And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite staying in the remote mountains of Ephraim. He took for himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. But his concubine played the harlot against him, and went away from him to her father’s house at Bethlehem in Judah, and was there four whole months. Then her husband arose and went after her, to speak kindly to her and bring her back, having his servant and a couple of donkeys with him. So she brought him into her father’s house; and when the father of the young woman saw him, he was glad to meet him. Now his father-in-law, the young woman’s father, detained him; and he stayed with him three days. So they ate and drank and lodged there. Then it came to pass on the fourth day that they arose early in the morning, and he stood to depart; but the young woman’s father said to his son-in-law, “Refresh your heart with a morsel of bread, and afterward go your way.” So they sat down, and the two of them ate and drank together. Then the young woman’s father said to the man, “Please be content to stay all night, and let your heart be merry.” And when the man stood to depart, his father-in-law urged him; so he lodged there again. Then he arose early in the morning on the fifth day to depart, but the young woman’s father said, “Please refresh your heart.” So they delayed until afternoon; and both of them ate. And when the man stood to depart—he and his concubine and his servant—his father-in-law, the young woman’s father, said to him, “Look, the day is now drawing toward evening; please spend the night. See, the day is coming to an end; lodge here, that your heart may be merry. Tomorrow go your way early, so that you may get home.” However, the man was not willing to spend that night; so he rose and departed, and came opposite Jebus (that is, Jerusalem). With him were the two saddled donkeys; his concubine was also with him. They were near Jebus, and the day was far spent; and the servant said to his master, “Come, please, and let us turn aside into this city of the Jebusites and lodge in it.” But his master said to him, “We will not turn aside here into a city of foreigners, who are not of the children of Israel; we will go on to Gibeah.” So he said to his servant, “Come, let us draw near to one of these places, and spend the night in Gibeah or in Ramah.” And they passed by and went their way; and the sun went down on them near Gibeah, which belongs to Benjamin. They turned aside there to go in to lodge in Gibeah. And when he went in, he sat down in the open square of the city, for no one would take them into his house to spend the night. Just then an old man came in from his work in the field at evening, who also was from the mountains of Ephraim; he was staying in Gibeah, whereas the men of the place were Benjamites. And when he raised his eyes, he saw the traveler in the open square of the city; and the old man said, “Where are you going, and where do you come from?” So he said to him, “We are passing from Bethlehem in Judah toward the remote mountains of Ephraim; I am from there. I went to Bethlehem in Judah; now I am going to the house of the Lord . But there is no one who will take me into his house, although we have both straw and fodder for our donkeys, and bread and wine for myself, for your female servant, and for the young man who is with your servant; there is no lack of anything.” And the old man said, “Peace be with you! However, let all your needs be my responsibility; only do not spend the night in the open square.” So he brought him into his house, and gave fodder to the donkeys. And they washed their feet, and ate and drank. As they were enjoying themselves, suddenly certain men of the city, perverted men, surrounded the house and beat on the door. They spoke to the master of the house, the old man, saying, “Bring out the man who came to your house, that we may know him carnally! ” But the man, the master of the house, went out to them and said to them, “No, my brethren! I beg you, do not act so wickedly! Seeing this man has come into my house, do not commit this outrage. Look, here is my virgin daughter and the man’s concubine; let me bring them out now. Humble them, and do with them as you please; but to this man do not do such a vile thing!” But the men would not heed him. So the man took his concubine and brought her out to them. And they knew her and abused her all night until morning; and when the day began to break, they let her go. Then the woman came as the day was dawning, and fell down at the door of the man’s house where her master was, till it was light. When her master arose in the morning, and opened the doors of the house and went out to go his way, there was his concubine, fallen at the door of the house with her hands on the threshold. And he said to her, “Get up and let us be going.” But there was no answer. So the man lifted her onto the donkey; and the man got up and went to his place. When he entered his house he took a knife, laid hold of his concubine, and divided her into twelve pieces, limb by limb, and sent her throughout all the territory of Israel. And so it was that all who saw it said, “No such deed has been done or seen from the day that the children of Israel came up from the land of Egypt until this day. Consider it, confer, and speak up!” Judges 19:1-30 NKJV
“Every commandment which I command you today you must be careful to observe, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers. And you shall remember that the Lord your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. So He humbled you, allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna which you did not know nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man shall not live by bread alone; but man lives by every word that proceeds from the mouth of the Lord . Your garments did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. You should know in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so the Lord your God chastens you. “Therefore you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. For the Lord your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, that flow out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; a land in which you will eat bread without scarcity, in which you will lack nothing; a land whose stones are iron and out of whose hills you can dig copper. When you have eaten and are full, then you shall bless the Lord your God for the good land which He has given you. Deuteronomy 8:1-10 NKJV
