June 12 — 1 Kings 7, 2 Chron. 4 — Not Enough? (about 966 BC). It was striking to me that the last verse of 1 Kings 6 says that it took Solomon seven years to build the temple and the first verse of chapter 7 says that it took him 13 years to build his own house, almost twice as long. It is true that the palace was almost twice the size of the temple but why did Solomon feel it was necessary to build another palace? His father David had built a palace also using timber shipped down from King Hiram of Tyre. Wasn’t that palace good enough? Did the palace really have to be twice the size of the temple? Did the dwelling place of the king have to be larger than the dwelling place of the Creator? The culture around us today also places a high value on the size and value of our residences. We should be more satisfied with what is enough.
June 13 — 1 Kings 8, 2 Chron. 5 — Solomon’s Prayer (about 966 – 959 BC). The prayer of King Solomon for the dedication of the new temple is one of the longest prayers recorded in Scripture. It is a good one, too. He began with praise to God for who He is and what He had done: “O LORD, God of Israel, there is no God like you” (1 Kings 8:23). Then, he went into a long series of requests for God to listen to the prayers of His people in future circumstances of difficulty. Five times Solomon asked God to “hear” and “forgive” (vv. 30, 36, 39, 49-50). He assumed that the people would sin in the future and prayed that God would forgive them when they turned back to Him in repentance. He assumed there would be hard times of drought (v. 35), famine (v. 37), and war (v. 44) when people would need to pray. It is comforting to know that we serve a God who is always ready to hear our prayers, especially those of confession, and to forgive our sins.
June 14 — 2 Chron. 6-7, Ps. 136 — Steadfast Love Forever (about 959 BC). These chapters in 2 Chronicles parallel yesterday’s story in 1 Kings of Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the new temple. It was a huge celebration with thousands of people from the whole nation of Israel. Most of the meat sacrificed to the Lord was intended to be eaten by the people in that seven-day feast. Here is the picture of the worship scene: “The priests stood at their posts; the Levites also, with the instruments for music to the LORD that King David had made for giving thanks to the LORD—for his steadfast love endures forever—whenever David offered praises by their ministry; opposite them the priests sounded trumpets, and all Israel stood” (2 Chron. 7:6). That antiphonal setting of groups of people responding to each other and the insertion of “for his steadfast love endures forever” suggests that Ps. 136 may have been part of that dedication scene. Perhaps the priests and Levites read each phrase followed by the congregation’s repeated response of God’s steadfast love. “His steadfast love endures forever”; “forever” includes today as He watches over and woos you and me.
June 15 — Ps. 134, 146-150 — Deserved Praise (about 959 BC). To say that praise was the theme of our reading for today would be an understatement. Commands and instructions to praise God are mentioned 43 times in these chapters. In Ps. 150, the final psalm in this book, praise is commanded 13 times in its six verses. Why should we praise God? There are two fundamental reasons summarized in this verse of the concluding psalm: “Praise him for his mighty deeds; praise him according to his excellent greatness!” (150:2); it is praise for His accomplishments and for His attributes. I also counted 40 things listed in these verses about God’s “mighty deeds.” They range from the personal level of healing the brokenhearted (147:3) to the cosmic level of creating, counting, and naming trillions of stars (147:4). How fitting that Psalms should close with “Praise the LORD!” (150:6).
June 16 — 1 Kings 9, 2 Chron. 8 — Promises and Warnings (about 966 – 959 BC). Twice God appeared to Solomon. The first time was to ask him what he desired God to give to him as he began his reign as king. Solomon asked for wisdom, which God granted. Twenty years later, after building the temple and the palace, God appeared to him again. This time it was to offer a conditional promise with a warning. The promise was to establish the Davidic dynasty as a perpetual kingdom, “if you will walk before me … with integrity of heart … doing according to all that I have commanded you” (1 Kings 9:5). The warning was that Israel would be removed from the land in punishment if Solomon or his children would “turn aside from following me” (v. 6). To walk in God’s way and not turn aside continues to be God’s desire for us today. He “appears” to us in His Word to remind us of that daily as we read it.
June 17 — Proverbs 25-26 — Glory Hungry (about 950 BC). I don’t know how common it is to be desiring one’s own glory, but it is certainly a problem that I fight against at times. Most of us probably love to be appreciated and praised, which may not be a bad thing, but to seek it is quite another matter. Solomon warned, “It is not … glorious to seek one’s own glory” (25:27). As an example, he instructed, “Do not put yourself forward … for it is better to be told, ‘Come up here,’ than to be put lower in the presence of a noble” (25:6-7). Does that sound familiar? Jesus said almost the same thing to fellow invited dinner guests at the house of a ruler of the Pharisees: “…do not sit down in a place of honor, lest … he who invited you … will come and say to you, ‘Give your place to this person’” (Luke 14:7-11). The solution is not putting ourselves down but not pushing ourselves up. If others feel you deserve it, let them promote you.
June 18 — Proverbs 27-29 — Pampered for Disappointment (about 950 BC). Two verses in these chapters teach about the dangers of pampering children. “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (29:15) and “Whoever pampers his servant from childhood will in the end find him his heir” (28:21). This divine instruction, however, goes against our modern cultural norms. Giving a child anything that he/she desires is intended as an act of love, but it is a recipe for disappointment. Children born with a sinful nature are naturally selfish and they need discipline to point them in the right way. We adults need discipline from our heavenly Father as well so we will walk in godly ways. And He knows how to choose the kind of “rod” most likely to get our attention. We can avoid it by acting maturely.