Three Principles for When I Feel Like I Don’t Wanna Get Out of Bed Ever

I know, from reading James before in the KJV, that Elijah was “subject to like passions as we are” (James 5:17). I know, from reading James before in the ESV, that Elijah was “a man with a nature like ours.” I know that the great prophet who stood up to King Ahab, the one who took on 450 prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel with a pyrotechnics performance never before seen on earth, that, from reading James before, he was just a human being, a guy wired much like me. And I know, from reading 1Kings this morning, that Elijah was done!

When [Elijah] came to Beer-sheba that belonged to Judah, he left his servant there, but he went on a day’s journey into the wilderness. He sat down under a broom tree and prayed that he might die. He said, “I have had enough! LORD, take my life, for I’m no better than my ancestors.” Then he lay down and slept under the broom tree.

(1Kings 19:3b-5a CSB)

I’ve had enough! Take me home, Lord! My accomplishments count for nothing. I don’t have it in me to try again. I’m just going to lay here and sleep the sleep of the depressed. Not getting out of bed until forever.

Heavy sigh! A man subject to like passions as we are. In a word, relatable.

So, I take note of three commands found in this passage. Not commands like “The Big Ten” from Mt. Sinai, but more down to earth commands for those subject to like passions. And in noting those commands, they form some principles which I think could apply to the rest of us with a nature like Elijah’s who was “human just like us” (MSG).

Suddenly, an angel touched him. The angel told him, “Get up and eat.” Then he looked, and there at his head was a loaf of bread baked over hot stones, and a jug of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again. Then the angel of the LORD returned for a second time and touched him. He said, “Get up and eat, or the journey will be too much for you.” So he got up, ate, and drank. Then on the strength from that food, he walked forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God. He entered a cave there and spent the night. . . .

Then [the LORD] said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the LORD’s presence.” At that moment, the Lord passed by . . .

Then the LORD said to him, “Go and return by the way you came.” . . .

(1Kings 19:5b-9, 11a, 15a CSB)

Get up and eat. Go out and stand. Go and return. A three-course meal this morning.

Depression is not a sin nor a shameful weakness . . . it’s what comes with being “subject to like passions.” It is the frailty of the flesh encountering the immensity of life. And sometimes, you’re just done. Wanna call it a day. Crawl into bed and tell everyone to wake you up never.

But if there’s something in this passage to help with how to combat that inevitability (and I think there is), then it’s worth noting for the next time I can’t seem to get out of bed.

Not to be overly simplistic with a complex issue, but at the heart of what’s here, could the principles at play here be: 1) give attention to your physical self — Get Up and Eat; 2) then attend to your spiritual self — Go Out and Stand; 3) and do so with the intent to trust God again with all yourself — Go and Return? I’m thinkin’ there could be.

There’s a lot that can be invoked to make sure we are seeking to be healthy physically. Everything from enough water, a proper diet, and a daily walk, to addressing chemical imbalances through some sort of supplements. Equally, go out and stand in the presence of God might engage everything from solitude and prayer to crowded fellowship around the word. And going and returning? Well, only as we discern the will of God, and trust the will of God, will we know what those paths look like.

Again, so cautious about being too simplistic. Just some high-level, simple principles here while recognizing that the deeper we are in “being done” the more complex the details for addressing the physical and spiritual needs so that eventually we become “undone.”

But for this morning, Get up and eat; Go out and stand; and Go and return are the principles of encouragement I’m taking into the day.

Glad I got out of bed.

And that, by God’s grace. And that, for God’s glory.

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Give Me Understanding

The songwriter appeals to the One who made him to help him. Give me understanding, he pleads, help me figure this out and to trust you as I do.

Your hands made me and formed me;
give me understanding
so that I can learn Your commands.

(Psalm 119:73 CSB)

In this section of David’s ode of love to the word of God, stanza 10 of 22, I wonder if his opening plea isn’t so much about understanding the meaning of God’s word but rather understanding how to apply God’s word. For, he also asks God to “comfort me” (v.76) and beckons, “May Your compassion come to me” (v.77), even as he declares “for I put my hope in Your word” (v.74b). So, what’s going down that’s causing the psalmist to look up?

