~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
2 Samuel 15:23-16:23 ~ John 18:25-19:22
Psalm 119:113-128 ~ Proverbs 16:10-11
Old Testament - More sad readings today in Second Samuel. However, it is impressive to see David's countenance in the midst of all of the chaos going on around him. I love David's words in verses 10 through 12 when Shimei is cursing David - "If the LORD has told him to curse me, who am I to stop him? My own son is trying to kill me. Shouldn't this relative of Saul have even more reason to do so? Leave him alone and let him curse, for the LORD has told him to do it. And perhaps the LORD will see that I am being wronged and will bless me because of these curses." That is incredible faith and humility! David says first that perhaps God has told Shimei to curse him, so why try to stop it. Then at the end David basically says if God has not told Shimei to curse him, then perhaps David will be blessed by God because of these wrongful curses. Great stuff... How do you act in your life today if someone is cursing you or wronging you? Do you act like David does here? With patience and wisdom? Or, do you "react" with anger and spite? Which is the better way to go? Below is a powerful image for 2 Samuel 15:23 today: "There was deep sadness throughout the land as the king and his followers passed by. They crossed the Kidron Valley and then went out toward the wilderness."
At the end of today's readings we read about Ahithophel advising Absalom to sleep with David's concubines. To sleep with a king's wives or concubines was to make a claim to the throne. It is sad to read about this advice to commit a horrible act that is "beyond hope of reconciliation", as verse 21 says in today's readings. I read a commentary that said Ahithophel advises Absalom to do this horrible act so that all of Israel will hear about it. Well, Absalom is in such a deep state of sin and wickedness at this point that he wanted Israel to also see that he was commiting this sin by setting the tent up on the palace roof. It is striking to me to see David's humility toward Shimei's curses in today's readings versus Absalom's complete pride and rebellion. See what unchecked sin can do in a life? Do you think Absalom knew he was going the Wrong Way? Or was he blinded by sin? In a couple of days we'll read about where the Wrong Way leads Absalom...
Bible.org's commentary on today's Second Samuel readings titled "A Friend in Need or the Trail of Tears" is at this link.
New Testament - Today in John chapter 18 verse 38 we come across what many say is the most ironic question asked in all of history, as Jesus stands before Pilate: ""What is truth?" Pilate asked." Why is this ironic? Because Pilate asks what is truth, when Truth is standing right before him! Jesus is Truth! And Pilate couldn't see it. Below is a painting from 1890 by Russian artist Nikolay Gay titled ""Quod Est Veritas?" Christ and Pilate". This is a fascinating painting! At first glance I do not like it at all, because Jesus is painted so darkly. But, maybe that's the point of this painting. Pilate is asking What is Truth? - and he cannot see the very Truth right before him! Wow. . . think there are people in our world today who see Jesus so dimly, like Pilate does in this painting? I pray you and I see Jesus much more clearly, and much more as the Light! What is truth. This is a question that is still asked today of you and me. What is truth? Who is truth?
In chapter 19 verse 17 today we read: "Carrying the cross by himself, Jesus went to the place called Skull Hill (in Hebrew, Golgotha)." I'm sure you've probably heard the term "Calvary" used for this hill as well. Note that Calvary came from the Latin word calvaria, which means a skull. In the past I used to get confused as to why sometimes I'd hear this hill called Calvary or Skull Hill or Golgotha. It's all the same place, just different "translations" of a horribly sad place... Below is a modern day picture of what is believed to be Golgotha:
Psalms - Psalm 119 verse 114 a beautiful reflection on our relationship with God and his Word, the Bible - "You are my refuge and my shield; your word is my only source of hope." This ties in so well with the reflections on false teachers above. The Bible is clearly a refuge and shield from false teaching! Is God's Word your only source of hope? And remember, Jesus is the very Word made flesh, so Jesus would clearly be your only source of hope too, if the Word truly is. Let us take refuge in God's Word each day of our lives!
Verse 127 today is powerful - "Truly, I love your commands more than gold, even the finest gold." I think this is something each of us needs to ask ourselves. Do we love God's commands - his Word - the Bible - more than we love any and all material possessions? Do we value the Bible above all the money this world could ever offer us? This is an important decision to make... I pray we realize the eternal worth of God's commands compared to the passing and transitory nature of "even the finest gold." Let us always remember the great peril of ignoring God's Word and instead chasing after the world's "fool's gold"...
Proverbs - Proverbs 16 verse 11 is important for each of us to keep in mind in our daily work lives - "The LORD demands fairness in every business deal; he sets the standard." God cares about our work. He cares about our business deals. He knows if we are conducting our work fairly or not. If we are not fair in our business deals - if we are cheating our employer of our full and diligent work during our hours worked - then we are sinning. God sets the standard. Work fairly and honestly as if you were working for God as your boss. Because, truly, you are working for God in all that you do. No matter where you work. Like this image below, work each and every day as if you have a halo above you and keep that halo going strong!! :)
What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up in the Comments section below!