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Showing posts from August, 2020

bible reading sept 1

Bible reading for Sept 1.  I Samuel 25. "Blessed be your discretion, and blessed be you, who have kept me this day from bloodguilt and from avenging myself with my own hand!" (1 Samuel 25:33)  LADY WISDOM. Samuel dies, and the story continues with David. David is committed to not taking personal vengeance nor working salvation (deliverance) by his own hand (vv 26, 33). But here he is en route on a murderous rampage, and is stopped by a worthy woman, who is married to a worthless man. Nabal's property, along with much of Judea, was being protected by David and his troops (vv 16, 21). So, a gift of support would have been proper. Nabal, whose name means "fool" -- whether he got this at birth, later in life, or used mainly behind his back -- acted with arrogance. His wise and beautiful wife Abigail intercedes with David. She appeals to his conscience and his commitment to not take vengeance but to trust God for deliverance (Rom 12:17-21). David is won ov

bible reading aug 31

Bible reading for Aug 31.  I Samuel 24. "The LORD forbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the LORD's anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the LORD's anointed." (1 Samuel 24:6) SPARING SAUL. David has opportunity to take Saul's life, but refrains.  He is trusting the Lord to rule in the affairs of Israel: "May the LORD judge between me and you, may the LORD avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you" (v 12). David knew that the Lord, "...changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings..." (Dan 2:21; 4:17) .  David did not seek to be king, nor would he bring about the fall of the current king in order usher in his own reign. Saul recognizes that by sparing him David showed great mercy. David promises to not destroy the house of Saul when he ascends to the throne. Saul seems moved by all of this, but this penitent attitude will soon disappear.    REFLECT. Men and women of fai

berdyaev on dehumanization

"Man cannot be the image either of nature or of the machine. Man is the image and likeness of God." Below is an excerpt from The Fate of Man in the Modern World (1935) , by Nikolai Berdyaev (1874-1948). [ University of Michigan, 1935; pp 25-35.] Writing in 1935 Berdyaev is analyzing the direction of western Europe since the turn of the twentieth century. In view are the great war (World War I), the advance of communism, and the rise of national-socialism in Germany. He views the twentieth century as being that point in history where humanism dies. He notes that the existence of God (theism) had been widely rejected and now man as a special creation no longer made sense. Classical humanism is losing its influence. Humanity is going into one of two directions: the bestial (identification with nature) and the technological (identification with the machine). By "bestialism" Berdyaev means a philosophy or practice of life that is brutish, animalistic, that is, dr

bible reading weekend aug 29

Bible reading for weekend of Aug 29.  I Samuel 21-23. "And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the Wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand." (1 Samuel 23:14) DAVID IN EXILE. These chapters chronicle David's flight from the madness of King Saul. The Lord protects David at every turn. David takes in Abiathar, the only priest who survived Saul's butchery against the house of Ahimelech. David regularly seeks the Lord's will in regard to decisions, and he successfully engages the Philistines in battle. In time the towns of Judea become David's loyal supporters because he is actually fulfilling a kingly role in protecting their region while Saul is not doing his job.      REFLECT. Why does the Bible give us so many stories about leaders, both good and bad? Good leaders give us valuable lessons on leadership and also point us to Christ as the perfect King. Bad lead

bible reading aug 28

Bible reading for Aug 28.  I Samuel 20. "And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul." (1 Samuel 20:17)  DAVID AND JONATHAN. In this chapter we see Jonathan make a break from unquestioned loyalty to his father, King Saul, to make a covenant with David, his closest friend (vv 14-16). Today's hyper-sexualized culture would see some kind of sexual aspect to this relationship, but in the Hebrew world for men to kiss one another's beard was a common sign of respect and honor (2 Sam 20:9; Matt 26:49; Luke 7:45). This kind of "holy kiss" was practiced in the early church, as well (e.g., Rom 16:16). What was going on was more remarkable than even strong male friendship: Jonathan, son and heir of King Saul, was giving up his right to the throne in order to serve David. Notice the words, "my house" (v 15) and "house of David" (v 16). This covenant of loyalty, or fealty, to David woul

