Bible reading for September 8.
2 Samuel 2.
"Ish-bosheth, Saul's son, was forty years old when he began to reign over Israel, and he reigned two years. But the house of Judah followed David. And the time that David was king in Hebron over the house of Judah was seven years and six months." (2 Samuel 2:10-11)
KING OF JUDAH. With Saul and his sons buried, David sends a word of blessing and encouragement to the leaders of the northern tribes. But he is again rejected, and one of Saul's sons is chosen to be king. Without a united monarchy (God's choice of a single king) Israelite soldiers end up fighting each other. What began as a contest for entertainment turns into a heated battle, and many men die. (Some of these animosities will continue.) How much time elapsed between Samuel's anointing David as king over Israel (1 Sam 9) and the nation (in united agreement) anointing David as king (2 Sam 5)? It was between ten and fifteen years that David waited for the fulfillment of God's promise to him. Our Lord, the Son of David, was likewise rejected and considered an outsider by the nation's leadership (John 1:10-11). In a similar way followers of Jesus are to expect rejection (John 15:18-19) and to live in this world as exiles (1 Pet 1:17; 2:11).
REFLECT. Sometimes it seems like a long time for God's promises to be fulfilled. And so we ask, when will I get better? When will I stop sinning? When will the pain go away? When will the tears and suffering end? When will we become truly like Jesus? When will the King come in glory and banish evil forever? And so we pray as Jesus taught us, "May your kingdom come!" The Apostle Peter tells us that the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promises (2 Peter 3:9), and James says that we are to wait patiently for the Lord's coming (James 3:7-8). But still, "how long, O Lord?" is a common refrain heard in the Bible and among God's people today. We should take a lesson both from the life of David, and of other saints, that times of waiting in the wilderness, living as exiles, or enduring public rejection are not unusual for God's people in this world.
1 Corinthians 13.
"So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13)
THE LOVE CHAPTER. This is a popular passage for weddings, and it is certainly appropriate for those ceremonies. But the context of chapter 13, ingeniously placed between chapters 12 and 14, is written to demonstrate that spiritual gifts (temporary and passing) are not as important as love from the Spirit (eternal and permanent). This love [agape] is revealed in specific attitudes and actions which go beyond mere feelings of love. The Corinthians were spiritually gifted, but their pride, impatience, and divisiveness would reveal they were not bearing the fruit of the Spirit (Gal 5:6, 22).
HEAVEN A WORLD OF LOVE. In 1738 Jonathan Edwards preached a series of sermons on the thirteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians called "Charity and Its Fruits". There had been a local revival a few years before but many in the congregation had descended into factions characterized by pride and envy. These sermons were to underscore the true nature of love, especially as it should exist among God's people. In the last sermon, Edwards preached about the permanence of love in heaven, or in his words, that "Heaven is a world of love." This is a wonderful sermon by America's greatest theologian. To read it in full visit edwards.yale.edu/ and go to Volume 8, Ethical Writings, Sermon #15. Here's an excerpt...
"So it is said in the text, when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away. Their love shall be without any remains of a contrary principle. Having no pride or selfishness to interrupt or hinder its exercises, their hearts shall be full of love. That which was in the heart as but a grain of mustard seed in this world shall there be as a great tree. The soul which only had a little spark of divine love in it in this world shall be, as it were, wholly turned into love; and be like the sun, not having a spot in it, but being wholly a bright, ardent flame. There shall be no remaining enmity, distaste, coldness and deadness of heart towards God and Christ; not the least remainder of any principle of envy to be exercised towards any angels or saints who are superior in glory, no contempt or slight towards any who are inferior."
REFLECT. In marriage counseling, and when helping people resolve conflicts, I would often use this passage (1 Cor 13:4-7) in a simple but effective exercise. Most of us think of ourselves as being loving persons, or at least, that our intentions are loving. But when we get specific, another picture may come to light. Here's the exercise: wherever the word "love" appears, insert your own name. Wherever "it" appears, insert "he" or "she" (for yourself). And then read it out loud. For example, "Frank is patient and kind." Or, "Heather does not envy or boast; she is not arrogant." And so on through the passage. First, usually, there is a bit of laughter, then it gets quiet. We ask the Lord (and one another), does our current attitude and behavior fit this portrait? Is this our character in relating to one another? (Why not try this with your own name?)
Image credit. Relief showing Darius the Great wearing a crown. Wikimedia Commons.
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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