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June 17, Day 169 – Thinking Like Gamaliel

Today we start a new book with 1 Kings, and our readings for today are 1 Kings 1:1-2:12. Here we see that David is old – “well advanced in years and couldn’t keep warm” (verse 1). This tends to happen when people begin to “advance in years.” His servants “found Abishag, who took care of the king and waited on him” (verse 3). Beginning in verse 5, we see that the sword is still present in David’s house (cf., 2 Samuel 12:10) expressed in David’s oldest son, Adonijah, who now asserts himself willfully and says, “I will be king” (verse 5). This is a satanic statement motivated by Lucifer’s five selfish “I will” statements (cf., Isaiah 14:13-14). James tells us that this kind of behavior is pure foolishness, and we should never arrogantly assert our wills, but rather we should say “if it is the Lord’s will” (cf., James 4:15). Clearly, Adonijah makes this statement in arrogance and without consulting the Lord – or even so much as his father, David – who definitely has a say in this transaction. Joab and Abiathar the priest throw their support behind Adonijah, but Zadok the priest does not. When Nathan the prophet receives word of this, he immediately goes to Bathsheba, who knows David’s intentions about the rightful heir to the throne (verse 13). Adonijah goes so far as to institute a celebratory feast in selfish honor of his coronation, although quite conveniently, he “forgot” to invite the most prominent members of his father’s realm (verses 19 and 26). Bathsheba points out to David, that “the eyes of all Israel are on you” (verse 20). Thus, the king had Solomon anointed and crowned, and this word quickly “dispersed all of Adonijah’s guests” from his feast – inciting fear in Adonijah – who appeals to king Solomon for mercy (verses 43-53). In tomorrow’s reading, we will see that Adonijah’s first appeal for mercy was successful, but it was also his last. In chapter 2, David charges Solomon with certain responsibilities about ruling – especially with respect to Joab and Shimei to whom David repeatedly showed mercy. However, David knew these rascals would take advantage of Solomon, and eventually, we see that Shimei does exactly that. David gives Solomon a free hand to govern these two thugs as he sees fit. The new king shall not be bound by the old king’s promises of unabated mercy. The parallel for us today is that God’s initial extension of mercy toward the sinner has limited effect - if a sinner shows continuing disregard or contempt for it, it can be withdrawn, and judgment will certainly follow. Interestingly, David’s last recorded word before his burial is “blood” (1 Kings 2:9). As a man of blood, he was not allowed to build the temple (cf., 1 Chronicles 28:3).

In Psalm 74:10-17, Asaph continues his complaint about God’s enemies – “will they mock and revile Him forever?” (verse 10). Sometimes it seems to us that God is overly patient when we expect Him to act immediately and defend His honor and His sovereignty by our timetable. We forget that – on every level - He operates completely differently from the way we operate. God’s forbearance and His patience are eternal – He is in no hurry – like we often are. From God’s perspective, He might well ask us, “Why have you not responded straightaway to me?” How many of us accepted God’s grace and mercy the first time we heard about it? Under such circumstances, we find ourselves thankful to God for His delayed mercy and judgment – that He is patient with us. “He brings salvation upon the earth – He crushed the heads of Leviathan” (verses 13-14). Both “the days and the nights are His” (verse 16), and “He set all the boundaries” (verse 17). In other words, God takes His time, and He gives us time … let us truly be thankful for that.

Today in Acts 10:23-11:18, we now see what happens next … Peter comes to Cornelius’ house, and he says, “God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean” (verse 28). Peter explains to Cornelius that “God does not show favoritism – accepting men from every nation” (verse 34). He presents the gospel to Cornelius, and “while Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message” (verse 44). Subsequently, they were baptized (verse 47). In chapter 11, we see that some of the Jews criticized Peter for meeting with Gentiles (verse 3), but Peter took the time to explain to them his vision and its meaning. He reminds them that, if the gift of the Holy Spirit was given to Gentiles, how “could we oppose God?” (verse 17). This reminds us of Gamaliel’s advice in Acts 5:39: “If it is from God, you will not be able to stop” it. Whenever we feel a little like Adonijah or Asaph, we should think about Gamaliel's advice.

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