Daily Devotion for February 28, 2012
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.
Penitential Prayer of St. Ambrose of Milan
O Lord, who hast mercy upon all, take away from me my sins, and mercifully kindle in me the fire of thy Holy Spirit. Take away from me the heart of stone, and give me a heart of flesh, a heart to love and adore Thee, a heart to delight in Thee, to follow and enjoy Thee, for Christ's sake,
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.
Attachment to Earthly Things
Whatever that idol be,
Help me to tear it from thy throne,
and worship only thee…
~ William Cowper, "O For a Closer Walk with God"
Genesis 21:22-34 (The Message)
The Story of Abraham  - Abimelech
At about that same time, Abimelech and the captain of his troops, Phicol, spoke to Abraham: "No matter what you do, God is on your side. So swear to me that you won't do anything underhanded to me or any of my family. For as long as you live here, swear that you'll treat me and my land as well as I've treated you."Abraham said, "I swear it."
At the same time, Abraham confronted Abimelech over the matter of a well of water that Abimelech's servants had taken. Abimelech said, "I have no idea who did this; you never told me about it; this is the first I've heard of it."
So the two of them made a covenant. Abraham took sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelech. Abraham set aside seven sheep from his flock.
Abimelech said, "What does this mean? These seven sheep you've set aside." Abraham said, "It means that when you accept these seven sheep, you take it as proof that I dug this well, that it's my well."
That's how the place got named Beersheba (the Oath-Well), because the two of them swore a covenant oath there. After they had made the covenant at Beersheba, Abimelech and his commander, Phicol, left and went back to Philistine territory.
Abraham planted a tamarisk tree in Beersheba and worshiped God there, praying to the Eternal God. Abraham lived in Philistine country for a long time.
Notes on the Scripture
We learn today that Abimelech's tribe are called "Philistines", the first time we encounter them in Genesis. (This is actually the second time the word "Philistine" appears in the Bible. In Genesis 10:14, we learn that the Philistines are the descendants of a man named Casluhim, a great-grandson of Noah.) Abraham, unlike many Hebrew leaders to come after him, lives in peace with these Philistines.
Beersheba is a spot whose significance is completely out of proportion to its size, for it was always a tiny town, struggling to survive at the northern edge of the Negev desert. Annual rainfall in the area is about eight inches, which would make it a true desert, incapable of sustaining a human population; however, due to a freak of geography, rainfall in the surrounding mountains collects and flows to an underground reservoir; this is the aquifer which Abraham taps with his well, and the reason a town can exist there. Still, the population was only 4,000 people as late as 1948 (when Palestine was partitioned).
It is named and renamed "Beersheba" several times in the Bible, because the name can mean either "seven wells" or "oath well(s)". (Isaac will later dig seven wells there, and the spot will again be named Beersheba!)
The oddest thing about all this is: What are Philistines doing in the middle of the Negev? It is far inland, starting just south of the Dead Sea. But most archeologists agree, based on the scarce evidence available to them, that the Philistines were a seafaring people, somehow associated with the Phoenicians, and part of a group that attacked Egypt by sea around 1200 B.C. Perhaps Abimelech's forebears had been defeated in a battle with Egypt and had fled, or been sent by a Pharaoh to occupy the area. We will probably never know.