Song of Solomon 6 contains more bizarre metaphors, but this one is interesting because we get to see some interaction from other people. This has not been an easy road for the unnamed woman in this passage, and if you remember from chapter 1, she really does not believe that she is attractive. Now, you have the people asking to see her, and you have a kind of curious response from Solomon.
Son 6:13 Return, return, O Shulamite; return, return, that we may look upon thee. What will ye see in the Shulamite? As it were the company of two armies.
The people want to see her, and Solomon asks what they’re going to when they see her. Then he basically says a battlefield. When two armies are near each other, there is presumably going to be a battle. One possible explanation for this is that she was just beat up by the watchmen. We just talked about that yesterday, and it actually makes sense in this context.
In verse one of this chapter, the other people also call out for the woman, but they are asking where her husband is. Now, they are specifically asking for her, but no one has seen her since her accident. It seems that Solomon is almost challenging the people here.
Do they simply want to see her to see the damage that was done? Are they acting kind of like the paparazzi of ancient Israel?
If you proceed into the next chapter, this episode seems to be over, so we never get to hear what the people said in response. However, I think that it shows the protection that can take place and should take place in relationships.
Solomon did not want his wife becoming known as the woman who got beat up. He didn’t want to fuel the rumors, so he called the people out. He wanted to protect the honor of his wife.
I think this is important for all couples. You need to want what is best for the other person.
Psalms 138 was obviously written to praise God, and there was one verse that particularly stood out to me.
Psa 138:7 Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.
I don’t know about you, but this verse makes me think about how much protection we really have. I kind of hesitate to do it, but it is interesting to hypothetically think about what would happen if there wasn’t that protection from God?
People often times argue that they can’t believe in a God who would allow evil. However, we know that God protects us. What if God did not do that? What would happen to our earthly experience?
Now, keep in mind that in this is a thought experiment. Without God, I do not think that human life would be here in the first place. However, for the sake of the argument, I am pretending that humanity could somehow exist in the first place without God.
It is no secret that humans are capable of quite a bit of evil. We can do terrible things to each other, and we even do terrible things to ourselves. We do terrible things to the environment, and we do terrible things to the other creatures that live here with us.
The bottom line is that we are not some kind of ideal life form. Perhaps you will want to argue with me on this one, but I really think that it doesn’t take too much thought to realize that humans are capable of evil.
What if we were hypothetically left to our own devices? What if there was not a God above who provided that protection?
Again, I do not believe that this condition of existence has ever occurred. However, for the sake of the argument, if the Christian God did not exist in the way that we believe He does, I think that you would find a lot more evil in the world.
Jas 1:17 Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.
If it is true that every good thing comes from God, then what would we be left with without God?
I think the implications are pretty clear. If God is everything that we say He is, then this protection is pretty remarkable.
With Haman out of the picture, the Jewish people were in a much better position in Esther 8. However, Esther knew that more work needed to be done. Previously, Haman’s command to exterminate all of the Jews had gone out all over the kingdom, so now it needed to be reversed. She asked king Ahasuerus to send out another letter reversing that order.
He went farther than that.
Est 8:7 Then the king Ahasuerus said unto Esther the queen and to Mordecai the Jew, Behold, I have given Esther the house of Haman, and him they have hanged upon the gallows, because he laid his hand upon the Jews.
Est 8:8 Write ye also for the Jews, as it liketh you, in the king’s name, and seal it with the king’s ring: for the writing which is written in the king’s name, and sealed with the king’s ring, may no man reverse.
He basically gave Esther and Mordecai free reign to write whatever they wanted and the authority to make it permanent, so here is what they wrote.
Est 8:10 And he wrote in the king Ahasuerus’ name, and sealed it with the king’s ring, and sent letters by posts on horseback, and riders on mules, camels, and young dromedaries:
Est 8:11 Wherein the king granted the Jews which were in every city to gather themselves together, and to stand for their life, to destroy, to slay, and to cause to perish, all the power of the people and province that would assault them, both little ones and women, and to take the spoil of them for a prey,
Basically, under this agreement, it seems as if the Jewish people had unlimited self-defense. They did not have the power to initiate violence which is probably a good thing, but they did have the power to protect themselves if anyone came at them.
Of course, as we find out later in the chapter, the Jewish people were really happy and relieved when they find out about this new protection that they had been granted. People like to have the power to defend themselves.
Unfortunately, we can’t protect ourselves from everything even with all of the best laws in the world. With this law in place, the Jewish people were a lot more protected than they had been, but it was definitely not a perfect system. No humans organization can possibly be.
It is a good thing that we have a perfect Shepherd who can offer us perfect protection.
Psa 23:1 A Psalm of David. The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
Psa 23:2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
Psa 23:3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
Psa 23:4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
Psa 23:5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
Psa 23:6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever.
Nehemiah 9 is a very nice recap of the history of the nation of Israel. The people are worshiping God, and they are talking about all that He had done for the people starting with Abraham. Most of this content is a review, but there was one part that was particularly interesting to me.
