Day 338 (Dec. 4): Paul appears before Felix for questioning, Felix keeps Paul in prison to remain in good standing with Jews, Festus replaces Felix and hears Paul’s case, Paul appeals to have his case decided by emperor, King Agrippa listens to Paul’s case, leaders decide Paul is innocent

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Acts 24-26:32

Questions & Observations

Q. (Acts 24:1-27): Felix sounds conflicted between wanting to accept the Way and remaining in favor with the Jews.

A. I don’t think he is interested in becoming a Christian — he’s just aware of the movement — but he is indeed being a politician regarding currying the Jews’ favor.  The region was rife with revolutionaries who will seek to violently overthrow Roman rule in a few years, so Felix is certainly interested in looking good to his boss, the emperor, by keeping the peace in a lawless area.

Q. (25:1-22): I think it’s interesting to see politics play into justice the same way it can today.  They are tempted by what would seem right and make their lives better vs. doing what is right by the court law.

A. It’s a unique story in the NT, that is for sure.

Q. (Acts 25:23-26:32): So the last line was a surprise.  Paul appealed to Caesar for his defense because, as a Roman citizen, he has the right to, right?  But, now since he appealed to him he is required to go even if the Jews find him innocent?  There must be a reason that he has to go to Rome.  Time will tell, right?

A. Paul did so intentionally in order to have the chance to proclaim the Gospel, just as he did here.  We will indeed see how this goes…

Day 337 (Dec. 3): Paul tells his story to crowd but is rebuked, Paul tells of Roman citizenship to thwart lashing, Paul goes before high council, Jews conspirte to kill Paul, Paul is sent to Caesarea

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Acts 21:37-23:35

Questions & Observations

Q. (Acts 22:3, 22:25): Paul said he was from Tarsus, but then he says he was born in Rome.  These two places are far apart aren’t they?

A. Ha!  Being a Roman citizen is not the same as being BORN in Rome.  A Roman citizenship could be granted in any province of the Empire — including Tarsus, where Paul is from — and it would mean that Paul’s family was wealthy and influential.  It basically means that Paul was an official citizen of the Roman Empire, which put him squarely under the protection of the commander and governor.  Paul is pulling out his “trump card” here in order to “move up the ladder” and witness to those in authority.

Q. (22:22-23): I guess the crowd didn’t like Paul’s story?

A. Nope, they did not, but it won’t matter.

Q. (23:6): This is the first time I’ve heard Paul call himself a Pharisee.  Why did he do that?

A. Because he was one — he will talk about it more in Philippians — but he did so in this case to divide Sadducee and Pharisee in order to, again, avoid trouble and remove himself from the situation.  He’s clever in that way.

Day 317 (Nov. 13): Paul and Barnabus strengthen churches in several cities, Paul and Barnabus return to start of their trip, Paul’s letter is a pep talk to Christians, Paul proclaims his words come from above, Paul says his role is to preach to Gentiles, Paul confronts Peter for finding favor with Jews by following law of Moses, Holy Spirit is with believers not obeyers of the law, belief in Jesus Christ gives us freedom

48 days to go!

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Acts 14:21-28

Galatians 1-3:23

Questions & Observations

Q. (Acts 14:21-28): The disciples knew they had to go to the synagogues to straighten out the mindset of those worshippers from the ways of the priests and some of the ways of the OT that Jesus’ crucifixion had abolished?  Also, to me this passage reminds me of modern-day missionaries.  They travel and then come back to a home church or supporting church and report their work.

A. Paul and his companions are no longer preaching in the synagogues, but to communities of Christians throughout this region.  This is especially true if you consider that Paul is transitioning from preaching to the Jews to preaching to the Gentiles.  But, yes, you have the idea for what Paul and his men are doing: they are entering an area that has a “foot hold” community, and working to strengthen it by whatever means are needed.

