*June 29 - July 5
MEMORY TEXT: Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? (Genesis 18:18).
FAMILY SQUABBLES. The books of Kings and Chronicles are, in many ways, a family history. Much of the Bibleat least the Old Testament, particularly the earliest booksis the same: It is the story of a family, not just any family, of course, but the family that comes from faithful (but flawed) Abraham, the one through whom all the nations of the earth shall be blessed (Gen. 18:18).
Unfortunately, as with so many families, the examples of Abrahams and his descendants families hardly present a model home. Kings and Chronicles continue what has been, and still is, a sad storyone with occasional and brilliant spasms of divine light, interspersed between the constant current of human darkness.
In Kings, starting in the first chapter, both the light and darkness are presented. Let us learn from both. Each has lessons for us, as we seek to cling to the Light amid the rush of darkness that surrounds us in this fallen world, just as it surrounded those of whom we are about to read.
THE WEEK AT A GLANCE: Why did Adornjah rebel? What was the cause of his rebellion? Why did Nathan side with David and Bathsheba? Are sins ever partially forgiven? Where is the foundation of forgiveness to be found? Can we still suffer from forgiven sins?
*(Study this week's lesson to prepare for Sabbath, July 6.)
Sunday June 30
Then Adonijah the son of Haggith exalted himself, saying, I will be king: and he prepared him chariots and horsemen, and fifty men to run before him (1 Kings 1:5).
The book of 1 Kings begins with what was to become a perennial problem in Israel and Judah, that of royal ascension. Israel was not, originally, supposed to have a king; God Himself would be their ruler (Judg. 8:23; 1 Sam. 12:12). However, once they had a king, it was not too long before they suffered from the many political problems associated with earthly government. Part of the book of Samuel, in fact, deals with David fleeing the wrath of Israels first king, Saul, who saw David as a political threat to his throne. The book of Kings itself starts with a similar problem, only now with the next generation. It was a rough start, indeed.
Who was Adonijah, and why did he think that he should be king? See 1 Kings 2:22. What other factors (see 1 Kings 1:6) contributed to his rebellious attitude?
Notice the words that Adonijah spoke: I will be king (vs. 5). How interesting that they reflect the words of another privileged biblical character, Lucifer, who exclaimed: I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High (Isa. 14:13, 14). Adonijah reflects the same attitude of self-exaltation, the same desire for supremacy, that led to the fall of Lucifer, even to the point where he was willing to rebel. Read through verses 7-10 in 1 Kings ito see some of the things Adonijah did in an attempt to secure the throne, things that mirrored Lucifers acts during his rebellion in heaven (read Ellen G. White, The Great Controversy, p. 495).
|Whatever valid reasons Adonijah might have had for thinking the throne belonged to him (after all, he was the older brother [see 1 Kings 2:22]), his attitude and actions reveal a spirit of rebellion and self-exaltation. Can you find, in your own life, traces or hints of this same attitude? If so, how does looking at Jesus, at His acts and expression of self-renunciation and self-denial, protect us from this common and, oftentimes, subtle sin?|
Wherefore Nathan spake unto Bathsheba the mother of Solomon, saying, Hast thou not heard that Adonijah the son of Haggith doth reign, and David our lord knoweth it not? (1 Kings 1:11).
Notice who first revealed to Bathsheba the plot against her and her son. It was Nathan the prophet, the same Nathan the prophet who had exposed Davids sin of adultery many years ago (2 Samuel 11; 12). Now, however, he is taking the side of David and Bathsheba, the two parties in that terrible episode.
Though we do not focus much on her part (the biblical emphasis was on David), Bathsheba suffered the consequences of adultery, as well. In contrast to David, Scripture gives numerous examples of those who, in similar situations, refused to succumb to pressure from abovewhatever kind it was: Joseph (Genesis 39), Vashti (Esther 1), Daniel (Daniel 6), to name a few.
What biblical examples can one find of those who refused to give in to people who attempted to use political power to bully them?
Nevertheless, regardless of Davids sin, he was forgiven. When forgiven, we are completely forgiven. Those who have accepted Christs righteousness (the only means of forgiveness) are covered in His perfection, the perfection that He wrought out in His life here. When God looks upon us, who have accepted Christ as our Righteousness, He no longer sees our sins, our failings, our shortcomings. Instead, He sees Jesus in all His holiness and sinlessness. There is no such thing as being partially forgiven. We are either wrapped in the robe of Christs perfect holiness or we stand in the shame of our own nakedness. When we are forgiven, our sins are, in a sense, forgotten by God.
