1-2 Samuel Commentary

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“1 and 2 Samuel (Sm) play a pivotal role in the Bible for both historical and theological reasons. Historically, these books document the monumental transition that occurred in Old Testament Israel as it moved from being a collection of 12 tribes with no national government to being a unified nation with a centralized government under the control of a king. Furthermore, these books provide a detailed description of the last leaders during the period of the judges, the career of Israel’s first king, and the exploits and accomplishments of Israel’s most famous king, David.
The books also document the historical fulfillment of promises made by God in the Torah. The Law of Moses had predicted the rise of kingship as an institution in Israel; the events recorded in the books of Samuel show that the kingship became a historical reality. The Torah predicted that a member of the tribe of Judah would rule over Israel; this was borne out by the narratives in 1 and 2 Samuel with the ascent of David, of the tribe of Judah, to the throne. Furthermore, the promises that Israel would defeat Moab, Edom, and the Amalekites were also shown to have been carried out. Finally, prophecies regarding the establishment of “a covenant of perpetual priesthood” for the family line of Eleazar the priest were also moved toward fulfillment with the judgment enacted against the family of Eli.
The books of Samuel are especially valuable for Christians because they lay the foundation for the all-important doctrine of the Messiah, the ultimate descendant of David who would sit on an everlasting throne ruling over God’s people and bring deliverance and justice. The promises God made to David in 2 Samuel 7 created hopes and expectations that the New Testament writers understood to have been fulfilled by Jesus. The Lord promised David that He would establish the kingdom of one of David’s descendants; in the New Testament Jesus was identified as that descendant of David who brought the kingdom of God to humanity. God said David’s descendant would build a house for God’s name; the New Testament writers portrayed Jesus as one who built the ultimate temple of God in three days. God promised David that one of his descendants would have a throne that would last forever; the New Testament declares that Jesus had just that. God said that one of David’s descendants would be a “son to Me”; Jesus came as the ultimate Son of God.” (HCSB)

1 Sm 5:1-4, “After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod, brought it into the temple of Dagon and placed it next to his statue. When the people of Ashdod got up early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen with his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. So they took Dagon and returned him to his place. But when they got up early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen with his face to the ground before the ark of the LORD. This time, both Dagon’s head and the palms of his hands were broken off and lying on the threshold. Only Dagon’s torso remained.” This incident demonstrated the Lord’s superiority over both the Philistines and their “god,” and revealed that the Philistines victory on the battlefield was not the result of the Lord’s weakness. Instead, it was a judgment against Israel’s disobedience to God. Ultimately it would result in His further glorification.

1 Sm 8:6-9, “When they said, “Give us a king to judge us,” Samuel considered their demand sinful, so he prayed to the LORD. But the LORD told him, “Listen to the people and everything they say to you. They have not rejected you; they have rejected Me as their king. They are doing the same thing to you that they have done to Me, since the day I brought them out of Egypt until this day, abandoning Me and worshiping other gods. Listen to them, but you must solemnly warn them and tell them about the rights of the king who will rule over them.” In this section of 1 Sm, the people were asking for the right to be “the same as all the other nations”—that is, like the pagans, who did not have the Lord as their King. They wanted to rely upon a strong military leader, and not on God and His leadership alone, for help in dealing with enemies. What was offensive to God, and to Samuel His spokesman, was the people’s yearning to look for help in another direction. The same concept is true today. The Bible is perfectly clear with living a moral life and lists the consequences given to people who choose not to follow God’s instructions. People reject Christians by putting them into such categories as “holy rollers” and “Bible thumpers.” Even before the birth of Christ, God says that the unbelievers are rejecting us because they have rejected Him. People have a tendency to trust only on what they can see, and therefore, the Israelites demanded a king to show off to the other nations.

“In regards to 1 Sm 8:21, God knows and hears everything, yet Samuel took pains to tell God what he had heard the people saying. The Bible makes it clear that God is all-knowing and has no need that we tell Him anything. But He wants His people to communicate with Him about whatever is on our hearts, as a loving parent enjoys talking with his child although he already knows what the child is telling him. Samuel was making use of the privilege of communicating in a natural way with his heavenly Father. It was a way in which Samuel could honor the Lord and express his loyalty to Him. For reasons known only to God, He has chosen to work His divine will through sinful human beings. While the Lord’s purposes can never be broken, His heart can be.” (HCSB)

1 Sm 12:20-22, “Samuel replied, “Don’t be afraid. Even though you have committed all this evil, don’t turn away from following the LORD. Instead, worship the LORD with all you heart. Don’t turn away to follow worthless things that can’t profit or deliver you; they are worthless. The LORD will not abandon His people, because of His great name and because He has determined to make you His own people.” Even though all actions have consequences, God’s love for us is unconditional. No matter what we have done, are doing, and will do, our Father who is in heaven will continue to show His love, grace, and mercy upon us. It is because of his love that Christians live their life to the best of His standards, not to earn love, but rather, to acknowledge the love that has already been given and to spread it around to the people around us.

In regards to 1 Sm 15:11, “God chose Saul to be Israel’s king, then according to this verse regretted His action, and afterward chose David in his place. Yet the prophet Samuel told Saul that God does not change His mind. While this may appear contradictory, Scripture elsewhere supports Samuel’s statement. God’s will and purpose remain the same, but the free response of people to His commands may lead to a modification of His actions on the human scene. At least from the human perspective, His relationships with people are authentic and personal, not pre-programmed.” (HCSB)

1 Sm 15:22-23, “Then Samuel said: Does the LORD take pleasure in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the LORD? Look: to obey is better than sacrifice; to pay attention is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and defiance is like wickedness and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has rejected you as king.” Samuel was explaining this to Saul because although Saul acknowledged God’s existence, the offerings made came from a ritualistic mind instead of a grateful heart. Saul turned to paganism and as a consequence, lost his God appointed throne.

“There are some Scripture passages that seem to indicate that God sometimes behaves in demonic or evil ways. Such passages must be understood within the overall framework of the Bible’s teachings about God. Scripture affirms that God is completely righteous, hates evil, and never does anything unjust. At the same time, God created a universe with built-in rewards and punishments that reinforce divine moral law. For example, when people disregard His moral order and abuse their bodies through the misuse of food, alcohol, or sex, they will predictably experience health problems. Such problems can be interpreted as warning signs motivating us to give up bad behavior and do what is right. Saul had lived a life of chronic disobedience to God, and therefore had opened himself to demonic oppression. While it was a form of punishment, because of Saul’s disregard for God’s moral order, it was also intended to drive him to repent and turn back to the Lord. God, Who is Master of all the created order, will use even demons, against their will, for redemptive purposes.” (HCSB)

“How could David’s harp playing drive away an evil spirit from Saul? The Bible does not indicate how it happened, although the general effect of music on the emotions is well known. David was considered Israel’s favorite singer and in the Old Testament was credited with writing 73 psalms. David’s music combined with the Word of God in the presence of the demon drove it away.” (HCSB)

1 Sm 17:37, “Then David said, “The LORD who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine.” David was known to be a man after God’s own heart and anyone who reads his biography will understand why. In this particular passage, David was still a Shepard who just recently agreed to fight Goliath. In 1 Sm 17:45-47, “David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with a dagger, spear, and sword, but I come against you in the name of the LORD of Hosts, the God of Israel’s armies—you have defied Him. Today, the LORD will hand you over to me. Today, I’ll strike you down, cut your head off, and give the corpses of the Philistine camp to the birds of the sky and the creatures of the earth. Then all the world will know that Israel has a God, and this whole assembly will know that it is not by sword or by spear that the LORD saves, for the battle is the LORD’s. He will hand you over to us.”