O. (Galatians 1:4): I am understanding more about our time on earth.  It was hard for me grasp that Satan was ruler of the earth.  But, now that I know that, I understand so much more.  I understand why there is a constant struggle to proclaim God/Jesus/Holy Spirit to this world that is flooded with evil.  I understand why evil is a constant temptation.  We are surrounded by it.  There is really no temptation to be good.  Good is good.  And then, there’s the feeling of not belonging to this evil world.  So many people just seem to go with the flow.  They don’t really seem overly happy, but that’s their world.  As a believer, I never really feel like this is it.  My family is awesome, but my home is nothing that I would say I’m completely comfortable in.  And, maybe that’s good because, ultimately, I don’t belong in this world.  I love the song by Building 429, that sum’s up this feeling http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=KPK7ZPNX  I encourage you to listen to it, if you haven’t already.  I’m not home yet!

Q. (Galatians 1:23-24): In his early life, Paul persecuted Christians.  But, God used Paul as a vehicle to show that even the worst offender of Christianity now believes and is a teacher to spread the Good News.  So, I have a modern question about the former co-founder and minister of the church Rob and I attend.  Our former teaching pastor had been raised in the church, the son of a prominent mega church pastor.  He was an amazing speaker.  But, he fell to sin.  The papers reported all kinds of things and we didn’t know if they were truth or lies.  But, I myself, prayed for the goodness with in him to come out and return to his family and hopefully the public. He was such a leader and had been the vehicle for so many to attend our church.  (I know God had a hand in this.  Our church has lost about a 1,000, but maybe it needed to regroup.  I, myself, was watching the pastor’s performance more than taking the message in.  Now I remember more of the sermons with the two new pastors.)  I had been praying for him to just be OK and find his path in faith for God.  My prayers were answered when I saw him in church several weeks in a row, 10-11 months or so after he resigned.  What bravery that would have taken for him!  It was just nice to see that he was ok.  My question is, biblically, could he come back to have a role in the church?

A. Forgiveness and reconciliation are cornerstones of any church, including ours, so I think there is always an opportunity for that to occur, and I think it should.  As to whether this minister can again lead, well, that is (mercifully) a decision that I do not have to make, and I would not envy anyone who does.  That, I think, will be up to God.

Q. (Galatians 2:6): Here, Paul says that God has no favorites among leaders.  In choosing a church, my husband and I have always listened to the sermon as a first base for choosing one.  We tried several churches.  I love so many things about our church, which has an attendance of about 3,500.  But, I grew up in a small-town church where everyone knew each other.  There were quarterly potlucks where we all knew who made what.  Most everyone chipped in on every mission of the church, which was a much smaller scope than the church I belong to now.  I love the beliefs of Summit and the missions.  I do long for that church body where it’s easy to know everyone.  However, when I have attended smaller churches, I feel like the quality of the message is missing.  Thus, the bigger churches bring in bigger crowds because the pastors are better deliverers.  But, I struggle with wanting that sense of community and having an awesome sermon.  I have heard that no church is perfect.  I have talked with others who say the same thing: that they miss the community aspect of the church they grew up in.  I don’t know if you want to address that subject, Rob.  But, back to the verse: what Paul is saying here is that God doesn’t care who the more popular leaders are, just that they are doing their job of spreading God’s Word?

A. There are always tradeoffs made between community and effectiveness of the message.  A church with only 100 members — which, is actually the average size of an American church, and has been for decades — can provide many services and has a sense of community that is frankly lost among larger churches like ours.  Mega churches are capable of having a bigger impact on the community and world at large, and I believe that there are many “pros” to this type of model.  One of the things I learned about in seminary, however, is that a church that is determined to reach “mega” status must be willing to make sacrifices, especially when it comes to pastoral role in the worshipping community.  It is not a coincidence that our church has no pastor of visitation (something that has frankly never pleased me): the leadership has the expectation that the body itself will do visitation.  The pastoral role is reserved for casting vision, leading outreach, and running the “business” side of a church.  That is THE only way for a church to reach mega status — if its leadership is consumed with caring for the congregation, it simply will not happen.  I will leave it to you to decide what type of community you value.

