Daily Video

Daily devotionals are a good introduction, helping to explain the main of ideas of the text without getting overly technical. As devotionals, they aim to enrich our relationship with God rather than turn us into academics!

Psalm 6

Psalm 5

Psalm 2

Bible Reading

The Kings

If the Exodus is the great event that launches Israel’s national story, then the high point of the narrative is the Kingdom of David and Solomon. After a rocky start with King Saul, Israel finally looks like it’s living the fulfilment of God’s promises to Abraham and Moses. David, and then Solomon, rule over a united Israel, the boundaries of which were promised to their forebears. The land is fertile and the surrounding nations come to Jerusalem to participate in the their blessed life. The Temple of Solomon dominates the skyline; God himself is living among his people in a permanent home. Surely, this is Abraham’s covenant in all its glory.  But if we read carefully, we find the authors sounding notes of caution. The problem of sin still haunts the human heart, evident even the life of God’s chosen King.  

As we read and pray through the Bible’s account of Israel’s monarchy this month, we’ll keep in mind what we know of God’s intent for Israel, and for all of humanity. Fulfilment seems tantalisingly close, and yet it proves unattainable. Why? What is it within us that always seems to derail God’s promises? Furthermore, we will also observe God’s determination to bring about ‘good’, even through human weakness. Indeed, we might wonder about the nature of ‘the good’ God purposes for his people— what makes it good and would we want it?

Previously… The great Samuel— Israel’s Prophet and the last of the Judges— appointed his sons to lead Israel in his stead. But they did not follow in his ways. In their stead, Israel insisted Samuel appoint them a king, just like those of all the surrounding nations (1 Samuel 8:4-9). In response, God directs Samuel to anoint Saul as king. He is not the kind of King God had in mind at all. Instead, he is ‘the People’s Choice’. Nevertheless, Saul’s rule begins with promise but soon disappoints.

The rocky start under King Saul

1 Samuel 12:19-13:15

The authors of Scripture treat Israel’s quest for a king as deeply suspect— it comes from the wrong motive and for the wrong purpose (to be like the surrounding nations, and to fight their battles for them). Israel already had a king, God. The request for another king would seem to be an act of treason.

Strangely, God acquiesces to the request.  Initially, Saul appears to be the kind of king the Israelites were hoping for, and we see the initial defeat of Israel’s enemies. But his desire to please his men exceeds his desire to please God. Under pressure, he takes matters into his own hands and so his family is rejected as the dynasty that would rule Israel. The narratives of Saul and David are exquisitely written.

Consider the details the author weaves into this narrative to reveal the characters of Saul and Samuel. Which details might you research further in order to uncover their significance?

David chosen as King

1 Samuel 16-17

David seems the opposite of Saul. He is young and unimpressive, disregarded even by his own family. Yet, God looks favourably on him and anoints him king. He does not look merely at external appearances, but at the heart of a person (1 Sam 16:7). Biblically, “the heart” is the centre not only of spiritual activity, but of all the operations of human life. It is the “home of the personal life,” and hence a man or woman is designated, according to their heart– wise (1 Kings 3:12, etc.), pure (Ps. 24:4; Matt. 5:8, etc.), upright and righteous (Gen. 20:5, 6; Ps. 11:2; 78:72), pious and good (Luke 8:15), etc.

In these and such passages the word “soul” could not be substituted for “heart,” although they are sometimes used interchangeably. Conversely, “hardness of heart” evidences itself in distorted views of sin; partial acknowledgment and confession of it; self-reliance, pride and conceit; and generally, an inattention to God and his ways. And God sees the heart— that’s the point. He sees our hearts. And, interestingly, the heart is not fixed. God is in the business of renewing the heart, that it might be responsive and obedient (Ezekiel 11:19; 18:31; 36:26 etc).  

Up to this point in the biblical narrative, the function of Yahweh’s Spirit seems primarily to equip individuals for military leadership (the Judges), and to enable the prophets to interpret visions and messages from God.  The “evil” spirit from God tormenting Saul (16:14-15 etc) can also be translated “harmful”. The result is that Saul’s military leadership is diminished and he is afflicted by a “harmful” spirit.  

