TLW26B for Sunday, July 4
Welcome to The Living Word Bible study for Sunday, July 4 (TLW26B). This non-denominational study lets the Bible explain the Bible, without leaning to any church’s practice or preferences. We recommend that you read the whole passage first and let the Holy Spirit begin speaking to you through it, then go deeper with the verse by verse commentary and reflections. Bible readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary which many different churches and chapels share as their common framework and we’re using NIV text © Biblica.
Theme: No dishonour from man can cancel the anointing of God
OT: 2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 — After years of dishonour, David is crowned and all the tribes tribes come under one monarch
NT gospel: Mark 6:1-13 — After dishonour in the town where Jesus grew up, He empowers the Twelve to minister in pairs to the villages
NT letter: 2 Corinthians 12:2-10 — Paul’s heavenly encounter has made him especially reliant on God’s grace in the face of opposition
- See also this week’s linked article Cancel culture has ancient roots
- And this week’s introductory video, Pushbacks for us, glory for God
2 Samuel 5:1-5, 9-10 — After years of dishonour, David is crowned
Now the northern tribes are brought into unity under one monarch
1-2 All the tribes of Israel came to David at Hebron and said, “We are your own flesh and blood. In the past, while Saul was king over us, you were the one who led Israel on their military campaigns. And the Lord said to you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel, and you will become their ruler.’ ”
“Hebron” — the burial place of the patriarchs, a city of rich history for Israel.
• For further study, see Genesis 23:2; 25:9; 35:27-29; 49:29-33.
“Your own flesh and blood” — despite a separation between Judah and the northern tribes, they still had a strong sense of kinship. Now under David, they come together.
3 When all the elders of Israel had come to King David at Hebron, the king made a covenant with them at Hebron before the Lord, and they anointed David king over Israel.
David had been made king over Judah by his tribe, 2 Sam. 2:4, and over Jerusalem by conquest. His kingship over the northern tribes came by covenant, or treaty. This was the third time David was anointed.
4-5 David was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned forty years. In Hebron he reigned over Judah seven years and six months, and in Jerusalem he reigned over all Israel and Judah thirty-three years.
“When he became king” – David had been anointed by the prophet Samuel as a youngster, 15 or more years earlier. Now, his God-fearing leadership had been seen by all. Jesus was thirty years when He entered His ministry.
9-10 David then took up residence in the fortress and called it the City of David. He built up the area around it, from the terraces inward. And he became more and more powerful, because the Lord God Almighty was with him.
“Residence in the fortress” — David has gone north to Jebus, a terraced area below the rock, or stronghold, that became the rebuilt City of David, Jerusalem. It was a strategic move: central, naturally fortified by cliffs on three sides, and situated between Judah and the northern territories. It would become the site of the temple, Jesus was crucified there, and will come again there, Zechariah 14:4.
SUMMARY David was anointed for high office as a teenager, and then had to hold that call faithfully in his heart while being publicly treated with dishonour, even as an outlaw. It was many years before even his own tribe recognised his leadership in Judah. This passage concludes the longer wait before he could bring the northern tribes into unity — in God’s perfect timing.
APPLICATION The lesson for us is that our loyalty and trust of God will be tested through difficulty and waiting. He allows this testing to be like a blacksmith’s heating and hammering, to forge strength and reliance on Him.
QUESTION What long-term, strategic prayer have you prayed, that has seemed to be having the opposite result? What would David say about that?
Mark 6:1-13 — Jesus is dishonoured in the town where He grew up
The Twelve are empowered and sent out in pairs to minister in the villages
1-3 Jesus left there and went to His home town, accompanied by His disciples. When the Sabbath came, He began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard Him were amazed.
“Hometown” — Nazareth, Mark 1:24; Matt. 2:23, 21:11; Luke 4:23.
“Many… were amazed” — this is probably the same event as Luke 4:16-30 where Jesus reads the beginning of Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to proclaim good news to the poor…”
“Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given Him? What are these remarkable miracles He is performing?
“Isn’t this the carpenter? Isn’t this Mary’s son and the brother of James, Joseph, Judas and Simon? Aren’t His sisters here with us?” And they took offence at Him.
“Isn’t this the carpenter?” – people had known Jesus in His ‘ordinary life’ prior to His baptism. To them, He is just a person who works with His hands, like them, and even, “Mary’s son”, of illegitimate birth, unlike his brothers and sisters.
“Took offence” – in Luke’s account the crowd hustled him to the edge of the town hill and tried to push him over.
4-6 Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honour except in his own town, among his relatives and in his own home.” He could not do any miracles there, except lay His hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith.
Then Jesus went around teaching from village to village.
“Without honour” – this rejection in Nazareth (the last time in the Gospel where Jesus is associated with a synagogue) is a small version of the much greater rejection to come in Jerusalem. The dishonour shown to him results in a lack of fruit there.
“Could not do any miracles there” — “except”… “heal” a few sick people. His power to heal was not lacking but the faith to receive it, was.
7 Calling the Twelve to Him, He began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over impure spirits.
“Two by two” — the OT requirement for ‘authority’ was two witnesses, Numbers 35:30, Deut. 17:6, 19:15, Matt. 18:16. Spiritual authority over spiritual iniquity or “impure spirits” would be needed.
“Authority over impure spirits” – the proclamation of God’s kingdom comes in actions and deliverance, including healing, not just words (vv.12-13 below).
• For further study see Matthew 10:1, 5-15; Luke 9:1-6.