As to what Paul is talking about, he is basically saying that God does not play favorites, and that He calls many people with many gifts to be His hands and feet in the world.  So it has nothing to do with how people view the “popularity contest,” and everything to do with how the Spirit guides and provides gifts for His workers in the Church.

Q. (Galatians 2:11-21): So, remember when I said that I wondered if the disciples could keep on the right path, given they have the Great Commission amongst all of the dissent in the world?  At first, I was going to say, “ha ha, told you so.”  But, that doesn’t give me a good feeling.  That’s not very Christian.  I am not surprised that one of them has tripped up.  But, I think what is more important to point out is that Paul was there to point it out and hopefully (we’ll have to wait and see) set Peter straight.  A lot of churches push accountability partners among their leaders and even among all Christian men.  Women could use it to keep those rambling pessimistic mindsets at bay.

A. No doubt that the early Church had its problems, but as Paul mentions, these men and women of God spoke up to address many of these issues.  Paul will have much more to say about the various problems of the early community in his various letters.

Q. (Galatians 3:15-23): This is confusing to ponder, but makes sense after you untangle it in your head.  Pretty amazing!

A. Paul will use this type of rhetorical style throughout his letters, so I would recommend getting used to it.  His letter to the Romans is full of discourses like this that run for several chapters.  But I agree, his point is pretty clear (and amazing) as long as you read the passage a few times.

Day 316 (Nov. 12) Angel aids Paul in escaping from prison, God strikes dead Herod Agrippa for taking glory, Barnabas and Paul preach together in Cyprus and Paphos, Paul accuses governor’s sorcerer, governor became believer, Paul preaches at Antioch of Pisidia’s synagogue, Paul intrigues Gentiles, Paul and Barnabas ran from Antioch of Pisidia to Iconium where they were run from town also, Paul heals crippled man in Lystra, Paul stoned but didn’t die

Only 49 days to the end!

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Acts 12:6-14:20

Questions & Observations

Q. (Acts 12:6-19): Whether Peter was rescued for his own faith or because he had people praying for him or both, I think we can take from this scene, the results that can be realized through group prayer.  Rob, can you tell us of any verses where God or Jesus is telling us to pray together?

A. Actually, that is not a topic that Jesus really addressed outside of Matthew 18:19-20, which says that He is there in our midst when we gather and will give us what we seek, which is certainly applicable here.  It is the other works of the NT that will have more to say about this topic, so keep watching.

Q. (Acts 13:3): Also, can you tell us more about the “laying of hands.”

A. Sure: it was a way for a community to pray for a person.  The person prayed for would sit or stand in the midst of a group, and the group would place hands upon that person as they prayed — something many churches still do today.  It is frankly nothing especially complicated, but is merely a method of community praying.

Q. (Acts 13:9): I always thought that Saul became Paul after his transformation to Christianity.  But, as I googled it and referred to Wikipedia, I see that Saul is his Jewish name and Paul is his Roman name.  It says that he used Paul to put those to whom he was preaching at ease.

A. It is a common assumption that Saul’s name change to Paul was divinely inspired, the way that God changed Abram’s name to Abraham and Jacob to Israel, but that is not the case.  You have the right information on what Paul was doing, using his name to make the people more open to his message.  This will not be the last time that Paul will take advantage of his dual life.  Paul was a devout Jew in his former life as Saul, which helps him address Jews with authority, as he will do in Philippians.  And he will also pull out his Roman citizenship — something quite valuable in his day — when necessary as well to get out of trouble.  No doubt about it Paul is resourceful.

Q. (Acts 13:48): What does the author mean here when he says, “and all who were chosen for eternal life became believers.”  This makes it sound like the Kingdom of God uses predestination.

A. There is certainly some role of selection in the Kingdom, but once again I would point out: we do not know what is the criteria that makes a person “selected”.  It’s very possible that it is faith in God that makes one selected.

