Be careful what you wish for….and mind your tongue!

21 07 2011

DAY ONE HUNDRED AND SIXTY-EIGHT : 1 Kings 2 v. 13 – 3 v. 15; Acts 11 v. 19 – 12 v. 19a; Proverbs 15 v. 1 – 10

1 KINGS
Solomon’s Throne Established – Adonijah, the displaced elder brother who had a brief spell of being king, before younger half-brother, Solomon is crowned, goes to visit Solomon’s mother, Bathsheba. After ascertaining that he comes ‘in peace’, Bathsheba hears his request that she ask King Solomon if Adonijah might be given Abishag the Shunammite as his wife (Abishag being the young woman who kept his father David warm at nights, and looked after him before his death).
Bathsheba goes to her son, King Solomon, and sits on the throne specially made for her, at his right hand side. She makes the request on behalf of Adonijah. Solomon is furious – ‘you might as well request the kingdom for him…’, and he swears
‘May God deal with me, be it ever so severely, if Adonijah does not pay with his life for this request.’ Solomon commands Benaiah to kill Adonijah, and he does.
Solomon also removes Abiathar from the priesthood, and sends him packing to the fields of Anathoth (fulfilling a prophecy about Eli’s household).
Joab flees on hearing all this, for he is implicated in all the plots of Adonijah, and seeks sanctuary in the tent of the Lord. Solomon orders Benaiah to enter the tent of the Lord and to kil Joab. Benaiah refuses to kill him immediately, and reports back to Solomon on the first conversation he’d had with Joab in the tent. Solomon sends him back to finish the job – and to avenge the blood Joab has on his hands of the two army commanders (of Israel and of Judah) he had killed (Abner and Amasa).
Benaiah returns to the tent and kills Joab, who was then buried in the desert. Solomon then has Benaiah as commander of the army, and puts Zadok as the priest in place of Abiathar.
Shimei is granted a home in Jerusalem, but is not allowed to leave, or he will die. He agrees to this ‘house arrest’ type arrangement, but three years in, he makes a forbidden journey out of Jerusalem to Gath to collect two runaway slaves.
Solomon has him killed for his disobedience to him, and to his father David.
‘The kingdom was now firmly established in Solomon’s hands.’ – having done away with his main political, military and religious opponents.

Solomon Asks for Wisdom – an alliance with Egypt’s Pharaoh leads to marriage with Pharaoh’s daughter, bringing her to Jerusalem, David’s City. On one occasion while Solomon is offering a huge sacrifice to God at Gibeon (‘the most important ‘high place”), God appears to Solomon in a dream asking him what he would like to be given. Solomon’s reply:
‘O Lord, my God, You have made Your servant king in place of my father David. But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties….so give Your servant a discerning heart to govern Your people and to distinguish between right and wrong…’
God is pleased with Solomon’s request for wisdom, and grants him not only ‘a wise and discerning heart, so that there will never have been anyone like you…‘, but also what he had not asked for : ‘riches and honour’.
‘If you walk in my ways and obey my statutes and commands as David your father did, I will give you a long life.’
Solomon woke, and discovered it was all a dream. He returns to Jerusalem and offers sacrifices before the ark of the covenant, and throws a banquet for all his court.

There are times, too, in Jesus’ ministry, when people are asked, ‘What do you want me to do for you?’
What a great question.
Solomon is truly rewarded for asking not for riches, a long life, prestige….but for wisdom to do what God had raised him up to do – lead the people.
My prayer is that God would equip me well to do what He has commissioned and appointed me to do….nothing more, nothing less.
‘Seek first God’s kingdom…and all else will be added to you’.
Only one thing is necessary…

ACTS
The Church in Antioch – we are told that when the Christians were scattered because of persecution (around the time of the martyrdom of Stephen), they were spread far and wide : Phoenicia, Cyprus and Antioch; and the good news was shared only with Jews. But then some began to spread the news amongst the Greeks in Antioch – ‘The Lord’s hand was with them, and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.’
When news of this reaches Jerusalem, Barnabas (himself from Cyprus) is sent to Antioch to check it out – ‘he saw evidence of the grace of God…was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts’.
Barnabas is highlighted to have been ‘a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith…and a good number of people were brought to the Lord.’
Barnabas then goes in search of Saul, finding him in Tarsus and bringing him to Antioch, where they stayed for a whole year, teaching and building the church – in fact it was here in Antioch ‘the disciples were first called Christians’.

up to this point, I guess, most of the converts had been Jewish, so a renewed form of Judaism was being born – but here, as the gentile Greeks receive the good news, they were identified as Christians (followers of Jesus) in contrast to anything else. The word ‘Christian’ was a response to the rise of gentile believers

Sometime during that year in Antioch, prophets from Jerusalem arrived. Agabus (one of them) ‘through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world’ (and this came to pass during Claudius’ reign), so the disciples organised a collection, ‘each according to his ability’ to provide help for the neediest in Judea, and gifts were sent via Barnabas and Saul.

Peter’s Miraculous Escape From Prison – the opposition and persecution is growing (under King Herod)….some have been arrested, James (John’s brother) has been put to death by the sword, and Peter is seized, during the feast of unleavened bread. Peter is in prison, guarded heavily (four squads of four soldiers each). During the Passover, Herod was to bring him to be tried…but God had other plans !!
God’s people were praying hard for Peter…(‘earnestly praying’ – with determination, with persistence, heartfelt). The night before he was due on trial, Peter was asleep, heavily guarded and bound with two chains (clearly a danger in the minds of his captors).
SUDDENLY, an angel appears, light shining brightly in that dark cell. The angel gives Peter a whack to wake him, and tells him to get up quickly. Peter’s chains fell off

‘my chains fell off, my heart was free, I rose went forth and followed Thee….’

Peter gets dressed, puts his sandals and cloak on and follows the angel out of the prison….wondering if this was all a dream / vision. Passing by the guards, they got to the big iron gate, leading to the city, which just opened itself for them. At a certain point, the end of the first street, the angel left Peter. It was another moment of clarity for Peter :
‘Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent an angel to rescue me from Herod’s clutches’
He went to Mary’s house (John Mark’s mother), where the people were gathered and were praying. There is a comical moment, when they are praying inside for Peter’s freedom and safe return, but not believing that Peter is at the door (when told by the servant girl, Rhoda, who had heard his voice – ‘she was so overjoyed she ran back without opening the door, and exclaimed, ‘Peter is at the door’).
This appears to go on for a while – Peter outside, knocking, and the people inside disbelieving. Finally, they open the door to him and are amazed to see him there. Peter quietens them down and tells them everything that has happened, then leaves for another, presumably safe, place.
The next day, there is a great commotion around the prison; after a thorough search for Peter, it is the guards who had been on duty whom Herod orders to have executed.

God uses this experience to further build Peter’s faith, removing any remaining doubts, and proves Himself a God who brings freedom to the captives !

PROVERBS
‘A gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger…
the tongue of the wise commends knowledge, but the mouth of the fool gushes folly.
The tongue that brings healing is a tree of life, but a deceitful tongue crushes the spirit.
The Lord detests the sacrifice of the wicked, but the prayer of the upright pleases Him….’

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