Psalm 21; 2 Chronicles 11:1–12:12; Acts 20:4–16

Psalm 21: In this royal psalm, the psalmist addresses God in the second person, while referring to the king in the third person. One has the impression of the poet standing before the throne of David, or perhaps the psalm is part of a worship liturgy–as it is in many liturgical churches today. (Unfortunately, at my church we never hear a psalm at worship.)

The psalmist is reviewing how God has blessed the king, whom we presume is David, first speaking about how much the king loves and worships God: “Lord, in your strength the king rejoices,/ and in your rescue how much he exults.” (2) And God has blessed him mightily–to the extent that God has given David whatever he has desired: “His heart’s desire You gave to him,/ and his lips’ entreaty You did not withhold.” (3)  This verse seems pretty hyperbolic, but again, we are talking poetry, not history, here.

Clearly, there has been a recent military victory, “Great is his glory through Your rescue./ Glory and grandeur You bestowed on him.” (6) And the poet elucidates the reason for this: “For the King puts his trust in the Lord,/ through Elyon’s kindness he will not fail.” (8) [Elyon is another name for Go meaning “God most high.”]

As always seems to happen in these royal psalms, the defeat and grim fate of the enemy takes center stage toward the end: “The Lord will devour them in His anger,/ and fire will consume them.” (10). I have to confess this seems an abrupt change of tone, and Alter suggests that this psalm may be two shorter psalms tacked together. Or perhaps, it is simply like the second verse of a hymn that takes up a different subject. In any event, this psalm must have surely pleased the David’s ears and doubtless was sung before his less worthy successors.

2 Chronicles 11:1–12:12: Speaking of less worthy successors…Solomon’s son, Rehoboam wishes to crush his brother Jeroboam, and assembles the army. But a prophet, Shemiah, whom we meet only here says, ““Thus says the Lord: You shall not go up or fight against your kindred.” (11:4) and “they heeded the word of the Lord and turned back from the expedition against Jeroboam.” (4b) Nevertheless, we sense Rehoboam’s wariness as he fortifies towns in Judah and Benjamin.

The Levite priests, who had been prevented from performing their priestly duties by Jeroboam, pledge their loyalty to Rehoboam, coming to Jerusalem to “sacrifice to the Lord, God of their ancestors. They strengthened the kingdom of Judah, and for three years they made Rehoboam son of Solomon secure” (17). And the reason is stated clearly: “for they walked for three years in the way of David and Solomon.” (17b). Rehoboam follows the footsteps of his father and grandfather, and as our Chronicler informs is, “he dealt wisely.” (23).

But Rehoboam begins to believe his own press releases, believing all these good things were due to his wisdom and strength, not God’s: “When the rule of Rehoboam was established and he grew strong, he abandoned the law of the Lord, he and all Israel with him.” (12:1) And the predictable awful consequences begin to occur. Egypt invades Jerusalem. The prophet “Shemiah returns, telling the king, “Thus says the Lord: You abandoned me, so I have abandoned you to the hand of Shishak.” (5). And, lo and behold, “the officers of Israel and the king humbled themselves and said, “TheLord is in the right.”” (6) But Rehoboam’s arrogance has caused  damage to be done and much of the temple’s wealth is lost to the Egyptian king. Repentance is what God desires but repentance does not erase consequences. But all in all, even though Israel has been humbled, “conditions were good in Judah.” (12:12)

Acts 20:4–16: Luke and some others catch up with Paul in Troas, “where we stayed for seven days.” Since Paul is leaving the next morning, there is a final evening meeting where Paul holds forth at some length (perhaps setting the standard for some of the stemwinder sermons heard today in many evangelical churches…) This poor guy, Eutychus falls asleep. Unfortunately he was sitting in the window and when he falls asleep he falls three stories to the ground below. Paul rushes out, takes the boy in his arms, saying “Do not be alarmed, for his life is in him.” (10) Notice that this is not a miracle. Eutychus has been extremely lucky.

But the Paul goes upstairs, has a meal and then “he continued to converse with them until dawn.” (11) Happily “they had taken the boy away alive and were not a little comforted.” (12) But if we needed proof that Paul could hold forth at indefatigable length, we certainly have it here. As is always the case when Luke is with him, we get a more intimate glimpse of Paul’s human side.

Luke describes their complex itinerary, noting that “Paul had decided to sail past Ephesus,” (16) which given the brouhaha there, is not terribly surprising. Luke tells us Paul “was eager to be in Jerusalem, if possible, on the day of Pentecost.” Many things are about to happen there…


Speak Your Mind