Tag Archives: Providence

1 Kings 1:2-4 – A conspiracy in disguise…

1 Kings 1:2-4 

2. Therefore his servants said to him, “Let a young woman, a virgin, be sought for our lord the king, and let her stand before the king, and let her care for him; and let her lie in your bosom, that our lord the king may be warm.” 

 3. So they sought for a lovely young woman throughout all the territory of Israel, and found Abishag the Shunammite, and brought her to the king. 

 4. The young woman was very lovely; and she cared for the king, and served him; but the king did not know her. (‭NKJV)
King David was about 70 years old at that time. He felt cold. They put many covers over him. But there was no relief. Picture a David shivering, trembling & unable to care for himself. 

So, his servants suggested that a young virgin be appointed to look after him. This woman was to care for David the way a wife would – “…lying in his bosom…” and keeping him warm. In other words, she was to be like another concubine to him. And Abishag the Shunammite was chosen to be the one to serve David (v3). Why was there a need for this? Didn’t David already have other wives who ought to be doing that for him? 

It appeared that there may have been some conspiracy quietly initiated by Adonijah through this initiative. Adonijah was David’s son through Haggith (2 Sam 3:4). Adonijah was eyeing the throne of David. In 1 Kings 1:5, we see him exalting and pronouncing himself to be king. And when Solomon ascended to the throne after David’s death, Adonijah requested to take Abishag the Shunammite as wife. If Adonijah had David’s concubine (Abishag) as his wife, he could be indirectly perceived as being the king. Through the wisdom of Solomon, he sensed that this was Adonijah’s way of attempting to usurp the throne. 

This sinful world is full of dangerous people who may not have any good intention for us. Jesus warned us to be wise as serpents but harmless as doves. Unless the protective hand of God is upon us, we would fall prey to evil schemes, sometimes without even realising it – just like David in this situation. In such matters, we must not be wise in our own eyes or think too highly of ourselves. The moment we say “Oh, I won’t be tricked” or “I am smarter than you think” – that would be the beginning of our downfall. In the world of espionage – the real heroes are those whose identities are never known. We may never even realise that we have been tricked till it is too late.

Questions for meditation:

 1) Have I been tricked because I was too rash in making a decision? 

 2) Have I wrongly perceived that I am in control of a situation when I wasn’t?

 3) Have I fallen prey to challenges from friends, eg. Consumption of alcohol, smoking, eating harmful substances, etc. to prove my bravery & fitness? What is the best way to handle such situations?

What you can pray for:

 1) that we may be wise in our conduct and bear a good witness wherever God has placed us.

Josh 9:14 – Do you seek God’s counsel in all your decisions?

Josh 9:14 ” So the men took some of their provisions but did not ask counsel from the LORD.”

This verse gives us a solemn reminder of the consequences of taking actions without consulting God. The entire account in Joshua 9 also reminds us not to react negatively to single incidents. The story did end with Joshua 9. We need to trust God that He can work overall good out of seemingly negative incidents for us when we continue to obey Him relentlessly. And that we see in Joshua 10.

We read at the beginning of Josh 9 that a coalition of pagan nations gathered against Israel. This should have prompted Israel to be ever more diligent in prayer. But as it often happens, confidence from recent victory resulted in complacency. Josh 9:14 says that “…the men….did not ask counsel from the LORD.” The result? Israel was tricked into making a covenant with the Gibeonites. The consequences could have been very severe. V18b “..Then all the congregation murmured against the leaders.”

When we encounter similar issues in our lives, we must not be short-term minded in how we view the matter. The covenant with the Gibeonites resulted in Israel having to fight a war against a coalition of enemies that took the Gibeonites as “ransom”. But out of duty to keep their covenant, Joshua set out with the armies of Israel to defend the Gibeonites. Israel was effectively fighting a war that became theirs only because of an apparent “mistake” made earlier. But what resulted when they were faithful in keeping their covenant, was a resounding victory that effectively wiped out the enemy forces. It also resulted in an amazing miracle of the sun “standing still” so that Joshua had enough daylight to complete his mopping-up operation. All these were recorded for us in Joshua 10. We must not stop at Joshua 9.

Our God is a covenant keeping God. He promised in Gen 3:15 that the “…Seed of the woman will bruise the serpents’ head…”. Christ came and laid down His life for His people. In what appeared to be a loss for the Seed of the woman, our faithful covenant keeping God raised Jesus from the dead in a resounding victory over Satan and redeemed all His people effectually.

Matt 26:75 – Could Peter have avoided denying Jesus?

‘And Peter remembered the word of Jesus who had said to him, “Before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” So he went out and wept bitterly.’Matthew 26:75

Jesus said to Peter in Matt 26:34 “Assuredly, I say to you that this night, before the rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.” In response, Peter answered in Matt 26:35 “…Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You!”.

Since Peter’s denial was already prophesied, could he have avoided it? The simple answer is NO. God’s secret “sovereign will” MUST, and without any doubt, certainly come to pass. But that should not make us adopt fatalistic views on this matter. We cannot make excuses for sins we fall into. We cannot deny human responsibility in sin and blame everything on God’s “sovereign will”.

Peter’s sin of denial cannot be vindicated with the reason that “he could not help it” since it was decreed that he would deny Jesus. Peter had been warned. He should have taken the words of Jesus seriously. He could have prayerfully sought help so that he may not fall into that sin. Who knows if God may relent and spare him of falling into it? But Peter did not heed Jesus’s warning. Instead, he placed himself in circumstances that “facilitated” the fulfillment of the prophesy. For example, upon his first denial, he should have remembered what Jesus said. He should & could have been even more alert or even moved away from where he was. But he did not. (Someone jokingly even said that he should have stayed away from places where there were roosters.)

