1 Chronicles 10–12; Psalm 118; Romans 5
Henry David Thoreau is credited with having remarked, “Many people go to their graves
with the song still in them.” That would not be true of some of the characters we meet
in our texts of the day.
To begin with, our psalmist is downright ebullient with thanks and praise. A song of
thanksgiving for deliverance from some unnamed foes, today’s psalm is a giddy sigh of
release, a drawn-out “aaahhh” beginning and ending with the assurance that God hangs
in there with us no matter what. The psalmists, even the grittiest of the lamenters, were
besotted with God. They were convinced that God cared and that there was a “Thou”
out there not only ready but eager to converse with people, no matter their mood or
And that’s also at the heart of a portion of the good news that Paul has for his Roman
congregants: “Christ died for the ungodly” (Romans 5:6), he insists, and then seems to
turn this awesome piece of news over in his mind as an unnamed secretary tries to
follow his thoughts. God proves that “steadfast love” which the psalmist praised, Paul
says, because Christ died not only for the heroically righteous, or even for the casually
pious, but for sinners as well. Good news, even great news for those of us who seem
more comfortable “bewailing our manifold faults” than believing that God loves us, is
besotted with us.
That includes a David whose checkered career, though cleaned up for the Chronicler’s
audience, must still have been remembered—David, sinner and saint, whom God chose
and with whom God continued to abide even in David’s less ideal moments.
Canon Vicki Garvey
Associate for Lifelong Christian Formation
Diocese of Chicago
What’s the song in you that wants to be
sung aloud? How do you give voice, as
the psalmists do, to your excitement or
remorse or pain or exaltation?
What does it mean to you that God loves
you, even on the days when you are your
most curmudgeonly, unhelpful self?
God of love, teach us to see in those around
us, as well as in ourselves, the image of
yourself that you have planted there. Help
us to live into it, through the One who
taught us the way, Jesus, your son and our
1 Chronicles 7–9, Psalm 117, Romans 4
In Herb Gardner’s play A Thousand Clowns, Murray Burns worries about the future of
his ward, Nick, if Child Services determines that Murray is an unfit guardian. Precocious
Nick, already too prone to particulars, might end up with a family of list-makers, and that
would break Murray’s heart. Murray knows that Nick counts and wants to be sure that he
appreciates the “special thing he is.”
Murray’s right. People count. And sometimes we count people. I’m thinking here of
family reunions when we tell the old stories of our kin to remind us of whom we are. Or
of those rituals during which we name aloud and so remember those who have died and
now form part of the great cloud of witnesses.
By this time in 1 Chronicles, we might be a little wearied by all those listings of endless
names. Murray would throw up his hands at the lists—or perhaps not. Because that
stream of names represents rivulets of stories of people who count. To the scattered
community of Israel in the grim days after the Exile, those names and those stories forge
a bridge to the past. The people in the Chronicler’s audience need such memories and
connections to the people who have, in a sense, made them who they are.
So do the new Christians in Rome. But Paul, instead of trotting out a genealogy, chooses
to remind his hearers and overhearers of one figure from their past: Abraham. Behind his
lauding Abraham as model, undergirding the Chronicler’s endless lists, and embedded
in our exceedingly brief psalm, is the most prominent character of all: the God who is and
was and will be faithful to everybody, righteous ancestors, and bumblers, and list-makers.
Who among your ancestors do you
“reckon as righteous” (Romans 4:22), and
how does that person assist you in your
own journey of faith?
Paul, quoting Genesis 15:6, says that
Abraham’s “faith ‘was reckoned to him as
righteousness.’ ” If you look at the whole
of Abraham’s life as told in Genesis 12-25,
what else might you learn about the life
of faith, its valleys as well as its peaks?
God of the ancestors, remind me to be
grateful for those in my family tree who
model for me a life of faithfulness and
wonder in your presence. Amen.
1 Chronicles 4–6, Psalm 116, Romans 3
Perhaps one of the reasons for the extensive genealogy in Chronicles is to make the point
that we are all in this together, one big family. That’s a source of comfort and possibility,
for sure. It also bears challenge. It’s been said that the Bible is a story of sibling rivalry,
notably beginning with Cain and Abel, continuing with Jacob and Esau, and unfolding
in the drama between Joseph and his eleven brothers, representing the human family
getting along, or not.
Today the readings from 1 Chronicles begin to name the descendants of Jacob’s twelve
sons. Chapter 4 gives us the descendants of Judah and Simeon, two of the twelve tribes
that were closely related. Chapter 5 presents the descendants of Reuben, Gad, and
Manasseh. Finally, in chapter 6, we come to the lineage of the Levites. You’ve got a few
more chapters with a lot of names in days ahead, twelve tribes in all. It’s a mosaic of
generation upon generation, people in relationship with God and with each other, lives
marked by joy and challenge, community and conflict.
As you read these many names, hold them in tension with the third chapter of Romans,
which paints a powerful picture of the human family and the human condition. We are
all in this together. Paul writes: There is no distinction. All have sinned and fallen short
of the glory of God. Paul gives an honest assessment of our experience, contrasting
human frailty and shortcomings with the faithfulness of God. Watch for the ways that
the letter to the Romans tells the story of all of us, all in this together, and ultimately on
the receiving end of mercy, a love from which we can never be separated.
Why are these genealogies important
for a community of faith? Do we have a
comparable resource in our own time?
Sin has been described using the metaphor
of archery, that is to say, it is a matter
of missing the mark. How do you understand
the meaning of sin? What can we
do about its power in our lives?
Create in us clean hearts, O God, and renew
right spirits within us. Amen.
1 Chronicles 1–3, Psalm 115, Romans 2
I sometimes compare the spiritual journey to a road trip on the highway of life. In order
to move forward, it helps to keep one eye on the rearview mirror. In other words, if
we’re trying to anticipate the way God will act in the future, embracing courage to
move forward with hope, it’s helpful to look back at the ways God has acted in the
past. Perhaps that is why, again and again in Scripture, a retrospective view is indicated
through genealogies, a way of remembering God at work in history.
The first and second books of Chronicles run on a parallel track with the first and second
books of Kings. But while first book of Kings starts with King David, the first book of
Chronicles takes us all the way back to Adam, in perhaps the most extensive genealogy
in all of Scripture. Truth be told, this kind of biblical material, name after unpronounceable
name, can derail the most well-intentioned Bible reader. Some might wave the white
flag. Others might just fast-forward. Some names are familiar. Many, if not most, are not.
But as you make your way through the Bible, take the time today to read the names in
these three chapters, perhaps out loud. If you come to a name that is hard to pronounce,
say it with conviction. (As Luther said, sin boldly.) If you have a Bible you don’t mind
marking up, highlight names you know. If you run across names that spark curiosity,
investigate. As you read aloud, imagine those names read in an ancient gathering.
Imagine the meaning and purpose people could find in that retrospective glance,
reminded through the reading of names that God has been active in their community
Celebrate the good news that God has acted throughout the generations. Let that
celebration help you move forward in your own journey today.
It’s been said that in the journey of faith,
we don’t need so much to be instructed
as reminded. In what ways has God acted
in your own history and in the history of
those you love?
Who are the people you have known,
who have paved the way for your own
Gracious God, we give thanks that we are
surrounded by a great cloud of witnesses,
encouraging us in the journey of faith. May
we live this day as a witness for those who
surround us. Amen.
2 Kings 25, Psalm 114, Romans 1
Not with a bang but a whimper. That’s how the second book of Kings seems to end.
Could it get any worse? Chapter 25 describes the fall of Jerusalem—heartwrenching
destruction, followed by the deportation of the people into Babylonian exile. It’s the stuff
of Shakespearean tragedy, as King Zedekiah tries to flee, a foolish and futile effort. He is
captured and forced to watch the execution of his sons before his own eyes are put out.
The people are carried off, and that’s almost the end of the story. But not quite.
In the final verses of the book, a small ember suggests a fire could be rekindled. The
promise to David that his royal lineage would continue is kept alive—barely. King
Jehoiachin of Judah is released from the Babylonian prison. The Babylonian ruler speaks
kindly to him and gives him a seat above the other kings. Jehoiachin puts off prison
clothes, and he dines with the king. He gets a regular allowance for the rest of his life.
If this were a movie, that last detail would signify a sequel. There is more to come. Today,
as we come to the conclusion of this sad history in which power dissipates, we are called
to hold it in tension with the first chapter of Paul’s letter to the Romans. This letter, the
longest of those attributed to Saint Paul, has been instrumental again and again in the
renewal and reformation of the church, especially when hope seems lost. It lays bare the
power of the gospel, as seen in verses 16-17, which declare the theme of the letter: “For
I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the power of God for salvation to
everyone who has faith.”
As you come to the end of the story described in 2 Kings, as you simultaneously begin
Paul’s letter to the Romans, claim the power of God to work even in—especially in—the
brokenness of the human condition.
Have you ever experienced a glimmer
of light in situations that seem beyond
What resources do you have in your own
life to help you move forward? Where do
you find your power?
Eternal light, even in the moments when
hope seems to have been extinguished,
help me to remember the power of your
love revealed in Jesus Christ. Amen.
2 Kings 22–24, Psalm 113, Acts 28
The reading from 2 Kings contrasts Josiah and Jehoiakim, showing the achievements
and demise of both. The former is faithful and committed to the ideals of God, while
the latter leans more toward political survival and personal greed. During Josiah’s reign,
a scroll (thought to be the Book of Deuteronomy) is found in the temple. Based on this
document, Josiah is credited with returning the nation to the ways of God. Jehoiakim
does not show any commitment to sustaining these achievements and ideals. His
punishment comes when the nation is overrun and his people are taken into exile.
Psalm 113 celebrates the sovereignty and the omnipotence of God and attributes all
political power to God. God is active on behalf of those at the periphery and the king is
expected to act on behalf of the poor and the lowly. Today, there is a need for political
leaders to act on behalf of those at the periphery, but instead we find them focused on
their own needs and wants. This text challenges this failing and demonstrates that all
things emanate from God.
The reading in Acts 28 illustrates Paul in situations where he is thought to have
extraordinary powers, and then engaging in a dialogue of faith with the Jews. Though
their reaction is negative, he does not give up but is emboldened to continue preaching.
How do we manage potentially adverse situations in our own lives? Paul could have
been tempted to focus on the personal benefits he could accrue from his powers of
healing, but he does not. Instead, he points his subjects to God and continues with his
ministry of encouragement. It is my prayer that when God uses us in a situation, we will
give all the glory to God and not to ourselves.
Dr. Zebedi Muga
Head of Biblical Theology and Philosophy
St. Paul’s University
What examples can we learn from the
lives of Josiah, Hezekiah, and Zedekiah?
What can we learn from Paul’s experiences
God, we give you thanks for the examples
of our ancestors in faith. Guide us in the
church today as you guided Josiah in his
temple reforms and Paul in his steadfast
2 Kings 19–21, Psalm 112, Acts 27
The Old Testament text shows how a new king reacts to the taunts of the invaders and
their intended colonization of the land: he demonstrates reliance and dependence on
God. The king receives a message from the Assyrians and seeks the help of the Lord.
Perhaps our political leaders can learn from this text how to respond to the issues of
our time. The empire and its killing machines have come to our doorstep: how do we
respond? King Hezekiah gives a good example as he goes about meeting the challenges,
encouraged by the prophet of God. He does not ignore the prophet, as his predecessors
had done before, but addresses the situation with the guidance of the prophet.
The psalm demonstrates that keeping the law of God brings joy and exultation in the
land. The text illustrates the benefits of adhering to the demands of the law of the Lord. In
verse 5, the psalmist mentions particularly the benefits that accrue to those who practice
social justice. The rest of the text serves as an encouragement in the face of difficulty.
The reading from Acts focuses on Paul’s journey to Rome under guard. He is put in chains
to travel to the emperor and defend himself against the charges that have been brought
against him. It is interesting to note that his advice is ignored by the centurion, who
prefers to listen to the ship’s captain (the professional). Paul’s reaction is not “I told you so”
when things go bad; he is tactful and continues to encourage in the face of an adverse
Today’s prophets have the task of learning from Paul’s example. When the empire comes
to the doorstep, how do men and women of God practice their ministry and faith? Can
the people of God intelligently address the issues that arrive with the coming of the
empire to our doorstep?
Dr. Zebedi Muga
Head of Biblical Theology and Philosophy
St. Paul’s University
How do we react as men and women of
God in the face of adversity? What can
we learn from King Hezekiah?
What lessons does Psalm 112 teach
about our commitment to live by the
word of God?
God, we pray that we might learn from the
example of King Hezekiah as we face the
challenges of our own day. Amen.
2 Kings 16–18, Psalm 111, Acts 26
The Old Testament reading describes issues affecting Israel in the period just before the
fall of the Northern Kingdom. It shows how the kings of the time went about managing
their political affairs, such as establishing alliances with superpowers such as Assyria and
Egypt. Examples of social, political, and religious integrity set by the political leadership
were wanting. Rulers did not keep the law and did not govern justly or listen to God’s
The text considers how foreign political and religious influences impacted local society
and spiritual life. The example set by the king should have been emulated by the people,
but according to the writer, this does not seem to have been the case. Instead, the king,
for the sake of his political survival, opened the door to negative foreign influences.
The text raises questions of greed, personal survival both social and political, intrigue at
the expense of personal integrity, and good relations with humanity and the divine. God
does not appear as central for the rulers, who focus on personal and political survival.
Psalm 111 emphasizes the sovereignty and the omnipotence of God, which we need to
remember: it is God who is above all gods and does that which humans cannot do; in all
our issues, God must be at the center.
Paul in Acts 26 challenges the status quo of his time. The reading shows how he is put
on the defensive, and how he responds cogently to the issues raised. Can we, too, stand
up to scrutiny?
Dr. Zebedi Muga
Head of Biblical Theology and Philosophy
St. Paul’s University
What are the sociopolitical issues raised
by the Old Testament text? Who are the
main characters? Is God at the center of
How does Psalm 111 demonstrate the
centrality of the divinity?
What can we learn from Paul’s defense of
God, we pray for all leaders in the world
today, that they might set aside selfish
interests and work for the good of all