Jul. 6. Ahab’s Final War; Succeeded by Ahaziah; Jehoshaphat Reigns in Judah

I Kin. 22:1-II Kn. 1:18; II Chron. 18:1-21:1

Three years after Israel’s war with Syria and Ahab’s treaty with Ben-Hadad, Jehoshaphat, king of Judah had become friends with Ahab. Jehoshaphat’s son, Jehoram had married Ahab’s daughter, Athaliah. That mistake formed a family and political alliance between the two kings.

Through a series of requests for advice from Ahab’s prophets and God’s prophet, Micaiah, Ahab and Jehoshaphat’s armies joined forces to capture Ramoth Gilead from Syria. That was after Micaiah had prophesied that he saw, “all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd…” Ahab’s four hundred false prophets had advised war, but the true prophet of God spoke the true word of God.

Ahab disguised himself as a regular soldier and went into the war. He was mortally wounded and died that evening. After his burial, his blood was washed from the chariot, “and the dogs licked up his blood…according to the word of the Lord which He had spoken.” His son, Ahaziah then became king of Israel.

Good people and good kings make mistakes and sin. After the death of Ahab, Jehoshaphat returned home to Jerusalem. He was met by Jehu, the prophet who rebuked him for participating in Israel’s war.

However, the king had maintained his good qualities of trying to seek the Lord. In order to reform Judean worship he set up impartial judges in the fortified cities with Levites, priests and some of the chief fathers of Israel to serve in Jerusalem.

Another great accomplishment of Jehoshaphat was his reliance upon God to see him through a great threat from three groups of people that were not disturbed during the wilderness wanderings—Moab, Ammon and Mount Seir. Those people had mobilized themselves to, “throw us out of Your possession which You have given us to inherit.”

The king realized that he had no power over such a great multitude that they were facing. He prayed for help. The prophet Jahaziel gave them instructions from the Lord. “Do not be afraid…the battle is not yours, but God’s…You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord…”

What followed was mass confusion. “For the people of Ammon and Moab stood up against the inhabitants of Mount Seir to utterly kill and destroy them. And when they had made an end of the inhabitants of Seir, they helped to destroy one another.” Judah spent the next three days gathering the valuable spoils of precious jewelry from the bodies of the slain.

The people of Judah along with their king rejoiced and blessed the Lord for His deliverance from their enemies. Word spread among the other kingdoms of how the Lord had fought against the enemies of Judah. Peace reigned the remainder of Jehoshaphat’s twenty-five years as king. After his death, his son Jehoram became king of Judah.

During the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat’s reign in Judah, Ahaziah, the son of Ahab, became king of Israel. It is the duty of parents to properly train their children in the ways of the Lord. That did not happen in the case of Ahaziah. He followed in the wicked ways of his parents, Ahab and Jezebel. Neither did he remove the idol worship of Jeroboam, the first king of God’s divided people, Israel.

Accidents happen to kings as well as common people. Ahaziah fell through the lattice of his upper room and was severely injured. As his father had done, he also relied upon a false god by sending messengers to inquire of the outcome of his injuries.

An angel of the Lord sent Elijah to intercept the king’s messengers and to give them messages from the true God. The first was in the form of a rebuke asking if there was no God in Israel that they must inquire of the god, Baal-Zebub. God’s second message informed Ahaziah that he would not come down from his bed, but would die.

The king sent three different captains of fifty men to bring Elijah to him. “Man of God, thus has the king said, ‘Come down quickly.’” The first two captains issued the command that the prophet of God be submissive to the wicked king. In each incident, Elijah called down fire from heaven and the captain and his men were destroyed. God expects humility from His people. The third captain humbled himself and begged for the lives of himself and his men. That act of humility did not change the king’s message, but it did bring their safety and God did send Elijah to Ahaziah. The king died in his second year. Since he had no son, he was succeeded by his brother, Jehoram.

