Wednesday, September 8, 2021

The Daily Bible Readings for Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Healing by Faith

The Daily Bible Readings
Wednesday, September 8, 2021
Psalm 73:1-20; Proverbs 14:1-9; Matthew 17:14-20
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible

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, the wisdom of God preaches to us through Solomon. In our gospel reading, a man comes to Jesus asking for healing for his son, who often falls into the fire or the water. In our verse of the day, the psalmist asks God to teach him His will.

Today’s Verse of the Day:
Psalm 143:10

Teach me to do your will, for you are my God; may your good Spirit lead me on level ground.
Every day we either surrender ourselves to our sin, which leads to death, or we obey God, which leads to righteousness (Rom. 6:16). If God is our Master, shouldn’t we learn to submit ourselves to Him?

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.

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 14:1-9
Wisdom Makes Good Sense

1 The wise woman builds her house,
     but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

2 Whoever fears the Lord walks uprightly,
     but those who despise him are devious in their ways.

3 A fool’s mouth lashes out with pride,
     but the lips of the wise protect them.

4 Where there are no oxen, the manger is empty,
     but from the strength of an ox come abundant harvests.

5 An honest witness does not deceive,
     but a false witness pours out lies.

6 The mocker seeks wisdom and finds none,
     but knowledge comes easily to the discerning.

7 Stay away from a fool,
     for you will not find knowledge on their lips.

8 The wisdom of the prudent is to give thought to their ways,
     but the folly of fools is deception.

9 Fools mock at making amends for sin,
     but goodwill is found among the upright.

Verses 1-2: Wisdom builds, but folly destroys. People’s actions reveal their attitude to God.

Verses 3-5: The wisdom of their speech and their commitment to hard work are among the things that determine whether they progress or come to ruin.

Verses 6-8: Those who think they know everything can never become truly wise and therefore can never have right discernment in the moral issues of life.

Verse 9: Good people may prosper and evil people may suffer loss, but outward appearances do not tell the full story.

From the Gospels
Matthew 17:14-20
Healing by Faith

14 When they came to the crowd, a man approached Jesus and knelt before him. 15 “Lord, have mercy on my son,” he said. “He has seizures and is suffering greatly. He often falls into the fire or into the water. 16 I brought him to your disciples, but they could not heal him.”

17 “You unbelieving and perverse generation,” Jesus replied, “how long shall I stay with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring the boy here to me.” 18 Jesus rebuked the demon, and it came out of the boy, and he was healed at that moment.

19 Then the disciples came to Jesus in private and asked, “Why couldn’t we drive it out?”

20 He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

The case of afflicted children should be presented to God by faithful and fervent prayer. Christ cured the child. Though the people were perverse, and Christ was provoked, yet care was taken of the child. When all other helps and succors fail, we are welcome to Christ, may trust in him, and in his power and goodness. See here an emblem of Christ's undertaking as our Redeemer. It encourages parents to bring children to Christ, whose souls are under Satan's power; he is able to heal them, and as willing as he is able. Not only bring them to Christ by prayer, but bring them to the word of Christ; to means by which Satan's strong-holds in the soul are beaten down. It is good for us to distrust ourselves and our own strength; but it is displeasing to Christ when we distrust any power derived from him, or granted by him. There was also something in the malady which rendered the cure difficult. The extraordinary power of Satan must not discourage our faith, but quicken us to more earnestness in praying to God for the increase of it. Do we wonder to see Satan's bodily possession of this young man from a child, when we see his spiritual possession of every son of Adam from the fall!

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. 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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