Q. (Acts 14:19-20): Is there any point worth mentioning about Paul being stoned, but not dead?

A. I guess what happened is that the people assumed he was dead, but he was not.  This verse is part of the reason that many scholars think that Paul was disfigured by this incident and the others to come — it will not be his last brush with trouble — but it certainly gave him a powerful witness.

Day 314 (Nov. 10): Believers spread after Stephen’s persecution, Philip preaches in Samaria, Philp and the eunuch, Saul’s converts to Christianity

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Acts 8b-9:43

Questions & Observations

O. (Acts 9:10-18): God is so smart to use Saul, the very many persecuting Christians, to spread His message.  Just when I think I may understand the ins and outs of following and understanding God, I lose it.  He is so many steps in front of me that it’s crazy to try to figure out my future.  Yet, I struggle with it daily.  I thought I was in control of my life, pretty much, until I had kids.  I graduated from college, moved to Hawaii, worked super hard and found a great job, got married, had children, stopped working, moved around with military hubby, have two great kids, a house in a great neighborhood, but we are struggling financially.  I used to be able to control my own state of being by working hard.  I work hard and make good money.  Now, my skills are outdated and my attractiveness to employers is nil, as far as I know.  My point is that it’s hard to leave all of what you know behind, the control, and give it to God.  But, like we see with Ananias and Saul, you can never predict how God will orchestrate your situation to help you and others.  It’s so hard to let control go!

Q. (9:36-41): Did Jesus pretty much give the disciples all of the miraculous abilities that He had.  They must have proclaimed Jesus extensively for the people to look past the disciples’ miracles and give that credit to Jesus.  I wonder if the disciples’ ever struggled with any of them thinking that they were powerful themselves and not so much from Jesus — they were taking the glory instead of giving it to God?

A. The text implies that their power is coming by the leading of the Holy Spirit, but since He is part of the Godhead, it is the same “powers” that Jesus had during His time on earth.  One of the most important things to understand about Acts — and the writer Luke keeps reminding us — is that the Gospel is being proclaimed everywhere the Apostles and followers went.  This story contains numerous powerful stories of God using terrible circumstances to turn people to Him.  God used the death of Stephen and the persecution of the Church to force God’s people to move in all new directions, and as the text tells us, they proclaimed their message everywhere they went.  One in particular is the encounter between Philip and the eunuch.  A cool bit of history with one of the stories: the largest church in Ethiopia, called the Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church, read about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ethiopian_Orthodox_Tewahedo_Church), one of the oldest in the ENTIRE WORLD, traces its origins all the way back to this encounter between Philip and this ambassador, probably a Jewish convert.  Now imagine how many people have heard the Gospel proclaimed throughout the ages because of Philip’s faithfulness to the Spirit during that day.  That, I think, gives you a glimpse into the long game that God is playing, and we rarely receive more than a glimpse into how that plan is moving along.  Those glimpses are simply amazing to me!

Day 313 (Nov. 9): Disciples chose seven men to assist them, Stephen is arrested, Stephen addresses the council

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

Acts 6-8:1a

Questions & Observations

Q. (Acts 6:7): It’s nice to see some Jewish priests softening up and being converted.

A. There is certainly a degree of importance in this often missed verse.  Though many of the Jewish leaders condemned themselves by siding against Jesus, they were able to find repentance and be saved by the very plan that they had themselves enacted.  Surely that is God’s grace at work!

O. (Acts 6:15): So, take that!

Q. (Acts 7:2-50): OT, in a nutshell, right?.  Thanks, Stephen!

A. Sort of.  He definitely hits the um…highlights.  But his main point is that the Jews have a long history of rejecting the work of the Holy Spirit because of their hard hearts, as they are doing here in persecuting the Church.  Stephen is accusing them of being just like their ancestors, and I would say their response indicates that they did not like that accusation.

Q. (Acts 8:59-60): I guess Jesus’s believers knew what they were getting into after seeing Jesus crucified.  Stephen showed what kind of mercy he had on people by asking God to forgive his murderers.  I take it that Stephen is asking Jesus to welcome him to His Kingdom when he asks Jesus to receive his spirit?  Pretty amazing stuff.

