1 July

1 Sam. 13

If all Israel had been obedient, then Saul would have been too (1 Sam. 12:14). If a majority are spiritually minded, this can at times and in some ways influence a potentially weaker minority; even though the reverse is more often true. And yet Saul made the people “follow him trembling” because they weren’t, en masse, spiritually stronger than him (1 Sam. 13:7). This is the power of influence.


Is. 56, 57

Israel should have been just and not abusive of their brethren, precisely because " my salvation is near to come" (Is. 56:1). We are to do righteousness, , because God's righteousness is about to be revealed (Is. 56:1 RV). We seek to live the Kingdom life now, seeing we will so soon, by grace, be living it anyway.


Rev. 21, 22

Grasping God's view of time means that we will see the Kingdom as immortality, not everlasting life. The eternity of our future existence is not the big theme of the Bible; it is "God manifestation, not human salvation", in the words of John Thomas. The process of eternity, the life and Kingdom of God, is already going on now; the tree of life is now (not 'will be'; Greek tenses are precise) in the midst of the paradise of God, at least from God's perspective (Rev. 2:7). We will have no need of the sun, for the light of God's glory will replace our concept of time (Rev. 21:23). Indeed, "the time of the end" can be read as "the end of time" (Dan. 12:4,9). There will be "time (Gk. chronos, the idea of time) no longer" (Rev. 10:6).


2 July

1 Sam. 14

Jonathan was doubtless teetering on the edge of whether to take up Goliath's challenge. As the King's senior son and the young, dynamic army general (13:2), surely he was the obvious Hebrew champion to match Goliath. And moreover, Jonathan had risen to a similar challenge in 1 Sam.14, when he and his armourbearer took on the might of the Philistine army singlehanded, in a supreme act of faith. The question arises: Why didn't Jonathan do the same again when faced with the Goliath crisis? Presumably his faith was capable of one-off flashes of brilliance in certain situations, but in cold blood, as an act of the will, Jonathan's faith just didn't stay at the peak he achieved in 1 Sam.14. Truly and fully can we empathize with that man. His sense of failure in not rising up to Goliath's challenge made him appreciate David's victory much more deeply. Again, exact ditto for us in our response to the cross. As Jonathan wrought great salvation in Israel in 1 Sam.14:45, so did David (the same phrase occurs in 19:5). As Saul tried to kill an innocent Jonathan out of jealousy of his victory, so he did David- thus Jonathan shared the sufferings of David, as we do of Christ. Another example of this will be found in 20:33, where Saul tries to kill Jonathan with a javelin, as he did to David. Yet wonderfully, David seems to have counted Jonathan as if   he actually had been the champion against Goliath; he describes him as " the mighty" (2 Sam.1:27), using the same Hebrew word translated " champion" in 17:51 concerning Goliath. Likewise Christ shares his victory with us to the extent that he counts us as if  we were the victors on Calvary. 


Is. 58

There are many connections within Isaiah between the servant songs, and the descriptions of the people of Israel into which the songs are interspersed. The saviour-servant was to bring out the prisoners from the dungeons (Is. 42:7), so was every Israelite “to let the oppressed go free...loose the bonds”, and to “undo the bands of the [heavy] yoke” (Is. 58:6) as Christ did (Mt. 11:28,29); His work of deliverance is to be replicated by each of us in our witness. Whoever is in Him will by this very fact follow Him in this work. In Isaiah’s first context, the suffering servant was King Hezekiah. Yet all Israel were to see themselves as ‘in’ him, as spiritual Israel are to see themselves as in Christ. “He was oppressed”, as Israel at that time were being “oppressed” by Assyria. As they were covered in wounds and spiritual sickness (Is. 1:5,6), so the suffering servant bore their diseases and rose again in salvation victory.


Mt. 1, 2

The descriptions of Mary as keeping things in her heart (Lk. 2:19,52), and the way it seems she didn’t tell Joseph about the Angel’s visit, but instead immediately went down to Elisabeth for three months…all these are indications that Mary, like many sensitive people, was a very closed woman. Only when Mary was “found” pregnant by Joseph (Mt. 1:18- s.w. to see, perceive, be obvious) was the situation explained to him by an Angel. It seems His move to divorce her was based on his noticing she was pregnant, and she hadn’t given any explanation to him. Do you feel lonely and closed as a person? You're in good Biblical company.


July 3

1 Sam. 15

How are we to understand the 'Language of limitation' which Scripture abounds with- e.g. Gen. 2:2; Ex. 31:17; Dt. 32:20,27? God is almighty, knowing the end from the beginning. As such, he does not " repent" (change His mind). Yet there are ample examples of where God does do just this. 1 Sam. 15:28,29,35 is a classic. What is the explanation?


Is. 59

United with Christ a man can face the judgment unafraid, released from the paralyzing terror of wondering all through his life if he would be accepted or rejected at the last. For us, judgment ought to be perceived as salvation. Indeed, these two ideas are paralleled in Is. 59:16,17. Israel looked for judgment, but there was none; for salvation, but it was far from them (Is. 59:11). In this sense judgment to come is a comfort not a threat. Ps. 135:14 parallels the Lord judging His people with Him feeling sorry for them (Heb.).


Mt. 3, 4

Scripture abounds with examples of powerful preachers whose witness was motivated by a deep recognition of their desperation before God. John the Baptist said that he was the herald of Jesus, but he was not worthy (“sufficient”, RVmg, Mt. 3:17) to even undo the Lord’s shoe latchet (Jn. 1:27). He was saying that he did undo the Lord’s shoe, using an idiom which meant ‘to announce beforehand’- but he did it unworthily, with a deep sense of his own deep insufficiency. In saying this he was alluding back to the Law’s statement that the man who was unable to bring redemption to his dead brother’s family must undo a shoe latchet (Dt. 25:9). John deeply felt this, hence his use of the figure- and in this spirit he preached the redemption that is alone in Jesus.


July 4

1 Sam. 16

The Hebrew language reflects certain realities about the nature of God’s ways. The common Hebrew word for ‘to see’, especially when used about God’s ‘seeing’, means also ‘to provide’. Abraham comforted Isaac that “God will see for himself [AV ‘provide’] the lamb” (Gen. 22:8 RVmg.); and thus the RVmg. interprets ‘Jehovah Jireh’ as meaning ‘the Lord will see, or provide’ (Gen. 22:14). The same word is used when Saul asks his servants to “provide” him a man (1 Sam. 16:17). When Hagar said “Thou God seest me” (Gen. 16:13) she was expressing her gratitude for His provision for her. What this means in practice is that the fact God sees and knows all things means that He can and will therefore and thereby provide for us in the circumstances of life; for He sees and knows all things.


Is. 60

There is reason to think that it could have been possible for the Messianic Kingdom to have been established at the time of the restoration, and the temple prophecies would fit perfectly into this context. Ezra was in a position to fulfil those prophecies, although the bulk of his brethren seem to have precluded this. Ezra was enabled to “beautify” the temple (Ezra 7:27), the very same word used in Is. 60:7,9,13 about how God would “glorify” [s.w.] His temple with merchandise from throughout the Babylonian empire- all of which was willingly offered by Cyrus and Darius. So much too has been made potentially possible for us this day!


Mt. 5

The least in the Kingdom will be those who break commandments and teach men so (Mt. 5:19); but the least in the Kingdom will be counted greater than John the Baptist was in this life (Mt. 11:11). The simple message is that there will be some in the Kingdom who simply weren't very obedient in this their day of probation. Admittedly, these details are capable of other interpretations. But bear these points in mind, especially if you ever struggle with the apparent harshness of some Christians you may meet.


July 5

1 Sam. 17

David must be one of the greatest types of Christ. At this time of the David and Goliath conflict he was a shepherd, despised by his brethren, trying to save Israel at a time of dire physical suffering and spiritual apostasy. These connections alone should make us scan this record for deeper Messianic allusions. The giant strongman falling to the earth because of a stone suggests Nebuchadnezzar's image of Dan.2, where the stone refers to Christ. Note how lion and bear (17:34 cp. Dan.7:4,5) and brass and iron (17:5-7 cp. Dan.2:32,33) are all mentioned in the record. Goliath's death by a fatal wound in the head (1 Sam.17:49) must look back to Gen.3:15, again connecting David and the stone with the seed of the woman (Christ) and equating Goliath with the seed of the serpent. This is confirmed by the repetitious description of Goliath in battle with David four times as covered in " brass" from head to foot (17:5,6); which is the same word translated " serpent" and is a symbol of sin. According to some etymologists, " Philistine" fundamentally means 'one who rolls in the dust', i.e. a serpent; and significantly, Goliath is several times described as " the Philistine" . Six being the number of the flesh it is significant that his " height was six cubits and a span...his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels" (17:4,7). Work through 1 Sam. 17 and see how the type develops.


Is. 61

Is. 61:11 compares God to soil- the ground, from which He made man. This is an example of God's modesty, His humility. If He can be humble, then how much more should we be...


