People of the Promised Land: Solomon

People of the Promised Land: Solomon

Peter Paul Ruben's the Judgement of Solomon
Peter Paul Ruben’s the Judgment of Solomon

Nothing evokes wisdom like the name of Solomon.

But Solomon was more than the guy who told two prostitutes arguing over one baby to cut the baby in half to discern the true mother. Solomon built the kingdom of Israel to its greatest geographical extension and material prosperity. He also brought the kingdom to its knees with his policies of oppression and luxury. So who was Solomon? Why do we in the 21st century care?

Who was Solomon?

Son of David and the third king of Israel, Solomon lived from approximately 970-930 BC. Having every advantage as the son of a king, God offers Solomon whatever his heart desires–and he chooses wisdom. A lot of the Proverbs are written by him. Proclaimed king by his father, David, Solomon reaped the hard work of David, as Israel flourished in its Golden Age. The Promised Land had been attained, and the nation was at peace. Solomon built God’s temple, the finest building in the world at that time. He beefed up the military and engaged in trade with other nations, bringing in untold riches to Israel.

Israel right after Solomon's Death
Israel right after Solomon’s Death

Yet, Solomon did not have the heart for God that his father, David, did (1 Kings 11:6). He strayed and as he fell, so too did Israel. He marries a foreign wife. He makes burnt offerings to his wives’ gods. He indulges in excesses. To pay for all of it, he instituted Israel’s first taxation system. He sold off northern towns to other kings. God was not the center of Solomon’s life. Civil war erupted and Israel and Judah were once again separate nations, which is the subject of BSF’s People of the Promised Land Part II.

What Can We Learn from Solomon’s Life?

Even someone with the best advantages and a heart from God can fall if he or she strays. Solomon had every advantage and finished a disappointment. God equipped him to accomplish the tasks laid before him, which Solomon did when he believed in him. Solomon allowed ungodly people (namely his wives) to influence him. He turned from God, and the downward spiral sped up.

Here’s a great post on 10 Life Lessons we can learn from Solomon HERE

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People of the Promised Land: David

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People of the Promised Land: David

We all love David. Strong, courageous, and reportedly attractive, David was everything one wanted in a son. Much of the Psalms is David’s love song to God.

Perhaps the most well-known person in the Bible outside of God, Jesus, Adam, and Eve, David evokes smiles and good times. Defeating Goliath as a boy was only the beginning. He lived a life most of us can only dream about:  playing the harp, writing poems, fighting battles, faking insanity, and dancing jubilantly in praise of God. We see him crying at his best friend’s death, lusting after a woman, and crying out to God to forgive him and spare the life of his infant son.

Throughout it all (his triumphs and his failures), David trusted God. He lived life how we all want to live life: completely and passionately alive. He did everything with his whole heart–including love God.

Who was David in the Bible?

He was the son of Jesse and the second king of Israel. Born around 1040 BC, he was the youngest son. As the youngest son, his prospects in Biblical times were bleak. He didn’t stand to inherit anything.

When God rejected Saul, Samuel anointed David at God’s choosing. Why?Image result for statue of david

David was faithful.

David was a military genius.

David began preparations for the temple, which he charged Solomon with finishing.

Why was David Important?

David was the ancient times’s equivalent of Abraham Lincoln. After his exile in the desert, David emerged the leader of a country in tatters. A long civil war between the northern and southern kingdoms left an uneasy peace. By taking decisive action, David won over the hearts of the northerners, uniting Israel for the first time. As a result of David’s leadership, the Philistines were defeated, Israel’s borders were secure, and the economy boomed. For the first time, this tiny tribe became a big nation.

Yet, David was not perfect. His son rebelled. He murdered. He cheated. He was cruel. Yet he was Israel’s greatest king. He took full responsibility for his mistakes. He was never vengeful with his enemies. He showed compassion. He was humble. He knew he ruled only by God’s grace.

Israel thrived because of who David was–a man after God’s own heart.

2 Samuel picks up right where 1 Samuel leaves off (they were originally one book). Much of 2 Samuel is told almost verbatim in 2 Chronicles 11-21.

