Today's Readings: 1 Chronicles 12 | Ezekiel 25 | Luke 22
Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 1Chronicles 12:16-18
"Other Benjamites and some men from Judah also came to David in his stronghold. David went out to meet them and said to them, 'If you have come to me in peace, to help me, I am ready to have you unite with me. But if you have come to betray me to my enemies when my hands are free from violence, may the God of our fathers see it and judge you.' Then the Spirit came upon Amasai, chief of the Thirty, and he said: 'We are yours, O David! We are with you, O son of Jesse! Success, success to you, and success to those who help you, for your God will help you.' So David received them and made them leaders of his raiding bands" (1Ch 12:16-18).
At this time David was probably in the stronghold of Ziklag, which the king of the Philistines had given to him. Here he received a welcome addition to his band. David was an exile; and it is not every man who cares to cast in his lot with a banished prince. He was an "outlaw", and his king would have killed him with his own hand if he could have found opportunity. The many who were on Saul's side, because of its convenience and ease, spoke very bitterly of David, and, wishing to curry favor with the king, they slandered him whenever possible and for the least offence. Few respectable people care to associate themselves with a person who is in evil repute, no matter whether he may be on the side of right. Many to whom he had done no harm were eager to betray David, and sell him into the hand of his enemy. So it has always been, that men seek their own gain, and do not really care to whom they "sell out", so long as they get a good price. In these circumstances, it was no small thing for a band of men to unite themselves with a man with a price on his head.
And there were potential betrayers all around: the men of Keilah plotted to deliver him up to Saul. The fortunes of David were at a low ebb, and so when these men came to David they did a very brave thing -- which he would be sure to remember in the later days of his triumph and glory.
At the present moment our Lord Jesus, the Son of David, is "in hiding", so to speak. Among the men of this world he is not yet enthroned, and they care little for him -- if they even give him a passing thought. Though he is "king" in God's heaven, yet before the eyes of the majority of men he is still despised and rejected. His people are yet a feeble few, and often in serious straits themselves; his kingdom is ridiculed, his claims are scoffed at by the intelligentsia, and his yoke -- though easy and light -- is rejected. This is an age of blasphemy and of rebuke for our Lord the King. And so they are the brave and the few, the band of brothers who will stand with Christ in the day of his exile.
Men will be greatly rewarded in the future if they take up his cause now, and go forth to him outside the camp, bearing his reproach. Blessed are they who are not ashamed this day to bear the name of Christ, and to profess him in the sight and hearing of the world. They will be mine, he says, in the day when he assembles his "jewels".
Reading 2 - Ezekiel 25
In Eze 25 through 32, seven nations mock at Israel, and the hidden Glory of God strikes them down:
Ammon (Eze 25:1-7);
Moab (Eze 25:8-11);
Edom (Eze 25:12-14);
Philistia (Eze 25:15-17);
Tyre (Eze 26:1--28:19);
Zidon (Eze 28:20-26); and
Egypt (Eze 29--32).
Other prophecies of Gentile nations are usually grouped together: such as Isa 13--27 and Jer 46--51.
Reading 3 - Luke 22:59-61
"About an hour later another asserted, 'Certainly this fellow was with him, for he is a Galilean.' Peter replied, 'Man, I don't know what you're talking about!' Just as he was speaking, the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: 'Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times' " (Luk 22:59-61).
In the "mirror" of Jesus' face Peter saw himself -- what he truly was; and he could not stand the sight.
He looked at me. Right at me.
It was not a look of disgust or anger or even rebuke. It was a look that just said, "I know."
The hours and days after that are so painful that even today they are hard to talk about. The shame, the fear, the utter sadness that overwhelmed me then comes flooding back in the memory today.
In the days following, I thought about how he had looked me in the face and said, "When you are converted, strengthen your brethren." At the time, I thought: " 'WHEN I'm converted?' What does he think I have been doing the last three and a half years? I gave up my family, my house and my business. Could anyone be 'converted' if it wasn't me? What more could I possibly do?"
When he told me I would deny him, I was so brash and self-confident. Others may do that, I said, but I never would. So sure was I that this was true. So sure I was that I was the greatest disciple. So sure I was that mine was the place at his right hand. So sure I was that I would even die for him!
It was only a matter of hours really when he gave me the look. It wasn't long, just a glance really. But how that look has changed my life.
A few weeks later by the lake, he asked me if I loved him. Not the kind of love that we might have for friends, but completely devoted love. A love that meant I would do anything for him. Remembering that look, all I could speak of was my affection for him. I could not go down that path again unless I was sure... completely sure of my love.
Now he is gone. It has only been a little over a month since that night, but what a month. I have begun to understand much of what he said that I did not understand before. Most of all, I have discovered that all of this is not about me, but him. It is not my glory that is important, but his.
I was so afraid that night, but not today. Today, I feel his strength rising up within me. They can mock me, beat me and even kill me. But they cannot take from me my faith and conviction. In the end, they cannot take my life but for a time.
So today I must speak. It is the feast day, so the temple will be filled. I must do what I did not do that night. I must proclaim him to be the Son of God. I must tell people that the Kingdom is coming. I must tell them that I am his servant. I must depend on his strength to get me through this because I have learned so well that this strength does not come from me.
I must remember the look.
(References: Luk 22:32,61-62; Mar 9:33-34; Joh 21:15-17; Act 2)