OT: I Chron. 16:37-18:17
We really do get to see a lot of Asaph in here, considering that we didn't see him at all in Samuel and Kings. I like reading about him, since I have read his psalms.
Today, David determines that he wants to build a temple for God, and God basically answers back with, "Um, that's not your call. And no thanks." I find God's response very interesting; it humbles me. So often I think that God is pleased with whatever comes into my little head as an idea to serve Him. Or I get to thinking that what I do is important or irreplaceable in the Kingdom. Ha! My job is not to think of things to do for God and then to do them. My job is to allow God to lead me in whatever way fulfills His plan. This might lead to many missteps, as I often get myself confused for God:), but I know that ultimately, His will will still be done, regardless of my missteps or my successes. That is because I am not irreplaceable. No one is. And some jobs that I think I should do, maybe God has someone else in mind to do them. At least, those are the thoughts that I got from God's response to David today.
At least God softened any rejection David might have felt with some really sunny predictions of his future. God told him that He would give Israel a place of their own and that he would "plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed" (17:9). He goes on to assure David that his lineage will last forever, b/c God will "never take [his] love away from [Solomon] as [He] did from [Saul]" (13). The thing is, though, Israel was disturbed many times after this by many different enemies. And Solomon did fall from God's grace when he took all those wives and was led astray. So clearly, if we are to take these passages literally, we have to assume that there are some tacit caveats in these guarantees. God's promises, in other words, are always contingent on man's obedience.
You could also argue that God did establish David's line forever with Christ, the "King of kings," who rules eternally.
Anyway, the rest of the passage talks about David's many victories, all granted by the Lord. The most interesting detail that stood out to me was that Solomon used David's plunder to make articles in the temple. Specifically, he used "a great quantity of bronze," which David took from Tebah and Cun, "to make the bronze Sea, the pillars and various bronze articles" (18:8). That...is interesting to me. I'm not sure what I think about that, but I found it to be a striking detail.
NT: Romans 2:1-24
This is a great passage that further delineates man's role from God's role. Elsewhere, we have heard that man is not to take vengeance, because vengeance is God's job. In this passage, we also read that judgment is God's job. Man is simply not equipped to judge others. Paul explains it like this: "Now we know that God's judgment against those who do such things is based on truth. So when you, a mere man, pass judgment on them and yet do the same things, do you think you will escape God's judgment?" (2-3). Now, I've noted before that in I Cor. 5, Paul does say that we should judge those within the church. And yet, any such judgment should definitely be made with fear, reverence, and humility. See, we are sinners, and when we pass judgment on others' sin, while we ourselves sin, we basically heap up our sins before God. Thus, we should definitely hesitate and tremble before we dare to judge our brother. And we should make sure our own hands are clean.
But...how do you do that? Are our hands ever clean? How do we follow these rules against judging and yet uphold some sort of standard of righteousness among believers? In other words, how do we stand up for truth and live lives of love at the same time? I personally have a really hard time understanding where that balance is. Lately, for example, the subject of modesty has come up among the women at church. And one issue that we face is how do you address immodesty without being legalistic and judgmental? Can you even do that? I just don't know sometimes.
At the very least, Paul says in this passage, don't be a hypocrite. His words in verses 17-24 provide a harsh indictment of those teachers who do the things they teach against. I like that his main reasoning against such behavior does not have to do with punishment (though he has definitely hit that one already). Rather, the main reason not to be a hypocrite is that it causes God's name to be blasphemed among outsiders (24). As Christians, our main concern is supposed to be the kingdom of God. And when we act hypocritically, we misrepresent that kingdom. We damage it in the eyes of outsiders. And that truly is a horrible crime.
Lastly, Paul seemed very pro-law in this passage, from verse 12, all the way to the end of the chapter. He talks all about righteousness through the law, and his warnings in verses 17 and following are to Jewish teachers of the law. I found that weird, since elsewhere, Paul makes it very clear that our righteousness comes apart from the law. In fact, I think he is going to do just that in the next couple of chapters. So maybe this chapter is simply laying the foundation for what is about to come.
I loved our highlighted verses today:
"You hear, O Lord, the desire of the afflicted;
you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,
defending the fatherless and the oppressed,
in order that man, who is of the earth, may terrify no more."
I loved every word of that.
One proverb on the benefits of wisdom to the soul, and one on the impending punishment of liars.