A. Yes, I would say that is right.

Day 246 (Sept. 3): The lineage of King Saul, Nebuchadnezzar’s dream about a tree, Daniel explains Nebuchadnezzar’s dream and his fate, Nebuchadnezzar turns to God and his reign is restored, Ezekiel has vision of Jerusalem’s new thick walls, vision shows Ezekiel “Man of whose face shone like bronze” around the Temple

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

1 Chronicles 8:29-9:1

Daniel 4:1-37

Ezekiel 40:1-37

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Chronicles 8:29-9:1a): This is the lineage of King Saul?  This is a “just-for-the-record” scripture?

A. As first king of Israel (even a corrupted one), Saul takes his place among the history of his people from the tribe of Benjamin.

Q. (Daniel 4:25): What is the seven periods of time?

A. Seven years.

O. (4:30): This sounds like a dramatic play.  My majestic splendor?  Get over yourself Nebuchadnezzar.

Q. (Ezekiel 40:10): Just a note that the three guard alcoves with the same measurements reminds me of the trinity.  What do you think?  Is there any significance with any other measurements or details of the Temple?  Why all the measuring?

A. God, via an angelic character, is giving Ezekiel a vision for the new temple, but I do not know exactly why the measurements play so heavily into the description.

Q. (40:34b, 37): Are the “eight steps” significant?

A. The steps increase as you get further into the temple- moving from three to seven, eight (as seen here) and ten for the inner parts of the court.  That would appear to indicate levels of importance or degrees of holiness.  The more steps you have, the more holy the section.

Day 121 (May 1): David praises God’s power and his protection

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

2 Samuel 22

Psalm 18

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Samuel 22:1-51, Psalm 18): This is a beautiful song.  I wondered why it isn’t solely in Psalms like the other songs.  Also, it seems that God is on David’s mind 24/7.  Is this how we are supposed to think and act, with God on our mind ALWAYS?  When I first thought about this a while back, it seemed daunting.  How could I think of God all the time?  I didn’t see why it was necessary or how I could actually do it.  I thought it was overkill.  But, I must say, that I do do it a lot more of the time, dare I say most of the time.  And, I’m normally a happier person.  Even when I’m frustrated or angry, I talk to God to try to get me out of it because I know it’s not doing me or Him any good when I’m in a bad mood.

A. One of Jesus’ more famous commands was for us to love God, among other things, with all of our mind (Mark 12:30, among other places).  To me, that means making God our daily focus, and doing our best to keep Him in mind, moment by moment.  Actually, one of the ways that this is best accomplished is…by reading our Bible every day!  (Pat yourself on the back!)  That is, if we are constantly immersing ourselves in the Word of God, then the Spirit can use these words to bring our mind into focus on God.  I’m glad to hear that you have seen your focus on God increase a bit, and I am certainly suspicious that part of the reason for this is the project that we are undertaking.

One of the hardest things to do in life is to focus on God, not just in moments of peace and silent reverence, but when life is frustrating or things don’t go our way.  Can we focus on God when we are stuck in traffic, or behind that pokey person in the grocery store line?  Can we trust in the truth of God’s word when someone is attacking us?  Do we truly believe that it is better to trade love for hate?  To put our trust in God and not our own finances or plans?  The answer to these questions, quite honestly, is “no” for a lot of Christians.  But the beauty of grace is that God is always at work on us, and over time, you just might find patience and peace in the midst of turmoil that you would have never thought possible in your past.  That, I suspect, will be the moment when you have truly made God, and not the things of this world, your moment-by-moment focus.

Q. (22:21-25): David is saying he is blameless before God.  This isn’t true though.  He slept with Bathsheba, he forgot God in his battle plans at least once.  So, why does he say he is blameless?

