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Today’s Reading

Devotional

FIRST CORINTHIANS 10 INCLUDES several passages worthy of prolonged meditation. But today we reflect on a passage which, superficially speaking, is one of the easiest of them.

Paul tells the Corinthians that the things that happened to “our forefathers” (1 Cor. 10:1) that are recorded in Scripture “occurred as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on evil things as they did” (1 Cor. 10:6). After giving some examples, the apostle again says, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:11).

(1) It is important to observe the diversity of purposes the Scriptures have. Elsewhere we learn, for instance, that the Old Testament Scriptures, or parts of them, were given to make sin appear as the awful thing it is, nothing less than trangression; to prepare the way for Christ, not only by prophetic words but also by models, patterns, and “types” that anticipated what Christ would be like; to announce the time when God would take definitive action on behalf of his people; to warn against sin and judgment; and much more. But here, the Bible provides us with examples to keep us from pursuing evil things. That means that although the Old Testament narratives doubtless offer more than “mere” moral lessons, they do not offer less. While we seek out the complex layers of inner-canonical connection, we must not overlook the moral instruction that lies on the very surface of the text.

(2) The gross sins that Paul lists by way of example—idolatry, sexual immorality, “testing” the Lord (i.e., by doubting his goodness or ability, as in Ex. 17:2), and grumbling (10:7–10)—are not unknown among contemporary believers.

(3) According to Paul, God’s intention was that the writing down of these materials in Scripture was so that we should benefit from it—the “we” referring to those “on whom the fulfillment of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:11). Doubtless this should not be taken as an exhaustive statement of God’s intention, but it is certainly meant to be a foundational one. Thus from God’s perspective, the Old Testament books were not meant simply for those who read them when they were first written, but for “us” who live at this formidable moment in world history when the first installment of the promises of the ages is being experienced.

(4) Implicitly, it is all the more shocking if we who have received so much instruction and warning from ages past ignore the wealth of privilege that is ours. In our blindness we sometimes marvel at how some Old Testament figures or groups could so quickly abandon the godly heritage and covenant they received. How much worse if we do so!

1 Samuel 29–30

The Philistines Reject David

29:1 Now the Philistines had gathered all their forces at Aphek. And the Israelites were encamped by the spring that is in Jezreel. As the lords of the Philistines were passing on by hundreds and by thousands, and David and his men were passing on in the rear with Achish, the commanders of the Philistines said, “What are these Hebrews doing here?” And Achish said to the commanders of the Philistines, “Is this not David, the servant of Saul, king of Israel, who has been with me now for days and years, and since he deserted to me I have found no fault in him to this day.” But the commanders of the Philistines were angry with him. And the commanders of the Philistines said to him, “Send the man back, that he may return to the place to which you have assigned him. He shall not go down with us to battle, lest in the battle he become an adversary to us. For how could this fellow reconcile himself to his lord? Would it not be with the heads of the men here? Is not this David, of whom they sing to one another in dances,

  ‘Saul has struck down his thousands,
    and David his ten thousands’?”

Then Achish called David and said to him, “As the LORD lives, you have been honest, and to me it seems right that you should march out and in with me in the campaign. For I have found nothing wrong in you from the day of your coming to me to this day. Nevertheless, the lords do not approve of you. So go back now; and go peaceably, that you may not displease the lords of the Philistines.” And David said to Achish, “But what have I done? What have you found in your servant from the day I entered your service until now, that I may not go and fight against the enemies of my lord the king?” And Achish answered David and said, “I know that you are as blameless in my sight as an angel of God. Nevertheless, the commanders of the Philistines have said, ‘He shall not go up with us to the battle.’ 10 Now then rise early in the morning with the servants of your lord who came with you, and start early in the morning, and depart as soon as you have light.” 11 So David set out with his men early in the morning to return to the land of the Philistines. But the Philistines went up to Jezreel.

David's Wives Are Captured

30:1 Now when David and his men came to Ziklag on the third day, the Amalekites had made a raid against the Negeb and against Ziklag. They had overcome Ziklag and burned it with fire and taken captive the women and all1 who were in it, both small and great. They killed no one, but carried them off and went their way. And when David and his men came to the city, they found it burned with fire, and their wives and sons and daughters taken captive. Then David and the people who were with him raised their voices and wept until they had no more strength to weep. David's two wives also had been taken captive, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. And David was greatly distressed, for the people spoke of stoning him, because all the people were bitter in soul,2 each for his sons and daughters. But David strengthened himself in the LORD his God.

