May 29 — 1 Kings 1-2, Ps. 37, 71, 94 — Unworthy Men (about 970 BC). We begin 1 Kings today, which treats Solomon’s reign in detail after a brief summary of David’s late life. David’s son Adonijah was a proud climber. He “exalted himself, saying, ‘I will be king’” (1 Kings 1:5)—crowing for crowning! He was “a very handsome man” (v. 6) and apparently also very convincing because he drew Joab the commander and Abiathar the priest away from supporting David (v. 7). But Adonijah was not very wise and had not learned from his brother Absalom’s unsuccessful rebellion. Why didn’t Adonijah invite Solomon to his kingdom-grabbing party? (v. 10). He knew beforehand that God had appointed Solomon to be the new king because he acknowledged that the kingdom “was his from the LORD” (2:15). After David had Solomon crowned as king, Adonijah crawled to Solomon to ask for mercy (1:51). King Solomon agreed if Adonijah would “show himself [to be] a worthy man” (v. 52). He later showed that he was unworthy when he requested the beautiful Abishag to be his wife (2:17) and paid for his lustful selfishness with his life. Other men showed themselves to be unworthy: Abiathar, for following Adonijah against David, Joab, for killing two commanders “more righteous and better than himself” (2:32), and Shimei, for breaking his promise to stay in Jerusalem (2:38) to avoid death. Many sins characterize unworthy people: pride, rebellion, murder, disobedience, etc. Let us prove ourselves to be worthy by committing ourselves to consistent obedience!
May 30 — Ps. 119:1-88 — Learning the Hard Way (about 970 BC). This is the longest chapter in the Bible and it is also unique in other ways. Like some other psalms, this is an acrostic psalm but in this one, each stanza features successive letters of the Hebrew alphabet, with each line of that stanza beginning with the same letter: aleph, beth, gimel, etc. It is also unique in that its intentional focus is on God’s communication to us, using 10 different words to describe it: “…law … testimonies … ways … precepts … statutes … commandments … rules … word … promises … [and] judgments.” There are 176 verses in this chapter and I counted 176 of these Word-type words. Two verses stuck out to me today. “It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes” (v. 71). That is learning the hard way, whether the affliction is a part of God’s discipline or not. The other verse speaks of what we should do after learning: “I will praise you with an upright heart, when I learn your righteous rules” (v. 7). Learn, then praise! When you learn new things as you read the Bible every day, stop to praise God for teaching you in this painless way!
May 31 — 1 Kings 3-4, 2 Chron 1, Ps. 72 — Loving God (about 967 BC). I discovered something new about a statement made regarding the new king of Israel: “Solomon loved the LORD …” (1 Kings 3:3). Why is that unusual? Because Solomon is only the second individual so far that the Bible says loved God. I found 13 times earlier where Moses commanded Israel and Joshua to love God but it never tells us that they actually did. So, if Solomon was the second person said to have loved God, who was the first? It was his father, David. Ps. 18 was written by David and in its title, David said, “I love you, O LORD, my strength.” Solomon showed wisdom by following his father’s example of loving God. It is also significant to see how Solomon loved God. The verse in our reading for today continues, “Solomon loved the LORD, walking in the statues of David his father …” Solomon not only followed the example of David but he obeyed the same decrees his father had obeyed, i.e., the laws of the Lord. He showed his love by obeying. The Apostle John said the same thing: “This is love, that we walk according to his commandments …” (2 John 1:6).
June 1 — Ps. 119:89-176 — Lists (about 967 BC). As I was reading through this psalm, I made notes of the many ways in which God’s Word is described—its qualities—things like “firmly fixed” (v. 89), “right” (v. 128), and “wonderful” (v. 129). Another list noted ways in which God’s Word helps us—its benefits—things like providing “life” (v. 93), “understanding” (v. 104), and “steady steps” (v. 113). Other remarks have to do with how I react—my response—like “I have sought” (v. 94), “I consider” (v. 95), and “I love” (v. 97). As the focus of this psalm is on the Word of God, so your focus this year is on reading through the whole Bible. Be amazed at some of its qualities; be thankful for many of its benefits and immerse yourself in it with joyful abandon!
June 2 — Song of Solomon 1-8 — Biblical Romance (about 950 BC). Although many interpreters in the past saw this book as an allegory of the love relationship between God and His people, most evangelicals today see it as a romantic, poetic story of the courtship and ultimate marriage of Solomon and one of his brides. The bride’s oft-repeated expression to her friends to not “stir up or awaken love until it pleases” seems to emphasize the need for purity until marriage. It is best to read this book in a translation that provides captions indicating who is speaking, like the ESV, NASB, NIV, NKJV, and NLT. The Hebrew grammatical gender and number indications point to the proper speaker and these translations’ titles make it clear to the English reader. The ESV Study Bible suggests that all of 3:1 to 6:3 is to be considered as a dream, which helps in understanding the larger picture.
June 3 — Proverbs 1-3 — Prime Wisdom (about 950 BC). The book of Proverbs is primarily a collection of material that originated with Solomon and includes some added parts collected by King Hezekiah (25:1) who lived over 200 years after Solomon. Some of the final chapters add sayings from still others. It is written mostly to and about the wise, the simple, the fool, and the young. It gives poetic but practical instruction for godly living. The first nine chapters contain more lengthy thoughts with several verses each and the later chapters are largely two-line pithy sayings. Today’s reading shows the value of wisdom as something to be treasured (2:1), listened to (2:2), requested (2:3), and sought after (2:4). How do we get it? God is the dispenser of wisdom: “For the LORD gives wisdom…” (2:6). We will gain supernatural wisdom from God as we thoughtfully read through His book.
June 4 — Proverbs 4-6 — Discipline (about 950 BC). Discipline is not an attractive subject for most of us to think about. It is hard but it is valuable. The wise and experienced father advised his son, “the reproofs of discipline are the way of life, to preserve you from the evil woman” (6:23-24). It is difficult to turn away from what our sinful heart desires, but it is better than looking back on an undisciplined, shattered life and lament, “How I hated discipline, and my heart despised reproof!” (5:12). It helps to know that “a man’s ways are before the eyes of the LORD, and he ponders all his paths” (5:21). Those are eyes of accountability and they should provide an incentive for us to discipline ourselves in steering away from paths of evil. In contrast, “the path of righteous … shines brighter and brighter” (4:18). Let’s discipline ourselves so we won’t have to be disciplined by God!