July 8- Read Ecclesiastes 3
What do you think about the idea of youth pastors? Can they be helpful for connecting with the young people in the congregation? Should we think about having something similar in our churches? We recently had a presentation done for our school by a youth pastor. Someone I was talking to afterward said they weren’t sure they liked the presenter’s style of interspersing jokes and serious discussion. He said that’s a problem with youth pastors, and it’s not good for the youth they’re “connecting” with. I thought about this as I read that there is a time for everything in Ecclesiastes 3. It prompted me to do a Google search on why others think youth pastors are a wrong idea. I found an interesting article on patheos.com, which said that youth pastors tend to trade real authority for persuasion and advertisement. Since they don’t have proper authority over the young people, they try to mask the gospel as something “cool.” In addition, the author said youth pastors are only seen as a necessity in the first place when the family has failed. We need to instruct our children in the right way, always asserting the authority of the gospel.
Sing or pray Psalter #282.
July 9- Read Ecclesiastes 4
We just finished studying Daniel in Bible class at school. It’s amazing to think about how Daniel was such a strong witness for the truth that the only thing the princes could find “wrong” with him was his unwavering worship of God. What faith! Could the same be said if it had been us those princes were scrutinizing? To my shame, I must confess that the princes would readily find plenty of fuel for the fire. We must constantly pray for strength to live a godly life and worship him rightly, even in the face of persecution.
Ecclesiastes 4:4 says, “Again, I considered all travail, and every right work, that for this a man is envied of his neighbour. This is also vanity and vexation of spirit.” The reality of the Christian life is that the wicked will turn our good works against us. They will drag our name through the mud, even when we are in the right. Our job, then, is to continue worshipping him in confidence and not give them a reason to blaspheme.
Sing or pray Psalter #109.
July 10- Read Ecclesiastes 5
Ecclesiastes 5:4–5 states, “When thou vowest a vow unto God, defer not to pay it; for he hath no pleasure in fools: pay that which thou hast vowed. Better is it that thou shouldest not vow, than that thou shouldest vow and not pay.” This made me think of the parable of the sons in Matthew 21:28–32. Here, a man had two sons. He told the one to go work in his vineyard, but he refused. Later, however, he repented of his sin and went. Meanwhile, the man told his other son to go work, and he quickly agreed but never ended up going. Jesus makes it clear that the first son is like the publicans and harlots, who were living in grievous sin but repented at Jesus’s call. In contrast, the second son represents the Pharisees, who were supposed to be living holy lives but had rejected him. Jesus continues to represent the wicked Pharisees by telling the parable of the husbandmen killing the householder’s son. By nature, we are the second son and the husbandmen, but by God’s grace we see our sin and go work in the vineyard.
Sing or pray Psalter #88.
July 11- Read Ecclesiastes 6
The second verse here talks about how a man can have all the earthly riches available to him and yet be unable to enjoy them. Someone in our church used to work for the multi-millionaires of the world, and he came away thinking they’re the unhappiest people on earth. I remember one story where the construction crew had spent the entire day making this gigantic, custom-tile mosaic around the fountain in their courtyard. When the homeowner arrived, she decided she didn’t like it and proceeded to smash it to bits with a sledgehammer.
Another story that comes to mind is God delivering the Israelites from the Syrians in 2 Kings 7. Although the people were starving, Elisha told them that they would soon have abundance. One of the king’s men mocked and said it was impossible. Elisha looked at him with the eyes of judgment and said he would be able to see the riches, but he wouldn’t be able to partake. Can you remember what happened? When the people went to gather spoil from the Syrian camp, he had to stand watch at the gate, and he ended up getting trampled to death in the scramble.
Sing or pray Psalter #97.
July 12- Read Ecclesiastes 7
The beginning of this chapter talks about how sadness is better laughter. Why would that be? Don’t we tend to enjoy being around happy people more than those who are negative? Isn’t joy an important part of the Christian life?
