Evening Devotion for March 25, 2020
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.
The beginning of this moving song is sung in Kituba, a language widely spoken in central Africa. The Kituba lyrics are (thankfully) translated onscreen, but we have supplied the English lyrics for It is Well with My Soul.
When sorrows like sea billows roll,
What ever my lot you have taught me to say,
It is well, it is well with my soul.
Though the devil will ruin, though trials may come,
Let this blessed assurance control;
That Christ has regarded my helpless estate
And He shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well, with my soul.
It is well, it is well with my soul.
My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought,
My sin not in part but the whole.
Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more.
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, oh my soul.
And Lord haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
And the clouds be rolled back as a scroll.
The trump shall resound and the Lord shall descend;
Even so, it is well with my soul.
Music by Philip P. Bliss, 1876
Lyrics by Horatio G. Spafford, 1873
Prayer of (St.) Thérèse of Lisieux
O my God! I offer Thee all my actions of this day for the intentions and for the glory of Christ Jesus. I desire to sanctify every beat of my heart, my every thought, my simplest works, by uniting them to His infinite merits; and I wish to make reparation for my sins by casting them into the furnace of His Merciful Love.
O my God! I ask of Thee for myself and for those whom I hold dear, the grace to fulfill perfectly Thy Holy Will, to accept for love of Thee the joys and sorrows of this passing life, so that we may one day be united together in heaven for all Eternity.
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.
Prayer for Peace
I thank you, Master and Lover of mankind, King of the ages and giver of all good things, for destroying the dividing wall of enmity and granting peace to those who seek your mercy. I appeal to you to awaken the longing for a peaceful life in all those who are filled with hatred for their neighbors, thinking especially of those at war or preparing for war.
Grant peace to your servants. Implant in them the fear of you and confirm in them love one for another. Extinguish every dispute and banish all temptations to disagreement. For you are our peace and to you we ascribe glory: to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever and unto ages of ages.
I pray, Lord our God, for all those who suffer from acts of war. I pray for your peace and your mercy in the midst of the great suffering that people are now inflicting on each other. Accept the prayers of your Church, so that by your goodness peace may return to all peoples. Hear us and have mercy on us.
A Prayer After Reading Scripture
May the word I have read, Lord, be planted deeply in my mind and heart. Help me not to walk away and forget it, but to meditate on it and obey it and so built my life on the rock of your truth.
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.
Proverbs 5 (ESV)
y son, be attentive to my wisdom;
incline your ear to my understanding,
that you may keep discretion, and your lips may guard knowledge.
For the lips of a forbidden woman drip honey,
and her speech is smoother than oil,
but in the end she is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
her steps follow the path to Sheol;
she does not ponder the path of life;
her ways wander, and she does not know it.
And now, O sons, listen to me, and do not depart from the words of my mouth.
Keep your way far from her,
and do not go near the door of her house,
lest you give your honor to others and your years to the merciless,
lest strangers take their fill of your strength,
and your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
and at the end of your life you groan, when your flesh and body are consumed,
and you say,
I did not listen to the voice of my teachers or incline my ear to my instructors.
I am at the brink of utter ruin in the assembled congregation.”
Drink water from your own cistern,
flowing water from your own well.
Should your springs be scattered abroad, streams of water in the streets?
Let them be for yourself alone, and not for strangers with you.
Let your fountain be blessed,
and rejoice in the wife of your youth,
a lovely deer, a graceful doe.
Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight;
be intoxicated always in her love.
Why should you be intoxicated, my son, with a forbidden woman
and embrace the bosom of an adulteress?
For a man’s ways are before the eyes of the Lord, and he ponders all his paths.
The iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin.
He dies for lack of discipline, and because of his great folly he is led astray.
Notes on the Scripture
The Wisdom of Solomon - Wise and Foolish People in Proverbs (2)
After praising the general benefit of godliness and wisdom, Proverbs 2 teaches two more specific evils that the wise will avoid, but the fool will embrace: First, the evil man walks in darkness. (Prov. 2:11-15) Just as in Psalm 1 — “Blessed is the man that walketh not in counsel of the ungodly . . . “ — the first specific advice Proverbs gives is to avoid the blandishments of evil men, to turn a deaf ear to them.
French Book of Hours
Second is the evil woman, who flatters with words. (Prov. 2:16-19) This first reference to the seductress applies to simple adultery, sleeping with a woman other than one’s wife. In other verses, however, the instruction is more aimed at liaisons (including marriage) with women from idolatrous indigenous tribes in Canaan, an act specifically forbidden by Jehovah (Deut. 7:3-4). This was a constant source of problems throughout Hebrew history. So critical is the avoidance of liaisons with the “strange woman” that Proverbs returns to it repeatedly, including today’s passage (the entirety of Proverbs 5).
The advice still applies to us, today, but like so much of the Old Testament has undergone transmutation because of the New Covenant. There is no longer any discouragement of marrying outside one’s “tribe”; rather, since God’s grace is now open to all who confess His name, we should read this as advising against marriage to non-Christians. (E.g. 2 Corinthians 6:14-18)
Proverbs differentiates between the God-fearing Hebrew woman and her idle sister, as well; this distinction forms the magnificent finale of Proverbs, in Lemuel’s famous paean to womanly virtue: “her price is far above rubies.” (Prov. 31:10-31) Again and again, Proverbs warns the wise against adultery and prostitution in the more general sense of sleeping with another’s wife or a prostitute, whether she be Hebrew or Gentile. In Chapter 7, the style even veers into the narrative, as it draws the scene of a fool slipping into a harlot’s room.
In the intermediate bulk of Proverbs, the reader is treated to a host of more specific attitudes and actions that the wise will follow to their benefit, and the fool will ignore to their regret. The wise man, for example, like the ant, is industrious; the fool, a sluggard. (E.g. 24:30-34; 26:15-16) The fool is a drunkard, the wise man abstemious. (E.g. 23:29-35) The fool loves to talk at length, while the wise man listens and learns. (E.g. 18:2)
In today’s society, gender roles are not nearly as well-defined as in ancient Israel! They did not often have wives running away with tennis pro’s, or women being primary breadwinners. But rather than letting us off the hook, this simply increases the applicability of Proverbs to both genders.
Underlying all of the specific advice in Proverbs is the fear of God; it is the root difference between wise and foolish people. It is like the trunk of the tree, and all of the many specific areas of advice are like limbs and branches, supported by and originating in this first principle.