Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 1Sa 23
David saved Keilah (men of his own tribe) from the
Philistines, but then found himself, with his men, in a walled town. To Saul
this was a splendid opportunity to capture or kill David -- it was so much
easier than hunting him in the open wilderness. And the men of Keilah, mindful
of what had happened at Nob (1Sa 22:18,19), were disposed to seek Saul's
friendship by betraying David to him (1Sa 23:7). Divine counsel by Urim and
Thummim saved the situation (vv 9-12). David had no desire to be encircled,
because the last thing he wanted was to have to fight against "the Lord's
anointed". And so (directed by divine counsel?) he cleared out.
What helps to explain the attitude of the men of Keilah is the
fact that they were Calebites, as also were the men of Ziph (1Ch 4:16,19). Their
disreputable link with Nabal (see 1Sa 25) evidently counted for more than their
honorable descent from the courageous and faithful Caleb. The men of Ziph
likewise attempted a betrayal (1Sa 23:19); had it not been for the providence of
God (1Sa 23:27) they would have succeeded.
Reading 2 - Isa 66:23
" 'From one New Moon to another and from one Sabbath to
another, all mankind will come and bow down before me,' says the LORD" (Isa
"There is an evident counterpart to the Mosaic monthly
institution in the blessed age that is coming with the advent of the saints to
power. It is 'from one new moon to another', as well as from Sabbath to Sabbath,
that all flesh appears in the temple courts to worship. It is 'every month' or
once a month, that the Apocalyptic wood of life (the saints) yields its fruit
for the healing of the nations (Rev 22:2), and it is 'according to his months'
that the literal tree on both sides of the temple river yields its fruit 'whose
leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed... the fruit
thereof shall be for meat and the leaf thereof for medicine' (Eze 47:12). There
will be no monotony in a state of things in which the whole population is roused
with the advent of every new moon in the heavens to a special service of worship
and praise, and a special distribution of healing and blessing. The prospect of
the Kingdom is a prospect of an endless succession of joyful activities" (Robert
Roberts, "Law of Moses" 198).
Reading 3 - Mat 11:4-6
"Jesus replied, 'Go back and report to John what you hear and
see: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cured,
the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is preached to the poor"
Jesus is healing those people who previously would have been
excluded from the Lord's service (Lev 21:17-21; cp 2Sa 5:8) -- those people who,
if they had been animals, would have been imperfect sacrifices (Lev 22:22-24;
Mal 1:8,13,14). So here is emphasized the fact that we are all imperfect
specimens and imperfect "sacrifices" -- and we all need the only One who is
perfect to heal and cleanse us! And he can do this: through the forgiveness of
sins -- which he only can provide -- he can present us, as a radiant bride or
church, "without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish" (Eph 5:27).
"The good news is preached to the poor!" The last point on
Jesus' list... the poor have the gospel preached to them... is the greatest
miracle of all! Because it lifts Jesus' work out of the physical realm and puts
it into the spiritual. In fact, it comprehends all the other "miracles" in one:
because the gospel believed does -- in the most meaningful sense -- give sight
to the spiritually blind, give strength to the weak, and cleanness to those who
were "leprous" with sin, and hearing to the spiritually deaf. So here is Jesus'
way of lifting his work out of the ordinary (if any miracles can be ordinary!)
and putting it on the higher plain: the greatest "miracle" (and such miracles
are occurring all around us) is a life changed by true belief in Jesus Christ.
Which means... the greatest work of God's Holy Spirit has never ceased from
among men, and never will, so long as sinners hear the Word of God and
"Blessed is the man who does not fall away on account of me"
Nothing that was 'blemished' was fit for the animal sacrifice,
for it would be offensive. Jesus had outward scars, but his life was perfect,
and so he could make the perfect sacrifice.
One might look at Jesus, even then, and say: "He's not
perfect"... and of course, and especially, when he might see that same man,
beaten and broken, on his way to the cross, it was painfully true that "he had
no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we
should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and
familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was
despised, and we esteemed him not" (Isa 53:2,3). To all outward signs and human
expectations, Jesus couldn't be the perfect sacrifice either... because of his
physical appearance. And thus the observer -- who saw only the surface of things
-- might be offended, and fall away (cp Isa 8:12-15).
But the heart, and the life, of Jesus was perfect -- and that
was what the Father saw. And that is what we must see, with the "eye of faith",
as well. And thus the promise of Jesus: "Blessed is the man who is not offended
Even the cross itself was -- as Paul said -- "foolishness to
those who are perishing" (1 Co 1:18), and the man who looked at the mere "letter
of the Law" would undoubtedly be offended by the whole process: "This just CAN'T
But the man of faith sees his own sins "mirrored" in the face
of the suffering Saviour, and his own deserved punishment reflected in the
bruises of his Lord. And he realizes the absolute perfection that is necessary
to cleanse, and forgive, and pardon him.
And so he sees the beauty of this divine arrangement, and
thankfully embraces it, and joyfully proclaims, as does Isaiah himself,
prophetically: "Surely he took up OUR infirmities and carried OUR sorrows... he
was pierced for OUR transgressions, he was crushed for OUR iniquities; the
punishment that brought US peace was upon him, and by his wounds WE are healed"
(Isa 53:4,5). If Jesus appeared to be a blemished and imperfect offering, we
need not be "offended" nor "stumble" at this. Instead, we need only remember
that such blemishes and imperfections were inflicted, and accepted, on OUR
behalf. He was made "sin" for us, so that we might be made "righteousness" in
him (2Co 5:21).