Max Lucado (Facing Your Giants):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PRgt0gMkOnM

1 Sm 18:8-10, “Saul was furious and resented this song. “They credited tens of thousands to David,” he complained, “but they only credited me with thousands. What more can he have but the kingdom?” So Saul watched David jealously from that day forward. The next day an evil spirit from God took control of Saul, and he began to rave inside the palace.” 1 Sm 18:28-29, “Saul realized that the LORD was with David and that his daughter Michal loved him, and he became even more afraid of David. As a result, Saul was David’s enemy from then on.” With the combination of jealousy, anger, and fear, Saul opened the door for evil to enter his heart because he had lost his faith and trust in the Lord. If Saul had remained humble and content, then chances are David would have been made king naturally from being prince. Ever since Saul put David on the hit list, his life became shorter and nothing but trouble.

In regards to 1 Sm 28:6, “Why didn’t the LORD answer Saul’s plea for help? The Bible teaches that people who consistently reject God’s leadership in their lives, and refuse to follow the guidance He has already provided, should not expect Him to deliver them from trouble resulting from their poor choices. Saul had consistently disobeyed God, even going so far as to kill the Lord’s priests. He had created vast problems for himself and his nation. The Lord was not going to promise the king supernatural deliverance from those problems, even though Saul earnestly sought His help. Instead, God would use the Philistines as the instrument of judgment against Saul.” (HCSB)

In regards to 1 Sm 18:12, “Once God the Father gives the Holy Spirit to a person, does the Spirit remain with that person or can He depart? At least three Old Testament passages in addition to the present verse suggest that the Holy Spirit could be taken away from people who persisted in living in disobedience toward God. On the other hand, John 14:16 indicates the Holy Spirit will abide forever with people who receive Him. The New Testament teaches that the death and resurrection of Jesus fundamentally changed certain aspects of humanity’s relationship with God. The old covenant at Sinai was replaced with the covenant of Christ’s body and blood, and with this change the Holy Spirit began operating differently in the lives of God’s people. The New Testament speaks of the Holy Spirit as a gift to believers in Jesus Christ and a seal on their hearts, a guarantee of eternal life. Besides being given to women and Gentiles (there are no examples of either of these receiving the Spirit in the Old Testament), the Holy Spirit is a permanently indwelling presence in the lives of all Christians. The New Testament provides no instance of the Holy Spirit departing from a Christian; this suggests that what happened to Saul cannot happen to a believer in Christ.” (HCSB)

2 Sm 12:12, “You acted in secret, but I will do this before all Israel and in broad daylight.” In both the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, God declares that we will be held accountable to everything we do. Whatever is done in secret will be revealed to all in the end. This highlights the importance of fellowship. The more time we spend praying, reading the Bible, and spend time with fellow believers, the less likely we are to fall away from obedience to God.

In regards to 2 Sm 12:13, “The Law of Moses required the death penalty for adulterers and murderers, yet David was spared that penalty. Being king, of course, he had the ability to forestall action by whichever human authority would have dared to enforce the law. But the Lord’s hand was also at work in the situation, for He could have overridden any such efforts. The Lord is a God of grace, and chose to spare David’s life. In so doing He transformed David into a historic object lesson of divine grace. David’s immediate readiness to confess his sin, when confronted with it by the Lord’s spokesman Nathan, proved that he still had a heart deeply devoted to God. The Lord gave David better than he deserved; he would not die. But the consequences of his sins would play themselves out in the history of his family, as Nathan predicted. Why did the son born to Bathsheba die, since it was David who committed the sin? Behavior that ignores the Lord’s purposes and precepts always hurts others, including the “innocent”; this is one of sin’s most terrifying realities. As an example, an inebriated driver rams his car into a church van full of young people on the way to a conference. David’s high-handed and sinful behavior toward Bathsheba and Uriah led to turmoil and great sadness within his own family, including the death of this newborn son.” (HCSB)

2 Sm 12:22-23, “He answered, “While the baby was alive, I fasted and wept because I thought, ‘Who knows? The LORD may be gracious to me and let him live.’ But now that he is dead, why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I’ll go to him, but he will never return to me.” Fasting is meant to replace time spent either eating food or participating in an activity in exchange for prayer and Bible meditation in order to grow deeper in one’s relationship with God. David fasted in hopes of allowing his son to remain alive, however, as soon as his son died, David knew that his son’s death was part of his punishment for his disobedience, accepted it, and moved on.

In regards to 2 Sm 24:1, “This verse indicates that God’s anger incited David to take a census which was not in the Lord’s will, yet 1 Ch 21:1 states that it was Satan who led David to take this wrongful action. The two statements would not be considered contradictory in the ancient Israelite way of thinking. The writer of 2 Sm affirms that God is the ultimate ruler of the universe; every event is subject to His authority. If even king David, despite his strength and intelligence, could be led into a foolish decision, the Lord’s hand is still involved. Satan, too, is subject to God’s complete control. In His position as Sovereign over all, God used one of His created beings—in this case Satan—to bring about judgment on another. People have the authority to resist Satan but David declined to do so, and thus experienced the consequence in the effects of God’s wrath. It was not wrong for David to take a census; as such the Law of Moses explicitly permitted this. Censuses had been taken among the Israelites on two occasions in the days of Moses with no adverse consequences. The problem with David’s census lay either in his motivation for it or the manner in which it was conducted. If the former, David’s purpose was to build his nationalistic ego; he would number the troops in order to boast of his nations military might, instead of trusting in God. If the latter, David failed to direct his officials to use the proper procedure. The law required every person counted to pay half a shekel (about one-fifth of an ounce) of silver to the sanctuary treasury, but perhaps this was not done. According to the law, failure to collect the money would result in an outbreak of plague, which is exactly what happened in this case.” (HCSB)

