Simple Bible Reading Guide
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"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." —Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a prophetic, life-changing power for you.
1 Kgs 1 — FAMILY FAILURE
"As the Lord lives, Who has delivered me from all distress, this very day I will fulfill the oath I swore to you by the Lord, the God of Israel, that your son Solomon should reign after me and should sit upon my throne in my place." 1 Kings 1:29-30
Adonijah, one of David's sons, tried to become king instead of Solomon, the one David had chosen to succeed him. Nathan and Bathsheba thwarted the attempt by informing David. King David was successful in every circumstance but one. He failed miserably in raising his family.
Prayer: Father, may every parent reading this successfully disciple their children for Christ.
1 Kgs 2 — JUST DESERTS
"King Solomon was told that Joab had fled to the tent of the Lord and was at the altar. He sent Benaiah, son of Jehoiada, with the order, 'Go strike him down.' " 1 Kings 2:29
Solomon began his reign by settling accounts. He killed Adonijah, Joab, and Shimei. He sent Abiathar into exile. In the Old Testament, you eventually got what you deserved. In the New Testament, Jesus got what you deserved.
Prayer: Father, because Jesus is my Justice (1 Cor 1:30), give me mercy.
Promise: "There shall be the peace of the Lord forever for David, and his descendants, and his house, and his throne." 2:33
1 Kgs 3 — WISE MAN
"I give you a heart so wise and understanding that there has never been anyone like you up to now, and after you there will come no one to equal you. In addition, I give you what you have not asked for, such riches and glory that among kings there is not your like." 1 Kings 3:12-13
God gave Solomon the opportunity to make a wish. Solomon did not ask for long life, riches, or the death of his enemies. Instead, he asked for an understanding heart, which would provide all of these things and more besides.
Prayer: Father, "give me Wisdom, the attendant at Your throne" (Wis 9:4).
Promise: "When all Israel heard the judgment the king had given, they were in awe of him, because they saw that the king had in him the wisdom of God for giving judgment." 3:28
1 Kgs 4 — SUPER-STRUCTURE
"Solomon was king over all Israel, and these were the officials he had in his service." 1 Kings 4:1-2
Solomon's great wisdom was manifested by the selection of his staff and the organization of his resources.
Prayer: Father, give me wisdom that I may be a good manager of those in my care (see 1 Tm 3:5, 12).
Promise: "Judah and Israel were as numerous as the sands by the sea." 4:20
1 Kgs 5 — "WISDOM HAS BUILT HER HOUSE" (Prv 9:1)
"God gave Solomon wisdom and exceptional understanding and knowledge, as vast as the sand on the seashore." 1 Kings 5:9
Solomon "uttered three thousand proverbs, and his songs numbered a thousand and five. He discussed plants, from the cedar on Lebanon to the hyssop growing out of the wall, and he spoke about beasts, birds, reptiles, and fishes. Men came to hear Solomon's wisdom (5:12-14). Solomon was so wise that he began to gather the workers and material to build the Temple.
Prayer: Father, give me the wisdom to seek first Your Kingdom (see Mt 6:33).
Promise: "The Lord, my God, has given me peace on all sides. There is no enemy or threat of danger." 5:18
1 Kgs 6 — CHURCH BUILDING OR BUILDING CHURCH?
"In the four hundred and eightieth year from the departure of the Israelites from the land of Egypt, in the fourth year of Solomon's reign over Israel, in the month of Ziv, which is the second month, the construction of the temple of the Lord was begun." 1 Kings 6:1
Solomon built the Temple exactly to God's specifications in seven years. May we do exactly what God wants with our lives. In Jesus, "you are being built into this temple, to become a dwelling place for God in the Spirit" (Eph 2:22).
Prayer: Father, may my body be a holy temple of the Spirit (1 Cor 6:19).
Promise: "I will dwell in the midst of the Israelites and will not forsake My people Israel." 6:13
1 Kgs 7 — "THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD! THE TEMPLE OF THE LORD!" (Jer 7:4)
"When all the work undertaken by King Solomon in the temple of the Lord was completed, he brought in the dedicated offerings of his father David, putting the silver, gold, and other articles in the treasuries of the temple of the Lord." 1 Kings 7:51
Solomon built his palace in thirteen years and brought Hiram from Tyre to make all the articles for the Temple. As long as Solomon was centering his life on the Temple, he was blessed.
Prayer: Father, center my life on building Your kingdom.
1 Kgs 8 — THE TEMPLE: WONDER OF THE WORLD
"When the priests left the holy place, the cloud filled the temple of the Lord so that the priests could no longer minister because of the cloud, since the Lord's glory had filled the temple of the Lord." 1 Kings 8:10-11
One of the greatest days in the history of humanity took place when Solomon dedicated the Temple. It was the focal point for God's presence and power on this earth.
Prayer: "May He draw our hearts to Himself, that we may follow Him in everything and keep the commands, statutes, and ordinances which He enjoined on our fathers" (8:58).
