OT: I Kings 11:1-12:19
Today is another one of those, "God is in control" days. According to one's personal disposition and one's view of God, that could be either frustrating or comforting. More and more, I find it comforting.
But first of all, Solomon falls off the wagon. He has a thousand wives/concubines, against the Lord's wishes, and turns to other gods, also against God's wishes. Thus, God tells him that He is going to take the Kingdom away from him, except for one tribe, which turns out to be Judah. I am a bit confused, though: God says He is going to take ten away and leave one. Well, what happened to the twelfth tribe?
In today's passage, God raises up three adversaries against Solomon, and He especially had big plans for Jeroboam. He informed Jeroboam that he would be the ruler over the ten tribes that God was taking away from Solomon. Apparently, Solomon got wind of this and tried to have him killed, forcing Jeroboam into hiding until after Solomon's death.
Solomon's successor, Rehoboam, quickly proves himself to be a jerk by following his friends' advice to be hateful over his elders' advice to be conciliatory. I especially like the wording of the elder's advice: "If today you will be a servant to these people..." I do feel like the roots to the concept of "public servant" are found in the Bible. You clearly see it with Jesus, but you also see it in this advice. Not that it mattered to Rehoboam.
Again, what is interesting is that God used Rehoboam's free choice to work out the plan He had all along. As verse 15 confirms, "So the king did not listen to the people, for this turn of events was from the Lord, to fulfill the word the Lord had spoken..." I really do believe that Rehoboam made up his own mind. However, an all-knowing God used Rehoboam's idiocy to enforce the consequences of Solomon's rebellion. As always, that interplay of free choice and divine control is fascinating to me.
NT: Acts 9:1-25
In the NT reading, we see a very similar pattern of free choice/divine plan. Jesus appeared to Saul in a very direct way...but Saul had a choice of how he would react. Still, he was definitely hand-picked by God, who told Ananias that "this man is my chosen instrument to carry my name before the Gentiles and their kings and before the people of Israel" (15). Again, I just love that interplay. Now, I could keep going about this passage, but those really were my main thoughts, and while contemplating God's will and free choice, the verses in Psalms hit me in a unique way...
"My heart is not proud, O Lord,
my eyes are not haughty;
I do not concern myself with great matters
or things too wonderful for me" (1).
I thought that verse was interesting, given that I do regularly concern myself with "things too wonderful for me." However, I don't think that the psalmist is saying that deep thoughts about God are bad. I think he is saying that they are bad when they come from pride. A prideful reaction would be, "This doesn't make sense to me, so I'm going to reject it. If I can't understand it, it must not be true." And I have definitely been there in my life, but I am learning more and more about the beauty of humility and of faith. I can think and ponder all day about God, and at the end of the day, He might not make any more sense to me. And yet, at the end of the day,
"I have stilled and quieted my soul;
like a weaned child with its mother,
like a weaned child is my soul within me" (2).
At the end of the day, I can rest in a God who knows more than I do. And that is a peaceful feeling.
Proverbs 17: 4-5
I loved verse 5, but it sounded really familiar, so I looked it up. Turns out, Proverbs 14:31 has that exact same first part, but it's second part provides a contrast and not a continuation:
14:31--"He who oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honors God."
17:5--"He who mocks the poor shows contempt for their Maker; whoever gloats over disaster will not go unpunished."