1:1-2:18 - ‘Give me wisdom’ (1:10). What is the greatest wisdom of all? - It is the ‘wisdom’ which leads to ‘salvation through faith in Christ Jesus’. Where do we find this wisdom? - Read ‘the Holy Scriptures’. Ask God for wisdom - ‘Open my eyes that I may see the wonderful truths in Your Word’. Ask the question concerning salvation - ‘What must I do to be saved?’. God will give you His answer - ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved’ (2 Timothy 3:15; Psalm 119:18; Acts 16:31). Salvation cannot be earned. It can only be received as a gift. It is ‘the gift of God’ (Romans 6:23; Ephesians 2:8). What is wisdom? - It is to say, with Solomon, ‘Our God is greater than all other gods’ (2:5). Nothing else and no-one else can even begin to compare with the Lord. Be wise. Build your life on Him (Matthew 7:24-27).
3:1-5:1 - ‘Work in the Temple of the Lord’ (4:11; 5:1) is no ordinary work. This work is ‘most holy’ (3:8,10; 4:22). Real work for the Lord emerges out of true worship of the Lord. If we are to be the Lord’s workers, we must first be His worshippers. Worship comes first. This is vitally important. Take away worship from the place of highest priority, and you have nothing left - nothing which can really be called the work of the Lord. You may have busy people, doing this, that and the other, but you will not have servants of the Lord doing the work of the Lord - without worship. We sometimes ask, “Where are the workers?”. God asks, “Where are the worshippers?”. Begin to worship the Lord. Keep on worshipping Him. Worship the Lord, and let Him show you ‘what you must do’ (Acts 9:3-6).
5:2-6:42 - Without the blessing of God, our worship is empty. We must look for God’s blessing in the place of worship. What we must pray for is this: ‘the glory of the Lord filled the House of God’ (5:14). We must look for God’s blessing in the pulpit, praying that the preachers of God’s Word will be ‘clothed with salvation’. We must look for God’s blessing in the pews, praying that all of God’s people will ‘rejoice in His goodness’ (6:41). Where does the blessing come from? - It comes from this: God is ‘good’ and ‘His steadfast love endures for ever’ (5:13). All of our praying for the Church can be summed up in this prayer: ‘O Lord God... Remember Your steadfast love...’ (6:42). More than anything else, we must pray for this: ‘God’s love... poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit...’ (Romans 5:5).
7:1-22 - In verse 14, there is a call to prayer and promise of blessing: ‘If My people who are called by My Name humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their hand’. Why is there so little blessing? - ‘You do not have, because you do not ask’. God will bless mightily - when His people pray earnestly. Why does the devil have so many victories among us? - ‘Resist the devil, and he will flee from you’. God will lead us in His way of victory - when we stop tolerating the devil, and start resisting him. Why does God seem so far away? - ‘Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you’ (James 4:2,7-8). God will come near to us - if we will let Him. ‘I stand at the door and knock; if any one... opens the door, I will come in...’ (Revelation 3:20).
8:1-9:31 - In Solomon, we see strength and weakness. He was strong - ‘the House of the Lord was completed’ (8:16). He was also weak. He was infatuated with foreign women, who did not belong among the redeemed people of God. He married ‘Pharaoh’s daughter’, a woman who had no love for ‘the holy places’ of worship (8:11). To the queen of Sheba, a woman who had more love for ‘her own land’ than for life among the people of God, ‘Solomon gave all that she desired’ (9:12). Solomon was a complicated man. He had a real love for the Lord, yet the world still had a strong hold on him. “O let me feel Thee near me: the world is ever near; I see the sights that dazzle, the tempting sounds I hear; My foes are ever near me, around me and within; but, Jesus, draw Thou nearer, and shield my soul from sin’ (Church Hymnary, 434).
10:1-11:23 - We read here of division among God’s people: ‘Israel has been in rebellion against the house of David to this day’ (10:19). What does God say about this? - ‘Do not go up to fight against your brothers (11:4). Jesus tells us that ‘a house... divided against itself cannot stand’ (Mark 3:25). Paul speaks to us ‘in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ’. There are to be ‘no divisions’ among us (1 Corinthians 1:10). God’s Word says that we are ‘all one in Christ Jesus’ (Galatians 3:28). Far too often, our lives tell a very different story. Division among God’s people is a big problem. We must learn to pray in the spirit of Jesus’ prayer. He prayed that ‘all of them may be one’: ‘May they be brought to complete unity to let the world know that You sent Me and have loved them even as You have loved Me’ (John 17:21,23).
