Daily Devotion for October 23, 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.
Prayer for the Morning
Oh Lord, most heavenly Father, Almighty and everlasting God, who has safely brought me to the beginning of this day; I give you thanks for my creation, preservation, and all the blessings of my life. Grant that this day I fall into no sin, neither run into any kind of danger; but that all my doings, being governed by your will, may be righteous in your sight. Through Christ our Lord, I pray.
Prayer for Grace and Strength
Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit. Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties, and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion; and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities. For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Community of Prayer
Heavenly Lord, I know I am not alone saying these prayers or reading your Word this morning, but many people unknown to me, from all stations of life, have joined together in this brief moment of devotion. May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be among the community of all who pray in the name of Christ this morning, and remain among us always.
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.
As pressure and stress bear down on me, I find joy in your commands.
Your laws are always right; help me to understand them so I may live.
The Conquest of the Assyrian Army
On hearing what had happened, those still in their tents were amazed, and overcome with fear and trembling. No one kept ranks any longer; they scattered in all directions, and fled along every road, both through the valley and in the mountains. Those also who were stationed in the mountain district around Bethulia took to flight. Then all the Israelite warriors overwhelmed them.
Uzziah sent messengers to Betomasthaim, to Choba and Kona, and to the whole country of Israel to report what had happened, that all might fall upon the enemy and destroy them. On hearing this, all the Israelites, with one accord, attacked them and cut them down as far as Choba. Even those from Jerusalem and the rest of the mountain region took part in this, for they too had been notified of the happenings in the camp of their enemies. The Gileadites and the Galileans struck the enemy's flanks with great slaughter, even beyond Damascus and its territory. The remaining inhabitants of Bethulia swept down on the camp of the Assyrians, plundered it, and acquired great riches.
The Israelites who returned from the slaughter took possession of what was left, till the towns and villages in the mountains and on the plain were crammed with the enormous quantity of booty they had seized.
The high priest Joakim and the elders of the Israelites, who dwelt in Jerusalem, came to see for themselves the good things that the Lord had done for Israel, and to meet and congratulate Judith. When they had visited her, all with one accord blessed her, saying: "You are the glory of Jerusalem, the surpassing joy of Israel; You are the splendid boast of our people. With your own hand you have done all this; You have done good to Israel, and God is pleased with what you have wrought. May you be blessed by the Lord Almighty forever and ever!" And all the people answered, "Amen!"
For thirty days the whole populace plundered the camp, giving Judith the tent of Holofernes, with all his silver, his couches, his dishes, and all his furniture, which she accepted. She harnessed her mules, hitched her wagons to them, and loaded these things on them. All the women of Israel gathered to see her; and they blessed her and performed a dance in her honor. She took branches in her hands and distributed them to the women around her, and she and the other women crowned themselves with garlands of olive leaves. At the head of all the people, she led the women in the dance, while the men of Israel followed in their armor, wearing garlands and singing hymns.
Judith led all Israel in this song of thanksgiving, and the people swelled this hymn of praise:
Notes on the Reading
If the end of the passage seems awkward, it is how the actual chapter ends in the Bible. Apparently the writer wanted the hymn to have its own chapter, so it will being tomorrow's passage.
Other than their compact with God and observance of His laws, the Israelites were very much a typical large tribe in the Middle East of the day. They slaughter the Assyrian army -- made up largely of conquered soldiers who had been impressed by Holofernes, and so not necessarily aggressors against Israel by choice -- and glory in the loot. Judith herself takes wagonloads of precious items.