Posts tagged ‘OT narrative’

October 29, 2009

[Morning Walk] The “Withness” of God: 1 Kings 10 & 2 Timothy 1

by Joy

Today’s Readings: 1 Kings 10, 2 Timothy 1

Stories of the opulence and genius of Solomon wound their way into the Queen of Sheba’s court. So, she set out to see for herself by testing Solomon with hard questions and examining his worth. What she found in Solomon and his palace had no rival:

She said to the king, “The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true. But I did not believe these things until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half was told me; in wisdom and wealth you have far exceeded the report I heard” (10: 6-7, NIV).

She continued,

How happy your men must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and placed you on the throne of Israel. Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness” (10:8-10, NIV).

At first blush, it seems that the takeaway of this passage is that our prosperity will lead others to God (not great news for those of us without lucrative jobs!). But Jesus’ view of Solomon’s wealth takes a different turn.

Jesus refers to Solomon in his instructions on not worrying:

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor and spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was not dressed like one of these” (Matthew 6:28-9, NIV).

What becomes apparent from these passages is that God is deeply involved the reality of these stories. Solomon is king because God made him king – even the Queen of Sheba acknowledged this truth. It is God’s “withness” that is the ultimate reality. God’s “withness” and his care are our reality.

God has not changed and will not change. It is “because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel” and “because of his own purpose and grace” that he is with us (2 Timothy 1:8-9). And not only with us but also in control to make us beautiful reflections of His provision and glory.

September 10, 2009

[Morning Walk] Even the Best Intentions Can Ruin Us: 2 Samuel 4

by Joy

Today’s Readings: 2 Samuel 4-5, 1 Corinthians 15

In 2 Samuel 2-4, we find a set of familiar characters. The sons of Zeruiah are recognizable in Homer, Shakespeare, and our newspapers.

Take Mark Sanford. On the one hand, as Governor, he has sought to be an honest public servant by serving the people of his state and fighting the encroaching federal government. On the other hand, as Governor, he also sought out an Argentine “soulmate” and directed employees to use both sides of Post-it notes in an effort to be frugal. As a result, his aspirations for Presidential office quickly converted into a campaign to avoid impeachment proceedings. The Economist.

In trying to hold two opposing motives concurrently, Sanford seems to have lost touch with reality and, as a result, injured his family and state. Similarly, Joab and Abner had dual motivations – they wanted to help out David and also wanted to help out themselves. So, they murdered David’s opponent Ish-Bosheth and then boastfully reported this conquest to David. But, rather than being pleased, David became angry: “[W]hen a man told me, ‘Saul is dead,’ and thought he was bringing me good news, I seized him and put him to death in Ziklag. That was the reward I gave him for his news! How much more – when wicked men have killed an innocent man in his own house and own on his own bed – should I not now demand his blood from your hand and rid earth of you!” (9-11).

What the sons of Zeruiah did not understand, David did – namely, that God does not subscribe to an ends-justify-the-means mentality. Although God uses means, he never uses means that are inconsistent with his character, e.g., exploitation or violence.

When Jesus came, he further clarified that the ends do not justify the means. In an interaction with another set of brothers – the sons of Zebedee – who wanted to exalt themselves in glory, Jesus turned the equation upside down: “[W]hoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.” Mark 10: 35, 37, 42-3.

God’s economy is far different from ours, for He sees beyond our external actions. He looks in our hearts to know whether we are seeking to exalt ourselves or seeking to exalt Him. Even seemingly good acts with good intentions can be soiled if they are within a heart that seeks its own.

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