1 KINGS 9:1-10:29 | ACTS 8:14-40 | PSALM 130:1-8 | PROVERBS 17:2-3
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We continue with the account of the reign of King Solomon. After the completion of the temple and the palace, it appears that Solomon busies himself with the administration of his kingdom and the affairs of state: in building strong alliances with his neighbors and in the distribution of resources, it appears that the people are secure and happy under Solomon. So far and wide does Solomon’s fame soon spread, that the Queen of Sheba, presumed to be the reigning monarch from the land of Ethiopia journeys to the land of Judea to pay a state visit and to commune with King Solomon.
Also, the detail of the account of Solomon’s wealth is to be reckoned with. The text tells us: 23 King Solomon was greater in riches and wisdom than all the other kings of the earth. 24 The whole world sought audience with Solomon to hear the wisdom God had put in his heart. 25 Year after year, everyone who came brought a gift—articles of silver and gold, robes, weapons and spices, and horses and mules.
Turning now to our reading in the book of Acts, we find Peter and John in Samaria where there is evidently a body of believers. With the laying of hands, they pray for the Spirit of the Lord to descend upon these brand-new believers. Simon, the newly-converted, once-sorcerer apparently can’t let go of his old ways of thinking and asks Peter and John to sell him this gift of laying of hands.
Peter’s response is a very clear one: “May your money perish with you, because you thought you could buy the gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this ministry, because your heart is not right before God. 22 Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord in the hope that he may forgive you for having such a thought in your heart. 23 For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.”
It is a good thing that Simon instantly repents of his misguided thinking.
Next there is quite a fascinating account of the ministry of Philip with a traveling Ethiopian identified as a eunuch. This man is reading aloud the scriptures from the book of Isaiah when Philip encounters him and asks if understands what he is reading. No, says the man, can you please explain?
That is the kind of humility that is needed in order for understanding to occur! Philip explains to him the “good news of Jesus” and the man is so convicted that he insists on being baptized at once—baptism being the symbolic gesture of public acknowledgment of accepting Jesus as the Messiah, aka, the Son of God.
Do you see what is happening here? This was a gospel that was for one and all: for Jew and Gentile alike, as also for male, female, and even eunuch. Let it not be said that the sacrifice that was made by Jesus on the cross was only for a select group of people!
Turning now to our psalm of the day, we find one in which the psalmist is plaintively stating his view on the weight of sin and its just rewards. He says:
3 If you, LORD, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
so that we can, with reverence, serve you.
It is indeed comforting that this is a God who does not keep a record of sins; rather, this is a God that offers forgiveness. For if we were to get what we truly deserve, i.e., if we were to receive justice, “who could stand”?! The answer is: no one!
Finally, a beautiful verse from the book of Proverbs wherein Solomon rightfully states that the true test of a man lies in the state of his heart. He says that just as gold is tested in a furnace and silver in a crucible, so also, a person’s heart is the object that God looks at to assess him. Not the person’s education, intelligence, wealth, or reputation—but his heart. Take note:
3 The crucible for silver and the furnace for gold,
but the LORD tests the heart.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.