Let the arrogant be put to shame
for slandering me with lies;
I will meditate on Your precepts.

(Psalms 119:78 CSB)

Slandered. Lied about. Put to shame. I listened to an audiobook last year, For Shame: Rediscovering the Virtue of a Maligned Emotion, where the author, Greg Ten Elshof, defines shame as the loss of social capital within a community you care about. Because of what had been said about him, the psalmist seems to have lost the esteem of the community he refers to as “those who fear You” and “those who know Your decrees”, so he longs that they would again see him and rejoice with him and turn to him (v.74, v.79). But while that is his hope, it does not appear to be his reality as he pens this stanza. And so, he pleads to the One who made him, “Give me understanding.”

Shamed. Disregarded, at least by some. And what does the songwriter do? Turns to the word. “I put my hope in Your word” (v.74). “Your instruction is my delight” (v. 77). “I will meditate on Your precepts” (v.78). What does the songwriter desire? “May my heart be blameless regarding Your statutes” (v.80).

So, what drives someone slandered falsely to cast themselves into God’s word unreservedly? A desire to understand, it would seem. But what is it he wants to make sense of? I’m thinking it’s centered on the verse I’m particularly chewing on this morning.

I know, Lord, that Your judgments are just
and that You have afflicted me fairly.

(Psalms 119:75 CSB)

Slandered by liars, yet believing he has also been afflicted fairly by the Lord. Noodle on that for a bit. No wonder his cry is, “Give me understanding!”

God was not the author of the slander, nor did He evoke the lies, but He would permit the hardship and harness it for His purposes. He would allow the shame in order to sanctify His saint. And the remedy for the injustice suffered by the songwriter? God’s justice. The balm for the shame? The Word illuminated by the Spirit.

So, give me understanding.

By Your grace. For Your glory.

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Beware the Hospitality of Bethel

1Kings 13 is a head-scratcher.

A prophet from Judah, “a man of God”, is told to go to Bethel and cry out against the altar, the idolatry, and the man-made religion established there by Jeroboam, king of the northern kingdom, Israel. The prophet does so. And, he does so faithfully and fearlessly. So confident is he that he has acted in obedience to the word of the Lord that he refuses any attempt by the rogue king to compromise him by offering him some hospitality and a taste of the fruits of Bethel’s corrupt culture.

Then the king declared to the man of God, “Come home with me, refresh yourself, and I’ll give you a reward.”

But the man of God replied, “If you were to give me half your house, I still wouldn’t go with you, and I wouldn’t eat food or drink water in this place, for this is what I was commanded by the word of the Lord: ‘You must not eat food or drink water or go back the way you came.’ ” So he went another way; he did not go back by the way he had come to Bethel.

(1Kings 13:7-10 CSB)

So far, so good.

Until a certain old prophet living in Bethel (aka a corrupted citizen of Bethel himself) intercepts the prophet from Judah as he’s leaving and says, “Come to my house for dinner.” The prophet from Judah stands his ground, “No way! God told me to not eat or drink of this place and to leave in a way different from how I came. That’s what I’m doing.” But the old prophet from Bethel deceives God’s man from Judah.

He said to him, “I am also a prophet like you. An angel spoke to me by the word of the Lord: ‘Bring him back with you to your house so that he may eat food and drink water.’ ” The old prophet deceived him, and the man of God went back with him, ate food in his house, and drank water.

(1Kings 13:18-19 CSB)

And here’s where it get’s hard for the reader. As they are eating together at the table, (aka the “smoking gun” is in the prophet from Judah’s hands) the old man really does get a word from the Lord.

. . . and the prophet cried out to the man of God who had come from Judah, “This is what the Lord says: ‘Because you rebelled against the Lord’s command and did not keep the command that the Lord your God commanded you ​— ​but you went back and ate food and drank water in the place that he said to you, “Do not eat food and do not drink water” — your corpse will never reach the grave of your ancestors.’ ”

(1 Kings 13:21-22 CSB)

And his corpse didn’t. After leaving the old man’s house, the prophet from Judah is attacked and killed by a lion on his way back to Judah, and his dead body, though divinely protected (aka not eaten by the lion but instead guarded by the lion), is buried in Bethel.

