2 Samuel 19:11-20:13 ~ John 21:1-25 ~ Psalm 120:1-7 ~ Proverbs 16:16-17
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Old Testament - Today is a great day of readings in Second Samuel! David returns to Jerusalem! I love the entire flow of today's readings as David crosses the Jordan River toward Jerusalem and shows incredible kindness to Shimei, Mephibosheth, and Barzillai along the way. However, don't forget the name Shimei just yet - the "rock thrower & curser" when David fled Jerusalem a few chapters back... On David's deathbed, later in our readings in First Kings 2:9, David will pass along to his son Solomon these instructions: "Bring his (Shimei's) gray head down to the grave in blood..." But, this day was not a day of bloodshed, but a day of amnesty, as David exclaimed in 2 Samuel 19:22 today: "This is not a day for execution but for celebration! I am once again the king of Israel!" An image of Mephibosheth, Saul's grandson, meeting David on his return to Jerusalem is below:
In Second Samuel chapter 20 today we read about the revolt of Sheba from the tribe of Benjamin. Zondervan's commentary today points out that an important thing to keep in mind here is that tribal jealousy still was brewing over the transfer of the kingship from Benjamin (Saul's tribe) to Judah (David's tribe). Sheba appeals to the Israelite suspicion that David favored his own tribe over the other tribes. As this chapter progresses Joab again shows his true colors by murdering Amasa. I'm beginning to wonder about Joab... he's ruthless. I suppose as being the commander of the army for so long, this was his "job" to be ruthless? Let me know your thoughts on Joab in the Comments section below. Ramona, thanks for the comment in yesterday's readings saying "Joab operated out of Justice with no Love." Great point! In Amasa's case, Amasa was part of the rebellion against David led by Absalom, so again here Joab is acting out "Justice"... (and certainly no Love...) I wonder if we ever fall into this trap in our lives today as well? Operate in an unbalanced way showing nothing but Justice, and yet no Love? Or, on the other hand do we sometimes operate with just Love, and no Justice? Should we be operating with a balance of Love and Justice? Or should one (Love or Justice) outweigh the other in our life? Below is a stained glass window showing Joab killing Amasa while pretending to greet him:
Bible.org's commentary on today's Second Samuel readings today titled "David's Return to Jerusalem" is at this link.
New Testament - John 21 is one of my favorite chapters of the Bible in so many ways! In some ways it is because of a beautiful modern day book written by the late Henri Nouwen titled "In the Name of Jesus: Reflections on Christian Leadership", which is based on this chapter and Jesus asking Peter 3 times if he loves him. Has anyone else read this book by Nouwen? If so, please post up reviews in the Comments section below. I know I make a lot of book recommendations on this blog over the course of a year, but if there is just 1 book you read based on my recommendations (other than the One Year Bible of course :), "In the Name of Jesus" by Henri Nouwen would be the book. In this book Henri writes about the end of his life ministry where he is a spiritual director at a L'Arche Daybreak community in Toronto, working amongst mentally handicapped. It is so incredible to read about how Henri learns from what the world would see as "the least of these" and how Henri realizes in his Christian ministry throughout his life he's been fighting 3 temptations:
1. the temptation to be relevant.
2. the temptation to be spectacular.
3. the temptation to be powerful.
I could go on and on about this book, but the last thing I will say is that it is so beautiful how Henri ties his learnings in this book to Jesus and Peter's Q & A here in John 21. If you serve in any way, shape, or form in Christian ministry (or even if you don't :), please pick this book up. You will be blessed by it immensely!
Okay, back to the Bible. :) Below is an image of the risen Jesus from today's readings by the Sea of Galilee (Tiberias is the same Sea, just another name for it) by artist William Hole:
One of my absolute favorite red letter quotes from Jesus in the Gospels arrives today in John 21. Verse 12: ""Now come and have some breakfast!" Jesus said." There is something about the simplicity and beauty and every-day-ness of this command from Jesus to the 7 disciples that I just absolutely love! Can you image Jesus saying this to you? Can you imagine Jesus making breakfast for you on the beach? In the words of the famous Mercy Me song, "I can only imagine..."
Okay, now onto the big question probably for many of us from today's readings is why did Jesus ask Peter 3 times if he loved him? Many commentaries call these passages "the reinstatement of Peter" - meaning that he was reinstated as the rock / confessor of the foundation of Jesus' church based on Matthew 16:16. And that he needed this reinstatement after denying knowing the Lord 3 times before his crucifixion (and the then rooster crowing, as we know...). Interestingly, Tyndale's One Year Bible Companion has the following suggestions on the original Greek used when John wrote about this Q & A exchange between Jesus and Peter: "Two different Greek words are used for "love." The first two times the word agapo, which means devoted love, is used. When Peter refuses to use the same word, Jesus turns to the word phileo, which indicates the love of friendship. Peter accepts this word and admits that he loves Jesus in this way. Peter was humbler now than earlier in his life, and was making no claim to superior love (see John 13:36-37)." In verse 18 Jesus says to Peter: "The truth is, when you were young, you were able to do as you liked and go wherever you wanted to. But when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and others will direct you and take you where you don't want to go." The early church understood this as a prophecy of crucifixion. Peter would be a martyr and tradition suggests that he was crucified upside down. Below is a beautiful stained glass image of this exchange between Peter and Jesus in today's readings:
Okay, I realize this has been a long post today... but the last thing I want to point out is that I love Jesus' response to Peter when Peter asks about what will happen to John and Jesus says this is verse 22: "Jesus replied, "If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You follow me." I think this is a great word from Jesus to both you and me today as well! How often do we worry about others and their relationship with the Lord? How often do we perhaps think that we are so saved, and "they" are so not...? Or how often do we wonder why someone seems like they are so blessed, and perhaps we think that we are not? Well, what does Jesus say to all of this to you and me today? I believe he would say the same words from verse 22: "What is that to you? You follow me." Indeed, let us not worry so very much about others. But let us worry instead about ourselves simply following Jesus!
Bible.org's commentary on today's John readings titled "What is this thing called Love?" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 120 is the beginning of 15 Psalms known as "songs of ascent!" This could mean the ascent of the stairs to the Temple in Jerusalem - or more likely the annual religious pilgrimages and the ascent to Mount Zion in Jerusalem. Are you ready for the next 15 Psalms of Ascent?
Verse 1 in this Psalm should be encouraging to each of us: "I took my troubles to the LORD; I cried out to him, and he answered my prayer." Do you have troubles in your life? Have you brought them to God in prayer? Will you? Will you allow him to answer your prayer?
Proverbs - Proverbs 16:16 today teaches us: "How much better to get wisdom than gold, and understanding than silver!" Do you believe this Proverb to be true? How do you spend the majority of your time in your life - pursuing wisdom & understanding or pursuing money? What are some ways in your life you can spend more time pursuing wisdom & understanding and less time pursuing money?
YouTube: Today's readings in Psalm 120:1 remind me of the song "What if His People Prayed" by Casting Crowns:
Are you praying to Jesus? Click here and Pray!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "How much better to get wisdom than gold, to choose understanding rather than silver!." Proverbs 16:16 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you are seeking wisdom in your life. Pray that gaining wisdom is a higher priority to you than gaining money. Pray that you are growing more like Jesus each day, the author and perfecter of wisdom!
Comments from You & Questions of the Day: What are your thoughts on our readings in John today with Jesus asking Peter 3 times if he loved him? Why do you think this was asked of Peter 3 times? Was this a "reinstatement" of Peter? What are your thoughts overall on this closing chapter of John today? (Acts begins tomorrow!! :) Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!