What is the Davidic Covenant?

Through David, God promises to bring the Messiah and thus salvation for all, fulfilling God’s promises begun in the book of Genesis (Genesis 3:15). (Isaiah 55:3; Revelation 22:16; Psalm 89:3; Psalm 132:12).

David died in approximately 970 BC. His last words were a prophecy of the future Davidic Messiah and his own salvation from the covenant (2 Samuel 23:5).

People of the Promised Land: Samuel

People of the Promised Land: Samuel

Known as the Last of the Judges and First of the Prophets, Samuel is so important that he has two whole books devoted to him in the Bible, which cover about 100 years from the birth of Samuel to shortly before the death of David. Again, the author of the books of Samuel is unknown and covers the end of the era of judges, which is approximately from 1050 BC to 970 BC. It was recorded sometime between 930 BC after the division of the kingdom to 550 BC as late as the exile.

Who was Samuel in the Bible?

Samuel starts out life as a frustration. His mother, Hannah, was childless and begged God that if He’d give her a son, she’d dedicate him to the priesthood. God answers and Samuel’s life path is then set as a minister under the priest, Eli. He was dedicated as a Nazirite, the only one named in the bible besides Samson. Samuel was chosen by God as a prophet and throughout his life, he frequently interceded for the people.

Samuel had three roles in his life:

  1. Prophet
  2. Priest
  3. Military leader.  He excelled at all of them.

Towards the end of his life, Samuel anoints the young Saul as God’s chosen King of the Israelites. Saul proved problematic, taking matters into his own hands, presuming to make offerings to God himself (Samuel’s job as a priest) and again disobeying God in the battle with the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15). Because of this God chooses David to be King, whom Samuel anoints as well, who at the time was a young shepherd in Bethlehem.

In essence, Samuel chose Israel’s first two kings. Samuel dies while Saul is still king.

The books of Samuel covers exciting and famous scenes in the Bible: Hannah’s supplication, David’s killing of Goliath, Saul’s attempts on David’s life, and David’s affair with Bathsheba. We see the amazing friendship of David and Saul’s son, Jonathan, the grief the death of Jonathan causes Samuel. The book of 2 Samuel ends in a whirlwind with the short revolt of Sheba, battles with the Philistines, David’s praise of God, the listing of his mighty men, and the catastrophe of the census.

What are the Themes of the Book of Samuel?Image result for prophet painting bible

The purpose of all Old Testament writings is to serve as a warning, instruction, and encouragement for us all (Romans 15:4; 1 Corinthians 10:11). Here, we see the establishment of the kingship in Israel as Israel transitions from rulership of the judges to the kings. We once again see the sovereignty of God and how He rewards obedience. Hannah prayed. David was anointed and was the youngest son. Samuel was chosen as prophet over Eli’s sons.

Why begin a book about one of the greatest leaders Israel had ever known with a woman, Hannah? Because Hannah’s story mirrors Israel’s. Frustrated, Hannah turns to God, and as a result her son was a priest instead of a farmer (higher in class society). From bitter pain comes great promise, if that pain leads you to God.

Why Was this Time Period so Important in the History of Israel as a Nation?

Under the judges, the kingdom was divided into the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel. It was a chaotic time with little leadership. The tribes began to unite into one nation, and the kingship brought about stability as a result.

The Israelites were fighting for survival with the Philistines, a people who migrated to the Promised Land around the same time the Israelites arrived out of Egypt. The Philistines were much better organized and had superior weapons (namely, the chariot) and were pushing more and more into the Israelites territory.

The Israelites were a loose confederation of 12 tribes who relied on each other only in emergencies. Occasional leaders–judges–would take charge where there was a military threat, but these alliances would dissolve immediately after the threat ended.

What are the Themes of the Books of Samuel?

  • God chooses His own leaders. Rejecting the sons of Eli, traditionally the next leaders, God chooses Samuel instead because Samuel always listened to God.
  • We see God’s sovereignty and control over this world, His providential guidance, and His kingship.
  • Furthermore, man can do nothing without God.