Crazy! How harsh! He was lied to, after all! So, what’s the lesson to be learned (1Cor. 10:6)?

I don’t know exactly. Bottom line though, is that the prophet from Judah did disobey, he did rebel against what the Lord had expressly told him not to do. Yes, he was deceived. Yet, I guess he got what he deserved.

But did the deception only serve to reveal something of his heart’s desire? While he decried Bethel, he still partook of the fruits of Bethel. His was a tale as old as time itself — Bethel was his tree in the garden (Gen. 2:15-16, 3:1-7). While he knew the word of the Lord, he then listened to a deceiver, ate of the fruit, and he died.

Even if you know Bethel is corrupt, even if you stand up and say Bethel is idolatrous, beware the temptation of the hospitality of Bethel. Heed the word of the Lord you have received and stand fast upon it.

And thank God we don’t get what we deserve. Thank God that Jesus paid the price for our desire to dabble in the idolatry and the corruption of Bethel even when we seek to stand against it. Thank God that if we confess our sin, He is faithful and just to forgive our sins (1Jn. 1:9).

Only by God’s grace. Always for God’s glory.

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Jesus Increased

Another “report card” on Jesus early years. Another “wait-a-minute” moment as I try and noodle again on what it meant for God the Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, God fully God, to take on flesh and become a man. Jesus increased.

And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and with people.

(Luke 2:52 CSB)

Yesterday, I meditated on the fact that, while God has need of nothing, Jesus being fully human needed grace. This morning, I’m chewing on the fact that Jesus increased.

I read these two words this morning and the bible study we did a couple of years ago on the attributes of God came to mind (a Spirit thing, I’m trusting). In particular, the study about how God is unchanging. The theological name for that attribute? God is immutable.

God’s immutability means that God doesn’t grow in some areas or deteriorate in others. To change would mean that God would have a “before” condition and then an “after” condition, implying the passage of time. But God is outside of time. To change would mean that if He became better at something, or possessed more of something, then at some point before then He was less than perfect in that thing. But God is perfect. To change would mean that God would experience something new, but how’s that possible if, in order for God to be God, He must be omniscient, knowing everything? God is immutable. Jesus, being God, is by His very nature unchanging. Yet Jesus increased in wisdom and stature.


Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh . . .

(1Timothy 3:16a ESV)

I sort of get that Jesus had to increase in stature, that being human meant that His body must mature and grow up (though, that the God who is without limit or constraint would confine Himself to a physical vessel is mind-stretching in and of itself). But that Jesus also increased in wisdom? Hmmm . . .

How does someone increase in something that they have sourced since before the foundation of the world? In the beginning, Jesus created all things (Jn. 1:1-3, Col. 1:15-16). In the beginning, Wisdom created all things (Prov. 8:22-31). Jesus is Wisdom. Wisdom is Jesus. So, how does Jesus increase in something He simply just is?

I don’t really know. All I know is that Jesus emptied Himself (whatever that fully means) when He took on flesh (Php. 2:7). And from that “emptied state”, the One who was fully God and always God lived out, in time and space, what it was to increase. And so, the One who is Wisdom, and was always Wisdom, increased in wisdom. Great indeed is the mystery of godliness!!!

Great indeed is what Jesus allowed Himself to experience in order to be the perfect Redeemer for those in desperate need of a perfect redemption.

Such is God’s incomprehensible grace. To God be the glory!

Amen, again?

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God’s Grace Was On Him

I’ve been reading “favor” for so many years in the ESV that when I encounter “grace” in the CSB this morning it kind of stops me in my tracks. After all, what did Jesus need grace for?

When [Jesus’ father and mother] had completed everything according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. The boy grew up and became strong, filled with wisdom, and God’s grace was on Him.

