Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 1Kings 22:7,8
"But Jehoshaphat asked, 'Is there not a prophet of the LORD here whom we can inquire of?' The king of Israel answered Jehoshaphat, 'There is still one man through whom we can inquire of the LORD, but I hate him because he never prophesies anything good about me, but always bad. He is Micaiah son of Imlah' " (1Ki 22:7,8).
"An ill-omened alliance had been struck up between Ahab of Israel and Jehoshaphat of Judah. The latter, who would have been much better in Jerusalem, had come down to Samaria to join in an assault on the kingdom of Damascus; but, like a great many other people, Jehoshaphat first made up his mind without asking God, and then thought that it might be well to get some kind of varnish of a religious sanction for his decision. So he proposes to Ahab to inquire of the Lord about this matter. One would have thought that that should have been done before, and not after, the determination was made. Ahab does not at all see the necessity for such a thing, but, to please his scrupulous ally, he sends for his priests. They came, four hundred of them, and of course they all played the tune that Ahab called for. It is not difficult to get prophets to pat a king on the back, and tell him, 'Do what you like.'
"But Jehoshaphat was not satisfied yet. Perhaps he thought that Ahab's clergy were not exactly God's prophets, but at all events he wanted an independent opinion; and so he asks if there is not in all Samaria a man that can be trusted to speak out. He gets for answer the name of this 'Micaiah the son of Imlah.' Ahab had had experience of him, and knew his man; and the very name leads him to an explosion of passion, which, like other explosions, lays bare some very ugly depths. 'I hate him; for he doth not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.'
"That is a curious mood, is it not? that a man should know another to be a messenger of God, and therefore know that his words are true, and that if he asked his counsel he would be forbidden to do the thing that he is dead set on doing, and would be warned that to do it was destruction; and that still he should not ask the counsel, nor ever dream of dropping the purpose, but should burst out in a passion of puerile rage against the counsellor, and will have none of his reproofs. Very curious! But there are a great many of us that have something of the same mood in us, though we do not speak it out as plainly as Ahab did. It lurks more or less in us all, and it largely determines the attitude that some of us take to Christianity and to Christ" (Alexander MacLaren).
Reading 2 - Jeremiah 49:19
" Like a lion coming up from Jordan's thickets to a rich pastureland, I will chase Edom from its land in an instant. Who is the chosen one I will appoint for this? Who is like me and who can challenge me? And what shepherd can stand against me?" (Jer 49:19).
A LION... FROM JORDAN'S THICKETS: Many lions lived in that region, leaving from time to time to prey upon flocks nearby.
WHAT SHEPHERD CAN STAND AGAINST ME?: Or "before me" (AV). God will provide a "shepherd" (Jesus, the Good Shepherd) to defend the "flock" from the "lion" which lurks in the "river of death".
Reading 3 - 1Corinthians 9:24
"The New Testament has several allusions in it likening our life in Christ as a race. This conjures up several images in our head. In today's heavily competitive environment, we might think of many racers jockeying for position and using every possible advantage to beat his or her competitors...
"The story is told of two men who are walking in the forest when all of a sudden they spot a large, angry-looking bear charging at them. As one of the men takes off running, he notices his companion stopping quickly to take off his boots. As he runs on, the first man yells back to his friend, 'What are you doing? You can't outrun that bear!' The man, who has just finished taking off his boots. yells back, 'I don't have to outrun the bear. I just have to outrun you!'
"Although this verse may give us the impression that we are in a competition to outrun one another, taking in the whole counsel of God gives us another lesson altogether. Quite to the contrary, we are not in a race against each other. In fact, only in helping each other along the way can we help ourselves in our own race. Paul's point was to urge the brethren in Corinth, whose main problem was ecclesial schism and factions, that they needed to run this race for eternal life in a much more focussed and determined fashion. The point was not to gauge their progress by comparing themselves among themselves, but to run their very best for Christ -- which would include putting aside these fleshly problems which beset them.
"This important point escaped the apostle's notice for the longest time. For all of Jesus' eart