Okay, now I'm going into this blind, but just from reading Chronicles with no introductory background, I am coming to believe that the chronicler is partial to Judah over Israel.
[Pause: I just took a break and skimmed the intro to Chronicles in my study Bible. It didn't mention the author's partiality to Judah, but it did discuss his idealization of David and Solomon. According to my intro material, it is thought that the author seeks to shape the David-Solomon narrative to mirror the Moses-Joshua narrative. Make of that what you will.]
Anyway, the chronicler continues his theme today by speaking highly of the beginning of Rehoboam's reign. For the first three years, Rehoboam walks "in the ways of David and Solomon" (11:17). Furthermore, the text says that Rehoboam "acted wisely" by "dispersing some of his sons throughout the districts of Judah and Benjamin" (23). Among his apparent "wise" decisions, Rehoboam takes many wives for these men. Hmmm. Can I just say that I am not a big fan of the OT picture of marriage? I'm becoming ever more confused about the concept of "biblical marriage." Someone please help me, if you know the answer to this. Where does it say that marriage is a covenant between one man and one woman? I mean, I get that whole "leave your father and mother thing," but no one seems to interpret that as a one-time thing. Apparently, men can do that with many women. It seems like you don't really see the emphasis on monogamy until the NT. That kind of bothers me.
Back to Rehoboam. After portraying him so positively, the author finally has to throw him under the bus. He makes it very clear in chapter 12 that Rehoboam is unfaithful to God...and yet, even then, to his credit, he repents when told about his impending punishment. And furthermore, his son and successor, Abishai, acts as his apologist in his speech to Judah. Abishai totally interprets Judah's rebellion as wrong, wrong, wrong, even though Rehoboam really drove them to it and even though the text makes clear that the whole thing was from God. I would write off Abishai's self-serving interpretation of events more easily, though, if it were not for the fact that God seems to support him by providing a great military victory.
All I have to say is that God's will is definitely confusing to me. I think it has to do with how big it is. There definitely seems to be a level in which God's will encompasses everything that happens, from Jeroboam's rebellion to Abishai's victory. So what side is God on? I guess He's on both sides...
NT: Romans 8:22-39
Ahhhh...now we are in the good part of Romans 8. I mean, it's all good, but this is the wonderful, comforting part, whereas yesterday's reading was the kick-you-in-the-pants part.
Today, Paul makes clear that all of the sorrows, pains, and discomforts of the world will one day be relieved. He tells us to take hope, and to use the pain of the world to draw us to God and to cultivate patience and perseverance. At least, that's what I got from verses 22-25.
Next, we get the comforting picture that God's Spirit intercedes for us when we pray, using "groans that words cannot express" (26). That is definitely a passage that I remember reading for the first time as a teenager. I loved it then, and I love it now.
And then of course, we get the famous Romans 8:28, which declares that "we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." I have seen the truth of those words over and over in my life and in the lives of Christians around me. It is truly amazing that God can bring good out of even the worst situations.
Lastly, verses 31-39 crescendos into some of the most powerful and comforting pronouncements about God's love for us and about the confidence that we can have as Christians. I truly have nothing intelligent to add to such beautiful words of comfort and hope.
David continues to praise God for his victories over his enemies.
Three proverbs against various types of foolish behavior.