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1-2 Kings Commentary

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“There is a theory that the same group of priests that edited Moses’ sermons into Deuteronomy edited Kings. Nevertheless, there is a fundamental difference between the two books. Deuteronomy presents the lessons history teaches us (“Learn from your parents’ mistakes in Egypt and in the wilderness!”), while the books of Kings are much more concerned about the covenant and how closely the king and people followed it. The author’s purpose is not to present a complete history of Israel but to emphasize certain events to support a specific interpretation of that history. He wanted to show how the kings led the nations to obedience to the Mosaic Law or, more frequently, led them away from obedience and how God dealt with the nation and individuals as a result. He selected events and details that were relevant to that purpose. The books of Kings are the author’s reflection on the history of the monarchy. The human king of a theocracy had responsibilities laid out in Deuteronomy. The author is concerned to show how it worked out, in accordance with the blessings and curses of Deuteronomy. The author uses the principles that obedience brings blessing and disobedience brings disaster, and that God is active in the judging of individuals and nations based on the covenant as his criteria for evaluation of the kings of Israel and Judah. In 1 Kings 2:3, the Deuteronomic ideal for a king is given as one who is unswervingly loyal to God and His Word. The author of 1 and 2 Kings evaluated Israel’s rulers against this ideal.” (HCSB)

1 Kings 1:52-53, “Then Solomon said, “If he is a man of character, then not a single hair of his will fall to the ground, but if evil is found in him, then he dies. So King Solomon sent for him, and they took him down form the altar. He came and paid homage to King Solomon, and Solomon said to him, “Go to your home.” The term “character” is literally “son of strength,” specifically, a great warrior. Solomon was referring to the warrior virtues of loyalty, honor, and obedience.

Solomon prays in 1 Kings 3:7-9, “LORD my God, You have now made Your servant king in my father David’s place. Yet I am just a youth with no experience in leadership. Your servant is among Your people You have chosen, a people too numerous to be numbered or counted. So give Your servant an obedient heart to judge Your people and to discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?” “A youth” was an exaggeration. Solomon meant he was inexperienced. God has a tendency to use ordinary people in extraordinary ways, which is why He chose Solomon.

God responded to Solomon in 1 Kings 3:12-14, “I will therefore do what you have asked. I will give you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has never been anyone like you before and never will be again. In addition, I will give you what you did not ask for: both riches and honor, so that no man in any kingdom will be your equal during your entire life. If you walk in My ways and keep My statutes and commandments just as your father David did, I will give you a long life.” Jesus enunciated a similar principle in Matthew 6:33: “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” Later on, we read that God fulfilled His promises (as always) to Solomon. In 1 Kings 3:28, “All Israel heard about the judgment the king had given, and they stood in awe of the king because they saw that God’s wisdom was in him to carry out justice. In 1 Kings 7:1, We read that Solomon spent nearly twice as long on his own palace than he did on the Lord’s temple. The juxtaposition of this verse with the previous was a statement by the author about Solomon’s priorities.

1 Kings 9:3, “The LORD said to him: I have heard your prayer and petition you have made before Me. I have consecrated this temple you have built, to put My name there forever; My eyes and My heart will be there at all times.” When I contemplate on the significance this verse has today, my heart rejoices. The body of a Christian believer is a temple and when two or more people meet, a church is formed. This verse in 1 Kings provides deeper insight on the fact that God is always with us and lives within us when we accept and acknowledge Him as Father and His Son as Lord and Savior.

When Solomon died, his son Rehoboam took his father’s place as king and asked his father’s advisors on how to treat the Israelites. 1 Kings 12:7, “They replied, “Today if you will be a servant to these people and serve them, and if you respond to them by speaking kind words to them, they will be your servants forever.” This verse is a wise ethic to anyone in authority and was conveyed when Jesus was with His disciples. Jesus stated that although He is the Son of God, He came to this earth to serve and not to be served. The best way to be respected is to respect others, and there is no better way to show respect, than by going out of your way to do something to show that you care. Rehoboam also consulted with the people he grew up with in 1 Kings 12:10-11, “Then the young men who had grown up with him told him, “This is what you should say to these people who said to you, ‘Your father made our yoke heavy, but you, make it lighter on us!’ This is what you should tell them: ‘My little finger is thicker than my father’s loins! Although my father burdened you with a heavy yoke, I will add to your yoke; my father disciplined you with whips, but I will discipline you with barbed whips.’ Because Rehoboam listened to his peers, the result of this is found in 1 Kings 12:18-19, “King Rehoboam managed to get into the chariot and flee to Jerusalem. Israel is in rebellion against the house of David until today.” From this, we learn that even though there is nothing wrong with getting opinions from our peers, it is always best to use discernment and make the wisest choice.

Another example of servitude is found in 1 Kings 17:13-14, “Then Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid; go and do as you have said. Only make me a small loaf from it and bring it out to me, Afterwards, you may make some for yourself and your son, for this is what the LORD God of Israel says: ‘The flour jar will not become empty and the oil jug will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the surface of the land.” The widow had faith and served Elijah first, then God provided for her and her son. It is also interesting to note that Zarephath was located in Phoenicia, the heart and home of Baal worship and Jezebel’s home. The story of Elijah and the widow demonstrates the Lord’s sovereignty over Phoenicia as well as His grace and mercy even to Phoenician idolaters. The woman was a Phoenician and a witness to the Lord’s provision for her needs.

1 Kings 19:7-8, “Then the angel of the LORD returned a second time and touched him. He said, “Get up and eat, or the journey will be too much for you.” So he got up, ate, and drank. Then on the strength from that food, he walked 40 days and 40 nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.” After reading this verse, I instantly thought of the fact that man does not live on bread and water alone, but the Word of God. Instead of commenting on this verse, I believe Third Day’s song has everything I would have said and more:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgeMHHbFslk

1 Kings 19:11-12, “Then He said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the LORD’s presence.” At that moment, the LORD passed by. A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire there was a voice, a soft whisper.” These verses provide a reminder that in this world of chaos, if we were to be still and listen in the silence, we will hear Him talk and comfort us.

In regards to 1 Kings 19:21, Elisha demonstrated his commitment to his new calling by destroying the means of his former livelihood. Behold, God makes all things new, He wipes away ours sins and makes us white as snow. It is our job as Christians to destroy the sinful life that we live before we accepted Christ into our lives and follow Him. Yes, we will make mistakes, but they will be forgiven as long as we keep God first in our lives.

1 Kings 22:7-8, “But Jehoshaphat asked, “Isn’t there a prophet of Yahweh here any more? Let’s ask him.” The king of Israel said to Hehoshaphat, “There is still one man who can ask the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies good about me, but only disaster. He is Micaiah son of Imlah.” 1 Kings 22:16, “But the king said to him, “How many times must I make you swear not to tell me anything but the truth in the name of the LORD?” While the “lying spirit” spoke through the prophets, the Lord clearly laid out the truth and Ahab had a choice whom to believe. God is truth and cannot lie. He does permit lying spirits to deceive those who will not believe the truth. From the verses we learn that even though the truth can hurt sometimes, it is important that we know what it is and to make the right choices from it.

