OT: I Chron. 11:1-12:18
Whew! I hope I don't feel this compulsive tendency to compare Chronicles to Samuel and Kings the whole time. It is a pain.
I did go back and forth today, and I noted some mildly interesting things:
--The author of Chronicles relates the stories a much more succinctly than the author of Kings, but the chronicler is even crazier than Moses about writing down names and lists (don't look now, but we are nowhere near finished with the lists).
--Kings did not mention how Joab got put in charge of David's army, whereas Chronicles did (11:6).
--There are a few variations on David's mighty men. I noted several, but one example is that Kings says that there were 37 mighty men, where Chronicles lists over 40. It seems that "mighty man" was a slightly fluid concept, and that there were different ideas of who constituted one of David's might men.
--Both Kings and Chronicles lists Uriah the Hittite as a mighty man. Too bad David killed him to get his wife.
--I'm pretty sure that Chronicles is not going to tell that story. But reading Uriah's name and thinking (again) about his devotion to David made me sad all over again.
--Oddly, the chronicler only lists two of the "Three" mighty men (11-14). I read it over and over, but I could not find the third one. I thought that was an odd omission.
Basically, today's reading told of the beginning of David's reign and of the larger-than-life exploits of his mighty men. Besides listing the mighty men and telling a few stories, the text also listed some other groups of strong, talented men who rallied to David at various times. It was fun reading about the crazy things the different men did.
NT: Acts 28: 1-31
What struck me today was the different pace of life in ancient times. This is obvious, of course, but things just did not happen as quickly as they do today. In this reading, Paul and company spend three months shipwrecked on an island, and when he finally gets to Rome, Paul stays two years there as somewhat of a prisoner. (He is allowed to live on his own, but with a soldier to guard him). Things really are not moving quickly.
And yet, the narrative does trip along at a nice rate. Today, Paul makes it safely to shore, is greeted by the friendly natives, and is bitten by a snake, with no ill effects. He also heals all the sick people on the island. Then, the castaways take a boat that eventually gets to Rome, and Paul addresses the Jews. I thought it was crazy that the Jews from Judea had not sent word about Paul to Rome. They were so dedicated to killing him; I'm shocked that they didn't even send a letter ahead of him to their Roman brethren.
Of course, that was good for Paul, as he had a blank slate opportunity to talk to the Jews in Rome. It didn't go great. Not bad, but not wildly successful either. And the Jews especially did not seem to appreciate hearing a Scripture about hard hearts and stubbornness applied to them. No one would, I guess. I'm pretty sure that Jesus used this passage, too.
I'm torn about whether I'm going to keep typing about the psalms, since I already have once. One cool thing about the Bible is that you get different things out of it each time you read it. And yet, I do think that there will be a lot of overlap between both of the readings of psalms, and I also don't want to have to keep going back and comparing this time to last time.
I will say that, in light of just reading about David's mighty men, this psalm makes me think about God's use of violence. David describes God as "he who avenges blood" (12), and, like the passage in Chronicles, the rest of the psalm rejoices over God's destruction of the wicked through the violence of the righteous. It is an interesting line of thought. I know that in the wrong hands, the idea of "godly violence" can be dangerous, and I definitely don't like violence myself...but I must say, I am no pacifist. I definitely believe that sometimes violence is needed in this broken world to keep oppressors from victimizing others. And yet, in the hands of fallen man, violence is such a dangerous tool. It's one thing when God does it. As harsh as it sometimes seems, the concept of God's violence ultimately makes sense to me. I am much less confident when it is man who is wielding the violence.
I loved all three of these psalms, and especially the last two:
"It is not good to have zeal without knowledge,
nor to be hasty and miss the way."
So true. As someone whose enthusiasm gets ahead of her sense sometimes, I can vouch for this one.
"A man's own folly ruins his life,
yet his heart rages against the Lord."
Thankfully, I can't vouch for this one personally, but I have definitely seen this. I have known people who, against all counsel, make horrible decisions, and then blame everyone else (including God) for the mess that their life becomes. The sad thing is, you truly cannot help this person, if they refuse to take responsibility for what has happened. As long as they are a victim, they can't turn things around.