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Today's Readings: 2 KINGS 8 | Lamentation 4 | 2 Corinthians 2

Reading 1 - 2Kings 8:1-6

"It appears that 'a great woman' of Shechem had befriended the prophet, finding him and his servant, from time to time, as they passed by that place, food and lodging. In return for this he sends her a message: 'Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host?' (2Ki 4:13) Now we should have gathered from previous passages in Elisha's history, that Jehoram, who was then king of Israel, was not one with whom he was upon such terms as this proposition to the Shunammite implies. Jehoram was the son of Ahab, his old master Elijah's enemy, and apparently no friend of his own; for when the three kings, the king of Israel, the king of Judah, and the king of Edom, in their distress for water, in their expedition against Moab, wished to inquire of the Lord through Elisha, his answer to the king of Israel was, 'As the Lord of hosts liveth, before whom I stand, surely, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look toward thee, nor see thee' (2Ki 3:14). What, then, had occurred in the interval betwixt this avowal, and his proposal to the Shunammite to use his influence in her favour at court, which had changed his position with respect to the king of Israel? It may be supposed that it was the sudden supply of water, which he had furnished these kings with, by God's permission, thus saving the expedition; and the defeat of the enemy, to which it had been instrumental (2Ki 3:16,17). This would naturally make Elisha feel that the king of Israel was under obligations to him and that he could ask a slight favour of him without seeming to sanction the character of the man by doing so. And this solution of the case appears to be the more probable, from Elisha coupling the 'captain of the host' with the king; as though his interest was equally good with him too, which he might reasonably consider it to be, when he had done the army such signal service; and it is further confirmed by another incident related of this same Shunammite in a subsequent chapter. For having fled from the seven years' famine into another country, she lost her house and land in her own, on which she appealed to king Jehoram. Accordingly, 'the king talked with Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, saying, Tell me, I pray thee, all the great things Elisha hath done' (2Ki 8:4). Elisha having now, no doubt, actually recommended her case to the king. And when Gehazi had named some of these miracles, 'the king appointed to her a certain officer, saying, Restore all that was hers'; so that the event shows that Elisha on the former occasion had not miscalculated his powers, or the grounds on which he might challenge the king's favours" (JJ Blunt, "Undesigned Scriptural Coincidences").

Reading 2 - Lamentation 4:1,2

The most precious possession -- the greatest natural resource of any nation -- is its people. Thus, the sons of Zion are symbolized by gold and precious stones. A nation's vitality is determined by the condition, motivation, and loyalty of its citizens. This was especially true of Judah, for their national economy was as strong as their faithfulness to God. When the sons of Zion were faithful, they were precious in God's eyes and He became their staff and shield. When they were unfaithful, God became the rod of correction to them, and they became base in His eyes. They were removed from their place of pre-eminence over the nations and like a shattered piece of pottery they were broken and scattered.

In times of stress people often lose whatever "godliness" they might possess. Israel, for example, had become lower than animals with respect to responsibility to their young (2Ki 6:25-29). This is a picture of futility -- even depravity, brought about by great tribulation. The city's inhabitants, once the picture of health, became spiritually and physically "withered".

"How is the gold become dim!" (v 1): Gold is used throughout the Bible as a symbol of faith -- a tried faith in God, as gold that has passed through the fire and been purified (1Pe 1:7; Job 23:10). Thus, gold or faith is the basis for the kingdom of God, both in the past and in the future. In Jeremiah's time, true faith had all but completely disappeared, and thus the kingdom was removed from the "daughter of Zion" (Ezek 21:25-27). The gold became dim (dark) because of impurities.

"How is the most fine gold changed!" This is a reference to a deed of Solomon, but it is typical of the lack of faith in God common to most men and most times -- especially so to Jeremiah's time. Solomon possessed 300 gold shields (1Ki 10:17) -- symbols of faith in God (cp Eph 6:16 -- "the shield of faith"). But he unwisely used his wealth to buy leagues with other nations, and thus to glorify the flesh and his own ingenuity. This did not profit him, and after his death Shishak of Egypt removed the remainder of the gold shields during the reign of Rehoboam (1Ki 14:26,27). And Rehoboam replaced the shields of gold with shields of brass -- or copper -- denoting trust in man. The fine gold was changed!

"The stones of the sanctuary are poured out in the top of every street." Stones are often representative of people; and the type of stone determines the type of person intended. Peter's profession of faith in the Messiahship of Jesus is called a "rock" (Mat 16:16) -- the sturdy foundation of the Holy City (Rev 21:14), the stones of God's sanctuary or temple -- because all the "stones" of that eternal city will have professed the same faith as Peter. They will be "lively (or living) stones" built up around Christ -- the "chief cornerstone" (Isa 28:16; Psa 118:22; Acts 4:11), the "rock" in the wilderness (1Co 10:1-4). Thus Jeremiah is here bewailing the righteous.

"How are they esteemed as earthen pitchers" (v 2). Those who might have been precious stones and fine gold instead failed to please God; and they were to be broken, as in Jer 19:11 and Isa 30:14.

Man is an earthen vessel, made by God (Jer 18:6; Rom 9:21). He must be filled -- or fill himself -- with the "treasure" of God's knowledge (2Co 4:6, 7), or else he will be destroyed as vessels of wood and earth (2Ti 2:20).

Reading 3 - 2Corinthians 2:17

"Unlike so many, we do not peddle the word of God for profit. On the contrary, in Christ we speak before God with sincerity, like men sent from God" (2Co 2:17).

The word translated "peddle" -- which is "kapeleuo" -- occurs only once in the New Testament. It refers to a huckster, a retailer, who by implication adulterates the goods he sells, for these hucksters in the apostles' days were notorious for their habit of watering the wine, and mixing their commodities, such as grain, with sawdust or the like. Men adulterate the wine of God's Word when they dilute it with the water of their own reason, and read into it what is not clearly there.


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