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Daily Devotion for April 14, 2013
Jerusalem looks very Northern European, as does the central soldier; the others may have been modeled on Saracens from the crusades.
Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever and ever.
Than a carol, for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Awake the voice! Awake the string!
Dark and dull night, fly hence away,
And give the honor to this day,
That sees December turned to May.
Why does the chilling winter's morn
Smile, like a field beset with corn?
Or smell like a meadow newly-shorn,
Thus, on the sudden? Come and see
The cause, why things thus fragrant be:
'Tis He is born, whose quickening birth
Gives life and luster, public mirth,
To heaven, and the under-earth.
We see him come, and know him ours,
Who, with his sunshine and his showers,
Turns all the patient ground to flowers.
The darling of the world is come,
And fit it is, we find a room
To welcome him. The nobler part
Of all the house here, is the heart.
Which we will give him; and bequeath
This holly, and this ivy wreath,
To do him honour, who's our King,
And Lord of all this revelling.
What sweeter music can we bring,
Than a carol for to sing
The birth of this our heavenly King?
Music by John Rutter
Lyrics by Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
For the Spirit of Prayer
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, oh Lord. Let your Holy Spirit guide me in my prayer and in thought, and grant me the grace to listen and hear your Word. Soften my heart, that I may be directed by your truth, and not the devices of my body and mind. In the name of Christ I ask this,
Prayer of Thanksgiving
Father in heaven, creator of all and source of all goodness and love, please look kindly upon me and receive my heartfelt gratitude for all that you have done for me and for those I love. Thank you for all the grace and blessings, both spiritual and temporal, you have bestowed upon me, my loved ones, and this community of prayer: Our faith and religious heritage; our food and shelter; our health; the love we have for one another; and the lives of our Lord and friends.
Dear Father, in your infinite generosity, please grant us continued grace and blessings during the coming week. This I ask in the name of Jesus Christ, your only son, who has saved me from death.
Have mercy on me, Oh Lord, for I am a humble and miserable sinner. [At this point, pause to remember specific sins you have committed during the day and speak or think them.] I renounce all of these sins, heavenly Father, and repent of them, and I promise to make every effort not to repeat them.
Have mercy on me, pardon me for these offences and any I might have omitted from forgetfulness or ignorance; in the name of Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, I pray for forgiveness. And I pray that your Holy Spirit may dwell with me in the coming day, to comfort me, to give me strength against temptation, and to guide me into the path of righteousness.
Eternal God, heavenly Father, you have graciously accepted me as a living member of your Son our Savior Jesus Christ, and you have blessed me with the grace of forgiveness through the sacrifice He made for me and for all people. Send me now into the world in peace, and grant me strength and courage to love and serve you with gladness and singleness of heart; through Christ our Lord.
Think of the day ahead in terms of God with you, and visualize health, strength, guidance, purity, calm confidence, and victory as the gifts of His presence.
Psalm 2:1-4 (CEV)
Why do the nations plot,
and why do their people make useless plans?
The kings of this earth have all joined together to turn against the Lord
and his chosen one.
They say, “Let’s cut the ropes
and set ourselves free!”
In heaven the Lord laughs as he sits on his throne,
making fun of the nations.
Isaiah 51:16-19 (NKJV)
Hebrew Poetic Style
Awake, awake, stand up, O Jerusalem, which has drunk the cup of Jehovah's wrath at his hand. You have drunk the bowl of the cup of staggering, and drained it.
There is nobody to guide her among all the sons she hath brought forth; neither are there any that take her by the hand, among all the sons that she has raised.
These two things are befallen thee, and who shall moan for you? Desolation and destruction, famine and the sword; how can I comfort you?
Your sons have fainted and lie in the streets, like antelopes in a net; they are full of the wrath of Jehovah, the rebuke of your God.
Notes on the Scripture
Isaiah uses a poetic form similar to that used in the Psalms. It consists of a statement followed by a response. Hebrew poets used this one-two rhetorical device in a number of ways. For example:
1) The response is often a restatement, usually with some variation: "There is nobody to guide her" . . . "neither are there any to take her by the hand.";
2) The response may answer a question posed in the verse;
3) The response may explain the verse: "Your sons have fainted" . . . "they are full of the wrath of Jehovah.";
4) The response may give a second idea that is related to the first. This is common in Proverbs, where there may be a string of responses, e.g. "Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor."
5) The response may give a consequence of the verse, e.g. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.";
6) The response may give an opposite example, e.g. "When words are many, sin is not absent, but he who holds his tongue is wise."
Often this form is nested, with statement/response verses forming a larger statement/response form between verses. Look at the first two verses of Psalm 1:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on His law he meditates day and night.
The first verse is a statement, followed by a pair of variation responses ("nor stands .. . nor sits . . .") The second verse consists of a statement ("but his delight . . ."), then a response that repeats and elaborates the first statement ("and upon his law . . ."). Also, however, the first verse is a statement and the second verse is a response, a positive comparison to the negatively stated first verse. Verse one tells us something a blessed man does not do; the second verse answers with the contrary, showing us how the blessed man does act.
This technique of dualism is the heart of Hebrew poetry, and skill in its use is the mark of the poet's skill, much like rhyming the final word of a verse and following a specific rhythm (the form most familiar to us) became the sign of skill in English poetry of the 17th-19th centuries. To understand the ancient poetic form gives us an extra dimension of beauty and meaning when we read the Old Testament; instead of finding them odd or even ungainly, we can find the beauty hidden in them.
With this in mind, we can see the gracefulness in today's verses, even though we read them in translation: "There is nobody to guide her among all the sons she hath brought forth; neither are there any that take her by the hand, among all the sons that she has raised." Isaiah is not trying to bore us by saying the same thing twice. This is a beautiful and skillful song style, and the listener looked forward to the restatement of the theme.