Cursed In God’s Sight—Thankfully!

Jesus Paid It All

SYNOPSIS: The Law of Moses stated that anyone executed and hung on a tree must be buried the same day, for anyone who is hung is cursed in the sight of God. In the New testament, Jesus was executed for crimes against heaven. His body was hung on a tree. He was cursed in God’s sight. And while his battered body would be removed before sundown, even still, God was so grieved by the crime he represented and the punishment he bore that the Father turned his back on his dying Son. And all of this was done to Jesus with God’s permission to atone for crimes that were not his own. He was the one and only substitute that could assuage the righteous wrath of a holy God. Jesus paid it all, in full, once and forever, for your sin. Yes, cursed is the One who hung on a tree—thank God.

Going Deep // Focus: Deuteronomy 21:22-23

If someone has committed a crime worthy of death and is executed and hung on a tree, the body must not remain hanging from the tree overnight. You must bury the body that same day, for anyone who is hung is cursed in the sight of God. In this way, you will prevent the defilement of the land the Lord your God is giving you as your special possession.

Whether as a modern American you agree with the death penalty or not, it was definitely used under the Mosaic law as punishment for certain kinds of crimes. In ancient Israel, the penalty for particularly offensive sins was swift, sure and beyond brutal. And in some cases, once the guilty person was executed, their body was to be hung on a tree as a sign to all of the seriousness of sin before God and the seriousness of breaking the shalom of the community of God. Indeed, punishment of sin was savage way beyond our comfort zones.

Even then, there were regulations to mitigate the trauma of witnessing a brutalized body hanging on a tree. It was not to be left twisting in the wind, swinging from the gallows overnight, but it was to be buried within the same day. Not only was the removal of the corpse to spare the sensitivities of the community, it was also to spare the Almighty from having to view what was termed a curse: “Anyone who is hung is cursed in the sight of God.” (Deuteronomy 21:23) Perhaps the execution of a criminal was so painful to God, an all out assault on the dignity with which he created human beings, that looking upon it for some length of time would have forced him to turn his back to it.

Now as we have often seen in our journey through the Old Testament, what happened to Israel spiritually foreshadowed the coming reality of God’s Kingdom awaiting fulfillment in the New Testament. Furthermore, the things that happened to the people of Israel were warnings signs posted to deter the new community from making similar mistakes. Paul writes an entire chapter on Israel’s idolatrous and rebellion in 1 Corinthians 10 as a cautionary tale for the new community, offering this blunt warning:

These things happened to them as examples for us. They were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age. So if you think you are standing strong, be careful not to fall. (1 Corinthians 10:11-12)

The new community was warned in no uncertain terms not to fall into those same patterns of rebellion, idolatry and sin, and thereby become cursed in the sight of God, especially when Jesus had been hung on a tree in their place as one cursed of God:

But Christ has rescued us from the curse pronounced by the law. When he was hung on the cross, he took upon himself the curse for our wrongdoing. For it is written in the Scriptures, “Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree. (Galatians 3:13)

Think of the similarities between the law in Deuteronomy and the death of Jesus: He was executed for crimes against heaven. His body was hung on a tree. He was cursed in the sight of God. His battered body was removed from the tree and buried the same day. Even still, God was so offended by the crime and the punishment that he turned his back on the dying Son of God. And all of this was done to Jesus by God’s decision to atone for crimes that were not his own. Jesus was the one and only substitute that could assuage the righteous wrath of a holy God. Jesus paid it all, in full, once and for all.

And he did it for sin; he did it for you. Yes cursed is the One who hung on a tree—thank God.

Going Deeper With God: Find an old hymnal and slowly, thankfully, read aloud the words to “Jesus Paid It All.” Truly, all to him you owe.

God’s #1 Command

Fear, Not Problems, Is Your Biggest Threat

SYNOPSIS: Your biggest threat today, tomorrow and any day thereafter, will not be people, circumstances or the random forces of the universe. No, the biggest threat to you is you. More accurately, your biggest threat is fear. Fear, not problems, will paralyze your experience of the life God has in mind for you. That’s why God calls you to “fear not!”, his number one command in the Bible.

