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 or blessing or success to one person but not to another. So, we grow to resent others for what we ourselves do not have. And that resentment can become a kind of obsession. The Puritan pastor Thomas Brooks wrote: "Envy, it tortures the affections, it vexes the mind, it inflames the heart, it wastes the spirits; and so it becomes man's tormentor and man's executioner at once." We must humble ourselves and be content with how God apportions his blessings and judgments. Consider these words from C. H. Spurgeon...
"The cure for envy lies in living under a constant sense of the divine presence, worshiping God and communing with him all the day long, however long the day may seem."
"For your obedience is known to all, so that I rejoice over you, but I want you to be wise as to what is good and innocent as to what is evil. The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you." (Romans 16:19-20)
PEOPLE. Notice how many people Paul knew and appreciated. He says something about each and commends them by name. Some he knew from previous travels and missions, like Priscilla and Aquila (v 3). Others he may have known through friends, correspondence, or reputation. He knew and cared about many people! He gives one last call to keep sound doctrine and to be on guard against false teachers (vv 17-18). A wonderful consolation for the early church, as well as for us today, is that Satan will soon be destroyed. It may seem like a long period that the serpent has been thrashing about, but for any of us, and for the history of the church, it is only a short season of trial. The evil one who blinds, deceives, oppresses, and dehumanizes mankind, and who with hateful spite accuses, tempts, attacks, and seeks to destroy God's children will one day be thrown into the lake of fire forever (Rev 20:10). Forever. This is great, great comfort! Paul's closing benediction (vv 25-27) highlights several themes he has been writing about in his letter to the Romans: the power of the gospel, God's once-hidden plan now being proclaimed to the nations, its result in obedient faith, and the wisdom of God that brought all this to pass.
REFLECT. Go back through this chapter and observe the various people and the things he commends. God has placed people in our lives to encourage us, help us, and to follow us. We too have mentors, fellow workers in ministry, and younger believers who look up to us. Do you appreciate those who labor for your growth in Christ? Make a list, and pray for them by name. What can you do, like Paul, to openly commend these people by name?
Image credit. Photo is by Max Letek on Unsplash.
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.
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