Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 1Sa 13:13,14
" 'You acted foolishly,' Samuel said [to Saul]. 'You have not
kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have
established your kingdom over Israel for all time. But now your kingdom will not
endure' " (1Sa 13:13,14).
Saul was still king, but his descendants would not rule
Israel. Even Saul himself was later rejected (1Sa 15:23) in favor of David. But
had Saul not failed, even then his grandsons, etc (perhaps sons of daughter
Michal by David) might have reigned in Israel. Note, however, that Michal was
childless (2Sa 6:23) -- so that there was no chance of any of Saul's line
continuing on the throne in their role as sons of David.
Reading 2 - Isa 56:3
The "foreigner who has bound himself to the LORD" (Isa 56:3)
suggests the Gibeonites, willing to be hewers of wood and drawers of water (Jos
9:27). "There are indications that in Hezekiah's time the temple staff of such
Nethinim -- that is, those given or appointed to service of Yahweh -- was
augmented by the capture of Assyrian and Egyptian prisoners, and also by the
gifts of slaves which neighboring countries sent to Hezekiah after the Assyrian
overthrow (Isa 14:1-3; 45:14; 18:7; 2Ch 32:23; Psa 76:11)" (Harry Whittaker,
Reading 3 - Rev 21:8
"But the cowardly, the unbelieving, the vile, the murderers,
the sexually immoral, those who practice magic arts, the idolaters and all liars
-- their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second
death" (Rev 21:8).
"Some wonder that [cowardice] should be included in such an
enumeration of human vices. Yet it has its rightful place. Fear of contingencies
or human adversaries is forbidden to the disciple of Christ. 'Fear ye not
therefore,' said Jesus to the twelve (Mat 10:26,28,31). He was giving a
commandment, not just well-meant advice. On reflection, how evident it is that
fear is a sin; for it carries with it the assumption that there are powers of
evil in the world, which God cannot cope with. It assumes that Jesus did not
mean what he said when he exhorted: 'Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?
and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father. But the very
hairs of your head are all numbered' (Mat 10:29,30)...
"The special conjunction here with 'unbelief' shews, however,
that the warning in Rev is primarily for those who are fearful of the duties and
consequences of discipleship. This is the man who says: 'I couldn't live the
life.' This is he who has at the back of his mind the uncomfortable query: 'What
will my friends and colleagues think about me?' These spineless attitudes spell
fear in large capitals. They signpost the way to a gehenna of fire, a second and
very long-lasting death.
"The unbeliever who travels the road to a similar destiny is
not the poor fool of an atheist or even the blinded patron of religious
orthodoxy. He is the man who sees and knows the Truth in Christ, recognizing it
for what it is, but who nevertheless prefers his life of worldly ambition to
humble striving for the approval of Christ. Or maybe he would rather relax in
selfish laziness or easy worldliness than bestir himself in the cause of the
kingdom of God. The fearful and the unbelieving belong together.
"The next group -- the abominable, and murderers, and
whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters -- have to be understood against the
background of the world, which John belonged to; for the Apocalypse was for the
First Century, as well as the Twentieth. All of these were almost commonplace
members of the society to which the apostles preached, and have already achieved
respectability once again in these Last Days. But today the real scope of these
words is in the kind of application such as Jesus taught in the Sermon on the
Mount. Hatred is murder, lust is adultery, eager wealth gathering is idolatry,
Jesus said. Would he also have agreed that wire-pulling is sorcery?
"[As for 'all liars'] the mischief has been theirs from the
first. And to this day 'speaking lies in hypocrisy' (1Ti 4:2), they still
persuade that 'ye shall not surely die.' Not only with this greatest out-and-out
falsehood, but in a score of ways they lie by insinuation: 'Yea, hath God
said...?' Did He really say this? 'Where is the promise of his coming?' Where,
indeed? In the Bible! But who takes the Bible seriously today? If that is where
his coming is promised, why take that seriously either? 'Who is a liar but he
that denieth that Jesus is the Christ?' (1Jo 2:22).
"All such, who nurse atheism in their hearts, and foster it in
the hearts of others, will also know the second death, the utter destruction
that a lake of fire aptly symbolizes" (Harry Whittaker, "Revelation").