Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 1Kings 12:20-24
"When all the Israelites heard that Jeroboam had returned, they sent and called him to the assembly and made him king over all Israel. Only the tribe of Judah remained loyal to the house of David. When Rehoboam arrived in Jerusalem, he mustered the whole house of Judah and the tribe of Benjamin -- a hundred and eighty thousand fighting men -- to make war against the house of Israel and to regain the kingdom for Rehoboam son of Solomon. But this word of God came to Shemaiah the man of God: 'Say to Rehoboam son of Solomon king of Judah, to the whole house of Judah and Benjamin, and to the rest of the people, "This is what the LORD says: Do not go up to fight against your brothers, the Israelites. Go home, every one of you, for this is my doing" ' " (1Ki 12:20-24).
God is in all things; there is neither power, nor life, nor thought, nor existence apart from Him. "For in him we live and move and have our being" (Acts 17:28). And all things are upheld by His might. He is in the earthquake and the great storm, but He is also in the gentlest breeze.
God is even to be found in events which seem to be produced merely by the sin and the stupidity of men. This breaking up of the kingdom of Solomon into two parts was the result of Solomon's sin and Rehoboam's folly; yet God was in it: "For this is MY doing!" God had nothing to do with the sin or the folly, but in some way which we can never explain, in a mysterious way in which we are to believe without hesitation, God was in it all.
The most notable instance of this truth is the death of our Lord Jesus Christ; that was the greatest of human crimes, yet it was predetermined by God's set purpose and foreknowledge (Acts 2:23), and it was right and proper.
How, then, was "this" -- the rebellion -- God's "doing"? It was His doing in two ways:
It was a matter of prophecy. The prophet Ahijah had prophesied that the ten parts of the rent garment which were given to Jeroboam should be symbolic of the ten tribes that would be given to him when they had been torn away from the house of David. The prophecy was now literally fulfilled (1Ki 11:29-31).
It was a matter of punishment. He sent it as a punishment for the sins of the house of David, of which Solomon had been guilty when he set up other gods in Israel, and divided the allegiance of his kingdom from Yahweh by introducing the gods of Moab and Ammon and Egypt. And so God ordained this "evil" that He might punish the greater evil of idolatry on the part of his servant Solomon.
There are some events which are especially from God, although at first look it may seem incongruous. And in this we may take comfort. Even that which appears "evil" or disastrous (Isa 45:7) is nevertheless from Him, and it is right -- because it serves His own purposes, which we may only dimly comprehend, or even not comprehend at all. Accepting this general principle, even when we cannot see how it might work out, we learn to trust in Him in all things; for He alone knows the end from the beginning: "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose" (Rom 8:28).
Reading 2 - Jeremiah 38:6
"So they took Jeremiah and put him into the cistern of Malkijah, the king's son, which was in the courtyard of the guard. They lowered Jeremiah by ropes into the cistern; it had no water in it, only mud, and Jeremiah sank down into the mud" (Jer 38:6).
"While the performance of our part is necessary, the accomplishment of final results is all of God, who can prosper or frustrate the devices of men or leave them altogether to their own ineffectual ways. Nevertheless, the experience of both Moses and Joshua shows that if God gives men opportunities, He expects them to discern and enterprisingly use them. There is a time to stand still and see the salvation of God, but it is not when He proposes to work by us. All the promises of God presuppose active, diligent, courageous, and caretaking cooperation on the part of those to whom they are made. Where we are in circumstances which makes this exercise on our part impossible (as when Jeremiah was in the pit in the court of the prison, sunk to the armpits in mire) -- prayer and waiting is the not unavailing alternative" (Robert Roberts, "Ways of Providence" 333).
Jeremiah sank into mire physically, but was delivered, while Zedekiah was sunk in mire spiritually (cp v 22), with no escape!
Reading 3 - Mar 12:42
"But a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth only a fraction of a penny" (Mar 12:42).
"It is easy to make offerings to the Lord which cost us little or nothing. The poor woman's meagre gift was the greatest of all because it was so real a sacrifice. In the light of Christ's judgment there are probably few of us who have given much. There may be some of us who have never really given anything. But there are those who have. Many mites have since been added to the two that fell into the temple treasury; offerings rich in their meagreness because they represented all the giver had to give. For the most part those gifts have remained unnoticed amid the welter of more obvious givings; where they are discovered they are sometimes scorned. But there is an unseen watcher who sees and knows, and in the fullness of time those children of the Kingdom whose poverty has excluded them from so many material blessings will be welcomed by the One who became poor that they might be rich" (Melva Purkis, "Life of Jesus" 312).