#chronological-bible-study

Jul. 5. Ahab’s War; Treaty with Syria; Commits Murder

I Kin. 20:1-21:29

Israel and Syria were bitter enemies. Through an exchange of messages between Ahab and Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria, Ahab agreed to surrender to the Syrian king. However, Ben-Hadad raised the stakes and a prophet from God informed Ahab that God would deliver Syria into his “hand today, and you shall know that I am the Lord.” Ahab’s army consisted of seven thousand, two hundred thirty-two men against the mighty army of Syria. With God’s help, they “killed the Syrians with a great slaughter.”

The next spring, Ben-Hadad again attacked Israel and suffered a great defeat losing one hundred thousand men in battle and another twenty-seven thousand when a wall fell on them. The Syrian king and his army fled in defeat. In an effort to save his own life, he offered to restore all the cities that his father had taken from Israel and to allow the Israelites to set up market places in Damascus, the Syrian capital. Ahab agreed to the treaty and there was peace between the two kingdoms.

God was displeased with Ahab for making a treaty with Ben-Hadad instead of destroying him. He sent a disguised prophet to the king to make His displeasure known. After revealing himself, the prophet spoke the Lord’s words, “Because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his life, and your people for his people.” Upon hearing the message from God, Ahab returned home sullen and displeased.

It seemed to be a simple and honorable request. Naboth’s vineyard was next to Ahab’s palace in Jezreel (probably a home away from home). He offered what seemed to be more that a fair trade for it. However, Naboth had inherited it and would not consider the trade. Because of his disappointment, Ahab’s wife, Jezebel devised a scheme to have Naboth falsely accused of blasphemy against God and the king. That crime was punishable by stoning.

Even though Ahab probably did not touch a stone, he was guilty by consent of the murder of an innocent man. The sin of covetousness led to the cruel crime against Naboth. Property of public criminals became the property of the king—a bitter victory for Ahab.

Again, the prophet, Elijah was the bearer of bad news to Ahab. The message from God was that the dogs would lick his blood and that his posterity would have no succession to the throne of Israel. Whoever died in the city would be eaten by dogs and the birds would eat those who died in the country.

Ahab and Jezebel were extremely wicked in following idols instead of following God. However, Ahab showed remorse and repentance at the words of Elijah and God postponed the calamity against his family until the reign of his son.

#chronological-bible-study

Jul. 4. Elijah Struggles; Elisha Joins Him; Jehoshaphat Becomes King of Judah

I Kin. 19:1-21; 22:41-44; II Chron. 17:1-19

Elijah’s thrill of victory over the god, Baal was short-lived. Upon learning that Baal’s prophets had been slain by him, Jezebel sent word to him that within twenty-four hours he would also be dead. The prophet then fled to Beersheba in Judah. In a state of depression, he went a day’s journey farther and sat under a broom tree. There, he prayed that the Lord would take his life and place another person in his place as prophet.

Even God’s people sometimes become discouraged for various reasons. All may seem hopeless, but we should remember that we are not really alone. God still has work for us to do. An angel appeared to Elijah with food and water and he ate and drank. That happened a second time and he was able to press on for another forty days and nights to Mount Horeb without further nourishment. Upon Elijah’s report that Israel had forsaken God and that all of His prophets in Israel except himself had been killed, God stated that there were seven thousand in Israel who had not bowed the knee to Baal. They probably had to worship in secret to protect their lives.

God outlined the work that was to be accomplished by Elijah. He was to anoint Hazael as king of Syria; Jehu to be king of Israel and Elisha to succeed him as God’s prophet. Those successions were not to be immediate. However, Elisha did join him at that time to help in his work.

A psalmist once said, “Blessed is the nation whose God is the Lord.” Jehoshaphat continued in the leadership of his father, Asa as he followed the Lord’s ways as king of Judah. He became king at thirty-five years of age in the fourth year of Ahab’s reign in Israel. The new king walked with God as David had done before him. He refused to follow the false gods that were around him. “Therefore the Lord established the kingdom in his hand…”

In addition to having God present, a nation’s strength is fortified by its ability to defend itself against its enemies. As Israel had previously been a bitter enemy of Judah, Jehoshaphat fortified his cities with troops. With God on his side and the cities fortified, the kingdoms around were afraid to make war against Judah. Instead, some of his neighbors presented him with tribute and other gifts.

