Today’s Text of Encouragement
“Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed; for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.”
Joshua 1: 9
King James Version
Today’s Study Text:
“Go and get thee in unto King David, and say unto him, ‘Didst not thou, my lord, O king, swear unto thine handmaid, saying, assuredly Solomon thy son shall reign after me, and he shall sit upon my throne? Why, then doth Adonijah reign? Behold, while thou yet talkest there with the king, I also will come in after thee, and confirm thy words.’”
I Kings 1: 13, 14
King James Version
“When You Make a Promise”
“Promise”: An assurance that someone will do or not do something. To provide a basis for expecting. The declaration of a covenant.
“A promise is a debt.”
Have I ever made a promise I found difficult to keep?
What does the word “promise” mean to me?
How does the way people either keep or don’t keep their promises affect my view of God’s promises?
“There is no pillow as soft as God’s promises.”
“And be these juggling friends no more believed,
That palter with us in a double sense;
That keep the word of promise to our ear
And break it to our hope.”
The great British playwright, William Shakespeare, wrote a great deal about a word I want to focus on today. The word is “promise.” He went so far as to obliquely label people who don’t keep promises as “double-dealers.” What’s more, Mr. Shakespeare, if you read through many of his plays, had little time for people who “break promises.”
I must agree. In the world we live in today, broken promises litter the pathways of every person’s life.
I’ll never forget when Jim and I opened our small company thirty years ago, my father, a very astute and conscientious business person, sat me down and gave me this advice: “Dorothy-girl,” he began, “You are now going to be selling business – your business, your work. You will be giving people your word. Don’t forget, your good word is worth gold.” Then he added, “Even though you may really want certain business because it seems lucrative at the time, never promise more than you truthfully know in your heart you can deliver. And in turn, purpose, with God’s help, always to deliver more than you promise.” I have tried hard through the years to follow this thoughtful and wise advice, even when it would have been easier to over-promise just for short-term financial gain.
Unfortunately, in the world we live in, broken promises seem to be the norm not the exception. It is the rarity these days to find a politician or business leader or sometimes even closer to home, a family member or friend whose word is surety – whose promise is kept.
Because of this destructive trend, it can make it rather easy for us to assume that God’s promises are as fragile and easily broken as our own may be.
This is why I want to continue to look at the story found in 1 Kings Chapter 1 for it contains some phenomenal lessons we can weave into our own lives about keeping our word, about truly keeping the promises we make.
Our story began yesterday when we found that Nathan and Bathsheba formed an alliance because one of David’s sons, Adonijah, took over the throne when David became old and infirmed. In Today’s text, we are told in 1 Kings 1: 13, 14, David made a promise to Bathsheba – a promise which confirmed that “Solomon your son will reign.” Now who knew when or how this promise was made. One could wonder about the circumstances under which this promise was made. However, one thing we do know for certain was that it was in God’s plan that Solomon should follow David’s reign. And with the closeness that developed after David’s great moral failure between him and his heavenly Father, it is very likely that as David understood God’s plan for Israel, he realized that the young Solomon was to be the chosen leader – the one God selected to build a house of worship to God unlike any in history.
Once this information was made known to Bathsheba and to Nathan the prophet, this past promise became crucial as it was tied to present events. Especially after another son claimed that the throne was to be his.
Yesterday, as we came to recognize how our present can be affected by our past, we discovered that God can use the damaged areas of a broken past to help build a solid foundation for our future. However, there are elements from our past that come into the picture, especially if we have made past commitments and promises that affect our lives and others today.
This lesson couldn’t be laid out any clearer for us than in this interaction among three individuals – Nathan, Bathsheba, and David.
For today, I want to underscore the fact that both Bathsheba and Nathan reminded David that he had made a promise – but one very critical point we can’t miss is that they also recognized that David, in his sickly state, most likely had no idea that his will for the succession on the throne was being over-ridden by someone in his own family.
I believe this is such a wonderful reminder to us when someone “apparently” hasn’t kept their word. Don’t jump to the worst conclusion first. We would do well to give people the benefit of the doubt at first. This is why Jesus in his earthly ministry instructed His followers, “Do not judge.”
As we will note in tomorrow’s devotional, by approaching David in a kind and gracious way, both Bathsheba and Nathan immediately knew that the David of past times of deceit was not the same David of present day truth.
There is also one more lesson we can glean from this passage in 1 Kings which follows the same line that we should be wary of judging. And it is this. We should not judge our heavenly Father’s promise-keeping ability by the actions or lack of actions in those around us, for this behavior will do each of us great spiritual harm. Just because every person on planet earth doesn’t keep a promise, doesn’t mean our Father’s word is not worthy of our complete confidence and trust, even in the most discouraging and dark days.
Three years ago, we sent out a bookmark here in the Garden which contains one of my favorite quotes by the dedicated British missionary to China, Hudson Taylor. Here’s what he penned: “There is a living God; He has spoken in the Bible. He means what he says and will do all He has promised.” Don’t you love these words? What touches me even more is that they were written by one of God’s most faithful children who after working himself into a state of ill-health, was left a widower with young children to raise when his beloved wife died. I don’t know about you, but I think it might have been extremely tough to write a phrase like, “He will do all He has promised.” However, this was the testimony Hudson Taylor left for you and me today from his life.
As we reflect on the word, “promise,” and what it means to keep our word, I’d like to visit the New Testament and a small book written by one of the disciples closest to Jesus. His name was Peter. Several days ago I was reading again about the night of Jesus’ death. Over and over before that eventful evening, Peter had promised Jesus he would be faithful no matter what. He even had bragged about following Jesus anywhere, anytime. And yet, at the very moment Jesus needed his friend the most, Peter broke his promise – 3 times! But here’s the tremendous glory in this story. While Peter broke his promise to Jesus, Jesus didn’t ever break any promise to Peter. And we find in II Peter 3: 9 that this grateful disciple shared a beautiful picture of his Master and Friend when he wrote these words: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise.” (K.J.V.) I checked out the word “slack” in the Greek and it means to “delay.” I find it interesting that within less than 72 hours of Peter’s broken promise, Jesus, his Friend, sent a personal message to Peter, by name, letting him know that God’s promises never fail. In the words of Colin Urquhart, “God is the
God of promise. He keeps His word, even when that seems impossible; even when the circumstances seem to point to the opposite.”
“God’s lips know not how to lie, but He will accomplish all His promises.”
A E Schylus
“O Lord Jesus Christ, who didst invite the heavy laden to come to Thee, and didst promise to give them rest and never to cast them out, help us so to come to Thee that we find rest in Thee, and so to believe Thy promise that we may know that Thou hast received us, for the glory of Thy name, who with the Father and the holy Spirit art ever worthy to be trusted and adored.”
John R. W. Stott
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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