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Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Daily Devotion for October 15, 2009



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lessons and scripture

Lord's Prayer

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.


(Additional prayers may be found at Prayers for All Occasions.)
God be with you 'til we meet again.
Detail from a fresco of Solomon meeting Sheba, by Piero della Francesca. See the full image here.

Solomon and Sheba

Gospel of Matthew 12:38-39, 42

An evil generation seeks a sign [2] — Queen of Sheba

Certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, "Teacher, we would like to see a sign from you. But he answered, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks a sign . . . . The queen of the south will rise up in the judgment with this generation, and will condemn it: for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, one greater than Solomon is here."

2 Chronicles 9:1-2, 5-8

1 When the queen of Sheba heard of Solomon's fame, she came to Jerusalem to test him with hard questions. Arriving with a very great caravan—with camels carrying spices, large quantities of gold, and precious stones—she came to Solomon and talked with him about all she had on her mind.

2 Solomon answered all her questions; nothing was too hard for him to explain to her.

* * *

5 She said to the king, "The report I heard in my own country about your achievements and your wisdom is true.

6 But I did not believe what they said until I came and saw with my own eyes. Indeed, not even half the greatness of your wisdom was told me; you have far exceeded the report I heard.

7 How happy your people must be! How happy your officials, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!

8 Praise be to the LORD your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on his throne as king to rule for the LORD your God. Because of the love of your God for Israel and his desire to uphold them forever, he has made you king over them, to maintain justice and righteousness."

Comment on the Scripture

You might want to review yesterday's reading if you missed it or have forgotten it.

The Hebrews used the term "adultery" to describe conduct that would make them unclean under the First Covenant, especially forbidden contact with Gentiles. They frequently analogized their relationship with God as a marriage, and thus engaging in forbidden conduct with non-Jews (such as eating a meal) was conceived as adulterous in the sense of marital infidelity, as well as the sense of "adulterated" (allowing impurities to contaminate a substance). A very good example is the second chapter of Hosea, a poem comparing Israel to an adulterous wife, who gives homage to Baal for the earth's fruits.

Here, Christ compares the Pharisees and scribes unfavorably to a Sheba, "the queen of the south", who was not only a Gentile but also a literal adulteress. Sheba traveled to Jerusalem to test Solomon. When she heard Solomon's words, she was abashed and praised God. (Many historical sources, some of them Islamic, recount the voyage of a southern queen to Arabia or Judea and her conversion to monotheism. Ethiopians claim, with some credence, that Sheba was the Queen of Abyssinia and that modern Ethiopia contains descendants of her children by Solomon.)

The passage also reiterates a theme previously visited by Christ: the acceptance and importance of the Gentiles in the New Covenant. As he did in yesterday's passage concerning Ninevah, he speaks favorably of righteous Gentiles, at the same time condemning the non-believing Pharisees.

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