One cannot be obedient if he does not know what to obey. Jehoshaphat sent Levites and priests with his leaders to teach the people in the cities of Judah. With the citizens being taught God’s ways and the cities being well fortified, Jehoshaphat reigned as a rich and powerful king.

#chronological-bible-study

Jul. 3. Ahab Becomes King of Israel; God Sends Elijah

I Kin. 16:29-18:46

About three years before the death of Asa in Judah, Ahab followed his father Omri to the throne of Israel. Each succeeding king from Jeroboam became move evil than his predecessor. Ahab married Jezebel, the daughter of the Sidonian king. She was a wicked woman. He set up an altar for the god, Baal in the temple of Baal and also made a wooden image of the god. That was a blatant disregard of the commandment to refrain from setting up a god before the true God. The Canaanites put great faith in the god, Baal because they thought that he blessed them with rain. Ahab also allowed the city of Jericho to be rebuilt in direct disregard to the warning of dire consequences by Joshua.

In response to Ahab’s grievous sins, God sent the prophet Elijah, who was also a resident of Gilead in Israel to deliver an important message from Him. “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” That was a direct challenge to the power (or lack thereof) of their rain god, Baal.

A devastating drought would come upon the land, but God would care for Elijah. He commanded him to retreat to the Brook Cherith where he would have water and would be fed by the ravens. That arrangement continued until the brook dried up because of the lack of rain.

Even Elijah, the prophet of God was adversely affected by the famine as his water supply at the Brook Cherith dried up. God, however, continued to care for him as He sent him to dwell in the home of a widow in Zarephath.

Women were deemed to be inferior to men and a widow who had no one to provide for her was at the bottom of the economic scale. To make matters worse, this widow had a dependent son in her care. It would seem heartless for a strange man to demand a portion of a widow’s last meal, but Elijah, by the hand of God had a plan that required great faith of the widow. Upon feeding the prophet, her supply of flour and oil was continually replenished until the end of the famine.

Faith and trust in God bring many blessings—some seen and others unseen. When the widow’s son got sick and died, Elijah performed the first recorded miracle of restoring life to a dead person.

After a period of more than three years, Ahab and Jezebel had committed great atrocities against God and His prophets. Obadiah, who was in charge of Ahab’s house, was secretly a God fearing man. He had hidden and cared for one hundred of God’s prophets in two caves during that time of persecution. He feared for his life as his faith was further tested when Elijah told him to report to Ahab that, “Elijah is here.”

Ahab’s greeting to Elijah: “Is that you, O troubler of Israel?” Many of us today are like the king. As we suffer the consequences for our sins, we blame others for our pain. Elijah had the proper response stating that Ahab and his father’s house had brought on their troubles because of their forsaking the commandments of the Lord and following the Baals.

In order to show who the true God is, Elijah instructed Ahab to bring the children of Israel, the four hundred fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah to Mount Carmel. It is said that followers of Baal believed that Mount Carmel was sacred to him. The challenge from Elijah would allow favorable conditions to his opponents thus giving more credence to the Lord.

After the false prophets had prepared their choice of the two bulls and had placed it on the unlit wood, they called upon the name of Baal from morning until noon, but no fire came to consume their offering. They became more intense in their calls and until time for the evening sacrifice, “there was no voice; no one answered, no one paid attention.”

Elijah’s turn: He repaired the broken down altar of the Lord and took twelve stones, representing the twelve tribes. After digging a trench around the altar, he placed his prepared bull upon the unlit wood as the other prophets had done. BUT, to make the demonstration more interesting, he ordered four pots of water to be poured out upon the sacrifice and the wood, also filling the trench. That was done three times in order to assure that everything was thoroughly soaked and fireproof. Instead of the incessant calling, leaping and self-cutting, Elijah simply prayed to God. Fire of the Lord immediately, “fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, and the wood and the stones and the dust, and it licked up the water that was in the trench.”

