Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 2Ki 5:13,14
"Naaman's servants went to him and said, 'My father, if the
prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How
much more, then, when he tells you, "Wash and be cleansed"!' So he went down and
dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and
his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy" (2Ki
"It may seem strange and incredible that God would connect
such a momentous change [covenant relationship, and forgiveness of sins] with a
trivial and (as some regard it) ridiculous observance [baptism]. An earnest
mind, however, will not stop to reason on the matter when once satisfied that it
is the will of God, especially when he remembers that it is one of the
characteristics of God's dealings with men that He selects 'weak things, things
despised, yea, and things that are not' (1Co 1:27,28), by which to accomplish
important results -- that it may be seen that the power is of God, and not in
the means, and that true obedience may be secured in His servants. It was not
the eating of the fruit in itself -- apart from the divine prohibition -- that
constituted Adam's offence. It was not the mere looking at the brazen serpent in
the wilderness that cured the serpent bitten Israelites. It was not Naaman's
mere immersion in Jordan in itself that cured him of his leprosy. It was the
principle involved in each case that developed the results -- the principle of
obedience to the divine law, which is one prominent feature in all God's
dealings with man. Obedience is the great thing required at our hands: 'Hath the
Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice
of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the
fat of rams' (1Sa 15:22).
"It matters not what the act may be; the more unlikely the
thing required, the more severe the test, and the more conspicuous the
obedience, even if it be the offering up of an only son, or the slaughtering of
a whole nation. In any case, and at all hazards, obedience must be yielded. God
is not less exacting in this respect under the Christian dispensation than He
was under the law; but, if possible, more so" (Robert Roberts, "Christendom
Reading 2 - Lam 1:1
"How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people" (Lam
1:1; cp Isa 3:8).
Well-known among students of ancient history is a medal struck
by a Greek artist of the Roman Court to commemorate the destruction of Jerusalem
by Titus and Vespasian in 70 AD. It is called "Judea Capta" ("Judah Subjected"),
and it depicts a powerful soldier standing triumphantly over a helpless woman,
who sits destitute upon the ground. How did this come about? Let us ask
ourselves and learn the answer well. It came about because Judah neglected its
true strength -- the Lord their God.
What do we naturally think of when we hear the words "many
people"? Ideas that come to mind are a party, or a market place -- people
milling around, laughing, joking and empty of serious thoughts. This is how
Isaiah pictured this same city, Jerusalem -- "full of stirs, a tumultuous city,
a joyous city" (Isa 22:2); a city, in fact, thoroughly opposed to the Divine
will, and heedless of her impending punishment: "And in that day did the Lord
GOD of hosts call to weeping, and to mourning, and to baldness, and to girding
with sackcloth: And behold (instead) joy and gladness, slaying oxen, and killing
sheep, eating flesh, and drinking wine: let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we
shall die" (Isa 22:12,13).
To those who thought in their hearts, "Peace and safety", came
instead sudden destruction (1Th 5:3) by the wrath of God: "I will make your
cities waste... desolation", He had threatened through His prophet Moses (Lev
26:14-16, 31-35). But the people had continued to delight themselves in every
imaginable form of wickedness until it was too late (Note the summary of
Nebuchadnezzar's destructions in Jer 52:12-23 -- and remember that he was merely
God's "servant" -- Jer 25:9 -- to perform this).
''As a widow": The city of Jerusalem had lost her husband, her
lord and her protector (Jer 2:2). All of the pains associated with widowhood
were hers -- an absence of her "husband's" favor and protection; sorrow and
grief; a pitiful feeling of helplessness (Isa 54:6; Hos 3:3, 4).
Let us remember why such things came upon Jerusalem: "Behold,
for your iniquities have ye sold yourselves (ie, into slavery), and for your
transgressions is your mother put away" (Isa 50:1). "Your iniquities have
separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you"
"She that was great among the nations": Israel, in its
beginning as a kingdom, was lavishly praised by Hiram of Tyre ("this great
people" -- 1Ki 5:7) and the queen of Sheba, who saw Solomon's wealth (1Ki 10).
The united kingdom of Solomon's time must have been very nearly unsurpassed in
commerce and power. And the kingdom of Judah continued to prosper at times in
the years following the division of the kingdom.
"How is she become tributary": We are perhaps too accustomed
to viewing Judah, during the period of the kings, as having much less majesty
and authority than she actually had. Only when we realize what a magnificent
position she once occupied, can such a phrase as this have its proper effect
upon us. Just as God brought the splendor of Egypt and Babylon to the dust, so
was He able to humble Judah. The word "tributary" refers to personal servitude
(the same word as in Josh 16:10; 17:13). Compare Lam 5:8,13,16. The princess had
become a "slave" (NIV), a "vassal" (RSV).
Reading 3 - 1Co 14:40
"But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way"
"The brother or sister who sincerely loves God will endeavour
always to be punctual in the observance of His requirements and appointments.
(Unavoidable lateness is exceptional, and need not here be considered.) To be
late at the meetings when we could have been early is indicative of indifference
and carelessness in regard to the things of God. The meetings are of God's
appointment for the benefit of His children. The latecomer not only himself
loses much of this benefit, but hinders those who are punctual in receiving the
good. Usually the meetings commence with collective thanksgiving to God; is it
not manifestly irreverent, and consequently displeasing to Him, that the
privilege should be disturbed by latecomers, who with a little thought and care
could have been present to unite in prayer and thanksgiving? Christ is our
example in all things, and there is more than a suggestion of punctuality in the
record that 'when the hour was come he sat down, and the twelve apostles with
him' (to eat the Passover) (Luk 22:14)" (WJ White).