2 Kings 17:13, “Still, the LORD warned Israel and Judah through every prophet and every seer, saying, “Turn from your evil ways and keep My commandments and statutes according to all the law I commanded your ancestors and sent to you through My servants the prophets.” In 2 Kings 17:15, “They pursued worthless idols and became worthless themselves…” We as human beings do as we see more so than we do as we are told. We manipulate those we are around the most. When we follow worthless objects, we will feel worthless ourselves and as a result, can go into deep depression and have outbursts of anger because we will not know how to control our emotions. But, if we follow God, will live a full-filled contented life with knowledge of how to act and the right support to keep us going.

2 Kings 20:1 “In those days Hezekiah became terminally ill. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz came and said to him, “This is what the LORD says: ‘Put your affairs in order, for you are about to die; you will not recover.’” This earthly life is short, and it is important to keep our priorities in check.
Point of Grace (How You Live):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e7HFk6flUOQ

“The book of 2 Kings ends on a positive although bittersweet note. Not all is lost, for God’s promises still remain. If we learn anything at all from the history of Israel’s kings, it is that idolatry brings disaster, and obedience to God’s law brings hope.” (HCSB)

1-2 Chronicles Commentary

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“In 538 B.C., having overthrown the Babylonian Empire the previous year, Cyrus of Persia decreed that the Jews could return to their homeland after 70 years in exile. The people were vulnerable to the enemies who surrounded them—their neighbors hardly welcomed these “interlopers” who had come home to compete with them politically and economically. Harvests were poor or failed completely, and the people had to endure the subsequent famines. Morale was low and there was little to motivate the people’s spiritual life. The author of the books of Chronicles, whom we shall call the Chronicler, saw a need to remind the returnees of their national identity. This identity superseded the division of the nation into northern and southern kingdoms and found its center in the law of Moses. With the spiritual life of the nation in shambles, temple worship needed to be restored by the Levites and priests as the true mediators of God’s Word and will. So the Chronicler sat down to pen a book to encourage a change in the self-image and identity of God’s chosen people. Genealogies were very important to the Chronicler, and thus the modern reader cannot gloss over them and still expect to understand the message of the book. Some were used to show the kinship between Israel and neighboring tribes, while others established the legitimacy for persons of rank and authority.
The genealogies reflect a teleological view of history, that is, a view in which humankind is moving toward a goal set by the Creator. More importantly, they provide a framework for the Chronicler’s concept of “all Israel.” The Chronicler used this important phrase 45 times. For the Chronicler, there was no more north and south, Israel and Judah, but just “all Israel.” “All Israel” was at the dedication of the temple. Hezekiah invited “all Israel” to come to Jerusalem for worship, and although most mocked the invitation, some “humbled themselves” before Yahweh and came to worship at Jerusalem. Although Israel had been divided, the damage was never irreparable, and repentance was always available to the people. The Chronicler focused upon the consequences of idolatry and God’s desire for the sinner to repent and return to a life of obedience to the law of Moses. This obedience is the basic characteristic of anyone who had a covenant relationship with Yahweh, since God’s moral character had to be reflected by the nation He had chosen. The Chronicler synthesized a historical narrative from a specific theological stance and intended it as an antidote to contemporary spiritual apathy.” (HCSB)

As always, history has repeated itself. Today, we see ethnic, cultural, and religious divisions that result in local and global conflict. We behave like piranhas, which scuffle at each other, until a large predator comes along, and then they unite to fight off the predator. As soon as the predator is gone, they go back to their brawls. The tragedies of 9/11, Katrina, and recently Haiti, have shown examples of how most of the world can come together to help their fellow human beings. Jesus Christ is the one and only way to eternal life, and those who have accepted Him as Lord and Savior have established an everlasting covenant that can never be broken. It is unfortunate that there is so much deception in this world that have people believe in all kinds of false religions. The Bible is the story about life, mistakes, corrections, and most importantly, forgiveness.

“To the modern reader, genealogies make for boring reading. Why did the Chronicler devote so much space (chapters 1-9) to them? In the ancient world one’s identity was rooted in one’s family and then in one’s clan or tribe. Ethnicity was the essence of one’s public and private loyalties. The Chronicler’s primary purpose in writing his book was to impart a sense of unity and loyalty to a scattered and demoralized nation. The genealogy shows one’s place, who is family, and who is not. To whom am I obligated, and to what degree? One cannot deny family relationships, wrote the Chronicler to his “brothers.” The lists and genealogies make up between 25-30 percent of the Chronicles, based upon actual word count. Clearly, ancestry and relationships are a major part of the Chronicler’s message: the importance of Israel in world history and its essential unity. From Adam to Jacob (Israel), the trail narrows down to the twelve tribes of Israel. Notice the Chronicler named him “Israel” not “Jacob.” He began presenting his theology right from the start, a theme that will echo back again and again: “We’re all together in this exile; one for all and all for one.” The Chronicler only rarely uses the name “Jacob” rather than “Israel.” This was part of his emphasis upon the unity of the nation of Israel—that they all came from the same father.”(HCSB)

In 1 Chronicles 4:10, the name “Jabez” literally means “he afflicts, gives pain.” He was asking God not to allow his name to characterize his destiny. In the ancient Near East, names were often associated with the character of a person, or of a desirable or undesirable destiny. This puts an interesting perspective on what it means to be a Christian. People who have accepted Jesus into their lives, had their sins wiped away and were made new from the inside. Unfortunately, there are way too many “Sunday Christians (SC)” as well as “Christmas and Easter Only (CEO) Christians.” The SC’s and the CEO’s fail to realize that there are steps in Christian living and do not go any further than acknowledging Jesus as Lord. Christians have a desirable destiny, which is eternal life with the Father. While living on this earth, our destiny is to take up the character of Jesus. We do this by studying the Bible, going to church on a regular basis, and getting involved in the community. Christians need to set a good example of what it truly means to have Jesus Christ in our hearts.

In 1 Chronicles 4:43, “they still live there today.” “Although Simeon was no longer a political or geographical entity, they were part of Israel and so still had a place. In light of the need for unity, Simeon provided an important example to the rest of Israel of God’s grace and commitment to Israel’s continuing existence. We see in 1 Chronicles 5:25 a partial statement of the Chronicler’s historiography: Israel’s exile was a direct consequence of faithlessness to God. Restoration of the nation would be predicated upon the opposite attitude of the returnees: faithfulness to God’s word and law; most importantly, turning away from the worship of any other deity.”(HCSB)

“From 1 Chronicles 11-29, David is the focus of the Chronicler’s narrative. Second Chronicles begins with David’s son, Solomon. What was omitted from the Chronicler’s narration tells us almost as much of the Chronicler’s purpose as the story itself. He omitted all of David’s youth, his exile among the Philistines, and the struggle with Saul. He began after David’s first seven-year reign over Judah at Hebron. The narrative began with “all Israel” asking him to be king over the rest of the tribes. The Chronicler wanted to emphasize Israel’s corporate identity as a nation, with a divinely chosen ruler. If all the tribes of Israel were once unified under God, it could—and would—be so again in the future.”(HCSB)

1 Chronicles 16:8-36: “Give thanks to the LORD; call on His name; proclaim His deeds among the peoples. Sing to Him; sing praise to Him; tell about all His wonderful works! Honor His holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice. Search for the LORD and for His strength; seek His face always. Remember the wonderful works He has done, His wonders, and the judgments He has pronounced…Sing to the Lord, all the earth. Proclaim His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonderful works among all peoples…Give thanks to the LORD, for He is good; His faithful love endures forever…May the LORD, the God of Israel, be praised from everlasting to everlasting…Then all the people said, Amen and Praise the LORD.”