The people were convinced that, “The Lord, He is God! The Lord, He is God!” At Elijah’s command, the false prophets were seized and taken to the Brook Kishon were he executed them.

Elijah prayed seven times for rain and after the seventh time, a small cloud appeared, followed by black clouds and wind, producing a heavy rain. After more than three years the drought had been broken.

#chronological-bible-study

Jul. 2. Succession of Various Kings in Israel; Asa’s Battles with Israel

I Kin. 15:16-16:28; II Chron. 16:1-14

Israel was led by a succession of five kings during the reign of Asa in Judah. Nadab, the son of Jeroboam began his reign during the second year of Asa, but because of his wickedness and Jeroboam’s lineage being taken away by God, he was assassinated in less than a year by Baasha, also an evil man.

Baasha destroyed everyone in the house of Jeroboam. God sometimes uses evil people to execute punishment upon other evil persons. He reigned for twenty-four years and at his death, his son, Elah became king of Israel.

Elah’s reign began during the twenty-sixth year of Asa’s Judean reign. However, because of the wickedness of himself and of his father, Baasha, he also was assassinated by Zimri during Asa’s twenty-seventh year.

After Zimri had been king for only seven days, the Israelites revolted and made their army commander, Omri king over Israel. His reign began in turbulence since half of the people wanted Tibni to be their king, but the followers of Omri prevailed after a four-year civil war. He ruled over Israel for twelve years. Israel was governed by many wicked kings. Omri was no exception as was stated, “Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and did worse than all who were before him…” He died and was followed by his son, Ahab.

Asa had been king of Judah about two years when Baasha became king of Israel. His period of relative peace came to an end as he and Baasha continually disputed and warred over the boundary north of Jerusalem. In time, Baasha began to fortify Ramah to prevent his people from entering Jerusalem to worship.

The king of Judah made a treaty with Ben-Hadad of Syria to return Ramah to the control of Asa. With that being completed, Asa’s people began to remove the fortifications that had been placed by Baasha.

There was a huge problem with Asa’s action. The Lord sent Hanani the seer to inform the king of his mistake. He had relied upon assistance from another source instead of seeking help from God as he had done previously during the attack from Ethiopia. As a result, he would continue to be plagued by wars during the remaining time of his reign as king of Judah. He died from a disease of his feet ending a reign of forty-one years.

#chronological-bible-study

Jul. 1. End of Jeroboam’s Reign in Israel; Asa Becomes King of Judah

I Kin. 14:1-20; 15:9-15; II Chron. 14:2-15:19

Jeroboam also had a son named Abijah, who became sick. King Jeroboam sent his wife disguised as an ordinary woman to Ahijah, the prophet to find out the fate of his son. She maybe could have fooled the blind prophet, but God was not deceived. The prophet gave her more information than she and the king wanted to know. Because of his evil deeds, God through the prophet stated that the child would die upon her return home and that the kingdom would be taken from him and his sons in disgrace and given to a new king. Israel would be scattered. Jeroboam died after twenty-two years as king of Israel and his son, Nadab reigned in his place.

During the twentieth year of Jeroboam’s reign over Israel, Asa had become king of Judah. Azariah, the prophet presented an important message to Asa that still applies to us today. “Hear me…The Lord is with you while you are with Him. If you seek Him, He will be found by you; but if you forsake Him, He will forsake you…”

Whereas his father, Abijah and grandfather, Rehoboam had disobeyed God and had introduced idol worship into Judah, the great reformer, Asa destroyed the idols and places of idol worship and turned the people back to God. Even in his zeal to reform, Asa was unable to completely rid the kingdom of its unscriptural places of worship.

