why the LORD brought all this disaster on them.’”

Matthew 7:26-27 (NLT)

“But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand.  When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.”

Solomon — Which will you choose?

Solomon’s Other Activities

10 At the end of twenty years, during which Solomon built these two buildings—the temple of the LORD and the royal palace— 11 King Solomon gave twenty towns in Galilee to Hiram king of Tyre, because Hiram had supplied him with all the cedar and juniper and gold he wanted. 12 But when Hiram went from Tyre to see the towns that Solomon had given him, he was not pleased with them. 13 “What kind of towns are these you have given me, my brother?” he asked. And he called them the Land of Kabul (Kabul sounds like the Hebrew for good-for-nothing), a name they have to this day. 14 Now Hiram had sent to the king 120 talents (that is, about 4 1/2 tons) of gold.

from Peculiar Treasures, A Biblical Who’s Who,
by Frederick Buechner

HIRAM

Hiram, King of Tyre, was in the lumber business, and when Solomon, King of Israel, decided he wanted to build the Temple in Jerusalem, Hiram let him have all the cedar and cypress he needed. He also charged such a cutthroat price for it that in order to pay up, Solomon had to tax his people blind and increase tolls on all the major highways.

Twenty years later, however, when the job was done and Hiram submitted his final bill, Solomon got a little of his own back by paying it in the form not of cash but of twelve Galilean cities whose turn-in value is suggested by the fact that when Hiram saw them, he called the Cabul, which means No Place. According to the historian Josephus, Solomon followed this up by proposing a riddle contest which Hiram lost hands down. As a result he had to give Solomon an enormous prize.

Josephus reports that Hiram bided his time for a while but then got hold of a friend named Abdemon who made hash of Solomon’s riddles in about twenty-five minutes, and at the end of that round it was Solomon who had to cough up an enormous prize for Hiram.

Unfortunately neither Josephus nor the Book of Kings reports what new heights the friendship rose to after that.

15 Here is the account of the forced labor King Solomon conscripted to build the LORD’s temple, his own palace, the terraces, the wall of Jerusalem, and Hazor, Megiddo and Gezer.

aerial view of Tel Hazor

Hazor, Megiddo, and Gezer were three prominently fortified cities in the days of Solomon. “Recent work has demonstrated that these three cities had certain characteristics in common with regard particularly to their fortifications attributable to the Solomonic era . . . Most distinctive are the gate complexes, which are identical in plan and virtually of the same dimensions in all three cities.” (Patterson and Austel)

i. “Hazor was strategically placed in the north (c. three miles north of the Sea of Galilee), being situated at the juncture of the two major highways approaching from the north. It became Israel’s chief bulwark against northern invaders until it was destroyed in the eighth century by Tiglath-pileser III.” (Patterson and Austel)

ii. “Megiddo was the great fortress that controlled on the major passes from the Plain of Sharon on the coast into the Valley of Jezreel through the Carmel range. It figures in prophecy as the staging area for the last great battle (Armageddon) in which Christ will defeat the forces of the Antichrist.” (Patterson and Austel)

iii. “Gezer, on the road from Joppa to Jerusalem, had been a powerful Canaanite city. Though it was included in the tribal territory of Ephraim, it was not occupied by the Israelites until the time of Solomon. Then it was given to Solomon as a wedding gift by Pharaoh to his daughter.” (Patterson and Austel)

–David Guzik

10th century BCE “Solomonic Gate” at Tel Gezer

16 (Pharaoh king of Egypt had attacked and captured Gezer. He had set it on fire. He killed its Canaanite inhabitants and then gave it as a wedding gift to his daughter, Solomon’s wife. 17 And Solomon rebuilt Gezer.) He built up Lower Beth Horon, 18 Baalath, and Tadmor in the desert, within his land, 19 as well as all his store cities and the towns for his chariots and for his horses—whatever he desired to build in Jerusalem, in Lebanon and throughout all the territory he ruled.