Mt. 6

When the Lord spoke of the impossibility of serving two masters, He personified the one as " Mammon" , the antithesis of God. He goes on to define what he meant: " Therefore...take no thought for your life...which of you by taking thought....why take ye thought for raiment...therefore take no thought saying, What shall we eat?....seek ye first the Kingdom of God....take therefore no thought for the morrow" (Mt. 6:24,25,27,28,31,33,34). Clearly the Lord saw " Mammon" , this personified anti-God, as an attitude of mind. He had the same view of 'Satan' as we do: a personification of sin in the human mind. He also saw seeking " the Kingdom of God" as somehow parallel with serving God rather than mammon. We would wish there were some third category, God, mammon and something in between; as we may idly speculate that it would suit us if there were three categories at judgement day, accepted, rejected, and something else. But both then and now, this very minute, this isn't the case. A deep down recognition of this will have its effect practically. If we are serving God, let's not give anything to mammon, let's not play games, juggling and using brinkmanship.



July 6

1 Sam. 18

Paul, once known as Saul, earnestly resolved to be like King Saul was at the beginning. When he describes himself as " anointed" (2 Cor. 1:21) he surely had his eye on 1 Sam. 15:17 again; when Saul was "little in his own eyes", he was anointed. Paul tried to learn the lessons from Saul, and re-apply Saul's characteristics in a righteous context. Thus Saul was jealous (1 Sam. 18:8; 19:1), and Paul perhaps had his eye on this when he describes himself as jealous for the purity of the Corinthians (2 Cor. 11:2). " I was not disobedient to the heavenly vision" (Acts 26:19) is surely a reference back to Saul's disobedience (1 Sam. 15:22). Hence Saul changed his name to Paul, "the little one", in seeking to imitate how Saul initially was. Do Bible characters have this big an influence upon us?


Is. 62

There is a mutuality between God and His children in prayer. We ‘make mention’ of things to God (Rom. 1:9; Eph. 1:16; 1 Thess. 1:2; Philemon 4). The Greek word used has the idea of bringing to mind, or remembering things to God. And He in response ‘remembers’ prayer when He answers it (Lk. 1:54,72; Acts 10:31 s.w.). What we bring to our mind in prayer, we bring to His mind. Those who pray for Jerusalem “keep not silence”- and therefore they give God “no rest” (Is. 62:6,7). But the Hebrew word for “keep not silence” and for ‘give no rest’ is one and the same! There’s a clear play on words here. If we give ourselves no rest in prayer, then we give God no rest. His Spirit or mind becomes our spirit or mind, and vice versa. And hence the telling comments in Romans 8 about our spirit / mind being mediated to God in prayer through Jesus, in His role as ‘the Lord the Spirit’ (Rom. 8:26,27). Yet God Himself had stated that He will not rest nor hold His peace for Zion’s sake (Is. 62:1). Yet His doing this is conditional upon His prayerful people not allowing Him to rest due to their prayers.

Note in passing how Paul speaks of ‘making mention always’ in prayer of his brethren (Philemon 4 etc.). This is clearly alluding to the Is. 62:6,7 passage, about always making mention of Jerusalem in prayer. But for Paul, the true city of God was now the scattered group of Christian believers around the Roman empire of the first century. Jewish minds would’ve picked up Paul’s purposeful allusion to the ‘always’ prayers for Jerusalem; and would’ve marvelled that he saw the great holy city as now the bunch of guys whom he’d baptized around the place, and that instead of a city, it was those very real men and women who filled his thoughts, prayers and yearnings. Paul saw himself indeed as the watchman upon Zion’s walls- but watching over the people of God, not a physical city.


Mt. 7

The self-righteous Christian builder who appeared to make fast progress (Mt. 7:24-27), who apparently finds response to the word very easy, is contrasted with the builder whose progress appeared slow, building on a rock, symbolizing the difficulty he has in really hearing the word of the Lord Jesus.


July 7

1 Sam. 19

Because of God's enthusiasm for human response to His ways, the exalted language in which He describes believers, even in their weakness, is a further essay in His humility. The way the Father runs to the prodigal and falls on his neck in tears is a superb essay in this (Lk. 15:20). Thus God " delighted" in Solomon (1 Kings 10:9)- translating a Hebrew word meaning literally 'to bend down to'. It's used about men in love (Gen. 34:19; Dt. 21:14; 25:7), and about Jonathan's deferential attitude to David (1 Sam. 19:2). We have mentioned that David especially recognized this humility of God. If God is in a way humble- what of us today?


Is. 63

The language of Is. 63:1-5 applies with equal appropriacy to both the cross and the judgment. It is the time when the servant gains salvation and redemption for His people, alone, when all others have failed, with stained clothes reminiscent of Joseph’s, with all their reference to the death and resurrection of the Lord… and this is far from the only example of where prophecies can apply to both the crucifixion and the final judgment. There seems to be a link made between the Lord’s death and the judgment. As we reflect upon the cross this day, we have some foretaste of the future day of judgment.


Mt. 8

There is fair emphasis that the rejected saints will be cast into darkness (Mt. 8:12; 22:13; 25:30; Jude 13). Yet darkness is a common symbol of the world (Eph. 5:11; 6:12; Col. 1:13; 1 Thess. 5:5; 1 Pet. 2:9). And those amongst us who won't love their brother are already in darkness, self-condemned even before the day arrives (1 Jn. 2:9,11).



July 8

1 Sam. 20

Consider how the faithful speaking spiritually to each other was treated by God as a prayer to Him (Mal. 3:16). This may explain the enigmatic passage in 1 Sam. 20:12,13: " And Jonathan said unto David, O Lord God of Israel, when I have sounded my father...if there be good toward David and I send not unto thee [David]...and the Lord be with thee" . Jonathan's conversation with David seems to be merged with a prayer to God- perhaps indicating that the conversation was read by God as a prayer.


Is. 64

The intense degree to which God's Name really is called upon us is brought out in Is. 64:4. There we are told that no man has perceived "O God, beside Thee" what has been prepared for the saints. These words are quoted in 1 Cor. 2:9,10 concerning us, with the wondrous statement that God has revealed these things to us by His Spirit. Yet Is. 64:4 says that only God alone knows these things. But Paul says that they are also known by us, through God's Spirit. So through our association with the one Spirit, the one Name of Yahweh, what is true of God Himself on a personal level becomes true of us. Such is the wonder of the way in which His fullness dwells in us. God's Name alone is Yahweh (Ps. 83:18), yet this Name is now called upon us.


Mt. 9

The Lord spoke of the spiritual harvest in 1st century Palestine as “plenteous” (Mt. 9:37). He uses the very same word translated “great” in the very frequent descriptions of the “great multitudes” of fascinated people who thronged Him (Mt. 12:15; 13:2; 14:14; 15:30; 19:2; 20:29). We would likely have been cynical of them and the depth of their interest. But if the Lord had had enough and strong enough [the Greek implies] labourers, those crowds would have been harvested as converts. Note too that the harvest is elsewhere the end of the world, and the workers who reap it are the Angels (Mt. 13:39). But in Mt. 9:37 and Jn. 4:35, the Lord says that the harvest was already ripe, and that the reapers are in fact us. Surely the point is that if we go out into this world with His hopefulness, aiming to reap in true converts, then we will be working with the Angels in this endeavour; and the point of conversion is in essence their entry into the things of the Kingdom. We too need to see the crowds of vaguely interested folks we deal with as a potential harvest for the Lord, their gathering into the garner dependent solely upon our working together with the Angels.



July 9

1 Sam. 21, 22

David’s eager taking of the sword of Goliath (1 Sam. 21:9- “There is none like that; give it me”) contrasts sadly with his earlier rejection of such weapons in order to slay Goliath. And David later reflects how he knew that his faithless taking of that sword and the shewbread  would lead to the death of Abiathar’s family (1 Sam. 22:22). But still he did it. Many have struggled to reconcile the statement that David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam. 13:14) with the fact that his life contains many examples not only of failure, but of anger and a devaluing of human life. Let's learn from David's weakness in this area, and perceive the value of persons.


Is. 65

The Kingdom will be fundamentally about the expression of God's spiritual characteristics, both in us and in the natural creation. All too easily we can focus on the results of this, such as there being no more war or famine, and that alone is our view of the Kingdom. " The Kingdom" becomes a hazy picture of an ideal world with none of the physical frustrations of the present order. But fundamentally, the Kingdom is about the triumph of God's righteousness over sin, it is about the supreme state of glory to God, given to Him by redeemed mankind.

We must ask the question: 'Why do I want to be in the Kingdom?'. It seems that there is a widely held perception of the Kingdom as a kind of glorified tropical holiday which stretches on for eternity, with palm trees blowing in the wind and exotic fruit dropping into our mouths. If this is why we want to be there, are we not downright selfish? Are we not striving to achieve a state of eternal personal happiness in terms of our present, worldly experience of life? We may look, for example, at the promise that " the former troubles (will be) forgotten" (Is. 65:15), and enthusiastically apply to the struggles of our present lives. But the context is concerning the " troubles" of sinful behaviour; we may well remember the physical activities of the past (with Divine nature it seems we certainly will); but like Israel we will forget our sins (Is. 54:4).



Mt. 10

    As Simeon held the baby Jesus in his arms, he saw in that beautiful little boy something terrible; for he looked ahead to how His soul would one day be pierced in crucifixion, “that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed" (Lk. 2:35). The same word is used for how thoughts will be revealed at the judgment (Mt. 10:26; 1 Cor. 3:13; 4:5). Thus our reflections on the cross are a foretaste of the kinds of feelings we will have at the final judgment.


