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WEEK 31, DAY 3

2 Chronicles 4-5 Read Text; Proverbs 30 Read Text

“Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him.”

2 Chronicles 4-5
Having constructed the temple building, Solomon outfits it: the sea of bronze (twenty cubits wide, like the inner temple); the ten golden lampstands; tables with basins of gold; courts beyond the holiest precincts; bronze doors; various equipment, all cast in the clay along the Jordan.

With the temple finally completed, Solomon populates the treasuries with his father’s stash, and then brings the ark to its place under the cherubim’s outstretched wings, with great pomp and circumstance. At the praise and celebration, the glory of the LORD fills the house of God; the priests are overwhelmed by it.

Proverbs 30
The last two chapters of Proverbs are not by Solomon; Proverbs 30 is attributed to Agur. The tone is slightly melancholy and existential, as we saw some in Psalms and will find in Ecclesiastes, the other book attributed to Solomon. (Ecclesiastes comes after Proverbs, but we will switch back to the New Testament next.)

Agur employs a format we first saw in Proverbs 6: enumeration. Starting with “Two things I ask of you” (v. 7), there are several instances: v. 15-16; v. 18-19; v. 21-23; v. 24-28; v. 29-31. These wonderful, slightly mysterious lists, in typical Proverbs fashion, combine poetry and clear-eyed realism. Wisdom.

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WEEK 31, DAY 2

2 Chronicles 2-3 Read Text; Proverbs 29 Read Text

“The fear of others lays a snare, but one who trusts in the LORD is secure.”

2 Chronicles 2-3
Solomon begins to build the temple. While God gave explicit instructions to Moses about the tent of meeting, Solomon is not instructed directly by the LORD, although the descriptions of the temple track closely with what Moses heard from God about the temple when it was housed in a tent.

There are 153,600 aliens residing in Israel; they are all conscripted: 70,000 laborers, 80,000 stonecutters, and 3,600 overseers.

The temple is ornate, with many surfaces overlaid with gold. Two cherubim whose wings touch the walls and each other; the curtain separating the Holy of Holies; and two columns outside are described in great detail.

Proverbs 29
A number of bracing proverbs here, beginning with v.1! Flattery, bad (v. 5); knowing the rights of the poor, good (v. 7). Scoffing, bad as always (v. 8)—I continue to be impressed how much attention scoffing gets in proverbs, yet how little in modern Christian discourse. Quietly holding back anger, good (v. 11). Hasty speech bad (v. 20); trusting the LORD, good (v. 25).

One of the most thought-provoking to me is v. 13: “The poor and the oppressor have this in common: The LORD gives light to the eyes of both.” Worthy of reflection and discussion.

WEEK 31, DAY 1

1 Chronicles 29, 2 Chronicles 1 Read Text; Proverbs 28 Read Text

“O LORD our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own.”

1 Chronicles 29, 2 Chronicles 1
The palace intrigue and family struggles of David’s reign and Solomon’s succession—so prominent in 2 Samuel and 1 Kings—are not included in Chronicles. This version emphasizes facts and figures; events unfold in an orderly manner.

David contributes generously to the construction of the temple, prompting a similar outpouring from each tribe’s leaders. David offers a magnificent prayer before the people; there are sacrifices and celebration; Solomon is made king “a second time,” with everyone pledging allegiance to him.

Solomon’s request for wisdom (2 Chronicles 1:7-13) echoes what we read in 1 Kings, but his ruthless consolidation of power is not mentioned.

Proverbs 28
At last a brief overlap of Proverbs with an account of Solomon’s reign! At this point the wise king’s perspective has become clear: we are used to observations that fly in the face of what we might expect, simple phrases that capture the complexity of deep truths. These impressions will flesh out the 2 Chronicles account of his reign.

Have you ever thought that simply by abiding by the law we are struggling against the wicked (v. 4)? Or that ignoring it turns our prayers into an abomination (v. 9)?

When we see someone begging on the street, do we believe and act on v. 27?

TIME TO CELEBRATE!

Congratulations! We’re already halfway!

A big accomplishment
When we started Bible Swim last Advent, 60 weeks seemed like a long time, and here we are already finishing up Week 30: Halfway through the entire Bible!