20 There were still people left from the Amorites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites (these peoples were not Israelites). 21 Solomon conscripted the descendants of all these peoples remaining in the land—whom the Israelites could not exterminate—to serve as slave labor, as it is to this day. 22 But Solomon did not make slaves of any of the Israelites; they were his fighting men, his government officials, his officers, his captains, and the commanders of his chariots and charioteers. 23 They were also the chief officials in charge of Solomon’s projects—550 officials supervising those who did the work.

24 After Pharaoh’s daughter had come up from the City of David to the palace Solomon had built for her, he constructed the terraces.

25 Three times a year Solomon sacrificed burnt offerings and fellowship offerings on the altar he had built for the LORD, burning incense before the LORD along with them, and so fulfilled the temple obligations.

26 King Solomon also built ships at Ezion Geber, which is near Elath in Edom, on the shore of the Red Sea. 27 And Hiram sent his men—sailors who knew the sea—to serve in the fleet with Solomon’s men. 28 They sailed to Ophir and brought back 420 talents (that is, about 16 tons) of gold, which they delivered to King Solomon.

Ophir . . . a true mystery. No one knows where exactly it was in ancient times, although various Biblical scholars, archaeologists, and others have suggested places:  southern Arabia, Africa (Vasco de Gama’s exploring companion thought it was Zimbabwe; John Milton in Paradise Lost placed Ophir in Mozambique), the Solomon Islands (named thus because Alvaro Mendana, who discovered them in 1568, believed them to be Ophir), even Peru or the Philippines or Australia!

_________________________

Music:

I get tired just reading about all the work that Solomon had his people do — building temples and palaces and stables and cities, constructing terraces and city walls, working with wood and stone, laboring in ships and in gold mines —

Think I’ll put my feet up — it is Friday soon, isn’t it??

HERE  are Alan Jackson and Jimmy Buffet, “It’s Five O’Clock Somewhere.”

_________________________

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

Images courtesy of:
King Solomon.   http://www.readersdigest.com.au/files/aus-en/attachments/pictures/GB_king_solomon.gif
It’s 5:00 somewhere.     http://www.retrooutlet.com/prodimages/0204.jpg
house built on a rock.    http://www.rhodeislandbaycruises.com/images/Sights_ClingStone2.jpg
house built on the sand.   http://kenraggio.com/House-On-The-Sand.jpg
King Hiram choosing which cedar trees to be cut down.   http://oneyearbibleimages.com/king_hiram.jpg
Tel Hazor.    http://hazor.huji.ac.il/aerial_06.JPG
Tel Gezer.    http://www.itsgila.com/highlightsgezer.htm
globe with question mark.   http://kellscard.files.wordpress.com/2010/04/globe_with_question_mark-768583.jpg?w=300&h=300

1861.) 2 Chronicles 7

June 20, 2016

2 Chronicles 7   (New Living Translation)

The Dedication of the Temple

1 When Solomon finished praying, fire flashed down from heaven and burned up the burnt offerings and sacrifices, and the glorious presence of the Lord filled the Temple. 2 The priests could not enter the Temple of the Lord because the glorious presence of the Lord filled it. 3When all the people of Israel saw the fire coming down and the glorious presence of the Lord filling the Temple, they fell face down on the ground and worshiped and praised the Lord, saying,

“He is good!
His faithful love endures forever!”

2Ch7 fire

“O Spirit, sent from heaven
On that day long ago,
Rekindle faith among us
In all life’s ebb and flow.
O give us ears to listen
And tongues aflame with praise,
So folk in every nation
Glad songs of joy shall raise.”

–Jane Parker Huber, 1981

4 Then the king and all the people offered sacrifices to the Lord. 5 King Solomon offered a sacrifice of 22,000 cattle and 120,000 sheep and goats. And so the king and all the people dedicated the Temple of God.

This huge amount of meat would have perhaps been used in part for the people as the nation feasted together for two weeks — the dedication of the temple and the Feast of Tabernacles/Shelters. What a joyful celebration!

6 The priests took their assigned positions, and so did the Levites who were singing, “His faithful love endures forever!” They accompanied the singing with music from the instruments King David had made for praising the Lord. Across from the Levites, the priests blew the trumpets, while all Israel stood.