And David said to Abiathar the priest, the son of Ahimelech, “Bring me the ephod.” So Abiathar brought the ephod to David. And David inquired of the LORD, “Shall I pursue after this band? Shall I overtake them?” He answered him, “Pursue, for you shall surely overtake and shall surely rescue.” So David set out, and the six hundred men who were with him, and they came to the brook Besor, where those who were left behind stayed. 10 But David pursued, he and four hundred men. Two hundred stayed behind, who were too exhausted to cross the brook Besor.

11 They found an Egyptian in the open country and brought him to David. And they gave him bread and he ate. They gave him water to drink, 12 and they gave him a piece of a cake of figs and two clusters of raisins. And when he had eaten, his spirit revived, for he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights. 13 And David said to him, “To whom do you belong? And where are you from?” He said, “I am a young man of Egypt, servant to an Amalekite, and my master left me behind because I fell sick three days ago. 14 We had made a raid against the Negeb of the Cherethites and against that which belongs to Judah and against the Negeb of Caleb, and we burned Ziklag with fire.” 15 And David said to him, “Will you take me down to this band?” And he said, “Swear to me by God that you will not kill me or deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will take you down to this band.”

David Defeats the Amalekites

16 And when he had taken him down, behold, they were spread abroad over all the land, eating and drinking and dancing, because of all the great spoil they had taken from the land of the Philistines and from the land of Judah. 17 And David struck them down from twilight until the evening of the next day, and not a man of them escaped, except four hundred young men, who mounted camels and fled. 18 David recovered all that the Amalekites had taken, and David rescued his two wives. 19 Nothing was missing, whether small or great, sons or daughters, spoil or anything that had been taken. David brought back all. 20 David also captured all the flocks and herds, and the people drove the livestock before him,3 and said, “This is David's spoil.”

21 Then David came to the two hundred men who had been too exhausted to follow David, and who had been left at the brook Besor. And they went out to meet David and to meet the people who were with him. And when David came near to the people he greeted them. 22 Then all the wicked and worthless fellows among the men who had gone with David said, “Because they did not go with us, we will not give them any of the spoil that we have recovered, except that each man may lead away his wife and children, and depart.” 23 But David said, “You shall not do so, my brothers, with what the LORD has given us. He has preserved us and given into our hand the band that came against us. 24 Who would listen to you in this matter? For as his share is who goes down into the battle, so shall his share be who stays by the baggage. They shall share alike.” 25 And he made it a statute and a rule for Israel from that day forward to this day.

26 When David came to Ziklag, he sent part of the spoil to his friends, the elders of Judah, saying, “Here is a present for you from the spoil of the enemies of the LORD.” 27 It was for those in Bethel, in Ramoth of the Negeb, in Jattir, 28 in Aroer, in Siphmoth, in Eshtemoa, 29 in Racal, in the cities of the Jerahmeelites, in the cities of the Kenites, 30 in Hormah, in Bor-ashan, in Athach, 31 in Hebron, for all the places where David and his men had roamed.

Footnotes

[1] 30:2 Septuagint; Hebrew lacks and all
[2] 30:6 Compare 22:2
[3] 30:20 The meaning of the Hebrew clause is uncertain

(ESV)

1 Corinthians 10

Warning Against Idolatry

10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers,1 that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea, and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown2 in the wilderness.

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did. Do not be idolaters as some of them were; as it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.” We must not indulge in sexual immorality as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in a single day. We must not put Christ3 to the test, as some of them did and were destroyed by serpents, 10 nor grumble, as some of them did and were destroyed by the Destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come. 12 Therefore let anyone who thinks that he stands take heed lest he fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

14 Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to sensible people; judge for yourselves what I say. 16 The cup of blessing that we bless, is it not a participation in the blood of Christ? The bread that we break, is it not a participation in the body of Christ? 17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Consider the people of Israel:4 are not those who eat the sacrifices participants in the altar? 19 What do I imply then? That food offered to idols is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, I imply that what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons. 21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?

Do All to the Glory of God

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but the good of his neighbor. 25 Eat whatever is sold in the meat market without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 26 For “the earth is the Lord's, and the fullness thereof.” 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you to dinner and you are disposed to go, eat whatever is set before you without raising any question on the ground of conscience. 28 But if someone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for the sake of conscience—29 I do not mean your conscience, but his. For why should my liberty be determined by someone else's conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of that for which I give thanks?

31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God, 33 just as I try to please everyone in everything I do, not seeking my own advantage, but that of many, that they may be saved.