Give yourself a pat on the back! If you’ve been along for the entire journey, I don’t need to tell you how impactful it’s been. If you’ve been dipping in and out, or only recently joined the swim, welcome! The water’s fine—come on in and splash around some more!

30 weeks down, 30 to go! Happy swimming!!!

WEEK 30, DAY 6

1 Chronicles 27-28 Read Text; Proverbs 27 Read Text

“Be strong and of good courage, and act. Do not be afraid or dismayed; for the LORD God, my God, is with you.”

1 Chronicles 27-28
Fascinating logistics: each month one of the twelve tribes of Israel fields a force of 24,000 warriors who serve in Jerusalem for that month, and then are replaced by 24,000 from the next tribe, throughout the year. Leaders of each tribe are enumerated, as are various administrative officials: the king’s treasurer, the provincial treasurer; those in charge of farming; vineyards; wine-making; olive oil; sheep; camels; donkeys. A large force to maintain daily operations under King David!

David assembles everyone to confirm that Solomon is to reign and to build the temple. Plans have been drawn up, supplies catalogued and stored; everything is ready.

Proverbs 27
The admonitions of Proverbs 27 consistently encourage a healthy skepticism regarding our own perceptions in the face of reality. Here the poetry of these proverbs is especially clear: what is more compelling than the simple phrase, “Better is open rebuke than hidden love”? How dry it would be to hear, “Our attitudes are affected by our circumstances;” how much more effective “The sated appetite spurns honey, but to a ravenous appetite even the bitter is sweet.”

My favorite proverb in this chapter has to be v. 14!

The chapter ends with an encouraging picture of the result of paying attention to what matters.

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WEEK 30, DAY 5

1 Chronicles 25-26 Read Text; Proverbs 26 Read Text

“Like a thornbush brandished by the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of a fool.”

1 Chronicles 25-26
David continues to staff up the temple. Here we find an Old Testament version of the Partridge Family: Heman and his fourteen sons and three daughters, directed by Dad “for the music in the house of the LORD with cymbals, harps, and lyres for the service of the house of God” (25:4-6)! But that’s not all—in total there are 288 relatives all trained in singing, to keep the music going!

What may seem to modern sensibilities odd—that relations stick to the same trade—continues with descriptions of families not only of musicians, but of gatekeepers; treasurers; treasury guards; overseers and judges.

Proverbs 26
I realize I’ve said this before, but Proverbs 26 is definitely one of my very favorites! I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but the first eleven verses—each one vivid and worthwhile in its own right—are also a long set-up to a wonderful punch line in verse 12! Snap!

The theme of foolishness and its cousins continues: laziness, meddlesomeness, deceit, whispering, quarrelsomeness, “smooth lips,” dissembling, lying, flattery. Each of these has its own particular consequence; each warning builds on the previous ones to create a family of attitudes to avoid. Finally, warnings along the lines of “what goes around comes around.”

WEEK 30, DAY 4

1 Chronicles 23-24 Read Text; Proverbs 25 Read Text

“If your enemies are hungry, give them bread to eat; and if they are thirsty, give them water to drink; for you will heap coals of fire on their heads, and the LORD will reward you.”

1 Chronicles 23-24
David, as an old man, makes his son Solomon king.

He also continues to put everything in order to prepare for his son’s reign, and for the construction of the temple. The role of the Levites previously charged with setting up, taking down, and moving the Tent and Tabernacle change, now that the temple will be permanently located in Jerusalem. They will assist and support the descendants of Aaron who act as priests. Their assistance will include twice-daily “thanking and praising the LORD.”

The Levites, their numbers, genealogy, and their new assignments are described at some length. All this is overseen by David.

Proverbs 25
An interesting note at the start of the chapter: while these are Solomon’s proverbs, it is the officials of King Hezekiah of Judah—many generations later—writing them down.

A series of comments on kings conclude (v. 6-7) with advice echoed by Jesus in Luke 14:8-11. They are followed by remarks about court Jesus also echoes (Matthew 5:25, Luke 12:58), along with Paul (1 Corinthians 6).

