Bible reading for Aug 23 -- 24
Aug 23 -- Jeremiah 52 and Psalm 31
Aug 24 -- Lamentations 1 and Psalm 32
"How lonely sits the city that was full of people! How like a widow has she become, she who was great among the nations! She who was a princess among the provinces has become a slave." (Lamentations 1:1)
THE FALL OF JERUSALEM (Jer 52). The final chapter is a summary of the siege and capture of Jerusalem in 586 BC. What occurs at that time is the third deportation of Jewish prisoners to Babylon. Daniel was taken in the first deportation (605 BC), and Ezekiel in the second (597 BC). They are the next two "major" prophets we will read, though Ezekiel (the longer work) will come next after Lamentations. Though the facts of the fall of Jerusalem -- and it will happen again in AD 70 -- are reported as history (which they are) the actual event was certainly horrific beyond imagination. This was a traumatic event in Israel's history. As I read this chapter I thought of the nightmarish scenes unfolding in Afghanistan right now as the Taliban moves in and people are fleeing for their lives. We can hardly imagine the terror and loss they feel. We can pray that many of these people will find new homes in other lands and rebuild their lives, hopefully in places where they can hear the gospel and come to know the Lord.
LAMENTATIONS (Lam 1). This is a series of lament songs about the fall of Jerusalem, as experienced by those who witnessed the tragic event. Tradition holds that Jeremiah himself wrote this, though he is not named as author. Jeremiah, however, is a good example to us of one who was never unfeeling toward the suffering of people, no matter how much they deserved judgment (Jer 9:1, 10; 13:7, 17; 14:17; 48:32). As you read Lamentations think about our Lord Jesus, who saw and wept over the future destruction of Jerusalem: "And when he drew near and saw the city, he wept over it, saying, 'Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes'" (Luke 19:41-44). We too are human. We too are in bodies that suffer pain. We too have families and loved ones. And we are spared from judgment only by the mercy of God. So we should never have a spirit of gloating, or even indifference, over the suffering of others.
"My times are in your hand; rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors! Make your face shine on your servant; save me in your steadfast love!" (Psalm 31:15-16)
THE PATIENCE OF FAITH (Ps 31). As Psalm 22 was on our Savior's lips when he was dying upon the cross, so was this psalm: "Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, 'Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!'" (Lu 23:46; cf Ps 31:5). This psalm by King David was a song of trust in God in the midst of hardship and in the presence of enemies. Trusting in God over a long and difficult period is called "waiting" upon the Lord. David is patient and confident in the Lord: "My times are in your hand..." (v 15). And, "Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD! (v 24). As you study this psalm and apply it to yourself as a follower of Christ, ask these two questions: 1) what are some of the difficulties and hardships David mentions in this psalm which you also face as a Christian? And 2) what encouragement does David find in the Lord, and in God's character, that can help strengthen you as you wait on the Lord?
THE JOY OF FORGIVENESS (Ps 32). David's faith is also manifested in his confession of sin before God. The Apostle Paul writes about this in Romans 4:5-8. The "righteous" aren't those who have no sin (cf 1 Jn 1:8-10), but rather, are those who are honest in dealing with their sin before God (v 2). Confession and repentance are important to the Christian life, but believers know that forgiveness is not something you earn, but a gift to be received, already purchased for us by Christ through his death. Read more on Psalm 32 here.
Image credit: the painting above is "The Flight of the Prisoners" (1896) by James Tissot, in the public domain. About this newsletter: I'm Sandy Young, and 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 23 -- 24