Bible reading for weekend September 5.
I Samuel 29-31.
"And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul, each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God." (1 Samuel 30:6)
OVERVIEW. Chapter 29: The Lord has mercy on David and he is spared from having to fight on the side of the Philistines against Israel. Chapter 30: upon returning with his troops to Ziklag he finds his city burned with fire and their families taken captive by the Amalekites. This was a very low point in David's exile, with seemingly no one on his side. He seeks the Lord and finds strength in him. A number of David's psalms are written during the period of his exile. The Lord grants David a speedy and complete victory, and a return of the captives. Chapter 31: Saul and his sons are killed in the battle with the Philistines on Mount Gilboa. His body was taken, beheaded, and mounted upon the city wall at Beth-shan (or, Beit She'an). And so ends the first book of Samuel.
REFLECT. The Amalekites were an ancient foe of Israel from the early days of the Exodus. Because they were never fully destroyed they continued harassing God's people for many generations. In the first chapter of Second Samuel an Amalekite in fact will take credit for killing Saul. What a picture this is of besetting sin! There's an old saying, "Be killing sin, or it will be killing you." In this life we will always have the presence of indwelling sin (aka "the flesh"). We should never make peace with it but stay ruthless in our opposition to the principle of sin. The Bible says, "put it to death" (Rom 8:13; Col 3:5). Have you let up in your war against sin within yourself? What can help you stay strong in the battle?
1 Corinthians 10-11.
"No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)
LEARNING FROM HISTORY (10). Paul teaches that the Old Testament stories are given as examples and warnings for us, so that we might not crave evil or fall into sin. The Bible is not written TO us directly, and so we must understand Scripture first in its original context. But it is written FOR us, for our instruction and edification. Paul again addresses the issue of eating meat sacrificed to idols (cf 8:1-13; Rom 14). This was a major problem in building unity between Jewish and Gentile believers. A key principle: even though the meat itself was not at issue, yet, openly participating in something that appears to reflect fellowship with false gods is a bad thing. We are to do the things which build up others and bring glory to God: "So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God..." (10:31-32).
COVERINGS AND COMMUNION (11). Here Paul is beginning to address proper order in the gathering of the church. There are distinct male and female roles and decorum. The women were not to look like prostitutes, but to show honor and respect for their husbands (vv 1-16). The Lord's table observance (vv 17-34) is a holy ordinance that glorifies the unity of the body of Christ, and therefore unreconciled relationships within the church make a mockery of the work of Christ. It was so serious that the Corinthian church was experiencing chastisement from the Lord (vv 30-32).
REFLECT. Dietrich Bonhoeffer once wrote that the danger which Protestants face is the temptation to turn the justification of the sinner (a truth) into the justification of sin (not true). That is, we think that because our sins are forgiven, somehow sinning now is no big deal. [I heartily recommend Bonhoeffer's little book, Life Together on this topic.] As we can see from these chapters, sin is still a serious matter for all. Christ's death for our sins does not release us to sin more freely, or to take a light view of sin, but rather to flee sin as the plague which it is. Christ's death is of infinite value in removing our sin, and so we should always live in light of the high price he paid to deliver us (1 Pet 1:18-19). Have you come to take a light view of sin? Is it no big deal to you as you see habitual sin in yourself?
Image credit. Photo of Beit She'an, from Wikimedia Commons. The ancient city mound is in the background, and in front (below the city) are the ruins of the Roman city of Scythopolis. We visited there in 1997 and I recommend it as a destination to visit in Israel.
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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