Coffee and God: What’s On Your Mind Today?

Coffee And God Talks
Coffee and God Talks

One of my favorite gifts from God is coffee.  Another one of my favorite gifts from God is you!

Coffee and God: Last Sunday of the Month Coffee Chat

Last month, I began a series for the last Sunday of the month where we can just bear whatever is on our hearts. You can post today about anything. It doesn’t have to be about God. You can vent, tell stories, and take a coffee break. Say what you would if you were having coffee with your best friend (or me!). This is your place to just be.

My Coffee and God Thoughts of the Month

  • The last few months I’ve been struggling with my weight and hormones. I just want to be healthy and feel good.
  • I’m praying for my kids as they all go back to school. That they settle back in and do well in their studies.
  • I’m praying my body holds up to what I put it through every day.
  • I’m praying for more sleep. I currently average only 5-6 hours, and I need more.
  • I’m praying I can maintain all the demands on me: my jobs, my kids, my spouse, and all the other roles I fulfill. I’m praying for strength and energy mostly.
  • I’m praying I can figure out my diet as I age and as my hormones do whatever they feel like doing each month.
  • I pray for all of my animals (one of my kitties is in kidney failure and is dying), so hoping her last days with us are full of love, happiness, and are pain-free.
  • Finally, the world is on my mind. I pray in general for people everywhere, other nations, etc.

I hope you enjoyed my thoughts. I’d love to hear yours so share away! Follow me on Pinterest if you’re so inclined.

One final thought: remember your blessings and be grateful for what you have. Remember you don’t deserve any of it. Remember what you do deserve, and your day will be brighter!

God bless and have a happy week!

People of the Promised Land: Ruth

People of the Promised Land: Ruth

Ruth is by far one of the most popular and favorite people in the Bible. If you’ve been around church at all, it’s likely you’ve heard told this wonderful, inspiring story of Ruth and her mother-in-law, Naomi, widowed and alone in a male-dominated society, and the blessings heaped upon them by the Lord for their faithfulness and goodness. But who is Ruth? Why is she so important? And why study her?

Who is Ruth of the Bible?Image result for famous painting ruth in bible

Ruth lived around 1100 BC in the time of the judges. When this book was recorded is up for debate among scholars. Some conjecture it was during David’s reign or shortly thereafter. Others say it was much later than that due to references from the writer himself such as “in the days when the judges rules” in Ruth 1:1. The author is unknown, but scholars do know this book was read at the Feast of Weeks (or Pentecost) so it was completed in its final form by the end of David’s reign.

Ruth was a Moabitess, an unbeliever, in Biblical Times. She was looked down upon as the Israelites did not like the Moabites and they were frequently at war with one another. She had married a Jew named Mahlon who was Naomi’s son. Naomi, her son, Elimelech, and her other son, Kilion, had moved to Moab due to a famine in Judah. Naomi’s husband died as well as her two sons, leaving all the women widows (Kilion had married as well).

Society in Biblical times had men as the primary caretakers of widows and women. Hence, Naomi decided to return to her homeland to find a relative to care for her. She had beseeched her two daughter-in-laws to return to their homeland, but Ruth had loved Naomi so much she refused to leave her. Both women return to Bethlehem.

The details of what happens next we will study, but suffice it to say what follows is one of the most heart-warming stories of devotion, love, and loyalty in the Bible. Ruth ends up marrying Boaz, a prosperous landowner and distant relative of Naomi’s.

Why is Ruth Important?

Ruth is so important she is one of only two women to have her own book in the Bible. Ruth’s great-grandson turned out to be David of the Bible, perhaps the greatest King God anointed to lead His people. The Book of Ruth also functions liturgically, as it is read during the Jewish holiday of Shavuot.

What are the Themes of the Book of Ruth?

  • The book of Ruth demonstrates the providence of God at work in the life of an individual.
  • It exalts family loyalty.
  • It shows how a Gentile became part of the Davidic ancestry; thus, Ruth is cited in Matthew’s genealogy of Jesus Christ (Matthew 1:5). This also shows the world (including the Jews who were resistant) that God had always planned to include the Gentiles in His plan of redemption.