Promise: "Blessed be the Lord Who has given rest to His people Israel, just as He promised. Not a single word has gone unfulfilled of the entire generous promise He made through His servant Moses." 8:56
1 Kgs 9 — BUILDING BLOCKS
"This is an account of the forced labor which King Solomon levied in order to build the temple of the Lord, his palace..." 1 Kings 9:15
In addition to building the Temple and his palace, Solomon built Millo, the wall of Jerusalem, many cities, and even a fleet.
Prayer: Father, build me as a living stone into an edifice of Spirit for Your glory (1 Pt 2:5).
Promise: "I have heard the prayer of petition which you offered in My presence. I have consecrated this temple which you have built; I confer My name upon it forever, and My eyes and My heart shall be there always." 9:3
1 Kgs 10 — "HEALTHY, WEALTHY, AND WISE"
"Though I did not believe the report until I came and saw with my own eyes, I have discovered that they were not telling me the half. Your wisdom and prosperity surpass the report I heard." 1 Kings 10:7
Solomon's wisdom and wealth impressed the Queen of Sheba to no end. Nonetheless, Solomon, the wisest man ever, died a fool.
Prayer: Father, work through me in such a way as to astound the world.
Promise: "Happy are your men, happy these servants of yours, who stand before you always and listen to your wisdom." 10:8
1 Kgs 11 — LUST
"He had seven hundred wives of princely rank and three hundred concubines, and his wives turned his heart." 1 Kings 11:3
When a man has 700 wives and 300 concubines, he seems to have a problem with lust, which is idolatry. Solomon's wives and mistresses turned his heart to false gods, so the Lord began depriving Solomon of the kingdom by raising up Hadad, Rezon, and Jeroboam as enemies.
Prayer: Father, give me victory over temptations to sexual fantasies, masturbation, fornication, and adultery.
1 Kgs 12 — WORK AND WORSHIP
"They said to Rehoboam: 'Your father put on us a heavy yoke. If you now lighten the harsh service and the heavy yoke your father imposed on us, we will serve you.' " 1 Kings 12:3-4
Another civil war started over the oppressive labor practices of Solomon's successor, Rehoboam. Jeroboam became king of all Israel while Rehoboam ruled Judah. To establish his reign, Jeroboam made up his own religion.
Prayer: Father, forgive us for creating conditions which spawned the Protestant Reformation and the rise of Communism.
1 Kgs 13 — OBEY OR ELSE
"Jeroboam did not give up his evil ways after this event, but again made priests for the high places from among the common people. Whoever desired it was consecrated and became a priest of the high places. This was a sin on the part of the house of Jeroboam for which it was to be cut off and destroyed from the earth." 1 Kings 13:33-34
The Lord showed his disapproval of Jeroboam's new religion by withering Jeroboam's hand and breaking up his altar at the word of a prophet. Even the prophet who opposed Jeroboam was killed because he did not strictly obey God's commands. God's word is inviolable.
Prayer: Father, use me as a prophet against the strongholds of the evil one (2 Cor 10:4). May I obey you completely (2 Cor 10:6).
Promise: "He cried out against the altar the word of the Lord: 'O altar, altar, the Lord says, "A child shall be born to the house of David, Josiah by name, who shall slaughter upon you the priests of the high places." ' " 13:2
1 Kgs 14 — TRAGIC DEATHS
"As you step inside the city, the child will die, and all Israel will mourn him and bury him, for he alone of Jeroboam's line will be laid in the grave, since in him alone of Jeroboam's house has something pleasing to the Lord, the God of Israel, been found." 1 Kings 14:12-13
Jeroboam's son Abijah became sick. He sent his wife to the prophet Ahijah to see if the boy would recover. The boy died very shortly thereafter. Also, Jeroboam and Rehoboam died in their unfaithfulness and disobedience to the Lord.
Prayer: Father, may I die a happy death of repentance, salvation, and sanctification.
1 Kgs 15 — HEART CONDITION
"Once he was king, he killed off the entire house of Jeroboam, not leaving a single soul to Jeroboam but destroying him utterly, according to the warning which the Lord had pronounced through his servant, Ahijah the Shilonite, because of the sins Jeroboam committed and caused Israel to commit." 1 Kings 15:29-30
The kings of Judah are judged on whether their hearts were entirely with the Lord (15:3, 14). The kings of Israel are judged on whether they continued the sin of Jeroboam, which was making up his own religion (15:26, 34).
Prayer: Father, may I be single-hearted, focused on You alone (Mt 5:8).
Promise: "Asa's heart was entirely with the Lord as long as he lived." 15:14
1 Kgs 16 — THE WORLD RECORD FOR WICKEDNESS
"Ahab, son of Omri, did evil in the sight of the Lord more than any of his predecessors." 1 Kings 16:30
The kings of Israel deteriorated rapidly. Baasha massacred Jeroboam's family; then Zimri massacred Baasha's family. Zimri was king for only a week before he committed suicide by burning himself. Omri took over and was the worst king of all. Next, Ahab broke the world record for doing evil. "It was not enough for him to imitate the sins of Jeroboam, son of Nebat. He even married Jezebel" (16:31).