July 10

1 Sam. 23

Psalm 54 was written when David received the news that the Ziphites had betrayed him. The reference to oppressors ‘seeking after my soul / life’ (Ps. 54:3) uses the same Hebrew words as in 1 Sam. 23:15, where Saul seeks for David’s life at Ziph. It gives an insight into the mind of David; how he perceived himself, how he understood God. He was obviously in a desperate situation- he’d been betrayed, and Saul appeared certain now to corner him and kill him. He asks God of course to save him; he doesn’t just resign himself to what looked like an impossible situation. He had the vision to believe that God can do miracles. He asks God to ‘judge’ him, to ‘plead my cause’ (Ps. 54:1 Heb.). There he was, just having received the news… and he prays, and composes a Psalm, right there and then. Composing poetry in the heat of the moment was his way of calming down and focusing his faith. That’s not to say, of course, that he didn’t later refine it and ‘write it up’ as it were.


Is. 66

As so often with reading the Gospels, it is profitable to imagine the tone of voice in which the Lord spoke the words which are recorded. " Go ye into all the world  and preach the gospel to every creature  " . If only we could sense the intensity of desire, the deepness of spiritual meaning, which His voice would have conveyed. We must have the spiritual ambition to take the Gospel to the whole world- no matter how small our world may be. The world of our street, of our town, nation- and as far as we are able, the whole planet. Paul had this ambition, quite apart from any personal commission he received. His desire to go to Spain (Rom. 15:24) indicates a commitment to taking the Gospel to the very ends of the world he then knew. He may well have been motivated in this by wishing to fulfil in spirit the Kingdom prophecy of Is. 66:18,19, which describes how Tarshish (which he would have understood as Spain) and other places which “have not heard my fame, neither have seen my glory” will be witnessed to by those who have seen His glory and have “escaped” from God’s just condemnation by grace. Paul sees this as referring to himself. For he speaks in Rom. 15:19 of his ambition to take the Gospel to Spain; and in that same context, of how he will bring the Gentile brethren’s offering up to Jerusalem. This is precisely the context of Is. 66- the offerings of the Gentiles are to be brought up to Jerusalem, as a result of how the Lord’s glory will be spoken of to all nations. So Paul read Isaiah 66 and did something about his Old Testament Bible study; he dedicated his life to taking the Gospel to the Gentiles, and he encouraged them to send their offerings to Jerusalem. He was no mere theologian, no academic missiologist. His study and exposition of Old Testament Scripture led to a life lived out in practice, to hardship, risk of life, persecution, loneliness, even rejection by his brethren. It is also significant in passing to note that Is. 66:19 speaks of nations which occur in the list of nations we have in Genesis 10, in the context of the effect of Babel. It is as if Paul sees the spreading of the Gospel as an undoing of the curse of Babel and the establishment of the Kingdom conditions described in Is. 66. By his preaching of God’s Kingdom and the reign of Christ, he brought about a foretaste of the future Kingdom in the lives of his converts. And we can do likewise. Note how once again, the preacher preaches from his personal experience; Paul takes the vision of glory which he has beheld to those who have not seen nor heard.  Paul speaks of how he had preached the Gospel from Jerusalem " as far round as Illyricum" (Rom. 15:19). This was a Latin-speaking province. Was he not implying that he had preached throughout the Greek speaking world, and now wanted to take it into the Latin-speaking world? He wanted to preach to the regions beyond his previous limits (2 Cor. 10:15); his aim was to spend some time in Rome and then preach in Spain.


Mt. 11

I beseech you by the meekness and gentleness of Christ" is surely a reference to the Lord's description of Himself as being, there and then, " meek and lowly of heart" (Mt. 11:29; 2 Cor. 10:1). Paul's point is that as the Lord was in His life, so He is now, in His heavenly glory.


July 11

1 Sam. 24

Despite his undoubted physique stamina,  David was a broken man, even quite early in his life, prone to fits of introspection; dramatic mood-swings (cp. 1 Sam.24:14 with 25:6,22,34;), sometimes appearing a real 'softie' but hard as nails at others (consider Ps.75:10 and the whole of Ps.101); easily getting carried away: be it with excessive emotional enthusiasm for bringing the ark back, in his harsh response to Hanun humbling his servants, his over-hasty and emotional decision to let Amnon go to Absalom's feast when it was obvious what might well transpire, his anger " flaring up" because of incompetency (2 Sam.11:20 NIV),  or in his ridiculous softness for Absalom.


Jer. 1

Jeremiah speaks of how he came to see Israel for who they were: “The Lord made it known to me and I knew; then thou didst show me their evil deeds” (Jer. 11:8). Ezekiel was shown “what the house of Israel is doing in the dark” (Ez. 8:12). To pass through human life with this level of sensitivity must’ve been so hard. Psychologically and nervously, the stress would’ve been awful. It seems to me that the prophets had to be somehow psychologically strengthened by God to endure living that sensitively in this crass and unfeeling world- hence God made Ezekiel and Jeremiah as a wall and “iron pillar” to Israel, hardened their faces, so that they wouldn’t be “dismayed at [the] looks” of those who watched them with anger and consternation (Jer. 1:18; 15:20; Ez. 2:4-6; 3:8,9,27). This psychological strengthening was not aimed at making them insensitive, but rather in strengthening them to live sensitively to sin in a sinful world without cracking up. And He will do the same for us, too.

This psychological strengthening was absolutely necessary- for no human being can live in a constant state of inspiration without breaking. The composer Tchaikovsky commented: “If that condition of mind and soul, which we call inspiration, lasted long without intermission, no artist could survive it. The strings would break and the instruments be shattered into fragments”. The whole tremendous experience of having God’s mind in them, sharing His perspective, seeing the world through His eyes, made the prophets appear crazy to others. There’s a marked emphasis upon the fact that they were perceived as madmen (e.g. Jer. 29:24,26; Hos. 9:7; 2 Kings 9:11). For us to walk down a street for even ten minutes, feeling and perceiving and knowing the sin of every person in those rooms and houses and yards, feeling the weeping of God over each of them… would send us crazy. And yet God strengthened the prophets, and there’s no reason to think that He will not as it were strengthen us in our sensitivity too.


Mt. 12

No matter what disappointments and disagreements we may have, we are baptized into not only the Lord Jesus personally, but also into a never ending relationship with each other. We cannot walk away from it. It doesn’t only exist in the flurry of congratulations we received when we were baptized. Being a Christian cannot be just another town along life’s road. I wonder whether we realise this as we ought. The Lord implied that those who did God’s will were closer to Him than His physical mother or sister or brother (Mt. 12:48-50). It has been observed that “in a kinship-oriented society like Israel, it must have been startling for people to hear of a bond that was even deeper than that of the natural family”. And so it is in many parts of the world today. Responsibility to our natural families can easily take precedence over those to our spiritual family. This should not be so.


July 12

1 Sam. 25

It will be apparent to any regular Bible reader that there is a tremendous repetition within the Biblical narratives. Individuals tend to go through very similar experiences, and often the same words are used in the descriptions of the experience or their response to it. Some of these similarities are so specific and humanly unlikely to be replicated that one can only conclude that there was a higher power over-ruling their situations. It may be that the Angels work in human lives according to some kind of Divine pattern, and this accounts for the sense of repetition and deja vu. But it may also be because it is God's intention that we meditate upon the lives of previous servants to the point where we see their experiences coming through, in principle, in our own lives; and we are urged on to a like victory as they attained. Consider the similarities between the David / Nabal / Abigail experience and those of Jacob, whilst he too kept flocks (1 Sam.  25:35 = Gen. 32:20; 25:18 = Gen. 32:13; 25:27 = Gen. 33:11). And the way Abigail asked David to remember her for good when he came in his kingdom, knowing that he was perfect and suffering unjustly....is exactly the spirit of the thief on the cross. And David like Jesus responds that he has “accepted thy person” (1 Sam. 25).



Jer 2

Who God is, the nature of His Name of Yahweh, of itself inspires our worship. This is important; for we become what we worship (Jer. 2:5). Those who worship idols become like them; and those who worship the true God for all that He is, was and will be, become like Him. This is why worship and the appreciation of Him that underpins it is crucial for every true believer.


Mt. 13

The Lord spoke of conversion as really seeing, really hearing, really understanding, and commented that the disciples had reached this point (Mt. 13:15,16). But he also told them that they needed to be converted and become as children, knowing they knew nothing as they ought to know (Mt. 18:3). After seeing what happened to the sons of Sceva, it would appear that some who had ‘believed’ went up to a higher level of commitment: “Many also of them that had believed came, confessing and declaring their deeds. And not a few of them that practised magical arts brought their books together, and burned them” (Acts 19:18,19 RV). This would seem to imply that despite having ‘believed’, perhaps with the same level of shallow conviction as some ‘believed’ in the teaching of Jesus during His ministry, their faith wasn’t so deep. They were taken up to an altogether higher level of commitment, resulting in ‘confessing and declaring’, and quitting their involvement with magic. There are levels up the ladder; may it be that today we go up one further.



