Editor’s Note: The AMI devotionals from July 13-19 are provided by Pastor Charles Choe of Tapestry LA.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
1 Kings 16:21-28
Then the people of Israel were divided into two parts. Half of the people followed Tibni the son of Ginath, to make him king, and half followed Omri. 22 But the people who followed Omri overcame the people who followed Tibni the son of Ginath. So Tibni died, and Omri became king. 23 In the thirty-first year of Asa king of Judah, Omri began to reign over Israel, and he reigned for twelve years; six years he reigned in Tirzah. 24 He bought the hill of Samaria from Shemer for two talents of silver, and he fortified the hill and called the name of the city that he built Samaria, after the name of Shemer, the owner of the hill. 25 Omri did what was evil in the sight of the Lord, and did more evil than all who were before him.
An enigma in Major League Baseball is Pete Rose. They don’t know what to do with him. As the all time hit-leader, he is clearly one of the best the game has known. But he bet on baseball games, as both player and manager, and for that reason he has been banned from MLB and the Hall of Fame. The most successful hitter in baseball is seen as a failure.
This brings us to King Omri. Of the many kings listed in this chapter, Omri stands out because he was one of the most successful kings to reign over the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He took the small nation in political turmoil and brought a long period of internal peace and stability. His family formed the longest lasting dynasty in Israel, holding the throne for a number of generations. He built Samaria, a brand new capital, which was considered one of the great cities of the day. He was rich and his country became more powerful. We know from archaeology that he conquered such formidable enemies like the Moabites and even managed to take parts of some of the Assyrian Empire’s territory.
Now it goes to reason, a book chronicling the kings of Israel would be full of praise for such a great king! But this is not the case at all. He only gets six verses and, far from being full of honor, they are scathing about him. He is not depicted as one the best, but one of the worst. How could he have accomplished so much, and yet, his own nation remembers him with such a negative view?
This has to with the fact that the book of Kings is ultimately written by God, although through human agents. So how success is measured is not by humans or nations—but by God. Great material and political success is not necessarily a sign of God’s blessing, for God measures success by one’s obedience to him.
We are told Omri did evil in the eyes of the Lord, and walked in the ways of King Jeroboam, who set up two altars, one to God and one to a golden calf. Like Jeroboam, Omri ruled with his own selfish interest in mind. This is why God saw him as a failure— despite all his power and wealth and defeating the old enemies of his country and people, his reign was a failure.
If we are to be successful in life, we must not seek our own glory, but the glory of God. If we run around pursuing our own ambitions and doing what pleases ourselves and not seeking and obeying the will of God, then, no matter what we achieve in a worldly sense, God will deem as our one big failure.
Bible Reading for Today: Hosea 9
Lunch Break Study
Read 2 Corinthians 5:6-10 (NASB)
“Therefore, being always of good courage, and knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord— 7 for we walk by faith, not by sight— 8 we are of good courage, I say, and prefer rather to be absent from the body and to be at home with the Lord. 9 Therefore we also have as our ambition, whether at home or absent, to be pleasing to Him. 10 For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
Questions to Consider
- We are called to live by faith and not by sight? What does look like in practice?
- Ambition is not a vice; in fact, it can be a virtue. When is it a virtue?
- What are some of your goals for school, career or life?
- This is not a reference to believing the unbelievable but to living all of one’s life based on confident trust in God’s promises for the future, even when one cannot yet see the fullness of the coming glory.
- When we are using our ambition to please him (verse 7).
- Personal response.
Dedicate your study or work to be used for God’s purposes and it will succeed. Whatever you want God to bless, you give to him first. Dedicate it, consecrate it, sanctify it, and then God will bless it. “Commit your work to the LORD, and your plans will be established” (Proverbs 16:3).