Bible reading for September 11.
2 Samuel 6.
"It was before the LORD, who chose me above your father and above all his house, to appoint me as prince over Israel, the people of the LORD -- and I will make merry before the LORD." (2 Samuel 6:21)
BRINGING UP THE ARK. In this chapter we read of two events regarding the ark of the covenant as David was bringing it up to Jerusalem. The first event ends in the death of Uzzah (vv 1-11), the second event results with the infertility of Michal (12-23). In both cases David was celebrating and rejoicing in the Lord. The resulting judgments, humanly (relatively) speaking, may seem extreme. But David was culpable for the first death. As king he was to have written his own copy of the Law and should have known that the ark was only to be hand carried by priests with the specially-made poles. The oxcart was a time-and-labor-saving device. Even though Uzzah was only trying to help, no one was supposed to touch the ark, ever. Uzzah died because of David's carelessness toward God's will. In the second story, Michal does not rejoice as David does over the ark coming to Jerusalem, and she rebukes the king for what she thought was a foolish display. She remained childless for her life.
HAPPINESS AND HOLINESS. These two stories highlight for us the difficulty of understanding how we can celebrate a holy God (vv 5, 14-16). Was it right for David to be joyfully exuberant about the Lord? In the first case, no, for it caused him to be careless regarding the holiness of God. In the second case, yes, for the ark was being carried properly and accompanied with sacrifices. Michal was wrong to rebuke David, as she was either embarrassed, or perhaps envious of the younger maidens in the procession. Either way, joyful worship for the Lord is most appropriate. We can forever be thankful that our Lord Jesus bore the mortal wound that we deserve for our unholiness. And now we can even touch holy things, as we read in the gospels how freely God's holy Son touched, and was touched by, many for healing. After he had risen, Jesus said, "See my hands and my feet, that it is I myself. Touch me, and see. For a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see that I have" (Luke 24:39; cf Matt 14:36; John 20:27).
REFLECT. Both the holiness and the joy of the Lord are important. The holiness of God is not intended to dampen our happiness in the Lord, but neither are we to be so taken up with our happy celebration that we forget his holiness. Zeal and joy are part of our eternal heritage. God is good and his goodness should be celebrated. We have every reason to put on dancing shoes! But we never forget who our God is. Our Lord Jesus has made it so that we can forever worship and enjoy the Lord, free from condemnation and death.
1 Corinthians 16.
"But I will stay in Ephesus until Pentecost, for a wide door for effective work has opened to me, and there are many adversaries." (1 Corinthians 16:8-9)
PAUL'S PLANS. In this chapter we learn that Paul is writing from Ephesus (during his third missionary journey, Acts 19). He encourages a weekly collection of offerings that will be taken to the impoverished believers in Judea (vv 1-3). He writes of his future plans (vv 4-9), while commending his fellow workers and sending greetings (vv 10-24). We shouldn't read too quickly over the "closing credits", as it were, of the epistles. Much to learn here. This chapter is an excellent study on Paul's method of decision-making. I believe all that we need to know about living for God is given to us in the word of God. But there are times when we lay our plans before the Lord (where we go, what job to take, whom to marry) and seek his wisdom. Here are some things that I gleaned from Paul on his decision-making process regarding future plans...
"Advisable" (v 4). Paul considers advice and counsel from others. If anyone might have a direct line to the Lord you might think it would be the Apostle Paul, but he is considering also the counsel of the Corinthian church leaders.
"I will visit... I intend..." (v 5). Paul is making plans and acting upon them. He is not passive.
"perhaps... wherever I will go" (v 6). Paul seems to allow for contingencies and change ups. He does not have the future dialed in.
"if the Lord permits" (v 7). Like James 4:15 says, Paul trusts the sovereign will of God, that the Lord will guide, open doors, close doors, etc.
"I will stay...until Pentecost" (v 8). Paul is setting a timeline with some dates.
"a wide door..." (v 9). Opportunity for ministry is a big indicator for Paul. The presence of opponents to the gospel does not dissuade him, but he sees his work being effective at that time for the Lord.
"doing the work of the Lord..." (v 10). Paul is doing ministry and serving the Lord, as is Timothy. We know that is God's will. We may not know times and places, but we do know what he wants us to do with our lives.
"not his will... when he has opportunity" (v 12). In the case of Apollos, both his desire and opportunity were considerations.
What else do you see in this chapter that can help in your decision-making before the Lord?
Image credit. Photo of Fred Astaire dancing, unknown source.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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