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Daily Devotion for February 3, 2018
Located in Saint James the Greater Roman Catholic Church, Saint Louis.
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.
Our Saturday Oldie isn't a musical piece at all, but an excerpt from an old sermon by S. M. Lockridge. These might be the most stirring words ever preached, at least in modern times!
Prayer for the Morning
Compassionate Lord, Your mercies have brought me to the dawn of another day. Vain will be its gift unless I grow in grace, increase in knowledge; ripen for spiritual harvest. Let me this day know You as You are, love You supremely, serve You completely, admire You fully.
Through grace let my will respond to You, knowing that power to obey is not in me, but that Your free love alone enables me to serve You. Here then is my empty heart, overflow it with Your choice gifts; here is my blind understanding, chase away its mists of ignorance.
For Past Sins that Haunt Us
Gracious God, my sins are too heavy to carry, too real to hide, and too deep to undo. Forgive what my lips tremble to name, what my heart can no longer bear, and what has become for me a consuming fire of judgment. Set me free from a past that I cannot change; open to me a future in which I can be changed; and grant me grace to grow more and more in your likeness and image, through Jesus Christ, the light of the world.
[How does political loyalty conflict with my loyalty to Christ?]
Lord, in utter humility I thank you and glorify you, that you might hear the prayer of one so small as myself, amidst the billions of souls among billions of stars in one of billions of galaxies in your universe. Let me go forth in your peace, keeping your Spirit always in my mind; and bless me, I pray, that I might always follow your will and live in the radiance of your blessing.
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.
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Psalm 89:8-12, 14-15 (NKJV)
O Lord God of hosts,
Who is mighty like You, O Lord?
Your faithfulness also surrounds You.
You rule the raging of the sea;
When its waves rise, You still them.
You have broken Rahab in pieces, as one who is slain;
You have scattered Your enemies with Your mighty arm.
The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours;
The world and all its fullness, You have founded them.
The north and the south, You have created them;
Tabor and Hermon rejoice in Your name.
Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne;
Mercy and truth go before Your face.
Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound!
They walk, O Lord, in the light of Your countenance.
1 Samuel 8:1-9 (ESV)
Israel Asks for a King
When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as judges for Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
This displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.”
Notes on the Scripture
ike Eli before him, Samuel has sons who do not share his devotion and dedication, but abuse their position. The Hebrew nation has become prosperous and stable under Samuel's tenure as judge, as the Philistines have been chastened and Israel has been at peace, both internally and externally—a good recipe for prosperity.
Secular political science asserts that a monarchy is a step forward in the evolution of a nation; certainly the concentration of power in the hands of a monarch can be helpful in times of war—depending, of course, on who the king is. Samuel took the request badly, seeing it as a personal rejection, and the passage likens this to the times when Israel strayed from its devotion to God and worshipping Ba’al, Astarte, and other foreign gods. Now they want a foreign form of government.
Of course, a king with bad sons is even worse than a judge with bad sons, since the sons of a hereditary monarch have more power and are harder to dislodge: but the Hebrew people, having never had a king, don’t grasp the downside of it. In the next chapter, Samuel will warn them.
There is a bigger issue, however, than the temporal problem of a bad king. The overarching principle stated in this passage is not that Samuel, or his sons, or a form of government is rejected. The real issue is that God takes it personally! “[I]t is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.”
Looking at it another way, the Hebrew mistake is to seek a government “such as all the other nations have,” when God has set the Hebrew nation apart and commanded them to reject the teachings of other nations. The ancient Egyptians conceived of their king as the ka, the “vital force” or soul of the entire people. But God has created a direct relationship with the Hebrews. No earthly power may stand between them and God Himself.
We make the same mistake, today and throughout history, when we look to a civil government as the source of our hope. God would eventually send us a human king: Jesus Christ. We are commanded to subject ourselves to the civil authorities under the new covenant of Christ; but our one true “government” is a monarchy, and we have only one King, the resurrected Christ.