Yes, there is definitely a proper kind of laughter, but that’s not the laughter described here. This is the type of laughter that would seek to joke away sin instead of having sorrow for it. There have been a lot of examples of that in the wicked feasts of ancient emperors we’ve been studying in history this year. We just finished talking about Esther and Artaxerxes, who had all his rulers come to the palace so he could show them all the kingdom’s riches for half a year. All of this boasting culminated in a week-long feast full of drunkenness and wicked deeds. In their search for pleasure, historians say these feasts often involved deliberate purging so the guests could continue eating. The laughter that was constant at these parties was an evil laughter, the kind we must flee from daily.
Sing or pray Psalter #83.
July 13- Read Ecclesiastes 8
Ecclesiastes 8:15 says, “Then I commended mirth, because a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry: for that shall abide with him of his labour the days of his life, which God giveth him under the sun.” Didn’t we just hear yesterday that sadness is better than laughter? Why does Solomon appear to be contradicting himself in the next chapter?
As alluded to yesterday, there is a type of innocent mirth that can be contrasted with the wicked laughter of the world. As Matthew Henry puts it, a man who walks in this way is “soberly and thankfully to make use of the things of this life according as his rank is, and to be cheerful, whatever happens.” We must be thankful for what we have and try not to control things that aren’t for us to worry about. Although we have many earthly things, there are still always some with more. We tell ourselves that happiness would come if we just had this or that. Or maybe we’d be happy if this trial would go away. We worry about the future instead of trusting in God.
Sing or pray Psalter #7.
July 14- Read Ecclesiastes 9
The phrase, “One sinner destroyeth much good” (v. 18), stood out to me in this chapter. I think there are a couple of different ways of looking at it. As Matthew Henry says, “How many of the good gifts both of nature and Providence does one sinner destroy and make waste of – good sense, good parts, good learning, a good disposition, a good estate, good meat, good drink, and abundance of God’s good creatures.” These are good things, but they are corrupted when used for sin. The wicked have so much, yet they waste it all.
In a little different connection, my first thought when reading the verse was in regards to the sinner’s effect on others. I had a parent come to me recently saying their child claimed everyone was calling them names, but upon further questioning, it was discovered to be just one individual. That single strained relationship had started to overshadow all the other great friendships that child had. It’s the same for us when we are sinned against. Instead of letting that one bad situation eat away at us, may we live in joyful remembrance of all the “good” Christ has accomplished for us.
Sing or pray Psalter #65.
July 15- Read Ecclesiastes 10
Ecclesiastes 10:16 says, “Woe to thee, O land, when thy king is a child, and thy princes eat in the morning!” This verse addresses the responsibility that those in authority have to act responsibly, not like a child. All the major empires throughout history started to fall apart when the rulers became given over to luxury. They started to live to eat, instead of eating to live, as Matthew Henry puts it.
One story that exhibits the effect of irresponsible rulers is found in 1 Kings 20. Here, Benhadad, king of Syria, laid siege to Samaria with a huge army. Under God’s direction, Ahab sent the princes of Israel and a measly 7,000 soldiers out to fight them. Meanwhile, Benhadad and his rulers are drinking themselves drunk. When informed of the approaching Israelites, Benhadad simply tells his men to capture them alive and goes back to partying. This makes the unorganized Syrians easy targets for the Israelites, and they’re badly defeated.
Good leaders are necessary. We all have the opportunity to be a leader at some point, whether it be in the workplace, church, school, or home. Will we take up the responsibility gravely or get drunk in the pavilion?
Sing or pray Psalter #392.
July 16- Read Ecclesiastes 11
When I first read this chapter, I wasn’t sure what much of it meant, but after spending some time looking at Matthew Henry and John Gill, I think I’m beginning to grasp it. The idea towards the beginning of the chapter is that we should always give liberally as much as we are able. Verse 3 says that if the clouds are full of rain, they empty themselves. Similarly, if we are full of charity, we will give to others. The chapter explains that it’s important to give when we can because we don’t know what hardships will befall us later. Ironically, this is often used as one of the main arguments against giving. Don’t we tend to think, “I will give more as soon as I have this bill paid, or as soon as I get that fixed?” There are always things in our life that we “need” money for, so if we start thinking that way we will never give anything. That’s why the Bible commands us to give whenever we have the means, without worrying about God’s perfect plan for our lives.