12:1-13:22 - ‘He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord’ (12:14). Read these words, and pray - ‘Lord, may these words never be true of me’. These words are a warning to us. Things will only go from bad to worse if we turn back from following the Lord. ‘As for us, the Lord is our God, and we have not forsaken Him’ (13:10). Read these words, and pray - ‘Lord, may these words always be true of me’. This is the better way - God’s way: ‘God is with us; He is our Leader’ (13:12). We read about unbelief and disobedience. We read about faith and obedience. “Do not fight against the Lord... you will not succeed’. ‘Trust and obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey’ (13:12; Mission Praise, 760).
14:1-16:14 - Keep on going! Don’t give up! Asa began so well - ‘Asa did what was good and right in the eyes of the Lord his God’ (14:2). He led the people to the Lord. Under his leadership, the people ‘entered into a covenant to seek the Lord, the God of their fathers, with all their heart and all their soul’ (15:12). Everything seemed to be going so well - until Asa let things slide. He acted ‘foolishly’. He ‘relied on the king of Syria’. He ‘did not rely on the Lord his God’ (16:7-9). There were difficult times ahead for Asa. He became seriously ill. Sadly, he did not return to the Lord - ‘even in his disease he did not seek the Lord’ (16:12). ‘No one who puts his hand to the plough and looks back is fit for the Kingdom of God’. ‘He who endures to the end will be saved’. ‘Let us go on...’ (Luke 9:62; Mark 13:13; Hebrews 6:1).
17:1-18:34 - In 17:3, we read of backsliding - in David, Asa and Jehoshaphat. ‘Jehoshaphat walked in the first ways of his father David’(Authorized Version). David, Jehoshaphat’s ancestor, started off so well - ‘the Spirit of the Lord came upon David in power’. Things fell apart for him when he set his eyes upon Bathsheba (1 Samuel 17:13; 2 Samuel 11:2-5). ‘Jehoshaphat walked in the earlier ways of his father’(Revised Standard Version). Asa, Jehoshaphat’s father, began well. He did not finish well (14:2; 16:12). ‘In his early years Jehoshaphat walked in the (good) ways that his father David had followed’ (New International Version). Sadly, he lost his way - ‘he made a marriage alliance with Ahab’, ‘a man... who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord’ (18:1; 1 Kings 21:25). It can happen to anyone! We must be careful!
19:1-20:37 - ‘I have the desire to do what is good , but I cannot carry it out... When I want to do good, evil is right there with me’ (Romans 7:18,21). In 19:2-3, we see the two sides of Jehoshaphat. In his heart, he wanted to do God’s will, seeking and serving Him. Sadly, however, he did not always follow the promptings of God’s Spirit. He allowed himself to be influenced by ‘those who hate the Lord’. The godly side of Jehoshaphat - ‘O Lord... our eyes are upon You’ - was in conflict with his sinful side - ‘Jehoshaphat... made an alliance with Ahaziah... who was guilty of wickedness’ (20:5-12,35). ‘The desires of the flesh... and the desires of the Spirit... are opposed to each other...’. ‘Live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature’ (Galatians 5:16-17). May God help us to live His way.
21:1-23:21 - We live in difficult times. Many are choosing to do what is ‘evil in the sight of the Lord’ (21:6). We must make another choice, a better choice. We must choose to ‘be the Lord’s people’ (23:16). In this time of great darkness, we have ‘the lamp of the Lord’: ‘Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path’ (21:7; Proverbs 20:27; Psalm 119:105). We must let His lamp shine brightly: ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven’ (Matthew 5:16). The darkness will not overcome the light (John 1:5). Satan will be ‘slain by the sword’. He will be ‘thrown down’. All God’s people, from every land, will rejoice - ‘Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ’ (23:21; Revelation 12:9; 5:9; 1 Corinthians 15:57).
24:1-25:28 - ‘He turned away from the Lord’ (25:27). Things have not changed. Many are turning away from the Lord. We must search our hearts. We must pray for God’s help: ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me, and know my thoughts! And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!’ (Psalm 139:24). We read about the kings who ‘turned away from the Lord’. We must learn from their mistakes. These things are ‘recorded for a generation to come, so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord’ (Psalm 102:18). If we don’t learn from their mistakes, we will repeat their mistakes. Don’t turn away from the Lord. Turn to Him. May God help us to live as His faithful people - ‘Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong’ (1 Corinthians 16:13).
26:1-28:27 - We must not take God’s blessing for granted. King Uzziah began well - ‘He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord... He set himself to seek God’ (26:4-5). Things went wrong - ‘When he was strong he grew proud’ and ‘he was false to the Lord his God’ (26:16). We must choose to live the Lord’s way - King Jotham ‘did what was right in the eyes of the Lord’. Even when we do this, it does not guarantee that others will follow our example - ‘the people still followed corrupt practices’ (27:2). In times of trouble, we can become bitter people - ‘In his time of trouble King Ahaz became even more unfaithful to the Lord’ - or better people - ‘the God of all comfort ... comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble...’ (28:22; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4). Bitter or better - Which will it be?