Saul vs David

1 Samuel 26

After God’s rejection of Saul as King (1 Samuel 15:17-29), David is secretly anointed as God’s King-designate, even while Saul continues on the throne. Initially David is brought into Saul’s court as a kind of royal therapist, but soon becomes a famed warrior.

Now viewed as a threat, David flees for his life and finds himself an outlaw— even though he insists upon his loyalty to Saul.  Inevitably the reader makes comparisons between King Saul and the future King David: the king ‘just like those of the surrounding nations’ and the king of God’s choosing.

- What is your assessment of both Saul and David, and their suitability to be the king of Israel?
- On what basis will you make your assessment?

God’s Covenant with David

2 Samuel 7

After the death of Saul, David becomes king of a united Israel. God’s people are finally at rest. They are no longer a nomadic people, but a settled nation living in their promised land. Just as God first made a covenant with Abraham, and then the whole nation of Israel, now the covenant relationship encompasses the extended family of God.

God’s promises to David are a continuation of his promises to Abraham and will now drive the story. God is still at work setting the world right and he will use David’s offspring for his purposes.

For further thought:
- The promises made to David (v8-16) seem to echo the promises made to Abraham in Genesis 12:1-3.
- What similarities do you notice? What has been added or expanded?
- As you consider the promises made to David, what expectations might Israel have of Solomon?

God Blesses Solomon

1 Kings 4:20-34

The writer of 1 Kings describes God’s blessing of Solomon using language drawn from the covenant with Abraham. Judah and Israel have multiplied such that they are as numerous as grains of sand by the sea (Gen 15:17-21).

They are blessed, and the nations of the world are blessed through them. Israel is finally the nation God intended them to be. As evidence of the flowering of God’s promise to Abraham, God blesses the nations through the wisdom of Solomon. As the rulers of other nations visit or send their envoys (eg 1 Kings 10:1-13), Solomon shares from the abundance of wisdom gifted him (2 Chronicles 1:8-12).  

For further reflection:
- In what other ways might the growth of God’s kingdom under Solomon be a blessing to the nations?
- How might God’s kingdom— now expressed through the church— be a blessing to all the nations?

God enters the Temple

1 Kings 8

The dedication of the Temple is the climax of the story of Israel and an apparent fulfilment of the promise to Abraham. God now has a permanent home among his people in the city of Jerusalem, in the midst of a prosperous nation at peace, a place where the nations can come to worship him.  

Reflect back on the biblical narrative that runs from Abraham, through the Patriarchs to Moses; from the Exodus and Sinai, through Joshua’s conquest, to the Judges and the establishment of the Monarchy: God purpose has been the blessing of his people and through them the blessing of all nations. What has changed along the way? What has stayed the same?  

For further reflection:
- As we listen in on Solomon’s prayer, who does he understand God to be?  
- What does the wisest man in the world see as his people’s greatest need such that he would ask God for it at the high point of his life?

The fall of David and the failure of his Family

2 Samuel 11-18

Sin still haunts the story of God’s kingdom. Although ‘anointed’ and empowered to rule Israel, David allows lust and covetousness to rule him. Then pride drives him to arrange a cover up, followed by a murder, in an attempt to hide his abuse of power when he slept with Uriah’s wife. David rejects submission to the ways of God to impulsively grasp for the wife of another man. And so, he betrays his kingly duty to model the redeemed life to his people.  

Although God forgives David his sin, the consequences will ripple out into David’s family, and eventually the whole nation is embroiled in civil war. Even within David’s extended family, sin and death are still the core problems. If God is going to restore his world through the descendants of Abraham, something radical needs to happen.  

For reflection:
- How do you see  the words of 2 Sam 12:11-13 being fulfilled in the developing narrative of David’s family?
- What do we learn from this story about where we should place our hope?

