Welcome to The Living Word Bible study for Sunday, July 18 (TLW28B). This non-denominational study relies on the Bible explaining the Bible, uninfluenced by any church’s practice or preferences and it follows the Bible’s sequence of progressive revelation. 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, a resource shared by many different churches and chapels and the text is the widely-used and contemporary NIV © Biblica.
OT: 2 Samuel 7:1-14a — God promises David a successor who will have an eternal rule and reign
NT gospel: Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 — The promise of Jesus’ compassion for all who draw close.
NT epistle: Ephesians 2:11-22 — All who simply believe in Jesus are promised access to the Father without discrimination
And also read: Psalm 89:20-37
Theme: Encounters with God’s generous promises
• See this week’s linked article Understanding God’s gracious generosity
• See also this week’s video introduction
2 Samuel 7:1-14a — God promises a successor to rule eternally
Nathan’s court advice turns into a significant prophetic decree
1-2 After the king was settled in his palace and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am, living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God remains in a tent.”
“Living in a house of cedar” — more literally, “I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent” (ESV); the same verb repeated highlights the comparison. King David’s stone and imported cedar-wood palace showed up the ark being housed in a portable and less honouring way, 2 Sam. 6:17.
3-4 Nathan replied to the king, “Whatever you have in mind, go ahead and do it, for the Lord is with you.” But that night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying:
“Nathan” — kings had advisors they could call on. Nathan, whose background is unknown, advised first, then showed himself to be prophetic. God always ensured that there was at least one prophet living during each reign, to encourage the king to follow God’s laws and plans and the people to follow God.
“The word of the Lord” — a prophetic decree, the Davidic covenant consisting of national (v.10) and personal (v.11) promises.
• For further study of this as a covenant, see 2 Sam. 23:5, Psalm 89:3,28,34,39 and Psalm 132:11.
5-7 “Go and tell My servant David, ‘This is what the Lord says: Are you the one to build Me a house to dwell in? I have not dwelt in a house from the day I brought the Israelites up out of Egypt to this day. I have been moving from place to place with a tent as My dwelling. Wherever I have moved with all the Israelites, did I ever say to any of their rulers whom I commanded to shepherd My people Israel, “Why have you not built Me a house of cedar?” ’
“Are you the one?” – David’s God-given priority was to fight the Lord’s battles to achieve rest, freedom from oppression, in the land that had been promised. See 1 Kings 5:3, 1 Chron. 22:8-9.
8-9 “Now then, tell My servant David, ‘This is what the Lord Almighty says: I took you from the pasture, from tending the flock, and appointed you ruler over My people Israel. I have been with you wherever you have gone, and I have cut off all your enemies from before you. Now I will make your name great, like the names of the greatest men on earth.
“Cut off all your enemies” – Bible material is often arranged according to topic rather than timing. The events of 2 Sam. 8:1-14 probably happened before this chapter.
10-11 ” ‘And I will provide a place for My people Israel and will plant them so that they can have a home of their own and no longer be disturbed. Wicked people will not oppress them anymore, as they did at the beginning and have done ever since the time I appointed leaders over my people Israel. I will also give you rest from all your enemies.
“Provide a place… for Israel” – the real purpose behind making David king.
“Since…I appointed leaders…” – the time of the judges who preceded the kings.
” ‘The Lord declares to you that the Lord Himself will establish a house for you:
“Establish a house” – the play on words is evident in translation. God does not desire David to build Him a house, or temple, but God will build David a house, or royal dynasty.
“The Lord declares to you” — many Bible covenants are conditional with an”if” clause, but this covenant with David is unconditional, as with Noah, Abram and Phinehas.
12 ” ‘When your days are over and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your offspring to succeed you, your own flesh and blood, and I will establish His kingdom.
13 ” ‘He is the one who will build a house for My Name, and I will establish the throne of His kingdom forever.
14 ” ‘I will be His father, and He will be My son.’ “
“He is the one” — apparently a double prophecy, first predicting Solomon’s reign and temple.
“I will establish… for ever” — the covenant with David points beyond Solomon to its enduring fulfilment in Jesus Christ, who was of the tribe of Judah and the house of David, Matt. 1:1, Luke 1:32-33.
SUMMARY Following a series of successful military campaigns, David is safe and secure in a newly-built palace in the city named after Him. He consults his court advisor, Nathan, who comes back to him with a profound prophetic word about an enduring God-centred reign to be established through David’s family succession — even if he is not the right person to build a temple for God.
APPLICATION Whenever we take part in a prayer meeting, often beginning with a time of praise, its roots are here. David won his many battles in the place of praise and petition before he took up sword and shield, and his vision for temple worship recognised that. A nation that kept God central would know God’s blessing — a lesson for our time.
QUESTION If God’s promises for His covenant people flow over into the people of Jesus and the New Covenant, what does God promise us in this passage?
Mark 6:30-34, 53-56 — The promise of Jesus’ compassion for all who draw close
Wherever Jesus went crowds gathered, brought their sick — and were healed.
30-31 The apostles gathered around Jesus and reported to Him all they had done and taught. Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”
“Apostles” — envoys sent by Jesus, here the Twelve but after Pentecost a wider group.
