I am using One Year Bible Online for my daily Bible study. For today, One Year Bible Online links here. I have found that by writing this daily blog of what I see when I read these scriptures, I get more out of them. I hope that by posting these ruminations others may get some benefit as well. If you have any thoughts or comments regarding these verses or what I have written about them, please post them.
In his old age, we once again have an example of how David was a poor father. The passage tells us that David had never disciplined his son Adonijah, even by so much as questioning his reasons for a particular action. This is the third son who shows us David’s failure as a father. Amnon raped his half-sister, Tamar. Absalom killed Amnon for raping his sister and then later attempted to usurp David’s throne. Now, Adonijah attempts to crown himself king. Unlike Absalom, Adonijah talks with David’s advisers and attempts to get them to support his ascension to the throne. In addition, while Adonijah’s attempt is technically a usurpation, it appears to be more an attempt to establish himself as David’s successor at a time when David is becoming too feeble to rule. Unfortunately for Adonijah, he failed to get enough of David’s advisers to back his bid. On the other hand, Adonijah fails to ingratiate himself with the common man the way that Absalom had done. When Adonijah begins to execute his conspiracy to appoint himself as David’s successor, Nathan, one of David’s advisers who had rejected Adonijah’s plan, started a counter-conspiracy. Nathan goes to Bathsheba and tells her to go to David and remind him that he had promised to make Solomon king as his successor and to tell him that Adonijah was proclaiming himself king. Nathan tells Bathsheba that he will come and confirm what she is telling David about Adonijah.
Now there are a couple of things that I notice in this passage. David has become somewhat feeble in his old age and is not fully aware of what is going on in his court. David has put off naming a successor. Adonijah decides that since he is the eldest of David’s remaining sons, he is entitled to become the next king. An interesting thing is that Adonijah was apparently aware that David intended for Solomon to succeed him. That would explain why Solomon was the only one of his brothers he did not invite to attend his feast of coronation. It is also interesting to note that the advisers who did not support Adonijah’s attempt to seize the throne were those who are for the most part responsible for domestic policy.
When David becomes aware of what Adonijah is doing, he realizes his mistake in not naming his successor and turning the throne over to him. He does so at once. He immediately summons his advisers who have not backed Adonijah and instructs them to crown Solomon king. This is where Adonijah’s failure to gain the sentiment of the common people causes him trouble. The people of Jerusalem are overjoyed that Solomon has been named king to succeed David. It is possible that they did not want Adonijah as king, but it is also possible that they were afraid there would be some kind of civil war over the succession if David were to die without naming his successor. It is likely that everyone was expecting David to die very soon and that Adonijah had no intention of outright claiming the throne until after David’s death.
The final piece to this story is that when Adonijah receives word that David has had Solomon crowned king, his followers desert him in a panic. Adonijah himself fears that Solomon will have him killed and rushes to the tent where the Ark of the Covenant resides. When he gets there he grabs onto the horns of the altar and begs that Solomon spare his life. Solomon promises that if Adonijah behaves loyally, Solomon will not have him killed.
After the healing of the lame man and Peter preaching about the resurrection of Jesus, some of the Jewish leaders have them arrested. According to what Luke writes here, the Jewish authorities were more concerned that the apostles were teaching that there was a resurrection of the dead than that they were teaching that Jesus was resurrected. When confronted by the Council as to by what power or in what cause they had acted, Peter and John boldly declared that they had acted in Jesus’ name. They further stated that there is no other way to salvation.
The Council is impressed by the boldness that Peter and John exhibited here, since neither Peter or John had any special training in scripture. The Council also recognized them as having been among Jesus’ close followers. The Council clearly wanted to use an “appeal to authority” argument to humiliate Peter and John, but since the man who had been lame until the day before was standing there in the crowd, they knew that would not work. The Council then orders Peter and John to stop speaking in the name of Jesus. I like the way that the New American Standard Bible translation renders Peter and John’s reply, “ Whether it is right in the sight of God to give heed to you rather than to God, you be the judge; for we cannot stop speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Or as I would put it, “Listen, you can decide for yourselves whether you would do what God tells you to do or what some men tell you to do, but we’re going to do what God tells us.” The Council really wanted to punish Peter and John more severely for defying them, but, with the healed man standing there, they knew that doing so would start a riot. Not only was the fledgling Church not intimidated by the Council warnings, through the moving of the Holy Spirit they were further emboldened. The believers gathered and prayed for the boldness to ignore the threats and for healing power and other miraculous signs to show the people that God stood behind the message that they were preaching.
The next thing we have is that the believers were unified in heart and mind. In addition, they treated their possessions as gifts from God to be used to meet the needs of others. The passage tells us that there were no needy people among them because those with wealth sold some of their possessions and gave the money to the apostles to meet the needs of those with less. Note, the wealthy did not turn their possessions over to the apostles for the apostles to sell as they saw fit. The wealthy sold their possessions as God directed them and turned the proceeds over to the apostles. I think the important thing to learn from this is something that can be summed up by something my father said. He said that there was nothing wrong with Christians being millionaires or billionaires and there was nothing wrong with Christians being on welfare. However, he said that there was something wrong when a congregation had members who were on welfare and members who were millionaires. He further said that we cannot know from outside whether the problem in such a congregation is with the millionaires, the people on welfare, or somewhere else. All we can say from outside is that something is wrong. His point was that if someone is on welfare giving them money is not the answer, although it may be part of the answer. If someone is on welfare they need help to get off of welfare and be able to be a productive member of society. What form that help needs to take is not something we can specify in advance. Perhaps the person needs to be taught skills that will allow them to have a job, perhaps they need to be taught to manage their time or their money, perhaps they need to be taught to modify other behaviors, or perhaps they just need a job. The person may be in need of welfare because of ongoing behaviors that they need to change, or they may be in need of welfare because of past behaviors that they have since corrected, or they may be on welfare because of circumstances outside of their control. On the other side, the wealthy member may or may not be sufficiently generous with the gifts that God has given them. Finally, there must be someone in the congregation who can judge what needs the person in need has and how best to address them and who can judge whether the wealthy person is doing all that they can to help those in need. If any of these three positions are not properly aligned with God’s will, there is something wrong in a particular congregation. The presence of both the wealthy and those in need in a congregation is not the problem. It is the symptom of some other problem. That other problem may or may not actually involve either the wealthy person or the one in need. It may be that someone else is failing to fulfill the role that God is calling them to. If you find yourself in such a congregation, you need to ask yourself, “What should I be doing differently? How can I minister to the person in need?” In this passage in Acts, nobody told the wealthy to sell their possessions and give the money to be distributed to those in need. They did so out of their own desire to fulfill the will of God.
The psalmist asks what would have happened if God had not been on Israel’s side. He then answers it by using images from the crossing of the Red Sea and the Jordan river. The psalmist talks about the disasters that the children of Israel would have experienced if not for God’s help. This is just as true of us today. Let me always remember:
who made heaven and earth.”
This proverb tells us that kind words are like honey. This is so true. The first way is that honey is sweet and when we eat it we enjoy the taste. The same is true of kind words. If nothing else, we enjoy hearing them. But honey does much more than just taste good. Just as honey can provide our bodies with needed energy to finish a difficult task, so can kind words do for our spirits. In addition, honey can be applied to an open wound to help it heal. Kind words can help us heal from spiritual wounds we have received. Never pass up an opportunity to say a kind word to someone, you never know when that may be the be the “honey” that person needs at that moment.