(Luke 2:39-40 CSB)

That God’s “favor” would be with the boy Jesus as He grew up resonates. After all, thus says the LORD, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased” (Mt. 3:17). Of course God the Father’s favor was upon the Son. But His grace? What’s that about? What need did Jesus have for grace?

He had no need for unmerited favor shown to sinners. The boy Jesus was Immanuel, God with Us, God incarnate, God fully God. While fully human, still without sin. Thus, having no need for mercy (not receiving what you deserve for sin), nor for grace, receiving what you do not deserve, as He deserved it all. He had no need for the righteousness of Christ to be credited to His account. He owned the account! So, why was God’s grace on Him?

Simply a reference to the fact that He grew up loved of the Father and blessed by Him? For sure. Whatever the young Jesus’ formative years were, they were formed under the watchful eye of the Father and the ever-present care of the Spirit. So, in that sense, God’s grace was on Him.

But could this also be a reminder of the “need’ Jesus allowed Himself to experience by becoming human? Having emptied Himself by taking on the likeness of humanity (Php. 2:7); determined to apprentice as a mediator able to sympathize with our weaknesses as He was tempted in every way as we are, yet with out sin (Heb. 4:15); did Jesus grow up, becoming strong, because He too experienced the divine grace sufficient for all human frailty?

But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is perfected in weakness.” . . . For when I am weak, then I am strong.

(2Corinthians 12:9, 10b CSB)

Jesus, God Himself who needs nothing for He is all in all, “needed” grace as He took on flesh and submitted Himself to becoming man, fully man. He had no need for unmerited favor for sin, but in all ways as we do required all-sufficient grace to walk fully in the human condition. Chew on that for a bit.

Oh, the humility adopted by the One who created everything in heaven and on earth — the One who is before all things and by Him all things hold together (Col. 1:16-17) — that He should know too what it is to be a receiver of God’s grace.

Therefore, He had to be like His brothers and sisters in every way, so that He could become a merciful and faithful high priest in matters pertaining to God, to make atonement for the sins of the people. For since He Himself has suffered when He was tempted, He is able to help those who are tempted.

(Hebrews 2:17-18 CSB)

Like us in every way. Even needing to know God’s grace was on Him.

Growing up by God’s grace. Becoming strong for God’s glory.

Hallelujah! What a Savior!


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Walking Freely In An Open Place

According to my journal, I chewed on and then wrote about this verse in 2013. I did it again in 2018. Another five years have passed, and again the verse catches my eye and my thoughts this morning. Seems to be a cycle here, a five-year renewal plan. How I need the reminder about the secret of walking freely in an open place.

I will walk freely in an open place
because I study Your precepts.

(Psalms 119:45 CSB)

Come on! Isn’t there something inviting about the idea of walking freely in an open place? I’m thinkin’ . . .

Literally the term refers to a “broad” or “wide” (ESV translation) place. The idea is that of freedom (which is how the NIV translates it). “Wide open spaces”, that’s the term Peterson uses in The Message. Unencumbered. Free to do as I want. Tell me that’s not an invigorating thought.

Free to do as I want — but not in a licentious, self-serving, feed the old-nature way. Instead, free to do as I’m inclined to do because my inclination has been informed by heaven-sent precepts. What I desire has been shaped by what I’ve studied — the ways of God for His creation. What I want to do and where I want to walk being the fruit of what I resort to for counsel and where I frequent for clarity concerning living life and living it to the full. I am free to walk in open places as I consult, enquire of, and seek the word of God.

The freedom realized of “no condemnation in Christ” (Rom. 8:1) through the finished work of the cross catapults us into the freedom actualized of walking in the way of Christ by the Spirit of Christ as the Spirit illuminates the Word.

To be sure, we need to work at walking freely. Every morning we wake up to our flesh, our old nature, ready to war against the Spirit (Gal. 5:17). And I’m guessing that, more often than we realize, the enemy is at work in unseen realms to clutter up and choke out open places while misdirecting us to other places. But if our habit is to continually seek God’s way through God’s word then, kind of by default, we wield “the sword of the Spirit”, the word of God (Eph. 6:17b), able to put down the desires of the old man (Gal. 5:16) and stand fast against “cosmic powers of darkness” (Eph. 6:12). As we keep ourselves in His word, we have confidence that we are abiding in His way. Thus, walking freely in an open place.