Solomon Asks for Wisdom

1 Kings 3

There is still hope for David’s lineage. Solomon, the son of David, pleases God by asking for wisdom in order to fulfil the role of King. Perhaps under Solomon, Israel can be the people God intended. Perhaps in Solomon, the promises of 2 Sam 7:11b-16 will be fulfilled. We conclude that the role of King in Israel is not reducible to good governance and military skill. In a theocracy, where God is king over his people, the role of his human representative is as a Prince Regent— an authorised substitute who acts on behalf of the true king.  

The Anointed King

Psalm 2

The Psalms provide us with another lens through which to view Israel’s Monarchy principally because King David is attributed as author for so many of them. The superscripts at the head of many of the Psalms frequently locate the circumstances in which the Psalm was written—either in response to what happened or perhaps to be used in public worship on certain occasions.  

Psalm 2 was probably sung at the enthronement of the line of Kings following on from David. It speaks of God’s ultimate purpose for his chosen King and Israel’s understanding of their particular calling as God’s people. After the Exile and the fall of David’s line, the Psalm took on new meaning. It proclaims Israel’s longing for the Lord’s Anointed One to come— the true king who would rule with righteousness.

The Rejected King

Psalm 3

The key to understanding this Psalm is its superscript: “A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom,” referring to the events of 2 Samuel 15:13-17:24. Following immediately upon the coronation glories of Psalm 2, Psalm 3 displays another side of the experience of the Lord’s Anointed. He is also rejected by the very ones who ought to have embraced his rule, and displayed the greatest loyalty and honour towards him. And yet the Lord’s Anointed entrusts himself to God, depending upon him entirely to fulfil his promises.

Bible in a year

Growth Exercises

Growth Exercises are practical exercises we can try to help us grow as disciples of Christ. They are split into exercises to focus on for the coming week.


Right from Genesis chapter 2, when  God says, “It is not good for man to be alone,” the Bible makes it clear that we were made for community. When we are deprived of community (think of a prisoner in solitary confinement or a Covid patient in isolation) we experience a kind of stress and anxiety which we long to escape. Intuitively, then, we know that we were made for community. We also know we are made for community because we are made in the image of God. God himself— Father, Son, and Holy Spirit— shares community within himself, as he has and as he will, for all eternity.

At the heart of the universe is a loving community which Jesus prays we will ultimately join: “May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (Jn 17:21) The Bible provides us with a rich resource of wisdom and commentary on a wide range of relationships – husbands and wives, parents and children, close friends, not so close friends, governments, and even enemies. It doesn’t fill in all the details, but it does paint a picture of what our lives can look like when the love of God is accepted and then reciprocated – back to God, and into each other.

The Bible also doesn’t shy away from what can result when there is a refusal to accept or reciprocate that love. It gives us plenty of examples of what not to do, which is why some of the scripture makes for sad and often difficult reading. It never tries to paint a glossy, overly simplistic picture of our natural ability to do relationships well. Instead, the challenges – infidelity, family dysfunction, competition and conflict between friends and leaders – are included all in the messy detail. And yet, fortunately, community is not limited to our social prowess or our ability to make our relationships work. The story of the gospel is that Jesus came and formed community with us.

The Message puts it well in John 1: “The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighbourhood.” He lived among us and he modelled true community to us. Love. Patience. Kindness. Faithfulness. All of these are necessary for healthy community; and they are fruits (working evidence) of the Spirit. But that doesn’t mean they are easy. Community can be hard: people are often unlovely. They hold us up. They let us down. They act in ways that are unpredictable and less than Christlike. Worse than that, they provoke us to act in ways that are unpredictable and less than Christlike!

That’s humbling, even humiliating, at times. Community is one of the greatest blessings and challenges of the gospel. If we are to grow, it will be together. It is not individuals, but rather the church united, that is called to incarnate Christ to the world. Our culture militates against this by insisting that we find our true humanness as consumers and celebrities and autonomous individuals. In the face of this, Jesus endorses our need for each other. More than that, he endorses Christian community as his Spirit-empowered agent in the world.  During this month of April, each week, we are going to give disciplined thought to living in Christian community.  

