The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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July 4

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 shepherd!

"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 David" 24).

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).

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