Psalm 119:169-176; 1 Kings 4:1-28; John 12:37-50

Psalm 119:169-176: Finally! The last section of this long, long psalm. And we get The Big Thematic Wrap-Up.

1. We pray for understanding: “Let my song of prayer come before You, LORD. / As befits Your word, give me insight.” (169)

2. We pray for rescue: “Let my supplication come before You, as befits Your utterance, save me.” (170)

3. We praise God, who is our teacher: “Let my lips utter praise, for You taught me Your statutes.” (171)

4. God is a God of justice: “Let my tongue speak out Your utterance, for all Your commands are just.” (172)

5. We can choose to follow God and God’s word: “May Your hand become my help, for Your decrees I have chosen.” (173)

6. Following God and God’s word is simultaneously salvation/ rescue and joy: “I desired Your rescue, O LORD, and Your teaching is my delight.” (174)

So, 176 verses later we acknowledge again that our chief duty as God’s man (or woman) is to praise and live according to God’s Word. Only there will we find salvation. “Let my being live on and praise You, and may Your laws help me.” I am convinced that the end of the psalm is John’s jumping off point for his insight that “In the beginning was the Word.”

1 Kings 4:1-28: This passage gives a detailed glimpse into the sophisticated management system that Solomon has put into place. The Kingdom is finally at peace, “Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sand by the sea; they ate and drank and were happy.” (20) And the extent of the Kingdom at its height: “Solomon was sovereign over all the kingdoms from the Euphrates to the land of the Philistines, even to the border of Egypt: (21)

Solomon has brought peace and prosperity: “During Solomon’s lifetime Judah and Israel lived in safety, from Dan even to Beer-sheba, all of them under their vines and fig trees.” (25) Moreover, Israel was the dominant power in the region and the nearby countries “brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life.” (21b)

The author gives us a tantalizing glimpse of Solomon’s wealth just by describing the size of his stables: “Solomon also had forty thousand stalls of horses for his chariots, and twelve thousand horsemen.” (26)

We can only imagine the feelings of deep longing and bitter remembrance of the glories of the past that the readers of this history must have felt as they sat there in exile in Babylon, heirs to the fallen Kingdom that God had once blessed –squandered because of the sins of the Kings after Solomon and the sins of the people, who were so poorly led.

John 12:37-50: John dips back into Isaiah to explain why Jesus was being rejected by so many, especially the leadership of Israel: “so they could not believe, because Isaiah also said,

 “He has blinded their eyes
    and hardened their heart,  (39,40)

He also reminds us that “many, even of the authorities, believed in him.” We would presume this includes Nicodemus. But the sway of prevailing thought was in the Pharisees camp and “they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue.” (42)

We are exactly like those who believe but will not confess our belief aloud because we fear. In Jesus’ time, they would not confess because they’d be banned from the synagogue. We will not speak up because we fear we’ll be put out of mainstream society because we do not go along with the prevailing social winds. To accept Jesus means having to be willing to be put out of the “synagogues” we value and to be seen not just as societal outcasts, but worse: as unenlightened and intolerant.

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