OT: I Kings 7: 1-51
There was one word in the opening sentence that caught my attention today: however. "It took Solomon thirteen years, however, to complete the construction of his palace." For some reason, I immediately read into the word, "however," some kind of veiled critique, and it inspired me to go back and see the amount of time that was contrasted with the thirteen years. The sentence before that verse reads, "He had spent seven years building it," it being the temple. Thus, Solomon spent almost twice the time building his palace as he did building God's temple. Noting that contrast, I decided to compare the dimensions of the two structures. They are as follows:
Temple: 60 cubits long, 20 wide, 30 high (I Kings 6:2)
Palace: 100 cubits long, 50 wide, 30 high (I Kings 7:2)
Hmmmm...that seems a little disproportionate. I am going to sidestep the question of how Solomon's wisdom played into these decisions, though I will note that his lavish temple fits in quite well with his persona in Ecclesiastes. In that book, he openly describes his pursuit of wealth and pleasure and how it left him empty.
What I will focus on instead is how his tendency can be seen in Christians today. What we do for God too often pales in comparison to what we do for ourselves. Yes, we might dedicate a portion of our time, talents, and money to the Lord, but usually, the vast bulk of our resources is put toward our own lives. What I am trying to figure out with my life is how to make everything for God, how to do everything in a way that serves Him and brings glory to Him. Clearly, I have a long way to go with that.
I will give Solomon credit for putting God's work first. He only built his own house after he had built God's house. Too often, God gets my leftovers instead of my firstfruits. Case in point: It is currently 9:49 pm, and I am just now doing my Bible reading and blog. By this point in my day, I am exhausted and do not have the necessary mental strength to meditate properly on Scripture. This would be an example of not putting God first.
NT: Acts 7: 30-50
Stephen continues his historical monologue today, and by now, I am starting to pick up hints as to his purpose (it also helps that I know the end of the story). The first hint came yesterday, when Stephen said, "Because the patriarchs were jealous of Joseph, they sold him as a slave into Egypt" (7:9). Even more tellingly, Stephen remarked, "Moses thought that his own people would realize that God was using him to rescue them, but they did not" (25). In today's reading, Stephen further states, "This is the same Moses whom they had rejected with the words, 'Who made you ruler and judge?'" (35). In verses 37-38, Stephen reiterates the fact that Moses was a prophet sent from God, and then in verse 39, he notes, "But our fathers refused to obey him. Instead, they rejected him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt." He then elaborates on the people's rebellion through verse 43.
I am beginning to sense a theme. Stephen's retelling of the Israelite history emphasizes the times that the people rejected those whom God sent and those for whom He had big plans. Clearly, Stephen is going to end up drawing some unsavory comparisons b/t the Israelites of the past, and his current Israelite audience.
I say, "clearly," but truly, this is the first time that I have fully understood the purpose of this detailed retelling of history. It was my "eureka" moment of the day.
This psalm promises all kinds of good stuff to those who fear the Lord. Because of my leeriness toward the "health and wealth gospel," and its modern day manifestations (such as the Prayer of Jabez phenomenon), I tend to take these type of psalms with a grain of salt.
I love all three of these verses, but especially verse 32:
"Better a patient man than a warrior,
a man who controls his temper
than one who takes a city."
Maybe I'm being reactionary, but I have noticed a trend in Christian circles to embrace traditional masculinity a little too fully. I certainly don't want to emasculate my brothers, but I also don't want to overlook the persistent themes of self-control and self-denial that are found throughout Scripture.
I also, of course, like that verse 31 helps to instill respect for the elderly, and that verse 33 is yet another reminder that God is the one in control here.