Daily Devotion for November 22, 2009
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 Peace
I thank you, God of love, our King from whom all good things come, for destroying the dividing wall of enmity between those who seek your mercy, and for granting them peace. 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. 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 the great glory of peace is your creation and your delight.
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,
Community of Prayer
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.
Today' lesson is the first half of Isaiah 51. The commentary addresses the poetry of the passage. Tomorrow we will read the second half of Isaiah 51, with commentary on the broader meaning of God's promise.
God Promises Salvation for Zion
I am he who brings you comfort. What are you, that you fear men, who will die, and the sons of men, who are made like grass? You have Jehovah your creator, who stretched forth the heavens, and laid the foundations of the earth.
Why do you live all the day in continual fear of men who oppress you, as they make ready to destroy? And where is the fury of the oppressor?
The captive exile will be freed quickly. He will not die and descend to the pit, nor run short of bread. For I am Jehovah your God, who stirs up the sea, so that the waves roar. Jehovah of hosts is his name. I have put my words in your mouth, and have sheltered you in the shadow of my hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, "You are my people."
Comment on the Scripture
Elijah uses a poetic form similar to that used in the Psalms. It consists of a verse followed by a response. The response may support or modify the verse in several ways. For example:
- Very commonly, the response may be an artful restatement of the verse, using metaphor or other imagery: " There is nobody to guide her . . .: neither are there any to take her by the hand . . . .";
- The opposite format is also common: a metaphor or other imagery, followed by a more declarative statement: "She is more precious than rubies: And none of the things thou canst desire are to be compared unto her." (Prov. 3:16)
- The statement and response may be in the form or actual or rhetorical questions. Almost never does the response answer the question; rather it will rephrase or explain it. "Awake, awake, put on strength, O arm of Jehovah; awake, as in the days of old, the generations of ancient times. Is it not thou that didst cut Rahab in pieces, that didst pierce the monster?"
- The response may explain the verse: "Your sons have fainted . . .: they are full of the wrath of Jehovah . . . .";
- The response may give a second idea that is related to the verse. This is most common in Proverbs, where the verse and response may be two examples of a larger principle, e.g. "To keep thee from the evil woman, From the flattery of the foreigner's tongue." (Proverbs 6:24).
- The response may give a consequence of the verse, e.g. "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want." (Psalm 23:1);
There are two more basics to understand. First, the technique can be layered; the same technique can be used to form a single verse, and can also be used to relate two or more verses. For example, Psalm 1:2 is a statement with a response that expands upon the statement. Statement, "But his delight is in the law of the Lord,", and expansion/reiteration, "and upon it doth he meditate day and night." But the entire verse is also a response, this time a contrast to the preceding verse (Psalm 1:1), "Blessed is he that walketh not in counsel of the ungodly . . . "
Secondly, this is a poetic form, not a rigid logical structure. Like any poetic form, the poet can modify it. Again, looking at Psalm 23, the first verse is a statement and the response is a consequence: "The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want". This verse is then used as a statement and the second verse is a response to it: " He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; he leadeth me beside the still waters." But instead of the basic statement-response, the psalmist uses the form statement-response-response, so that the third verse is another response to the first verse: "He restoreth my soul: He guideth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.".
The relationship of the response to the verse is the skill of the poet. Of course, much has been lost in translation from Aramaic or Hebrew. The important point is to remember that this is a poetic form not used today. Understanding this poetic form will give you an extra dimension of beauty and meaning when you read the Old Testament. Passages that seem ungainly or odd may fill with beauty and meaning for you.