2 Samuel 20:14-21:22 ~ Acts 1:1-26 ~ Psalm 121:1-8 ~ Proverbs 16:18
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Old Testament - Well... Sheba's grand rebellion against David doesn't last very long! And Sheba's own clan doesn't treat him well at all... Below are 2 images from today's readings. First image is from a 13th Century Maciejowski Bible showing Joab and his men besieging the city of Abel. Next image is of Sheba's head being thrown over the wall to Joab. Rebellion over.
Second Samuel chapter 21 begins 4 chapters that are thought to essentially be an "appendix" to First and Second Samuel. These 4 chapters contain additional information about David's reign, without regard to chronology of events. The first event we read about in today's readings about David handing over 7 of Saul's relatives to the Gibeonites is believed to have taken place after David extended his kindness initially to Mephibosheth in chapter 9 and before Absalom's rebellion. The triumphs over 4 Philistine giants is at unknown times / chronology, although verse 15 seems to indicate to me that these took place perhaps later in David's life when he was older: "And when David and his men were in the thick of battle, David became weak and exhausted." Somehow I can't imagine a young David becoming weak and exhausted in battle... These 4 episodes are thought to have been included to show the heroics of David's men. Below is an image of David and his "Mighty Men" at a victory over their enemies:
Bible.org's commentary on today's Second Samuel readings titled "Promise Breakers and Promise Keepers" is at this link.
New Testament - Today we begin the book of Acts! I am sad to be leaving the Gospels behind, but am definitely looking forward to reading Luke’s writings in Acts. (And there is always early next year to read the Gospels again! Hint... hint... :) We’ll soon be introduced to Paul in Acts, and his Epistles will be coming up in the months ahead. It is always so exciting to read about the early church and its genesis. I hope you are ready for Acts! Let's go!
Date: A.D. 65-70
Content: The book of Acts is a continuation of the Gospel of Luke where Luke intends to show that what Jesus began on earth, he continues to do in the life of the church. The book begins with the apostles being filled with the power of God and preaching to great effect, three thousand being saved in one day (Acts 2:41). The life of the church in Jerusalem, the spread of the gospel to Samaria, the activities of the apostle Peter, and the persecution of the early Christians are then described. The focus then shifts to the apostle Paul and his missionary activity in Gentile territory. His three missionary journeys are treated in some detail, ending with Paul’s trip to Rome where the book ends. Some scholars suggest that Luke intended to write a third volume that would have described Paul’s release, further travels, arrest, and death.
Theme: Acts was written to show the spread of the gospel from Jewish to Gentile territory (Acts 1:8). The good news that Jesus dies and rose again could not be confined to one corner of the world, but was intended by God for all. To that end God empowered his people so that they could accomplish their task. The Holy Spirit is that empowering agent. The sovereign control of God over all things is seen in the triumph of the gospel over paganism and persecution; and although it may cost many their very lives (even Peter and Paul, whose lives are described in Acts), ultimate victory is assured through Jesus our Lord. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” p. 23) More commentary on Acts is at these 2 links – http://bible.org/page.php?page_id=2122 & http://bible.org/page.php?page_id=1793
It's intriguing to note that Luke begins Acts 1:1 with "Dear Theophilus." You will recall from Luke's Gospel in chapter 1 verses 3 & 4 Luke addresses the Gospel to Theophilus as well: "Therefore, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, it seemed good also to me to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught." So, just who is Theophilus? There is a lot of speculation on this question, and not a lot of certainty. Theophilus' name means "one who loves God." Not a bad name, eh? Some speculate that Theolphilus was someone of high position and wealth, and perhaps even a Roman official. Some speculate Theophilus was actually Luke's publisher, funding his writings distribution! In whatever case, it appears that both Acts and Luke were written for Theophilus' own instruction, as well as the instruction of those whom these writings would be distributed, which includes you and me! Let us simply thank God for the unknown man Theophilus to whom Luke felt compelled to write the books of instructions for us in Acts & Luke! Below is a painting titled "Saint Luke" from the year 1360 by Master Theodoric:
Verse 8 from Jesus is basically a Cliff Notes version of the book of Acts: "But when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, you will receive power and will tell people about me everywhere--in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." In chapters 1 through 7 the apostles will be witnesses in Jerusalem. Judea & Samarian in chapters 8 & 9. And then to the ends of the earth in chapters 10 through 28. Well, ends of the earth in terms of Caesarea, Rome, Greece, Antioch and Asia Minor. But, they wouldn't begin this witnessing until they are equipped with the power of the Holy Spirit in chapter 2. Below is a pretty good map of Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria at the time of Acts:
In verse 9 today we read about the ascension of Jesus into heaven! "It was not long after Jesus said this that he was taken up into the sky while they were watching, and he disappeared into a cloud." Below is Rembrandt's painting of the Ascension from the early 17th century:
Bible.org's commentary on today's Acts readings titled "Getting Ahead of God" is at this link.