The Journey// Focus: Deuteronomy 20:1

When you go out to fight your enemies and you face horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, do not be afraid. The Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, is with you!

Your biggest threat today, tomorrow or any day thereafter, will not be people, circumstances or the random forces of the universe. No, the biggest threat to you is you. More accurately, your biggest threat is fear. Fear, not problems, will paralyze your experience of the life God has in mind for you.

Don’t be afraid! That is the number one command that God gives his people in scripture. Someone has said there are 365 “fear not’s” strategically placed from the beginning to the end of the Bible—one for every day of the year. Why? Because God knew that every day this year when you get up and head off, the enemy waiting outside your door will be the fear inside your mind. But God says, “do not be afraid!”

Easier said than done, right! I am sure that was even more so for the Israelites here in Deuteronomy 20. They were heading out the door to face literal enemies bigger, meaner, more battle-hardened and better equipped than they. Yet God’s first command to them as they prepared to possess their Promised Land was “fear not, for I brought you this far, and I wont leave you now.” Furthermore, not only was he with them, he assured them that he was out ahead of them:

For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory! (Deut. 20:4)

That is true for you, too. That is a promise that you can and should claim today: God is with you, he is ahead of you, he is fighting for you and he has already secured your victory! So listen to what God is saying to you. Proverbs 1:33 says, “Whoever listens to me will live in safety and be at ease, without fear of harm.”

So in reality, as the children of God, “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself.” Those famous words were spoken at a time when a lot of people were living in fear. The world was uncertain, World War II was about to engulf Europe, and America was in the middle of its deepest economic depression ever—before or since. And the newly elected president, Franklin Roosevelt, uttered those immortal words during his first inaugural address in 1933. He was quoting God: fear not!

There are several kinds of fear that fight for control of our lives—three in particular that are quite common and especially debilitating:

The first kind of fear is based in an irrational worry of “what if,” and it debilitates a lot of people. Someone has described this fear with a clever acronym as “False Enemies Appearing Real.”

A second kind of debilitating fear—and it’s definitely a real one—is the fear that comes from foolish living. Foolish living (“The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God,’” Psalm 14:1, 53:1) by its Biblical definition is to live as if God and his laws do not exist—to live as a practical atheist. Those who live in disregard to the Almighty and his ways cannot help but have an underlying and chronic dread of looming trouble.

The third kind of fear is that which comes when we are facing very real threats to the will of God in our lives. They are not false enemies, they are real—big, hairy, audacious threats. But just remember, they are not as big as God.

So we must learn to surrender to a fourth kind of fear: fear of the Lord. The fear of the Lord is to be in awe of his person, to respect his commands, and to live in ruthless trust in his good character and unfailing promises.

Today, reject those first three debilitating fears and embrace the fourth life-giving fear by exerting trust in the God who is with you and who goes before you. If you will step out in faith to follow his leading, you will have nothing to fear.

Going Deeper: Every human being lives life in five domains: personal, familial, social, vocational and spiritual. Take some time today to assess if you are living, in reality, as a “practical atheist” in any of these areas—without regard for God and his laws. If you are, simply and sincerely repent and exert trust in the one who is with you, now and always.

What Makes You Irresistible To God?

Faith That Walks In Trust

SYNOPSIS: Between the journey of faith and the destination of faith—faith obeys. It grits out a determined obedience in a faithful direction, by believing, trusting, and expecting that there is no more important issue in this life than to follow the call and carry out the commands of God. And it does so with great delight—not because it has to obey, but because it wants to serve. As J.R.R. Tolkien said, “In the last resort, faith is an act of will, inspired by love.”

Project 52 – Weekly Scripture Memory // Hebrews 11:6

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.

What is faith? In its simplest form, it is belief. Yet it is more that mere intellectual assent, because the Bibles tells us, “Even the demons believe—and tremble!” (James 2:19) Belief is important, but it is only the beginning; belief begins the journey of trust.