29:1-36 - God is calling us to be holy - ‘Now sanctify yourselves, and sanctify the House of the Lord, the God of your fathers, and carry out the filth from the holy place’ (5). Before there can be true rejoicing in the Lord - ‘they sang praises with gladness’ - , there must be real dedication to the Lord - ‘We have cleansed all the House of the Lord’ (30,18). Before there can be rejoicing, there must be restoration (35-36). We may pray, ‘Restore, O Lord, the honour of Your Name!’. We must also pray, ‘Cleanse me from my sin, Lord’. The prayer for revival begins with the dedication of our own lives to the Lord - ‘O Holy Ghost, revival comes from Thee; send a revival - start the work in me’ (Mission Praise, 579, 82, 587). Revival can happen ‘suddenly’ (36). It will not happen without a true return to the Lord.
30:1-31:10 - We are called to ‘return to the Lord’. With this call comes God’s promise: ‘the Lord your God is gracious and merciful, and will not turn His face from you, if you return to Him’ (30:9). Where does the desire to return to the Lord come from? - It comes from the Lord Himself: ‘the hand of the Lord was on the people to give them one heart to do what the king and the princes commanded by the Word of the Lord’ (12). Returning to the Lord, we hear His Word of forgiveness: ‘The good Lord pardon every one who sets his heart to seek God’. We rejoice in the Gospel - ‘The vilest offender who truly believes, that moment from Jesus a pardon receives’. ‘ The Lord has blessed His people’. We rejoice in Him - ‘Praise the Lord!... Let the people rejoice’ and ‘let the earth hear His voice’ (18-19; 30:10; Mission Praise, 708).
31:11-32:33 - Seek God and serve God. This is what King Hezekiah did - ‘he did what was good and right and faithful before the Lord his God,... seeking his God... with all his heart’ (31:20-21). Seek God and serve God. This is what we must do. God was good to Hezekiah - ‘the Lord saved Hezekiah...’ (32:22). God is good to us. He saves us. To ‘all the ends of the earth’, He says, ‘Turn to Me and be saved’ (Isaiah 45:22). He calls us to come to Him through Jesus Christ, ‘the Saviour of the world’ (John 4:42). It is so easy to forget the Lord. Hezekiah was delivered from death yet he did not thank the Lord (32:24-25). We may forget the Lord, but He does not forget us. He waits for us to return to Him and receive His forgiveness - ‘the Lord is merciful and gracious... He does not deal with us according to our sins...’ (32:26; Psalm 108:8-13).
33:1-34:13 - Good work can be very quickly undone - ‘Manasseh... did what was evil in the sight of the Lord... he rebuilt the high places which his father Hezekiah had broken down, and set up altars to other gods...’ (33:1-3). We must be careful to follow the godly example of those who have served the Lord well. In Hebrews 11, we read about God’s faithful servants. They served the Lord in their day. We are to serve Him in our day - ‘surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses,... let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus...’ (Hebrews 12:1-2). Bad work can also be undone if, like King Josiah, we are ready to make a new beginning with God (34:1-4). He was only ‘eight years old when he began to reign’. Pray that the children will start loving God now and keep loving Him as they grow older.
34:14-35:19 - During the reign of King Josiah, there was spiritual revival (33). Where did this spiritual revival come from? It came from God. It came from the rediscovery of God’s Word. Where was the Word of the Lord found? - It was found ‘in the House of the Lord’ (34:15). God speaks to us through His Word. Beyond the written Word, there is Jesus Christ, the living Word. The Word of God is preached to us. We listen for the Voice of Jesus Christ, the true and living Word of God. God is speaking His Word in power. This is much more than the opening of a book. It is the opening of our hearts to the Spirit of God. The Holy Spirit is poured into our hearts (Romans 5:5). It is the opening of our hearts by the Spirit of God. Through the Spirit, ‘rivers of living water’ flow out from our hearts (John 7:37-39).
35:20-36:23 - Josiah had been a good king, but ‘he did not listen to the words of Neco from the mouth of God’. His mistake was very costly. He ‘fought’. He was ‘shot’ and ‘badly wounded’. He ‘died’ and was ‘buried’ (35:22-24). Be careful in your listening to God”s Word. Failure to obey His Word will be costly: ‘How shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation?’ (Hebrews 2:3). After Josiah’s time, there was terrible spiritual decline. Beginning with Jehoahaz (1-2; 2 Kings 23:31-32), the kings ‘did what was evil in the sight of the Lord’ (5,9,11-12). Was there any hope for the future? - Yes! ‘The Lord stirred up the spirit of Cyrus king of Persia... to build Him a House at Jerusalem’. Like Cyrus, we must say to our neighbours, ‘Let us go to the House of the Lord’ (36:22-23; Psalm 122:1). His time of blessing may not be far away!