Did I mention that should jazz us?

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free (Gal. 5:1). And according to the psalmist this morning, at least part of the secret sauce for actually experiencing that freedom is found in studying His word.

Work of God speak!

So that we might walk freely in an open place.

Only by Your grace. Only for Your glory.

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The Privilege

Encountered something in my CSB this morning which, while it may not be the strictest translation of the original, it’s interpretation of the original is certainly impactful.

Where am I reading? Luke’s gospel. What am I reading? Zechariah’s Spirit-filled, prophet declaration after his son, John, is born and named. The CSB translation’s impact? The difference between being “granted” something (ESV) and “given the privilege” of something (CSB). (Note: I am reading the 2017 edition of the CSB. The latest CSB revision, 2020, goes with the more literal rendering, “granted”, as well. But trusting in the providence of God as to the bible I bought, I’m gonna also trust that this meal, though maybe more “processed” than “organic”, is being served up by the Spirit as well.)

[The Lord, the God of Israel] has dealt mercifully with our fathers and remembered His holy covenant–the oath that He swore to our father Abraham. He has given us the privilege, since we have been rescued from the hand of our enemies, to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness in His presence all our days.

(Luke 1:72-75 CSB)

He has given us the privilege . . . to serve Him without fear in holiness and righteousness in His presence all our days.

That’s the prophetic hope of Zechariah through the revelation that his son would make way for the Messiah. The hope of being given the privilege, because of rescue and redemption, to serve in the presence of the God of heaven and earth in holiness and righteousness all his days. Wow! Chew on that for a bit! Yeah, talk about privilege!

How easy it is to slip into thinking of serving God as the price we have to pay for being saved by God, rather than the privilege we get to enjoy because we are also declared holy and righteous in Christ. We get to boldly be in God’s presence! All our days! Starting now and for eternity! And what are you gonna do when you are granted 24/7 access to the holy of holies on a wholly basis? You’re gonna wanna serve! Thus, God hasn’t just granted us to serve Him, He has given us the privilege to serve Him, as well.

It’s not that I have to serve, it’s that I get to serve.

Oh, because of the old man still at work within me, more often than I care to admit I don’t serve as I could, nor serve as I should. Yet, because of the cross, I wake every morning with the new opportunity to live into the forever privilege of serving God in His presence, clothed in the imputed righteousness of Christ. I can’t get tomorrow back, but I got today to live into the privilege.

Yeah, literally I’ve been granted to serve. But devotionally, what a joy to noodle on the reality that I have also been given the privilege to serve.

Only by God’s amazing grace. Always for God’s all-deserving glory.


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For He Will Broaden Your Understanding

Weary from grief (Psalm 119:28). That’s the songwriter’s bottom line — if he were talking in CSB language. If ESV language, “My soul melts away for sorrow.” And if he allowed Peterson to put words in his mouth, “My sad life’s dilapidated, a falling-down barn” (MSG). While we might say “down in the dumps”, the psalmist would say, “down in the dust.” His soul felt one with desert dry earth. Whatever his circumstance, however long he had been in this season, for the psalmist the heaviness was such that at times he just wanted to cry.

Who can’t connect, at least to some degree, at some point in their life? That’s what makes this stanza of Psalm 119 so instructive, it prescribes for the child of God a remedy for the weariness of grief and the dusty condition of an arid soul.

My life is down in the dust;
give me life through Your word.

(Psalm 119:25 CSB)

Give me life through Your word. There it is. And just in case we missed it, he repeats his plea before the heavenly throne of his attentive God. Teach me Your statutes (v.26). Help me understand the meaning of Your precepts (v.27). Strengthen me through Your word (v.28). Graciously give me Your instruction (v.29).