The time during Asa’s reign was relatively peaceful. However, Zerah, king of Ethiopia assembled a massive army of a million, three hundred thousand men against his five hundred eighty thousand man army. Asa’s faith and reliance upon God resulted in the defeat of the Ethiopian army and the plunder of many of their cities and cattle.

#chronological-bible-study

Jun. 30. Rehoboam’s Reign in Judah; Followed by Abijam/Abijah

I Kin. 14:21-15:8; II Chron. 11:5-14:1

At forty-one years of age, Rehoboam began his reign as king of Judah. The priests and Levites who had been replaced in their positions by Jeroboam in Israel joined with Rehoboam. Other Israelites who were displeased with Jeroboam defected to Judah in order to worship as God had commanded. After the first three years of fortifying his kingdom, he wandered farther from the Lord. He made idols and places of worship other than God’s house in Jerusalem and appointed other priests. His sins were even greater and more widespread than those of his father, Solomon.

King Rehoboam had a very large family. He had eighteen wives and sixty concubines. His children numbered twenty-eight sons and sixty daughters. He appointed Abijah to be the chief leader of his brothers and dispersed his sons throughout the land. Abijah was being groomed to eventually succeed his father to the throne.

God was highly displeased with the sins of Rehoboam and Judah. After five years He allowed Shishak, king of Egypt to invade Judah. That invasion and the words of the prophet, Shemaiah humbled the king causing the Lord to allow partial deliverance from total destruction by Egypt. Shishak’s invasion was costly to Judah. He removed the treasures from the temple and the king’s house including the golden shields that Solomon had made. Rehoboam replaced the golden shields with less costly bronze shields.

In addition to the war with Egypt, Rehoboam was continually faced with battles with Jeroboam and the Israelites.

After seventeen years of a sinful reign, Rehoboam died and was succeeded by his son, Abijah.

Abijam, whose name is also called Abijah, began his reign as king of Judah during the eighteenth year of Jeroboam’s reign in Israel. He was a son of Rehoboam and maternal great-great grandson of David. Abijah’s three-year reign continued in the sins of his father. However, he did allow the priests to perform their duties as the people worshipped God.

There had been continual warfare between Jeroboam’s Israel and Judah. In his final battle with Jeroboam, Abijah gathered an army of four hundred thousand valiant warriors against eight hundred thousand choice men of Israel. Prior to the battle Abijah called out to Jeroboam in an attempt to persuade him to return to the true worship of God. He pointed out the importance of maintaining God’s commands. As the king of Judah was attempting to unify the two kingdoms, Jeroboam positioned an ambush in the rear of Judah’s army in addition to his forces to the front.

Even though Abijah had sinned against God, it was His plan to preserve the lineage of Judah for the coming Messiah. Seeing the ambush behind him, Abijah cried out to the Lord and the priests sounded the trumpets. God allowed Judah to slaughter five hundred thousand of Israel’s choice men. Jeroboam was defeated and died soon afterward.

Abijah died and his son, Asa became king of Judah.

#chronological-bible-study

Jun 29. God Demands Obedience

I Kin. 13:11-32

Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing. An old prophet in Bethel was informed of Jeroboam’s visit from a young prophet. Being impressed by that event, he fabricated a lie that God had sent instructions for the younger prophet to dine with him in his house. The younger prophet believed the lie and went with the old prophet.

Man is confronted by many temptations and pitfalls. Perhaps the most serious of those is the perception that if a “religious” person teaches a concept, it is true. There are many false teachers in our world today who either by ignorance or by deliberate deception are leading honest souls into destruction. While at the table, God spoke through the old prophet that because of disobedience, his guest’s “corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.”