In 1 Chronicles 17:7, “Ruler” is from the Hebrew word nagid, referring to a tribal chieftain or a lesser ruler accountable to a “high king.” This term was deliberately chosen instead of the more usual Hebrew word melek, “king.” This latter word should be applied to the Lord. David was nagid and served his melek, the Lord. This is a very different understanding of ruling from Israel’s ancient Near Eastern neighbors, where nearly every little town boasted of a “king” jealous of his prerogatives and prerequisites. These rulers claimed divinity more often than not, instead of acknowledging stewardship to a higher authority.”(HCSB)

1 Chronicles 29:10-13: “Then David praised the LORD in the sight of all the assembly. David said, “May You be praised, LORD God of our father Israel, from eternity to eternity. Yours, LORD, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the splendor and the majesty, for everything in the heavens and on earth belongs to You. Yours, LORD, is the kingdom, and You are exalted as head over all. Riches and honor come from You, and You are the ruler of everything. In Your hand are power and might, and it is in Your hand to make great and to give strength to all. Now therefore, our God, we give You thanks and praise Your glorious name.”

2 Chronicles 12:7-8: “When the LORD saw that they had humbled themselves, the LORD’s message came to Shemaiah: “They have humbled themselves; I will not destroy them but will grant them a little deliverance. My wrath will; not be poured out on Jerusalem through Shishak. However, they will become his servants so that they may recognize the difference between serving Me and serving the kingdoms of the land.”

2 Chronicles 16:9, 30:9, 18-19: “For the eyes of the LORD range throughout the earth to show Himself strong for those whose hearts are completely His. For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful; He will not turn His face away from you if you return to Him. May the good LORD provide atonement on behalf of whoever sets his whole heart on seeking God, the LORD God of his ancestors, even though not according to the purification rules of the sanctuary.”

In 2 Chronicles 36:23, The Chronicler brought his story up to his own time, leaving his readers with the possibility of hope through repentance and the freedom to return and rebuild the temple in Jerusalem.

Ezra Commentary

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“The book of Ezra is a history of the early days of the return of the Jewish people from their 70 years of captivity in Babylon. The book covers the period from 538 B.C. to around 456 B.C. Two principal units make up the book. The first is Ezra1-6, which describes the return under the leadership of Sheshbazzar and Zerubbabel and the rebuilding of the Jerusalem temple. The second is Ezra 7-10, referred to as the Ezra Memoir since it is Ezra’s own account of his activities as priest and scribe to order the life of the returned Jewish community according to biblical standards. The last verses of 2 Chronicles and the first verses of Ezra are nearly identical. This literary bond casts the books of Ezra and Nehemiah as sequels to the events described in Chronicles. The unity of the books of Ezra and Nehemiah is so evident that it is common to hear them referred to as a single work: Ezra/Nehemiah. This is the work of a single individual who, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, recognized the hand of God at work in this community’s restoration and wrote a history of its emergence, using primary source materials to accentuate the credibility of his work.” (HCSB) As I read through the book of Ezra, I came across two main themes, which are worship and government involvement and I have documented them accordingly in this commentary.

In 2:63, God had specified the use of Urim and Thummim for discerning His will. This practice does not persist in the church since all believers now have the Holy Spirit indwelling them and also have the complete written revelation of God’s will in the Bible to help them discern God’s will. In 3:6, the people began to offer sacrifices to God before they built the temple. Relationship with God does not depend on a building or any other religious structure. The institutions of worship may facilitate worship but they can never substitute for it. In 3:11, “All the people gave a great shout of praise.” Worship is not reserved for the professional clergy. All believers may, and are expected to, engage in worship. Worship comes in many styles, from subdued to exuberant, and when done in the right spirit according to biblical standards, they are all pleasing to God. 5:9, 11: “So we questioned the elders and asked, ‘Who gave you the order to rebuild this temple and finish this structure?’ This is the reply they gave us, ‘We are the servants of the God of heaven and earth and are rebuilding the temple that was built many years ago, which a great king of Israel built and finished.’ Spiritual holiness was expected of those who worshiped God. Today’s church could learn from this early community. Church discipline has fallen by the wayside as contemporary congregations attempt to shed their image of exclusivity. However, God expects to be served by a holy people. The church today must demand that church members conduct themselves according to certain spiritual standards that honor the faith community and God.

In regards to 5:1, the government had the power to prevent continued work on the temple, but this constituted an improper intrusion of government in religion. The prophets Haggai and Zechariah opposed this intrusion and called the people back to the work. This episode provides a good example of the need for a sound policy of separation of church and state. The state should not have the power to dictate to the church. God created both institutions, but He gave them separate responsibilities. While it is preferable not to take government money for ministry activities, verse 6:8 reveals that the Bible does not condemn such assistance. However, a ministry must be very careful if it chooses to take government funding to assist its work, for it is always possible that government intrusion will follow government investment.

7:10: “The gracious hand his God was on him, because Ezra had determined in his heart to study the law of the LORD, obey it, and teach its statutes and ordinances in Israel.” It is important to note that Ezra was a religious as well as a civil leader. His service in both of these spheres provides important guidance on the appropriate role of believers in public life. It is completely acceptable for people of faith to serve in government positions. Membership in the spiritual household does not disqualify someone from service in the public sector. Other biblical examples of believers who served in public positions are Joseph, Daniel, and Esther.

In 7:26, Artaxerxes allowed the requirements of religious law to become state law in Israel. This was appropriate since Israel was both a religious and a political entity. It would be inappropriate to apply the religious laws of the church to the state in the same way today since the church is not a political entity. It is important to realize that the United States has this type of freedom for people to choose whether or not to obey God’s laws as well as the laws of the public sector. In the Middle East, people do not have such freedoms because their religious laws are the public laws and the penalty of disobedience is usually stricter there than it is in the States. People cannot live any way they choose without consequences. The judgment of God is a reality. His judgment may come immediately, or He may choose to delay His judgment, but no one should think that God is indifferent to sin. God’s people are held to this standard as well. In fact, it is likely that God expects more from His people who have been given the truth of His will.