Faith that walks in trust says, “I will put my complete confidence in God and his promises—even though I may not see any evidence at this point that those promises will be fulfilled.” In fact, sometimes the evidence even seems contrary to the promises of God. But faith trusts anyway. It is sure that what is hoped for, that is, what God has promised, will come to pass, relying on that certainty as the evidence of faith itself. (Hebrews 11:1) Aquinas wrote,

Faith has to do with things that are not seen and hope with things that are not at hand. 

Trusting faith is expectant faith. It believes that God rewards. It believes that at the end of the day, the earnest journey of faith will be met with the eternal joy of God—both the joy that is revealed in the smile of God at our faithfulness (itself, the biggest and best reward of all) and the joy that is felt as the crown of righteousness (along with all the other tangible wonders of eternity awarded in that moment) is placed upon the head of the faithful.

In the meantime—in those steps taken between the journey of faith and the destination of faith—faith obeys. It grits out a long obedience in a faithful direction, believing, trusting, and expecting that there is no more important issue in this life than to follow the call and carry out the commands of God. And it does so with great delight—not because it has to, but because it wants to. As J.R.R. Tolkien said, “In the last resort, faith is an act of will, inspired by love.”

You see, faith, more than anything else, is both focused on and fueled by relationship with Almighty God himself. It is not the results of faith that drives the faithful, it is the relationship experienced along the way that is most important. That is the very heart of Hebrews 11, the greatest chapter in the Bible on the lives of the faithful. None of them saw God’s promise tangibly fulfilled in this life, but they were commended for their faith because they kept a penetrating focus on the next world as the real object of their journey. (Hebrews 11:13, 39-40) That is why God was pleased with them. (Hebrews 11:16)

You, too, can join that illustrious list of God-pleasers if you will live by faith—believing, trusting, expectant, obedient, God-focused faith.

He finds that irresistible!

To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible. ~Thomas Aquinas

Reflect & Apply:If it is impossible to please God without faith, then the most important investment of your life’s energies and resources will be in nurturing your faith. Not always an easy task, but a worthy one. Take a moment to consider what Gordon McDonald wrote about faith: “To trust in spite of the look of being forsaken, to keep crying out into the vast, whence comes no returning voice, and where seems no hearing; to see the machinery of the world pauselessly grinding on as if self-moved, caring for no life, nor shifting a hairbreadth for all entreaty, and yet believe that God is awake and utterly loving; to desire nothing but what comes meant for us from His hand; to wait patiently, ready to die of hunger, fearing only lest faith should fail—such is the victory that overcomes the world, such is faith indeed.”

God Is Watching

So Be Careful Child Of God What You Do

SYNOPSIS: God is watching, not just over the big issues of how we treat one another, but even in the smaller ways that we might take advantage of our neighbors, or short change our customers, or do something because we can get away with it, or go light on a violation because it is a victimless crime. No matter how minor it seems to us, it is a big deal in God’s eyes. He is watching, and he cares because justice at levels big and small, seen and unseen represent his immutable character as well as his ideals for his people. We would do well to remember this: God is watching. That is not so much a threat; that is a comfort!

The Journey // Focus: Deuteronomy 19:14

When you arrive in the land the Lord your God is giving you as your special possession, you must never steal anyone’s land by moving the boundary markers your ancestors set up to mark their property.

When I was little, we would sing a song in Sunday School called, O Be Careful Little Eyes. The song taught that we were not only to take care what our eyes saw, but what our ears heard, what our mouths said, where our feet went, and what our hands did:

O be careful little hands what you do
O be careful little hands what you do
There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little hands what you do

The lesson of the song was clear: a loving God was watching us at all times and he was quite concerned that we always did the right thing. Good theology could be found in those lyrics: God is loving, God is Father, God is omniscient, God is omnipresent, and God is just. All true, and we would do well to remember each piece of that theology, even as adults.

