The Agora
Daily Bible Reading Exhortations

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July 23

Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.

Reading 1 - 2Sa 9

" 'Don't be afraid,' David said to him [Mephibosheth], 'for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table' " (2Sa 9:7).

What a blessing! To be invited to eat at the king's table. Although -- like Mephibosheth -- we may have a limp as we walk there, it is nevertheless good to go!

"Mephibosheth bowed down and said, 'What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?' " (v 8).

"If Mephibosheth was thus humbled by David's kindness, what shall we be in the presence of our gracious Lord? The more grace we have, the less we shall think of ourselves, for grace, like light, reveals our impurity... The meanest objects in nature appear to the humbled mind to have a preference above itself, because they have never contracted sin: a dog may be greedy, fierce, or filthy, but it has no conscience to violate, no Holy Spirit to resist. A dog may be a worthless animal, and yet by a little kindness it is soon won to love its master, and is faithful unto death; but we forget the goodness of the Lord, and follow not at His call. The term 'dead dog' is the most expressive of all terms of contempt, but it is none too strong to express the self-abhorrence of instructed believers. They do not affect mock modesty, they mean what they say, they have weighed themselves in the balances of the sanctuary, and found out the vanity of their nature. At best, we are but clay, animated dust... but viewed as sinners, we are monsters indeed. Let it be published in heaven as a wonder, that the Lord Jesus should set his heart's love upon such as we are" (CH Spurgeon).


"And Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king's table, and he was crippled in both feet" (v 13).

"Mephibosheth was no great ornament to a royal table, yet he had a continual place at David's board, because the king could see in his face the features of the beloved Jonathan [2Sa 9:7]. Like Mephibosheth, we may cry unto the King of Glory, 'What is Thy servant, that Thou shouldst look upon such a dead dog as I am?' [2Sa 9:8] but still the Lord indulges us with most familiar intercourse with Himself, because he sees in our countenances the remembrance of His dearly-beloved Jesus. The Lord's people are dear for another's sake. Such is the love which the Father bears to His only begotten, that for his sake He raises his lowly brethren from poverty and banishment, to courtly companionship, noble rank, and royal provision. Their deformity shall not rob them of their privileges. Lameness is no bar to sonship; the cripple is as much the heir as if he could run like Asahel [2Sa 2:18]. Our right does not limp, though our might may. A king's table is a noble hiding-place for lame legs, and at the gospel feast we learn to glory in infirmities, because the power of Christ resteth upon us. Yet grievous disability may mar the persons of the best-loved saints. Here is one feasted by David, and yet so lame in both his feet that he could not go up with the king when he fled from the city, and was therefore maligned and injured by his servant Ziba [2Sa 19:26,27]. Saints whose faith is weak, and whose knowledge is slender, are great losers; they are exposed to many enemies, and cannot follow the king whithersoever he goeth. This disease frequently arises from falls [2Sa 4:4]. Bad nursing in their spiritual infancy often causes converts to fall into a despondency from which they never recover, and sin in other cases brings broken bones. Lord, help the lame to leap like an hart, and satisfy all Thy people with the bread of Thy table!" (CHS).

Reading 2 - Jer 13

"The taller they are, the harder they fall! Judah prided itself in its great privileges, and ignored the responsibilities that came with such a position in the divine reckoning. Jeremiah was commissioned to declare the prophecy of the marked girdle (vv 1-11). The linen girdle was the symbol of righteousness, based on faith. It was the ordinance of priests, and thus a fit emblem for Judah, which is likened to a kingdom of priests. But the girdle had lost its significance because of the manner of Israel's contempt for the righteousness of Yahweh. Jeremiah took the girdle to the Euphrates, for Yahweh would take Judah into captivity through the Babylonians. The nation had not honoured its profession.

"Then came the prophecy of the wine jars (vv 12-14). The earthenware bottles likewise represented Judah, which would be broken, and the contents spilled, as the people would be subjected to the attacks of the Gentile powers. Thus the prophet warned the nation against pride (vv 15-21). By acknowledging their folly and seeking forgiveness, the people could have been redeemed. Jehoiachin and his mother (v 18) would be involved in the captivity, for their external marks of glory were only a facade for their real character. So Judah would be scattered (vv 22-27). Hypocrites are seldom ready to acknowledge their own faults and Yahweh's righteousness, so the judgment fell heavily upon the nation, and the words of Jeremiah were confirmed" (GE Mansfield).

Reading 3 - Mat 24:48-51

"But suppose that servant is wicked and says to himself, 'My master is staying away a long time,' and he then begins to beat his fellow servants' " --

that is, who do not serve God truly, and furthermore abuse those who attempt to do so...

" 'and to eat and drink with drunkards' " --

...that is, to enjoy the worst possible fellowship with the world...

"The master of that servant will come on a day when he does not expect him and at an hour he is not aware of. He will cut him to pieces and assign him a place with the hypocrites, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Mat 24:48-51).

Literally, "shall cut him asunder" (AV): the Greek is "dikotomesi" (cp the English "dichotomy"), meaning to cut in two. The "Lord" upon his return will, by the "sword" of his judgment, separate the real man from the actor, revealing him for a hypocrite!

Or, possibly, "cutting him in two", as is done with the covenant-victim -- to make him a sacrifice!

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