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Daily Devotion for October 8, 2010
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 unbelievably moving Sabbath Prayer from "Fiddler on the Roof", where Tevye prays for the future of his unmarried daughters.
Prayer for the Morning
Dear Lord, I give you my hands to do your work; I give you my feet to go your way; I give you my eyes to see as you see; I give you my tongue to speak your words; I give you my mind that you may think in me; I give you my spirit that you may pray in me. Above all, I give you my heart that you may love in me - love the Father and love all humankind. I give you my whole self, Lord, that you may grow in me, so that it is you who lives, works and prays in me.
Prayer for Family and Friends
Blessed are You, loving Father, For all your gifts to us. Blessed are You for giving us family and friends To be with us in times of joy and sorrow, To help us in days of need, And to rejoice with us in moments of celebration.
Father, We praise You for Your Son Jesus, Who knew the happiness of family and friends, And in the love of Your Holy Spirit. Blessed are you for ever and ever.
Finally, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, let me think about these things. What I have learned and received, let me do; and the God of peace be with us all.
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.
At midnight I rise to give you thanks for your righteous laws.
I am a friend to all who fear you, to all who follow your precepts.
The earth is filled with your love, O Lord; teach me your decrees.
Holofernes Condemns Alchior
(In Judith 5, an Ammonite named Achior has told Holofernes that the Hebrews can be conquered if they have been sinful before their God; but that if they have been faithful to Him, He will protect them and Holofernes should be cautious.)
When the noise of the crowd surrounding the council had subsided, Holofernes, commander-in-chief of the Assyrian army, said to Achior, in the presence of the whole throng of coastland peoples, of the Moabites, and of the Ammonite mercenaries:
"Who are you, Achior, to prophesy among us as you have done today, and to tell us not to fight against the Israelites because their God protects them? What god is there beside Nebuchadnezzar? He will send his force and destroy them from the face of the earth. Their God will not save them; but we, the servants of Nebuchadnezzar, will strike them down as one man, for they will be unable to withstand the force of our cavalry. We will overwhelm them with it, and the mountains shall be drunk with their blood, and their plains filled with their corpses. Not a trace of them shall survive our attack: they shall utterly perish, says King Nebuchadnezzar, lord of all the earth; for he has spoken, and his words shall not remain unfulfilled.
As for you, Achior, you Ammonite mercenary, for saying these things in a moment of perversity you shall not see my face after today, until I have taken revenge on this race of people from Egypt. Then at my return, the sword of my army or the spear of my servants will pierce your sides, and you shall fall among their slain. My servants will now conduct you to the mountain region, and leave you at one of the towns along the ascent. You shall not die till you are destroyed together with them. If you still cherish the hope that they will not be taken, then there is no need for you to be downcast. I have spoken, and my words shall not prove false in any respect."
Then Holofernes ordered the servants who were standing by in his tent to seize Achior, conduct him to Bethulia, and hand him over to the Israelites. So the servants took him in custody and brought him out of the camp into the plain. From there they led him into the mountain region till they reached the springs below Bethulia. When the men of the city saw them, they seized their weapons and ran out of the city to the crest of the ridge; and all the slingers blocked the ascent of Holofernes' servants by hurling stones upon them. So they took cover below the mountain, where they bound Achior and left him lying at the foot of the mountain; then they returned to their lord.
The Israelites came down to him from their city, loosed him, and brought him into Bethulia. They haled him before the rulers of the city, who in those days were Uzziah, son of Micah of the tribe of Simeon, Chabris, son of Gothoniel, and Charmis, son of Melchiel. They then convened all the elders of the city; and all their young men, as well as the women, gathered in haste at the place of assembly. They placed Achior in the center of the throng, and Uzziah questioned him about what had happened. He replied by giving them an account of what was said in the council of Holofernes, and of all his own words among the Assyrian officers, and of all the boasting threats of Holofernes against the house of Israel.
At this the people fell prostrate and worshiped God; and they cried out: "Lord, God of heaven, behold their arrogance! Have pity on the lowliness of our people, and look with favor this day on those who are consecrated to you." Then they reassured Achior and praised him highly. Uzziah brought him from the assembly to his home, where he gave a banquet for the elders. That whole night they called upon the God of Israel for help.
Notes on the Scripture
Holofernes reaction to Alchior's counsel is typical of many arrogant governments; anyone who speaks up contrary to the institutional wisdom, no matter how good the person's advice or how counterproductive the current wisdom may be, is simply tossed out. This is still the rule today, even in, say, the United States government. The stupidity and stubborness of governmental groups, from the CIA to the FBI to the Attorney General to the Surgeon General, often results in many of the best and brightest people being run off, because they speak up against an incorrect policy.
After this interesting passage with its insight into how large institutions work, Holofernes at least does not kill Alchior on the spot. Instead, for daring to have suggested that the Israelites might beat the Persian army, Holofernes says, basically, "Fine, if you think they can win I will force you to join them and share their fate."