Sing or pray Psalter #113.
July 17- Read Ecclesiastes 12
Yesterday, we had a sermon about the third commandment. Our pastor brought out the fact that God’s holiness is emphasized in the scripture above all his other attributes, even love. This instills in us the necessity of coming before him with awe and praise. It also shows us the seriousness of using his name flippantly, as the world constantly does in their every-day speech. In fact, this is so common that we can become hardened to it and guilty of the sin ourselves when we don’t speak out against it.
The last two verses of the book give us the conclusion: “Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man. For God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good, or whether it be evil.” Fearing God is very closely connected to acknowledging his holiness. Since God is holy, we must live holy lives in glorification of his name, recognizing that we will be required to give an account of all our works before him on the last day.
Sing or pray Psalter #265.
July 18- Read 1 Kings 10
1 Kings 10:16–17 read, “And king Solomon made two hundred targets of beaten gold: six hundred shekels of gold went to one target. And he made three hundred shields of beaten gold; three pounds of gold went to one shield: and the king put them in the house of the forest of Lebanon.” What was the purpose of these targets and shields? Matthew Henry compares them to the entourages of other kings. As he puts it, kings often have swords and maces carried before them to illustrate their power, but Solomon had golden shields and targets. This showed everyone that he used his power to defend and protect the good, not to destroy.
In the next verse, we read that Solomon made his throne with ivory, which he then overlaid in gold. If you are going to overlay something in gold, why make it out of ivory? This seems like a waste of very expensive and precious material. Henry must have thought of this as well, because he mentions some think it was embroidered with gold designs, not completely overlaid. Either way, the extreme riches of Solomon’s kingdom picture for us the spiritual riches we have in Christ.
Sing or pray Psalter #194.
July 19- Read 1 Kings 11
In Deuteronomy 17:16–17, God commands the kings of Israel not to accumulate riches, horses, and wives for themselves. Sadly, as Solomon got older he started to succumb to these temptations. In 1 Kings 10:29 we are told that Solomon got horses from Egypt, which nation was specifically mentioned in God’s command. We all know about Solomon’s abundance of gold and wives. He had a staggering one thousand wives and concubines from all the surrounding heathen nations, and these wicked women led him to serve their gods. Because of this, 1 Kings 11:4 says of Solomon, “his heart was not perfect with the Lord his God, as was the heart of David his father.” Was David’s heart really perfect with God? What about the story of Bathsheba and Uriah? Yes, David committed some very grievous sins, but he never wandered away from the worship of God. David was not guilty of idolatry as Solomon his son was. David speaks of his faithfulness in Psalm 18:21, where we read, “For I have kept the ways of the Lord, and have not wickedly departed from my God.”
Sing or pray Psalter #35.
July 20- Read 2 Chronicles 9
In history class, we recently learned about the trade routes that developed during the Middle Ages. The Crusades played a big part in starting these trade routes because Crusaders came back with spices and other exotic products from the East, which quickly became in high demand in Europe. Although these trade routes may have taken that long to supply Europe consistently, caravans of merchants had been traversing Arabia since the Old Testament. In this chapter, spices were one of the main gifts the Queen of Sheba gave Solomon. In Genesis 37:25, we read that the Ishmaelite merchants who bought Joseph from his brothers were carrying spices down to Egypt. Spices were a great money-maker because a little went a long way, they were high in price, there was consistent demand for them, and they were used for so many things. Spices played a role in religious services, burying the dead, personal hygiene, and adding flavor to food. We tend to take them for granted today, but throughout much of history, spices have been nearly as valuable as gold and silver.
Sing or pray Psalter #402.
July 21- Read Proverbs 30
Proverbs 30:8–9 say, “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain.”
We recently talked about this subject in Bible study. I think we tend to think of ourselves as somewhere in the middle of this range, but both extremes are a danger to us. We’re all extremely rich. The very fact that we have a choice about what to wear or what to have for supper illustrates this. We live like the kings of days gone by. However, there are always those who have more. Sometimes paying all the bills can be difficult, and it doesn’t seem like we’re making headway. This can make us bitter against God, but we have no reason to be angry. We must trust that God will always supply us with our daily bread, which is not defined as whatever we want for the day, but what he’s decreed we need to fulfill the work he has for us.
