Slow to Anger but Great in Power

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

 

It seems just a few weeks ago we were reading about Jonah and celebrating the revival of an entire city – the city of Nineveh.  But as we turn our attention to the Book of Nahum, we realize something bad has happened.

Nineveh has turned away from the Lord and returned to her old ways.  Instead of celebrating the Lord’s salvation  – we learn that Nineveh has come under judgment.

Nahum 3:3 reminds us – “The Lord is slow to anger but great in power…”

The main theme of the book is the impending judgment of Nineveh by the Lord, by which He would deliver His people – Israel. Yahweh would pay back Nineveh and the Assyrians in the same way they had mistreated their enemies.

The Book of Nahum is much like a sequel to the Book of Jonah.

As a reminder, Jonah was a prophet to the Northern Kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 14:25-27), who received a word from the Lord to go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it because of their wickedness. (Jonah 1:2)

Jonah was resentful of the people of Nineveh. Nineveh was the military capital of Assyria, (modern day Iraq) a people known for its violence and evil.  Because Assyria had caused much harm to the people of Israel – Jonah was slow to forgive them.

Consequently, when the Lord commissioned Jonah to preach repentance to this bloody, brutal people, Jonah went as far as he could in the opposite direction in fear that they would receive his message and experience God’s forgiveness.

After trying to run from the Lord and His calling, Jonah begrudgingly preaches the Word – the city repents, and Jonah ends up upset that the enemy of His people have repented and turned to the Lord.

Now, one hundred fifty years or so later, we pick up the story in the Book of Nahum—a book that divides itself into three sections.

In chapter 1, Nineveh’s doom is declared.

In chapter 2, Nineveh’s doom is described.

In chapter 3, Nineveh’s doom is deserved.

The book of Nahum dramatically portrays God judgment over Assyria to relieve His oppressed people.

It was certainly a harsh message for Israel’s enemies, but for the people of Judah it was a message of hope.

Nineveh comes to stand for those who have hardened themselves to God and oppose both the Lord and His people. God’s people can rejoice in God’s justice only because they have themselves been humbled and chastened, having been brought to repentance through His great patience (v. 3).

God’s patience manifests His love and His desire that all would repent and turn to Him, but this patience should not be mistaken for approval of the unrepentant.

The book of Nahum provides a great view of a powerful, just God who maintains His absolute moral standards and offers hope to those who are despised and downtrodden.

God overthrows and destroys dominions that are opposed to His rule and oppress His people.

Judgment upon wickedness will inevitably come. All will be set right. We can be hopeful and patient.

Nahum teaches us to trust God. Even when we despair of any help, we can know that God will stand with those who belong to Him.

Amen!

Until next time… keep reading!

Jim

Excerpts were taken from the following sources for this blog: The Bible Knowledge Commentary, Gospel Transformation Bible, HCSB, Courson’s Application Commentary Old Testament Volume 2

Why We Read the Psalms

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

 

The Book of Psalms is not nearly as prized today as it was in the early church and generations ago.

Psalms were sung in the early church as people went about their daily tasks – Psalms were once the church’s Christian ballads.

There was a time when bishops would not ordain a man into the ministry unless he knew the Psalms from end to end, and could repeat each Psalm correctly.

Can you imagine? Today we struggle to memorize Psalm 1 or 23…  Let’s see how does that go – “The Lord is my shepherd: I shall not want…”

Of all the books in the Old Testament, the Book of Psalms most vividly represents the faith of individuals in the Lord.

As we read through the Psalms we embrace the inspired responses of human hearts to God’s revelation of Himself in law, history, and prophecy.

Saints of all ages have appropriated this collection of prayers and praises in their public worship and private meditations.

Many psalms address God directly with their poetic expressions of petition and praise. They reveal all the religious feelings of the faithful—fears, doubts, and tragedies, as well as triumphs, joys, and hopes.

The psalmists frequently drew on their experiences for examples of people’s needs and God’s goodness and mercy.

Singing of past deliverances in easily remembered poetry provided support and comfort for believers in their hours of trial, as well as warning them against unbelief and disobedience.

The Psalms, combined with their display of personal religious feelings, make them the most powerful and complete expression of the worship of ancient Israel.

Set in the form of lyric poetry, they became unforgettable. They have often been called the love songs of the people of God.

As we come to the close of the Psalms in our reading in the next couple of weeks, my prayer for you is take the time to dwell in them, embrace them, feed upon them.

We have bunched the Psalms together in this reading plan to support a chronological reading but you are welcome to pick one and memorize it or get into the habit of reading a psalm a day.

I close with following thought – “The book of Psalms has been a royal banquet to me, and in feasting upon its contents I have seemed to eat angels’ food. It is no wonder that the old writers should call it – the school of patience, the soul’s soliloquies, the little Bible, the anatomy of conscience, the rose garden, the pearl island, and the like. It is the paradise of devotion, the Holy Land of poesy, the heart of scripture, the map of experience and the tongue of saints.” – Charles Spurgeon, Treasury of David, Preface to Volume 3.