Neh 9:26 Nevertheless they were disobedient, and rebelled against thee, and cast thy law behind their backs, and slew thy prophets which testified against them to turn them to thee, and they wrought great provocations.
Neh 9:27 Therefore thou deliveredst them into the hand of their enemies, who vexed them: and in the time of their trouble, when they cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and according to thy manifold mercies thou gavest them saviours, who saved them out of the hand of their enemies.
Neh 9:28 But after they had rest, they did evil again before thee: therefore leftest thou them in the hand of their enemies, so that they had the dominion over them: yet when they returned, and cried unto thee, thou heardest them from heaven; and many times didst thou deliver them according to thy mercies;
I think that these verses explain the role of God in everyday life. For years, He had been the protector of Israel and was quite frankly the only reason they survived and thrived in the way that they did. The wandering in the desert would have probably killed them off without manna. I highly doubt that the desert would be able to produce enough food to help them.
However, even with all of this protection, the people of Israel rebelled and God delivered them into the hands of their enemies. The word for delivered is a very broad word in Hebrew, nathan, which can also be translated as gave or assigned.
The same thing happens again in the next verse where God left them in the hands of their enemies.
The point is that we need the protection of God in our lives. When the people of Israel rebelled and ran away from God, they were in trouble because God basically let them have what they wanted. They didn’t want to follow God, so God let them be on their own. Obviously, as an omnipresent God, He was technically present, but He allowed things to happen to Israel. He allowed them to have the consequences that were coming to them.
It is kind of strange. People try to put God out of their lives. Biblically, it never worked out too well for the people of Israel when they tried to ignore God, so why would we expect anything different today?
Yesterday I wrote about how it is so cool to see Biblical prophecy in the Old Testament that is later confirmed in the New Testament. Today, in 2 Chronicles 22, we see a threat to that prophecy coming true.
Just to recap, yesterday we read a prophecy that said that the light would never depart from the line of David. I proposed to you that although it probably meant some type of divine right to rule at the beginning, ultimately it was referring to the person of Jesus Christ who is the Light of the World.
In today’s reading, we find out that Ahaziah was a pretty bad king of Judah. It seemed like it was kind of a kingdom run by the family because we hear that his mother was a pretty bad counselor for him.
Judgment was coming for Ahaziah though, and when Jehu was working as the person that God appointed to get rid of the house of Ahab, many of the leadership in Judah got caught up in that as well since he had allied with them.
2Ch 22:7 And the destruction of Ahaziah was of God by coming to Joram: for when he was come, he went out with Jehoram against Jehu the son of Nimshi, whom the LORD had anointed to cut off the house of Ahab.
2Ch 22:8 And it came to pass, that, when Jehu was executing judgment upon the house of Ahab, and found the princes of Judah, and the sons of the brethren of Ahaziah, that ministered to Ahaziah, he slew them.
2Ch 22:9 And he sought Ahaziah: and they caught him, (for he was hid in Samaria,) and brought him to Jehu: and when they had slain him, they buried him: Because, said they, he is the son of Jehoshaphat, who sought the LORD with all his heart. So the house of Ahaziah had no power to keep still the kingdom.
As his mother saw this happening, she apparently thought that it was undignified to have her entire family murdered by the mob, so she went about trying to eliminate all of her descendants. The problem with that is that it would have ended the line of David and therefore invalidated the prophecy that we mentioned above. Here is what happened.
2Ch 22:10 But when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the seed royal of the house of Judah.
2Ch 22:11 But Jehoshabeath, the daughter of the king, took Joash the son of Ahaziah, and stole him from among the king’s sons that were slain, and put him and his nurse in a bedchamber. So Jehoshabeath, the daughter of king Jehoram, the wife of Jehoiada the priest, (for she was the sister of Ahaziah,) hid him from Athaliah, so that she slew him not.
God was there in that moment providing protection. He knew that there was something that needed to happen through that child (preserving the family line in this case), so He orchestrated everything to make that possible.
1 Chronicles 4 is yet another family tree. This time we get to read about Judah. However, embedded in the middle of this long list of names is a pretty great breakdown of how to pray.
1Ch 4:9 And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.
1Ch 4:10 And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.
What do we know about Jabez? For one thing, we know that he was honorable. When people have their lives together and are doing things that please God, I would be willing to bet that they already have a pretty good prayer life. It is not a prosperity gospel; I am simply saying that being in touch with God helps us make good decisions in terms of how “honorable” we are.
We then get to have a glimpse into his actual prayer life. Right off the bat he asked God for blessing. He knew that God can do it, and he was not afraid to ask. Sometimes, I wonder if we are afraid to ask God for what we want. I don’t know why we are afraid, but God wants to help us and give us what we need. Sometimes we need to be willing to ask.