When we come to Deuteronomy 19, we find that God is expressing the same concern for the children of Israel. He is quite determined that when they come into the land of promise, his justice would be represented in their legal system:

  • Cities of refuge were to be established: Deuteronomy 19:1-3
  • A process was to be set up for adjudicating both manslaughter and murder: Deuteronomy 19:4-5, 11-13
  • Rules for the evidence needed for a conviction were to be followed: Deuteronomy 19:15
  • Protocols for witnesses to a crime were to be obeyed: Deuteronomy 19:16-17
  • Procedures for judges were to be defined: Deuteronomy 19:18
  • Sentencing guidelines were to be definite: Deuteronomy 19:19-21

And in the middle of those very serious legal protocols, there is another rule issued that seems a bit out of place because it doesn’t seem to be at the same level of intensity as the others: the honoring of boundary lines (Deuteronomy 19:14). By comparison, this might seem to us to fall into the category of a petty crime. We might be tempted to adjudicate it as a “white collar crime.” We might give in to going a little easier on the violator in this particular case.

But even though this crime didn’t leave a dead body, and while it was done out of the view of witnesses, and most likely would have no physical evidence—just a property owner’s word against the accused, since land surveys were not available in those days—we should not miss this cogent fact: this was an act that God had witnessed. And it was a big deal to him.

The point being that God is watching, not just over the big issues of how we treat one another, but even in the smaller ways that we might take advantage of our neighbors, or short change our customers, or do something because we can get away with it, or go light on a violation because it is a victimless crime.

Not in God’s eyes. He is watching, and he cares because justice at levels big and small, seen and unseen represents his immutable character as well as his ideals for his people. That was true for the Israelites, and that is true for us. We would do well to remember,

There’s a Father up above
And He’s looking down in love
So, be careful little child what you do!

God is watching. That is not a threat; that is a comfort!

Going Deeper: Are there any areas of moral compromise in your life—even in little things? God cares, and he will reward our every effort to bring what might seem like things that are no big deal under his loving rulership.

God Is Your Prized Possession

There Is No Better Inheritance

SYNOPSIS: Like the Levites, the Apostle Peter declares that we are “a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9) That’s a pretty big deal: we are God’s prized possession—and God is ours! And there is no better inheritance in this life, and in the next, than in God choosing us to intermediate his holy presence. I’m not sure we have the capacity to grasp that glorious calling, but I think it would be worth meditating on what God has done by his grace in choosing us for that role.

The Journey // Focus: Deuteronomy 18:2,5

The Levites will have no land of their own among the Israelites. The Lord himself is their special possession, just as he promised them…. For the Lord your God chose the tribe of Levi out of all your tribes to minister in the Lord’s name forever.

There were twelve tribes in Israel, each the descendants of Jacob’s twelve sons. Eleven of those tribes were given land as their inheritance. When they entered the Promised Land, God specifically assigned them territory that would be theirs in perpetuity. But there was one tribe that didn’t receive any land—and land ownership was a very big deal in ancient Israel, even more important than land ownership is today. One tribe was singled out for no inheritance of property: the tribe of Levi.

Now that might seem a bit unfair, or a lot. Yet they were given a better inheritance. Not better from the perspective of the carnal mind, but better from the true perspective of heaven. They were given the Lord himself. God had singled out one tribe, the Levites, as his own prized possession in a nation that was singled out from the rest of the world as his prized people. So the Levites were the prized of the prized.

God chose them for the ministry of worship because they had defended his holiness at great risk to themselves during a times of national rebellion. For their costly sacrifice, God set them apart for the sacred duty of ministering the tabernacle sacraments; for set up, breaking down and moving the holy furnishings from place to place; and for intermediating the rest of Israel’s sacrifices to the Lord their God. The Levites were a very special bunch indeed, both in God’s sight and in the eyes of the rest of Israel.

They had no land, but they had God. They had no earthly inheritance, but they had God. They had no other possession, but they had a prized possession to a degree that no one else had—they had the Lord God himself as their ever-present and eternal reward. I am sure that we don’t fully appreciate what that meant in a day and age where we look to the abundance of things and the accumulation of material wealth as the grand prize, but that was a very big deal, indescribably so.

Here is the deal: God is your prized possession, too. Like Israel, you have been set apart as holy unto the Lord; you are distinctly his. But even more so, like the Levites, you have an even greater, more special calling, for you too are set apart as a priest to God. Revelation 1:6 and 5:10, respectively, tell us,

He has made us a Kingdom of priests for God his Father. All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.

