Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even thousands of angels; the Lord is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy place.”
“I have not a shadow of doubt that if all our eyes could be opened today, we should see our homes, our places of business, and the streets we traverse, filled with the ‘chariots of God.’ There is no need for any one of us to walk for lack of chariots…mount into them.”
Hannah Whitall Smith
Today’s Study Text:
“Keep the charge of the Lord your God, walk in His ways, keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgments, and His testimonies, as it is written in the Law of Moses.”
“Words of Blessing – Observe, Preserve, Reserve”
“The commands of God are all designed to make us more happy than we can possibly be without them.”
What comes to my mind when I hear the words, “God’s commands,” “God’s judgments,” “God’s statutes?”
“Open my eyes that I may see,
Incline my heart that I may desire,
Order my steps that I may follow
The way of Your commandments.”
“No man (or woman) can break any of the Ten Commandments. He (she) can only break himself (herself) against them.”
G. K. Chesterton
As David continued laying out for his son, Solomon, the essential elements present in a purpose-filled life, he shared with this child whom he dearly loved, the fact that he could find the counsel from heaven, written down, for not only himself, but also for people down through the ages.
Recently, I came upon an article by a respected Old Testament scholar who noted that it may well have been, during the forty years of sheep herding in Midian, when Moses possibly wrote the book of Genesis and then during the time of the Exodus and forty years of wilderness wanderings, when he wrote Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. Regardless of who Biblical scholars try and identify as the author of these books, we know for certain that when David sat down for a heart-to-heart discussion with his son, Solomon, he advised the future king to “keep” the statutes, commandments, judgments, and testimonies of God as written by Moses.
It was these written words from the faithful leader of God’s children, Moses, whom David told Solomon, had conveyed the principles which laid a solid foundation for a life that was God-planned and God-directed.
To better understand the broad scope of David’s advice, and what was encompassed by his words, I looked up the definitions of four specific words David used:
1. Statutes: Decree, edict.
Hebrew: Appointed custom, manner, or ordinance.
2. Commandment: An order or a rule.
Hebrew: A command or precept whether human or divine.
3. Judgment: Authoritative appraisal or opinion.
Hebrew: A judicial verdict.
4. Testimonies: A declaration or affirmation of truth or fact.
Hebrew: A witness.
When I first read 1 Kings 2: 3, I personally thought David was being a little repetitive. My first inclination was to think that all these words meant the very same thing. Was I ever wrong! The fact is, David, in talking with Solomon, was specifically referring to the written words that were present at that time. And as we read, David wanted Solomon to carefully study what Moses had taken time to share. This fact caused me to ask myself my favorite question, “Why?” After careful study and prayer, the answer became clearer, and I want to share a few thoughts in a practical way.
Let’s say you and I were a Queen on a throne. We were elderly and wanted to leave behind the best advice available to our daughters. First, just as David did, if I were in his shoes, I would want to share some of the practical lessons I’d learned in my life – especially those that had come through what I call “the school of hard knocks!” But then, I’d also want to leave my precious child with more, especially if it was written down. And this got me to thinking. If it were the spiritual life that mattered the most to me, where would I turn?
At David’s time, the written words by Moses would be the perfect choice and here’s the reason: this is the one person whose closeness to God was like no other individual on earth other than Adam in Eden’s Garden home. While Moses spent time with God on Mount Sinai, forty days in fact, if we look at the whole of Moses’ life, this was a man who followed God, who talked with God, and who walked with God.
When David encouraged his son to live a God-filled life, he sent him directly to the writings of a person whom David understood had an up-close and personal relationship with God that resulted in a written record which contained not just commands, edicts, opinions, customs, and ordinances, but the writings of Moses reflected, ultimately, a testimony from one who was an eye-witness to what God was like. Moses was able to affirm all he wrote because he had been with God. He knew for a fact the truth about God. When Moses wrote about God, he was giving an account of what he had seen with his own eyes. I find this fact critical in our understanding of what it was that David was trying to reveal to young Solomon.
First, David told Solomon to stay within the hedge – the boundary of God’s way. Second, he instructed Solomon to observe and walk with God – throughout his entire life. Third, he said to Solomon, “Keep the statutes, commandments, and judgments – but then, last and most important, get to know God so your own testimony is based on the truth you know as fact.” You see, the “testimonies,” the declaration of the truth about God, as recorded by Moses, left not only for David and Solomon, but for you and me today, a first person encounter with God and His prophet Moses, as Moses is called in Deuteronomy 34: 10.
This is why David wanted his son to follow the statutes, the commandments, and the judgments of God. This was not some legalistic form of obedience that David was telling Solomon to follow. Instead, this revelation was the testimony of one who knew God face-to-face as Moses had, and who was bearing witness to the truth that a life lived within God’s hedge; a life walked from beginning to end in God’s way; and a life which followed God’s statutes, commands and judgments, would remarkably resemble the truth about God and would radiate an accurate picture of what our heavenly Father is like. And I ask you, what greater purpose can your life or my life fulfill than to demonstrate, in our daily walk, the graciousness and goodness and faithfulness of our Father’s love?
In a world, where sad to say, way too many Christians have fallen victim to un-Christlike demeanor, heaven’s gracious love is needed more than ever before. A truthful reflection of what God is like is what hurting people are crying out for!
David related to Solomon that an essential element in a life for God was to keep, or as the Hebrew notes, to observe, preserve, and reserve the statutes, the commands and the judgments of God. To observe means I will pay attention attentively. To preserve means I will live a life which is protected by God’s instructions. And to reserve, in the Hebrew means to safely set apart. This is the life David longed for his son to have. And this is the life I want to have, too, for as Charles Wesley so beautifully prayed, “My gracious Master and my God, assist me to proclaim to spread through all the earth abroad, the honors of Thy name.”
“Bring to the Lord, O you peoples…bring to the Lord glory and honour, bring to the Lord the glory due to His name…and follow to the end His most holy precepts.”
Francis of Assisi
“Show me Your ways, O Lord, and teach me Your paths, lead me in Your truth, and
guide me, for You are the God of my salvation, and my hope is in You all the day long.”
Psalm 25:4, 5
“Eternal Light, shine into our hearts,
eternal Goodness, deliver us from evil,
eternal Power, be our support,
eternal Wisdom, scatter the darkness of our ignorance,
eternal Pity, have mercy upon us;
that with all our heart and mind
and soul and strength
we may seek Your face
and be brought by Your infinite
mercy to Your holy presence;
through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Alcuin of York
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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