Week 1: Connecting

There’s a good chance you have hundreds of friends in your phone ‘Contacts’ and on your Social Media accounts. But how many of these people do you really know? And how many really know you? It’s ironic that as communication gets easier, it can often become less meaningful. Studies of adults in western cultures during the past half century have recorded a significant drop in the average number of close confidantes we each have— from five in the 1950s, to two in the 2000s. This week, we want to practice the art of connecting well with people. This will involve taking initiative; it will involve thoughtful conversation, careful listening, and a degree of vulnerability.

Here are some suggestions to begin connecting:
- Write [even hand write!] a letter to a friend or loved one.
- Arrange a time to call a friend just to talk.
- Consider who among your contacts would most appreciate some encouragement– and then do it!
- If you are traveling this month, go out of your way to visit someone.
- Write a ‘thank you’ card to someone who would least expect it.

Week 2: Conversing

Conversing is essential to knowing and being known. It is the gradual sharing of ourselves with others. But is conversation a dying art? When we get together, we typically divide our time between interacting with each other and multiple forms of media or electronic devices. We watch movies but do not talk about them. We listen to music but do not share our responses to it. We plan social gatherings, but end up in night clubs or bars where conversation is mitigated by the noise or activity surrounding us.

In conversation, the most powerful communication happens through non-verbal means such as body language and tone of voice. Active and responsive listening is crucial. Take some time to consider you non-verbal communication skill levels.

Some ideas for fostering conversation this month:
- Host a dessert and coffee evening for a handful of friends, giving thought ahead of time to a series of conversation starters and topics.
- Have a movie night, but start early and discuss the movie afterwards.
- Plan an evening where each person brings along a favourite piece of music. Take time to listen together to each person’s chosen piece of music and discuss what makes it special. ∙Read the Bible with friends and talk about what you have read.
-Practice asking good questions of others, and invite others to ask questions of you.

Week 3: Committing

As we have suggested elsewhere in this program this month, community takes time. It means we will have to turn up to be with one another— even when it’s inconvenient. Of course, we will practice social distancing, but relationship requires interaction!  Our culture values spontaneity and flexibility but this can sometimes mean we become lazy in planning our social interactions. Reserving time in advance to be together honours our relationship partner— planning prioritises that relationship over whatever alternatives may arise.

There is an ‘opportunity cost’ to enjoying committed relationships. It means that sometimes, in order to grow a deeper committed relationship, you will have to say no to more exciting offers. This month, take a blank piece of paper and ask yourself: Where are my most important relational and community connections? Make a list on one half of the paper. On the other half, list the places you are spending most of your time.

Reflect: How compatible are the two halves of your paper? Do you have some hard calls to make in order to see yourself develop some committed, costly relationships? How many meaningful relationships do you have capacity for? Which will you prioritise?

Week 4: Including

We all love that feeling of belonging to a community. Strangely, in churches, our enjoyment of belonging can seem like a barrier to those who feel on the outside. When our social needs are met we have no need to look further— so we don’t. This week, set aside some time— either alone or with your ‘tribe’— to consider who might feel excluded from your group. Although you have not intentionally sought to overlook them, they feel unable to ‘break in’ to your group because it seems so tight.

Jesus went out of his way to include the socially outcast or spiritually discredited. Mark’s gospel records: “While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: ‘Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?’” (Mark 2:15-16) Are there any ‘tax collectors’ at your church? How might you include them in your community?

Prayer Project

30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim World

While this Easter Season is perhaps the most significant for the Christian world, it is also an important time for the Muslim world as well. Ramadan runs from Monday 11 March to Tuesday 9 April, 2024.

So, throughout this month of April, we are going pray particularly for Muslim people and Muslim nations, using the 30 Days of Prayer for the Muslim world resource.

It’s quite straightforward. Just click on this link and follow the prayer points for the month.  

Note: The Prayer Guide is tied specifically to the days of Ramadan, but we are a bit out of sync. Simply pray through the booklet from day 1 to day 30. More information is available here