For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more (Heb. 8:12). And their sins and iniquities will I remember no more (Heb. 10:17).
No wonder Nathan the prophet could side with David and Bathsheba, despite their terrible past.
|The good news of the gospel is that, no matter what our history has been, regardless of our past, or however low we have fallen, through the righteousness of Jesus, God, in a sense, wipes our past slate clean. Even more than that, He replaces that slate with the record and the perfection of Jesus. Dwell on what that good news means for you. Share with someone the freedom, the liberation, and the joy that this most wonderful of all truths provides.|
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth,
that shall he also reap
A man had been sexually abusing his young daughter for years. One night he had a miraculous conversion. Repenting, he dropped to his knees with bitterness and sorrow of heart and soul, confessed his sin, and with acid tears, pleaded with Jesus for forgiveness.
If his repentance was genuine, would he be forgiven? Be careful how you answer, because if you say Yes, then you are saying that this child molester, this man who perhaps a day before had been having sexual relations with his daughter, was now perfect in Christ. Perfect? Are you saying that this heinous sin was now pardoned by the blood of Christ and that this man now stood clothed in the perfect righteousness of Jesus? (See Rom. 3:22.)
Are you prepared to say that?
What else can you say? Where sin abounds, grace abounds more, right? (Rom. 5:20). Pardon to the chief of sinners, right? (1 Tim. 1:15). Christ died for the ungodly, right? (Rom. 5:6).
There is another side to the equation, however. Through Christ, God promises that our sins can be forgiven (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14). Davids and Bathshebas lives are great examples of that promise. God, however, never promises that we will be spared the immediate, earthly consequences of our sins, even those sins that have been forgiven.
Though the father could have been pardoned instantly from the legal consequences of his foul acts, the results of those foul acts were not disposed of so easily. One night of bitter weeping did not eradicate the results. On the contrary, the abused little girl had crumbled into an emotionally destroyed adult, who, for years, suffered from alcoholism, suicidal depression, and drug use that destroyed two marriages, leaving in her wake four children, all of whom paid dearly because of their mothers emotional woeall brought upon them by sins that had long ago been pardoned!
|Ellen White tells us that even though Davids sin had been forgiven, the results were seen for generations afterward. Who knows, perhaps Adonijahs rebellion indirectly resulted from the lack of respect that fomented in the house because of sins that already had been forgiven. How nice, indeed, if relief from the consequences of our sins could come as fast as pardon for them does. It, however, rarely works that way. What lessons can we learn from this painful story?|
Nathan the prophet goes to Bathsheba and warns her about Adonijahs political machinations and plots. The issue here, at least as far as she and her son are concerned, is greater than just who will be the next king.
What did Nathan say would happen to Bathsheba and Solomon if Adonijah became king? Why would such a measure be taken if Adonijah succeeded?
It is interesting that Nathan would be so sure that Adonijahs succession would lead to the death of Bathsheba and Solomon. Maybe he was looking at how Saul had responded to the threat of David; maybe he was looking at what happened to the nations around them. Whatever the reasons, even in this early stage of Israels history, when there had been only two kings so far, Nathan saw the danger that awaited those who lost out in the bid for power. All this was happening in the nation that was to represent the true God to the world? See Deuteronomy 4:5-8. How quickly the corruptions of the world had infiltrated the Hebrew nation! No wonder God did not want them to have an earthly king.
David had promised Bathsheba that Solomon, her son, would reign after him. Why did David make that promise to her?
First Chronicles 22 makes it clear that Solomon was to follow his father on the throne. And David said to Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house unto the name of the Lord my God: But the word of the Lord came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. Behold, a son shall be born to thee, who shall be a man of rest; and I will give him rest from all his enemies round about: for his name shall be Solomon, and I will give peace and quietness unto Israel in his days (1 Chron. 22:7-9). David, obviously, felt a divine imperative to stop Adonijah. His choice was not arbitrary. He was simply following Gods Word to him.
|Look at the royal mess caused by Israels choice to have an earthly king. Why did the Lord, who knows the beginning from the end, allow them to make such a disastrous decision? In the same way, in our own lives, we have the same freedom to make right or wrong choices. How crucial that we weigh our options before turning them into decisions.|
And the king sware, and said, As the Lord liveth, that hath redeemed my soul out of all distress, even as I sware unto thee by the Lord God of Israel, saying, Assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne in my stead; even so will I certainly do this day (1 Kings 1:29, 30).
