Week 17 Devotion
So last week we finished up 1 Samuel and began 2 Samuel, but this week we are going to shift over and read the opening chapters of Chronicles which coincides with the life of David. I Chronicles parallels the books of Samuel but in some ways it goes even deeper into the life of David as he rules over the nation of Israel. Now, I really enjoy reading these books (Samuel, Kings and Chronicles) because they are rich with details that allow these old stories to come to life.
These books may seem boring to those who don’t care for history and genealogies, but if you are willing to read slowly and carefully you will be rewarded. For instance, as you read about the mighty men of David you will notice that one of the names is a familiar one, Urriah the Hittite. Urriah was one of David’s personal bodyguards. He had been with him ever since the days in the cave when David was on the run from King Saul.
Urriah had fought with David, bled with David and had celebrated military successes with David. The fact that he was part of David’s personal guard meant that he was probably part of laying out the battle plans and he would have taken a leading role in every battle. But this same Urriah was also the one married to Bathsheba.
David’s notorious fall into adultery and murder comes at the expense of one of his most trusted friends. Facts like this help the story to come to life and they remind us that we are dealing with real people, who have real problems, and who need God’s grace and forgiveness just like us. So read these historical books carefully and I trust that you will be rewarded.
Also this week we will continue to read in the Psalms, particularly the Psalms of David. One thing I haven’t discussed over the past few weeks is that the book of Psalms is really 5 books. If you go back and look at Psalm 1 you will notice that there is a title above the text that says, “Book One.” The Psalter, book of Psalms, is broken down into 5 parts/books and they are as follows:
Book One: Psalm 1-41
Book Two: Psalm 42-72
Book Three: Psalm 73-89
Book Four: Psalm 90-106
Book Five: Psalm 107-150
The Psalm at the end of each book serves as a benediction and Psalm 150 serves as the benediction for the entire Psalter. As you read through the various Psalms make sure that you don’t skip over the introduction or the superscription that comes before verse 1. These help us to understand the historical setting of when and why this Psalm was written.
Here is something to meditate on…
Let’s look more closely at Psalm 8 which starts off by saying:
O Lord our Lord how majestic is your name in all the earth!
Now, this is a psalm of David and it is a song about the dignity and purity and power of God. It highlights that His name is more majestic than all of the creation. All that there is to see from the vantage point of living on this planet is limited in majesty compared to our God. God’s glory is above the heavens meaning that the sun, moon, stars and planets in the sky are nothing compared to the majesty and beauty and glory of God.
You get the picture as you read this of David laying on the ground in the evening after a long day of tending sheep and he is looking up at the starry night sky marveling at all that he can see. But then his heart begins to soar, not at the thought of the stars themselves, but at the thought of the One who made the stars, to begin with.
In verse 3 we read this:
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?
David’s marveling at the night sky has just turned into worship. He can’t help but marvel at the wonder of God who made all things like it was child’s play. God fashioned the heavens with his fingers, like a child forming creatures from his imagination out of clay. But then as David meditates on the power and glory of God, he is pierced in his heart to think that this same God also cares about you and me.
David is meditating on the space between God’s transcendence and His immanence. He is trying to reconcile the fact that God holds the universe in the palm of His hand and at the same time has the hairs on our head numbered.
Take some time to meditate on this Psalm and wonder along with David at the majesty of our God.
Here is something to discuss…
Next, let’s turn our attention to Psalms 42 and 43. Many scholars think these two should be combined to form one Psalm that opens up book 2 of the Psalter. If you read them both
through you can see why. This is a psalm of desperation where the psalmist is crying out for God but also seeking to encourage his own soul.
The psalms start out by drawing attention to the deer who pants for water and this is not a comforting image. This deer is parched and dying of thirst, longing for the cool flowing streams that will revive him and keep him alive. The psalmist is desperate in the same way for God himself. He is thirsty for God and he needs God to answer him but the problem is that God seems far away.
There are times in our Christian life when we feel that our prayers go unheard. There are times in our lives when we don’t experience the joy of God’s presence, when temptation seems always to get the better of us, and our souls are cast down. Be comforted that you are not the only believer to go through such times.
But also follow the instruction of this brother who would not allow his heart to abandon the pursuit of God. Notice in Psalm 42:5, 11, and 43:5 that he rebukes his own heart when he says:
Why are you cast down, O my soul and why are you in turmoil with me? Hope in God…
This might seem like a subtle twist in a work of poetry but in reality, this brother is preaching the gospel to his own heart while he is in the midst of spiritual depression. He is honest about the struggle that he is going through but he is also honest about what he needs to do. His soul is cast down but he needs to remind his soul that his hope is in God.
Take some time to read through these two psalms and take note how the author battles his fear by renewing his hope in God. Take some time to talk with others about how to preach the good news to your own heart as a way to let truth strengthen us in times of trial.
Here is something to pray about…
I am tempted to draw your attention to 1 Chronicles 4:9-10 and have you read through and pray the prayer of Jabez, but I think I’ll go in a different direction. Let me encourage you to choose one of the Psalms for this week and simply let that psalm guide you in a time of prayer. Put yourself in the author's frame of mind and cry out to God following the same pattern of thinking that he is using.
Pray with your eyes open on the Bible and your heart focused on God and as you read each verse let your prayer flow from the page through your mouth and into the throne room of God.