×
A devotional bible commentary
in partnership with
Join Us!
Join Us!

Today’s Reading

Devotional

WHEN DAVID HEARS OF the deaths of Saul and Jonathan (2 Sam. 1), his grief is not merely formal. He could not help but know that the way to the throne was now open to him. Nevertheless, his sorrow is so genuine that he composes a lengthy lament (2 Sam. 1:19–27), sets it to music, and teaches it to the men of his tribe (2 Sam. 1:18) so that it will be sung for a long time as one of the folk ballads of the land.

Many elements of this lament deserve long reflection. Today I shall reflect on just one verse: “Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice” (2 Sam. 1:20). Formally, the text is plain enough. Gath and Ashkelon were the two leading Philistine cities. David is saying, in effect, not to let the Philistines know of the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, lest they be glad and rejoice.

Of course, the Philistines could not help but find out, and David, of all people, knew that. But his purpose in penning these words is not literally to keep the Philistines in the dark a little while longer. How could that be? They had already hoisted the body of Saul onto the wall of Beth Shan (1 Sam. 31:10) and sent messengers with the news throughout Philistia (1 Sam. 31:9). But if these lines from David’s pen do not function as literal advice, what is their function?

In part, it is simply a lament. It is a powerful way of saying that the opponents of the Israelites would be delighted with the news, and therefore their pleasure is a measure of the tragedy. But I suspect there is another overtone. When one of our leaders falls, conduct yourself in such a way as not to give strength to the opposition.

That is a lesson that must be learned again and again by the church. When a minister of the Gospel is caught embezzling funds or having an affair, then certainly the biblical principle for discipline must be brought to bear immediately. If the law has been broken, the civil authorities must be contacted. If families have been damaged, there may be a great deal of pastoral work to be done. But understand well that many unbelievers will be gleefully rubbing their hands and saying, “See? What can you expect? All this religious stuff is so hypocritical and phony.” Thus Christ is despised and the credibility of Christian witnesses diminished. Christians must restrain their tongues, watch what they say, and be especially careful about saying anything unnecessary to unbelievers. This is a time for mourning, not gossip. “Tell it not in Gath. . . .”

2 Samuel 1

David Hears of Saul's Death

1:1 After the death of Saul, when David had returned from striking down the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag. And on the third day, behold, a man came from Saul's camp, with his clothes torn and dirt on his head. And when he came to David, he fell to the ground and paid homage. David said to him, “Where do you come from?” And he said to him, “I have escaped from the camp of Israel.” And David said to him, “How did it go? Tell me.” And he answered, “The people fled from the battle, and also many of the people have fallen and are dead, and Saul and his son Jonathan are also dead.” Then David said to the young man who told him, “How do you know that Saul and his son Jonathan are dead?” And the young man who told him said, “By chance I happened to be on Mount Gilboa, and there was Saul leaning on his spear, and behold, the chariots and the horsemen were close upon him. And when he looked behind him, he saw me, and called to me. And I answered, ‘Here I am.’ And he said to me, ‘Who are you?’ I answered him, ‘I am an Amalekite.’ And he said to me, ‘Stand beside me and kill me, for anguish has seized me, and yet my life still lingers.’ 10 So I stood beside him and killed him, because I was sure that he could not live after he had fallen. And I took the crown that was on his head and the armlet that was on his arm, and I have brought them here to my lord.”

11 Then David took hold of his clothes and tore them, and so did all the men who were with him. 12 And they mourned and wept and fasted until evening for Saul and for Jonathan his son and for the people of the LORD and for the house of Israel, because they had fallen by the sword. 13 And David said to the young man who told him, “Where do you come from?” And he answered, “I am the son of a sojourner, an Amalekite.” 14 David said to him, “How is it you were not afraid to put out your hand to destroy the LORD's anointed?” 15 Then David called one of the young men and said, “Go, execute him.” And he struck him down so that he died. 16 And David said to him, “Your blood be on your head, for your own mouth has testified against you, saying, ‘I have killed the LORD's anointed.’”

David's Lament for Saul and Jonathan

17 And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and Jonathan his son, 18 and he said it1 should be taught to the people of Judah; behold, it is written in the Book of Jashar.2 He said:

19   “Your glory, O Israel, is slain on your high places!
    How the mighty have fallen!
20   Tell it not in Gath,
    publish it not in the streets of Ashkelon,
  lest the daughters of the Philistines rejoice,
    lest the daughters of the uncircumcised exult.
21   “You mountains of Gilboa,
    let there be no dew or rain upon you,
    nor fields of offerings!3
  For there the shield of the mighty was defiled,
    the shield of Saul, not anointed with oil.
22   “From the blood of the slain,
    from the fat of the mighty,
  the bow of Jonathan turned not back,
    and the sword of Saul returned not empty.
23   “Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely!
    In life and in death they were not divided;
  they were swifter than eagles;
    they were stronger than lions.
24   “You daughters of Israel, weep over Saul,
    who clothed you luxuriously in scarlet,
    who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.
25   “How the mighty have fallen
    in the midst of the battle!
  “Jonathan lies slain on your high places.
26     I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan;
  very pleasant have you been to me;
    your love to me was extraordinary,
    surpassing the love of women.
27   “How the mighty have fallen,
    and the weapons of war perished!”

Footnotes

[1] 1:18 Septuagint; Hebrew the Bow, which may be the name of the lament's tune
[2] 1:18 Or of the upright
[3] 1:21 Septuagint firstfruits

(ESV)

1 Corinthians 12

Spiritual Gifts

12:1 Now concerning1 spiritual gifts,2 brothers,3 I do not want you to be uninformed. You know that when you were pagans you were led astray to mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit.

Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.

One Body with Many Members

12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves4 or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.

14 For the body does not consist of one member but of many. 15 If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? 18 But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. 19 If all were a single member, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts,5 yet one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22 On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, 24 which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, 25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. 26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.

27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. 28 And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31 But earnestly desire the higher gifts.

And I will show you a still more excellent way.

Footnotes

[1] 12:1 The expression Now concerning introduces a reply to a question in the Corinthians' letter; see 7:1
[2] 12:1 Or spiritual persons
[3] 12:1 Or brothers and sisters
[4] 12:13 For the contextual rendering of the Greek word doulos, see Preface
[5] 12:20 Or members; also verse 22

(ESV)

Ezekiel 10

The Glory of the Lord Leaves the Temple

10:1 Then I looked, and behold, on the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim there appeared above them something like a sapphire,1 in appearance like a throne. And he said to the man clothed in linen, “Go in among the whirling wheels underneath the cherubim. Fill your hands with burning coals from between the cherubim, and scatter them over the city.”

And he went in before my eyes. Now the cherubim were standing on the south side of the house, when the man went in, and a cloud filled the inner court. And the glory of the LORD went up from the cherub to the threshold of the house, and the house was filled with the cloud, and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the LORD. And the sound of the wings of the cherubim was heard as far as the outer court, like the voice of God Almighty when he speaks.

And when he commanded the man clothed in linen, “Take fire from between the whirling wheels, from between the cherubim,” he went in and stood beside a wheel. And a cherub stretched out his hand from between the cherubim to the fire that was between the cherubim, and took some of it and put it into the hands of the man clothed in linen, who took it and went out. The cherubim appeared to have the form of a human hand under their wings.

And I looked, and behold, there were four wheels beside the cherubim, one beside each cherub, and the appearance of the wheels was like sparkling beryl. 10 And as for their appearance, the four had the same likeness, as if a wheel were within a wheel. 11 When they went, they went in any of their four directions2 without turning as they went, but in whatever direction the front wheel3 faced, the others followed without turning as they went. 12 And their whole body, their rims, and their spokes, their wings,4 and the wheels were full of eyes all around—the wheels that the four of them had. 13 As for the wheels, they were called in my hearing “the whirling wheels.” 14 And every one had four faces: the first face was the face of the cherub, and the second face was a human face, and the third the face of a lion, and the fourth the face of an eagle.

15 And the cherubim mounted up. These were the living creatures that I saw by the Chebar canal. 16 And when the cherubim went, the wheels went beside them. And when the cherubim lifted up their wings to mount up from the earth, the wheels did not turn from beside them. 17 When they stood still, these stood still, and when they mounted up, these mounted up with them, for the spirit of the living creatures5 was in them.

18 Then the glory of the LORD went out from the threshold of the house, and stood over the cherubim. 19 And the cherubim lifted up their wings and mounted up from the earth before my eyes as they went out, with the wheels beside them. And they stood at the entrance of the east gate of the house of the LORD, and the glory of the God of Israel was over them.

20 These were the living creatures that I saw underneath the God of Israel by the Chebar canal; and I knew that they were cherubim. 21 Each had four faces, and each four wings, and underneath their wings the likeness of human hands. 22 And as for the likeness of their faces, they were the same faces whose appearance I had seen by the Chebar canal. Each one of them went straight forward.

Footnotes

[1] 10:1 Or lapis lazuli
[2] 10:11 Hebrew to their four sides
[3] 10:11 Hebrew the head
[4] 10:12 Or their whole body, their backs, their hands, and their wings
[5] 10:17 Or spirit of life

(ESV)

Psalm 49

Why Should I Fear in Times of Trouble?

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

49:1   Hear this, all peoples!
    Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,
  both low and high,
    rich and poor together!
  My mouth shall speak wisdom;
    the meditation of my heart shall be understanding.
  I will incline my ear to a proverb;
    I will solve my riddle to the music of the lyre.
  Why should I fear in times of trouble,
    when the iniquity of those who cheat me surrounds me,
  those who trust in their wealth
    and boast of the abundance of their riches?
  Truly no man can ransom another,
    or give to God the price of his life,
  for the ransom of their life is costly
    and can never suffice,
  that he should live on forever
    and never see the pit.
10   For he sees that even the wise die;
    the fool and the stupid alike must perish
    and leave their wealth to others.
11   Their graves are their homes forever,1
    their dwelling places to all generations,
    though they called lands by their own names.
12   Man in his pomp will not remain;
    he is like the beasts that perish.
13   This is the path of those who have foolish confidence;
    yet after them people approve of their boasts.2 Selah
14   Like sheep they are appointed for Sheol;
    death shall be their shepherd,
  and the upright shall rule over them in the morning.
    Their form shall be consumed in Sheol, with no place to dwell.
15   But God will ransom my soul from the power of Sheol,
    for he will receive me. Selah
16   Be not afraid when a man becomes rich,
    when the glory of his house increases.
17   For when he dies he will carry nothing away;
    his glory will not go down after him.
18   For though, while he lives, he counts himself blessed
    —and though you get praise when you do well for yourself—
19   his soul will go to the generation of his fathers,
    who will never again see light.
20   Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts that perish.

Footnotes

[1] 49:11 Septuagint, Syriac, Targum; Hebrew Their inward thought was that their homes were forever
[2] 49:13 Or and of those after them who approve of their boasts

(ESV)