I found Ezra’s prayer in chapter 9 to be insightful and admirable, which is why I have decided to close this commentary with it. The prayer highlights how sin affects our lives and sets an example of how we all should pray in regards to community as well as our country, world, and ourselves. We have all sinned in some way or another and deserve unimaginable discipline. Fortunately for us, Jesus Christ paid the price at the cross and provides courage for us to pray directly to God as Father and we can ask that our shame and embarrassment be left at the foot of the cross and our guilt will be lifted from us so that we may learn to continue on with our lives and remember to do so uprightly.

9:6-15: “My God, I am ashamed and embarrassed to lift my face toward You, my God, because our iniquities are higher than our heads and our guilt is as high as the heavens. Our guild has been terrible from the days of our fathers until the present. Because of our iniquities we have been handed over, along with our kings and priests, to the surrounding kings, and to the sword, captivity, plundering, and open shame, as it is today. But now, for a brief moment, grace has come from the LORD our God to preserve a remnant for us and give us a stake in His holy place. Even in our slavery, God has given us new life and light to our eyes. Though we are slaves, our God has not abandoned us in our slavery. He has extended grace to us in the presence of the Persian kings, giving us new life, so that we can rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, to give us a wall in Judah and Jerusalem. Now, our God, what can we say in light of this? For we have abandoned the commandments You gave through Your servants the prophets, saying: ‘The land you are entering to possess is an impure land. The surrounding peoples have filled it from end to end with their uncleanness by their impurity and detestable practices. So do not give your daughters to their sons in marriage or take their daughters for your sons. Never seek their peace or prosperity, so that you will be strong, eat the good things of the land, and leave it as an inheritance to your sons forever.’ After all that has happened to us because of our evil deeds and terrible guilt—though You, our God, have punished us less than our sins deserve and have allowed us to survive—should we break Your commandments again and intermarry with the peoples who commit these detestable practices? Wouldn’t You become so angry with us that You would destroy us, leaving no survivors? LORD God of Israel, You are righteous, for we survive as a remnant today. Here we are before You with our guilt, though no one can stand in Your presence because of this.”

Nehemiah Commentary

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“The book of Nehemiah is the second part of the two-part sequel to the books of Chronicles (the other part being the book of Ezra). The book of Nehemiah, which covers the period from 445 B.C. to sometime after 433 B.C., relates the continuing efforts of the Jewish people who returned from 70 years of captivity in the Babylonian Empire to reestablish themselves in their homeland. The principal person in this part of the history is Nehemiah, a Jew who had attained the influential position of cupbearer in the court of the Persian King Artaxerxes. Nehemiah’s principal contribution to the emerging community was the rebuilding of Jerusalem’s wall, which had been destroyed in 586 B.C. by the Babylonians. The apocryphal text Sirach praises Nehemiah’s successful completion of this task. While the book of Nehemiah can be read independently of the book of Ezra, it probably was not intended to be read in isolation, for it comprises a crucial part of the message begun in the book of Ezra. Some people doubt God’s active involvement in the affairs of people. Nehemiah acknowledged just the opposite. He knew that God was responsible for his success. God’s direct involvement in Nehemiah’s success also serves as a reminder that He had not abandoned His people. His covenant with the nation of Israel is an everlasting covenant. Some have suggested that God is a helpless spectator, unable to prevent misfortune. Nehemiah’s experience reveals a much different God. He reveals that God is a sovereign ruler. People can only do so much. When their plans conflict with God’s plans, He is able and willing to step in to thwart them.”(HCSB)

6:15-16: “The wall was completed in 52 days, on the twenty-fifth day of the month Elul. When all our enemies heard this, all the surrounding nations were intimidated and lost their confidence, for they realized that this task had been accomplished by our God.” We read later on in 8:5-6,10 the peoples gratitude for the completion of Jerusalem’s wall: “Ezra opened the book in full view of all the people, since he was elevated above everyone. As he opened it, all the people stood up. Ezra blessed the LORD, the great God, and with their hands uplifted all the people said, ‘Amen, Amen!’ Then they bowed down and worshiped the LORD with their faces to the ground. Then he said to them, ‘Go and eat what is rich, drink what is sweet, and send portions to those who have nothing prepared, since today is holy to our LORD. Do not grieve, because your strength comes from rejoicing in the LORD.”

FFH (Lord Move or Move Me):  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dq9RCRbwbOY

Esther Commentary

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“The events described in the book of Esther occurred between 483-473 B.C. and is an account of the Jewish people living in exile in Persia. It recounts how the hatred of one man for the Jews nearly resulted in the eradication of the Jewish people in the entire Persian Empire.

In 1:10-12, the king commanded his wife to display herself in an inappropriate manner. We are not given the details of why Vashti felt her appearance at the banquet would be inappropriate. The writer’s primary focus in the narrative is to explain Esther’s rise to the throne. In the course of doing so, he shows Ahasuerus to be a pompous and selfish man, driven by his own lusts, and ruling by whim. In contrast, Vashti, brief though her appearance is, conveys strength. While the king condemned Vashti’s refusal to put herself on display, the Bible does not.

In 3:6, Haman’s intention to eradicate all the Jews in Ahasuerus’ kingdom revealed a horrible prejudice that is inexcusable. It is never permissible to persecute a person because of religion, race, or ethnicity. Every person is created in the image of God, regardless of these differences. All deserve equal treatment and respect.

While the omission of God is unusual, the book shows considerable evidence of belief in the active involvement of God in the events described. In fact, direct mention of God is hardly required. The outcome of the book is so unexpected that it cannot be explained without acknowledging the work of God behind the scenes. This would certainly be an appropriate way for a people who may feel forgotten by God to see afresh that, while God may be hidden from their sight, He certainly hasn’t abandoned them. The narrative reflects the way the exiles feel and causes them to see God working in their own circumstances in the same way they see Him working on behalf of these fellow exiles.”(HCSB)

4:13-14: “Mordecai told the messenger to reply to Esther, ‘Don’t think that you will escape the fate of all the Jews because you are in the king’s palace. If you keep silent at this time, liberation and deliverance will come to the Jewish people from another place, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed. Who knows, perhaps you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this.’”