And you have caused them to become a Kingdom of priests for our God. And they will reign on the earth.”

Furthermore, the Apostle Peter taught that like the Levites, and in reality, at even higher new covenant level, you are “A chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

That is a pretty big deal, my friend. You are God’s prized possession—and God is your prized possession. And there is no better inheritance, in this life and in the next, than being chosen by God to intermediate his holy presence.

I am not sure you and I have the capacity to grasp the blessed reality of that, but I think it would be worth meditating on what God has done by his grace in choosing us for that role.

Going Deeper: Memorize 1 Peter 2:9 this week. Then mediate on what that means for you. Finally, offer up prayers of gratitude to God for offering himself as your prize possession and eternal inheritance.

The Powerful Word

I Am Not Ashamed Of The Gospel

SYNOPSIS: The gospel is the power of God that saves us—past, present and future. For that reasons, not only should we not be ashamed of it, but  we should be actively and even aggressively enthusiastic about it. Why wouldn’t we be? It is the only hope for humanity—which means on a more personal and practical level, it is the only hope for your unsaved loved ones, the people you work with, go to school with and those who live next door to you. It is the only hope for real people you really care about. The Good News, written, proclaimed and revealed in the person of Jesus Christ is now waiting to be expressed through your lips and by your life.

Project 52 – Weekly Scripture Memory // Romans 1:16

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile.

I echo Paul’s words: I am not ashamed of the Gospel! Why should I be? It is the very power of Almighty God to transform a life for all eternity. The Good News—written, proclaimed and revealed in the person of Jesus Christ is what saves us.

The Good News saves us in the sense that we are rescued from our sins and brought into the forever family of God. We commonly refer to that as salvation; being born again. The Good News also saves us in the sense that day-by-day in this present life, we are being transformed by it into the very likeness of Jesus Christ. That is what we refer to as progressive holiness. And the Good News saves us in the sense that when this earthly journey is complete and we stand before Almighty God, we will be welcomed into the eternal kingdom. That, of course, we longingly refer to as our ultimate and final redemption.

For those reasons, not only I should not be ashamed of the Gospel—and neither should you—but you and I should be actively, even aggressively, enthusiastic about it. Again, why wouldn’t we be? It is the only hope for mankind—which means on a more personal and practical level, it is the only hope for your unsaved loved ones, the people you work with, go to school with and those who live next door to you. It is the only hope for real people you care a great deal for.

The Good News, written, proclaimed and revealed in the person of Jesus Christ is now waiting to be expressed through your lips and by your life. Other than its proclamation by preachers, that is the most compelling way it gets proclaimed these days—exemplified in word and deed through you. So let’s quit keeping the Good News to ourselves and begin looking for opportunities to slip it into our conversations at every chance we get.

I like how Eugene Peterson translates Romans 1:16-19 in The Message:

It’s news I’m most proud to proclaim, this extraordinary Message of God’s powerful plan to rescue everyone who trusts him, starting with Jews and then right on to everyone else! God’s way of putting people right shows up in the acts of faith, confirming what Scripture has said all along: “The person in right standing before God by trusting him really lives.”

The Good News really is good news—and it’s powerful. So proudly proclaim it today! You will be glad you did—and someone who might hear and respond to it will be even more glad you did!

“This is the new evangelism we need. It is not better methods, but better men and women who know their Redeemer from personal experience…who see his vision and feel his passion for the world…who want only for Christ to produce his life in and through them according to his own good pleasure.” ~Robert E. Coleman

Reflect & Apply: Lynn Thomas wrote, “I’ve often thought the first class we should teach on evangelism should probably be, ‘How to Make New Friends.’” Perhaps establishing some new “redemptive” friendships could be your first step toward a more evangelistic life.

Permissible vs. Blessable

It's Best To Ask, "What Does God Want?"