But the heart of the book is the loving bond between Ruth and Naomi. Their love thrived in suffering and offers hope for others enduring hard circumstances.

Goethe described this book as the loveliest complete work on a small scale. Readable in 15 minutes, the book of Ruth is an encouragement to all.

Historical background for the Book of Ruth can be found in Deuteronomy 25:5-10 that describes the law on marriage of a widow with a member of the husband’s family, the kinsman-redeemer and Leviticus 25:23-28 gives background on a poor person’s property.

People of the Promised Land: Joshua

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People of the Promised Land: Joshua

Joshua: A Good News Book

After 40 years of wandering in the desert, the Israelites had a new leader: Joshua. Moses is dead. God commissions Joshua, Moses’ protege, to “be strong and courageous” and to lead His people into the Promised Land.

Who is Joshua?

When we meet him in Joshua Chapter 1 in the Bible, Joshua is the oldest man in Israel, probably in his nineties.  For the last 40 years since the Exodus, Joshua has been Moses’ right-hand man. The Book of Joshua is the story of Joshua’s conquest of Canaan and the fulfillment of God’s promises to His people in bringing them into the Promised Land.

When Was The Book of Joshua Written?

Dates bury based on when scholars date the Exodus, but the concensus is that the Book of Joshua was written by an eyewitness (perhaps Aaron’s grandon, Phineas, Joshua 24:33) within a generation after the events of this book.  This time frame is either 1400-1380 BC or 1250-1230 BC.

What Events do the Book of Joshua Cover?

Image result for promised land photos

A good outline of the book of Joshua is:

  • Joshua Chapters 1-5: Preparing to conquer the land
  • Joshua Chapters 6-8: The fall of Jericho and Ai
  • Joshua Chapters 9-12: Victory in the southern and northern territories
  • Joshua Chapters 13-22: Allotment of the land
  • Joshua Chapters 23-24: Covenant renewal and death of Joshua

The events of this book probably did not take longer than 7 years, although Joshua lived longer until around 1375 BC. Remember that only key events were recorded; there were many, many more battles and skirmishes not recorded.

What Tasks was Joshua Commissioned For?

Joshua was commissioned by God to accomplish 2 main tasks.

  1. Direct a military campaign to take control of the land God had promised
  2. Parcel out the conquered land amongst the tribes

What are the Main Themes of the Book of Joshua?

  1. Obedience. Once inside the land of Canaan, the Israelites had learned that wandering around for 40 years was not something they wanted to repeat, so they followed God’s instructions precisely, even though it must have seemed crazy to them at times. Marching around a city, blowing trumpets isn’t exactly a common military tactic used.
  2. God is in charge. He leads the Israelites and gives them the land on His terms. Nothing in history happens unless God says so

The Life of Joshua

Born as a slave in Egypt, it’s safe to assume Joshua had a not-so-easy childhood. Born as Hoshea (Hebrew for “save”), Moses changed his name to Joshua (or Jehoshua), meaning “Yahweh is salvation”, making his name theophorous or bearing the name of God. He was one of the 12 spies sent to scout the land of Canaan. He led the Israelites for the rest of his life, conquering Canaan and distributing the land, until he died at 110 year old.

Highlights in the Book of Joshua

We will read about Rahab, the prostitute who hid the spies Joshua had sent to scout Jericho. We’ll read about the fall of Jericho, one of the most famous stories in the bible.

Joshua is one of the few in the bible who had unwavering faith, loyalty, and obedience to God. Many compare Joshua to Jesus since he lead people to God’s earthly promised land, while Jesus leads people to a heavenly promised land. Joshua usually consulted God, but the bible records one time he did not: when he made a treaty with Gibeon despite God’s warnings never to do so. This is to show us even Joshua messed up, but he self-corrected and got on the right path again.

Through Joshua’s example, we see how a life God-led yields great rewards and blessings.

The same holds true for our lives: Follow God. Receive rewards. That’s His promise.

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