7 Solomon then consecrated the central area of the courtyard in front of the Lord’s Temple. He offered burnt offerings and the fat of peace offerings there, because the bronze altar he had built could not hold all the burnt offerings, grain offerings, and sacrificial fat.

8 For the next seven days Solomon and all Israel celebrated the Festival of Shelters. A large congregation had gathered from as far away as Lebo-hamath in the north and the Brook of Egypt in the south. 9 On the eighth day they had a closing ceremony, for they had celebrated the dedication of the altar for seven days and the Festival of Shelters for seven days. 10 Then at the end of the celebration, Solomon sent the people home. They were all joyful and glad because the Lord had been so good to David and to Solomon and to his people Israel.

We remember that it was David’s heart and vision that started the work of the temple.

The Lord’s Response to Solomon

11 So Solomon finished the Temple of the Lord, as well as the royal palace. He completed everything he had planned to do in the construction of the Temple and the palace. 12Then one night the Lord appeared to Solomon and said,

Commentators say this conversation with God may have occurred years after the temple was completed.

“I have heard your prayer and have chosen this Temple as the place for making sacrifices. 13 At times I might shut up the heavens so that no rain falls, or command grasshoppers to devour your crops, or send plagues among you. 14 Then if my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sins and restore their land. 15 My eyes will be open and my ears attentive to every prayer made in this place. 16 For I have chosen this Temple and set it apart to be holy—a place where my name will be honored forever. I will always watch over it, for it is dear to my heart.

Verse 14.  It’s a familiar verse and easy for us to think we know it. Plus, I have seen this verse so often with an American flag behind it that it almost sounds political. But let’s take a fresh look and examine ourselves in the light of this verse:

humble ourselves:  a change in attitude in regard to one’s self, a change from an arrogant rejection of God
Where am I still arrogantly doing what I want to do even when in my fine Christian humility I pretend I am being obedient?

pray:  to recognize the right of God over one’s life
What inadequate concept of God do I have which prevents me from fully trusting God with every detail of my life?

seek my face:  the desire to determine what God wants
Can I turn my back on my cherished hopes and dreams for myself? for my children? for my future? — and give it all to God?

turn:   the will to do what God wants
Can I say with Mary, “Be it unto me according to thy word”? Can I say with Jesus, “Yet not what I will, but what You will”?

__________________________

Music:

HERE  Avalon sings “If My People Pray.”

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17 “As for you, if you faithfully follow me as David your father did, obeying all my commands, decrees, and regulations, 18 then I will establish the throne of your dynasty. For I made this covenant with your father, David, when I said, ‘One of your descendants will always rule over Israel.’

After a positive promise comes a negative promise . . .

19 “But if you or your descendants abandon me and disobey the decrees and commands I have given you, and if you serve and worship other gods, 20 then I will uproot the people from this land that I have given them. I will reject this Temple that I have made holy to honor my name. I will make it an object of mockery and ridicule among the nations. 21 And though this Temple is impressive now, all who pass by will be appalled. They will ask, ‘Why did the Lord do such terrible things to this land and to this Temple?’
22 “And the answer will be, ‘Because his people abandoned the Lord, the God of their ancestors, who brought them out of Egypt, and they worshiped other gods instead and bowed down to them. That is why he has brought all these disasters on them.’”

In the end, we will all have chosen one or the other:

2 Kings 17:15   (NIV)

They followed worthless idols and themselves became worthless.

Colossians 1:9-11   (TNIV)

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,  so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way.

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
2 Chron. 7:14 (Glacier National Park).     https://missionventureministries.files.wordpress.com/2012/07/2-chronicles-7-vs-14.jpg
flame.     https://www.ncptt.nps.gov/wp-content/uploads/fire-vector.png?7d0444
“if my people . . .”    https://mylordmyfriend.files.wordpress.com/2013/02/chron.jpg
“Only one life . . .”     http://www.calledintowork.com/Editor/assets/pictureframe.jpg

1860.) 2 Chronicles 6

June 17, 2016

2Chron6 Heavens

2 Chronicles 6   (New Living Translation)

Solomon Praises the Lord

1 Then Solomon prayed, “O Lord, you have said that you would live in a thick cloud of darkness. 2Now I have built a glorious Temple for you, a place where you can live forever!”