bible reading aug 27

Bible reading for Aug 27.  I Samuel 19. "Then a harmful spirit from the LORD came upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand. And David was playing the lyre. And Saul sought to pin David to the wall with the spear, but he eluded Saul, so that he struck the spear into the wall. And David fled and escaped that night." (1 Samuel 19:9-10)  GOD PROTECTS DAVID. We continue to see Saul's erratic behavior and his obsession with destroying David. The Lord delivers David from Saul on several occasions through various means. The strangest perhaps is in the latter half of the chapter where Saul's messengers (probably soldiers), and later Saul himself, are overcome by the Spirit of God and engage in prophesying. Being moved by the Spirit to give praise to God in word and song is certainly appropriate for believers, for God's children. But here it seems to be a way of preventing the group from acting on their murderous plans. Or perhaps this is a dem

bible reading aug 26

Bible reading for Aug 26.  I Samuel 18. "And David had success in all his undertakings, for the LORD was with him." (1 Sam 18:14)  DAVID'S SUCCESSES. Here we read of Saul's growing jealousy and fear of David. Saul's son Jonathan befriends David. Saul attempts to kill David by betrothing one of his daughters to David, hoping that the bloody bride-price would pit David against the Philistines and he would be killed in battle. All of this backfires. The Lord is blessing David and has departed from Saul. And Saul is in a downward spiral of envy and hatred. It's interesting to note that this is what Pilate saw when the Jewish leaders brought Jesus to trial before him: "For he knew that it was out of envy that they had delivered him up" (Matt 27:18).  REFLECT. Envy is a vice which is self-consuming. At its core is ingratitude toward, and rebellion against, God's wise providence. That is, we do not like God's dealings which give a gift

bible reading aug 25

Bible reading for Aug 25.  I Samuel 17. "If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants. But if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us." (1 Samuel 17:9) BATTLE OF CHAMPIONS. Some scholars wonder about the time stamp on this story -- chronologically, did it happen before or after David was called as a court musician to King Saul (vv 55-58)? See Constable's notes on this chapter . Perhaps at this stage in Saul's life his memory and behavior were already erratic. David, unlike Saul, has concern for God's reputation rather than his own. And in faith he goes forth in the name of the Lord. It's important to note that the outcome of this great battle would be determined at the hand of two individuals. Two national destinies rested in this one contest. David, the young shepherd, seemingly insignificant and unskilled, fells the great Goliath. This is an example of the corporate solidarity (t

bible reading aug 24

Bible reading for Aug 24.  I Samuel 16. "Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the LORD sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks on the heart." (1 Samuel 16:7) A NEW KING. Saul was tall, strong, and a good military leader, but his heart was not completely dedicated to the Lord. The Lord who "looks upon the heart" (v 7) has chosen another, who was a hard-working, overlooked young man. He was not even invited to the family dinner, being assigned to watch over their flock of sheep (v 11). Thus, David will become the shepherd to watch over God's flock, Israel. The irony was not missed by later Jewish readers. Notice the parallels between David and his greater Son, Jesus: both born in Bethlehem, both are shepherds, and both are undervalued and overlooked by their kinsmen. "He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him" (John 1:11; cf Isa 53

bible reading weekend aug 22

Bible reading for the weekend of Aug 22.  I Samuel 14-15. "And Samuel said, 'Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has also rejected you from being king.'" (1 Samuel 15:22-23) SAUL AND JONATHAN (14). We are introduced to Saul's son Jonathan, who will later become David's best friend. He's a young man of faith, full of godly initiative, at a time when there were few fighters and even fewer weapons at hand. But the Lord's blessing is upon him. Again, in God's perfect timing an earthquake coincides with the attack (14:15), and the confusion that resulted helped Israel win the battle that day. Saul, slow to enter the battle, speaks rashly with a curse --  no one shal

bible reading aug 21

Bible reading for Aug 21.  I Samuel 13. "And Samuel said to Saul, 'You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the LORD your God, with which he commanded you. For then the LORD would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people, because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.'" (1 Samuel 13:13-14)  PROBLEMS BEGIN. Saul is a good leader, but a pragmatist who has an eye to the crowd. In this chapter he is seeking to hold his troops together by taking charge of matters. In many ways we can identify with Saul, seeing things falling apart and just wanting to do something. But he takes charge of the sacrifice that was to be offered by the priest, in this case, Samuel. Saul's real job was to be obedient to the Lord, and to wait for the Lord's blessing through the priest. In this h