“Get some rest” – another definition of rest is finding a quiet place with Jesus.
32-34 So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place. But many who saw them leaving recognised them and ran on foot from all the towns and got there ahead of them. When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, He had compassion on them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd. So He began teaching them many things.
“A solitary place” — the northeast shore, near Bethsaida according to Luke 9:10.
“Sheep without a shepherd” — an OT picture of lacking godly leadership and being spiritually bereft.
• For further study, Numbers 27:17; 1 Kings 22:17; 2 Chronicles 18:16; Ezekiel 34:5.
53 When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there.
“Gennesaret” — modern day Ginosar is down the coast a little way, towards Tiberius.
54-56 As soon as they got out of the boat, people recognised Jesus.
“As soon as” —the crowd could see the boat and anticipate its destination on foot.
They ran throughout that whole region and carried the sick on mats to wherever they heard He was. And wherever He went — into villages, towns or countryside — they placed the sick in the marketplaces. They begged Him to let them touch even the edge of His cloak, and all who touched it were healed.
“All who touched it… healed” – a clear statement. See also Matt. 8:16-17.
“Edge of His cloak” — many Jewish men wore an outer garment with tassels woven into the hem symbolising God’s commandments, Numbers 15:37-41.
APPLICATION Following Jesus’ example, we are to make ourselves (and our church structures) accessible to people who are seeking His touch of healing — with His wisdom, to make the right calls when faced with the complexities of addiction and dependency.
SUMMARY This reading gives three instances, either side of the more prominent stories of Jesus Feeding the Five Thousand and then Walking on the Water, of people in need following Him or even anticipating where He would go next, and carrying on mats those who were incapacitated. Jesus’ compassion flowed out to them and all who even touched the edge of His cloak were healed.
QUESTION What need, apart from healing their sicknesses, did Jesus habitually meet for the people who surrounded Him?
Ephesians 2:11-22 — Jesus is the promise of access to the Father
The new relationship with God includes Gentiles on the same basis as Jews
11-13 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) – remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
“At that time you were separate” — referring to those outside a personal relationship with Christ, as they were when they “followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air…”, Ephesians 2:1-10. We have either committed to belonging to Christ, or we are by default in this fallen world under the sway of the devil.
“You who are Gentiles” – most of those in the church in Ephesus.
“Uncircumcised” — this rite was a clear mark of distinction and also pride. Now a major exclusion, between people groups hostile to each other, is reconciled in Christ.
14-15 For He Himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, by setting aside in His flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in Himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace…
“Made the two groups one” – believing Jews with believing Gentiles.
“Destroyed the barrier… of hostility” — prejudice: Jews and Gentiles practised strict religious isolation from one another. Gentiles in the Jerusalem temple area were not allowed past the barrier in the Court of the Gentiles.
16 …and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the Cross, by which He put to death their hostility.
“In one body” – God sees all those who are His in Jesus, as one body of Christ.
17-18 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. For through Him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.
“Far away and… near” – Gentiles, unlike Jews, had no cultural experience of the Living God and so were not as “near”, although both shared exactly the same need to come into personal relationship through Jesus and His Spirit.
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household…
“Foreigners and strangers” – addressing what had been a deep-seated division.
20 …built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus Himself as the chief cornerstone.
“Cornerstone” – hundreds of years before Christ, Isaiah spoke of God laying a “tested stone” as a cornerstone foundation, Isaiah 28:16, meaning the Messiah to come. In any new work, Christ is the first ‘stone’ to be laid, defining the foundations and relationships of all the others, see v.22 and note.
“Foundation of apostles and prophets” – the early church was built on these ministries as people were sent out in ground-breaking roles. Church planting in our time, both overseas and new congregations at home, require all the equipping ministries mentioned later in the letter, Eph. 4:11-13.
21-22 In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.
“In Him… built together” – Peter also refers to Jesus as the Living Stone in whom believers as ‘living stones’ are being built into a spiritual ‘house’, 1 Peter 2:4-6.
SUMMARY Paul addresses a deep-seated issue of separation in the church — the believers of Jewish background considered themselves superior and were prejudiced against the majority who were of Greek culture, with no previous knowledge of God. But Jesus proclaimed God’s peace and reconciliation to both groups — those who had some historic knowledge of Him, and those to whom it was all new — declaring all believers included as fellow citizens, with the same access to God through His Spirit.
APPLICATION This speaks to believers in Jesus about the overruling relationship of belonging to Him, which trumps lesser distinctions of race, education or religious background. Churches can too easily degenerate into exclusive clubs for people of a particular preference, but Christ sets aside written and unwritten rules and reconciles to God all who come believing in Him sincerely, creating an inviting fellowship.
QUESTION What in our church practice or language creates barriers for those seeking to find God? How can we become more inviting?
PRAYER Father, thank You that Your Living Word reminds us that Your kingdom purposes are eternal and all people of all situations are eligible to believe and receive.
Forgive us for our human narrow-mindedness and especially anything in us which is dismissive of believers whose journey into life has been different from ours.
May we grow as examples to others of Your grace and generosity, being the good news as well as telling it.
In and through Christ we pray, Amen.
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