April 17 — 1 Samuel 25-27 — Acting Foolishly (about 1011 – 1010 BC). There are examples of much foolishness in these chapters. First, there was Nabal, whose unfortunate name means “fool”—or was it an earned nickname?! He was “harsh and badly behaved” (25:3) and was called “worthless” by one of his own servants (25:17) and by his own wife (25:25). Secondly, David was prevented from acting foolishly by killing Nabal and all his men in revenge against an insult. When Abagail arrived with pacifying gifts, David recognized that it was “the LORD … who sent you … to meet me!” (25:32). She confirmed that “the LORD has restrained you from bloodguilt” (25:26). Sometimes God protects us from acting foolishly. The third evidence of foolishness came from the confession of Saul, who was seeking to kill innocent David. He said, “I have sinned … I have acted foolishly” (26:21). Be on guard against foolishness. Is what you are about to do or say really what God would desire? Let that question be your check today against being nicknamed “Nabal.”
April 18 — Psalm 17, 35, 54, 63 — Apple of the Eye (about 1010 BC). I thought that it was God who called David “the apple of His eye” but we see today that it was actually David who asked God to treat him as “the apple of your eye” (17:8). Our eye is precious to us. I was in the optometrist’s office recently to have my eyes checked. When she started to put a drop of fluid into each of my eyes, I had a very hard time keeping my eyelid open because it is precious to me and I naturally protect it. Four times in Scripture this eye-apple expression is used. Besides the desire here of David to be the apple of God’s eye, Israel is referred to as “the apple of his eye” twice (Deut. 32:10; Zech. 2:8), and Wisdom urges, “keep my teaching as the apple of your eye” (Prov. 7:2). God’s people are cared for and protected like we value and protect our own eyes. That is God’s part. Our part is to value His teaching to the same degree. That is what we are doing as we daily submit ourselves to reading God’s Word. Protect that exercise! It is precious.
April 19 — 1 Samuel 28-31, Psalm 18 — Getting Answers (about 1010 BC). King Saul was desperate for direction from God. He feared the opposing Philistine army and wanted to know what to do. But “when Saul inquired of the LORD, the Lord did not answer him” (28:6). Why not? Samuel reminded him that God had turned away from him, “Because you did not obey the voice of the LORD” (28:18). Disobedience causes distance. There was a great contrast between Saul’s disobedience and David’s devotion to God and His ways. Even the Philistine King Achish said about David: “I have found no fault in him” (29:3). Like Saul, David was also in a situation that made him desperate for God’s direction. The Amalekites had raided David’s undefended town of Ziklag and captured all its people and spoils. So “David inquired of the LORD” and “He answered him …” (30:8). Why? David gave the reason in his psalm: “because he delighted in me. The LORD has dealt with me according to my righteousness … for I have kept the ways of the LORD” (Ps. 18:19-21). Obedience brings answers.
April 20 — Psalm 121, 123-125, 128-130 — Songs of Ascents (period of 1010 – 979 BC). Today we are reading seven psalms in the 15-psalm section carrying the titles, “Song of Ascents” (Ps. 120-134). The meaning of that title is not certain but it may be connected with “going up” (in elevation) to Jerusalem for worship. Of the psalms for today, only Ps. 124 is said to have been written by David. In our chronological reading, David had been anointed king by Samuel but he is only now about to be crowned king after Saul’s death. Ps. 125, 128, and 129 all mention Jerusalem or Mount Zion, which had not been conquered and made the center of Israel’s worship until about 10 years into David’s reign. So, our psalms for today may be spread out a bit in time. One expression stood out for me today: “But with you there is forgiveness, that you may be feared” (130:4). Fear of punishment is not in view here but fear in the sense of awe. It is awesome that God is forgiving, which is one reason we should worship Him in gratitude.
April 21 — 2 Samuel 1-4 — How the Mighty Have Fallen! (period of 1010 – 1004 BC). Three times in David’s lamentation over the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, he exclaimed, “How the mighty have fallen!” (1:19, 25, 27). These first chapters of 2 Samuel are filled with men who might be called “mighty.” The man who brought Saul’s crown to David wanted to be considered “mighty” by lying about killing Saul (1:10). Instead, he entered the category of the “fallen” as he died for his sin. The two brothers who killed Saul’s son and brought his head to David (4:8) wanted to be considered “mighty” but also fell for their sin. The two army commanders, Joab and Abner, were also mighty men. Both of them felt strong enough to stand up to their king. Joab demanded of David, “What have you done?” (3:24) when he allowed Abner to depart unharmed. Abner also angrily confronted his king who had charged him, perhaps falsely, of sleeping with Saul’s concubine (3:8). Yet, mighty Abner became one of the fallen at the hand of Joab (3:27). Mighty Joab falls later for his sin at the hand of Solomon (1 Kings 2:31). The real mighty man in these chapters was imperfect David who feared God and sought to do right. The people of Israel recognized this quality and praised him: “… everything that the king did pleased all the people” (3:36). We are mighty when we strive to follow God’s leadership.
April 22 — Psalm 6, 8-10, 14, 16, 19, 21 — Fools (about 1003 BC). David said, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God’” (14:1). A fuller description of the way this fool thinks is given in Ps. 10. It provides an interesting progression of his thoughts and motives. First, he claims, “There is no God” (10:4), thinking that God doesn’t exist. But later, “He says in his heart, ‘God has forgotten’” his sin (10:11a). So now, he admits that God does exist but that “He has hidden his face, he will never see it” (10:11b). Finally, he claims that God sees his sin but, “You will not call to account” (10:13). He thinks that God doesn’t care and would not hold him accountable for his sin. The progression of this thinking is, 1) no God, 2) a forgetful God, and 3) an uncaring God. This same kind of thinking is prevalent today. Many people claim that they don’t believe in God but in their hearts, most of them really know He does exist. In order to continue in their sin, however, they tell themselves that God is so distant that their sin doesn’t matter to Him. It is a fool’s excuse to sin. God is not only real but He sees man’s sin and will judge it.
April 23 — 1 Chronicles 1-2 — Genealogical Surprises (about 1003 BC)
We start reading today in the pair of books, 1 & 2 Chronicles. These books cover a very wide historical time period and focus on the religious life of the Jews. They were written after the Babylonian exile by a Levite scribe, widely thought to be Ezra. It draws much information from 1 & 2 Samuel and 1 & 2 Kings but surveys only the reigns of the kings of Judah, essentially ignoring the apostate kings of the northern kingdom of Israel. It focuses on King David and his descendants, on the temple and worship, and on the Jewish people. The first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles are primarily historical genealogy and are not easy reading. After reading two days ago about the military brothers, “the three sons of Zeruiah … Joab, Abishai, and Asahel” (2 Sam. 2:18), we discover today that Zeruiah was not a man but a sister of David (1 Chron. 2:16). So, these three brothers were David’s nephews. See what interesting things you can find in reading genealogies?!