8-11 These were His instructions: “Take nothing for the journey except a staff – no bread, no bag, no money in your belts. Wear sandals but not an extra shirt. Whenever you enter a house, stay there until you leave that town. And if any place will not welcome you or listen to you, leave that place and shake the dust off your feet as a testimony against them.”
“Will not welcome… or listen” — Nazareth proving to be hard-hearted and scornful was a lesson to the disciples, to discern which people were open to God, by seeing who would welcome and receive them.
12-13 They went out and preached that people should repent. They drove out many demons and anointed many sick people with oil and healed them.
“That people should repent” – as the disciples started their own mission in the name of Jesus, their message was identical to His, Mark 1:15. Proclaiming and showing the goodness and grace of God results in willing change of hearts and lives – repentance – among those who receive the Good News.
“Anointed… sick people with oil” — commonly used for medicinal purposes but here a symbol of consecration.
• For further study, see Exodus 30:30, 40:13, 15; 1 Samuel 10:1.
SUMMARY Even with the “wisdom that had been given Him”, Jesus is still amazed at the rejection and lack of faith He experienced in His home town. He both demonstrated and explained who He was — the signs of the kingdom in His ministry left little doubt of that — but those who had known Him as a carpenter/builder were scornful, and wanted to regard Him as just a regular working man like them.
APPLICATION Those who we would naturally expect to be affirming us, can present the most difficult opposition. Becoming a Christian by asking Jesus into our lives does change us and does make us seem different — progressively more like Him! And that can be threatening to others.
QUESTION If Jesus gave His first disciples authority over evil spirits, what is our spiritual perspective of someone whose life has been made miserable?
2 Corinthians 12:2-10 — Paul says public dishonour reveals Christ’s power
His heavenly encounter has made him especially aware of his reliance on God
2 I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know — God knows.
“Third heaven” — not the atmosphere where birds fly, and not the higher ‘heaven’ of sun, moon and stars, but the unseen realm of God’s uncontested presence, the place of blessedness where God dwells, referred to in the NT as paradise, Luke 23:43, Rev. 2:7. Jesus is “exalted above the heavens”, Hebrews 7:26.
3-4 And I know that this man — whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows — was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.
“This man… heard inexpressible things” — this was a vision or visions of such unusual intensity that Paul was reluctant to talk about his experience.
5-7a I will boast about a man like that, but I will not boast about myself, except about my weaknesses. Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth. But I refrain, so no one will think more of me than is warranted by what I do or say, or because of these surpassingly great revelations.
“A man like that” — using the third person as a way of avoiding appearing boastful about something that was God’s initiative.
7b-9a Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.”
“Thorn in the flesh” – the meaning of this is disputed. Many commentators explain this by a physical affliction like malaria or migraine attacks. However, the phrase is used in the OT of a personal enemy, Numbers 33:55, Ezek. 28:24 and Paul experienced persistent persecution, the context of vv.9-10 below — and he often quoted the Hebrew Scriptures, or as we would say, the OT).
“Three times” – like Jesus’ threefold prayer, Mark 14:32-41, a way of saying that he has prayed through to completion and received his answer.
9b-10 Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
“My weaknesses” — The Corinth church had a problem with self-appointed and self-congratulatory leaders, who considered their oratorical style superior to the plain teaching of the small, bald Jewish man who had introduced them to Christ. Paul, by contrast, wouldn’t let anything, any ‘success’ of man, get in the way of his utter focus on Jesus as Lord.
SUMMARY As if the blinding vision on the Damascus road wasn’t enough… Paul’s point is that it is all about God and not about him, all about what God does, not what he does, and all the dishonour and difficulties simply serve to beat down any sense of human pride and self-sufficiency
APPLICATION God needs a clear channel for His grace to flow — clear of human pride. His way of clearing that channel seems less unreasonable when it is seen that way. Divine power only finds its expression in our recognising our human weakness and dependence on the Lord’s empowerment. Paul is forthright about his need of this help, a lesson to guide any form of ministry today.
QUESTION Can you think of a time when you admitted you didn’t have the strength or skill — allowing God’s hand to be seen?
PRAYER O Lord God, our heartfelt desire is for Your glory to be seen, and for many in our communities to repent and believe in Jesus and come to personal faith and new life. We know the enemy of our souls will not give up his control without a struggle. Like David, we may have to wait out conflict, like Jesus we may be dismissed by those closest to us, and like Paul, we will experience opposition. May we know and rely on Your grace and love to be greater than all these kinds of testing situations — as we pray this through the honour and glory of Jesus. Amen.
1 Great is the Lord, and most worthy of praise, in the city of our God, His holy mountain.
2 Beautiful in its loftiness, the joy of the whole earth, like the heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion, the city of the Great King.
3 God is in her citadels; He has shown Himself to be her fortress.
4-5 When the kings joined forces, when they advanced together, they saw her and were astounded; they fled in terror.
6 Trembling seized them there, pain like that of a woman in labour.
7 You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish shattered by an east wind.
8 As we have heard, so we have seen in the city of the Lord Almighty, in the city of our God: God makes her secure forever.
9 Within Your temple, O God, we meditate on Your unfailing love.
10 Like your name, O God, Your praise reaches to the ends of the earth; Your right hand is filled with righteousness.
11 Mount Zion rejoices, the villages of Judah are glad because of Your judgments.
12-13 Walk about Zion, go around her, count her towers, consider well her ramparts, view her citadels, that you may tell of them to the next generation.
14 For this God is our God for ever and ever; He will be our guide even to the end.
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