Job Commentary

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“From the beginning God is seen to be conscious of Job and his integrity and concerned for Job’s life. During Job’s long test at the hands of Satan, his friends and even Job himself often acknowledged that God is just and the giver of that which is good. While the book of Job never fully addresses the solution to the problem of suffering, nothing in the book is out of harmony with general scriptural teaching on the subject. Thus the story of Job reminds us that suffering can be a sacred trust allowed by God to bring the sufferer to full dependence on and trust in God. Indeed the meaning of Job’s name (“where is the father”) may reflect the deeper purpose of the book. Rather than asking “Where is God when I need Him?” the more basic question may be “Is God sufficient for everything in life?” The answer is a resounding yes. God, not man, is alone the true source for strength, guidance, and success. Sufferers should realize that God’s power is available for all of life, even to carry them through their severest trials. When we see that God is truly the God of all life, we have a comforting assurance that, whatever may happen, God’s good purposes for our lives will be accomplished. All of life is for God’s glory and for human good. So it is that when Job came to a realization of God’s sufficiency rather than his own, God’s greatest blessing followed.”(HCSB)

1:8-12, “Then the LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered My servant Job? No one else on earth is like him, a man of perfect integrity, who fears God and turns away from evil.’ Satan answered the LORD, ‘Does Job fear God for nothing? Haven’t You placed a hedge around him, his household, and everything he owns? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions are spread out in the land. But stretch out Your hand and strike everything he owns, and he will surely curse You to Your face.’ ‘Very well’ the LORD told Satan, ‘everything he owns is in your power. However, you must not lay a hand on Job himself.’” “God’s justice and integrity were not impugned by allowing Satan to inflict suffering upon an innocent man. Only a genuine test could demonstrate to Satan whether Job’s devotion was real or was, as Satan insinuated, the result of God’s having protected and blessed Job beyond that of most human beings. More important than proving something to Satan, God had purposes for Job’s good that could only come through this arduous path of testing. The charge that God and Satan were playing games, with Job as the pawn, is insensitive and erroneous. Job’s ordeal was intensified to test the depths if his faith and to achieve an end that could only come through these trials.”(HCSB)

Job lost most of his family and his fortune and his reaction in 1:20-22 is very admirable: “Then Job stood up, tore his robe and shaved his head. He fell to the ground and worshiped, saying: ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will leave this life. The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Praise the name of the LORD.’ Throughout all this Job did not sin or blame God for anything.” At this point of the book, despite his significant suffering from all that he has lost, he still worshiped God. Job had an excellent perspective in the beginning but starts to backslide a little later on.

Within Job’s opening speech there are a few verses that should be pointed out, which are 3:13,17-19,23, 26: “For then I would have laid down in peace; I would be asleep. Then I would be at rest…There the wicked cease to make trouble, and there the weary find rest. The captives are completely at ease; they do not hear the voice of their oppressor. Both the small and the great are there, and the slave is set free from his master…Why is life given to a man whose path is hidden, whom God has hedged in? I cannot relax or be still; I have no rest, for trouble comes.” We see in these verses that Job’s pain as gotten to him and is at the point of depression where he longs for death to come and take him. The good news for Christians today is that it is true that the weary find rest and the captives are set free. Today, we do not need to wait for death for this to happen because we can experience rest and freedom through Jesus Christ who overcame death for us. It is in Him that we can truly live as He lives in us.

Eliphaz responds to Job, 5:2,8,11,15-18,22: “For anger kills a fool, and jealousy slays the gullible…However, if I were you, I would appeal to God and would present my case to Him…He sets the lowly on high, and mourners are lifted to safety…He saves the needy from their sharp words and from the clutches of the powerful. So the poor have hope, and injustice shuts its mouth. See how happy the man is God corrects; so do not reject the discipline of the Almighty. For He crushes but also binds up; He strikes, but His hands also heal…You will laugh at destruction and hunger and not fear the animals of the earth.” Job replies to Eliphaz, 6:24-25: “Teach me, and I will be silent. Help me understand what I did wrong. How painful honest words can be! But what does your rebuke prove?” In 10:11-12, Job says to God, “You clothed me with skin and flesh, and wove me together with bones and tendons. You gave me life and faithful love, and Your care has guarded my life.”

In 11:13-18, Zophar tells Job, “As for you, if you direct your heart and lift up your hands to Him in prayer—if there is iniquity in your hand, remove it, and don’t allow injustice to dwell in your tents—then you will hold your head high, free from fault. You will be firmly established and unafraid. For you will forget your suffering, recalling it only as waters that have flowed by. Your life will be brighter than noonday; its darkness will be like the morning. You will be confident, because there is hope. You will look carefully about and lie down in safety.” In other words, Zophar is telling Job to talk with God, turn from whatever sins there has been found, and remember that it is always the darkest before the dawn. Job responds to Zophar in 13:4-5, 15-16 by saying, “But you coat the truth with lies; you are all worthless doctors. If only you would shut up and let that be your wisdom! Even if He kills me, I will hope in Him. I will still defend my ways before Him. Yes, this will result in my deliverance, for no godless person can appear before Him.” There is some truth in what Zophar had said, the only “cover” is when he tells Job that if he were to remove iniquity and reprimand the injustice, then he will be able to hold his head high free from fault. Looking at that comment from a Christian perspective, I would see that as claiming to be saved by works and not faith. Once a person accepts Jesus Christ into their lives, in a way, they are free from fault, however, it is important to repent of one’s sins, and present justice to all. If a Christian holds their head up high, then it is important to give God the acknowledgment of what He has done, and not what we have done. Chapter 15 explains a little more and is important to remember that, “Eliphaz’s philosophical rambling that nothing is pure in God’s eyes does not reflect the Bible’s full teaching on the subject. Those who truly believe and exercise total trust and faith in God are counted as righteous. Made righteous in God’s sight through Christ’s atoning death; and taken into union with Christ, believers can live virtuous and faithful lives through Christ who lives through them.”(HCSB)

In chapter 20, “Although Zophar’s second speech reflects many biblical truths concerning the wicked, it does not guarantee that his words were given in true biblical spirit. Zophar painted pictures of the certain failure and disastrous end of the wicked but left Job to make the application to himself. Words have the power to wound or heal and need to be used in a positive manner. Believers are to be ready to give a defense of their faith, but their apologetic needs to be spoken with all due propriety and truth, bathed in love.”(HCSB)

In regards to chapter 21, “Skeptics point out that Job’s characterization of the success of the wicked, despite their godless lives contradicts biblical teaching. But Job’s issue here was given voice elsewhere in Scripture. Biblical writers did not gloss over the seeming contradiction between the prosperity of the wicked and God’s promise of blessing for those who obey Him; but their answer came from a change of perspective in which they realized the ultimate destiny of those who disregard God. The book of Job is a dialogue in which the speakers, including Job, encircled the main issue—God’s righteousness—approaching it from a variety of angles. Along the way some negative (Job) and superficial (the friends) ideas came out, but they should never be taken as the author’s final teaching. Although seemingly reminiscent of the innocent sufferer’s lament in other ancient documents, including one known as the Babylonian Theodicy, Job’s remarks were a true report of his feelings at this stage of the discussion, not the book’s final position.”(HCSB)

In regards to chapter 22, “Eliphaz’s false accusations are a reminder that texts must be read in context and compared with other passages so as not to be incorrectly cited as proof. Verses 6-10 are a true report of Eliphaz’s speech, but Eliphaz’s words are not to be read as the truth concerning Job.”(HCSB) In other words, text without context is pretext.

