Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 1Sa 16:11
"So he [Samuel] asked Jesse, 'Are these all the sons you
have?' 'There is still the youngest,' Jesse answered, 'but he is tending the
sheep' " (1Sa 16:11).
Even before his name is revealed, David is described as a
"Unlike many occupations of the twentieth century, that of
being a shepherd in the chosen land gave scope for the mind which wished to
worship God and to keep itself unsullied by the world without. Even so, the will
of God brought David from the pastoral peace of the sheepfold into the world of
men. This was essential for that development of character which has endeared
David to generations of followers of the call of God. It is impossible for most
of us to spend our days in the hills around some quiet village. Our lot is cast
in meeting people and situations, in making the daily choice between this world
and the next, in living a whole life in a fragmented world. The fact that David
passed from quiet pastures and still waters into the tumult of wars and
fightings has rendered him the companion of all of us" (Harry Tennant, "The Man
Like Moses, David was another shepherd hidden in the
wilderness, unknown to the public eye, until the time for his work to begin.
Reading 2 - Isa 60:5
"The wealth on the seas will be brought to you, to you the
riches of the nations will come" (Isa 60:5).
"All the earlier sanctuaries of the Lord were made of Gentile
materials. Israel plundered the Egyptians, and from their riches fashioned the
tabernacle. David dedicated all the gains of his long series of Gentile wars to
the temple which Solomon built. The second temple, built after the Captivity,
had the practical encouragement of Cyrus and Darius Hystaspes. The temple built
in the time of Jesus was financed by Herod the Great, an Edomite. So it is
fitting that in the coming era God will be glorified by the votive offerings of
Gentiles (cp Jer 33:9; Deu 33:19)" (Harry Whittaker, "Isaiah" 520).
Reading 3 - Mat 5
"A fairly accurate description of the human race might be
furnished one unacquainted with it by taking the Beatitudes, turning them wrong
side out and saying, 'Here is your human race.' For the exact opposite of the
virtues in the Beatitudes are the very qualities which distinguish human life
and conduct. In the world of men we find nothing approaching the virtues of
which Jesus spoke in the opening words of the famous Sermon on the Mount.
Instead of poverty of spirit we find the rankest kind of pride; instead of
mourners we find pleasure seekers; instead of meekness, arrogance; instead of
hunger after righteousness we hear men saying, 'I am rich and increased with
goods and have need of nothing'; instead of mercy we find cruelty; instead of
purity of heart, corrupt imaginings; instead of peacemakers we find men
quarrelsome and resentful; instead of rejoicing in mistreatment we find them
fighting back with every weapon at their command.
"Of this kind of moral stuff civilized society is composed.
The atmosphere is charged with it; we breathe it with every breath and drink it
with our mother's milk. Culture and education refine these things slightly but
leave them basically untouched. A whole world of literature has been created to
justify this kind of life as the only norm alone. And this is the more to be
wondered at seeing that these are the evils which make life the bitter struggle
it is for all of us. All our heartaches and a great many of our physical ills
spring directly out of our sins. Pride, arrogance, resentfulness, evil
imaginings, malice, greed: these are the sources of more human pain than all the
diseases that ever afflicted mortal flesh. Into a world like this the sound of
Jesus' words comes wonderful and strange, a visitation from above. It is well
that he spoke, for no one else could have done it as well; and it is good that
we listen. His words are the essence of truth.
"The way to deeper knowledge of God is through the lonely
valleys of soul poverty and abnegation of all things. The blessed ones who
possess the Kingdom are they who have repudiated every external thing and have
rooted from their hearts all sense of possessing. They are 'poor in spirit.'
They have reached an inward state paralleling the outward circumstances of the
common beggar in the streets of Jerusalem; that is what the word 'poor' as
Christ used it actually means. These blessed poor are no longer slaves to the
tyranny of things. They have broken the yoke of the oppressor; and this they
have done not by fighting but by surrendering. Though free from all sense of
possessing, they yet possess all things. 'Theirs is the kingdom of heaven.' Let
me exhort you to take this seriously. It is not to be understood as mere Bible
teaching to be stored away in the mind along with an inert mass of other
doctrines. It is a marker on the road to greener pastures, a path chiseled
against the steep sides of the mount of God. We dare not try to bypass it if we
would follow on in this holy pursuit. We must ascend a step at a time. If we
refuse one step we bring our progress to an end" (AW Tozer).