Tuesday, September 7, 2021

The Daily Bible Readings for Tuesday, September 7, 2021

 
Running the spiritual race

The Daily Bible Readings
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Psalm 73:1-20; Proverbs 11:1-31; Hebrews 12:3-13
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

Introduction
In today’s lectionary readings, the psalmist was strongly tempted to envy the prosperity of the wicked; a common temptation, which has tried the graces of many saints. In our reading from Proverbs are words of wisdom advising us to watch what we say and do. In our epistle reading, the writer emphasizes that we should take the same approach that Jesus took when facing trials of our own. In our verse of the day, Paul notes four ways he communicates Christ.

Today’s Verse of the Day:
Colossians 1:28

He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ.
Since the gospel is proclaimed to all, it is not targeted to only the spiritually or intellectually elite. The gospel grows throughout the whole world so that everyone may become fully mature, i.e., entirely focused on and directed by Christ.

Today’s Lectionary Readings:
From the Psalter

Psalm 73:1-20
I Saw the Prosperity of the Wicked


1 Surely God is good to Israel,
     to those who are pure in heart.

2 But as for me, my feet had almost slipped;
     I had nearly lost my foothold.
3 For I envied the arrogant
     when I saw the prosperity of the wicked.

4 They have no struggles;
     their bodies are healthy and strong.
5 They are free from common human burdens;
     they are not plagued by human ills.
6 Therefore pride is their necklace;
     they clothe themselves with violence.
7 From their callous hearts comes iniquity;
     their evil imaginations have no limits.
8 They scoff, and speak with malice;
     with arrogance they threaten oppression.
9 Their mouths lay claim to heaven,
     and their tongues take possession of the earth.
10 Therefore their people turn to them
      and drink up waters in abundance.
11 They say, “How would God know?
      Does the Most High know anything?”

12 This is what the wicked are like—
      always free of care, they go on amassing wealth.

13 Surely in vain I have kept my heart pure
      and have washed my hands in innocence.
14 All day long I have been afflicted,
      and every morning brings new punishments.

15 If I had spoken out like that,
      I would have betrayed your children.
16 When I tried to understand all this,
      it troubled me deeply
17 till I entered the sanctuary of God;
      then I understood their final destiny.

18 Surely you place them on slippery ground;
      you cast them down to ruin.
19 How suddenly are they destroyed,
      completely swept away by terrors!
20 They are like a dream when one awakes;
      when you arise, Lord,
      you will despise them as fantasies.


Commentary
Verses 1-14: The psalmist was strongly tempted to envy the prosperity of the wicked; a common temptation, which has tried the graces of many saints. But he lays down the great principle by which he resolved to abide. It is the goodness of God. This is a truth which cannot be shaken. Good thoughts of God will fortify against Satan's temptations. The faith even of strong believers may be sorely shaken, and ready to fail. There are storms that will try the firmest anchors. Foolish and wicked people have sometimes a great share of outward prosperity. They seem to have the least share of the troubles of this life; and they seem to have the greatest share of its comforts. They live without the fear of God, yet they prosper, and get on in the world. Wicked men often spend their lives without much sickness, and end them without great pain; while many godly persons scarcely know what health is, and die with great sufferings. Often the wicked are not frightened, either by the remembrance of their sins, or the prospect of their misery, but they die without terror. We cannot judge men's state beyond death, by what passes at their death. He looked abroad, and saw many of God's people greatly at a loss. Because the wicked are so very daring, therefore his people return hither; they know not what to say to it, and the rather, because they drink deep of the bitter cup of affliction. He spoke feelingly when he spoke of his own troubles; there is no disputing against sense, except by faith. From all this arose a strong temptation to cast off religion. But let us learn that the true course of sanctification consists in cleansing a man from all pollution both of soul and body. The heart is cleansed by the blood of Christ laid hold upon by faith; and by the begun works of the Lord's Spirit, manifested in the hearty resolution, purpose, and study of holiness, and a blameless course of life and actions, the hands are cleansed. It is not in vain to serve God and keep his ordinances.

Verses 15-20: The psalmist having shown the progress of his temptation, shows how faith and grace prevailed. He kept up respect for God's people, and with that he restrained himself from speaking what he had thought amiss. It is a sign that we repent of the evil thoughts of the heart, if we suppress them. Nothing gives more offense to God's children, than to say it is vain to serve God; for there is nothing more contrary to their universal experience. He prayed to God to make this matter plain to him; and he understood the wretched end of wicked people; even in the height of their prosperity they were but ripening for ruin. The sanctuary must be the resort of a tempted soul. The righteous man's afflictions end in peace, therefore he is happy; the wicked man's enjoyments end in destruction, therefore he is miserable. The prosperity of the wicked is short and uncertain, slippery places. See what their prosperity is; it is but a vain show, it is only a corrupt imagination, not substance, but a mere shadow; it is as a dream, which may please us a little while we are slumbering, yet even then it disturbs our repose.


