“ For the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him.” 2 Chronicles 16:9
When I first read this piece of scripture, my heart leapt. To my mind, this is a most beautiful passage of scripture that speaks powerfully about the Lord’s commitment to us and reveals the depth of commitment we ought to have to Him.
Today many popular television programmes are talent shows, usually involving singing or dancing. In the seventies in our beloved country, a televised production of a talent show called “Scouting for Talent” was aired. Mr. Holly Betaudier, an esteemed son of our soil and cultural icon was the host of that show.
Mr. Betaudier, fondly referred to as Holly B, developed a hunger for local culture as a child. The springboard for his involvement in media and entertainment came as early as the 1940’s when he began working with the U.S. Armed Forces radio service network, WVDI.
In 1962, our local state media Trinidad and Tobago Television, TTT, was inaugurated. Holly B began his cultural and entertainment odyssey when he joined TTT at that time. During that time the soon to be popular show, “Scouting For Talent” emerged.
Mr. Betaudier was relentless in his quest for local talent. He encouraged singing including originals and local songs as well as remakes. He welcomed all types of dance and instruments, reflective of our multicultural background. He even accommodated comedians and monologues.
The show was the only avenue for public exposure at that time for our local artistes. In fact many of our local entertainers made debut performances on that show. Holly B sought after excellence. He sought out those who had confidence, talent and commitment. He supported those who were willing to put their talent to the test on his programme.
Incentives abounded for participants, including many giveaways. Actual prizes were given out of course, but there was the thrill of being televised to a national audience. In those days programming was limited to our only television station at the time, TTT. This translated into the national population having to view that programme during prime time on a Tuesday night. Scouting for Talent was sometimes done in the studio but many times Holly B would take to the road. He did indeed “scout” for talent, searching the length and breadth of Trinidad and Tobago for worthy talent, eager to reward them for their commitment to excellence and local culture.
The passage in 2 Chronicles evoked images of Holly B to me. Here was a man who searched all over our twin island, seeking people who were also seeking him. He wanted to showcase talent; they wanted to have their talent showcased. What a win-win situation!
We too can be in a win-win situation. The passage tells us of God’s search for people who are believers so that he can give them due support and strength to maintain their faith. Let us look at the passage in greater detail. What was the historical context of the passage? Who was being addressed? What came after those words? How can we make our hearts perfect to him? What is the promise if we keep perfect to him?
The books of Chronicles were written as narrative histories and genealogies. Both books are supposedly written by the same author, the prophet Ezra. 1 Chronicles deals mainly with Kings David and Solomon but it also traces the background of David’s monarchy from the time of Adam to the reign of King Solomon.
2 Chronicles continues with the history as told from the perspective of Ezra. The first sections of this book deal with King Solomon’s reign and the building of the temple. A history of the kings of Judah follows and the book ends as the temple of Solomon is destroyed.
It is proposed that these chronicles were documented in part to emphasise to the people that destruction is pre-destined for those who disobey but those who maintain their promises and commitments to God will be blessed. This is shown repeatedly by the prospering of the good kings and the suffering of those who fall into sin.
Thus the Chronicles are written to document the religious history of Israel. This was addressed to the Israelites in general so that they could study the practices of the past leaders and recognize what was required for a successful reign. It has been suggested that these two books were written to highlight key elements to the Jews after their exile; these elements were inclusive of giving due glory to God, gratitude for God’s covenant to David and the need to be completely devoted to God in order to remain in his favour.
It has also been postulated that even though it was written for the people at that time, it may be extrapolated to our individual lives and communities today. By careful study of the historical content of the Chronicles it is possible to discern under which kings there was prosperity or defeat. The Chronicles also lend themselves as modules of valuable leadership skills, qualities and actions necessary for the flourishing of a monarchy or people…and naturally, to the elimination of certain behaviours which could prove detrimental.
The chapters preceding 2 Chronicles16 focus attention on King Solomon and the building of the temple along with other duties. In other preceding chapters we read of the fall of Judah, the splitting of the Kingdoms, North and South divisions, the reign of the Southern Kings, Rehoboam and Abijah. Then we read of the reign of Asa.
Asa’s reign represented a time of prosperity for the people. He was observant of the will of God and of the covenant made to them. He instituted religious reforms and proved worthy of the grace and favour of God. However even he fell from grace.
In his thirty sixth year of reign, his kingdom was under attack. Instead of relying on God for victory, Asa undertook to negotiate on his own behalf. He sent silver and gold from the treasuries of the Lord’s Temple to King Ben-hadad of Aram to break a treaty with King Baasha of Israel, who was attacking Asa’s Kingdom.
Hanani, a seer, visited Asa soon after the attack was withdrawn. He told of God’s displeasure. He recalled that Asa’s successes thus far were due to his faithfulness and submission to God. He told Asa that had he relied on God, God would have given him control of the attacking army, as was done in the past.
This is the point at which the scripture comes into play. Hanani reminds Asa that God seeks to support the faithful and those of integrity. He seeks them out relentlessly, just waiting to grant them overflowing blessings, to grant them victory over their enemies. All God wanted was for Asa to continue in the traditions with which he had started.
Asa would not hear of it and continued to live without repenting. Several years later he contracted a foot disease. He refused to acknowledge the Lord even when thus weakened. He eventually passed away without submitting to God, even though he underwent great suffering.
From this lesson we learn that God wants us to rely completely on him. He wants our intentions and desires to be pure. We are called to live with strength of conviction in his will and to be examples of good character and spirituality for those who will come after us.
If we apply the teachings in these books to future generations of David’s line, we see that the ultimate King in that line is Jesus Christ. All other Kings, regardless of their greatness in their reign, sought to be perfect but only in Christ there is perfection. That perfection is what our salvation is.
Extension of the principles of Chronicles leads to a comparison between the temple built by Solomon and the Temple of the Spirit. One temple was destroyed after one hundred and fifty years; the other cannot be destroyed for it is the figurative house of those who believe in Christ. The promise for believers is that God is seeking to bring us to him at any cost. He is willing to forgive us and restore us if only we would seek him out fervently and faithfully, with prayer and repentance.
Let us do like those contestants in the Scouting For Talent show; let us seek God as we perfect our actions armed with the knowledge that he too is seeking us out, ready to make us all winners.
Relying on God alone for support
Kneeling every day as I fall short,
Will make me a winner
As God scouts the earth for repentant sinners.
God’s words and my actions:
Today I will use every opportunity to be strong in God’s word by:
Relying completely on God and praying and repenting with integrity.
Thank you Lord, Amen!