23:10-12: “Yet He knows the way I have taken; when He has tested me, I will emerge as pure gold. My feet have followed in His tracks; I have kept to His way and not turned aside. I have not departed from the commands of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my daily food.” Once again, Job has the right perspective, but like any human being, his mind wanders a little more. In chapter 23, “Job’s complaint concerning the inaccessibility of God does not contradict the biblical teaching of God’s omnipresence and nearness to those in need. Job’s cry arose from what he considered to be unjust suffering. His remarks reflected accurately his perspective of things but does not guarantee theological accuracy.”(HCSB)

In chapter 25, “Bildad’s question should not be understood as a denial that man’s reconciliation with God is impossible. Bildad returned to where the dialogue began, and he repeatedly surfaced in stating that weak, flawed human beings cannot hope to be so morally perfect that they are pure in God’s sight. His statement was designed to counter Job’s claim that were he to present his case before God, his innocence and righteousness would be established. Bildad asked better than he knew. The Scriptures answer the question by declaring that sinful people can be just in God’s sight by meeting God’s terms, faith in the substitutionary death of Christ for sins.”(HCSB)

Job’s hymn to wisdom is found in chapter 28, and I particularly would like to highlight verses 27-28 where he talks of God, “He considered wisdom and evaluated it; He established it and examined it. He said to mankind, ‘Look! The fear of the Lord—that is wisdom, and to turn from evil is understanding.’” Job gets this truth right on the button. Jesus Himself stated that we should seek first the kingdom of God, and everything else would be provided to us.

Chapter 32 is amazing, especially verses 1-3, 6-9, and 18-20: “So these three men quit answering Job, because he was righteous in his own eyes. Then Elihu son of Barachel the Buzite from the family of Ram became angry. He was angry with Job because he had justified himself rather than God. He was also angry with Job’s three friends because they had failed to refute him, and yet had condemned him. Elihu replied: ‘I am young in years, while you are old; therefore I was timid and afraid to tell you what I know. I though that age should speak and maturity should teach wisdom. But it is a spirit in man and the breath of the Almighty that give him understanding. It is not only the old who are wise or the elderly who understand how to judge. For I am full of words, and my spirit compels me to speak. My heart is like unvented wine; it is about to burst like new wineskins. I must speak so that I can find relief; I must open my lips and respond.’” Anyone who claims to be self-righteous is just asking for trouble. It is critical that the friend of the “self-righteous” person confront him/her in a loving way by noting that it is only through God in Christ can anyone be righteous, and at that point, the glory goes to God. Despite Elihu’s age, he had the strength of character to confront Job.

Elihu continues to speak throughout the next few chapters. 33:14, 27-28; 34:21-22; 36:5-6, 15: “For God speaks time and again, but a person may not notice it. A person will look at men and say, ‘I have sinned and perverted what was right; yet I did not get what I deserved. He redeemed my soul from going down to the Pit, and I will continue to see the light…For His eyes watch over a man’s ways, and He observes all his steps. There is no darkness, no deep darkness, where evildoers can hide themselves…Yes, God is mighty, but He despises no one; He understands all things. He does not keep the wicked alive, but He gives justice to the afflicted…God rescues the afflicted by afflicting them; He instructs them by means of their torment.”

“Elihu’s remarks should not be understood as indicating that God is callous, frivolous, or inconsistent in dealing with people’s prayers. God is under no obligation to answer prayer but the Bible indicates that He does answer prayers that are in accordance with His will. The answer may not be what the petitioner is seeking but it will be that which is best. Many believers testify to God’s gracious answers to prayer.”(HCSB)

42:1-7, 16-17: “Then Job replied to the LORD: ‘I know that You can do anything and no plan of Yours can be thwarted. You asked, ‘Who is this who conceals My counsel with ignorance?’ Surely I spoke about things I did not understand, things too wonderful for me to know. You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak. When I question you, you will inform Me.’ I had heard rumors about You, but now my eyes have seen You. Therefore I take back my words and repent in dust and ashes. After the LORD had finished speaking to Job, He said to Eliphaz the Temanite: “I am angry with you and your two friends, for you have not spoken the truth about Me, as My servant Job has…Job lived 140 years after this and saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. Then Job died, old and full of days.”

In 42:1-7, “This crucial passage reveals the key to the entire book of Job. Job finally received the answer to the question of his unjust treatment, but the answer did not come in the form of a logical argument that vindicated either his righteousness or his friends’ accusations against him. Instead—thanks, in part, to Elihu’s intervention—Job came to a revelation of God’s overwhelming majesty and, what is more, God had spoken to him at last. Job saw that, in questioning God’s justice, he had spoken out of turn; God does the questioning. Job had “seen” the God of whom he had formerly only “heard rumors.” This revelation moved Job to repentance. He had made much of his own integrity, failing to recognize Who was really in charge of the discussion all along. In 42:7-17, God confronted Job’s friends that what they failed to do—and which Job did—was to deal directly with God about the issue instead of just talking about Him. They felt they had to defend God, while Job “dared” God to speak for Himself—because God needs no defense.”(HCSB)

Another excellent example found in the New Testament concerning who is really in charge is found with the story of Lazarus. According to a commentary in the HCSB, “Lazarus was likely in the prime of his life. He’s a good man and a close friend of Jesus. Lazarus becomes ill and dies. The citizens of his village, Bethany, could see such an evil and after three days of mourning come to the conclusion that there is no reason for this. Therefore, God doesn’t exist. Then Jesus comes to Bethany. Lazarus’s sisters, Mary and Martha, chastise Jesus for not getting there sooner. As we read John’s account, we see that unbeknownst to Mary and Martha, Jesus had reasons for delaying. Moreover, there were reasons Lazarus was permitted to die in the prime of his life. When Jesus arrived at Lazarus’s tomb, He prayed and then called Lazarus to come out of the tomb four days after his death. The reason for Lazarus’s sickness, death, Jesus’ delay, and Lazarus’s resuscitation was that God’s glory might be seen. The pattern that we see in this and numerous other biblical cases shows that there are times when we can’t say, “If God had a reason to allow this particular case of evil, we would probably know what it is.” There are two reasons we can’t always make this claim. First, we can figure out reasons that God might have for many (perhaps most) of the evils in the world. For example, both human freedom and a stable, cause-effect universe are necessary for any meaningful action. Meaningful action, then, may be a reason that God allows various kinds of evil. Second, it is reasonable to think that God will have reasons that we cannot grasp for allowing evils in our lives. In fact, to think that we should be able to figure out God’s reason for allowing every case of evil implies that we think God is not much smarter than we are. If God is the almighty creator of the universe, there will be evil the reason for which we cannot discern. This is exactly what we should expect if there is a God. It cannot be counted as evidence against God.”

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