Other comments on this day's readings can be found here.
Reading 1 - 1Ch 8:34
"The son of Jonathan: Merib-Baal [also known as Mephibosheth]"
The treatment of the name "Baal" is probably an example of
deliberate change, for theological reasons, by the scribes who copied out the
scriptures. With personal names that included the word "Baal" (which could
simply mean "master" or "lord"), the scribes deliberately replaced "Baal" with
"Bosheth" (which means "shame"). To them the idol "Baal", in all his many forms,
was a "shameful thing", and any passing allusion to him was to be avoided if
possible. Hence, it is likely that Jonathan's son was actually named
"Meribbaal", but later scribes made sure that the (by then) hated name of "Baal"
was replaced -- yielding "Mephibosheth" (cp 1Ch 8:34; 9:40 and 2Sa 9:6; 19:24;
Reading 2 - Eze 21:25-27
" 'And thou, profane wicked prince of Israel, whose day is
come, when iniquity shall have an end, Thus saith the Lord God: Remove the
diadem and take off the crown; this shall not be the same: exalt him that is
low, and abase him that is high. I will overturn, overturn, overturn it: and it
shall be no more UNTIL HE COMES WHOSE RIGHT IT IS; and I will give it him' [Eze
"Here was a diadem to be removed, a crown to be taken off, and
a national polity to be completely abolished, as indicated in the triple
repetition of the verb, 'overturn,' and as expressed by the phrase, 'it shall be
no more.' The prediction related to things Jewish, even to the things which
constitute the throne of David; and its fulfillment is notorious to every reader
of Jewish history. About a year after its delivery, Zedekiah was uncrowned by
Nebuchadnezzar. The nobles were put to death; the nation was partly massacred,
and partly carried away captive, and the land given over to desolation. Seventy
years after, a partial restoration took place under Ezra and Nehemiah, but not
of the throne of David. The Jews existed as a vassal people thenceforward; and
after varied political fortunes, were overtaken by a storm which swept away
every vestige of their national existence.
"The Romans, under Vespasian, invaded the country, and subdued
its fortified places; and Vespasian having transferred the command to Titus, the
latter laid siege to Jerusalem, which at that time was crowded with people from
all parts of the country. The details of that awful siege are familiar to every
one. The city was tediously beleaguered for months; famine arose among the
inhabitants; civil dissensions divided their counsels, and led to mutual
slaughter; and, finally, the place was sacked and given to the flames, and
upwards of 1,000,000 of Jews perished. The remainder were sold as slaves, and
scattered throughout the Roman empire as fugitives; and scattered they remain to
this day . So awfully has the prophecy been fulfilled, that for the last
twenty centuries, the throne of David has been a mere idle phrase -- a tradition
of the past; his kingdom has been overthrown, his land in desolation, and his
people wandering as homeless exiles, unpitied and unpitying.
"But is this condition of David's throne to be perpetual? Are
the Gentiles for ever to exalt their proud horns over the fallen kingdom of the
Lord? (See 1Ch 24:23; 2Ch 9:8; 13:8, which affirm the kingdom of Israel to have
been the kingdom of God). Nay, saith the prophecy: desolation shall only
continue UNTIL -- until what? 'Until HE COME whose right it is.' Who is this?
None other than Jesus Christ, to whom the throne pertains of right, both by
lineal descent, and special divine bequest. Observe, then, what is distinctly
proved, that the things overturned are the things to be given to Christ at his
coming. Now, what things were those? The diadem, crown, throne, and Kingdom of
David. Hence, when HE COMES whose right they are, he will enter into their
possession in as real a sense as they were held by Zedekiah. He will become King
of the Jews, and Lord of the whole earth. We thus perceive a striking
significance in the words of the angel: 'The Lord God shall give unto Jesus THE
THRONE OF HIS FATHER David, and he shall reign over THE HOUSE OF JACOB for ever;
and of HIS KINGDOM there shall be no end.'
"Going a step farther in our New Testament enquiry, we come to
the birth of Christ, and we note the following incident: 'Now when Jesus was
born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came
wise men from the east to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he that is born KING OF
THE JEWS' (Mat 2:1).
"The enquiry of the wise men was intelligible in view of all
that the prophets had foretold of him who was to be ruler in Israel; but if
Christ is only the spiritual Saviour of mankind, in a universal general sense,
their words have no meaning. In what sense could Christ be 'king of the Jews,'
if he only stood in broad spiritual relationship to the human race as a whole?
It may be suggested that he is king of spiritual Jews, who are not Jews
outwardly, but in the heart. The reply to this is, that Christ is not king of
his own people. Of them he says, 'I call you not servants, but friends.' They
are his brethren, 'joint heirs with Christ' (Rom 8:17), destined to reign with
him a thousand years (Rev 20:6). They are not his subjects, but aggregately his
bride, 'the Lamb's wife' -- signifying the closest communion and identity of
relational interest. Christ, therefore, cannot be king of the Jews in any
spiritual sense. He is king of those Jews of whom David was king; for he is heir
to his throne. That this was the nature of his claim, as understood by his
contemporaries, is obvious from what followed the enquiry of the wise men: 'When
Herod the king had heard these things he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with
him. And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people
together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born. And they said unto
him, In Bethlehem of Judea: for thus it is written by the prophet, and thou
Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda; for
out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel... And
(Herod) sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all
the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he
had diligently enquired of the wise men' (Mat 2:2,3,6,16).
"Now whence all this commotion? If Christ was merely to be a
spiritual ruler in the popular sense -- exercising power from heaven in the
hearts of men, without at all interfering with the temporal concerns of kings on
earth, it is not conceivable that Herod should have been so jealous of him,
because Christ's spiritual dominion would not in any way have conflicted with
Herod's jurisdiction as a king.
"Assuming, however, that the enquiry of the wise men imported
the verity of Christ's character as a king, appointed of God to sit on David's
throne, Herod's procedure appears in a natural light. He was at that time ruler
in Israel. He was, in fact, 'King of the Jews,' in the name of the Roman Caesar.
For him, therefore, to hear of the birth of a rival to that position, was to be
touched in the tenderest part, and to have all his jealousy aroused. He would
see plainly that if he allowed this infant king to live, the people's allegiance
might become diverted, and his own throne would be endangered. He therefore
conceived the inhuman project of slaughtering the entire babyhood of Bethlehem,
in the hope of destroying the object of his jealousy - -a proof that he
recognised in Christ, a prospective claimant of the literal kingship of Israel"
(Robert Roberts, "Christendom Astray" ch 11).
Reading 3 - Luk 18:11-14
"The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself: 'God, I thank
you that I am not like other men -- robbers, evildoers, adulterers -- or even
like this tax collector" (Luk 18:11).
Pride is so subtle that if we aren't careful we'll be proud of
our humility. When this happens our goodness becomes badness. Our virtues become
vices. We can easily become like the Sunday School teacher who, having told the
story of the Pharisee and the publican, said, "Children, let's bow our heads and
thank God we are not like the Pharisee!"
"But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even
look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, 'God, have mercy on me, a
sinner' " (v 13).
One day Frederick the Great, King of Prussia, visited a prison
and talked with each of the inmates. There were endless tales of innocence, of
misunderstood motives, and of exploitation. Finally the king stopped at the cell
of a convict who remained silent. "Well," remarked Frederick, "I suppose you are
an innocent victim too?" "No, sir, I'm not," replied the man. "I'm guilty and
deserve my punishment." Turning to the warden, the king said, "Here, release
this rascal before he corrupts all these fine innocent people in