Thursday, March 31, 2022
Psalm 126; Isaiah 43:1-7; Philippians 2:19-24
with commentaries from Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary on the Bible
Introduction & SummarySowing with Tears Reaping with Joy (Psalm 126)
God will Gather Through Fire and Water (Isaiah 43:1-7)
Apostolic Visits are Promised (Philippians 2:19-24)
In today’s lectionary readings, our psalm recalls God’s past acts of restoration and the emotions of joy and celebration of laughter that accompanied those saving acts. The temporal clause with which the psalm begins, “When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion,” most likely has in mind the return of the people to the land following the Babylonian exile. The people ask God to restore them once again so that they may rejoice yet again.
Like other prophetic writings, our reading in the book of Isaiah aims to change people’s minds. God lovingly tells the people of Israel that he has already redeemed them. They can pass through rivers and fire without drowning or being burned.
Our reading in Philippians was a letter from the apostle Paul to the church at Philippi. The letter is being taken to Philippi by Epaphroditus, who had visited Paul and, becoming ill, stayed with Paul until he recovered. Timothy, a trusted friend of Paul’s, would likely be visiting the church at Philippi soon. However, this was not intended as a one-way trip. Paul’s expectation of receiving good news as a result of this visit meant he intended Timothy to return with news of their situation.
For all of us who have trusted Christ as Savior, the poignant words in our verse of the day can pierce our own hearts, as we begin to understand that the sinless Son of God was willingly afflicted; bruised; pierced and crushed with wounds that we merit—dying a death that we deserve as the burden of our sin was laid upon the sinless Son of Man—our kinsman-Redeemer.
Today’s Verse of the Day:
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of all of the prophecies about the Messiah, like this one that was written hundreds of years before He was crucified. On the Cross, He willingly became our substitute. Jesus, “who had no sin…[became] sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21). He was pierced and crushed because of our sin, and by His sacrifice we are healed.
Today’s Lectionary Readings:
From the Psalter
Sowing with Tears Reaping with Joy
we were like those who dreamed.
2 Our mouths were filled with laughter,
our tongues with songs of joy.
Then it was said among the nations,
“The Lord has done great things for them.”
3 The Lord has done great things for us,
and we are filled with joy.
4 Restore our fortunes, Lord,
like streams in the Negev.
5 Those who sow with tears
will reap with songs of joy.
6 Those who go out weeping,
carrying seed to sow,
will return with songs of joy,
carrying sheaves with them.
Verses 1-3: It is good to observe how God's deliverances of the church are for us, that we may rejoice in them. And how ought redemption from the wrath to come, from the power of sin and of Satan, to be valued! The sinner convinced of his guilt and danger, when by looking to a crucified Savior he receives peace to his conscience, and power to break off his sins, often can scarcely believe that the prospect which opens to him is a reality.
Verses 4-6: The beginnings of mercies encourage us to pray for the completion of them. And while we are in this world there will be matter for prayer, even when we are most furnished with matter for praise. Suffering saints are often in tears; they share the calamities of human life, and commonly have a greater share than others. But they sow in tears; they do the duty of an afflicted state. Weeping must not hinder sowing; we must get good from times of affliction. And they that sow, in the tears of godly sorrow, to the Spirit, shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting; and that will be a joyful harvest indeed. Blessed are those that mourn, for they shall be for ever comforted. When we mourn for our sins, or suffer for Christ's sake, we are sowing in tears, to reap in joy. And remember that God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows that shall he reap (Galatians 6:7-9). Here, O disciple of Jesus, behold an emblem of thy present labor and future reward; the day is coming when thou shalt reap in joy, plentiful shall be thy harvest, and great shall be thy joy in the Lord.
From the Prophetic Books of Major Prophets
God will Gather Through Fire and Water
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
2 When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
Cush and Seba in your stead.
4 Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
nations in exchange for your life.
5 Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
I will bring your children from the east
and gather you from the west.
6 I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
7 everyone who is called by my name,
whom I created for my glory,
whom I formed and made.”
God's favor and good-will to his people speak abundant comfort to all believers. The new creature, wherever it is, is of God's forming. All who are redeemed with the blood of his Son, he has set apart for himself. Those that have God for them need not fear who or what can be against them. What are Egypt and Ethiopia, all their lives and treasures, compared with the blood of Christ? True believers are precious in God's sight, his delight is in them, above any people. Though they went as through fire and water, yet, while they had God with them, they need fear no evil; they should be born up, and brought out. The faithful are encouraged. They were to be assembled from every quarter. And with this pleasing object in view, the prophet again dissuades from anxious fears.
From the Epistles
Apostolic Visits are Promised
It is best with us, when our duty becomes natural to us. Naturally, that is, sincerely, and not in pretense only; with a willing heart and upright views. We are apt to prefer our own credit, ease, and safety, before truth, holiness, and duty; but Timothy did not so. Paul desired liberty, not that he might take pleasure, but that he might do good.
Today’s Lectionary Readings are selected from the Revised Common Lectionary Daily Readings, a three-year cyclical lectionary. We are currently in Year C. Beginning with the first Sunday of Advent in 2022, we will be in Year A. The year which ended at Advent 2021 was Year B. 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.