Sing or pray Psalter #393.
July 22- Read Proverbs 31
I know that you will be reading this much later, but as I’m writing this devotional, it happens to be Mother’s Day. The Bible often talks about the importance of mothers, including here in Proverbs 31. At the beginning of the chapter, King Lemuel’s mother is instructing him about keeping God’s commandments. Godly mothers who train up their children in the right way are a wonderful blessing. Our mothers have done so much for us since the day we were born that we often take it for granted and forget how much she loves us. Isaiah 49:15 says, “Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee.” Mothers cherish the little things. In Luke 2:51, we read that Mary kept memories about her son Jesus in her heart. We need to obey our mothers as Ruth did, who said to Naomi in Ruth 3:5, “All that thou sayest unto me I will do.” Especially as we grow older, we need to care for our mothers, as Jesus did on the cross in John 19:26, 27.
Sing or pray Psalter #215.
July 23- Read 1 Kings 12
Have you ever thought about why the Israelites in the wilderness and under Jeroboam wanted golden calves? Why calves and not any other animal? When we studied Egypt in ancient world history, I started to see some connections between these calves and the Egyptian gods. The main Egyptian god was Ra, the sun god. When Ra walked on the earth, it was believed that he did so in the form of the Apis bull. According to Jewishbible.org, the Egyptians looked at heaven as a cow standing over them, which gave birth to Ra, the sun, in the morning and watched him grow into a bull throughout the day. In other words, the morning sun was viewed as the golden calf, Ra. A young bull was also associated with fertility, making the worship of such manic and sexual.
Do you think the Israelites, in worshipping the golden calves, were actively worshipping the god of Egypt, the wicked nation they had been brought out of? This could help explain why it was punished so harshly and often mentioned throughout the Old Testament. In a world of excess, we must always be on guard against worshipping the gods of Egypt ourselves.
Sing or pray Psalter #308.
July 24- Read 1 Kings 13
I remember being surprised by the lack of opposition I experienced when I started attending community college. I had expected that I would be shown a lot of hatred and disgust whenever I resisted teachings such as evolutionism and the Big Bang theory, but I underestimated the enemy. Instead, I was often met with acceptance, the hallmark of today’s society. One science teacher even applauded my conviction and willingness to stand up for what I believed in. I was taken aback. It felt almost…Christian. But what I failed to realize immediately is that all the acceptance and encouraging speech would end the moment I told them what they had to do. The one unforgivable sin today is telling others they must live by the truth prescribed in God’s Word. It was fine if I wanted to believe that myself, but I better not dare tell them they had to. The wicked have always hated those who rebuke them, as shown by Jeroboam’s reaction to the prophet’s speech in this passage. The world scorns those who think they have the right to tell others how they should live, and we must pray for strength to continue proclaiming the truth boldly.
Sing or pray Psalter #144.
July 25- Read 1 Kings 14
I noticed this chapter mentioned Rehoboam’s mother, Naamah an Ammonitess. Matthew Henry thinks this is emphasized to show the consequences of being unequally yoked with unbelievers. In Exodus 34:7, we read that the sins of the father come upon the children. Solomon sinned greatly by marrying huge numbers of women, including this Ammonite, one of Israel’s greatest enemies. Now, we see that the wicked Ammonite raised her son Rehoboam to live wickedly as well.
Something else I found of significance here is that Rehoboam replaced the golden shields and targets Solomon had made with ones made of brass. We can see this as a picture of Judah’s fall into sin. 2 Chronicles 1:15 says of Solomon, “And the king made silver and gold at Jerusalem as plenteous as stones, and cedar trees made he as the sycamore trees that are in the vale for abundance.” These physical riches pictured the spiritual riches that Israel had at that time as well. God dwelt with his people in Solomon’s beautiful temple. Now, God no longer dwelled with his people in the temple, and that became manifested physically as well. What was once gold was now dulled by sin and made brass.