Revival for the worn-out soul is found through God’s word. Opening the book each morning might at first be but an anchor, something solid to cling to when everything else is shifting, but keep at it, and the anchor becomes manna, daily bread, sufficient intake for the day’s needs. And don’t stop, for eventually God’s word becomes life-giving, reviving drink for the dry soul. Though circumstance might not change, hope somehow eventually abounds.

How come? Because in seeking and sitting and savoring the words on the page on our desk, we interact supernaturally with One who breathed out those words and penned them from on high.

I have chosen the way of truth;
I have set Your ordinances before me.
I cling to Your decrees;
Lord, do not put me to shame.
I pursue the way of Your commands,
for You broaden my understanding.

(Psalms 119:30-32 CSB)

When we choose the way of truth as the only way out of the weariness; when we set His word before our eyes and cling to it as the only way out of the dust; when we pursue His revelation though we have little strength to pursue much else; then He will broaden our understanding.

He will. Not our intellect but His intervention. His supernatural intervention. The LORD of Hosts Himself draws near, up close and personal, through the Third Person of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit. The Comforter, the Helper, the Spirit of truth ready, willing, and able “to guide you into all the truth” (Jn. 16:30). The truth about the situation. The truth about you. The truth about Him and His all-sufficient grace and unfailing love. The truth about the power of the gospel to deliver. The truth about the glory soon to be revealed which puts the weariness of this season within the context of the life that will be ours for eternity.

Give me life through Your word!

O’ soul are You weary and troubled? Go to His word. And keep going, keep clinging, keep pursuing. For He will broaden your understanding.

By His grace. For His glory.

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Pray About It

Hovering over the third stanza of Psalm 119 this morning. In it is one of my life verses, not surprised to encounter it. But this morning I also encounter a verse which particularly resonates for the first time. Bottom line, thanks to Spurgeon’s tutoring this morning, I am reminded that I just need to pray about it!

Within Psalm 119:17-24 there are four asks: deal generously (v.17); open my eyes (v.18); do not hide (v.19); take away (v.22). Three of these I’ve chewed on before. The fourth is new food for thought this morning.

The first prayer (v.17) is that God would not deal with the songwriter according to what he deserved, but that God would instead deal bountifully (ESV) with him. The psalmist acknowledging that he first needed God to graciously and generously make him alive to God’s word if he were to have any shot at keeping God’s word.

The next two prayers are flip sides of the same coin. Open my eyes to wondrous things in Your word (v.18) has been the “theme verse” for my morning devo time for years. To accentuate his desire, the psalmist also pleads that God would withhold nothing of His heavenly ways from this earthly wanderer (v.19). You gotta see it in order to receive it. It’s gotta be put on the plate before you can feed on it. How we need the Spirit to open our eyes to what’s in God’s word.

And maybe it’s that ask which is why the last ask ends up rolling around in my head.

Take insult and contempt away from me,
for I have kept Your decrees.

(Psalm 119:22 CSB)

Honestly, while it jumped off the page, I didn’t know quite how to process it. So, as I sometimes do when in the Psalms, I pulled up Spurgeon’s “Treasury” to help me digest this meal.

“These are painful things to tender minds. David could bear them for righteousness sake, but they were a heavy yoke, and he longed to be free from them. To be slandered, and then to be despised in consequence of the vile accusation, is a grievous affliction. No one likes to be traduced, or even to be despised. He who says, ‘I care nothing for my reputation,’ is not a wise man, for in Solomon’s esteem, ‘a good name is better than precious ointment.’ The best way to deal with slander is to pray about it: God will either remove it, or remove the sting from it. Our own attempts at clearing ourselves are usually failures; we are like the boy who wished to remove the blot from his copy, and by his bungling made it ten times worse. When we suffer from a libel it is better to pray about it than go to law over it, or even to demand an apology from the inventor. O ye who are reproached, take your matters before the highest court, and leave them with the Judge of all the earth. God will rebuke your proud accuser; be ye quiet and let your advocate plead your cause.”

— Spurgeon, Treasury of David

Pray about it. What more needs to be said?

Leave it with Me. Yes, Lord.

By Your grace. For Your glory.

