Daily Archives: March 22, 2018

March 22: Forsaken to Delight

Numbers 26:1–65; 1 Corinthians 8:1–9:27; Psalm 22:1–13

“My God, my God why have you forsaken me? Why are you far from helping me, far from the words of my groaning?” (Psa 22:1).

These are some of the darkest words in Scripture. It’s almost painful to speak them, to imagine a feeling of complete abandonment by God. These are also the words we hear Jesus say when He is hanging from the cross (Matt 27:46). When He utters them, He makes Himself one with this ultimate sufferer, this true lamenter, in Psa 22. He is essentially saying, “I am He: the one who has suffered the most for God’s cause and thus knows what it means to be human.”

The plea in this psalm becomes even sadder, but then it is followed by a surprising affirmation of complete faithfulness in God: “O my God, I call by day and you do not answer, and by night but I have no rest. Yet you are holy, enthroned on the praises of Israel” (Psa 22:2–3). The very nature of crying out to God, even in a time of feeling like He has completely abandoned you, is an act of faith. When we cry out in His name, we affirm His presence and the reality that He can intercede. Even if we’re not sure how He will intercede, crying out to Him is an act of faith. It is always the right solution; it’s what Jesus did in His time of greatest need and pain.

The psalmist goes on to depict just how dire the situation is: “All who see me mock me. They open wide their lips; they shake the head, saying: ‘He trusts Yahweh. Let him rescue him. Let him deliver him because he delights in him’ ” (Psa 22:8–9).

Jesus does precisely this: He trusts in Yahweh to be His rescuer. What the mockers—both at the cross and those depicted in this ancient psalm—don’t realize is that God is delighted in the suffering for His cause. God sees the ultimate purpose of Jesus’ suffering—the redemption of His people (compare Isa 52:13–53:12). And likewise, God sees the ultimate purpose of our suffering. He will delight in it when it is done for His purposes—His kingdom. This psalm is a model for us of what to do in those times.

What are you currently suffering through for God’s purposes? How can you use Psalm 22 as a model for your response?

John D. Barry[1]


[1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

March 22 Praying with Commitment

“Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matt. 6:10).

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Your prayers make a difference!

Matthew 6:10 literally says, “Whatever You wish to have happen, let it happen immediately. As Your will is done in Heaven, so let it be done on earth.” That’s a prayer of active commitment to God’s will.

Many people don’t pray like that because they don’t understand God’s character. They think their prayers don’t matter and that God will impose His will on them no matter what they do. They tend to pray with passive resignation, indifference, or resentment.

I remember praying such a prayer. After my freshman year in college, I was in a serious auto accident. The driver lost control of the car at about seventy-five miles per hour, and it rolled several times before coming to a stop. I was thrown clear of the vehicle and ended up sliding down the highway on my backside for about a hundred yards. I lost a lot of skin and had some third-degree burns and other injuries, but fortunately I didn’t break any bones.

I was conscious during the entire ordeal and vividly remember thinking, All right, God. If You’re going to fight this way, I give up! I can’t handle this! You see, I knew God was calling me into the ministry, but I’d been focusing my life in another direction.

I think God used that experience to get my attention, and my prayer of passive resignation soon turned to active commitment as He refined my heart and drew me to Himself.

Perhaps God has dealt severely with you, too. If so, it’s only because He loves you and wants to produce the fruit of righteousness in you (Heb. 12:11). Don’t despise His chastening, and don’t be fatalistic or resentful in your prayers. Godly prayers make a difference (James 5:16); so commit yourself to praying expectantly, knowing that God is gracious and wise and always responds for His glory and your highest good (Rom. 8:28).

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Suggestions for Prayer:  If you tend to pray with indifference, passive resignation, or resentment, ask God’s forgiveness. Study His character, and cultivate deep communion with Him through disciplined, trusting prayer.

For Further Study: Read Luke 18:1–8. ✧ Why did Jesus tell this parable? ✧ What principles do you see here that apply to your life?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 94). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

MARCH 22 GOD’S OVERCOMERS

These…have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb.