A. Beginnings at chapter 21, my notes indicate that these chapters (including 22) are a collection or appendix of sorts to 2 Samuel, and they are not necessarily listed chronologically.  Note the date of the poem: the verses tell us that David is praising God for His deliverance from his enemies and Saul.  Now, Saul has been dead a long time at this point chronologically, so it is not a stretch to say that this section was composed at a much earlier, pre-Bathsheba, time in David’s life.  If you want an alternative explanation, you could also argue that David made his repentance and sin offerings for his sins, so he could have seen himself as innocent in God’s eyes because he had taken the legal steps to purify himself of the stain of sin.  I could see either one of these as good explanations.

Q. I always thought the entire Bible was dictated from God.  But, the Psalms are praising God, not from God.

A. Nope.  What you are describing is a caricature of the most commonly understood concept of Biblical inspiration.  What the Bible tells us, in 2 Timothy 3:16 among other places, is that the words of scripture are God-breathed.  That is, God inspired, but did not “dictate” if you will, the words that He desired to have been written down.  And in this regard, this makes sense.  If God “dictated” the words of the Bible — as He did in the Quran according to devout Muslims for example — then we would expect to hear only one “voice” in the text.  But the Bible claims to be something very different from a “cosmic typewriter”: it claims to be the recordings of many people, men and women, who encountered the Living God and wrote down their experiences.  Sometimes, they are writing down words for God directly (we will see this in the Prophets section coming up, and we already saw it in the Law section), but other times, we see it contains words that people like David and many others record describing their relationships with God.  Frankly, Psalms is a great example of the free expression we see in scripture: many of the words that it contains are borderline blasphemous, but they are the real words that people use to talk to God in the midst of their trials and anger or disappointment with Him.  You will see no other book that captures this spirit of recording encounters with God better than the Psalms.  Don’t think of the Bible as something God handed down to us, think of it as an inspired recording of more than 1500 years of encounters with this incredible Being as He moved amongst His chosen people to save the entire world.

Q. (Psalm 18:35): David made reference to God’s right hand here.  Is that of any significance?

A. There’s a few meanings that would be relevant for us.  First, a warrior would (most likely) carry a weapon such as a spear or sword with his right hand, so the image is symbolic of a person fighting for David’s cause (note that the weapon on the right hand comes after the image of the shield, most often worn on the left hand).  Also, the image of God’s right hand will continue to evolve and become associated with the imagery of the Messiah.  This comes from the double meaning of right hand: the first, as we mentioned, was weapons-baring, but it also meant a close advisor in a king’s court — the person seated at the right hand would have been the most important person next to the king.  It would have been the person’s chosen advisor or warrior, which is exactly the image that we want in the concepts of Messiah, God’s chosen or anointed one.

Day 120 (April 30): Barzillai honors David, David is kind to Barzillai, Israelites and Judah argue over king, Sheba’s revolt, Joab kills Amasa, wise woman delivers head of Sheba, David’s song against evil, David settles conflict with Gibeonites

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

2 Samuel 19:31-20:26

Psalm 7

2 Samuel 21:1-22

1 Chronicles 20:4-8

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Samuel 20:10): So, Amasa was stabbed because he took more than 3 days to notify Judah?  What’s the big deal?  His slowness stalled their plans or they may think he was up to something besides notifying Judah?

A. No, David had no knowledge about Joab’s plans: Joab killed Amasa to ensure that he remained commander of David’s army.

Q. (20:16-22): What?  This woman’s actions do not follow protocol.  This is quite a little story.  She is quite wise and how did she get Sheba’s head?

A. It is quite a story.  She was apparently a town elder who had great influence.  Sheba and his men were likely under the protection of the city (they probably agreed to terms before Sheba’s men came into the city).  This woman apparently was able to convince the townspeople that they had gotten a bad deal — there was no way Sheba was going to stop Joab — and they turned on him.