July 13

1 Sam. 26, 27

The Ziphites a second time betrayed David to Saul. This time, David goes out with Abishai to where Saul was sleeping, but doesn’t kill him. He takes Saul’s spear, and then calls out to Saul, making the claim that God will “deliver me out of all tribulation” (1 Sam. 26:24). The Hebrew word he uses for “deliver” is just that he used in Ps. 54:7, which he spoke at the time of the first crisis with the Ziphites: God “hath delivered me out of all trouble”. He means: ‘I believe that God will deliver me’. But David was so certain of receiving that deliverance from the court of Heaven, that he used the past tense. Yet God made the situation repeat, as He does in our lives; so that we put into practice the faith we learnt in our earlier experience of the same situation.


Jer 3

The prophets saw the love of God, but saw too how Israel spurned it and refused to understand it. It must’ve been a tragic and awful experience. The very essence of God’s Name was that He has a perpetual and passionate love for His people; but they didn’t believe it, nor were they even very interested. The prophets spoke of the amazing grace and eternal love of God for Israel, how His wrath endured but for a moment (Is. 57:16; Jer. 18:23); and yet Israel asked: “Will he be angry for ever?” (Jer. 3:5). It was more than frustrating for the prophets; they shared God’s feelings of having poured out so great a love, to see it ignored and disregarded, no time to look at it, too busy sowing my seeds, weeding my garden, having coffee… Jeremiah mourned Israel’s lack of spiritual sensitivity and failure to live up to their potential- they had eyes, but didn’t see (Jer. 5:23), they were God’s servant, but a blind one; His messenger, but unable to hear any message (Is. 42:19). And we will feel the same as we live in this world today.


Mt. 14

Peter cried out “Lord, save me!” when most men in that situation would have simply cried out “Save me!”. But his grasp of the Lordship of the One he followed inspired faith. If He was truly Lord, He was capable of all things. “Lord, save me!” was a call uttered in a moment of weakness. His “sinking” (Mt. 14:30) is described with the same word used about condemnation at the last day (Mt. 18:6), and yet Peter in his preaching persuades condemned men to do just the same: to call on the Lord in order to be saved (Acts 2:21,40,47; 4:12; 11:14). He invited all men to enter into the weakness and desperation which he had known on the water of Galilee, and receive a like unmerited salvation. And this should be the basis of our urgent witness to people.


July 14

1 Sam. 28

Just before his final fight with the Philistines, " Saul enquired of the Lord (but) the Lord answered him not" (1 Sam. 28:6), and therefore he went to a witch. But in God's final analysis of Saul, Yahweh says that He smote Saul because Saul sinned against God's word by not enquiring of God, but of a witch (1 Chron. 10:13,14). But Saul did enquire of God (see 1 Sam. 14:27 s.w.; 28:6), but God didn't answer him (note how often in the records it is stated that David enquired successfully of Yahweh). The point is that although Saul prayed to God and enquired of His word on the surface, in his heart, he did nothing of the sort; and therefore his prayer and enquiry was reckoned never to have happened. And we must ask how much of our prayer and Bible study is seen by God as being only spoken and read on a surface level. This was exactly the problem of natural Israel. " They have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled (in prayer) upon their beds" (Hos. 7:14). " Though they called them to the Most High, none at all would exalt him" (Hos. 11:7).


Jer 4

If we too have a heart that bleeds, we will come to know the mind of Jeremiah, who as he proclaimed the judgments of his last days, interrupted his sermon: “My bowels, my bowels! I am pained at the walls of my heart; my heart is disquieted in me…because my soul heareth the sound of the trumpet, the alarm of war” (Jer. 4:19 RV). His very soul heard the message which he preached, and he interrupts his proclamation of it with this emotional outburst; this was no mindless distribution of bills or casual mention of our church. He was pained in his heart to the extent that he seems to have had some form of seizure. This is how much Jeremiah felt for those he preached to and warned, both within and without of the ecclesia. And he speaks of the pain of his heart after having spoken of the pain that would reach unto the heart of Judah (Jer. 4:18,19). The pain of their heart became the pain of his heart. And yet Jeremiah had the mind of God in this sense, as David was after God’s own heart.


Mt. 15

Jesus not only spoke to women publically, but is even recorded as allowing a Gentile woman to change His mind (Mt. 15:22). This was unthinkable and shocking to contemporary society. It reflects His value of all persons, women included; and reflects His humility and sensitivity as a pattern for ourselves.


July 15

1 Sam. 29, 30

David's respect  for Saul is amazing. It’s shown again in the way that David fairly evidently wanted to fight against Saul with the men of Achish, evidently wanting to turn against them and fight for Saul- as they correctly guessed (1 Sam. 29:8). This would have been suicidal. For Saul wanted to kill him, and the Philistines also would have tried to kill David as a result of this. He would have had no place to run. But even to the point of political suicide and the serious risking of his own life, David so loved his enemy. This true love leads to and is related to true respect. This kind of respect is  sadly lacking in our society, and has rubbed off upon our relationships within families and ecclesias. Often David calls Saul his master, describing himself as Saul's servant (1 Sam. 17:32,34,36; 20:8; 24:6; 26:16,19; 29:3,4; 30:15). This was no formal " Sincerely your brother and fellow-servant" . This was a real conscious putting of himself down, as the Lord Jesus felt he was a worm rather than a man (Ps. 22:6). If only we would concentrate upon our own status and show some true respect for others on account of their being in the ecclesia, having even been anointed spiritually at their baptism (2 Cor. 1:21) as Saul was.


Jer 5

The tension within God is apparent.  Jeremiah speaks of it: “How can I pardon you… shall I avenge myself on a nation such as this? Shall I not punish them for these things?” (Jer. 5:7-9,28,29). God reveals Himself as oscillating between punishing and redeeming, judging sin and overlooking it. God is open to changing His stated plans (e.g. to destroy Nineveh within forty days, to destroy Israel and make of Moses a new nation). He isn’t like the Allah of Islam, who conducts a monologue with his followers; the one true God of Israel earnestly seeks dialogue with His people, and as such He enters into all the contradictory feelings and internal debates which dialogue involves. ‘God loves the sinner and hates the sin’ has always seemed to me problematic, logically and practically. Love is in the end a personal thing; in the end love and hate are appropriate to persons, not abstractions. And the person can’t so easily be separated from their actions. Ultimately, it is persons who will be saved or condemned. The prophets reveal both the wrath and love of God towards His people, in the same way as a parent or partner can feel both wrath and love towards their beloved. These oscillations of feelings, the sharp opposition between judgment and mercy, were felt equally by the prophets, who were breathing in God’s spirit. And we will feel something of them in our feelings today.


Mt. 16

In Mt. 16:17 Peter is commended for having had the Father reveal Jesus to Him. Yet Mt. 11:27 says that the Father reveals the identity of His Son to all who truly come to Him. Thus Peter is representative of all who have truly perceived the Son’s identity in Jesus of Nazareth. The whole story of Peter thus becomes a picture of each of us, and not mere history.


July 16

1 Sam. 31

There were times when Jonathan's relationship with Saul and the court became more strained than at others. Their all consuming desire was increasingly the destruction of David. Our surrounding world has a similar, obsessive, anti-Christ enthusiasm to which we are diametrically opposed. It would seem that Saul's whole family turned against David. A comparison of 1 Chron.10:6 and 1 Sam.31:6 shows a parallel between the house of Saul and his men; and it was the men of Saul who aided Saul in persecuting David (23:25,26).


Jer 6

Like many of the surrounding peoples, the Jews were sure that because they had a temple, because they offered sacrifice to their God and went through required rituals, therefore they were OK. The prophets exposed all this as scandalous pretension, revealing Israel’s cherished beliefs and suppositions about these things as meaningless and false. Their surrounding world taught that if you offered sacrifice to your god, all went smoothly. And yet Jeremiah blasts them: “To what purpose does frankincense come [up] to me… your burnt offerings are not acceptable” (Jer. 6:20). Time and again Jeremiah accuses the people of purposefully inciting God to anger through their worshipping of Him (Jer. 7:18,19; 11:17,18; 25:6; 44:3-8)- whereas the onlooker would’ve likely commented that at least they were doing something , and Jeremiah should just calm himself down about it all.


Mt. 17

The disciples didn’t have enough faith to cure the sick boy. Jesus told them this: it was “because of your little faith…if ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove…” (Mt. 17:20 RV). Think carefully what is going on here. They had not even faith as a tiny grain of mustard seed; they didn’t have the faith to cure the boy. But Jesus says they did have “little faith”. He recognized what insignificant faith they did have. He was so sensitive to the amount of faith in someone, even if it was insignificant in the final analysis. We likewise need to be able to positively and eagerly discern faith in those we preach to and seek to spiritually develop.


July  17

2 Sam. 1

David and Saul had a highly complex relationship, pointing forward to the complexity of relationship between Christ and Israel. Consider the  way that Jewry initially accepted John's Gospel of Messiah, how soon after the resurrection thousands of the priests who had rejected Christ then accepted him, and how even a few hours before the crucifixion the people shouted out for Jesus of Nazareth to be their Messiah-king. These are some of many hints that there was a complex acceptance-rejection relationship between Israel and Christ. Saul and David likewise had a mutual love and respect for each other. After all Saul had done to David, David's grief at his death in 2 Sam. 1 is deep indeed. David taught all Israel to regularly sing that song of grief for Saul (2 Sam. 1:18), and his zeal to demonstrate his forgiveness to the house of Saul is outstanding. Saul's sons and family were also involved in the anti-David campaign. How to love the unlovely, to live without bitterness, to not be a psychological victim of our past experiences, is absolutely vital for the true child of God. In David and above all the Lord Jesus we see this achieved so supremely.