From the Books of Wisdom
Proverbs 11:1-31
Watch What You Say and Do


1 The Lord detests dishonest scales,
     but accurate weights find favor with him.

2 When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
     but with humility comes wisdom.

3 The integrity of the upright guides them,
     but the unfaithful are destroyed by their duplicity.

4 Wealth is worthless in the day of wrath,
     but righteousness delivers from death.

5 The righteousness of the blameless makes their paths straight,
     but the wicked are brought down by their own wickedness.

6 The righteousness of the upright delivers them,
     but the unfaithful are trapped by evil desires.

7 Hopes placed in mortals die with them;
     all the promise of their power comes to nothing.

8 The righteous person is rescued from trouble,
     and it falls on the wicked instead.

9 With their mouths the godless destroy their neighbors,
     but through knowledge the righteous escape.

10 When the righteous prosper, the city rejoices;
      when the wicked perish, there are shouts of joy.

11 Through the blessing of the upright a city is exalted,
      but by the mouth of the wicked it is destroyed.

12 Whoever derides their neighbor has no sense,
      but the one who has understanding holds their tongue.

13 A gossip betrays a confidence,
      but a trustworthy person keeps a secret.

14 For lack of guidance a nation falls,
      but victory is won through many advisers.

15 Whoever puts up security for a stranger will surely suffer,
      but whoever refuses to shake hands in pledge is safe.

16 A kindhearted woman gains honor,
      but ruthless men gain only wealth.

17 Those who are kind benefit themselves,
      but the cruel bring ruin on themselves.

18 A wicked person earns deceptive wages,
      but the one who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.

19 Truly the righteous attain life,
      but whoever pursues evil finds death.

20 The Lord detests those whose hearts are perverse,
      but he delights in those whose ways are blameless.

21 Be sure of this: The wicked will not go unpunished,
      but those who are righteous will go free.

22 Like a gold ring in a pig’s snout
      is a beautiful woman who shows no discretion.

23 The desire of the righteous ends only in good,
      but the hope of the wicked only in wrath.

24 One person gives freely, yet gains even more;
      another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.

25 A generous person will prosper;
      whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

26 People curse the one who hoards grain,
      but they pray God’s blessing on the one who is willing to sell.

27 Whoever seeks good finds favor,
      but evil comes to one who searches for it.

28 Those who trust in their riches will fall,
      but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

29 Whoever brings ruin on their family will inherit only wind,
      and the fool will be servant to the wise.

30 The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life,
      and the one who is wise saves lives.

31 If the righteous receive their due on earth,
      how much more the ungodly and the sinner!


Commentary
Verses 1-9: When children are under the mother's eye, she has an opportunity of fashioning their minds aright. Those who are grown up, should often call to mind the good teaching they received when children. The many awful instances of promising characters who have been ruined by vile women, and love of wine, should warn every one to avoid these evils. Wine is to be used for want or medicine. Every creature of God is good, and wine, though abused, has its use. By the same rule, due praise and consolation should be used as cordials to the dejected and tempted, not administered to the confident and self-sufficient. All in authority should be more carefully temperate even than other men; and should be protectors of those who are unable or afraid to plead their own cause. Our blessed Lord did not decline the bitterest dregs of the cup of sorrow put into his hands; but he puts the cup of consolation into the hands of his people, and causes those to rejoice who are in the deepest distress.

