Over the years, my wife and I have tried different methods of having devotions with our children. Sometimes, this is reading the Bible after dinner, or when we tuck them in at night. These days, I’m proud of my sons when they read their devotions on their own, too.
For dinnertime devotions, we have found that reading them before the kids are finished eating is easier. They can still listen, but they aren’t just sitting in their seats squirming. I usually finish dinner first, anyway (a vice that I blame on bad eating habits from college) and can read to them while they continue to eat. While we started this when they were young, it still works for teenagers!
Regardless of when or how we read the Bible, though, there are parts of the Bible that are tough to read, especially when we (or a child) decide to just read through the Bible sequentially. We might joke about how books like Leviticus and Numbers are kind of dry, and it’s tough to get excited about a book that is literally called “Lamentations”. However, I think that I personally struggle the most with the accounts of the kings of Israel and Judah in the divided kingdom after Solomon.
After David and Solomon ruled over the united kingdom, things kind of fell apart. Israel and Judah were governed separately, and there were an awful lot of kings that did evil in the sight of the Lord. It’s just taxing to read through all of that bad news, knowing that exile is still going to be the outcome for both nations. (I don’t like reading stories of King Arthur for the same reason. If we could just stop at David, or the Sword in the Stone, everyone would still be pretty happy and faithful.)
Occasionally, though, when reading through the dreary list of ungodly leaders (and the bad results), we find a king who did something right. Yes, we know (or can read) that eventually both Israel and Judah were conquered, but there are some bright spots in these nations’ downward spiral. Judah might have done a little better than Israel, and I don’t think that any of the kings were perfect (since they were only human, after all), but reading about one of these good kings in a series of bad ones is kind of like catching a breath of fresh air when walking past a row of stinky dumpsters.
Here’s an example:
This is what Hezekiah did throughout Judah, doing what was good and right and faithful before the LORD his God.
2 Chronicles 31:20 NIV
It’s pretty clear that many people in this world could use some encouragement this week. So, I invite you to be like one of those “good kings” today: Get rid of things in your life that lead you (and others) to sin. Read the Bible to confirm how God wants you to live. Publicly and privately glorify God (even if you were raised in a Christian home and it doesn’t look like you strayed too far, by worldly standards), and invite others to follow Jesus with you.
No matter who came before you, or is following you, you can follow God with your whole self, and encourage others to do so with you (Mark 12:30, Luke 10:27). That’s going to be much more palatable over dinner, anyway!
From Sunday School lesson prepared for July 11, 2021
- The Lookout, July 11, 2021 © 2021 Christian Standard Media.
- Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
- Matthew Henry Commentary on the Whole Bible (Complete). Matthew Henry. 1706, via BibleGateway.com.