Sing or pray Psalter #156.
July 26- Read 2 Chronicles 10
We all know the story well. The people come to Rehoboam asking him to make their life a little easier than it had been under Solomon. The old men advise Rehoboam to listen to them, as it will begin his reign on a positive note. However, Rehoboam decides to get the advice of his young friends before making any final decisions. These tough guys tell Rehoboam to assert his authority right from the start and bring the hammer down. Rehoboam’s pride likes this advice, and he listens to them, with disastrous effects for the kingdom.
Rehoboam failed to recognize the wisdom of the older members of the church, which is brought out often in scripture. This is clearly stated in Job 12:12, which reads, “With the ancient is wisdom; and in length of days understanding.” God commands the older members of the church to be examples to the younger, as Paul instructs in Titus 2:2. In return, the younger members are to show respect for the elderly, as commanded in Leviticus 19:32 and 1 Timothy 5:1, the first part of which says, “Rebuke not an elder, but intreat him as a father.”
Sing or pray Psalter #213.
July 27- Read 2 Chronicles 11
Interestingly, after Rehoboam’s extremely shaky start as king, where he lost most of the kingdom to Jeroboam, Rehoboam was successful early in his reign. He listened to God’s command not to fight Israel. Then he built many cities of defense, which he supplied with soldiers, food, and weapons. The priests and Levites and all those who walked according to God’s law that had been living in Israel came to him because Jeroboam was persecuting them. He fell into the sin of taking many wives, but not as Solomon did. Obviously, he had a lot less, and we don’t read of him marrying any strange woman as Solomon did, just some from David’s family. It can also be argued that he managed his family better than David did. The latter part of David’s life is full of his sons plotting against one another and him, but Rehoboam was wise in splitting up his sons around the kingdom, as verse 23 states. However, this success was short-lived, for he became proud, which led to his downfall.
Sing or pray Psalter #323.
July 28- Read 2 Chronicles 12
As I read in this chapter about Shishak, king of Egypt, coming and ransacking Jerusalem and carrying away the temple treasures, I started thinking about how many times this happened throughout Israel’s history. A few chapters ahead, in 2 Chronicles 16, we read about Asa giving Benhadad, king of Syria, silver and gold from the temple to get him to break his league with Israel. Then, in 2 Kings 14:14, we have the nation of Israel coming and taking these treasures from their fellow countrymen in Judah, which really shows you how far they had departed from God. A couple of chapters later, in 2 Kings 16:7–8, Ahaz uses them to bribe the king of Assyria to help him against Syria, telling Tiglath-pileser in verse 7, “I am thy servant and thy son.” Hezekiah continues the pattern in 2 Kings 18, using things from the temple to try and get Sennacherib to leave him alone, but Sennacherib just took it and continued his assault. Finally, Nebuchadnezzar comes and takes what’s left to Babylon with the captives in 2 Chronicles 38:18–19.
Sing or pray Psalter #418.
July 29- Read 1 Kings 15
“But the high places were not removed: nevertheless Asa’s heart was perfect with the Lord all his days,” 1 Kings 15:14. I found this verse puzzling, as Asa shows quite a bit of weakness towards the end of his life. First, he sends temple treasures to Benhadad to try and get him to break his league with Baasha, as discussed in yesterday’s devotional. Then, when Hanani rebukes him for this Asa throws him in jail and begins oppressing the people. In judgment, God gives him a rotting foot disease that leads to his disgraceful death. Even as he faces death, Asa turns to the heathen physicians, not God.
Does that sound like someone whose “heart was perfect with the Lord all his days?” Matthew Henry explains this by saying it’s a comfort to know that we might be found upright with God, even when we sometimes fall short. One could also argue that Asa’s life is a testament to us of what happens when we don’t fight the battle of faith to the end. What do you think? How do we merge the words of verse 14 with what happened near the end of Asa’s life?
Sing or pray Psalter #31.
