Bible reading for Aug 11.
I Samuel 1.
"And she vowed a vow and said, 'O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.'" (1 Samuel 1:11)
FROM JUDGES TO KINGS. The first book of Samuel will cover the transition from the period of the judges to Israel's first king and his tragic end. There are three main characters: Samuel (the last judge), Saul (the first king), and David (who will succeed Saul). The period covered is about 1075 to 1010 BC. In chapter one we are introduced to Hannah, Samuel's mother, and her desire for a child. Barrenness was viewed as a very sad condition, perhaps even indicating a curse from God, since he was the One who opened and closed the womb. In answer to her fervent prayer, God grants Hannah a son, whom she dedicates as a Nazarite (Num 6) from birth to serve the Lord (cf Samson, Judges 13). We also meet Eli, a sad example of a priest and parent, who serves at the tabernacle residing at Shiloh.
REFLECT. Why would Hannah make such a vow, and especially if it meant having her child raised by Eli? How could such a painful sacrifice on her part turn out for good?
"For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek." (Romans 1:16)
THE GOSPEL EXPLAINED. In our reading we come to Paul's magisterial Epistle to the Romans, greatly used by God in the lives of his people. This letter played a role in the conversion of Augustine, Martin Luther, and John Wesley, to name a few. Paul's purpose is to explain the gospel of our Lord Jesus in depth. The "Gospels" (Matthew, Mark, Luke, John) record the teachings, works, life, death, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus in narrative form. Romans explains the meaning of "the gospel" and the great truths of salvation: righteousness, sin, judgment, the cross, grace, faith, the Holy Spirit, obedience, and the Christian life.
BY FAITH. The proclamation of the gospel is designed to bring about an obedient faith (v 5)[see NET notes]. Paul says that the gospel IS -- not just contains news about, but IS -- the power of God for salvation (v 16). He cites Habakkuk 2:4, "the righteous shall live by faith" (v 17), which gives us a bit of outline for the next chapters... who is righteous (chapters 1-3), what is faith (ch 4), and what does it mean to live (ch 5-8). "From faith for [or, to] faith" (v 17) may mean that out of God's faithfulness comes a work that we are to have faith in. But I think more likely that "from faith to faith" means our righteousness before God comes from simple faith from beginning to end, excluding any works of merit. As The New Living Translation puts it: "This Good News tells us how God makes us right in his sight. This is accomplished from start to finish by faith. As the Scriptures say, 'It is through faith that a righteous person has life'" (Rom 1:17 NLT).
THE PROBLEM OF SIN. In the first three chapters Romans will tell us of the depth of our depravity, its universality, and the seriousness of the condition. The first chapter portrays the downward spiral of humanity in its ingratitude, unbelief, idolatry, and rebellion against God (vv 18-32). And that we are without excuse. God's active judgment is seen three times when he "gives over" or "gives up" these people to deeper depravity (vv 24, 26, 28). It begins with lust, moves on to perversion, then culminates in a complete corruption of character. Before we can understand God's great work of salvation we must understand why we need so great a salvation! Charles Hodge wrote, "As the doctrine of redemption pervades the Scripture, so does the doctrine of the universal sinfulness of men" (The Way of Life, pg 57).
REFLECT. Have you seen the downward spiral of sin (described in Romans 1) in our world today? In yourself? Do you have confidence in the gospel of our Lord Jesus to be the power that brings life and righteousness?
Image credits. Romans 1, Greek text, UBS3.
We are following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson.
Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
The NET Bible is a free, online resource, and a ministry of bible.org.