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Weekly Prompts for Thinking Through Scripture Covering 1 Kings 13:1 – 14:31

Day One

Read 1 Kings 13: 1-10

· Another case against chapter divisions. Chapter 12 flows into 13 and the chapter break disrupts the story. I do recommend purchasing a Bible that doesn’t have chapter and verse divisions and reading that regularly.

· V. 1- “came out of Judah” – recall the recent division between northern and southern kingdoms. The southern kingdom was called “Judah.” The northern kingdom, “Israel.” That a prophet out of the southern kingdom comes to Jeroboam of the north ups the ante of this confrontation: in play is not just religious purity, but politics too. And then he predicts that this false religion would be destroyed by a future king of the south. Jeroboam has a choice when hearing this “word of the LORD” – either receive it as a word from God or hear it as some political aggression.

· When messengers of God come into our lives, they frequently bear summons to repent. To change. “How long will you…” No matter how uncouth they come across, the thing always to do is to…course correct. No matter how affronting the message and messenger are, recognize them for what they are: the mercy of God.

· When you think about it, Jeroboam is presented with all kinds of summons from God to repent: Severity, power, restoration, principled rejection. V.33 informs us that none of these moved him. Scary how stubborn we can be!

Day Two

Read 1 Kings 13: 11-34

· This chapter, particularly this middle section, provokes a lot of questions that the narrator leaves unanswered. However, we can perceive the theme the narrator hovers around is the “word of the LORD.”

· V. 14 – “sitting under an oak” – though it’s only a supposition, that the prophet is under such strict orders and yet indulges in relaxation, especially so close to the border, doesn’t sit right. Like he didn’t finish the hard job he was assigned. Indeed, he heroically carried out the extreme task – confronting Jeroboam – yet gave way in the lesser crucible. What do you think?

· V. 18 – “But he lied to him” – think about it. What’s your guess for why the northern prophet lied to the southern prophet?

· V. 19 – As if he were just waiting for an “argument,” however unsupported, to turn him away from the clear word of God. Perhaps that’s the lesson here: we have a clear word from God, and nothing should distract us from it. Especially those “messages from God” that cater to our appetites!

· V. 20 – the questions continue. The lying prophet is given a true message from God. Read Philippians 1: 15, 17 and consider the strangeness of God’s ways.

Day Three

Read 1 Kings 14: 1-6

· Severe sickness in the family and reversals of fortune in business – both disasters are comprehended in the sickness of the king’s heir. As often is the case, a looming tragedy spurs people to recall and seek out the most authentic religion they’ve encountered…even if that falls outside their current practice. A lesson: worship God in Spirit and in truth and eventually even some naysayers might “ask you the reason for the hope…(1 Peter 3: 15).

· V. 2 – why the trouble of the disguise? One can only guess, because the narrator doesn’t tell us. A good guess is that by his previous encounter with Ahijah, Jeroboam knows that the prophet is principled and would take issue with many of Jeroboam’s policies.

· I need to quote a commentary at length, because he’s so spot on:

Here is the king, then, with his magical view of the word of Yahweh. If he can only weasel a positive pronouncement out of the prophet, his son will surely recover. Even a manipulated word will be a certain word…

Jeroboam, however, turned a deaf ear to the word of God in chapter 13; yet now when the dark days come he seeks what he had despised. Jeroboam wants the help of the word in the emergencies of life but not the rule of the word over the course of life. He desires only the occasional word of God. He wants the word of God for his crisis but not for his routine or practice. He craves light in his trouble but not on his path. He doesn’t want to live with the word but only visit – like one does a whore. Is that your portrait? It is unnerving to stand before a Lord who sees our thoughts and intentions: ‘You seek me…because you ate of the loaves and were filled.” (John 6:26) – Dale Ralph Davis

Day Four

Read 1 Kings 14: 7-11

· V. 7 – As prophetic condemnations so often begin, Ahijah leads off with rehearsing the record of God helping Jeroboam. It’s not just that Jeroboam has done the wrong thing but that he’s done it after he’s been treated so kindly. “To whom much is given…”

· V. 8 – “like my servant David” – King David has become the touchstone for true righteousness that all subsequent kings will be measured against. He’s not the only character in the Bible used as an exemplar: who else can you think of?

· V. 9 – “Provoking me to anger” – God has become infuriated by the idolatry of Jeroboam. There’s probably much room for growth In our understanding of idolatry and how it relates to our modern life. Correct? But there’s one very clear passage about idolatry in the New Testament, and it’s enough to convict most of us: Colossians 3:5. Relating that verse and our passage this morning: Is your preoccupation with acquisition and renovation and money provoking God?

Day Five

Read 1 Kings 14: 12-18

· V. 12 – Yes, reading the Bible can be tedious in some points. But on the other hand, aren’t there amazingly dramatic passages also? (Yet always delivered so matter-of-factly.) A mother trudges home under the burden of knowing that her arrival there means the death of her son.

· V. 13 – “…because in him there is found something pleasing to the LORD” – a very interesting phrase, is it not? We know that the son was only a child (v. 17) who for all his immaturity and unfortunate upbringing had found his way to pleasing the Lord. Kids? Hello?

· Not only does this mother get only bad news about her son, she has to receive a far reaching message about the doom of Jeroboam’s dynasty and even the end of the northern kingdom (v. 16). Oh, the long-term harm that leaders can effect by their playing fast and loose with the first commandment. Fathers? Hello?

· V. 16 – As we’ll read, not leaving the sins of Jeroboam will become a refrain in the history of the northern kings’ condemnation.

Day Six

Read 1 Kings 14: 19, 20

(a brief passage and only one note so that it will ‘hit home’)

· VV. 19, 20 – The first of many summaries of the various kings of Israel and Judah. Lest we forget, there’s a lot more that could be said about Jeroboam, and – at one time, at least – one could find that information in other annals of the kings. (This “chronicles” is not our biblical book.) What our writer is emphasizing is the main truth: a king stands or falls and is measured by his loyalty to God.

Same with us.

Day Seven

Read 1 Kings 14

· Meanwhile, in Jerusalem…Well, things aren’t much better down south.

· V. 21 – Twice in this short section (v. 31 too) we hear that Rehoboam is the son of Naamah the Ammonite. The emphasis to spotlight the truth: that intermarriage with unbelievers has brought confusion and evil.

· V. 22 – Perhaps a subtle point, but here the evil is said to be done by Judah, and not her king. Does this imply that – among other flaws – Rehoboam was weak and held hostage to the will of his people?

{Sigh} Just a couple of kings in, and we’re already longing for a strong and wise King to show up.

· V. 22 – “more than all their fathers had done…” the history of Israel’s loyalty to Yahweh is already tarnished (remember Judges?) and so this is a truly gloomy ranking.

· V. 23 – we’ve heard of these “high places” before – altars and shrines on top of hills, chosen for their elevation to be closer to the heavens, where offerings to false gods were…well, offered. Often (as here) mingled with cultic prostitution, where payment for sex would also release the fruitfulness of the land.

· Just as in the evaluation of the northern kingdom, it’s the theological circumstances that “set the table” for Judah’s prosperity…or not.

· The incursion of Shishak of Egypt (did he actually conquer and take or was he bought off with the gold?) is both sad and symbolic of where things are going for Judah. Out with the gold and in with the bronze. The splendor has faded and yet worship continues. Loyalty to God is out, but still worship remains, only now the hollowed-out kind. “Having the form of godliness but denying its power.” I think there’s a grim lesson in there for we 21st century American Christians.


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