July 30- Read 2 Chronicles 13
In Leviticus 2:13, God commands, “And every oblation of thy meat offering shalt thou season with salt; neither shalt thou suffer the salt of the covenant of thy God to be lacking from thy meat offering: with all thine offerings thou shalt offer salt.” According to Biblestudytools.com, this led to the connection of salt and covenant-making. Salt is a very important part of the diet, so eating together can be viewed as sharing salt. When two people eat together, they can grow in friendship, having a covenant relationship with one another. Similarly, since salt is not only used to add flavor, but also to preserve, the word carries with it the idea of an enduring covenant. These things help explain 2 Chronicles 13:5, where Abijah mockingly asked Jeroboam if he was unaware of God’s covenant of salt with the line of David. Ironically, by the very act of shoving God’s promise in Jeroboam’s face, Abijah showed he wasn’t worthy of it.
Sing or pray Psalter #35.
July 31- Read 2 Chronicles 14
Although we talked about the weakness Asa showed at the end of his life a couple of days ago, he shows a lot of spiritual maturity in the story today. Asa had an army of 580,000 men, but his force paled in comparison to the massive army of one million commanded by Zerah the Ethiopian. However, instead of calling to Benhadad or some other ruler for help, Asa looks to God. This beautiful prayer is recorded in verse 11, which reads, “It is nothing with thee to help, whether with many, or with them that have no power: help us, O Lord our God; for we rest on thee, and in thy name we go against this multitude. O Lord, thou art our God; let not man prevail against thee.” Asa confessed that all things are possible with God, no odds are too great for him. Whether they won the battle did not depend on their own strength but on God’s decree. Asa called upon God to give them the victory, not for selfish reasons, but because he wanted Jehovah’s name to be glorified. May we have the same goal in mind when we call upon God’s most holy name.
Sing or pray Psalter #233.
August 1- Read 2 Chronicles 15
Although Asa goes downhill in the next chapter, in today’s story he’s still strong in the faith, even deposing his own mother because she made an idol. In verse 13, the people made a covenant saying, “That whosoever would not seek the Lord God of Israel should be put to death, whether small or great, whether man or woman.” In God’s perfect plan, this bold confession was made soon before Asa sought Benhadad, instead of God. As he confessed himself, this sin was worthy of death, and it was the beginning of his downfall.
This story reminded me of David after his murder of Uriah the Hittite. Nathan the prophet told David a story about a poor man who had one lamb, which the rich man uncaringly took to feed his guest. David was livid when he heard this and immediately ordered that the man be killed, without realizing that he was the man in the story.
Sing or pray Psalter #143.
August 2- Read 2 Chronicles 16
There are some significant similarities and differences between the sickness of Hezekiah and Asa. Both kings were God-fearing, and they both became sick, as judgment for using treasures from the temple to bribe wicked rulers. However, the way that they approached the sickness was very different. Asa continued in his sin and did not look to God for healing. Instead, he sought help from the heathen physicians, just as he had looked to wicked Benhadad for deliverance from Israel. On the other hand, the first thing Hezekiah did when he heard he was going to die was pray. In this prayer, he asked God to remember the faithfulness he had shown throughout his life. While Asa rotted away and died in shame, Hezekiah’s prayer was answered, and within three days he was healed. God added fifteen years to his life and gave him a son so that the line of David could continue to Christ. When we experience trials in our life, may we react as Hezekiah did and look to the God who supplies his people with everything they stand in need of.
Sing or pray Psalter #141.
August 3- Read 1 Kings 16
In 1 Kings 16:4 God said, “Him that dieth of Baasha in the city shall the dogs eat; and him that dieth of his in the fields shall the fowls of the air eat.” The literal fulfillment of this was seen with Ahab and Jezebel. Wicked queen Jezebel was thrown out a window and then ridden over by Jehu, who then went to lunch. By the time he returned the dogs had eaten all the flesh and taken nearly all the bones. Similarly, after Ahab dies in battle, the dogs lick up his blood while the chariot is being washed out.
