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Power Corrupts

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Today’s Bible reading: 1 Kings 1:1-53; Acts 4:1-37; Psalm 124:1-8; Proverbs 16:24

David’s life is coming to end as we start 1 Kings. He is frail and bedridden. In an attempt to lift his spirits and give him some new life, a beautiful young girl, Abishag, is brought to take care of him (1 Kings 1:3). From what I read this was not unusual back then. Even today I think the presence of a young woman can make an old man feel young.

David does not have sexual relations with Abishag (1 Kings 1:4). He may not have been able to in his condition. Or he may have finally gained enough wisdom not to make that mistake again.

With David vulnerable, another of his sons, Adonijah, declares himself the next king of Israel (1 Kings 1:5). As the oldest living son of David, he was next in line for the throne based on human reasoning. But God doesn’t work that way. He decides who will be exalted. It is wrong to exalt ourselves.

Adonijah had never been disciplined by David (1 Kings 1:6) – more evidence of David’s poor parenting skills. Adonijah seems to have taken after his late older brother, Absalom. Children often take after their older siblings more than they do their parents especially if those parents are weak.

Some very important people sided with Adonijah (1 Kings 1:7). But they never consulted with God. They knew David was close to death and wanted to align themselves with the next administration for selfish reasons. But it is God who should determine our steps – not our own interests.

As the new king, Adonijah would have killed all potential heirs to the throne, including Solomon (1 Kings 1:12). So Bathsheba and Nathan tell David what is going on and ask him to make Solomon king, which he does. (1 Kings 1:35). It would have been easy for David to do nothing – again – in response to one of his son’s rebellions. But David has made a promise before the Lord (1 Kings 1:17) and he recognizes his obligation to keep it. Despite his many flaws, we repeatedly see David’s heart for God.

Solomon shows mercy by letting Adonijah live (1 Kings 1:52) when custom dictated incoming kings kill potential rivals. This is even more impressive considering Adonijah had proven himself to be a very real threat. But Solomon gives him a chance to prove himself loyal. Here we see some of the wisdom that Solomon is famous for.

Power corrupts. And people who are in power will use that power to control others who do not believe exactly as they do. We see this in Acts 4 today when Peter and John are brought before the leaders who do not like what the two disciples are teaching.

I can’t help but think of the mayors of Boston and Chicago who last year declared that Chick-fil-A restaurants were not welcome in their cities because the owner of that restaurant chain is a Christian who is against same-sex marriage. Our leaders are egomaniacs who have an insatiable need to be agreed with.

Peter explains that the power that allowed him and John to heal the lame man came from Jesus (Acts 4:10). Peter gave the glory to Christ. This is for two reason. First, and foremost, Jesus deserved it. The power to do this really did come from Him. Second, when God gets the glory people believe in Him and are saved. If Peter were to take credit he would have been discredited (as he is only a human and can’t work miracles by himself) and people would not have been saved. This is why all credit for any success we have must go to God.

Just like his previous speech yesterday Peter makes sure to tell others how they get to heaven (Acts 4:12). Every conversation with another human being is an opportunity to share with them the way to heaven so they can be saved.

Notice that the leaders had evidence that Peter and John were doing things that were amazing (Acts 4:13, 16) yet they refused to believe. Instead they called Peter and John’s preaching “propaganda”. Sounds the same as unbelievers today, doesn’t it? Times have not changed. People will ignore evidence for the sake of their own pride.

Again, in an act that parallels today, the leaders forbid Peter and John from speaking or teaching in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:18). What they don’t realize is that they are attempting to suppress the only means people have to heaven. Anyone who does this, including our own President Obama who has done the same thing, will pay a heavy price for this in eternity.

Such plans are futile (Acts 4:25). The rulers of the earth can go to battle against God (Acts 4:26). But they will lose.

It can be scary to speak the word of God to others. That is why we need to pray for boldness, just like the early church did (Acts 4:29).

When we speak kindly to someone we are nourishing their soul (Proverbs 16:24). How great is that? Let’s all look for opportunities to say something nice to another person every day. I bet there are more opportunities than we realize.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post

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