Prayer: Father, thank You that Your grace always abounds more than evil (Rm 5:20).
1 Kgs 17 — "HOW AWESOME ARE YOU, ELIJAH" (Sir 48:4)
" 'Now indeed I know that you are a man of God,' the woman replied to Elijah. 'The word of the Lord comes truly from your mouth.' " 1 Kings 17:24
The Lord mercifully checked the increase of evil by sending Elijah the prophet, who called for a three and a half year drought. Elijah also miraculously multiplied a handful of flour and a little oil to feed a widow and her son for a year. Then he raised the boy from the dead. As evil as Ahab was, the grace given to Elijah was much greater (see Rm 5:20).
Prayer: Father, raise up mighty prophets for our times.
Promise: "The Lord heard the prayer of Elijah; the life breath returned to the child's body and he revived." 17:22
1 Kgs 18 — FIRE-TRIED
"Elijah appealed to all the people and said, 'How long will you straddle the issue? If the Lord is God, follow Him, if Baal, follow him.' The people, however, did not answer him. So Elijah said to the people, 'I am the only surviving prophet of the Lord, and there are four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal.' " 1 Kings 18:21-22
Elijah had a showdown with the false prophets. The Lord sent fire from heaven, and Elijah slit the throats of 850 false prophets. "Seeing this, all the people fell prostrate and said, 'The Lord is God!' " (18:39)
Prayer: Father, may I stand for You, even if I have to stand alone.
Promise: "The Lord's fire came down and consumed the holocaust, wood, stones, and dust, and it lapped up the water in the trench." 18:38
1 Kgs 19 — THE BEST IS YET TO COME
"He prayed for death: 'This is enough, O Lord! Take my life, for I am no better than my fathers.' " 1 Kings 19:4
Mighty Elijah was so depressed that he wished he was dead. However, the most important part of Elijah's life was still ahead of him. The Lord was going to speak to him a new message in a new waynot through wind, earthquake, and fire as in the pastbut in a tiny whispering sound. Elijah was to be instrumental in the anointings of Hazael, Jehu, and Elisha. This would purify God's people.
Prayer: Father, may I recognize discouragement as an attempt to prevent me from doing my greatest works for Your glory.
Promise: "After the fire there was a tiny whispering sound. When he heard this, Elijah hid his face in his cloak and went and stood at the entrance of the cave." 19:12-13
1 Kgs 20 — A PERVERSION OF JUSTICE
"Because you have set free the man I doomed to destruction, your life shall pay for his life, your people for his people." 1 Kings 20:42
Ahab defeated Ben-hadad and the Arameans twice, but he let Ben-hadad go free in disobedience to the Lord. In the next chapter, Ahab would kill an innocent man to get his vineyard. In his sinfulness, Ahab freed a drunk murderer while killing a righteous man.
Prayer: Father, out of love may I punish the guilty and free the innocent.
Promise: "The Lord says, 'Do you see all this huge army? When I deliver it up to you today, you will know that I am the Lord.' " 20:13
1 Kgs 21 — RECORD-BREAKING, HEART-BREAKING, LAW-BREAKING
"I will destroy you and will cut off every male in Ahab's line, whether slave or freeman, in Israel. I will make your house like that of Jeroboam, son of Nebat, and like that of Baasha, son of Ahijah, because of how you have provoked me by leading Israel into sin." 1 Kings 21:21-22
"Indeed, no one gave himself up to the doing of evil in the sight of the Lord as did Ahab, urged on by his wife Jezebel. He became completely abominable by following idols" (21:25-26). Ahab held the individual's world record for doing evil, and he and his wife Jezebel held the doubles record. In the New Testament, Saul broke Ahab's record and set a new world record for doing evil (1 Tm 1:15). But Jesus saved Saul and made him a new person.
Prayer: Father, may I share the good news that "Jesus came into the world to save sinners" (1 Tm 1:15).
Promise: "He fasted, slept in the sackcloth, and went about subdued." 21:27
1 Kgs 22 — PROPHETIC FULFILLMENT
"Jehoshaphat said, 'Is there no other prophet of the Lord here whom we may consult?' " 1 Kings 22:7
This book ends with the exact fulfillment of Micaiah's and Elijah's prophecies. The wicked Ahab, although disguised, was killed in battle. "The blood from his wound flowed to the bottom of the chariot" (22:35). "When the chariot was washed at the pool of Samaria, the dogs licked up his blood and harlots bathed there, as the Lord had prophesied" (22:38).
Prayer: Father, may I never despise prophecies (1 Thes 5:20) but keep my eyes fixed on them (2 Pt 1:19).
Promise: "He followed all the ways of his father Asa unswervingly, doing what was right in the Lord's sight." 22:43
Nihil obstat: Reverend Edward J. Gratsch, June 20, 1996
Imprimatur: †Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 26, 1996
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