Bible reading for September 29.
1 Kings 1.
"And Solomon said, 'If he will show himself a worthy man, not one of his hairs shall fall to the earth, but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.'" (1 Kings 1:52)
A NEW KING. Yet another of David's sons, Adonijah, seeks to take the throne. David is aged, always cold, and seems unaware of the political intrigue. Solomon is designated the true heir of the throne and anointed at Gihon, the only natural spring on Mount Zion. Zadok the priest, Nathan the prophet, and Benaiah, a close associate of David and commander of the palace guard, were in attendance. Solomon's first judicial ruling, that of probation for Adonijah, was fair and merciful by the standards of his day. Had Adonijah succeeded in his bid, the rest of David's sons, including Solomon, may have been killed. Through the wisdom and timely action of Bathsheba, Nathan, and others the rightful heir ascends to the throne.
REFLECT. There was a threat to David's throne even toward his latter days, and it is through the help of David's faithful friends that things end well. This reminds me also of the Apostle Paul, whose goal was to finish well: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith" (2 Tim 4:7). At the same time he was not ashamed to name his many co-workers in the ministry of the gospel. It is the Lord's grace who enables us to complete our course, but he gives us much help through our friends. The Beatles once sang, "I get by with a little help from my friends." Indeed, faithful friends are a blessing. Today, who are you thankful for? Who's helping you run your race and finish well?
"For through the Spirit, by faith, we ourselves eagerly wait for the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything, but only faith working through love." (Galatians 5:5-6)
FREEDOM TO LOVE. Rather than returning to the old covenant, Paul says that we live now in the new way of the Holy Spirit (vv 5-6; cf Ezek 36:26-27). By faith, and through the power of the Holy Spirit, we are enabled to love God and to love our neighbor from the heart. To go back to the Mosaic arrangement, or to seek justification through law-keeping, is to "fall away" (or "lose; drift off course") from the principle of salvation by grace (vv 1-4). Christ has set us free (vv 1, 13), that is, he has removed fear and hindrances (Luke 1:74-75) so that we can love and serve God and others: "For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" (vv 13-14).
WALKING BY THE SPIRIT. It is the Holy Spirit who empowers us to live in a way pleasing to God (vv 16-26). There is much in common between this chapter and chapters 7-8 in Romans. (In fact, Galatians sometimes is called "little Romans", because of so many similar themes.) There is an indwelling principle of sin within us ("the flesh"), which exerts a pull on us by desires contrary to the Spirit. The Holy Spirit, by contrast, is giving us new desires, motivation, and joy, in doing God's will. Our responsibility is to "walk" (or, "live by, keep in step with") the Spirit. In Romans it is to "be led by" the Spirit (Rom 8:9-14). This is relational and personal. God takes the initiative. Our calling is to yield to his ministry within us and to not grieve the Spirit by disobedience (Eph 4:30).
REFLECT. Consider the following quote: "True spirituality is not a superhuman religiosity; it is simply true humanity released from bondage to sin and renewed by the Holy Spirit. This is given to us as we grasp by faith the full content of Christ’s redemptive work: freedom from the guilt and power of sin, and newness of life through the indwelling and outpouring of his Spirit” (Richard F. Lovelace, Dynamics of Spiritual Life). So we must ask ourselves each day, is this how I'm living the Christian life, or am I trying to live it in my own way and in my own power?
Image credit: photo by Lipinski Tomasz on Unsplash. 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. One recommended resource is NETBible.org, a ministry of bible.org.