However, he doesn’t want to do it alone. He wants God’s hand to be with him. He wants help avoiding evil, and he wants help keeping evil away from him. I think that the first one applies to his conscious decisions, and I think that a second one applies to keeping temptation away. Of course, giving into temptation becomes a conscious sin, but if God can help us keep temptation away in the first place, it makes life easier.
Remember, when we are praying, we should be doing both of these things. We should be telling God our problems and where we need extra help, but we can certainly also ask for blessings. We can ask that certain good or desirable things happen. Of course, God will ultimately grant whatever requests are in His will, but we need to make sure that we are keeping the lines of communication open.
2 Samuel 22 is a pretty cool chapter because it is essentially a giant praise and worship song. We find that David wrote the song because God had always been faithful and protected him. That impression comes through very clearly throughout all of his lyrics.
2Sa 22:2 And he said, The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer;
2Sa 22:3 The God of my rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me from violence.
2Sa 22:4 I will call on the LORD, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be saved from mine enemies.
2Sa 22:5 When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made me afraid;
2Sa 22:6 The sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death prevented me;
2Sa 22:7 In my distress I called upon the LORD, and cried to my God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter into his ears.
I chose this part of the chapter because it hits many of the main themes. God was clearly his protector. However, the word deliverer almost has a different connotation. When you are delivered from something, you are allowed to escape. In the case of a fortress or a shield, they certainly protect you while you are there, but they do not help you escape. You use them when you intend to be in the conflict and need to be safe.
On that level then, I think this comparison gives an accurate picture of what God does for us every day. On one hand, He is always with us. He will be the shield. However, for some of us, it’s pretty tiring to be in the battle all the time. Even though we do have our shield, sometimes God takes us away from the problem. He will bring us to a place where we can recuperate.
Whatever may come, we know that God will be there. He might help us stand and fight, or He might help us retreat safely for a short while, but He will always be there for those who love Him.
It is kind of interesting that armor can often represent the protection that we need from God in order to survive in our everyday lives. For the priests in the temple in Exodus chapter 28, there was also some armor that they were commanded to wear.
Exo 28:4 And these are the garments which they shall make; a breastplate, and an ephod, and a robe, and a broidered coat, a mitre, and a girdle: and they shall make holy garments for Aaron thy brother, and his sons, that he may minister unto me in the priest’s office.
Of course, the breastplate stood out to me because that is also a piece of the full armor of God mentioned much later in the Bible.
Eph 6:14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness;
In Exodus, their breastplate has a different purpose attached to it, but I think that we can draw some parallels.
Exo 28:15 And thou shalt make the breastplate of judgment with cunning work; after the work of the ephod thou shalt make it; of gold, of blue, and of purple, and of scarlet, and of fine twined linen, shalt thou make it.
In one verse, we’re talking about righteousness, and in the other verse we’re talking about judgment. How do those fit together?
To think literally for a minute, the purpose of a breastplate is to protect your heart. Consequently, having judgment and righteousness will protect your heart in my figurative example.
In my mind, I’d like to think of judgment as discernment, and according to the Hebrew translator available on my computer Bible from e-Sword, those two words are actually interchangeable in this situation.
So, what exactly should we be doing?
In order to keep our way straight and guard our heart, we need righteousness and discernment. The righteousness comes directly from God, and we need Him to help us make the right decisions in life. That is where the discernment comes in. We need to make sure that we are really asking God for help in these difficult decisions rather than going on our own whims.
It is important for us to guard our hearts, but these are two of tools that God provides to help us and support us along our journey
Exo 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.
Exo 20:4 Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Exo 20:5 Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;
Exo 20:6 And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
Exo 20:7 Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Exo 20:8 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
Exo 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
Exo 20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:
Exo 20:11 For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it.
Exo 20:12 Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Exo 20:13 Thou shalt not kill.
Exo 20:14 Thou shalt not commit adultery.
Exo 20:15 Thou shalt not steal.
Exo 20:16 Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Exo 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
This is probably one of the most familiar passages in the entire Bible. In Exodus chapter 20, God gives the Ten Commandments to Moses. Rather than going in depth into any or all of the commandments, I want to draw your attention to a verse a little while later.
Exo 20:20 And Moses said unto the people, Fear not: for God is come to prove you, and that his fear may be before your faces, that ye sin not.
All of this was happening so that the Israelites would not sin. Many people view rules as the type of punishment. However, we find out here that God provides us with rules so that we are able to stay close to Him.
His laws are protective rather than punitive. For example, God knows it is not good to steal from people. If we steal from people, we have sinned, and sin does have consequences if we never straighten it out with God. Therefore, if we follow this rule, we are protected from taking wrong steps that will ultimately lead to problems.
It is kind of a different perspective on rules because we often think that rules are in place simply to punish us for bad behavior. However, when you look at it from a Biblical perspective, you will find that when the rules come from the perfect Law Giver, they’re actually put in place to protect and direct us rather than punish us. God knows that there are eternal consequences for sin, so he wanted to show us how to avoid it as well.