Next, a particularly vivid series of short aphorisms, including colorful advice about how to treat enemies (v. 21-22), quoted in Romans 12:20. It’s possible to imagine nearly every verse here as a poster, greeting card, or needlepoint pillow!

WEEK 30, DAY 3

1 Chronicles 21-22 Read Text; Proverbs 24 Read Text

“David looked up and saw the angel of the LORD standing between earth and heaven, and in his hand a drawn sword stretched out over Jerusalem.”

1 Chronicles 21-22
David is incited by Satan to undertake a census, over the objections of Joab. The consequence is a pestilence that destroys 70,000 people. (David chooses this option using his typical reasoning.) David then asks God to punish him, not the people.

The result of this series of events, though, is the selection of the site of the temple that Solomon is to build: Ornan’s threshing floor, where God answers David’s plea to stop the plague.

Following site selection, David stockpiles materials, and encourages Israel’s leaders to “set your mind and heart to seek the LORD your God” in preparation for the temple’s construction.

Proverbs 24
Many of the sayings here are a bit longer and more complex than the shorter aphorisms we have mostly seen. Some evocative images: a house filled with “all precious and pleasant riches” by knowledge (v. 3-4). Some not-so-obvious observations about knowledge and strength (v. 5-6).

More against scoffing (v. 9), which is consistently condemned throughout Proverbs, and against calling the wicked innocent (v. 24).

Two intriguing scenes sketched out among more typical proverbs: first, the responsibility of knowledge (rescue those “staggering to the slaughter”) and God’s understanding of ignorance and innocence (v. 10-12). Later, a vision of the consequences of laziness (v. 30-34).

WEEK 30, DAY 2

1 Chronicles 19-20 Read Text; Proverbs 23 Read Text

“Do not let your heart envy sinners, but always continue in the fear of the LORD. Surely there is a future, and your hope will not be cut off.”

1 Chronicles 19-20
More of the constant battles that mark David’s reign, here against the Ammonites, Arameans, and Philistines. The story of Hanun misreading David’s gesture of loyalty again induces a cringe.

The armies of Israel and their leaders rely on the LORD: “Be strong, and let us be courageous for our people and for the cities of our God; and may the LORD do what seems good to him” (v. 13). This seems an apt expression of healthy balance between initiative and trust, doesn’t it?

Who knew that spring was “the time when kings go out to battle”? One way to look at the season!

Proverbs 23
Better to put a knife to your throat than be seduced by the offerings at a fancy dinner party! So begins a series of admonitions against materialism (associated with stinginess) and what might today be called “living large,” including gluttony, prostitution and drunkenness. The description of “Those who linger late over wine,” (v. 29-35) is particularly graphic and thorough. There is something appropriate and utterly poignant about the words of the drunkard that conclude the chapter.

In the midst of this, various remarks on child-rearing, respect for parents, and the profound, “Buy truth, and do not sell it; buy wisdom, instruction, and understanding” (v. 23).

WEEK 30, DAY 1

1 Chronicles 17-18 Read Text; Proverbs 22 Read Text

“So David reigned over all Israel; and he administered justice and equity to all his people.”

1 Chronicles 17-18
One advantage of reading a second version of the stories of David, Solomon, and the kings that followed is being able to revisit them knowing how everything turns out—David’s reign, and the promises from God about his descendants occupying the throne, are more meaningful (and more tragic) in light of what we have learned reading 1-2 Kings. David’s prayer to God in response to these promises is vintage David: completely open to God; humble; heartfelt.

David is also a warrior; these two chapters show as forcefully as any the complexity of this man who is so humble before God and so ruthless with his enemies.

Proverbs 22
The first sixteen verses describe causes and effects. The sometimes surprising—or at least unexpected—fruit of prudence, humility, caution, training, injustice, generosity, scoffing, purity of heart, laziness, discipline, oppressing the poor, are captured in Proverbs’ typically succinct aphorisms.

Starting with v. 17, there seems to be a re-set of sorts—“The words of the wise.” This section begins with an explicit restatement of the recurring theme that paying attention to wisdom and teaching leads not only to a pleasant life, but “So that your trust may be in the LORD,” which is the ultimate point. Nothing is wiser than trusting God.

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