What we are reading this week (beginning Thursday, December 23, 2021):
• 1 Samuel 31 ~ 2 Samuel 1-6
• Nehemiah 7-13
• Proverbs 7-13
Notes on 1 Samuel
Though we have come to the end of a book, it flows right into 2 Samuel, and there is not much of an ending or climax. However, we do see the death of Saul his three sons, which unfortunately includes Jonathan (31.2). Saul killed himself, even though the young Amalekite in 2 Samuel 1.5-16 took credit for it— at the cost of his own life.
Notes on 2 Samuel
In spite of Saul’s irrational and relentless pursuit of him, David still honors the man after his death (1. 11). In chapter two, David takes his rightful place as the king. But there will still be some conflicts before he is fully recognized nationwide (3.1).
There were those of the house of Saul that continued to strive to hold on to power (2.8-10) This incident that Joab created in 2.13-17 was such an utter waste of life! But I suppose among those who faced a lot of battle, what is a few more deaths? However, we get a good look at the character of Joab and Abner in this account. And we will use this as a reference for later events.
Chapter three shows us how messed up spiritually just about everyone was. Abner is accused of impropriety in 3. 7, but we don’t know if this is legitimate or not. David made a request to retrieve his former wife Michal, who is ripped away from her current husband who loves her (3.16) Then Joab murders Abner, who certainly didn’t deserve it (3.22-27). David realizes that he has a mess on his hands.
In chapter four, we are introduced to Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son. The attempt by remaining family members of Saul to retain power is completely crushed in this chapter. Mephibosheth assumed the worst as he is summoned to the king, and does not realize the favor he has with the king because of his father.
David is fully installed and recognized as king in chapter five by the entire nation, and goes back to defeating Philistines. His tenure will be eternally significant in a number of ways. He will be identified as an ancestor of the Messiah, the last person to have that designation before the actual birth of the Messiah. And he will move the capital city from Hebron to Jerusalem, the place that God had designated that he would be worshiped (See Deuteronomy 12.8-14). But this was not revealed until David’s time.
David wisely had the Ark of the Covenant brought to Jerusalem, to the Temple, where it belonged. But unwisely, he ignored the strict rules for carrying the ark, creating some needless death. David shows the true depth of his heart in dancing before the Lord in an “undignified” way. God just loved this (6.22).
Notes on Nehemiah
By chapter seven, the walls around Jerusalem had been completed. Now comes the preparation for wrap-up. We find that Nehemiah has a brother named Hananiah who also is a man of integrity and “feared God more than most people do." I would be greatly honored if anyone would say the same of me!
First, there is a roll call. Then at the very end of chapter seven, Ezra is presented to read the law. This would have been a very powerful, emotional moment to see the newly restored walls surrounding the Temple, and the gigantic dais that has been built for the ceremony, with Ezra the man of God standing above the crowd and expounding on the law.
A giant party ensued after this, and they found that they had stumbled chronologically upon the seven-day Festival of Booths. On the last day, per the Law’s instruction, they held an assembly (8.18 ), A time of prayer and repentance followed. There is a wonderful prayer to memorize and incorporate into your own prayer life in 9.5b-6.
Following the prayer and repentance, the people agreed to put a covenant to the Lord in writing. Many of the things they put into this document were basic laws. This included avoiding intermarriage, the sin that almost sank Ezra earlier (10.30).
A list of the new residents in Jerusalem is given in chapter 11, by tribe. The roster continues halfway through chapter 12. Then there is a joyful dedication of the wall
The walls were huge and extremely wide. Two parades ensued starting at the southwest section, one parade going north, and the other one circling around to the east side. The processions circled the entire city of Jerusalem, ending together on the northwest section by the Gate of the Guard. There, all of them joined together and sang, and a great and mighty worship service broke forth. “The sound of rejoicing in Jerusalem could be heard far away” (12.43).
In chapter 13, Nehemiah discovers that Tobiah, one of his fiercest opponents throughout this entire process of rebuilding has been living for free in one of the storehouses in the house of God, thanks to Eliashib, the priest (13.4-5). Tobiah got thrown out on his ear by Nehemiah.
Then Nehemiah found others who had been desecrating the Sabbath. It was the nobles, always looking after their own interests above all else. Nehemiah put a stop to this.
And, in spite of the covenant, intermarriage became a thing again (13.23). Even the high priest’s son married a daughter of Sanballat, the other chief enemy of Nehemiah and the Jews. Nehemiah drove him away (13.28).
Notes on Proverbs
At the beginning of chapter 6, Solomon encourages us to examine and find what is wrong in our lives and then to fix it. He also briefly touches on planning ahead, industry, and avoiding evil. The second half of the chapter comes back to the issue of adultery, which continues through chapter seven.
Chapters eight and nine are an interesting contrast, where the former is wisdom calling out, and chapter nine we find folly doing the same.
Both begin with nearly the same invitation. Wisdom calls, “You who are simple gain prudence” (8.5). Folly says, “Let all who are simple come to my house” (9.5). In chapter ten, we finally get to the one-liners which will continue for most of the rest of the book.
This is a good place not to fall behind in your reading, because you can only process so many these in one setting! I am not sure how some of these proverbs even made the cut. “An honest witness tells the truth but a false witness tells lies” (12.17). That seems a little obvious!