Day 161 - 2 Samuel 15:13-16:14; Acts 6:1-7;19; Psalm 71:19-24
The Bible contains many stories. The readings in 2 Samuel and Acts tell us about events that took place a long time ago. Stephen’s message, in Acts, stresses that all of the stories are part one Story – the Story of God in action. Take away God, and what do you have left? – You have a human story, but you don’t have God’s Story which needs to be told by each generation to the next generation. God’s Story is the greatest story ever told. It’s the Story of “the God of glory.” God gives His promise. God fulfils His promise (Acts 7:2-3,17). We look at the “great things” God has done, and we say, “Who, O God, is like You?” (Psalm 71:19).
2 Samuel 16:15-18:18; Acts 7:20-43; Psalm 72:1-20
How are we to die? This is an important question. There’s a difference between dying in shame and dying in glory. The death of Absalom (2 Samuel 18) is a shameful death. The death of Stephen (Acts 7) is a glorious triumph. Stephen’s death is preceded by a mighty proclamation of God’s Word. Stephen affirms God’s faithfulness to His people down through the generations. We might sum up Stephen’s great message in the words of Psalm 72:18-19 – “Praise be to the Lord God, the God of Israel, who alone does marvellous deeds. Praise be to His glorious Name for ever; May the whole earth be filled with His glory.” Stephen’s message is full of thanksgiving for the past. His death proclaims hope for the future.
2 Samuel 18:19-19:43; Acts 7:44-8:3; Psalm 73:1-14
King David was held in extremely high regard in his day: “My lord the king is like an angel” (2 Samuel 19:27). We must remember that he was no more than a man who was seeking to “provide a dwelling-place for the God of Jacob” (Acts 7:56). Think of all that God has done for Israel. Think of all that He has done in Christ. Say, with the Psalmist, “God is good” (Psalm 73:1).
2 Samuel 20:1-21:22; Acts 8:1-40; Proverbs 14:25-35
“God answered prayer on behalf of the land” (2 Samuel 21:14). At the heart of all the confusion of many events involving the nations, there is God – the God who hears and answers prayer. What happens when God hears and answers prayer? – People hear and believe “the Good News about Jesus” (Acts 8:35). As we consider the events involving the nations, we must never forget the teaching of God’s Word – “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a disgrace to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).
2 Samuel 22:1-23:7; Acts 9:1-31; Psalm 73:15-28
2 Samuel 22 begins with a tremendous declaration of who is and a marvellous expression of trust in Him – “The Lord is my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer … my Rock … my Shield and the Horn of my Salvation … my Stronghold, my Refuge and my Saviour” (2 Samuel 22:2-3). A similar testimony is found towards the end of Psalm 73 – “God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26). Such was the testimony of David, in the Old Testament, and Paul, in the New Testament. Paul “spoke boldly in the Name of the Lord” and “the Church … was strengthened and encouraged by the Holy Spirit, it grew in numbers, living in the fear of the Lord” (Acts 9:28,31).
2 Samuel 23:8-24:25; Acts 9:32-10:23a; Psalm 74:1-9
“His mercy is great” (2 Samuel 24:14). These words of David are powerfully demonstrated in the call to peter to take the Gospel to Cornelius, the Gentile. God’s mercy is not only for the Jewish nation. It’s also for the Gentiles. Now, the Gentiles belong to the people whom God has “purchased”, the people whom He has “redeemed” (Psalm 74:2).
1 Kings 1:1-2:12; Acts 10:23b-11:18; Psalm 74:10-17
God’s purpose does not stand still. It moves forward. “So Solomon sat on the throne of his father, David, and his rule was firmly established” (1 Kings 2:12). “The circumcised believers … were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles” (Acts 10:45). Israel’s true King – the Lord Himself – is the God of salvation for both Jews and Gentiles: “But, You, O God, are my King from of old; You bring salvation upon the earth” (Psalm 74:12).
1 Kings 2:13-3:15; Acts 11:19-12:19a; Proverbs 15:1-10
Solomon asked for wisdom – “a discerning heart to govern Your people and to distinguish between right and wrong” (1 Kings 3:9). “The Lord was pleased that Solomon had asked for this” (1 Kings 3:10). In Acts 11:24, Barnabas is described as “a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith.” It is the Holy Spirit who gives us the power to live, by faith, as good people who are learning to distinguish between right and wrong. He gives us the power to choose right rather than wrong. In Proverbs 15:8, we read that “the prayer of the upright pleases the Lord.” True wisdom involves calling upon the Lord in prayer, receiving strength from the Lord, doing His will and pleasing Him. The prayer of the upright leads to the pursuit of righteousness. It’s the way of living which is loved by the Lord - “the Lord loves those who pursue righteousness” (Proverbs 15:9). The pursuit of righteousness is not to be half-hearted. It’s to be a whole-hearted pursuit of God Himself.