Footnotes

[1] 10:1 Or brothers and sisters
[2] 10:5 Or were laid low
[3] 10:9 Some manuscripts the Lord
[4] 10:18 Greek Consider Israel according to the flesh

(ESV)

Ezekiel 8

Abominations in the Temple

8:1 In the sixth year, in the sixth month, on the fifth day of the month, as I sat in my house, with the elders of Judah sitting before me, the hand of the Lord GOD fell upon me there. Then I looked, and behold, a form that had the appearance of a man.1 Below what appeared to be his waist was fire, and above his waist was something like the appearance of brightness, like gleaming metal.2 He put out the form of a hand and took me by a lock of my head, and the Spirit lifted me up between earth and heaven and brought me in visions of God to Jerusalem, to the entrance of the gateway of the inner court that faces north, where was the seat of the image of jealousy, which provokes to jealousy. And behold, the glory of the God of Israel was there, like the vision that I saw in the valley.

Then he said to me, “Son of man, lift up your eyes now toward the north.” So I lifted up my eyes toward the north, and behold, north of the altar gate, in the entrance, was this image of jealousy. And he said to me, “Son of man, do you see what they are doing, the great abominations that the house of Israel are committing here, to drive me far from my sanctuary? But you will see still greater abominations.”

And he brought me to the entrance of the court, and when I looked, behold, there was a hole in the wall. Then he said to me, “Son of man, dig in the wall.” So I dug in the wall, and behold, there was an entrance. And he said to me, “Go in, and see the vile abominations that they are committing here.” 10 So I went in and saw. And there, engraved on the wall all around, was every form of creeping things and loathsome beasts, and all the idols of the house of Israel. 11 And before them stood seventy men of the elders of the house of Israel, with Jaazaniah the son of Shaphan standing among them. Each had his censer in his hand, and the smoke of the cloud of incense went up. 12 Then he said to me, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel are doing in the dark, each in his room of pictures? For they say, ‘The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land.’” 13 He said also to me, “You will see still greater abominations that they commit.”

14 Then he brought me to the entrance of the north gate of the house of the LORD, and behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz. 15 Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? You will see still greater abominations than these.”

16 And he brought me into the inner court of the house of the LORD. And behold, at the entrance of the temple of the LORD, between the porch and the altar, were about twenty-five men, with their backs to the temple of the LORD, and their faces toward the east, worshiping the sun toward the east. 17 Then he said to me, “Have you seen this, O son of man? Is it too light a thing for the house of Judah to commit the abominations that they commit here, that they should fill the land with violence and provoke me still further to anger? Behold, they put the branch to their3 nose. 18 Therefore I will act in wrath. My eye will not spare, nor will I have pity. And though they cry in my ears with a loud voice, I will not hear them.”

Footnotes

[1] 8:2 By revocalization (compare Septuagint); Hebrew of fire
[2] 8:2 Or amber
[3] 8:17 Or my

(ESV)

Psalms 46–47

God Is Our Fortress

To the choirmaster. Of the Sons of Korah. According to Alamoth.1 A Song.

46:1   God is our refuge and strength,
    a very present2 help in trouble.
  Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
    though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
  though its waters roar and foam,
    though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah
  There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
    the holy habitation of the Most High.
  God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
    God will help her when morning dawns.
  The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
    he utters his voice, the earth melts.
  The LORD of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah
  Come, behold the works of the LORD,
    how he has brought desolations on the earth.
  He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
    he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
    he burns the chariots with fire.
10   “Be still, and know that I am God.
    I will be exalted among the nations,
    I will be exalted in the earth!”
11   The LORD of hosts is with us;
    the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

God Is King over All the Earth

To the choirmaster. A Psalm of the Sons of Korah.

47:1   Clap your hands, all peoples!
    Shout to God with loud songs of joy!
  For the LORD, the Most High, is to be feared,
    a great king over all the earth.
  He subdued peoples under us,
    and nations under our feet.
  He chose our heritage for us,
    the pride of Jacob whom he loves. Selah
  God has gone up with a shout,
    the LORD with the sound of a trumpet.
  Sing praises to God, sing praises!
    Sing praises to our King, sing praises!
  For God is the King of all the earth;
    sing praises with a psalm!3
  God reigns over the nations;
    God sits on his holy throne.
  The princes of the peoples gather
    as the people of the God of Abraham.
  For the shields of the earth belong to God;
    he is highly exalted!

Footnotes

[1] 46:1 Probably a musical or liturgical term
[2] 46:1 Or well proved
[3] 47:7 Hebrew maskil

(ESV)