2Chron6 temple

A sense of fulfillment:  The temple has been built! It is a beginning as well as an end, for it not only signals a fulfillment for God’s plans for Israel, but also it becomes a reference point for the stories of subsequent kings. Will they be able to secure the blessings of God through obedience? That is the challenge for the community of Israel then — and for us as Christian believers now. If we love the Lord, John 14:15 says, we will keep his commandments.

3 Then the king turned around to the entire community of Israel standing before him and gave this blessing: 4 “Praise the Lord, the God of Israel, who has kept the promise he made to my father, David. For he told my father, 5 ‘From the day I brought my people out of the land of Egypt, I have never chosen a city among any of the tribes of Israel as the place where a Temple should be built to honor my name. Nor have I chosen a king to lead my people Israel. 6 But now I have chosen Jerusalem as the place for my name to be honored, and I have chosen David to be king over my people Israel.’”

7 Then Solomon said, “My father, David, wanted to build this Temple to honor the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 8 But the Lord told him, ‘You wanted to build the Temple to honor my name. Your intention is good, 9 but you are not the one to do it. One of your own sons will build the Temple to honor me.’

10 “And now the Lord has fulfilled the promise he made, for I have become king in my father’s place, and now I sit on the throne of Israel, just as the Lord promised. I have built this Temple to honor the name of the Lord, the God of Israel. 11 There I have placed the Ark, which contains the covenant that the Lord made with the people of Israel.”

__________________________

Music:

HERE  is “You’re Worthy of My Praise.”

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Solomon’s Prayer of Dedication

12 Then Solomon stood before the altar of the Lord in front of the entire community of Israel, and he lifted his hands in prayer. 13 Now Solomon had made a bronze platform 7½ feet long, 7½ feet wide, and 4½ feet high and had placed it at the center of the Temple’s outer courtyard. He stood on the platform, and then he knelt in front of the entire community of Israel and lifted his hands toward heaven. 14He prayed,

2Chron6 Pray without ceasing

The subject of this prayer is, in a sense, prayer itself (vv. 19-21). It envisages Israel, in future generations and as a matter of habit, seeking God in prayer in the Temple. Prayer is to be the essential instrument in the continuing relationship between God and his people. Notice how Solomon’s first petition is that God would keep the promises that he has already made. This says much about the role of prayer in the relationship between God and man. If we feel that prayer is not worth while on the grounds that God is sovereign and will do what he pleases in any case, we fail to perceive that it belongs fundamentally to God’s purposes for humanity that we should identify and come to desire the things which he desires for us. When Solomon pictures future generations at prayer, it is for them to be laying claim to things God promised long ago.

–J. G. McConville

Here are the words of a chorus my mother taught me when I was a small child, back in the last century:

Every promise in the Book is mine,
Every chapter, every verse, every line,
All are blessings of His love divine,
Every promise in the Book is mine.

“O Lord, God of Israel, there is no God like you in all of heaven and earth. You keep your covenant and show unfailing love to all who walk before you in wholehearted devotion. 15 You have kept your promise to your servant David, my father. You made that promise with your own mouth, and with your own hands you have fulfilled it today.
16 “And now, O Lord, God of Israel, carry out the additional promise you made to your servant David, my father. For you said to him, ‘If your descendants guard their behavior and faithfully follow my Law as you have done, one of them will always sit on the throne of Israel.’ 17 Now, O Lord, God of Israel, fulfill this promise to your servant David.
18 “But will God really live on earth among people?


Why, even the highest heavens cannot contain you. How much less this Temple I have built! 19 Nevertheless, listen to my prayer and my plea, O Lord my God. Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is making to you. 20 May you watch over this Temple day and night, this place where you have said you would put your name. May you always hear the prayers I make toward this place. 21 May you hear the humble and earnest requests from me and your people Israel when we pray toward this place. Yes, hear us from heaven where you live, and when you hear, forgive.