Until next time… Keep reading!

Jim

Some excerpts in this blog were taken directly from the Bible Knowledge Commentary.

Exalting His Name

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

As we continue our reading, we come to 2 Samuel Chapter 7.  Here we find David, well settled in Jerusalem and enjoying a period of peace.

As he contemplates his journey to date, his thoughts turn to the idea of building a more permanent structure in which the Lord could reside among His people.

David wants to build a “house”, a temple for the Lord.

It seems like such a good idea that the prophet Nathan readily agrees.

But the Lord, whose thoughts and ways are different and higher than ours, has a very different building plan in mind.

Even though it seemed the right thing to do, David was not to build a house for God.

Why? Because in Deuteronomy 12, God declared that there would come a time when He Himself would choose a spot in the Land of Promise wherein people could seek Him continually. We learn later that David’s son – Solomon, will build the Temple.

Here in 2 Samuel 7, the Lord declares He will build a “house” – a dynasty and kingdom – for David, instead of David building a house for the Lord.

Stunned, David lays aside his own blueprint and simply sits in the presence of the Lord, marveling at the amazing plan the Lord has just unrolled before him.

This serves as a gentle reminder of how easily our imaginations can be captured and our energies exhausted by what we want to build for God, when what He really wants is for us to sit attentively, witnessing what He is building so that we may marvel and give Him thanks!

Like David, we can have visions, ideas, and dreams that are biblical, spiritual, and noble—but that are not right.

And, like Nathan, we can say to others, “That’s a great idea! Go for it!” without seeking the Lord.

How important it is that we be those who say, “Lord, I’ve got lots of ideas, plans, and dreams. I’ve got all kinds of ways to accomplish big things for Your glory—but only if they’re part of Your plan.”

God established His covenant with Israel not only to redeem a people for Himself, but to make a name for Himself so other peoples could turn to Him.

What David wanted most of all was that God’s name would be exalted forever through all He did for David’s house – his dynasty and kingdom.

Seeing the Lord receive His proper glory had long been on David’s heart – as we learned when reading through the latter verses in 1 Samuel 17.

In this amazing promise to David in 2 Samuel 7, the earlier promise to Abraham (Gen. 12:1–3) is gathered up and refocused.

And in a far grander sense all these promises are gathered up and finally fulfilled in Jesus – Son of David, Son of God, the head crushing Seed of the Woman.

Until next time… keep reading!

Jim

Excerpts taken directly from: Gospel Transformation Bible, Bible Knowledge Commentary, HCSB Study Bible, Courson Application OT Commentary

Waiting on the Lord

 

Thoughts About What We’re Reading…

Here is where we are in our reading: after living a “Robin Hood” existence for years, David is finally made king over all of Israel.

Anointed to be the future king in 1 Samuel 16, David has waited on the Lord through years of difficulty and danger in the wilderness, hiding out for years from King Saul, who sought to kill him.

When given opportunities to rid the kingdom of the rejected king Saul—who refuses to step down—David resists temptation and waits on the Lord.

When asked by his men why he does not just kill King Saul, David responds in 1 Samuel 24:6, “The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD’s anointed.”

Blood is spilt on David’s way to the throne but not by David. Even when Saul dies in battle, David takes no pleasure in his death and deals harshly with the opportunistic Amalekite who seeks to benefit from it, when falsely claiming to have killed Saul.

Through his moving eulogy, in 2 Samuel 1:17-27, David laments the deaths of Saul and his close friend – Jonathan and honors their memory. He laments and honors the man who spent years trying to kill him.

When Joab, David’s kin and head of his army, murders the power-hungry Abner, the former captain of Saul’s army, David reprimands Joab and forces Joab and all the people to put on sackcloth and mourn the death of Abner.

David has his flaws as we all do, we will read more of his exploits in the coming weeks, but David’s world and mind were infused with the reality of God and his faith in God’s existence, purpose and faithfulness.

David waited on the Lord. As we read through the many Psalms written by David during this time in his life, we get a glimpse into the heart and mind of David.  He longed for the promises to be fulfilled, for God to take action, yet he waited for God to do it His way, in His timing.

David suffered much at the hand of Saul—hardship, dishonor, and slander—but he refused to return evil for evil. David chose rather to bless and not curse and even to eulogize Saul in his death.

In the end, ever true to His purposes and promises, the Lord established David as king over Israel, and exalted His kingdom for the sake of His people Israel.

I am reminded that as Christians, we will experience times of suffering and tribulation but our hope at the far side of suffering is even grander than David’s.

Indeed, our blessed hope is the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for Himself a people for his own possession – His church.

And so we wait expectantly and in great joy for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As David waited, we too wait on the Lord, trusting in His promises.  For David the Psalmist, and for us the community of believers, God is our refuge, our strength, and our Redeemer.

Until next time… keep reading!

Jim

Excerpts taken directly from the Gospel Transformation Bible.