As the younger man was returning home, he was killed by a lion. Apparently, the old prophet was remorseful of his deception and the death of the younger prophet. He buried him in his own tomb and instructed his sons to bury him at his death beside the younger prophet. “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.” (I Jn. 4:1)

#chronological-bible-study

Jun. 28. Israel Rebels Against Rehoboam; Led Astray by Jeroboam

I Kin. 12:1-13:10; 33, 34; II Chron. 10:1-11:4

The Kingdom of Israel was fragile, but united under the leadership of King Saul. Different tribes operated under independent loyalties to themselves. They briefly divided at the death of Saul with the tribes of Judah and Simeon (Simeon having been combined with Judah) accepting David as their king and the other ten tribes remaining loyal to Ishbosheth, Saul’s son until his assassination. After reuniting under David, Israel remained united until after the death of Solomon.

As Solomon’s son, Rehoboam ascended to the throne, Jeroboam was notified in Egypt of the change of government. He, along with Israel requested that Rehoboam lighten the grievous burdens that had been placed upon them by Solomon. With his lack of wisdom and abundance of pride, the new king rejected the advice of his father’s elders to deal kindly with the people. He heeded the advice of his young friends who encouraged him to drastically increase their burdens instead of reducing them.

Rehoboam unwittingly fulfilled the prophecy of the prophet, Ahijah. It was God’s plan to divide the kingdom because of Solomon’s disobedience. Judah along with Benjamin remained with Rehoboam in Jerusalem and that southern kingdom became known as Judah. The remaining northern tribes became known as Israel under Jeroboam as their king.

In order to bring the rebellious tribes back, Rehoboam assembled an army to attack Israel. God sent word to him by Shemaiah to refrain from war and for every man to return to his house. Rehoboam wisely obeyed God’s instruction in that matter.

Since the capital of Israel, now Judah was at Jerusalem in the southern kingdom, Jeroboam selected Shechem to serve as his capital. Also, for fear that the people would return to Rehoboam if they went to Jerusalem to worship as God had commanded, he set up altars at two other places of worship. They were located at Bethel in the south and Dan in the north.

One sees in the life of the new king, Jeroboam an independence to do things his way instead of relying upon the commandments of God. He made a golden calf for each of the two new places of worship and stated, “…Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!” He also appointed priests, including himself from non-Levitical tribes. Jeroboam established a feast day in the eighth month instead of God’s commanded day in the seventh month.

Obviously, God was displeased with Jeroboam’s man-made worship. He sent a prophet from Judah to relate His displeasure. The prophecy about Josiah was fulfilled hundreds of years later. After seeing the signs performed from God, Jeroboam asked the prophet to pray for him and invited him to his house. The prophet however, declined the invitation because God had forbidden him to eat or drink while on his mission. Whatever repentance that may have been in his heart was short-lived. “After this event Jeroboam did not turn from his evil way…”

#chronological-bible-study

Jun. 27. Solomon’s Heart Turned from the Lord; His Death

I Kin. 11:1-43; II Chron. 9:29-31

Perhaps Solomon’s life was one of the greatest paradoxes found in the entire Scripture. God is a jealous God and has explicitly commanded loyalty from His people. At the beginning of his reign as king, Solomon was true to God and blessed enormously because of his relationship with Him.

It was customary in that time for marriages of kings to be political in nature. Upon forming an alliance with the king or other notables of other nations, Solomon was given a wife of that person’s family. That practice prevented many wars because of the family ties involved. Solomon in his greatness married seven hundred wives and had three hundred concubines.

Those wives remained faithful to their own foreign gods. He built special places for his wives to worship and also turned toward those gods as well. “Solomon did evil in the sight of the Lord…” Israel had been strictly commanded to refrain from marrying foreign wives.

In His righteous anger, God informed Solomon that the kingdom would be taken away from him and given to his servant. However, for the sake of David and to fulfill His promise of the Messiah, one tribe would be preserved under his lineage.

The Lord had protected Solomon during his years of faithfulness, but because of his sins, God allowed men to gain strength to punish him. Hadad had fled to Egypt as a child from David’s armies and had later returned to his home in Edom. Rezon had been living in Damascus, Syria. These men had been dormant enemies of Israel but began to build their own armies.

