Todays readings… 1 Samuel 14, Isaiah 58, Matthew 1&2


Our first reading in 1 Samuel ch. 14 is about the headstrong foolishness of Saul in his actions as king.  A contrast is the spiritual perceptions and strength of his son Jonathan who was to become a close friend and supporter of David.  It is inspiring how those who have a genuine love for the Lord are drawn into friendship with each other – it is really special when it results in them teaming together to serve the Lord; Paul experienced this.

Our ch. 58 in Isaiah is also about those who are true worshippers – andthose who are not! The prophet records how God perceived the emptiness of his people’s spirituality!  The prophet is told to “declare to my people their transgression” [v.1]  although, says God, “they seek me daily and delight to know my ways” [v.2]

That sounds excellent, we try to do that!  But what about Gods’ next words?  they seek me   as if they were a nation that did righteousness and did not forsake the judgment of their God … they delight to draw near to God.” That sounds wonderful, but God could see it was all an outward show.

They practiced fasting.  Goodif it was done in the right spirit.  We call to mind the boasting of the tax collector in Jesus’ parable, “I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ [Luke 18 v.12]  But he was totally self-centred, he had ‘I’ trouble!  

Isaiah records God’s declaration to the people, through him, “Fasting like yours this day will not make your voice to be heard on high.” [v.4]

The LORD spells out the nature of the fast that he looks to see.   Is it not to share your bread with the hungry and bring the homeless poor into your house …” [v.7] To do this, means a degree of ‘going without’ yourself.  And the result of doing this?  then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday.  And the LORD will guide you continually …. ” [v.10,11]  And then our lives ” shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.”

What a heart challenging message!  Its’ meaning is plain. May our Lord see this in our lives today – may you and I sense his guidance – more and more. 

There are words of David in Psalm 37 that provide a fitting conclusion to our thoughts. “Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act.  He will bring forth your righteousness as the light …” [v.4-6] in his soon-coming kingdom.