Q. (21:1-14): I don’t see a correlation between Saul and his family murdering the Gibeonites and a famine.  I thought God had little concern for Saul and the Gibeonites are not Israelites.  So, why a focus on this conflict?  This story is confusing to me.  I thought a while back, David had asked if any of Saul’s descendants were still living.  I thought Mephibosheth was the only one.  And, he came to live with David … or eat at his table anyway.  So, where did all of these other children come from?  So, Saul had both a son and a grandson with the name Mephibosheth?

A. Let’s untangle this: we do not know about where these other sons of Saul came from — the Chronicler doesn’t mention any other descendants — so I don’t have a good answer for that.  They may have been more distant relatives of his or the children of slaves/concubines and therefore “lesser” children (I know that sounds horrible).  Regarding the famine, back in Joshua 9 (from Day 83), the Gibeonites were the clever tribe who tricked the Israelites into signing a treaty of protection, which the people swore in God’s name.  Saul’s efforts to eliminate tribe violated this vow, and God was apparently not pleased.

Q. (21:15-22): Why are the giants important?  Are the four that were killed here the last of them?  It’s interesting that the Israelites would battle with Goliath’s brother.

A. The significance of their story is really about their defeat by David’s men.  This is a bit of sabre rattling in which the writer is saying, like their king who killed Goliath, David’s men were so fearsome in battle that they could kill giants too.

Day 111 (April 21): Ishbosheth accuses Abner, Abner joins David, Joab takes revenge on Abner, David sings at Abner’s funeral, Ishbosheth murdered, Murderers killed

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.

2 Samuel 3:6-4:12

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Samuel 3:6-21): I am surprised that Abner is aligning with David after being at Saul’s right hand for so many years.  Being at the helm with Saul, Abner should know everything that went on between Saul and David.  He should know both of their motives.  Maybe he could see that David was the more righteous and Ishbosheth’s accusation of Abner sleeping with one of Saul’s concubines was the last straw?  It’s nice to see Michal back, but it would be nice if she could choose whom she wants to call her husband.  No. 2 obviously cared for her deeply.

A. We can certainly read into the story that tensions between Ishbosheth and Abner rose, and this was a breaking point.  Ishbosheth accusation is a strong one: it would have been a great insult to Saul’s memory for one of his generals/leaders to sleep with one of his wives/concubines.  So it is unsurprising that Abner reacts the way he does.  Regarding Michal, we don’t know much about her situation, but I can tell you the next time she appears on the scene, it will not be a pleasant encounter with David.  Perhaps she really did miss hubby #2.

Q. (3:30): So, all is fair in war, but killing someone after the fact is not?  Sounds good to me, but I’m sure that Joab still felt a lot of anger toward Abner for killing his brother.

A. Joab is acting as a family avenger for his brother, which was the reality of the world that the ancient Israelites lived in.  David obviously does not approve of this action, even though Joab is acting in what would have been seen as a proper incidence of the taking of vengeance.  It was a brutal world, and in many places, it still is.

Q. (3:31): David is called king now?

A. David has been king of Judah for some time; we saw reference to it in our reading from yesterday (2 Samuel 2:4).  And though God has declared him king of all Israel, it is clear that the entire nation is not ready to follow him yet, but it won’t take long.

Q. (4:1-3): I don’t know what “paralyzed with fear” means.

A. Oftentimes the writer of these volumes — and ancient societies in general — will use actions of one person — in this case the king — to describe the situation for an entire group of people (Israel).  So basically, the writer is referring to Ishbosheth’s fear and using the image as a representation of the mindset of the entire people.  Ishbosheth is greatly fearful after Abner’s death — don’t forget it was Abner who put him on his throne — and like his father, Ishbosheth appears to be succumbing to fear-based decision making — in this case, making no decisions.  Ishbosheth was so fearful that he could not decide how to act, so in this sense he was “paralyzed” with fear.

Q. (4:5-12): And we think Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are bad.  I think David needs to make an order that there will be no more killing out of vengeance.  I’ve read about enough decapitations for a while.

A. Um, don’t hold your breath that the killing will stop.  David’s rule will be peaceful for a while, but will quickly turn bloody, even within his own house.