As the Israelites had been divided on different occasions in the wilderness, they continued with their divisions. When David became king, only the tribe of Judah accepted him as king. The other tribes anointed Ishbosheth, Saul’s son to lead them. Later, all of the tribes were united with David as their king and that unity continued throughout Solomon’s reign.

Sometime after God had informed Solomon of the impending division of Israel, Jeroboam the son of Nebat, one of his labor force officers was met by the prophet, Ahijah. The prophet took Jeroboam’s new garment and tore it into twelve pieces and instructed him to take ten of them for himself. He explained that God had taken the kingdom from Solomon and that he would be king of ten tribes of Israel and that Solomon’s son would rule over one tribe [Actually, Judah and Simeon were combined (Josh 19:9)]. God speaking through the prophet, Ahijah also promised Jeroboam His blessings if he would heed His commandments as David had done.

“Solomon therefore sought to kill Jeroboam.” He fled to Egypt and remained until after Solomon’s death.

Sadly, the great king, Solomon died after reigning forty years, but his legacy of wisdom and riches was tarnished by his departure from the one true God who had blessed him with those attributes. His son, Rehoboam followed as king of Israel.

#chronological-bible-study

Jun. 26. A Picture of Love

Song of Solomon 1:1-8:14

There are various theories about the authorship and purpose of the “Song of Solomon. Some of the ideas depict the song as being written by Solomon; others to him, for him or in the manner of Solomon. The bride is seen figuratively as the Jewish nation, the church or literally, one of Solomon’s favorite wives. There is a dialogue within the poem including the bride, the daughters of Jerusalem, her lover, her brothers and another relative.

In the main dialogue of the song, the bride expressed her love for her beloved. That expression of love was then returned by the beloved as he described his feelings toward her. There were periods of loneliness and fear when she was separated from her beloved. At the end of the song, the two lovers are together in triumphant true love.

#chronological-bible-study

Jun. 25. Why Are We Here?

Eccl. 10:1-12:14

“Dead flies putrefy a perfumer’s ointment…” A lifetime reputation for good built by honesty, honor and service to God and man can be destroyed by a single moral failure. Humility before those in authority is a virtue lacking in many people. A person’s words have a way of reaching unintended hearers. Silence will prevent one from making harsh and foolish statements that can be used against him at a later time.

“Cast your bread upon the waters, For you will find it after many days.” One cannot sit idly by and expect society to care for him. It is necessary to invest time and monetary resources into our own well-being and for the care of others who are unable to provide for themselves. One who has refused to help others cannot expect assistance if he becomes needy. As we have opportunity, we are to do good to all people, especially to God’s children.

The wise man admonished his readers to, “Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth…” It is a beautiful sight to behold God fearing young people living for Him while they are full of strength and energy. Solomon painted a picture of old age in which the vitality of youth has vanished into physical and mental weakness. Man has often asked, “Where did I come from and why am I here?” The first part of the question was answered at the beginning of this study. God created/made us. Solomon answered the second part as he closed Ecclesiastes. “Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, For this is man’s all.” Another of man’s questions is, “Where am I going?” That question is partially answered at the close. “For God will bring every work into judgment, Including every secret thing, Whether good or evil.” For the rest of that answer, please continue our study of God’s word.

#chronological-bible-study

Jun. 24. Wisdom’s Value

Eccl. 7:1-9:18

The wise man listed a series of “better thans” as he continued his observations about life and death. A good name is “better than” precious ointment or riches. One should be careful to guard his good name as it can be destroyed by a single careless moment. Mourning and sorrow are “better than” feasting and laughter. A person with a frivolous nature can overlook the serious and important side of improving his life and the world around him. Anger is an emotion that everyone expresses at times, but it should be kept under control and not allowed to explode at the least provocation. Solomon related a series of statements of wisdom relating to the folly of living for the present instead of building toward the end of life.

