Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 2Sa 1
"At long last, the man who had hounded David from pillar to
post around Israel and indeed had driven him from Israel, was dead. He was the
man who had made family life for David impossible. It is likely that David never
again saw his mother and his father after he joined Saul's court. He was hounded
out of Israel, and the most frightful impact on this faithful man was his lament
to Saul, 'You have driven me from the heritage of the LORD, saying, Go, serve
other gods!' His life hung on a thread on more than one occasion and he had been
mercilessly harassed and ill-treated by Yahweh's anointed. Saul's death might
have been an occasion for joy and relief. It might have been time to allow the
huge grudge against Saul to be lifted. It might have been time to reward a
bragging Amalekite. At last, life could return to normal.
"But instead... what a lament! 'The beauty of Israel is slain
upon the high places! How are the mighty fallen!.. Saul and Jonathan were lovely
and pleasant in their lives, they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger
than lions. Lovely? Pleasant? Saul???' David's magnanimity and love for one who
had harassed, threatened and sought to kill him for so long is breathtakingly
beautiful and immensely moving. He loved one who was undeserving of his love. In
the face of condemnation, evil talk and murderous intent, David was not easily
provoked and answered not a word. His love covered a multitude of sins.
"A fitting example of his greater Son. And a fitting reminder
too of what it means to be a man or woman after God's own heart" (Ken
Reading 2 - Jer 7
"This chapter reveals the hypocrisy and false confidence of
Judah in their religious formalism. It is typical of the reign of the flesh
within the community of the faithful. It was probably proclaimed before the
second reform of Josiah, when the people were enthusiastically contributing to
the restoration of the temple, and when an apparent willingness to honour Yahweh
was presented. But it was an empty facade. The spiritual perception of the
people was soon to manifest itself in the feasting and debauchery of the gods of
the land. The people were involved in a religion of deceit, with false prophets
contradicting Jeremiah's warnings, and turning from his appeal for righteousness
in the land. Instead the false leaders preached peace and unity, where there was
none. Jeremiah stood in the very court of the temple and courageously declared
the divine will.
He told them...
that the temple will not save (vv 1-7);
that it would experience a
similar fate to Shiloh (vv 8-16);
that the city and people were full of
adultery against God (vv 17-20);
that ritualism cannot save (vv 21-28);
that the ecclesia had forgotten her vows (vv 29-31);
that it has
prepared for its own destruction (vv 32-34).
What a sad end to a monarchy that commenced with the courage
and faithfulness of David, and now saw the abandonment of the royal sons of
David when ultimately Zedekiah assumed the throne. When the pioneers of the
ecclesia are ignored; the people become wilful in their folly (cp 2Pe 3:3-4)"
Reading 3 - Mat 18:10
"See that you do not look down on one of these little ones.
For I tell you that their angels in heaven always see the face of my Father in
heaven" (Mat 18:10).
"Personal" angels are mentioned or alluded to in Heb 1:13,14;
Psa 34:7; Dan 10:12; and Zec 3:7.
It would appear that even (or especially!) the little children
have THEIR angels! Thus there is angelic and providential care even before
baptism. Apart from its spiritual significance to the "little ones" who are
believers, who should be "like" little children, Jesus seems to be saying that
even small children -- themselves unbaptized -- may such care:
"Unnumbered comforts to my soul
Thy tender care bestowed,
Before my infant heart conceived
From whom those blessings flowed."
And the words of the Psalmist in Psa 22:9,10 suggest the same:
"Yet you brought me out of the womb; you made me trust [or 'kept me in safety':
AV mg; RSV] in you even at my mother's breast. From birth I was cast upon you;
from my mother's womb you have been my God."
"The face of my Father" suggests Jacob in Gen 28:17-19; 32:30:
first realizing that he was in the "house of God" (Beth-el), and then later
seeing the "face of God" (Peni-el) after wrestling through the long night. We
may see a "Beth-el" wherever a child is found!