Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 2Sa 18:29
"The king asked, 'Is the young man Absalom safe?' " (2Sa
This question has often been asked by loving fathers about
their sons. And sometimes the answer must be, "No, he is in great danger." The
young man is not "safe", firstly, if he is at enmity with his father -- for, if
a man love not his own parents on earth, how can he love his Father who is in
And, again, the answer may be, "We have seen him lately in bad
company. He has associated with other young men who are of loose morals. No, the
young man is not safe there."
Neither is he "safe" if he has taken to indulging in expensive
habits. "Absalom provided himself with a chariot and horses and with fifty men
to run ahead of him" (2Sa 15:1). This extravagance was a sign of evil. A youth
who lavishes money upon needless luxuries is not safe.
And once again, the young man is not safe if he is especially
concerned about his personal appearance. "In all Israel there was not a man so
highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom. From the top of his head
to the sole of his foot there was no blemish in him" (2Sa 14:25). When young
people are taken up with their own persons, and are vain about their hair, their
looks, and their clothes, then may we be sure that they are not safe, for the
proud are always in danger.
Reading 2 - Jer 22:6-8
"For this is what the LORD says about the palace of the king
of Judah: 'Though you are like Gilead to me, like the summit of Lebanon, I will
surely make you like a desert, like towns not inhabited. I will send destroyers
against you, each man with his weapons, and they will cut up your fine cedar
beams and throw them into the fire. People from many nations will pass by this
city and will ask one another, 'Why has the LORD done such a thing to this great
city?' " (Jer 22:6-8).
Is not the sight of a city in ruins always a source of
pathetic interest? As we wander about the silent streets of Pompeii the
stillness of death is appalling by contrast with the tumult of pleasure and
commerce which formerly filled those once busy markets and squares. Such a
melancholy spectacle provokes thought and inquiry. It was while seated among the
ruins of the Capitol in Rome that Gibbon first thought of writing the history of
the decline and fall of Roman Empire. The magnificent ruins of Carnac and of
Persepolis naturally lead us to ask how prosperity and power came to pass away
from Persia and Egypt. The unparalleled devastation of Hiroshima, magnificent
itself in an awful way, give us pause to reflect on the fragility of life, and
of civilization itself, in this post-atomic age.
So must it have been in ancient times with the ruins of
Jerusalem. Jeremiah warns the citizens that their city, now brilliant in
splendor and prosperity, will soon astonish all beholders with its
"I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said -- 'Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert... Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
'My name is Ozymandius, King of Kings,
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away' " (Percy
Reading 3 - Rom 9:17
"For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: 'I raised you up for this
very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be
proclaimed in all the earth' " (Rom 9:17).
"The most careful attention should here be directed to what is
not said by Paul in this appeal to Exo 9:16. God did not say to Pharaoh that he
had raised him up in order to destroy him, or to drown his army in the Red Sea,
but that God had raised him up for the purpose of showing His power in Pharaoh
and of having God's name published throughout the earth. Just HOW God's purpose
would be fulfilled in Pharaoh, at the time God spoke, still remained within the
circumference of Pharaoh's free will to choose; whether by his own submission to
God's commands or by his rebellion against them, would be realized God's
purpose. If Pharaoh had submitted to God's will, God's name would have been
magnified all over the world and His power would have been demonstrated in
Pharaoh just as gloriously in that manner as it was in the manner of its actual
occurrence. Pharaoh had the free choice of obeying or not obeying God; but God
had purposed, either way, to use him as a demonstration of God's power and a
means of publishing the divine name all over the world; but the choice of HOW
this would come about remained with Pharaoh until he was HARDENED.
"What happened to the king of Nineveh, following the preaching
of Jonah, should be remembered in the connection here. Both Pharaoh and the
ruler of Nineveh heard the word of God, the one by Moses, the other by Jonah.
Nineveh received mercy; Egypt did not. God had a perfect right to spare one and
punish the other; but it is a falsehood to allege that God's doing so was
capricious and unrelated to what was in the two monarchs or to their
[respective] responses to God's word" (James B. Coffman).