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God at Gibeon (2018 Rerun)

Slept in this morning. Time to read, not much time to process, even less time to type. But what grabbed me this morning in 1Kings is something I chewed on a bit 5 years ago. Rerunning that post for this morning’s encouragement.

If he had been in Major League Baseball, his .500 batting average would have been record setting and unprecedented. But stack him up against other followers of God and as a following God average, it kind of stinks.

That’s the thought that comes to mind as I read of Solomon’s start at being king. And maybe that’s why I’m chewing on the fact that God met with Solomon–and blessed Solomon big time–in Gibeon.

I start in on 1Kings 3, and I observe four things in the first four verses:

  1. Solomon made a marriage alliance with Pharaoh king of Egypt. A swing and a miss! What’s he doing marrying a foreign woman? Forbidden. Come out and be separate, says the Lord. Don’t mess with unequal yokes. Especially when it’s with the world from which you were delivered by God’s mighty hand.
  2. Solomon loved the Lord. Home run! That’s what we’re talking about. Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, and might. This is looking promising.
  3. Solomon walked in the statutes of David his father. Attaboy! Now we’re batting .666 (ok, so maybe that’s a bit foreboding in itself . . . whatever). David was a man after God’s own heart and, if the son was going to be like his father, then things are looking favorable for Israel’s king.
  4. Yet he sacrificed and made offerings at the high places. The king went to Gibeon to offer his sacrifices. But the ark is in Jerusalem! Sacrificing at high places was a pagan practice. Right action, wrong venue. Popup foul fly–easily caught for the out. Batting .500. Great, if he’s hitting balls with a stick. Perhaps not so great, at least to my judgmental way of thinking, for someone who “supposedly” loves the Lord.

Good thing I’m not the scorekeeper. Game would be over for Solomon. For so many others. For me!

But here’s what grabbed me this morning:

At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night, and God said, “Ask what I shall give you.”

(1Kings 3:5 ESV)

God meets with Solomon at Gibeon . . . the “hill city” . . . the high place. Despite Solomon’s forbidden alliance with the world and his misdirected worship at Gibeon, God appears to Solomon and says, “Ask. Seek Me. I’m prepared to bless you.”

And it sets up one of the greatest passages in all of Scripture. Solomon, rather than asking for long life, instead of wanting riches and prosperity, above all the ease that would have been his if his enemies were removed, Solomon humbly asks for wisdom and discernment to lead God’s people well. And “it pleased the Lord” (3:10).

Batting 500 on my scorecard. But God is delighted in His servant.

Where I might have written off Solomon because of his poor entrance scores, God, in His abundant grace, meets with the would be king where he’s at. And I think it’s because Solomon truly loved the Lord.

While some of his actions might have been misdirected, his heart desired His God above all things. His longed to be faithful more than he wanted to be set up to be famous. He loved God. God loved Solomon. And, though somewhat out of context, “love covers a multitude of sins” (1Pet. 4:8).

And then I read this:

And Solomon awoke, and behold, it was a dream. Then he came to Jerusalem and stood before the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and offered up burnt offerings and peace offerings, and made a feast for all his servants.

(1Kings 3:15 ESV)

God met with Solomon in Gibeon, then Solomon went up to Jerusalem to worship. God blessed Solomon abundantly where he was at, then Solomon went to where he should have been. Jerusalem wasn’t a requirement; it was a response.

How prone am I to think that I must do, and then God will bless. That if I walk in a manner worthy, only then will God accept my worship. Not saying that we shouldn’t seek to obey, just that I’m so glad God’s not keeping score the way I might before meeting me where I am.

After all, it’s not about keeping score, it’s about loving God.

Not about how well I perform, but that He so loved me that He sent His Son to redeem me, and His Spirit to seal me, and His Word to transform me by the renewing of my mind.

And in that, He will meet me even when I fall short. And in His kindness, lead me to repentance. And through the finished work of the cross, and by the shed blood of His Son, forgive my sin when I confess my sin–cleansing me from all unrighteousness.

Not because of who I am or how good my batting average is.

But because of His abundant grace. And always for His all-deserving glory.

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