Solomon and God’s Dwelling Place

Most Christians know that the Holy Spirit indwells the believer.  However, there is considerable disagreement about what this means.  Does the Spirit indwell us in a personal, literal sense, or is there considerably more metaphor involved?

In our search for an answer to this question, 1 Kings 8 is one of the more useful texts in the Bible.  Even though in it, Solomon is concerned with what it means for God to dwell in His temple, New-Testament authors (particularly Paul) frequently borrow temple language to explore the dwelling of the Spirit in us. Continue reading

Wine and Women

These days, I consider myself pretty cynical when it comes to the outside world.  I think I have a pretty good idea what-all our society is up to.  However, a few weeks ago, Lauren sent me an article that made my jaw drop.  Apparently, one of the big trends among the soccer-mom set these days is drinking.  Alcohol consumption, especially wine, is way up for women who have kids at home.

This is a big change from the way things historically have been.  Back in the day, it was the men who did the drinking and the women who disapproved of it.  However, that’s no longer the case.  Women are rapidly catching up to men in drinking, binge drinking, and alcoholism.  I think this trend is all the more dangerous because of the innocuous way that it’s being presented, with ponytailed YouTubers joking about how their kids drive them to drink.  I have no idea how many people here drink at home, but I do know that it’s not a good idea for any of us.  Let’s consider, then, the unpleasant subject of wine and women. Continue reading

Psalm 136 and Repetition

A couple days ago, I posted about the hymn “Days of Elijah” and my complicated perspective on it.  Even though I didn’t introduce the topic myself, at one point, the conversation drifted to the bridge of “Days of Elijah”, which repeats the phrase “There’s no God like Jehovah,” about 20 times.  Lots of people don’t care for the repetition, said so, and provoked the usual online discussion/argument about repetition in hymns.  Continue reading

Are These the Days of Elijah?

I will admit to considerable ambivalence about the hymn “Days of Elijah”.  The tune is stirring, and it undeniably has lots of Biblical content that gives me a great deal to think about.  Nor, despite discussion to the contrary, do I think the hymn is premillennial.  (Note that, as always, only hymns that say something get criticized, while hymns that say nothing get a pass even though they teach nothing.  It’s hard to see the problems with what isn’t there.)  In short, there are many credits on the ledger.

On the debit side, though, I have to list the unfortunate couplet about David rebuilding the temple.  Yes, I’ve read the author’s defense.  No, I don’t buy it.  Instead, I think that one of the problems with writing a song in the church kitchen in half an hour is that you’re prone to make mistakes.  However, once people worldwide have started singing your mistake, it’s tough to admit that.

More than that, though, the content simply makes me uneasy.  The hymn brings in all sorts of Biblical concepts that fit together in a coherent picture, but I don’t think the picture is one that the author intended.  The music of the song is bouncy and upbeat, but the days that we’re singing about so happily are not.  Not at all. Continue reading

The Lonely Moment

The devil has many tools, but one of his favorites is to confuse the issue.  He likes to make our choice to sin or not to sin as complicated as it can possibly be.  He’ll try to get us thinking about other people, what they’ll think of us, the possible negative consequences if we do the right thing, and so on.

In reality, though, none of those things have any bearing on a moral decision.  Even if disaster follows on the heels of doing the right thing (which it usually doesn’t), the right thing was still the right thing to do.  The more we think about the devil’s distractors, which don’t matter, the less we will concentrate on God’s will, which does. Continue reading

Praying for Wisdom


The story of Solomon is ultimately a tragic one, but we shouldn’t get so caught up in the end that we forget the beginning.  The Bible details the reigns of dozens of kings, but the beginning of Solomon’s story is unique.  He offers sacrifices at the great high place at Gibeon (even though the ark is outside Jerusalem, the tabernacle and the rest of its furnishings are at Gibeon), and in response, God appears to him in a vision and says, “Ask me for anything.”

Unprompted, driven entirely by his own humility and his sense of inadequacy for the task before him, Solomon asks for wisdom.  His answer pleases God so much that He blesses him with all the other attributes of a great king too. Continue reading

Quoting Eliphaz

Too much of the time, we content ourselves with the frame-tale version of the book of Job.  We focus on Job losing everything at the beginning of the book and having his possessions restored at the end.  Even though Job contains about three chapters of prose (the frame tale) and 39 chapters of poetry, we summarize the poetry as “Job’s three friends argued with him, and they were wrong.”  From there, we move on. Continue reading

Spiritual Bureaucracy

Over the past couple of months, I’ve been reading my way through the archives of a blog called Farnam Street.  Among other interests, the blog maintainer is a big fan of Warren Buffett (Buffett’s home and office are both located on Farnam St. in Omaha).  In a recent post, he noted that even though Buffett’s company, Berkshire Hathaway, has over 300,000 employees, its central office is so small that it doesn’t even have an HR department.

Why?  Because Buffett’s management style is so minimalist as to be nonexistent.  Rather than trying to dictate policy and procedure for every Berkshire Hathaway subsidiary, Buffett hires competent managers and tells them, “You do you.”  His success is based not on micromanaging, but on trust.

This pattern, though extremely successful, is rejected by nearly every other large company.  Most CEO’s prefer to manage through bureaucracy, not trust.  As the Farnam Street blogger observes, “It’s a seductive illusion to think that we can create a system where people can’t mess up.”

Oh, wow, is that ever true!  Nor is its application limited only to the business world.  In fact, I think a lot of well-meaning Christians have embarked on the spiritual equivalent of bureaucracy-building.  Continue reading

Handling a Troublemaker

The Bible is full of epithets that capture the character of a man.  David is “a man after God’s own heart”.  Abraham is “the friend of God”.  Moses is “the servant of God”.  Equally telling (though not as flattering) is the description of Sheba the Bichrite, who is presented in 2 Samuel 20:1 as, “a worthless man, whose name was Sheba, the son of Bichri.”  Continue reading

Rebellion Against God’s Anointed

Sometimes, studying the Bible is like cleaning out your kid’s bedroom.  The deeper you dig, the more you find.  In my case, I recently had this experience with Psalm 2.  A couple of weeks ago, the psalm appeared in my daily Bible reading (I follow another plan in addition to the schedule we’re on here), and as I was reading it, I said to myself, “Hey!  There’s a hymn in there!”

After I’d paraphrased the psalm, two things struck me about it.  The first is the great relevance of Psalm 2 to the New Testament.  Only a few other psalms are quoted more frequently than Psalm 2, and most of those are much longer.

Second, though, Psalm 2 has a great deal of relevance to us.  It’s about a time when the authority of God is under attack by powerful people, and guess what?  We live in a time when the authority of God is under attack by powerful people.  In such a time, we need to be reminded about what the outcome of those attacks will always be.  This evening, then, let’s look at Psalm 2. Continue reading