Jer 7

There's a grating sarcasm in Jer. 7:21-23: “Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices, and eat the flesh… I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings…but this command I gave them: Obey my voice”. The people loved their temple: “The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord…’, they said. And Jeremiah responds: “You trust in deceptive words to no avail” (Jer. 7:4,8). And time and again, the prophets predicted the destruction of the temple by the God of Israel. This was radical stuff in those days; the idea was that the survival of a god depended upon the survival of his temple or shrine. No pagan god would threaten to destroy his own shrine. Israel’s God was so different. Likewise a pagan god looked after his own people against their enemies. But Yahweh of Israel sent and empowered Israel’s enemies against them, and gave them victory against His own people; He encamped against His very own people (Is. 29:2-4). The counter-cultural spirit of the prophets is the very spirit in which we live today, in our world.


Mt. 18

The king (Jesus) makes a reckoning with His servants right now, and it is for us to be influenced by the gracious accounting He shows towards us, and then in this life reflect an appropriate grace to our brother (Mt. 18:23 RV). The reckoning is going on right now, indeed in a sense it occurred on the cross.


July 18

2 Sam. 2

Sometimes the Bible is very vague. Under inspiration, the Hebrew writer seems to have forgotten the exact quotation, or to have been deliberately vague, when he speaks of "one in a certain place testified" (Heb. 2:6; RV "somewhere"). There are times when the Spirit uses very approximate numbers rather than exact ("about the space of four hundred and fifty years" , Acts 13:20 cp. 1 Kings 6:1). The reference to "seventy" in Judges 9:56 also doesn't seem exact. Seven and a half years (2 Sam. 2:11) becomes "seven years" (1 Kings 2:11); three months and ten days (2 Chron. 36:9) becomes " three months" (2 Kings 24:8). And 1 Kings 7:23 gives the circumference of the laver as “thirty cubits”, although it was ten cubits broad. Taking ‘pi’ to be 3.14, it is apparent that the circumference would have been 31.4 cubits; but the Spirit says, summing up, “thirty”. Surely this is to show that God is God, not man. His word is not contradictory, but in ensuring this, God does not sink down to the level of a man who wanted to forge a faultless book, carefully ensuring that every figure exactly tallied. He has a spiritual culture much higher than this. And this is behind the many Bible paradoxes which we meet.


Jer 8

Jer. 8:5 speaks of the upwards and downwards spiral we experience daily: “Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return”. The Hebrew words for “slidden back” and “return” are identical. The image is of a man on a muddy slope; he slides back either into sin, or into the way of the Lord. We must ‘slide’ one way or the other; every micro decision which makes up the stream of daily life is confirmed by God one way or the other.


Mt. 19

Jesus told the man that if he would enter into life, he must keep the commandments (Mt. 19:17). Insofar as he kept those commands, he would right now enter into life. We are entering into the experience of the real life, the “eternal life”, right now! Likewise the camel must shed its load of riches and goods, so that it can pass through the gate into the Kingdom. But we are doing that right now! We will pass through the gate into the Kingdom when the Lord returns (Rev. 22:14), and yet through shedding our materialism, we do it in prospect now. John puts it more bluntly and yet more absolutely: now, through the life of faith, we have the eternal life, in that we begin to live now the type of life which we will eternally live. We receive the Kingdom of God here and now, in that we receive the Gospel of the Kingdom; and if we accept it as a little child, we begin to enter it, now- in that the lives we live determine whether or not we will enter it at the Lord’s coming. We are on our way into life! We have received the Kingdom, our names were written from the foundation of the world, and only our falling from grace can take that away. This is almost too good news to believe.


July 19

2 Sam. 3

Saul was David's enemy, he drove David to absolute despair, his senseless persecution of David was articulated in every way he knew how. In all this we see played out the prototype of the hatred between the Jews and the Lord. Yet when Saul was slain for his sins, David's love for him was overflowing, to the point that his people saw that this was no political theatricism (2 Sam. 3:36,37). His lament over Saul was taught to the children of Judah (2 Sam. 1:18); and the chapters of 2 Samuel are full of examples of David's expression of love for Saul in every way he knew how.


Jer 9

Jeremiah had the mind of God, as David was after God’s own heart. This is reflected by the way in which it is very difficult at times in Jeremiah to decide who is speaking- Jeremiah, or God. Jer. 9:1-3,10,11 is a good passage to work through from this perspective, asking ‘Who is speaking? Jeremiah, or God?’. Their minds were clearly so intertwined. Both of them are described, in consecutive verses, as rising up early to plead with Israel (Jer. 25:3,4). And is such intertwining of minds, the Divine and human, possible for us this day?


Mt. 20

The weak labourer (no employer wanted to hire him) who works one hour but is given a day's pay for it. We are left to imagine him walking away in disbelief clutching his penny (cp. the faithful with salvation at the judgment) (Mt. 20:1-16). The strong labourer who works all day and complains at the end that the weak labourer has been given a penny. " Go thy way..." (Mt. 20:14) could imply he is fired from the Master's service because of this attitude. This would fit in with the way the other parables describe the second man as the rejected one.


July 20

2 Sam. 4, 5

Compare Gen. 48:16 with 2 Sam. 4:9. What Jacob only learnt at the end of his life, David learnt and applied during his life. And we should likewise not be experiential learners, learning only from our own mistakes, but learn instead from Jacob and the instruction of God's word.. 


Jer 10

Every reference to " the God of Jacob / Israel" is effectively saying: 'I'm the God that stuck with mixed up, struggling Jacob. And I'll stick with you too, through spiritual thick and thin, and bring you through in the end'. This is the love of God for Jacob. So close is the association between God and Jacob that there are times when the name 'Jacob' becomes a synonym for 'the God of Jacob'. There are  examples in Jer. 10:16; 51:19. The name of Israel therefore was paralleled with the name of God- Joshua feared that the name of Israel would be cut off, “and what wilt thou do unto thy great name?” (Josh. 2:9).  Thus God identified Himself with Jacob- such was the love of God for Jacob. And He is our God too, through all our slowness of spiritual growth.


Mt. 21

We have a choice: to fall on the stone of Christ and be broken, or live proudly in this life without breaking our fleshly ways at all, until at the Lord's coming we are ground to powder (Mt. 21:44). This is an obvious allusion to the image of the Kingdoms of men being ground to powder by the Lord's return. The Lord was saying that if we won't be broken now, then we will share the judgments of the world, and be broken by Him then in condemnation.


July 21

2 Sam. 6

Our minds should be full of God's word, ever meditating in some way  upon it. Mary was a great example of this. The Angel’s description of Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary (Lk. 1:35) could have sent her mind back to how the Spirit-Cherubim and the cloud of Spirit glory overshadowed the ark (Ex. 25:20; 1 Chron. 28:18). The LXX uses the word for “overshadow” about the cloud of glory overshadowing the ark in the wilderness (Ex. 40:35; Num. 9:18,22). If Mary’s mind had been alerted to this possibility, she would have seen the relevance of Elizabeth’s words: “Who am I, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” (Lk. 1:43). For they are remarkably similar to the LXX of 2 Sam. 6:9, where David asks “How can the ark of the Lord come to me?”. As a result of this question of David’s, the ark remained three months in the house of Obed-Edom (2 Sam. 6:11). And was this why Mary, seeing herself as the ark, remained for three months in the house of Elisabeth straight after hearing this same question asked (Lk. 1:56)? There are further links, between the gladness of Lk. 1:44 and the joy of 2 Sam. 6:12; and the loud cry of Lk. 1:42 and that of 2 Sam. 6:15. If one combines Lk. 1:31 and Jn. 1:14 we have the word of God becoming flesh and “tabernacling” among us in the womb and faith of Mary. If these connections are valid, then Mary would have felt that within her was He who would be the covenant of the Lord, the stones of the word of God made flesh in a little boy. This was perception indeed.


Jer 11

he height of the demand, the extent of the implication of being in covenant with God ought to preclude the possibility of worshipping anything else. The covenant we have entered has constant and binding claims upon our loyalty. This is the implication of the promises to Abraham which form the basis of that covenant. It is worth observing that at times of Israel's apostacy, God reconfirmed Israel's covenant relationship with Him (Jer. 11:2). By reminding them of the nature of their covenant relationship, they were being led to realize that the life of sin was not for them. And so there should be a like awareness in us when at least weekly we are reminded of our covenant bond.


Mt. 22

The parable of the marriage feast highlights the tragedy of Jewish rejection of what could have been theirs. There will be an ever-increasingly vigorous preaching campaign by the " servants" , seeing that " they which were bidden were not worthy" (Matt. 22:8) - the Greek implying not enough numerically. As a result of this preaching, " the wedding was furnished ('filled' - numerically) with guests" (Matt. 22:10). This indicates that in some ways, God does work to a number. Once the required number of converts is made, then the supper can begin. Their appeal being to " the poor...maimed...halt and...blind" suggests that the marginal and desperate within society will be those who respond- and this is happening right now in the triumphant progress of preaching in our day. The servants are sent " into the highways" (Matt. 22:9), the Greek meaning 'a market square'. This must be designed to recall the parable of the labourers standing idle in the market place at the 11th. hour (Matt. 20:6,7). The very short probation of those 11th.-hour workers will match that of the latter-day converts. And again, it was the old and weak who nobody wanted to hire.