At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, “Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one little child like this in My name receives Me. “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in Me to sin, it would be better for him if a millstone were hung around his neck, and he were drowned in the depth of the sea. Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes! “Take heed that you do not despise one of these little ones, for I say to you that in heaven their angels always see the face of My Father who is in heaven. For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost. Matthew 18:1-7, 10-11 NKJV
He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, Will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy. When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; But when a wicked man rules, the people groan. Whoever loves wisdom makes his father rejoice, But a companion of harlots wastes his wealth. The king establishes the land by justice, But he who receives bribes overthrows it. A man who flatters his neighbor Spreads a net for his feet. By transgression an evil man is snared, But the righteous sings and rejoices. The righteous considers the cause of the poor, But the wicked does not understand such knowledge. Scoffers set a city aflame, But wise men turn away wrath. If a wise man contends with a foolish man, Whether the fool rages or laughs, there is no peace. The bloodthirsty hate the blameless, But the upright seek his well-being. A fool vents all his feelings, But a wise man holds them back. If a ruler pays attention to lies, All his servants become wicked. The poor man and the oppressor have this in common: The Lord gives light to the eyes of both. The king who judges the poor with truth, His throne will be established forever. The rod and rebuke give wisdom, But a child left to himself brings shame to his mother. When the wicked are multiplied, transgression increases; But the righteous will see their fall. Correct your son, and he will give you rest; Yes, he will give delight to your soul. An angry man stirs up strife, And a furious man abounds in transgression. A man’s pride will bring him low, But the humble in spirit will retain honor. Many seek the ruler’s favor, But justice for man comes from the Lord . An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous, And he who is upright in the way is an abomination to the wicked. Proverbs 29:1-17, 22-23, 26-27 NKJV
Matthew 6 speaks of having a humble faith. The Lord already knows our needs and what’s on our heart. Doing faith for recognition from others, or boasting about it, is not humbling ourselves before the Lord.
Again, the Lord is speaking of the heart, or the motivations of man. That is the root of our trouble. Charity is not so others can recognize what we are giving. Giving is for those that we give to and to recognize that all is given by our Father.
“Take heed that you do not do your charitable deeds before men, to be seen by them. Otherwise you have no reward from your Father in heaven. Therefore, when you do a charitable deed, do not sound a trumpet before you as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory from men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But when you do a charitable deed, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, that your charitable deed may be in secret; and your Father who sees in secret will Himself reward you openly. “And when you pray, you shall not be like the hypocrites. For they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the corners of the streets, that they may be seen by men. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly. And when you pray, do not use vain repetitions as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words. “Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him. Matthew 6:1-8 NKJV
It’s funny how the older you get, birthdays seems to remind you more and more of how short our lives really are. Psalms 39 struck a chord with me today as I have been thinking about how short our lives are and how we choose to spend that time.
Indeed, You have made my days as handbreadths,
And my age is as nothing before You;
Certainly every man at his best state is but vapor. Selah
Surely every man walks about like a shadow;
Surely they busy themselves in vain;
He heaps up riches,
And does not know who will gather them. Psalms 39:5-6
I, like many others, had to look up the definition of handbreadths. It literally means just inches, like the depth of 4 fingers together. If we totaled our days on Earth and set them before the Lord, they would look like nothing to Him. He is infinite. As the text reads, our days would look like vapor. Barely even noticeable.
When we are kids, we typically want nothing more than to grow up to be an adult. How freeing and awesome must it be to grow up? Now, as an adult, I envy the kid. They have their whole lives in front of them with little responsibilities. We always seem to desire what we do not have. We reach adulthood and we “busy ourselves in vain.” We try to build up wealth, possessions or success.
Personally, I am a “go-getter”. I want to achieve success in life and in the things I work on. However, I have a balance in me that constantly pulls me back to reality. I believe that balance comes from the Lord. He helps me reflect on my heart and my motivations. What am I working for? What is my heart seeking? I do not want to heap up reaches for the sake of gathering riches. But, rather than completely throwing out the idea of working hard, I have found that the heart is what needs examined. The Lord can reveal to us our motivations and our desires. We can ask Him to align our desires with His.
I believe the next two verses offer us guidance on this path.
“And now, Lord, what do I wait for?
My hope is in You.
Deliver me from all my transgressions;
Do not make me the reproach of the foolish. Psalms 39-7-8
Where does my hope and inspiration come from? Is it the success? Possibly wealth or possessions? No. My hope is in the Lord. Knowing that my life is but a vapor humbles me before Him. I only have so long to live. I awake each morning with a hope that I can make a positive influence on the things that I touch. My hope is in the Lord, who delivers us from our transgressions. I am not perfect – far from it! But, we have a perfect God who loves us.