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 demonstration of spiritual power, and an invitation for Saul to repent. But not all actions of the Spirit actually transform one's character or nature, however -- see "Saul and the Spirit" in the 1 Samuel 10 commentary. It may be that the question, "Is Saul among the prophets?" means just what we might mean today, "Is this man really a spiritual man of God...or not?" Saul may be a lesson to us that, in fact, it is not an easy matter to categorize people. Saul is an enigma.
REFLECT. In thinking about the big picture of this chapter, we should note that God was protecting his newly anointed king, David, from the wrath of Saul. In the same way God protected his own beloved Son, and our newborn King, from the murderous anger of King Herod (Matt 2:16). In all of Jesus' time on earth no one took his life from him, until it was time for him to lay it down (John 10:18). Likewise, as believers we may have confidence that, no matter what trials we face, God will use us for his good purposes and then guide us safely home to his kingdom (2 Tim 4:18; Isa 54:17; Rom 8:37-39).
1 Corinthians 1.
"For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18)
BACKGROUND. The Apostle Paul, while staying in Ephesus (c AD 54/55), writes this first letter to the church in Corinth, which he planted on his second missionary journey. This epistle (letter) predates Paul's letter to the Romans by a year or so. The church in Corinth experienced many problems, mainly internal, and this letter addresses these issues one-by-one. Paul will later go to revisit Corinth and there will be another follow-up letter, 2 Corinthians.
THE CROSS. Paul calls the gospel "the word of the cross". Christ's substitutionary death is central to the gospel, as is the resurrection (1 Cor 15:3-6). But this humiliating death was repulsive to many hearers in the first century, just as it is now. The story lacked the powerful heroic figure the Jews were looking for, and it lacked the philosophical refinement that many Greeks favored. Even today, many reject the gospel because it is too simple, too brutal, too uncultured, too humbling, ...too whatever. And yet, here is where God is at work: others see in the gospel a beauty and wisdom that is almost beyond words. It is a humbling insight, to see what our sins deserve, to see our inability, and to see God's work of salvation, which at first sight may seem unimpressive and naive. D. A. Carson, writes, “The gospel is not simply good advice, nor is it good news about God’s power. The gospel is God’s power to those who believe. The place where God has supremely destroyed all human arrogance and pretension is the cross.” (D. A. Carson, The Cross and Christian Ministry; Baker Books, 1993.)
REFLECT. The chapter concludes with "But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, 'Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.'" (1:30-31 NASV) When I look back on my conversion as a college student I see that, even before I called upon the Lord for salvation, a change was already taking place in my perception of Jesus. No longer was he a myth, or a dim character in history, or a figure in some stain-glass window, but he was real, and he was Someone I wanted and needed to know. I saw in him a wellspring of life, forgiveness, wisdom, true righteousness, and redeeming love. My boast is not, "I found the Lord", but rather, he found me and opened my eyes -- "One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see" (John 9:25). When you think about Christ's death upon the cross, what do you see?
Image credit. Photo by Roman Denisenko 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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