Psalms - Psalm 121 is the second in this series of 15 Psalms of ascent that were likely written for religious festivals when people were making their pilgrimages to Israel. I love verses 3 & 4 today - "He will not let you stumble and fall; the one who watches over you will not sleep. Indeed, he who watches over Israel never tires and never sleeps." How about that! God does not sleep! This reminds me of other parts of the Bible where it talks about God being pure light and having no shadows. God is also so perfect that he does not sleep! I like that... Allows me to sleep better at night.
And the closing verse 8... wow... "The LORD keeps watch over you as you come and go, both now and forever." Do you believe this is true? Do you believe that God watches over you - always?
Bible.org's commentary on Psalm 121 today titled "Protection for the Pilgrim" is at this link.
Proverbs - Today in Proverbs chapter 16 verse 18 we read this convicting proverb: “Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” I don’t know about you, but I struggle with pride. Honestly, I have a hunch that most of us do to some degree. It is part of our human condition I’m afraid. I do believe that Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and God can save us of our pride. But, we have to really be willing to give it up to them – to let it go. I honestly do not think I have let go of my pride. The thing I’ve noticed that I’ve been doing lately – which I think is a symptom of pride – is judging others. I really have been judging others harshly. And it’s a horrible thing to do. I caught myself saying something horrible to a friend recently about another group of acquaintances. And I felt so horrible after saying it – but I realized that indeed what I said is exactly what I had been thinking. I had been judging others! I had been prideful! And that is a scary thing. . . if this proverb is true. And I know that it is true. Pride goes before destruction. A haughty spirit before a fall. I realize I’m on a bad course right now of judging others and being prideful. I am thankful that God has shown to me this is a sin I need to repent of. I am praying constantly now for healing and redemption from it. I am confident it will come. But, I am also wise enough to realize that I will need to be diligent and continually pray for healing in this area in my life – judging others and pride. I am afraid that I will struggle with this my whole life. But, that’s okay. It makes me realize I cannot do this life on my own. I need God. I need Jesus. I need the Holy Spirit. Otherwise – without them – I would be a prideful & judgmental person. And I would surely fall. . . How about you? Do you struggle with pride? Do you judge others? (really, think about this one. . . it was scary for me to realize that not only do I judge others – but I do it constantly. . .) If so, will you join me in repentance and prayer in these areas? Will you give these sins over to Jesus and pray constantly for redemption and healing in these areas? He will heal you. Surely he will. No one else can. We cannot heal ourselves of pride & judging others on our own.
Worship God: Today's readings in Acts reminds me of the MercyMe song "Move." Here's a great live version of this song!
Are you Moving with God? Click here to Move!
Please join us in memorizing and meditating on a verse of Scripture today: "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth." Acts 1:8 NIV
Prayer Point: Pray that you have received power from the Holy Spirit coming upon you! Pray that you are a witness for Jesus in your own hometown, in your country, and all over the world!
Comments from You & Questions of the Day: What are some ways you have dealt with pride in your life in the past? Have you been able to overcome issues of judging others? Have you been able to overcome thinking you are "all that"? How did you overcome these pride issues? Also, what verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!
p.s. Download our monthly Small Group study notes for our One Year Bible readings at this link.
p.p.s. Download a schedule of our One Year Bible readings for the year in PDF format at this link.