July 22

2 Sam. 7

It was God's clearly expressed wish that He should not live in a physical house (2 Sam. 7:12-16; Acts 7:48; 17:24). Yet He accommodated Himself to human weakness in wanting a physical house in which to worship Him; He came and lived (in a sense) in just such a house. God makes concessions to our weaknesses, each day- and we should to others.


Jer 12

In Jer. 12:15-17, where God describes His conditional dealings with the surrounding Gentile nations in language reminiscent of that He uses about His own people : “After that I have plucked them out  I will return, and will bring them again [to Judah] every man to his heritage…and it [i.e., this] shall come to pass, if they will diligently learn the ways of my people, to swear by my name…then shall they be built in the midst of my people. But if they will not obey, I will utterly pluck up and destroy that nation”. The if…then construction is clearly conditional: the Gentiles could have come and dwelt in the land in a Kingdom-like situation, if Judah had taught them, and if they had responded.  And the peoples around us today likewise can come to the Kingdom, if we teach them...


Mt. 23

Because we are all "brethren in Christ", actually something more than physical brothers and sisters, we are not to call any of us ‘Master’, because if we do, it will distract us from our personal looking to Jesus as Lord and Master (Mt. 23:8). This is why anything that even suggests a personality cult built around leading brethren, no matter how wonderful they are or were, really must be avoided. For it takes us away from the one and only Lord and Master.


July 23

2 Sam. 8, 9

Solomon  wished  to imitate his father David in every sense; his own  real  personality  only really came out in the Ecclesiastes years,  when he took to drink, materialism, women and idolatry. It  took  the  influence  of his parents many years to wear off. David  had  weaknesses  for  horses (2 Sam. 8:4) and many wives; and Solomon  followed  in  these  steps  too. In 2 Chron. 8:3 “Solomon went to Hamath Zobah”; just as in 2 Sam.8:3 “David smote also Hadadezer the son of Rehob king of Zobah”. In 2 Chron. 8:8 Those “whom the children of Israel consumed not, did Solomon make to pay tribute”. In 2 Sam.8:6  “David put garrisons in Syria of Damascus, and the Syrians became servants to David, and brought gifts”. In 2 Sam.8:7 “David took the shields of gold that were on the servants of Hadadezer and brought them to Jerusalem”- just as Solomon did (2 Chron. 9:15,16). Are we just living out the expectations of others, as Solomon did?


Jer 13

Dan. 2:44 describes how the kingdoms of this world will be broken and scattered as the chaff before the wind. Yet this is exactly the language of Jer. 13:24 concerning Israel's latter destruction. They will be "dashed" (Jer. 13:14) as the nations of the world will be (Ps. 2:9). The same verse says they will be destroyed by brother being dashed against brother- again, the picture of the world's final destruction (Zech. 14:13). Rev. 2:27 speaks of the unfaithful in the ecclesia likewise being dashed to pieces. The Lord's coming will be a stone that grinds them to powder (Mt. 21:44). If we won't be broken now, then we will share the judgments of the world, and be broken by Him then in condemnation. This is our choice now- be broken, or, be broken. Is it therefore surprising if life makes us feel broken men and women at times?


Mt. 24

2 Pet.3:12,15 reminds us that by our prayers and spiritual development, the days before the second coming will be shortened. If they were not, even the elect would lose their faith (Mt. 24:22)- showing how those of us who are alive at Christ's coming will barely survive the spiritual traumas of the last days. The virgins were sleeping when they should have been watching; and Peter says that the righteous in the last generation (see context) will scarcely be saved (1 Pet. 4:18). It's going to be really tough to keep our faith in the very last days.


July 24

2 Sam. 10

   David sent messengers to Nabal meaning well to him, and they were rudely rebuffed, resulting in his anger which only Abigail’s grace and wisdom saved him from (1 Sam. 25). And yet the same situation repeated in its essence when he sent messengers to Hanun who were likewise misinterpreted and rebuffed (2 Sam. 10:3). Again, David got angry- but there was no Abigail to restrain him, and he did get into an impossible fight… from which by grace God delivered him. Could it not be that David failed to learn from his previous experience…? Will we learn from our experiences?


Jer 14

Like us, Jeremiah didn’t always have a heart of compassion. Initially he didn’t even want to preach to his people. And he even prayed that he would so grieve for them in regard to the message he gave them, that he would cry for them day and night: “Oh that my head were waters, and mine eyes a fountain of tears, that I might weep day and night for the slain of the daughter of my people!” (Jer. 9:1). And this prayer was heard. For by Lamentations, this is just what he was doing. And if what we read of Jeremiah troubles us, we too can pray for a heart that bleeds, and through the experience of life which the Lord allows us, He will develop such a heart in those who want it. You may be so caught up in your business, your family, your ecclesia even, your web of social contact…that in honest moments, you know that your heart doesn’t bleed as it should. You see the needs and pain and struggle of men and women, but it doesn’t touch your heart very deeply. Jeremiah may well have been like this; but he prayed for a new heart, and so can you. Jeremiah had actually been commanded by God to have such a level of grief for His people: “Therefore thou shalt say this word unto them; Let mine eyes run down with tears night and day, and let them not cease: for the virgin daughter of my people is broken” (Jer. 14:17). Jeremiah’s grief was God’s word of care and concern to the people; and so it can be with us. Jeremiah was to be like this, to reflect God’s passion for His people; so he prayed that he would have such a heart of true compassion [note that the chapters in Jeremiah are totally out of sequence chronologically]; and in the end, he found it. The fact others reject our message ought to pain us at the very core and heart of our beings. Jer. 13:17 records a private soliloquy of Jeremiah: “But if ye will not hear it, my soul shall weep in secret places for your pride”. He would hide away and weep for them, and nobody would ever know. His grief was to be deeply personal (“my soul shall weep”) and unperceived by others (“in secret places”). And I challenge us, each one: have we ever done this, or even come near it, in our frustration with those who reject our message? Jeremiah wept. He didn’t “…not care a rush”.



Mt. 25

"The bridegroom tarried" (Mt. 25:5) uses the same Greek word as in Mt. 24:48, "My Lord delayeth his coming". The bridegroom/Lord will delay - what was wrong with that statement was the attitude with which it was made. The implication is 'The Lord's definitely delaying, so I have ample opportunity to indulge in worldliness and take out all my grievances against my brethren'. It would seem that the holocaust period (3.5 years?) follows the intimation that the Lord's coming is imminent. The spiritual high that all the believers will have at the time of this intimation is indicated by all the virgins initially having enough oil. However, the ensuing holocaust period will be a time of strife within the ecclesia, the stewards beating the fellowservants, the oil (i.e. true spirituality developed by the word) running low. Present trends amongst us indicate that if the community were highly pressurised, such a scenario could quickly occur. Thus the position in spiritual Israel will match that among Jewry.


July 25

2 Sam. 11

Was the sin a one-off slip up or part of a longer term relationship? David watched her from the roof top; what are the Biblical associations of the roof top? (cp. 2 Sam. 16:22).  Is it significant that they got married afterwards? Is this how most oriental kings would have got round the problem? Consider: How well did David & Bathsheba know each other? How near did they live to each other? (So how are we to understand 2 Sam. 12:3?) Was Bathsheba spiritual? Or just a dumb blond? Was David spiritual at this time (cp. Ps. 30:6)? Would he have fallen so deeply just at the sight of a beautiful woman? David lay with her " for  (because) she was purified..." after washing, in obedience to the law (2 Sam. 12:4) ; what does this imply? The sin occurred at " eveningtide" ; what connection between washing, purification and the evening?  What part of the Law does 2 Sam. 12:9 refer to (cp. Ps. 51:16)? What other connections are there between sexuality and spirituality? Gen. 39:6,7 Hebrew text is one. Was Bathsheba guilty or innocent? Are we helped to an answer by Ps. 51:4; 1 Kings 15:5; and 2 Sam. 11:4 is an odd way of putting it (it's usually the other way round). Why wouldn't Uriah sleep with Bathsheba? What can we imply from the emphasis on messengers in 2 Sam. 11:3,4,5,6,19,23,27? Could Bathsheba read or write?


