1 KINGS 1:1-53 | ACTS 4:1-37 | PSALM 124:1-8 | PROVERBS 16:24
The time for King David to name a successor is at hand. At the prompting of his prophet Nathan and his wife Bathsheba, Solomon, David’s son by Bathsheba is appointed the new king. All this, even while one of David’s other sons, Adonijah had rounded up supporters and had himself appointed as king! The more things change, the more they stay the same…
But Solomon is the rightly appointed king and when Adonijah is brought to him, Solomon has the option of ridding himself of trouble right then and there by having his brother imprisoned or even put to death. Solomon, however, chooses to do something different altogether: he says to Adonijah: “Go to your home.”
Justice, you see, is trumped by this thing called Forgiveness.
Turning now to our reading in the book of Acts, we see that the incident from yesterday where Peter and John healed the lame man has caused quite the stir among the Sanhedrin, the religious group in the Temple. They want to know how and why and by what right Peter is doing such an atrocious thing: healing a lame man—how dare he do that! Imagine the audacity to think he could help a lame man!
But Peter, in the most unwavering way, has this to say in response: “Rulers and elders of the people! 9 If we are being called to account today for an act of kindness shown to a man who was lame and are being asked how he was healed, 10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
But the Sanhedrin is in a bind: how to shut up these two men, Peter and John, and prevent yet another following of the kind from a year or so ago? They tell Peter that he is not to come into the Temple courts anymore, and in particular, the name of Jesus is not to be mentioned.
And Peter says to them: “Which is right in God’s eyes: to listen to you, or to him? You be the judges! 20 As for us, we cannot help speaking about what we have seen and heard.” Great answer, don’t you think?
How can you NOT talk about the miraculous things that you have seen with your own eyes, and why would you not wish to share it for as long as you shall live? No threat of pain or death could prevent Peter from speaking this truth. But Peter was not emboldened in his own sense of self; he was humble to recognize the gift of the Holy Spirit that had been bestowed upon him, and he sought the hand of the Lord to continue to guide him. The prayer that he prays is an indication of this.
The text says that Peter prayed along with the others is noted in this way: “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heavens and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. 27 Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. 28 They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. 29 Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness. 30 Stretch out your hand to heal and perform signs and wonders through the name of your holy servant Jesus.”
And thus, the early church was built. Upon faith and in great humility to receive the gifts of healing so as to minister to their fellow men.
Turning now to our reading of the psalms, we find a psalm of praise that speaks of God’s continued provision and protection to the people of Israel. I daresay that even today, this very prayer is offered up for the same bounties being received by the nation of Israel, as she sits surrounded by enemy nations on all sides. David says this:
6 Praise be to the LORD,
who has not let us be torn by their teeth.
7 We have escaped like a bird
from the fowler’s snare;
the snare has been broken,
and we have escaped.
8 Our help is in the name of the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.
Finally, one verse from the book of Proverbs authored by King Solomon, another great king of Israel who had much to say about the importance of employing discretion in our speech with one another. May this serve as a daily reminder to the importance of gracious words:
24 Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones.