The Prophet 


The Prophet

“While she was still speaking with the
king, Nathan the prophet arrived.”

              1 Kings 1:22


Why was it necessary for Nathan the prophet to get involved in the fight over the throne
among David’s children? Being the servant of God, the prophet could have stayed
away from the mess and waited until the dust settled to determine what action
he should take. By throwing his hat into the ring, he appeared to take a public
stance in the struggle and, had Solomon failed to win the crown, Nathan’s life
would have been in great peril.

Being a faithful servant of the Lord, Nathan’s true allegiance was to God, not to men.
He took Solomon’s cause not because he deemed Bathsheba’s son was a better
person for the position or because of his personal affection for the young
prince. He believed it was God’s will that Solomon should succeed David as the
king over Israel.

It wasn’t for his own sake that Nathan took such drastic action. The Lord only gave him one
option at the time, and he decided to obey, despite the serious consequences it
might incur.

Surely it was extremely dangerous for him to go to David and to expose his sin of all sins
concerning Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite. Had Nathan considered the possible
results of his bold action? Surely he had. The king could have become furious over
the confrontation and done away with the prophet once and for all. It could
easily have happened, but this dread and threat did not keep the prophet from
doing and saying the right thing. God the Almighty alone was the One he was serving
and, because of his reverent fear of God, the prophet feared no man.

“As he that fears God fears nothing else, so, he that sees God sees everything else,” wrote
John Donne in his meditation.

Has fear of men ever kept us from doing or saying the right thing? Have we all been taught
by our parents to protect ourselves by always taking an easy way out in any sort
of controversy (明哲保身?)
Indeed, what Nathan did at the time probably wasn’t the wisest thing, since
Adonijah seemed to be gathering momentum and it appeared that he would be
taking over the throne in a matter of days.

Justice will not prevail if we all have this kind of mentality. Our self-protective
mechanism may kick in when we are convicted to do or to say the right thing in
any conflict, but we should never let it deter us from doing what we are called
to do as Christians. Silence is not always golden when God’s righteousness is
at stake.

Adonijah could easily have become king over Israel had Nathan done nothing. Of course, God’s
will always prevail under any kind of adverse circumstance, but Nathan himself
would have suffered loss had he not heeded God’s calling to do the right thing.



Thursday, January 24, 2013 6:44:00 AM Categories: Devotional




“So Bathsheba went to see the aged king
in his room, where Abishag the Shunammite was attending him.”          1 Kings 1:15


The one who had caused David to commit two of his greatest sins was now an elderly woman as
well. She wasn’t as desirable as she used to be, and David’s heart no longer
burned with passion at the sight of the woman. The King might still have had feelings
for Bathsheba, but the passion that caused him to do reckless things was long
gone. David had become an old man and a much younger girl was attending him.

By this time Bathsheba might have served as a reminder of David’s sin more than anything
else, and he could sense a strong wave of regret and remorse rising from his
heart whenever Bathsheba appeared before him. O how he wished he could undo
what has been done to the woman and her husband.

Indeed the passion he had for the beautiful woman didn’t outlast his regret for the sin he
had committed, and while the infatuation might have died, but the woman was
still there, demanding his every attention, and he had no choice but to take
sides in this deadly power struggle for the throne. Had he made a vow to
Bathsheba, promising her son would succeed him as king? It might have occurred,
but his fading memory failed to illuminate the situation. One thing he knew for
sure, however, that it was the Lord’s will that Solomon should take over the
nation when he was no more. Therefore he took Bathsheba’s side, not so much for
his love for the woman, but for his reverence for the Lord. Yes, Solomon was
the one to sit in the throne after him.

Abishag was every bit as beautiful and desirable as the young Bathsheba, but the elderly
king’s passion for women was dwindling and he had neither the emotional nor
physical strength to get entangled with a young woman, however desirable she
might be.

Was there envy in Bathsheba’s heart when she saw Abishag serving and sleeping with the
king? Not so much, I suppose. Had she had any romantic love for the king, it
must have been erased by the passage of time. Besides, the things that had happened
to her were not entirely out of her volition. All she could do at the time was to
just try to survive in the midst of a scandal. Whether she had any feelings for
the king or not wasn’t an issue at all; she merely did what she was told or
forced to do. As far as her romantic feelings toward any man were concerned,
Uriah might have been the one she truly adored.

It obviously wasn’t the time for Bathsheba to contemplate those things; her main concern was
her life and her son’s future. Her love for the elderly king might have been in
question, but her affection for their son was beyond examination. It was a life
and death issue she was dealing with at the moment and one misstep could have
gotten both of them killed. The woman was again being placed in an unenviable

Wednesday, January 23, 2013 6:23:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Power Struggle 


Power Struggle

“Now then, let me advise you how you can
save your own life and the life of your son Solomon.”          1 Kings 1:12


Bathsheba understood exactly the grave situation she and her son were in when she was
told what Adonijah was doing at the time. There was no possible way that they
could survive Adonijah’s kingship and she agreed with Nathan the prophet that
something must be done and done quickly. It would have been too late had she
waited until Adonijah gathered enough support from the Israelites. The entire
situation would have snowballed on her had it occurred, and both she and the
aged king would have been swallowed up by the swirl of a power struggle. By
this time, Adnoijah appeared to have the support of both wings of military and
spiritual might within the power structure, and all he needed was the support
of the populace, which was something he was working on at the time. For David
to stem the tide of this rebellious movement, he must act right away.

Bathsheba heeded Nathan’s advice and went to the aged king immediately, for she knew both
her life and the life of her son was indeed at stake.

Adnoijah knew full well that Bathsheba and Solomon had had the kings’ ear for quite some time
now and that the mother and son must have been making necessary preparation to seize
the throne as soon as David breathed his last. The son of Haggith knew who the
king’s favorite among his many sons was, and surely he wasn’t the one. David
seemed to have poured all his attention and affection upon Solomon after
Absalom died, and it was clear to all who the king had in mind to succeed him.
Solomon’s head would have been the first head to roll, had Adonijah succeeded
in his scheme.

Of all people in human history, kings and princes from east and west may have had the
shortest lifespans, and a great number of them didn’t die from natural causes.
Absolute power is indeed quite enticing, but it can easily get one killed violently
and prematurely. In order for him to assume the kingship, Tang Taizhong, the
most prominent emperor in the Tang dynasty, found it necessary to slaughter his
two brothers and their ten sons in one campaign, and therefore secure his
kingship. The tragic event was the end result of years of an ongoing feud among
the brothers, and Tang Taizhong would have been killed by his brothers had he
not taken the action first.  

The Lord will eventually prevail, no matter how people strive and scheme in the process. Was Solomon a
better person than all his brothers? Not necessarily so. But indeed he had some
attributes that made him more qualified to assume the kingship than his
brothers, and that was what came about at the end. King Solomon had a promising
beginning as a king and ruled successfully during the golden age of the history
of Israel. Things in the nation started spinning out of control after his
death, which goes to show that human depravity, combined with absolute
authority invested in one person, is by no means the best recipe for governing
a nation.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013 6:45:00 AM Categories: Devotional




“Adonijah conferred with Joab son of
Zeruiah and with Abiathar the priest, and they gave him their support.”             1 Kings 1:7


The scheme was simple enough. Adonijah started to act like a king, with people and
chariots running ahead of him, and began to make public appearances. As people
was getting used to the idea of him being the successor, he started to take
action by gathering powerful figures around him. His two-pronged goal was to
get support from the military and religious powers in the nation, namely Joab
the general and Abiathar the priest. Getting these two people was half the
success since between these two was the control of people’s hearts and might.

Why did Joab, the long time general of David’s army, lend the conspirator his support? There
was indeed ongoing tension between Joab and David, and the king had obviously been
harboring animosity towards the general for a long while, since the ruthless
man had slaughtered his beloved son Absalom, although he was clearly instructed
not to. Besides, Joab also killed two people during peace time for whom David
had high regard. Joab must have known his days were numbered and took this rare
opportunity to jump ship while he was still able. It might have been a survival
move for him, since it became clearer to him the king would like to get rid of
him while there was an opportunity.

Why did Abiathar the priest follow suit in the conspiracy?

The priest didn’t seem to have any plausible reason for doing so, unless he was making preparation
for his future, since by this time David was an old man and his days in the
throne were limited. He might have considered it certain that Adonijah would be
the next in line for the throne; therefore he took a chance by siding with him,
thinking his future would be secure if the man indeed succeeded his father as
king over Israel. It was foolish for the man of God to get involved in politics
which were corrupted to the core and, consequently, his privilege of serving
the Lord was forever lost.

Both men took a chance by siding with Adonijah and suffered the dire consequences. Their
career in the court and reputation as a person was ruined. They might have
thought they had made a wise and expedient choice, but it certainly wasn’t a
godly decision.

Loyalty to the king should have counted for something in their decision-making process.
David might not have been a perfect monarch, but he was still God’s anointed
and they showed disrespect for God by being disloyal to the king. Indeed, out
of his reverence for God’s anointed, David twice spared Saul’s life, which was
perfect example of holding God’s anointed king in highest regard.

Had Joab and Abiathar had fear for the Lord in their hearts, they would not have joined the
conspiracy and brought their lives into total ruin. 


Monday, January 21, 2013 7:33:00 AM Categories: Devotional




“He was also very handsome and was born
next after Absalom.”

             1 Kings 1:6


Adonijah must have learned from his deceased brother Absalom, who had aspired to be king and
ended up losing his life in battle. He was a handsome man and must have deemed
himself to be someone suited to be king. He thought his time had come because
his father was aging rapidly and seemed to be losing control over the nation.
He was born after Absalom and there were no competitors among his many brothers
since the most capable one, Absalom, had died. Solomon might have been a worthy
competitor for the throne, but the young lad didn’t seem to be all that
aggressive and wasn’t all that popular among the brothers.

“I will be king,” he proclaimed to all who cared to listen. It was no secret what the man
was going to do and he would pursue his goal to the bitter end.

Indeed he could have remained a prince and enjoyed all the privileges that came with the
position. He was probably the most eligible bachelor in the nation and could
have had his pick among all the beautiful virgins in Israel. Career wise, there
was no reason for him to become anxious over, since a smooth path to fame and
fortune must have been mapped out for him. Yet all these things amounted to
nothing for a man who had a greater aspiration - he wanted to become king like
his father.

Yes, he had seen what a king could do and seen them all. He had seen people bowing down to
the ground before the throne and trembling with fear when the king spoke. He
had seen people and chariots running ahead of the king when the king rode down
the street in his coach and the shouting of “long live the king” vibrating in
the desert heat. “O that’s what a great man should be (大丈夫當如是也,)” Adonijah exclaimed.

No water could have quenched such a vaunting ambition once it started to burn. When an
idea becomes an ambition, it has to run its course until the dream turns into
reality. From then on, nothing would satisfy the man except the glory and
glamour of the throne and he devoted his entire time and energy to pursuing the

For sure, there is a little bit of Adonijah in all of us.

We may not have the background and entitlement of a prince, but we often consider
ourselves higher than who we are supposed to be and are not content to be who
and what we are. We tend to abuse our authority when, perchance, we are put in
a position of leadership and often consider those under us as lowly and
unworthy. We are by nature selfish and ambitious and, unless we die with Christ
on the cross daily, we will always be arrogant and repulsive, ruthless to
people and repugnant to the Lord. We all have the potential to become as bad as
we can possibly be; yet we can also turn out to be as good as we can ever be,
depending merely on one thing - in whom do we place our trust. 



Friday, January 18, 2013 6:34:00 AM Categories: Devotional




“Then they searched throughout Israel
for a beautiful young woman and found Abishag, a Shunammite, and brought her to
the king.”  1 Kings 1:3


Had Abishag been a little plainer, she would not have been chosen as the king’s caretaker
and would have had the chance to lead an ordinary life like most women. Her
beauty was, in fact, not a blessing, but a curse.

“All beauties are ill-fated (紅顏薄命,)”
renders a Chinese saying. This is true in many cases. Jiang Caiping, was known
nation-wide for her incredible artistic talent and beauty and was chosen by a eunuch
whose job was to look for beautiful girls for Tang Xuanzong, one of the
emperors in Tang dynasty. The eunuch took the girl from Southern China back to the
palace where she immediately became the emperor’s favorite and a special
residence called “The Garden of Plums” was erected for her. Unfortunately her
good time was cut short, for the king found another woman who was more
desirable than her and Jiang spent the rest of her life in isolation and died
at age forty-eight. Obviously such wasn’t a life of her own choosing and, had she
had any options at all, she would have opted to remain in her home town, marry
to an ordinary young man in her neighborhood, and raise a family of her own.
Her ill-fortune was indeed caused by her beauty.

Was beauty a necessary attribute for a caretaker for the king? Not so. David was an elderly
man by this time and wasn’t looking for yet another concubine, but the king’s
underlings still searched high and low all over the country for the most
beautiful and desirable merely to keep the king warm in winter time.  

What had Abishag done to warrant such ill-treatment? Nothing at all. She must have had aspirations
and dreams for her life like all others in her village, but her own ideal for
life was dashed simply because of her unique appearance. She could have become
the envy of her friends since she was going to get a rare opportunity to dwell
in the palace and to possibly lead a life of luxury. The problem was: she herself
didn’t choose to become the king’s “body-warmer.” The choice was made for her
by forces over which she had absolutely no control.

Being beautiful may be a good thing, but it may become a curse if the monarch finds
your beauty desirable. Being a sinner with absolute power, he may just desire
to possess you for the sake of possession, with his only purpose being to keep
you from other men. There were thousands of men in Israel who were deprived of
wives, yet King Solomon kept one thousand of the most desirable women in his
palace for no other reason than just because he was able.

Why did the Lord become angry when the Israelites asked for a king to rule over them? I
think the reason is simple. It was unthinkable that instead of being governed
by a holy and merciful God, the chosen people desired to be ruled by corrupt
kings and despots. I think the Lord, through Samuel, made it abundantly clear to
the Israelites how they would suffer under kings, yet it made no difference to




Thursday, January 17, 2013 6:49:00 AM Categories: Devotional

Aging Hero 


Aging Hero

“When King David was very old, he could
not keep warm even when they put covers over him.”            1 Kings 1:1


It was years ago when the little shepherd lad was anointed by Samuel as the king over Israel
and many things had transpired since then. Now the young hero who slew Goliath
singlehandedly had become an old man who couldn’t keep himself warm in the
winter of his life. David had fought many good fights and won many battles, but
like all heroes before and after him, his eyesight was failing and his natural
strength weakening. He was succumbing to the tyranny of time.

The king would have liked to hang on to his life on earth a little longer and continue
his reign over a great nation, but it was quite impossible. The Lord had called
him to perform many great tasks, but when the time came, he would have to give
up all he had accumulated and return to dust. Indeed the man had achieved great
renown, but it meant nothing to him when his health was failing and he was
drawing nearer and nearer to the grave.

“When King David was very old, he could not keep warm even when they put covers over him.”

What could the aging king have done to bring a little bit of warmth to himself in the cold
winter of his life? A fire was burning near his bed and a virgin girl was lying
by his side to keep him warm, yet all was for naught except during the time
when the king was contemplating about how the Lord had been with him every step
of the way in his life. Such a tender memory was like a soothing heat that
ironed out all the wrinkles of his wintry life. The young poet was now old, yet
his love for the Lord was often rekindled and he often found himself composing
psalms and singing praises to the Lord in the dark when all was quiet.

Indeed we are fighting a losing battle as far as battling against time is concerned. I take
my vitamins diligently and continue my regimen of morning walks even when the
temperature drops way below zero, yet I was knocked out of commission for a
week or two by a little influenza. Unlike King David, who had accomplished
great renown in his life, I don’t seem to have done anything in my life from
which I can draw a little comfort for my old age. Come to think of it, how does
this even matter anyway? We all have been called to fulfill what the Lord has designed
for us, be it great or small, and as long as we do it faithfully, we will earn
God’s approval at the end, which is in itself a great comfort.

The time will come sooner or later for all of us to give up our fight against “the dying of
the light,” and nothing will keep us warm except the love and comfort of the
Lord. Our winter will be very chilly if we don’t have the covering of the


Wednesday, January 16, 2013 6:02:00 AM Categories: Devotional

New Creation 


New Creation

“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision
means anything; what counts is the new creation.”          Gal 6:15


A couple has been coming to our church regularly for years, yet they have never given me any
inkling that they want to make a profession of faith or receive baptism. Their
attendance at our worship services and other activities is far more regular
that some of our church members, but they seem to be content to remain

Perhaps they have been born again and consider the outward form of baptism unnecessary. God only
knows, I suppose. I have talked to this young man a few times, and he has never
given me a straight answer concerning his spiritual status, and finally I have
quit asking.

“What counts is the new creation.”

As long as they continue to place themselves in the position of grace, I believe the Lord
will do his work when the time is right, and I am in no position to hasten the
process. The Lord had started his work in them, and he alone can finish the

Over the years, some people who received the rite of baptism at our church have since
left the faith. In essence, the ceremony meant nothing to them if they did not
become new creations. I have never turned a single person down when they have desired
to go through the process, for I simply have no authority to do so. I might
have had some reservations about some people’s intention, which matters very
little since judgment belongs to the Lord and I am merely an instrument by which
he carries out his purpose.

People should occasionally look inward at themselves and see whether they are new creations
or not. Their outward actions are mere indications of their inward condition,
and if they continue to neglect doing some spiritual things and nurturing their
new life in Christ day after day, they may have serious causes for concern.
Self-deception is never a good thing, considering what the Lord uttered to the
church of Laodicea in Revelation: “So, because you are lukewarm--neither hot nor cold--I am
about to spit you out of my mouth.”

Just when I have considered that some people have long gone from God’s house, they suddenly show
up at the church door as if nothing had happened. Unfortunately, my high hopes
for them are often dashed afterward, for they quickly vanish and stay away for
the longest time, even though they kept on reassuring me that things would be
different. They might have had the best intentions to become more spiritual,
yet there might be something lacking internally and their will-power simply
wasn’t strong enough to sustain them throughout their spiritual pursuit.

“Neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means
anything; what counts is the new creation.” Indeed, all the outward rituals and
ceremonies of religion count for nothing unless we are new creations.         



Tuesday, January 15, 2013 6:26:00 AM Categories: Devotional

The World 


The World

“…through whichthe world has
been crucified to me, and I to the world.”

             Gal 6:14


What did the world with all her vainglory have to offer to the apostle? Nothing. Paul was in the
world, yet he wasn’t of the world. His only passion was to save more people
from the corruption of the world.

Paul most likely had been single his entire life and didn’t get to enjoy all the warmth
and joy of family life like most of his peers, Peter and James included. Therefore
temporal things of the world meant very little to him at this time; his entire
focus was on the unseen and the eternal, for which he had been striving since
the day of his conversion.

The world was dead to him and he was dead to the world. Was Paul such a cold-blooded person
who had absolutely no affection for anything worldly? Not necessarily so.
Paul’s love for the church he helped plant was beyond compare and his affection
for the people within his inner circle was heart-felt. He had no biological son,
but his love for Timothy, his spiritual son, ran much deeper than mere natural
affection. Being human, Paul couldn’t help but become attached to this world, with
all her beauty and grandeur, and to all his family members and friends. His passion
for the world to come, though, seemed to have caused him to become more and
more detached from all of the above. Our love for our loved ones on earth
becomes intensified when our love relationship with our heavenly Father is
restored; yet divine love also makes it possible for us to forsake our earthly
connections in order to attain perfect union with our heavenly Bridegroom. All
earthly love and affection pale a great deal compared to heavenly jubilation.

Don’t we feel like outsiders sometimes?

The world is moving forward at such a rapid pace and we are in danger of being left behind
if we don’t lock step with her every move. Forward thinking and moving is
indeed a key to worldly success, yet we may be swept into the vast ocean of
worldliness if we blindly ride whatever wave that happens to come to us. The
wheel of this world will continue to spin at a blinding pace, but the hub
remains unmoved; the wave may rise and fall, but the anchor under the ocean remains
undisturbed. We can only find the “still point” under the shadow of the cross,
the only unmoved object among all the moving parts, the only thing unchanged
among all that is changing.

The world seemed to have ceased as I was lying in bed fighting the flu during Christmas
day, and all the gifts under the tree and the good food cooking in the oven
didn’t seem to have much attraction to me. I suppose that’s how it feels when
one’s life is slipping away and time and space start to loosen its strong grip
on us. I guess we will become more aware what’s truly important in life if we
lead our life in such a fashion - dead to the world and alive to Christ.                

Monday, January 14, 2013 6:42:00 AM Categories: Devotional

To Boast 


To Boast

“May I never boast except in the cross
of our Lord Jesus Christ…”

                 Gal 6:14


What are the things that I consider the most precious in my life? My wife and my children.
Can I boast about them? Well, I don’t mind if people ask about them. In fact, I
am dying for people to ask about them so I can talk about them.

Both my wife and my children are gifts of God. I have done absolutely nothing to acquire

Do I have some talents of which I am proud? Not all that many, but there are a few of
them I don’t mind showing people. I enjoy listening to myself talk and sing.
Have I done anything to cultivate my talents? Nothing. They are all God’s gifts
if they are indeed talents at all.

Have I earned some academic degrees and a few accolades along the way? Well, I have earned
three post-graduate degrees and one of them is terminal. Did I accomplish those
through my own efforts? No so at all. I could have done nothing apart from
God’s help along the way.

Am I proud of my clear mind and sound health, even at my somewhat advanced age? Compared to
some, I am doing pretty well, but it’s not through my own doing whatsoever. The
Lord has been sustaining me over the years.

What have I done to earn the most valuable thing in my entire life, my eternal life?
Absolutely nothing. It’s through Christ’s death on the cross that true
righteousness has been imputed on me.

“May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,” wrote the apostle, who could
have boasted about all he had done, since he seemed to have achieved a great
deal for God’s kingdom.

Whenever he was attempting to do so, he was reminded of Christ’s cross and how the Son of
God suffered on the tree, and how disastrous his life would have turned out,
apart from the revelation and merit of the cross.

I don’t even have to envision what my life would have become had God not revealed himself to
me; I can see it “lively portrayed” in the lives of my friends and neighbors.
Such is a life without the joy of Christ and hope of salvation.

“But by the grace of God I am
what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.”

Is there any room for boasting? People who boast have no idea who they really are. Indeed
they rob God of his glory by heaping something that rightly belongs to the Author
of life on themselves. They are robbers and thieves. How dreadful it will be
when they meet their Creator someday!

We rob the Lord of his glory if we boast about anything, as if through our sheer effort
and ingenuity we have accomplished anything worthwhile. In fact, we steal God’s
honor and admiration if we lead a life of ingratitude and discontentment or
develop an attitude of arrogance and pride. I think the Lord Jesus’ greatest
fear while he was in the flesh was that he might rob his Father of his glory in
any way.    




Friday, January 11, 2013 6:34:00 AM Categories: Devotional
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