Jer 15

Despite this unity of spirit between God and the prophets, the prophets weren’t always forced to say the words. Jeremiah didn’t want to say them at times, the weariness of it all got on top of him; and yet he felt unable to walk away, just as God felt with Israel. But there were times when he outright rebelled. Jer. 20:7 is made a mess of in most translations, because the obvious translation is simply too shocking. Jeremiah complains: “O Lord, thou hast seduced me [s.w. Ex. 22:16 of a man seducing a woman], and I am seduced; thou hast raped me [s.w. Dt. 22:15] and I am overcome” (Abraham Heschel’s translation). Here is Jeremiah saying that he was attracted by God, he was seduced by Him, but then the whole thing became too much- he felt his soul had been raped. And yet in Jer. 15:16 he says that he had found God’s word and eaten it, and as a result, “I am called by thy name, O Lord”- the language of a woman marrying and taking her husband’s name (Is. 4:1). The word of God was his “joy [and] delight”- two words used four times elsewhere in Jeremiah, and always in the context of the joy of a wedding (Jer. 7:34; 16:9; 25:10; 33:11). Jeremiah saw his prophetic task as actually a marriage to God, an inbreathing of His word and being, to the point that he could say that he personally was “full of the wrath / passion of God” (Jer. 6:11). A prophet could only be incensed if God was incensed (Num. 23:8)- such was the bond between them. No wonder these men felt alone amongst men. They had a relationship with God which others couldn’t enter into, which totally affected their lives and beings. The preacher / testifier of Jesus knows something of this spirit of prophecy. But in Jer. 20:7, Jeremiah felt he had been raped and not married. He resented the complete takeover of his heart. In Jer. 15:15, Jeremiah asks for vengeance on his persecutors, and in Jer. 15:18 accuses God of deceiving him. God’s response is to ask him to repent of this, so that he can resume his prophetic work: “If you [Jeremiah] return, I will restore you, and you shall stand before me [prophetic language]. If you utter what is precious, and not what is base, you shall be as my mouth” (Jer. 15:19). Perhaps Jeremiah had this incident in mind when he commented: “The Lord is in the right, for I have rebelled against his word” (Lam. 1:18). This indicates that at least in Jeremiah’s case, he was not irresistibly carried along by the Spirit in some kind of ecstasy, having no option but to speak God’s word. His speaking of God’s word required that he shared the essentially loving and gracious spirit / disposition of his God.


Mt. 26

Peter's letters are full of reference to the cross and various physical aspects of the trial and mocking of the Lord which he witnessed first hand:

- Girding ourselves with humility 1 Pet. 1:13), as the Lord did at the last supper (s.w. Jn. 13:5), although then, Peter had so misunderstood what He had done.

- Christ as the sacrificed lamb (1 Pet. 1:19)

- “Buffeted” (2:20) s.w. Mt. 26:67 re. Christ being struck with a fist- something Peter would have probably watched out of the corner of his eye from where he was.

Our reflection upon the Lord's sufferings should be consciously and unconsciously reflected in our words and reasoning.


July 26

2 Sam. 12

Interpret the parable of 2 Sam. 12:1-4; the two men; the city; the many flocks; the one lamb; nourished up; lay in his bosom; unto him as a daughter; a traveller (cp. Lk. 11:6). What was the relationship between Uriah and Bathsheba? Do you think Bathsheba was satisfied with her marriage to Uriah bearing this in mind?


Jer 16

When we read that those who were to die in the land due to the Babylonian invasion would not be buried “neither shall men lament for them” (Jer. 16:6), this sounds like a prediction. But actually it’s a command- for Jeremiah was told “Neither go to lament nor bemoan them” (Jer. 16:5). But he did lament them- and God didn’t ignore that, but rather inspired the record of the book of Jeremiah’s Lamentations! Likewise God told Jeremiah not to pray for the people, but when Jeremiah insisted on doing so, God did in fact hear him. So we must be careful to discern what is prediction and what is command or intention. And even then we have to recognize that God’s purpose is to some extent open-ended- if men and women wish to walk with Him but don’t strictly follow His preferred intentions, He may still walk and work with them in the extension of His purpose.


Mt. 27

A nice insight into the intensity with which Paul meditated on the words of Jesus is provided by his comment on Mt. 27:11-14, where we read that Jesus before Pilate said just one word in Greek; translated " Thou sayest" . It is stressed there that Jesus said nothing else, so that Pilate marvelled at His silent self-control. Yet Paul speaks with pride of how the Lord Jesus " before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession" (1 Tim. 6:13). You'd expect him to be alluding to some major speech of Jesus. But it seems, reading his spirit, Paul's saying: 'Lord Jesus, your self control, your strength of purpose, was great. I salute you, I hold you up to Timothy as the supreme example. Just one word. What a witness!'. Are we meditating on our Lord's words with such depth?


July 27

2 Sam. 13

There are Biblical examples of refusing to take guilt when others feel that it should be taken. Recall how the Lord’s own parents blamed Him for ‘making them anxious’ by ‘irresponsibly’ remaining behind in the temple. The Lord refused to take any guilt, didn’t apologize, and even gently rebuked them (Lk. 2:42-51). In similar vein, Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “Even if I made you sorry with a letter, I do not regret it” (2 Cor. 7:8). He would not take guilt for their being upset with him. Likewise Absalom comforted his raped sister not to ‘take it to heart’, not to feel guilty about it, as it seems she was feeling that way, taking false guilt upon her (2 Sam. 13:20).

False guilt is played upon by the ever greater fear of the spirit of judgment which progressively fills our world. Novels, movies, soap operas… all increasingly deal with this theme- judging who is guilty, to what extent, in what way, what judgment is necessary or warranted. Everyone feels under constant criticism, innocent words are increasingly misread, litigation opened against truly unintentional slips of wording or action. In one form or another, earth’s population is living in fear of judgment. Recriminations and reproach fly around our own community. None of us are indifferent to it all, all are hurt by the critical email, SMS, word, look or unspoken opinion of others. It leads to the fear between parents and children, wives and husbands, pastors and flock, which is breaking down society and our own community. This fear of criticism / judgment kills spontaneity, it precludes formulating independent thought and truly original ideas and programmes of action; it is the fear of this, rather than of God’s judgment, which lead people to leave their talent buried in the earth. And in the end, it leads to an empty conformism to what is perceived to be the ‘safe’ position, a bourgeois, spiritually middle class formalism. And so we all tend to live in fear of others’ judgment, with all the taking of false guilt which this creates.


Jer 17

The materialist "at his end [rejection at the judgment] shall be a fool" (Jer. 17:11). The utter folly  of the rejected is a major theme (Prov. 14:8,18; Ps. 5:5; 49:13; Mt. 7:26; 25:8). At the final judgment, all will become plain and clear. And we need to live in that spirit today. Parables like that of the rich fool, the foolish virgins... they will all be crystal clear to them. Then the Kingdom of Heaven will be likened to wise and foolish virgins (Mt. 25:1), after the judgment experience. But we can learn the folly of materialism right here today.


Mt. 28

If we are real witnesses, testifiers to the reality of the Lord's death and resurrection, we must therefore, by the very nature of our experience, be witnesses of these things to the world. The resurrection is the witness that God has given of His Son. Whoever believes that witness, will have within themselves the witness- they will be witnesses to God's witness (1 Jn. 5:10 Gk.). The Lord twice told the disciples: " Go ye...go ye" (Mk. 16:15 cp. Mt. 28:19 and contexts). He was encouraging them to do the natural corollary of what they had experienced. We are to actively go and tell people- not wait for them to come to us.


July 28

2 Sam. 14

The slayer of innocent blood was to be slain without pity: " thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee" (Dt. 19:13). But David seems to have stepped up to a higher level when he told the woman of Tekoah that he would protect her son from revenge murder, after he had slain another man (2 Sam. 14:8-10). The woman pointed out that if her son was slain, the inheritance would be lost in her husband's name. Here was a case where two principles seemed to be at variance: the need to slay the guilty, and the need to preserve the inheritance. The higher level was to forgive the slayer of innocent blood, even though the Law categorically stated that he should be slain. Let's not be legalistic in our forgiveness; but frankly forgive as we have been.


Jer 18

God's oscillations of feelings, the sharp opposition between judgment and mercy, were felt equally by the prophets, who were breathing in God’s spirit. Thus there were many oppositions and paradoxes in the prophetic experience. They saw the world through the eyes of both God and man- Jeremiah said that God’s wrath was his wrath, “I am full of the wrath of God” (Jer. 6:11), and yet he stood before God “to turn away thy wrath from them” (Jer. 18:20). They experienced sometimes wishing to abandon their very own people (Jer. 19:1), just as God felt at times; oscillating between anger and grace.  The very prophetic call was “to pluck up and break down… to build and to plant” (Jer. 1:10). They knew the feeling of being betrayed and hated by their own people, and yet feeling such pain for the judgment to come upon them- despite being so badly treated by Judah and his own family, Jeremiah was still struck with pain at the thought of their judgment: “My anguish! My anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh, the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly…” (Jer. 4:19-21). These contradictions, paradoxes, oppositions, call them what you will, were felt deeply within the prophet’s personality. The bi-polarity resulted in some of them exhibiting bi-polar emotions- e.g. Jeremiah one moment is cursing the day of his birth, the next, he is ecstatically joyful. The phenomena of depressed, bi-polar believers was once something I felt awkward about, even ashamed of. But now, it makes sense to me. Research into the bi-polar condition is still limited. But what has been established is that it is the presence in the person of seriously conflicting loyalties, emotions, persuasions, even belief systems, which has something to do with it. In some ways, it’s more of a condition, a state of being, than a disorder. It doesn’t surprise me that Jeremiah appears to have acted in a bi-polar manner. God can have multiple relationships with people simultaneously, feeling joy at one event and deep sorrow at another event, even though the events are happening at the same time. He also sees to the end of history. His nature allows such multiple feelings without any disorder. But for a mere man on earth, invited to share in the inner council of God, the experience of these things was and is deeply destabilizing. Yes, God made men like Jeremiah a brazen wall, hardened their faces… and yet all the same, the experience of all this would’ve led to a certain element of emotional bi-polarity. Perhaps this opens some kind of window into understanding the emotional and psychological experience of the believer, especially those involved in preaching.