SYNOPSIS: God may give us what we want, but what he gives and what we want do not guarantee it will be for our best. What is permissible is not always blessable. Rather, we should always and only seek what God wants, and trust that he will then take care of what we want.

the Journey // Focus: Deuteronomy 17:14-16

You are about to enter the land the Lord your God is giving you. When you take it over and settle there, you may think, “We should select a king to rule over us like the other nations around us.” If this happens, be sure to select as king the man the Lord your God chooses. You must appoint a fellow Israelite; he may not be a foreigner. The king must not…

“Like the other nations.” That is an oft-repeated commentary on the mindset of the Israelites. In this case, Israel wants a king, against God’s clear warning. And ultimately, God gave them what they wanted, when what they needed was to trust in his God sovereign leadership.

God had pulled the Israelites out of bondage and ignominy among the nations to be their only God, their one true king, and to give them the high honor of being his distinct people—a holy nation set apart for his purpose. But early and often, they would want to crawl back into the pit from which they were dug. “Everyone else is doing it!” was often the basis of their appeal. “We want to be like them.”

Since God knows the end from the beginning, he anticipated the Israelite’s cry for an earthly king. When they settled into the Promised Land as a nation, he knew they would see that all the other nations had a monarch—even though that wasn’t working out too well for the heathen—and Israel would begin to long for what they didn’t have: a king to rule over them.

Four hundred years after Moses, the Israelites rejected the Lord’s desire to be their sole ruler and asked for a king. At the end of the period when the judges ruled Israel, the people came to Samuel with the request:

“Look,” they told Samuel, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.” Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for they are rejecting me, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.” (1 Samuel 5-9)

God knew way in advance what was in their heart, and in his permissive will, he would accommodate their worldly desire. That brings us to a teachable moment: Sometimes God gives us what we want, but what he gives and what we want do not guarantee it will be for our best. (Psalm 106:15) What is permissible is not always blessable. In Deuteronomy 17, God anticipated their longing for an earthly king and told them when that time came, he would grant the desires of their hearts. However, his provision would be with several important provisos:

One, the king was to be a man the Lord chose. The king was not necessarily to be the obvious, the smartest, the wealthiest or even the guy that would win the popular vote: “be sure to select as king the man the Lord your God chooses.” (Deuteronomy 17:15) God wanted the Israelites to look to him for the leader that he would choose for them. God wanted the people to trust him in the selection.

Two, the king was not to be dependent on human power. He was prohibited from amassing a huge army with overpowering weaponry. He was to trust in God (see Psalm 20:7), not in the arm of flesh: “The king must not build up a large stable of horses for himself or send his people to Egypt to buy horses, for the Lord has told you, ‘You must never return to Egypt.’” (Deuteronomy 17:16) God wanted first and foremost the king’s trust.

Three, the king was not to use his royal position to gain sexual satisfaction. As king, he would have all the power, so he could easily leverage it to gratify his fleshly appetites If he did, God warned that this would be his spiritual undoing—the women he took to himself would turn his heart away from God: “The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the Lord.” (Deuteronomy 16:17) Both David, and especially Solomon, were royal poster boys of unrestrained fleshly desire. God wanted the king to trust him for satisfaction of his every desire.

Four, the king was not to use his position to gain inordinate wealth. Rather, he was to serve God by serving the people, and by doing this, earthly and material blessings would come: “he must not accumulate large amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself.” (Deuteronomy 17:17) The temptation with a king, as with all positions of power, would be to use royal authority to serve self rather than the sheep. Again, the king was to trust in the Lord, not in his position, for material blessing.

Fifth, the king was to lead by God’s law, not human wisdom. When a human being ascends to leadership and the people he leads begin to applaud, like clockwork, ego will rise up and cause his downfall. Israel’s king was to lead by the book—Book of the Law: “When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the Lord his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. And it will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel.” (Deuteronomy 17:18-20) The king was to trust in the Lord with all his heart and not to lean on his own understanding.

God wanted the king’s trust. He wants your complete trust, too—now and at all times. Does he have it?

Going Deeper: Power, sex, money—those were the three temptations about which God warned the king. How about you? Are you jockeying for position, pursuing pleasure or chasing money to give your life meaning? God will give you what is best for you as you always and wholly trust him. Surrender your fleshly longings to him.