Solomon had blown it (1Kings 11:1-8). What had started as a simple marriage of strategic convenience with a daughter of Egypt grew to be a collection of wives–700 princesses and 300 concubines, to be exact–from every tribe, tongue, and nation around them. The nations of which the LORD had said to the people of Israel, “You shall not enter into marriage with them, neither shall they with you, for surely they will turn away your heart after their gods.” But he did marry them. And he proclaimed his love for each of them by building places of worship for their pagan gods. And, just as God had warned, “when Solomon was old his wives turned away his heart after other gods and his heart was not wholly true to the LORD his God.”
And the LORD was angry (11:9). And the King over all kingdoms determined that Solomon’s kingdom would be given to another. But not all of it. Repeatedly through the rest of 1Kings 11, the holy record states, again and again, that a portion of the kingdom, one tribe, would remain in the line of Solomon. And how come? For the sake of David. God had made a promise to David, and though Solomon had turned his back on David’s God, David’s God would ever be true to His word. It was the power of a promise that protected the throne of David.
Then my reading took me to Luke 2. The newborn Jesus is presented before God in Jerusalem by His parents. And there they encounter a righteous and devout man who was waiting for the consolation of Israel (Luke 2:24). And filled with the Holy Spirit he sees the baby in Mary’s arms and knows without a shadow of a doubt that this is the Christ child. And he picks Him up in his arms and blesses God with his mouth, “My eyes have seen Your salvation that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel” (2:28-32). And so, praise breaks forth because of a promise. The old man had waited his whole life to see how could would do what He said He would do. Now, seeing the promised fulfilled, Simon was ready to depart in peace.
On to Ephesians 4. And there the promise plays out in the dynamics of community among the people of promise, those God said He would make His own. Having been saved by grace through faith, they are now to walk in a manner worthy of their calling. These people according to promise would be His chosen nation and would be likened unto a body. Each members of one another (4:25). Exhorted to contend for the unity of the faith. Bearing with one (4:2), being kind to one another, forgiving one another, as God in Christ had forgiven them (4:32). God’s promise on display among God’s people.
God’s promise. It protects. It evokes praise. It brings peace. It becomes tangible when it is lived out by His people.
And then this in my reading in the psalms:
Remember Your word to Your servant,
in which You have made me hope.
This is my comfort in my affliction,
that Your promise gives me life.
(Psalm 119:49-50 ESV)
God’s promise. Our hope. Our comfort. Our ever-sustaining source of life.
Having given us new life in Christ when we first believed the promise, it then continues to energize life when times are tough and sorrow is great, as we again lean on the promise.
It primes the pump of living waters when our thirst is the greatest. If makes more clear than ever the prize when we become weary in the race. It reminds us of treasure in heaven even when we feel bankrupt on earth. It is the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness.
This is our comfort in our affliction . . . His promise.
The promise of His sustaining presence and power for the trials during our sojourn. The promise of a land that awaits which will make it all worth it. The promise of worshiping in His presence on a day yet to come, the likes of which we can only imagine.
His promise gives us life. Life eternal. Life abundant.
Life empowered by His all-sufficient, and ever-sustaining grace. Life lived only for His everlasting glory. Life according to promise.