The whole point to note in this episode is that the reason for Peter’s sin was really because he was afraid to be associated with Jesus. It was not simply because it was decreed. Most of the time, we don’t even know God’s secret will or decrees. Only God’s “revealed will” (in the form of what is written in the bible) is made known to us. Hence, it is His “revealed will” that we should obey. And as we take each step “obeying” and (often times) “disobeying” God’s “revealed will”, His “secret will” is made manifest.

As for Peter, this episode made him realise that he was not as “strong” as he presented himself to be. He has come to understand that every word that Jesus said will be fulfilled. Peter realised that Jesus was indeed God. And it was the design of God to work out all that Peter was experiencing for his good (Rom 8:28). This is the mysterious promise that “all things work for our good” which only believers can have. Let this cause us to bow down and worship our sovereign God.

(Afternote: the doctrine of the sovereignty of God is not easy to comprehend. I welcome questions on this subject. When you have appreciated it, it will bring you great comfort and assurance that you have a sovereign God who has everything under His control. Please refer to another sermon I had preached on this subject to understand more.)

Esther 3:1-2 “…Mordecai would not bow…”

After these things King Ahasuerus promoted Haman, the son of Hammedatha the Agagite, and advanced him and set his seat above all the princes who were with him. And all the king’s servants who were within the king’s gate bowed and paid homage to Haman, for so the king had commanded concerning him. But Mordecai would not bow or pay homage.  Esther 3:1-2

Here’s a quick summary of the situation – Mordecai was the hero, but Haman got a “free ride” and was mistakenly promoted by King Ahasuerus. Have you encountered a similar situation in your life? How did you feel about it? What did you do?

Do we feel that, out of charity, Mordecai should have just accepted what happened as God’s will and responded graciously? If he had done that, perhaps Haman may not have hated the Jewish people so much. Should Mordecai just “swallowed his pride” and not “kick such a fuss” over the matter?

This is a major lesson for us – we should withhold our judgement of situations when we don’t have clarity of the entire picture. We could have said that Mordecai should have been more charitable. Or we could also have said that he did the right thing because there should be justice done – so that the right people get the credit.

Whatever the case, we need to remember is that “God works things out for the good of His people and for His glory”. For some reason, God allowed Mordecai to insist on not paying homage to Haman even though he was under Haman’s authority. This act by Mordecai resulted in Haman’s hatred of the Jews and the plot to annihilate  the Jewish race.

As the story continued, we see even Esther’s life on the line. But it was in the final hour when it looked like a lost cause for God’s people that they were drawn to fasting and prayer. And with a mighty hand, God turned the entire situation around and rescued His people. Ultimately, the glory did not go to Mordecai, but to the God of heaven – who worked all things according to His will and good pleasure and preserved the heritage that eventually traced to Jesus Christ.

There are many lessons for us here: 1) never look short-term and make conclusions. Instead, turn to God and seek His counsel. 2) The most important thing to do in every situation is to pray and seek wisdom to handle every situation wisely.

Mordecai reacted negatively to the apparent “injustice” he faced. But this was used by God to initiate a situation where the existence of the Jewish people was threatened. But this caused them to humble themselves, fast and pray. And God heard their prayer. And He led them out of the potential disaster.

We need wisdom to know how to respond in every situation. When we pray, we have the confidence that God will lead us. Even if it results in short-term pain, we have confidence that He will use the situation to work good for us in the overall scheme of things. But this will be true only for “those who love Him and are called according to His purposes”. How important it is therefore to have God on our side. If He is not, we have absolutely no assurance and will be doomed for disaster.

Job 1:21 “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord!”

And he said: “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, And naked shall I return there. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  Job 1:21

Job acknowledged that all that he had was given by God. God had the right to give & to take since all came from him. All that we ought to do as His creatures is to acknowledge and worship him regardless of the circumstances we are placed in. This may be the most difficult thing for us to do since we live in a physical world. We need spiritual eyes and great faith to look beyond our losses & gains, to see that God sits on the throne in heaven ruling over all that happens. Blessed be the name of the Lord!

2 Kings 22:34 – “Randomly” Specific

Now a certain man drew a bow at random, and struck the king of Israel between the joints of his armor. So he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and take me out of the battle, for I am wounded.” I Kings 22:34 NKJV

This is the battle where King Ahab was killed. He disguised himself, hoping that he would not be spotted and therefore become an obvious target for his enemies. However, a “random” arrow hit him between the joints of his armour. The force of the projection, the trajectory and the wind conditions were so specific that this “random” arrow struck him precisely between the joints of his armour.

Does anything ever happen randomly in this world? No. Prov 16:33 tells us “The lot is cast into the lap but it’s every outcome is from the LORD”. The bounce of the dice, it’s landing angle, the spin & everything related to it, have all been determined by God’s eternal decrees. Things appear to be random because they were not our design or intention. But these are all part of the mysterious pre-destined will of God.

The doctrine of predestination often divides believers. But it is in the scriptures. Hence we cannot ignore it. It needs to be spiritual food for us. God is God and must have divine rights. Otherwise, He is not God. But He exercises His rule over this world in uprightness and absolute justice. So we must approach this subject with humility that our human minds will never understand how He would work all things for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.