Bible reading for Aug 11 -- 12
Aug 11 -- Jeremiah 39 and Psalms 13-14
Aug 12 -- Jeremiah 40 and Psalms 15-16
"For I will surely save you, and you shall not fall by the sword, but you shall have your life as a prize of war, because you have put your trust in me, declares the LORD." (Jeremiah 39:18)
THE CITY FALLS (ch 39). The year is 586 BC and the city of Jerusalem falls to the Babylonian forces. The city lasted a year and a half under siege. King Hezekiah, many years before, had strengthened the city walls and had diverted a water source into the city, so that the city could (hopefully) outlast a siege. In the case of a siege, if it dragged on long enough, the invaders might run out of supplies, give up, and go home, or in this case, the invaders stayed while the people in the city suffered from famine and sickness. Finally, the walls are breached and many people are slaughtered or enslaved. Jeremiah is given his freedom by the Babylonian officials. And Ebed-melech, the Ethiopian, who had interceded on Jeremiah's behalf (38:7), is also spared because of his faith (v 18). In this he is like Rahab many centuries before (Josh 6:17; Heb 11:31), but in this case it is Jerusalem, not Jericho, that is destroyed.
A CONSPIRACY (ch 40). Gedaliah becomes a key figure (with authority given from Babylon), but there is still animosity toward the Jews from the nearby people-groups. A conspiracy arises from the Ammonites to murder Gedaliah, but when he hears of it he does not believe it. This will unfold in the next chapter. One point here is that not all conspiracy theories may be wrong. A person can be too paranoid, granted, but sometimes other people really are out to get you.
THE SUFFERING CHURCH. The example of Ebed-melech's care for, and intercession on behalf of, Jeremiah is also reflected in the NT. In the gospel of Matthew we read, "And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward" (Matt 10:42). And, "Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me" (Matt 25:40; cf Heb 10:32-35; 13:3; ). Like Ebed-melech we manifest our faith by our care and intercession for those imprisoned or persecuted for Christ's sake. In this we become "partners with those so treated" (Heb 10:33). So, we should be asking ourselves, how can I come to the aid of those who are suffering for the name of Christ around the world? How can I intercede on behalf of Christian pastors, leaders, and churches? How can I become a partner to those who are being ill-treated?
"For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol, or let your holy one see corruption. You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore." (Psalm 16:10-11)
HOW LONG, O LORD? (Ps 13). This psalm is a wonderful example and outline of how we can call upon the Lord when we are sorrowful. We express to him how it is that we feel (v 1-2). We pray and ask for his intervention (v 3-4). And we conclude by affirming our trust in his unfailing love (v 5-6). That is also a good time to recount to the Lord and to yourself of the many bountiful ways God has already dealt with you (v 6; cf Ps 103:1-5).
THE FOLLY OF ATHEISM (Ps 14). David describes the heart of those who reject God and attack God's people: "Have they no knowledge, all the evildoers who eat up my people as they eat bread and do not call upon the LORD?" (v 4). This psalm is cited by the Apostle Paul in describing our (all of us) sinful human hearts apart from God (Rom 3:11-12). King David sees and feels the horror of this played out against the humble and the poor of his own kingdom.
WHO SHALL DWELL WITH THE LORD? (Ps 15). A relationship with the Lord -- a true relationship -- is seen when our faith affects our behavior. Character counts. What kind of people should we be, if we are going to dwell with the Lord? The Apostle Peter says, "...make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love" (2 Peter 1:5-7). See Constable's notes here on the eight characteristics in Psalm 15.
NOT ABANDONED TO THE GRAVE (Ps 16). This psalm of David teaches us that his greater Son, the Messiah, would not be abandoned to decay in a grave. And our resurrection is guaranteed because of his (1 Cor 15:20-22; Phil 3:20-21). Not only does this psalm speak of the resurrection of our Lord (Acts 2:25-28), but also of the overwhelming joy that exists in the Father's presence. This is a great verse to combat those negative thoughts that God is some kind of cosmic kill-joy. Eternal life in God's presence is a life filled with joy and pleasure!
READ, FELT, PRAYED. The Psalms are meant to be felt and prayed, as well as studied and understood. John Calvin once described the Psalms as, "'An Anatomy of all the Parts of the Soul;’ for there is not an emotion of which any one can be conscious that is not here represented as in a mirror. Or rather, the Holy Spirit has here drawn to the life all the griefs, sorrows, fears, doubts, hopes, cares, perplexities, in short, all the distracting emotions with which the minds of men are wont to be agitated” (Commentary on the Book of Psalms).
Image credit. Photo above by KTMD Entertainment on Unsplash. About this newsletter: I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Subscribe for email at Buttondown.email/Sandy. 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. A very helpful resource is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.
Bible reading for Aug 11 -- 12