May 11 | Daily Devotion

May 11 | Daily Devotion

Lectio Continua: a complete reading of the passage

Lectio Semi-continua: a shorter reading of the passage

Lectio Divina

As previously noted, the books of 1 Kings and 2 Kings were simply one book in the original Hebrew Bible. Bible translators have added book divisions, chapter divisions, and versification to help readers find their way around, but the content remains the same. The substance of Kings is not a comprehensive social or political history of Israel. The writer’s concern was spiritual in nature, he wanted those who followed to stand witness to periods of faithfulness and unfaithfulness in the life of the worshipping community.

Kings, as the title suggests, gives us a window into the spiritual condition of the entire community by following the reigns of those who provided leadership for the people. Sometimes the connection between the moral choices of the king and the moral condition of the people was made explicit (see, for example, 1 Kings 16:13, 26). However, the implication throughout the book(s) is that the people, in almost every instance, followed in the footsteps of their leader.

What is apparent from today’s reading is that the spiritual litmus test for kings and people alike was how they treat God’s messengers, the prophets. While the priests were responsible for overseeing the day-to-day ministry (worship, sacrifices, festivals, et al), the prophets did the preaching and provided spiritual guidance. (Sometimes the prophets came from the Levite families, and sometimes they were called from outside of the priesthood.) The prophets were gifted at proclaiming the word of the Lord; and, just as we have well-known preachers like Billy Graham, John Piper, and Rick Warren, some prophets became famous in their day.

Fame didn’t protect one from hatred and ridicule though. Elijah and Elisha were the most renowned prophets of their time, and they were often despised. Ahab held Elijah in contempt, Jezebel wanted him dead, and Ahab’s successor, Ahaziah, didn’t even bother seeking Elijah’s advice during a crisis. Ahaziah turned to “false prophets” (preachers who did not proclaim the word of the Lord). When Elijah rebuked him for not seeking the Lord’s help, the king sent soldiers to take him into custody (most likely planning to kill him). Elisha was jeered by teenagers, Go up you bald-headed old fool! You crazy preacher! Who needs your kind around here! In these stories, God did exact revenge for the harm done to his messengers, but there were other instances wherein prophets end up dead. (Jesus talks about this in Matthew 23:37.)

Even today the respect people show to God’s messengers is in direct correlation to their spiritual condition. The stories of prophets maligned and mistreated are a warning to contemptuous church-goers of any era. Be afraid, for the historical record shows that those who slander and abuse their ministers are in for trouble. I am not saying this because I am a minister, but because I have a responsibility to proclaim the whole counsel of God. I have witnessed the tragic judgment that comes into the lives of those who disrespect ministers. I shudder when I think of it.

So let us pray for our pastors and treat them with respect. Not because they are perfect, but because it is their solemn duty to speak the Word of the Lord, even when it is difficult. God most often speaks through people. Let us listen to Him, and honor Him by honoring those whom He has placed in our lives to minister to us.

Lectio Divina  is written by F. Lionel Young III, who serves as the Senior Pastor of  Calvary Church  in Valparaiso, Indiana. He is the author of  A New Kind of Missionary, a popular introduction to global Christianity.