Rom 1, 2

God's judgments are now made manifest (Rom. 1:19) in that we know His word, His judgments; in advance of how they will be made manifest in the future judgment (Rev. 15:4). We must all be made manifest before the judgment seat, but we are made manifest unto God (s.w.) even now (2 Cor. 5:10,11). In this sense we can know the judgment that is to come- it need not be an unknown mystery to us.


July 29

2 Sam. 15

God appeared to Moses in the flame of fire in the bush, but Moses had to be told to take off his shoes as a sign of respect- even though taking off shoes was understood as a token of respect and recognition of sin (see 2 Sam. 15:30). If even Moses didn't perceive God's holiness as he should have done- how much more are we prone this day to fail in this matter?


Jer 19

God's oscillations of feelings, the sharp opposition between judgment and mercy, were felt equally by the prophets, who were breathing in God’s spirit. Thus there were many oppositions and paradoxes in the prophetic experience. They saw the world through the eyes of both God and man- Jeremiah said that God’s wrath was his wrath, “I am full of the wrath of God” (Jer. 6:11), and yet he stood before God “to turn away thy wrath from them” (Jer. 18:20). They experienced sometimes wishing to abandon their very own people (Jer. 19:1), just as God felt at times; oscillating between anger and grace.  The very prophetic call was “to pluck up and break down… to build and to plant” (Jer. 1:10). They knew the feeling of being betrayed and hated by their own people, and yet feeling such pain for the judgment to come upon them- despite being so badly treated by Judah and his own family, Jeremiah was still struck with pain at the thought of their judgment: “My anguish! My anguish! I writhe in pain! Oh, the walls of my heart! My heart is beating wildly…” (Jer. 4:19-21). These contradictions, paradoxes, oppositions, call them what you will, were felt deeply within the prophet’s personality. The bi-polarity resulted in some of them exhibiting bi-polar emotions- e.g. Jeremiah one moment is cursing the day of his birth, the next, he is ecstatically joyful. The phenomena of depressed, bi-polar believers was once something I felt awkward about, even ashamed of. But now, it makes sense to me. Research into the bi-polar condition is still limited. But what has been established is that it is the presence in the person of seriously conflicting loyalties, emotions, persuasions, even belief systems, which has something to do with it. In some ways, it’s more of a condition, a state of being, than a disorder. It doesn’t surprise me that Jeremiah appears to have acted in a bi-polar manner. God can have multiple relationships with people simultaneously, feeling joy at one event and deep sorrow at another event, even though the events are happening at the same time. He also sees to the end of history. His nature allows such multiple feelings without any disorder. But for a mere man on earth, invited to share in the inner council of God, the experience of these things was and is deeply destabilizing. Yes, God made men like Jeremiah a brazen wall, hardened their faces… and yet all the same, the experience of all this would’ve led to a certain element of emotional bi-polarity. Perhaps this opens some kind of window into understanding the emotional and psychological experience of the believer, especially those involved in preaching.



Rom 3, 4

" Some" Jews didn't believe (Rom. 3:3); the majority, actually, but the Father is more gentle than that. The whole tragic history of God's relationship with Israel is a sure proof of His essentially positive character.


July 30

2 Sam. 16

Shimei was a wicked man who hated God's servant David. God told him to curse David (2 Sam. 16:10). Afterwards, Shimei repents and acknowledges that by doing so he sinned (2 Sam. 19:20). And although David recognized that God had told Shimei to curse him (2 Sam. 16:10), David tells Solomon not to hold Shimei " guiltless" for how he had cursed him (1 Kings 2:9). Thus a man is encouraged by God to do the sinful act in which he has set his heart. There's a downward spiral which we can so easily slip into.


Jer 20

Despite the unity of spirit between God and the prophets, the prophets weren’t always forced to say the words. Jeremiah didn’t want to say them at times, the weariness of it all got on top of him; and yet he felt unable to walk away, just as God felt with Israel. But there were times when he outright rebelled. Jer. 20:7 is made a mess of in most translations, because the obvious translation is simply too shocking. Jeremiah complains: “O Lord, thou hast seduced me [s.w. Ex. 22:16 of a man seducing a woman], and I am seduced; thou hast raped me [s.w. Dt. 22:15] and I am overcome” (Abraham Heschel’s translation). Here is Jeremiah saying that he was attracted by God, he was seduced by Him, but then the whole thing became too much- he felt his soul had been raped. And yet in Jer. 15:16 he says that he had found God’s word and eaten it, and as a result, “I am called by thy name, O Lord”- the language of a woman marrying and taking her husband’s name (Is. 4:1). The word of God was his “joy [and] delight”- two words used four times elsewhere in Jeremiah, and always in the context of the joy of a wedding (Jer. 7:34; 16:9; 25:10; 33:11). Jeremiah saw his prophetic task as actually a marriage to God, an inbreathing of His word and being, to the point that he could say that he personally was “full of the wrath / passion of God” (Jer. 6:11). If we know God, we will know something of Jeremiah's struggle with Him.


Rom 5, 6

It is worth following through Paul's argument in Romans. Chapters 1-5 convict all of sin, demonstrating that works can in no way save us. Chapter 6 then outlines how we can be saved; through association with Christ through baptism and a life " in Christ" , which will result in God seeing us in the exalted way He does. Chapter 7 basically goes on to say 'But, of course, you'll still sin, even though chapter 6 has explained how God doesn't look at that side of you if you truly try to live " in Christ" '. Paul says many things about his life in Rom. 7 which seem to consciously connect with his description of life before baptism in Chapter 6 (e.g. 7:13 = 6:23; 7:14 = 6:17; 7:23 = 6:12,13; 7:24 = 6:6; 7:25 = 6:16,17). The reason for this is that after baptism, we have two people within us; the man of the flesh, who totally dominated our pre-baptismal life, is still within us; but (as Chapter 7 so graphically shows) he is now in mortal conflict with the man of the Spirit, with whom we identify our real selves. Chapter 8 then goes on to encourage us that despite this conflict, sin is dead in Christ, and if we are in Him, then this is really how God sees us. Therefore Rom. 8 stresses that our state of mind is so crucial; if we are led of the Spirit-man, then we are assured of salvation at that point in time. Rom. 9-11 then appeals specifically to Israel to accept the glorious truth of all this, and then Chapters 12-16 show the practical response we should all make. Recognizing the existence of the new and old men within him, Paul can speak in Rom. 7 as if he is two different people; “I myself serve the law of God”, but “my flesh” serves sin. Likewise David asked God not to hide his face from him, David personally, (Ps. 27:9; 69:17; 102:2; 143:7), but to hide His face from David’s sins (Ps. 51:9). And one wonders whether the way the records of the Lord’s temptations are written implies some similar recognition by the Spirit of the two ‘men’ within the Lord.


July 31

2 Sam. 17

Let us no longer fear failure, for firstly we know there is forgiveness in Christ, and secondly, our focus is upon living the real life of ultimate discovery and adventure, able to live with the fears which this presents to us. Failure is no longer a problem to us; for the aim is ever before us. We will not be like Ahithophel, committing suicide because he ran out of highway and lost his political power to others (2 Sam. 17:23). Our failures are nothing more than temporary setbacks, as the baby who stretches out her hands to the lamp on the ceiling and cries because she can’t reach it. We take them all, even our sins, in the spirit of the cross- the supreme failure which became the supreme triumph of God and the true person.


Jer 21

In the surrounding culture of Israel, capital cities were portrayed as women, the wives of the gods. They are always presented as pure and wonderful. But the prophets represent cities like Jerusalem and Samaria as fallen women, whores. It was all so counter-cultural. Yahweh’s prophet even appealed for Israel to surrender when under siege (Jer. 21:8-10). Try to enter into how radical and counter-cultural all this was. The prophets were trying to share the feelings and positions of a God so vastly different to the imaginations and understandings of His very own people. The nervous stress of this, the psychological pressure, can’t be underestimated. And we are asked to share the spirit / mind / disposition of those prophets. Not only was God on the side of Israel’s enemies; yet through all that, He somehow was with Israel; quite simply, “God is with us”, even though it is He who encamps against them too (Is. 8:9,10; 18:4). The God of Auschwitz is somehow still the God of Israel. The very torment, even torture, of understanding that was etched clearly in the prophets, and it will be in us too.


Rom 7, 8

Romans 8 appears to confuse the spirit of God, the spirit of Christ in the believer, and Christ himself as " the Lord the Spirit" . Yet what Paul is showing is that in fact if we are spiritually minded, if our thinking is in harmony with the Father and Son, prayer is simply a merger of our Spirit with theirs; the idea of prayer as a means of requesting things doesn't figure, because God knows our need and will provide. The whole creation groans; we ourselves groan inwardly; and the Spirit makes intercession with groans that can't be uttered. Clearly enough, our groans are His groans. He expresses them more powerfully and articulately than we can.