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Today's Readings: 1 Samuel 28 | Jeremiah 4 | Matthew 15

Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.

Reading 1 - 1Samuel 28

"The man [Saul, whom] David honoured as 'Yahweh's Anointed' had a vacillating life, reaching great heights and depths in his pitiful path of duty. But now Saul's experiences provide a closing tragic chapter in a life of failure. It is the rush of a desperate man unable to see the way to redeem himself, and to obtain the divine blessing. He becomes clouded in personal despondency, and seeks the folly of a witch's deception. Having by his own confession 'played the fool' (1Sa 26:21), Saul now reaps the result of such actions. It is against the background of national distress. So:

  1. War is declared: vv 1,2.

  2. Saul's dilemma: vv 3-6.

  3. Saul's tragic mission: vv 7-14.

  4. Saul's fate foreshadowed: vv 15-20.

  5. The woman ministers to Saul's need: vv 21-25.

"It was a fearful journey that dark night as Saul went beyond the Philistine camp in his urgent need for some solution. The Philistines were encamped in Shunem, directly between Gilboa and Endor. Such a visit under such conditions was perilous in the extreme, and nothing could have induced Saul to venture thither, but the agony of despair and complete despondency. But if he left in agony, how great was his despair as he returned to take up his post with his worst fears confirmed. Yahweh had closed His ears to the king; whilst Saul turns to a witch of Endor -- a woman whose occupation was anathema to the divine righteousness. Saul was governed by a false idea of religion. Like Cain he sought to frustrate the wisdom of Yahweh, and in so doing not only found the depths of misery, but faced the day of his death" (GE Mansfield).

Reading 2 - Jeremiah 4:23-26

"I looked at the earth, and it was formless and empty; and at the heavens, and their light was gone. I looked at the mountains, and they were quaking; all the hills were swaying. I looked, and there were no people; every bird in the sky had flown away. I looked, and the fruitful land was a desert; all its towns lay in ruins before the LORD, before his fierce anger" (Jer 4:23-26).

This is powerful, shattering language. The prophet sees the LORD reversing the effect of the days of the original Creation. In Genesis, the Divine work was designed to develop order out of chaos to order; here, it is designed to develop chaos out of order!

As especially in v 24, earthquakes often accompany awesome manifestations of God: Exo 19:18; Jdg 5:4; Psa 77:18; 114:4; Isa 2:10-22; Jer 4:24; Eze 38:20; Joe 3:16; Amo 9:1,5; Zec 14:4; Rev 6:12; 11:19; 16:18.

Reading 3 - Mattew 15:14

"Leave them; they are blind guides. If a blind man leads a blind man, both will fall into a pit" (Mat 15:14).

"The Pharisees evaded duties to their parents and so made void one of the ten commandments. Jesus very severely condemns their casuistry, by which they put the doctrines of men in the place of God's law. The same saying occurs in another context in Luk 6:39, as part of the disclosure which closely resembles the Sermon on the Mount of Mat 5-7. This context in Luke's record, and the fact that it was spoken to the disciples, prevents the comfortable detached consideration of the saying which is possible in restricting its reference to the Pharisees. We may appreciate the application to others and endorse the judgment: but it is spoken also as a warning to all disciples. The object lesson of the one must be noted for the guidance of every follower of the Lord. It is a warning of the dangers of being leaders and teachers, which all teachers should take to heart" (John Carter, "Parables of the Messiah" 113).


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