Verses 10-31: This is the description of a virtuous woman of those days, but the general outlines equally suit every age and nation. She is very careful to recommend herself to her husband's esteem and affection, to know his mind, and is willing that he rule over her. 1. She can be trusted, and he will leave such a wife to manage for him. He is happy in her. And she makes it her constant business to do him good. 2. She is one that takes pains in her duties, and takes pleasure in them. She is careful to fill up time, that none be lost. She rises early. She applies herself to the business proper for her, to women's business. She does what she does, with all her power, and trifles not. 3. She makes what she does turn to good account by prudent management. Many undo themselves by buying, without considering whether they can afford it. She provides well for her house. She lays up for hereafter. 4. She looks well to the ways of her household, that she may oblige all to do their duty to God and one another, as well as to her. 5. She is intent upon giving as upon getting, and does it freely and cheerfully. 6. She is discreet and obliging; every word she says, shows she governs herself by the rules of wisdom. She not only takes prudent measures herself, but gives prudent advice to others. The law of love and kindness is written in the heart, and shows itself in the tongue. Her heart is full of another world, even when her hands are most busy about this world. 7. Above all, she fears the Lord. Beauty recommends none to God, nor is it any proof of wisdom and goodness, but it has deceived many a man who made his choice of a wife by it. But the fear of God reigning in the heart, is the beauty of the soul; it lasts for ever. 8. She has firmness to bear up under crosses and disappointments. She shall reflect with comfort when she comes to be old, that she was not idle or useless when young. She shall rejoice in a world to come. She is a great blessing to her relations. If the fruit be good, the tree must have our good word. But she leaves it to her own works to praise her. Every one ought to desire this honor that comes from God; and according to this standard we all ought to regulate our judgments. This description let all women daily study, who desire to be truly beloved and respected, useful and honorable. This passage is to be applied to individuals, but may it not also be applied to the church of God, which is described as a virtuous spouse? God by his grace has formed from among sinful men a church of true believers, to possess all the excellencies here described.


From the Epistles
Hebrews 12:3-13
Trials for the Sake of Discipline


3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.

4 In your struggle against sin, you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. 5 And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says,

  “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline,
     and do not lose heart when he rebukes you,
6 because the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
     and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

7 Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father? 8 If you are not disciplined—and everyone undergoes discipline—then you are not legitimate, not true sons and daughters at all. 9 Moreover, we have all had human fathers who disciplined us and we respected them for it. How much more should we submit to the Father of spirits and live! 10 They disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, in order that we may share in his holiness. 11 No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore, strengthen your feeble arms and weak knees. 13 “Make level paths for your feet,” so that the lame may not be disabled, but rather healed.

Commentary
Verses 3-11: By the sin that does so easily beset us, understand that sin to which we are most prone, or to which we are most exposed, from habit, age, or circumstances. This is a most important exhortation; for while a man's darling sin, be it what it will, remains unsubdued, it will hinder him from running the Christian race, as it takes from him every motive for running, and gives power to every discouragement. When weary and faint in their minds, let them recollect that the holy Jesus suffered, to save them from eternal misery. By steadfastly looking to Jesus, their thoughts would strengthen holy affections, and keep under their carnal desires. Let us then frequently consider him. What are our little trials to his agonies, or even to our deserts? What are they to the sufferings of many others? There is a proneness in believers to grow weary, and to faint under trials and afflictions; this is from the imperfection of grace and the remains of corruption. Christians should not faint under their trials. Though their enemies and persecutors may be instruments to inflict sufferings, yet they are Divine chastisements; their heavenly Father has his hand in all, and his wise end to answer by all. They must not make light of afflictions, and be without feeling under them, for they are the hand and rod of God, and are his rebukes for sin. They must not despond and sink under trials, nor fret and repine, but bear up with faith and patience. God may let others alone in their sins, but he will correct sin in his own children. In this he acts as becomes a father. Our earthly parents sometimes may chasten us, to gratify their passion, rather than to reform our manners. But the Father of our souls never willingly grieves nor afflicts his children. It is always for our profit. Our whole life here is a state of childhood, and imperfect as to spiritual things; therefore we must submit to the discipline of such a state. When we come to a perfect state, we shall be fully reconciled to all God's chastisement of us now. God's correction is not condemnation; the chastening may be borne with patience, and greatly promote holiness. Let us then learn to consider the afflictions brought on us by the malice of men, as corrections sent by our wise and gracious Father, for our spiritual good.

Verses 12-13: A burden of affliction is apt to make the Christian's hands hang down, and his knees grow feeble, to dispirit him and discourage him; but against this he must strive, that he may better run his spiritual race and course.



Today’s Lectionary Readings are selected from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, a three-year cyclical lectionary. We are currently in Year B. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent in 2021, we will be in Year C. The year which ended at Advent 2020 was Year A. These readings complement the Sunday and festival readings: Thursday through Saturday readings help prepare the reader for the Sunday ahead; Monday through Wednesday readings help the reader reflect and digest what they heard in worship. Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, copyright © 2005 Consultation on Common Texts. www.commontexts.org. The Bible texts of the Old Testament, Epistle, and Gospel lessons are from The Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide. Commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible.

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