Another thing that stood out to me is the last verse, where Hiel the Bethelite rebuilds Jericho. Israel was forbidden to do this 500 years before in Joshua 6:26, where we read, “And Joshua adjured them at that time, saying, Cursed be the man before the Lord, that riseth up and buildeth this city Jericho: he shall lay the foundation thereof in his firstborn, and in his youngest son shall he set up the gates of it.” The fact that someone would so blatantly disregard God’s command and judgment show how far Israel had fallen under Ahab.
Sing or pray Psalter #139.
August 4- Read 2 Chronicles 17
Did you notice how massive Jehoshaphat’s army was? If my math is correct, he appears to have had 1,160,000 mighty men of valor at his disposal. Where did all these men come from? Back in Chapter 14, we read about Asa having 580,000 men against the one million of Zerah the Ethiopian. Since that time Judah had only experienced the fall of king Asa into sin, so it wouldn’t seem that Judah’s army would have been growing that significantly. How then does Asa’s son have an army that’s fully twice the size of his father’s?
Besides physical strength, Jehoshaphat also showed himself spiritually strong. He banned the worship of Baal and began removing some of the high places (v. 6), although he didn’t make much headway, because 2 Chronicles 20:33 says they were not removed. Jehoshaphat had priests and Levites travel throughout the kingdom, teaching the people the Law of God. He worked hard to restore proper worship in Judah, but the kingdom would soon suffer from his weakness of choosing bad company, as shown from his alliances with Ahab and Ahaziah.
Sing or pray Psalter #117.
August 5- Read 1 Kings 17
In this chapter we read about God commanding the ravens to supply Elijah with food. According to Britannica.com, the raven is closely related to the common crow, but it’s not as social and is quite a bit larger, with a wingspan of about 4’. Ravens will often act as scavengers and are very clever. I remember seeing a video clip where a raven or crow would drop peanuts into the middle of a bustling intersection to let the cars smash them, wait for the red light, and then go out and collect his nuts when the cars had stopped.
This bird is mentioned in several other places in scripture. Noah first lets a raven out of the ark, which didn’t return, presumably because it fed on drowned animal carcasses. Proverbs 30:17 says that the ravens will pluck out the eyes of those who disobey parents. Biblestudytools.com says this is the first part of the carcass the raven will usually go for. They also say that the raven drives its young from the nest very early, which helps explain Luke 12:24, where Jesus says that if God supplies even the young ravens, how much more will he do so for us.
Sing or pray Psalter #355.
August 6- Read 1 Kings 18
We just had a sermon tonight entitled, “Fruitful Servants to God,” and one of the points was, “A Liberating Enslavement.” That sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it? However, we were reminded that the only true freedom is the freedom to worship God, the one who has purchased us with the price of his Son’s shed blood on the cross. Although the world loves to gloat about all the freedom they enjoy, the truth is that every man is a slave. Those who don’t belong to Christ simply hail the deceiver as their master. Theirs is a bondage of despair, which can only lead to everlasting death.
The prophets of Baal in this chapter were in bondage to the devil. Their actions speak loudly of their despair and hopelessness. They cried piteously to their god all day, even resorting to cutting themselves and jumping on the very altar they were attempting to light to grab his attention. Their self-destruction was pointless, for the one whom they sought didn’t even exist. In contrast, ours is the God who consumes all who oppose him in an unquenchable fire.
Sing or pray Psalter #407.
August 7- Read 1 Kings 19
In a cycle repeatedly seen throughout history, God’s people go from the mountaintops of faith to the depths of despair in a very short amount of time. Yesterday, we read about Elijah trusting in God to consume his sacrifice in the presence of all Israel, most notably the prophets of Baal themselves, and today we find him at the mouth of a cave depressed that he’s the only child of God left on earth. What was the point? He had worked tirelessly, and all he had to show for it was a nation full of reprobates who were hunting him down. Elijah couldn’t see any possible way for the situation to improve.
We can feel this way sometimes. We are struggling with a certain trial in our life and become convinced that there is no way out of it. The devil rejoices when this happens, for we have just said that he’s more powerful than God. We must not forget that our God is the all-powerful one. Our God is the one who manifested his awesome power by sending fire from heaven not much earlier. And our God is the one who always leads his people to green pastures.
Sing or pray Psalter #52.