Reading 1 - 1Sa 15:32
"Then Samuel said, 'Bring me Agag king of the Amalekites.' Agag came to him confidently, thinking, 'Surely the bitterness of death is past' " (1Sa 15:32).
"Much of our difficulty as seeking Christians stems from our unwillingness to take God as He is and adjust our lives accordingly. We insist upon trying to modify Him and to bring Him nearer to our own image. The flesh whimpers against the rigor of God's inexorable sentence and begs like Agag for a little mercy, a little indulgence of its carnal ways. It is no use. We can get a right start only by accepting God as He is and learning to love Him for what He is. As we go on to know Him better we shall find it a source of unspeakable joy that God is just what He is" (AW Tozer).
Reading 2 - Isa 59:17
"He put on righteousness as his breastplate, and the helmet of salvation on his head; he put on the garments of vengeance and wrapped himself in zeal as in a cloak" (Isa 59:17).
"Sin has not only to be atoned for, but also slain. So the equipment of the High Priest -- breastplate, crown, ephod, girdle and the rest -- become the accoutrements of a warrior: a different kind of breastplate, a helmet of salvation, garments of vengeance (ct v 6), zeal as a cloak (sw Isa 9:7), the girdle of truth, and the sword of the Sprit (v 21). And all who join in this war must be similarly equipped with 'the whole armor of God' -- it is called that because He is the Commander-in-chief and He provides the equipment (Eph 6:14-17; 1Th 5:8)" (Harry Whittaker, "Isaiah" 511).
Reading 3 - Mat 4
"Worship the LORD your God" (Mat 4:10).
"Even a dog can show the beauty of total devotion, with no hope of reward beyond a kind word and a pat on the head. If a human being with the potential intelligence it has been given, cannot use that God-given intelligence to show total devotion to the Highest manifestation of Goodness, Beauty and Love in the universe (with the assurance of infinite reward), it is not worth as much as a dog" (GV Growcott).
"And serve Him only" (4:10).
"To serve God and be a useful, active part of His eternal purpose is man's greatest privilege and wisdom, and should be his greatest joy. God's work alone has any permanence or meaning or value or satisfaction. Everything else is silly little baby games -- fine indeed for babies, but pitiful for supposedly mature adults" (GVG).
" 'Come, follow me,' Jesus said, 'and I will make you fishers of men' " (4:19).
"How do you account for the fact that so many of the apostles were chosen from this class of fishermen? It could not have been accidental. There was, no doubt, an adaptation, a fitness in the occupation of these men to develop just those attitudes of character most needed in the apostolic office. There are various modes of fishing, and each calculated to cultivate and strengthen some particular moral quality of great importance in their mission. Thus angling requires patience, and great perseverance and caution... Fishing with the hand net... requires a keen eye, an active frame, and great skill in throwing the net. Such a fisherman, too, must be patient, watchful, wide awake, and prompt to seize the exact moment to throw. Then there is the great dragnet, the working of which teaches the value of united effort. No one occupation of humble life -- not even that of the shepherd -- calls into exercise and develops so many of the elements necessary for... a religious teacher as this of fishing" (WM Thomson, "The Land and the Book", 401-403).