Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 2Sa 3
"Antagonism between the houses of Saul and David continued; irritating, annoying, fretful conflicts, but inevitably the house of Saul waxed weaker, for God was with David. Established in Hebron (the south), David's power and influence was becoming more evident. The birth of his sons was evidence of his accepted status amongst his followers...
"Meanwhile Ishbosheth alienated Abner (vv 6-11). Abner had made himself indispensable to the cause of the house of Saul. He saw that Ishbosheth lacked the necessary qualities of true leadership, and so long as he remained in the standing of king, the cause was lost. He therefore took steps to supersede him by marrying Rizpah, and obtaining rulership for himself, thus causing a rift within the house of Saul. Abner's treachery (v 12) demonstrated the sad case of those who plot against the righteous. To secure his position in Judah, David demanded the return of Michal (vv 13-16).
"However distressing the circumstances, it was important that David strengthen his position, and to do that he could not leave a princess in the possession of a man who might, in her right as daughter of Saul, make pretensions to the throne. She was David's lawful wife, and not that of Phaltiel, and to have her restored to him at this time would demonstrate to the followers of Saul, the strength of his claim to the power and the weakness of the opposition. The beginnings of the reign of David, though involved in changing circumstances, soon became recognised by all Israel" (GE Mansfield).
Reading 2 - Jer 9:23,24
"This is what the LORD says: 'Let not the wise man boast of his wisdom or the strong man boast of his strength or the rich man boast of his riches, but let him who boasts boast about this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,' declares the LORD" (Jer 9:23,24).
"Whilst the heavenly hosts of stars and the earthly beauties of nature may stir our emotions, they are silent about our deepest needs and are heedless of our cries for help. When the Lord passed before Moses He proclaimed not the great wonders of His power but: 'The Lord, the Lord... full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy and truth.' From thenceforward the purpose of the law and the prophets was to show this knowledge of God so that His people might trust in Him with all their hearts and not lean upon their own understanding. With the warning of Israel's decline before them Judah was told, through Jeremiah: 'Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving kindness, judgment and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.' This is the transcendent glory of the Father, who created the angels through immeasurable time; clothed Adam and Eve with skins; cared for His people Israel; prepared for the coming of His Son, and called a people for His greater glory, as many as the stars of heaven" (John Marshall, "The New Life" 53).
Reading 3 - Mat 20:16
"Why is it that the last shall be first? [Mat 20:16] What is it that makes this so difficult to accept? The answer came in the form of an ugly little dog. Sophie has taken over our hearts and in many respects our house. She is not particularly pretty (one ear stands up and one lies down, and she has patches of hair that inexplicably shoot up like a lion's mane); nor does she have any pedigree. She is, however, a good little dog and clearly loves us. She follows me wherever I go all over the house. She can't stand to be away from me. When I do go away and come into the house, I receive a greeting of a king. When I walk into the house, this little dog is celebrating like this is the most miraculous thing that has even happened -- her master came home!
"Isn't this a little how God views us? Let's face it, we don't provide God with a whole lot of value. He doesn't really 'need' us any more than I 'need' my dog. What we do provide Him is love, devotion and faithfulness. When Jesus comes back, will we celebrate like my dog celebrates when I come home? Or will we be like the bad dog who has spent the day chewing the sofa cushion, and then slinks off to hide? Do we follow our Master wherever He will lead us? Do we obey commands? Is our love demonstrative to Jesus in the way my dog's love is to me?...
"Many of the qualities we attribute to great men and women -- intelligence, boldness, speaking abilities, education, beauty, wealth, etc -- mean absolutely nothing to God. In fact, these attributes can impede our service to God if they translate into pride. God loves us because we love Him (even though He loved us first!), and even if we are like ugly little dogs!
" 'Brothers, think of what you were when you were called. Not many of you were wise by human standards; not many were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things -- and the things that are not -- to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him' (1Co 1:26-29)" (Kyle Tucker).