In haste, and probably in a certain amount of fear, Solomon was named by David as his successor to the throne. More than likely this was not how David envisioned his son to succeed him, even though great rejoicing erupted in the city (vss. 39, 40). David was able to bring some personal good out of it, though: Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, who has given one to sit on my throne this day, while my eyes see it! (1 Kings 1:48, NKJV). David was able to see the promise being fulfilled that God had made long ago to him. No doubt, he viewed this as another way in which the Lord was being gracious to him.
Meanwhile, Adonijah had tried to usurp that throne, not just from Solomon but from David, who was still alive and still king when the son proclaimed I will be king! (vs. 5). Thus, this was a coup against the reigning monarch, not just a bid for power between rival contenders. His was a full-blown revolution in which he had a lot of support, even from within the kings own family (see 1 Kings 1:9).
After his revolt failed, Adonijah obviously felt that he had reason to fear, now that Solomon was king, which is why he found sanctuary and asylum by taking hold on the horns of the altar (vss. 50, 51). Though, perhaps, Solomon could have felt justified in immediately putting to death the one who, more than likely, would have had no qualms about eliminating him, Solomon, instead, gave him a chance to redeem himself:
And Solomon said, If he will shew himself a worthy man, there shall not an hair of him fall to the earth: but if wickedness shall be found in him, he shall die. So king Solomon sent, and they brought him down from the altar. And he came and bowed himself to king Solomon: and Solomon said unto him, Go to thine house (1 Kings 1:52, 53).
In what ways can one see, in Solomons words to Adonijah, hints of the new kings wisdom, graciousness, and greatness in this, his first recorded act as sovereign? Though, as it turns out, his first act probably was a mistake (see 1 Kings 2:13-28), Solomon at least erred on the side of mercy and graciousness. If we, who usually do not have the wisdom of Solomon, are going to err at times, as well, why should it not be on the side of mercy and grace too?
In the context of what went on in the first chapter of the first book of Kings, read these words: Though the books of Kings present the history of the Hebrew rulers from the death of David and the reign of Solomon to the final destruction of the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, the primary purpose is not to present the facts of history for the sake of history. There is history, but it is presented with a purposeto show how the experiences of the Hebrews relate to the plans and purposes of God. The object was not so much to write a detailed chronicle of the bald facts of history as to present the lessons of history. The compiler of these books had a deep religious motive and a very practical aim. The children of Israel were the people of God, and it was their task to fulfill the divine purpose and live out on earth the principles of the kingdom of heaven. Righteousness was to be the foundation for national prosperity. Sin could end only in ruin. If true to its divine mission, the nation would grow in strength and greatness. If kings and rulers failed to live up to the divine purpose, Israel as a people would perish. The nation could not exist without righteousness and without God.The SDA Bible Commentary, vol. 2, p. 717: Theme.
I was a new student missionary in the Manobo village. My partner had gone to Mountain View College for our monthly report, leaving me alone in the village. I planned to use her absence to get to know my students and work on learning the language.
But my partner did not return when she planned. A week passed, and still she had not returned. Then I learned that she had to go home to care for her seriously ill mother. I was on my own. The Manobo children comforted me and helped me cope. After class I visited homes in the village. At one little home I found a young mother crying.
What is wrong, Ayo? I asked. Then I heard her babys gasping breath. He was congested with thick phlegm and could barely breathe.
I checked his temperature; it was dangerously high. I had no medicines, but I sponged him to bring his fever down, but it remained high. Ayo, I said, Let us ask God to heal your baby. She consented.
Dear God, I prayed, You are the Great Physician. We need Your presence and Your help. Please touch this baby with Your healing and make him well again. In Jesus name, Amen.
Thank you, Ayo said.
The babys breathing did not improve. Desperate, I told Ayo, We must take the baby to the hospital.
Ayo looked at me, puzzled. But why? Weve prayed, havent we? We need only to trust in God, and my baby will be well.
But Ayo, I am not a doctor, and your baby is so sick! I pleaded.
Ayo looked straight at me. Town is a three-hour hike down a steep mountain and across many rivers. Then we must ride two more hours on the rough road to the nearest hospital. My baby might die on the way. And when we get to the hospital, the doctor will charge us much money for medicine. Do you have money? I shook my head No. It is enough that we prayed. God will heal my baby, she smiled confidently.
I stayed with Ayo and her baby a while longer. Before leaving, I offered another prayer.
The next morning I hurried to check on Ayos baby. Hes well! Ayo greeted me with a smile. I took the babys temperature. The fever was gone. He was well!
Choked with tears, I offered a Thank-You prayer. Then silently I added, Lord, please help me to have faith like Ayo.
Meichie Tonog is a SULAD student missionary from Mountain View College serving in the village of Dapilo-an in southern Philippines.
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