The Lord Is the Stronghold of My Life

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2 CHRONICLES 35:1-36:23 | 1 CORINTHIANS 1:1-17 | PSALM 27:1-6 | PROVERBS 20:20-21

Josiah is an exception to the string of kings that we’ve seen lately.  Appointed to the throne as king of Judah while yet a boy, Josiah grows up to become a God-fearing king.  One of his significant achievements is the celebration of the Passover by adhering strictly by the book as per the Mosaic tradition. 

This is what the text tells: 16 So at that time the entire service of the LORD was carried out for the celebration of the Passover and the offering of burnt offerings on the altar of the LORD, as King Josiah had ordered. 17 The Israelites who were present celebrated the Passover at that time and observed the Festival of Unleavened Bread for seven days. 18 The Passover had not been observed like this in Israel since the days of the prophet Samuel; and none of the kings of Israel had ever celebrated such a Passover as did Josiah, with the priests, the Levites and all Judah and Israel who were there with the people of Jerusalem. 19 This Passover was celebrated in the eighteenth year of Josiah’s reign.

Josiah, however, dies in battle due to a lapse of good judgment, but at his death, he his mourned by the people, so much so, that Jeremiah, the prophet, is said to have written a series of laments that to this day are recited in Josiah’s remembrance.

Next, there is a series of generations that ascends the throne of Judah, each one more despicable than the other.  Nebuchadnezzar is the king of Babylon who comes in to invade, conquer, and carry back the people as prisoners of war, and the temple treasures as bounty. 

This is what the text says of him:  18 He carried to Babylon all the articles from the temple of God, both large and small, and the treasures of the LORD’s temple and the treasures of the king and his officials. 19 They set fire to God’s temple and broke down the wall of Jerusalem; they burned all the palaces and destroyed everything of value there.

Only seventy years later, when the balance of power has changed to where Cyrus, king of Persia deposes the king of Babylon, is there a ray of hope and light in the lives of the Hebrew children. 

Cyrus the Great, makes this proclamation: “‘The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth and he has appointed me to build a temple for him at Jerusalem in Judah. Any of his people among you may go up, and may the LORD their God be with them.’”

Turning now to our New Testament reading, we commence a brand new book today titled The First Epistle of Paul to the Corinthians, also known as I Corinthians.  This is another letter that Paul has written to the early church in Corinth.  Paul starts out his letter with a strong note of thanksgiving.  May it be that similar words are used when our own fellow-men refer to us in this day and age as well. 

Paul says of his brothers and sisters in Christ:  4 I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. 5 For in him you have been enriched in every way—with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge— 6 God thus confirming our testimony about Christ among you. 7 Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed. 8 He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. 9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.

Paul goes on to offer words of encouragement to these early Christians—both Jew and Gentile alike—to get along one with another and to put aside differences.

Next, our psalm of the day is one in which David, the psalmist, is pouring out his heart and soul to the Lord God, and in doing so, is comforting himself and affirming to himself certain fundamental truths.  Like David, may it be that we would also have the same confidence to utter these very words in our own hour of need.  The psalm is reproduced in its entirety here for our benefit today:

1 The LORD is my light and my salvation
— whom shall I fear?
   The LORD is the stronghold of my life
— of whom shall I be afraid?

2 When the wicked advance against me
to devour me,
it is my enemies and my foes
who will stumble and fall.

3 Though an army besiege me,
my heart will not fear;
though war break out against me,
even then I will be confident.

4 One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life,
to gaze on the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

5 For in the day of trouble
he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
and set me high upon a rock.

6 Then my head will be exalted
above the enemies who surround me;
at his sacred tent I will sacrifice with shouts of joy;
will sing and make music to the LORD.

Finally, two verses from the book of Proverbs, though unrelated one to the other, are both worthy of record and rumination:

20 If someone curses their father or mother,
their lamp will be snuffed out in pitch darkness.

21 An inheritance claimed too soon
will not be blessed at the end.

May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.

8 thoughts on “The Lord Is the Stronghold of My Life

  1. I’ve enjoyed listening to these reflections read aloud. Thank you for taking the time to do this everyday. I was wondering if you ever have the urge to extemporaneously add more commentary while you’re recording? Or do you like to maintain the completeness and integrity of the original work?

  2. Thank you for your kind words and encouragement, as always. You have been a faithful reader of this devotional, and now a faithful listener, and I am very much honored for it.

    As for the recording, it is more or less a recitation verbatim of the post, and I don’t know if I ought to go off extempore for fear that I might mess things up!

    On a related note, however, I am seeking volunteers to do guest readings. Will you please consider doing one or two? It would be wonderful. I will recruit other friends and family as well.

  3. I’ve always been very intrigued by this prayer of David to remain in the house of the Lord forever. Is it a literal prayer to actually pass all this time in the sanctuary? Is it because it is so beautiful or is it so full of the presence of God? I think he is speaking metaphorically, that the house of the Lord symbolizes living in God’s grace, feeling the presence of God, or that awareness of knowing that you are doing God’s will. I just finished reading another of the Navajo mysteries that Tony Hillerman and now his daughter Anne have been writing for decades. I love these books, not only for the stories themselves but also for the descriptions of Navajo culture and customs (not to mention the beautiful settings in the desert Southwest). They often talk about the idea of “hozho,” which is kind of an ideal state that reflects harmony with the natural order and is related symbolically to place as well. It’s sometimes described as “walking in beauty,” also reminding me of the psalmist’s desire to remain close to God, “to gaze on the beauty of the LORD.” As always, thank you for your wonderful reflections on the Word of God!

    1. I liked very much your interpretation for that phrase of living in the house of the Lord. Also, I have always admired native American art and culture. Thank you very much for sharing.

  4. I found an interesting online piece about the temple and temple theology if you care to read: http://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/temple/

    Basically it says that the temple throughout Israel’s history, Jesus’ time, and in the writings of Paul is always paradoxical and symbolic. God cannot be contained in a physical space and yet the temple does have a strong symbolic connection to the presence of God. The temple is at times considered something good and at other times it’s something bad. And Jesus transcends the temple as the locus of God’s presence and predicts its destruction and yet Jesus participated in the rituals of the temple, taught and healed there, and defended its integrity (by driving out the money-changers, for example).

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