Psalm 18:38–46; 2 Chronicles 3:1–5:1; Acts 18:8–21

Originally published 2/2/2017. Revised and updated 2/1/2019.

Psalm 18:38–46: Our psalmist now reveals how he put God’s training to work. It’s not very pretty:
I pursued my enemies, caught them
turned not back till I wiped them out.
I smashed them, they could not rise,
they fell beneath my feet.” (38, 39)

But what I think is important here is that David gives God all the credit for his achievement—gruesome as it was:
You girt me with might for combat.
You laid low my foes beneath me,
and You made my enemies turn back before me,
my foes, I demolished them.” (40, 41)

This would have been an excellent opportunity for David to think the victory was all his completely his own accomplishment, but he remains unfailingly humble before God, understanding that he is God’s instrument. While our own pursuits and activities may not be as drastic, we must still ask the question: Am I being God’s instrument or am I taking personal credit for whatever is accomplished?

In their final desperate hour, David’s enemies “cried out—there was none to rescue,/ to the Lord—He answered them not.” (42) This is certainly one of those times where foxhole prayers were unavailing. Our poet, speaking as David, continues with two brutal similes of what he accomplished on the battlefield:
I crushed them like dust in the wind,
like mud in the streets I ground them
. (43)

Having conquered the enemy, David now rules over them:
You set me at nations’ head,
a people I knew not served me
. (44)

And having experienced David’s (and his army’s) ferocity on the battlefield, those who have been conquered are grovelingly obedient as they trudge in line behind the conquering army:
At mere ear’s report they obeyed me,
aliens cringed before me.
Aliens did wither,
filed out from their forts. (45, 46)

I think the main takeaway from these verses is that sometimes, war is justified. David placed his trust in God and he became God’s agent of victory. But he never forgot who is the real Victor.

2 Chronicles 3:1–5:1: My, we are really rushing through these chapters…

Well, I have to admit the detailed description of the temple Solomon built, along with the lengthy inventory of its furnishings is impressive. We can see our authors relishing every detail especially wherever gold is involved: “So [Solomon] lined the house with gold—its beams, its thresholds, its walls, and its doors; and he carved cherubim on the walls.” (3:7) And then, “The weight of the nails was fifty shekels of gold. He overlaid the upper chambers with gold.” (3:9)

What I didn’t realize is that Solomon named the two great 35-cubit (~50 feet) pillars at the entrance to the temple: “the one on the right he called Jachin, and the one on the left, Boaz.” (3:17) That’s one way to honor your ancestors, I guess.

For me, the most impressive piece of furniture in the temple is the giant “molten sea; it was round, ten cubits from rim to rim, and five cubits high” (4:2) that was mounted on “twelve oxen, three facing north, three facing west, three facing south, and three facing east.” (4:4) And of course there are the ten golden lampstands, which reappear in the heaven described in Revelation.

Besides furniture, there is vast number of utensils, which were made “ in great quantities, so that the weight of the bronze was not determined.” (4:18) Not surprisingly, our authors close out their inventory by focusing once again on gold: “the snuffers, basins, ladles, and firepans, of pure gold. As for the entrance to the temple: the inner doors to the most holy place and the doors of the nave of the temple were of gold.” (4:22)

At the temple’s completion, “Solomon brought in the things that his father David had dedicated, and stored the silver, the gold, and all the vessels in the treasuries of the house of God.” (5:1) Were there historians at that time keeping track of these things, there’s no question that Solomon’s temple would have been one of the seven wonders of the world.

Acts 18:8–21: Even though Paul has decided to shift his missionary focus away from the Jews, “Crispus, the official of the synagogue, became a believer in the Lord, together with all his household” (8) along with a lot of other Gentiles. Paul has a vision where God says to him, Do not be afraid, but speak and do not be silent; for I am with you, and no one will lay a hand on you to harm you, for there are many in this city who are my people.” (9, 10) Thus encouraged, Paul remains in Corinth for 18 months. 

God’s words are put to the test when “the Jews made a united attack on Paul and brought him before the tribunal.” (12) They try to use the old argument that a religious practice is against the secular law—a legal argument that sounds awfully familiar these days.. Paul’s accusers tell the proconsul of Achia, “This man is persuading people to worship God in ways that are contrary to the law.” (13) But just as Paul is about to speak, the proconsul—obviously a firm believer in separation of church and state—dismisses the charges. The Jews are pretty angry and they pummel “Sosthenes, the official of the synagogue,” who obviously persuaded the others to bring charges against Paul. But “But Gallio paid no attention to any of these things.” (17b)  as he declines to intervene.

Obviously, Paul felt God had protected him and was doubtless encouraged to speak even more boldly—of which we will see dramatic examples later in Acts.

After his pleasant stay in Corinth, Paul returns to Antioch, his missionary trip to Europe complete. He stops off in Ephesus and is encourage by the believers to remain, but says only, “I will return to you if God wills.” (21) Ever onward, Paul.

 

Speak Your Mind

*