It is as if Solomon has an intimation, or even a foreboding, that the normal behavior of future generations will be of unfaithfulness rather than obedience. Solomon knows that God will certainly keep his covenant and show steadfast love. Paul says it another way:  “If we are faithless, he remains faithful — for he cannot deny himself” (2 Timothy 2:13).

22 “If someone wrongs another person and is required to take an oath of innocence in front of your altar at this Temple, 23 then hear from heaven and judge between your servants—the accuser and the accused. Pay back the guilty as they deserve. Acquit the innocent because of their innocence.
24 “If your people Israel are defeated by their enemies because they have sinned against you, and if they turn back and acknowledge your name and pray to you here in this Temple, 25 then hear from heaven and forgive the sin of your people Israel and return them to this land you gave to them and to their ancestors.

Drought.

26 “If the skies are shut up and there is no rain because your people have sinned against you, and if they pray toward this Temple and acknowledge your name and turn from their sins because you have punished them, 27 then hear from heaven and forgive the sins of your servants, your people Israel. Teach them to follow the right path, and send rain on your land that you have given to your people as their special possession.

Famine.

28 “If there is a famine in the land or a plague or crop disease or attacks of locusts or caterpillars, or if your people’s enemies are in the land besieging their towns—whatever disaster or disease there is—29 and if your people Israel pray about their troubles or sorrow, raising their hands toward this Temple, 30 then hear from heaven where you live, and forgive. Give your people what their actions deserve, for you alone know each human heart. 31 Then they will fear you and walk in your ways as long as they live in the land you gave to our ancestors.

2Chron6 Western Wall

32 “In the future, foreigners who do not belong to your people Israel will hear of you. They will come from distant lands when they hear of your great name and your strong hand and your powerful arm. And when they pray toward this Temple, 33 then hear from heaven where you live, and grant what they ask of you. In this way, all the people of the earth will come to know and fear you, just as your own people Israel do. They, too, will know that this Temple I have built honors your name.
34 “If your people go out where you send them to fight their enemies, and if they pray to you by turning toward this city you have chosen and toward this Temple I have built to honor your name, 35 then hear their prayers from heaven and uphold their cause.

Exile. Painting by Gunnar Bay.

36 “If they sin against you—and who has never sinned?—you might become angry with them and let their enemies conquer them and take them captive to a foreign land far away or near. 37 But in that land of exile, they might turn to you in repentance and pray, ‘We have sinned, done evil, and acted wickedly.’ 38 If they turn to you with their whole heart and soul in the land of their captivity and pray toward the land you gave to their ancestors—toward this city you have chosen, and toward this Temple I have built to honor your name—39 then hear their prayers and their petitions from heaven where you live, and uphold their cause. Forgive your people who have sinned against you.
40 “O my God, may your eyes be open and your ears attentive to all the prayers made to you in this place.

41 “And now arise, O Lord God, and enter your resting place,
along with the Ark, the symbol of your power.
May your priests, O Lord God, be clothed with salvation;
may your loyal servants rejoice in your goodness.
42 O Lord God, do not reject the king you have anointed.
Remember your unfailing love for your servant David.”

Let us praise God today that he DOES dwell among us as we live out our salvation in the power of our risen Lord!

Let us rejoice in his everlasting goodness and thank him for always hearing and answering our prayers!

_________________________

New Living Translation (NLT)   Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright© 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
To God be all the glory.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/0cc1c-heavens.jpg
Solomon’s temple.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2016/06/f134b-solomons_temple_jerusalem.jpg
Pray without ceasing.     http://www.julieschwartzart.com/Callig_Pray%20without%20ceasing%20-%2050%20percent.jpg
John 1:14.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2011/06/dwelt1.jpg
Drought.    http://www.internetmonk.com/wp-content/uploads/drought330.jpg
Famine.    http://scrapetv.com/News/News%20Pages/Science/images-4/famine.jpg
foreigners at Western Wall.   http://caspari.com/new/images/stories/Slideshowpictures/2014/wallelisabeth3.jpg
Bay.    http://www.exile-exhibition.com/Exile2009/GBay-Exile-s%F8m-web-01.jpg