June 19 — Ecclesiastes 1-6 — Striving After Wind (about 950 BC). The title “Ecclesiastes” comes from a Hebrew word referring to someone who presides over or addresses an assembly, therefore he is called “the Preacher”—ESV (“Teacher”—NIV) seven times in this book. The Preacher seems to be Solomon, “the son of David, king in Jerusalem” (1:1), one who had “acquired great wisdom” (1:16), and had great riches (2:8). It is an unusual book, often thought to be pessimistic, but it is God’s Word that is also true for us today. For instance, ten times in these six chapters, he uses the expression “striving after the wind,” in most places referring to our focus on things on which we spend much of our time and effort. Three times, he says that to eat, drink, and enjoy one’s work are the primary things God has given us (2:24, 3:13, 5:18). What do we spend our time doing when we are not eating, working, or sleeping? Is it “striving after the wind” or does it involve truly important endeavors that please God and benefit others?
June 20 — Ecclesiastes 7-12 — The Bottom Line (about 950 BC). The second half of Ecclesiastes raises as many questions as the first half but there are many tidbits of truth that we can grab onto without doubt or confusion. The book closes with the ultimate bottom line of our responsibility in life: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (12:13). On a different level, one is encouraged, “to eat and drink and be joyful, for this will go with him in his toil through the days of his life that God has given him” (8:15). Another bottom-line instruction is, “Enjoy life with the wife whom you love” (9:9). That one is followed by, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (9:10), which is echoed by the Apostle Paul: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col. 3:23-24). Let’s concentrate on bottom-line activities today, fearing God obediently, enjoying life’s pleasures, working energetically, and doing it all for Jesus.
June 21 — 1 Kings 10-11, 2 Chron. 9 — How Could it Hurt? (about 946 – 939 BC). Solomon had a lot going for him. God had made him king, giving him great wisdom and riches beyond belief. Being grateful, he honored God by building a magnificent temple for His name. But he gradually began to disobey commandments laid out by God. One related to marrying non-Israelites: “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods” (1 Kings 11:2). But he did it anyway, collecting 700 wives and 300 concubines (v. 3). Sure enough, as God predicted, later in life some of those wives “turned away his heart after other gods” (v. 4). That sounds like those addicted today to alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and pornography, who probably bragged earlier that they could handle it. How could it hurt? Sin is an alluring trap, a slippery slope. If you don’t start on that path, it will not be able to destroy you in the end.
June 22 — Proverbs 30-31 — Blessed Mothers (about 946 – 939 BC). These final proverbs are not from Solomon but they are still full of wisdom. There is an interesting contrast between them. First, Agur speaks negatively of those who “do not bless their mothers” (30:11). They “are those who are clean in their own eyes but are not washed of their filth” (30:12). Their focus is on themselves instead of others more deserving of praise. In the next proverb, Lemuel honors his mother with an oracle she taught him (31:1). The honored mother “is far more precious than jewels” (31:10) and “Her children rise up and call her blessed” (31:28). The mother “who fears the LORD is to be praised” (31:30). Is your mother still alive? Make a list today of the things about her that are genuinely worthy of praise, then contact her to praise her for who she is and what she has done. Coming on a day other than Mother’s Day will make it that even more meaningful to her.
June 23 — 1 Kings 12; 2 Chron. 10-11 — Errant Kings (about 931 – 913 BC). Splitting up the kingdom was the result of Solomon’s sin of marrying foreign wives who turned his heart away from the Lord to serve other gods. Bad decision! God told him, “I will surely tear the kingdom from you and give it to your servant … but I will give one tribe to your son” (1 Kings 11:11, 13). The second errant king was Solomon’s son, Rehoboam, who refused to heed the wise advice of older counselors but went along with his younger contemporary counselors to promise harsher treatment for all the people. Another bad decision! The third errant king was the first king of the northern kingdom, Jeroboam, who made two calves of gold and declared to the people, “Behold your gods, O Israel, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt” (12:28). Very bad decision! Are you in a position of leadership over others? Your family, work, church, or community? People are watching you and will follow you, so follow the Lord wholeheartedly!
June 24 — 1 Kings 13-14; 2 Chron. 12 — Spiritual Migration (about 931 – 913 BC). Although the Scripture often mentions only Judah as the southern part of the great division of the people of God, small adjacent Benjamin was also included with Judah (11:12) as was the scattered tribe of Levi when “the priests and the Levites … left their common lands … and came to Judah and Jerusalem” (11:13-14). In addition to the Levites, many others “came after them [the Levites] from all the tribes of Israel to Jerusalem to sacrifice to the LORD” (v. 16). No matter how sinful the surroundings, God always seemed to maintain a remnant of people who determined to cling to the Lord in obedience. Most of us today live in similar surroundings of spiritual poverty and we are left where we are to shine as lights in a dark world. Some will see our lights and be attracted to the Light of the World.
June 25 — 1 Kings 15:1-24, 2 Chron. 13-16 — Seek and Find (about 913 – 894 BC). Several times in 2 Chron. 15 and 16, there are challenges about seeking God. The prophet Azariah gave this message to King Asa: “The LORD is with you while you are with him. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if you forsake him, he will forsake you” (15:2). As a result, the king led Judah and Benjamin to seek God wholeheartedly and many Jews from other tribes saw this and came to Judah to serve the Lord (15:9). A wholehearted leader will draw wholehearted followers. God seeks people who are willing to surrender to His leadership. The prophet Hanani emphasized God’s desire for people like that: “For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him” (16:9). God is still seeking those who are willing to seek Him. While you are reading through the Bible this year, seek more than truth; seek God!