We live in a society of laws. Solomon stated that a wise person keeps the king’s commandments. In today’s Christian age, we are commanded to obey the laws of the land—unless they conflict with God’s laws. Man has a tendency to reason that when the righteous have hardships and the wicked prosper, that there is neither reward for righteousness nor punishment for wickedness. However, that is vain thinking. There will be justice in the end.

Solomon pointed out that the righteous and the wicked all have a common end. They all die. After death, there is nothing left for man in this world. As long as one lives, there is still hope that he may be able to accomplish something with his life. We must recognize the opportunities to serve God and our fellowman and do so with zest and enjoyment.

#chronological-bible-study

Jun. 23. Vanities of Life Cont’d

Eccl. 3:1-6:12

When God created the earth, He instilled within nature certain laws, seasons and patterns. Man cannot change what God has decreed. One must recognize and adapt to the seasons that surround him and render due reverence to his Creator. There are seasons to be born and to produce for the good of oneself and his fellowman. In time, the seasons for all of that will cease. When they do end, man and animals are the same, as both return to the dust of the earth. However, there is one vast difference. Man’s soul goes upward back to God. One should enjoy the endeavors of life instead of constantly complaining about the negatives that occur.

The wise man had seen within his life of power and wealth that there was also much unhappiness. His worldly possessions could not give him comfort. In his melancholy mood, he could visualize a certain blessing in death where he could find that comfort. Solomon recognized the power of companionship. Man needs someone with whom to share his rewards and disappointments. If one falls, the other can pick him up. Body warmth from a spouse in a cold bed is mutually beneficial. It is not God’s plan for man to be the center of his own existence.

“Walk prudently.” Watch your step is good advice for all in all circumstances. One shouldn’t make rash statements or vows unless he is fully prepared fulfill his words. God would rather have no vow than a broken vow. The person who works to amass a large fortune is never satisfied. Whatever he has is not enough and the fear of losing it keeps him from peaceful sleep. Everyone is born into this world naked—without possessions. Whatever fortune one builds in this life will not follow him to the grave. However, it is wise to enjoy the fruits of one’s labor while he lives without being controlled by them. True enjoyment comes when those fruits are used in the service of God and one’s fellowman.

Solomon continued his admonishments toward the proper use of wealth. He stated that a common evil among men is to amass a great fortune, but never get to enjoy it, because of unhappiness or loss. It would have been better if he had died before his birth. One should have peace of mind with what he has instead of worrying over what he wants. Life is too short and eternity too long to live an unhappy and miserable life.

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Jun. 22. Vanity of One’s Existence

Eccl. 1:1-2:26

The writer of Ecclesiastes identified himself as the Preacher, son of David, king in Jerusalem. He also referred to himself as “king over Israel in Jerusalem.” There are some who question whether Solomon was truly the writer of this book, but with that introduction and the wisdom that he possessed, one can, indeed easily accept Solomon as its author. “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” is the theme of Ecclesiastes. The word vanity may be defined as emptiness.

Generations of life and seasons come and go, but the earth remains unchanged. Cycles of nature continue to repeat in their seasons. Rivers flow into the seas, but they are not overflowed. They evaporate and return to their beginnings and repeat the cycle. Nothing changes and nothing new is added. A man’s existence is of no significance in the broad scheme of the universe. However, man does have the unique character of being a living soul to prepare for life after leaving this earth. Solomon with all of his knowledge, wisdom, riches and honor concluded, “For in much wisdom is much grief, And he who increases knowledge increases sorrow.”

The wise man suggested areas in his life that should have brought joy to him. Surely pleasure, laughter and “a good time” would satisfy a man’s heart and bring joy to him. He was a man of great work and worth with servants to see to all of his needs. Every luxury attainable by man was his to enjoy. Whatever he desired was his. However, with all of his wisdom, he realized that he and a fool would be the same in death. The fruits of Solomon’s labor would go to someone else who had not labored for them after his death. History relates how this was true in the evil reign of his son, Rehoboam who succeeded him to the throne. If all of these worldly blessings could not bring happiness to Solomon, we should take heed and place our treasures in heaven instead of on earth.

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