Revelation 7:14

I insist that if we are burdened with genuine concern, we have the responsibility of examining the true spiritual condition of men and women within the church’s ranks.

We do live in a time of soft, easy Christianity. It is an era marked by a polite “nibbling” around the edges of the Word of God. There is a mind-set within present-day Christianity that supposes one should get into trouble or suffer embarrassment for Christ’s sake!

My brethren, what does it mean to be loyal to Jesus Christ? To confess that Jesus Himself is more important to us than anything else in the world?

Many find it hard to understand how large numbers of Christian believers could have died for their faith in our own generation! With a sense of distant admiration, we call them simple-hearted nationals. God calls them overcomers!

Professing Christians in our North American churches can hardly comprehend so costly a price for the faith we take for granted. Material prosperity and popular acceptance have sapped the vitality of our Christian witness!

Lord, I want to be counted among Your overcomers, and I pray especially for my brothers and sisters in Christ who profess Your name in antagonistic cultures.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

March 22, 2018 Afternoon Verse Of The Day

23  Awake! Why are you sleeping, O Lord?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever!
24  Why do you hide your face?
Why do you forget our affliction and oppression?
25  For our soul is bowed down to the dust;
our belly clings to the ground.
26  Rise up; come to our help!
Redeem us for the sake of your steadfast love!

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ps 44:23–26). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.


Prayer for Deliverance (44:23–26)

Overview

The questions of faith usually do not receive an answer. The reason for and purpose of suffering for the people of God find no resolution in this psalm. There is neither despondency nor evidence of anger with God. The voice of collective and individual lament expresses the difficulty of suffering without cause. The mood of confidence in the Lord has been set by the two beginning strophes. It is faith that looks up to God for his deliverance.

Commentary

23 The questions of faith express the conviction that a chasm exists between the promises of God and reality. It is out of deeply felt need and, to some extent, out of wonder that the people of God ask, “Why do you sleep?” It is not that they believe that their God is asleep (cf. 121:4); rather, it emphasizes their need of his immediate attention to their plight. They plead with him to “awake,” i.e., rouse himself up as the Divine Warrior (cf. 7:6).

24–26 The present adversity has created darkness, for “the light of [God’s] face,” which their forefathers had experienced (v. 3), is hidden (cf. 13:1; 22:24; 88:14). They ask how God can ignore them and fail to see their “misery and oppression.” In dependency on God’s favor, they prostrate themselves to the ground (v. 25). They do not have the power to rise up, but in prayer they implore their covenantal God to rise up on behalf of them. The petition begins and ends with two imperatives: “Awake …! Rouse yourself!” (v. 23); “rise up and help us; redeem us” (v. 26; cf. 94:1–2).

Redemption pertains to the welfare of God’s people in body and soul. The people come to Yahweh and petition him to look again at their low estate (v. 25; cf. 119:25). In the conclusion of their prayer, they submit themselves to the love of God. He covenanted himself to the people and promised them his “unfailing love” (ḥesed, v. 26; cf. 6:4; Ex 34:6–7; Mic 7:18, 20). This is also Paul’s response to suffering, when he affirms that no adversity can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus (Ro 8:36–39).[1]


44:23–26 / The closing and the shortest section contains the only petitions. Perhaps because Yahweh seems unaware of the people’s continued allegiance to him, the first petition is Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep? This marks a curious twist in the psalm’s depiction of God’s activity. To this point Yahweh has actively opposed his people; here he is negligent. The reason for this can probably be traced to an implicit shift in the role attributed to God. In verses 1–16, he is the divine warrior on the battlefield and the selling shepherd in the marketplace, but from verse 17 onwards he is the divine judge overseeing the covenant relationship (see esp. 50:5–6). As judge, he is to rouse himself to the facts of their case, and so rise up and help us.

Supporting these petitions are laments. The first questions why Yahweh has done what a covenant judge should not do to a loyal partner, that is, estrange himself and disregard their plight (v. 24). The second emphasizes that the people’s situation is desperate (we are brought down to the dust) and that only a divine judge can remedy it (“rise up and help us”). The final petition may echo the earlier image of the shepherd selling his sheep. Redeem means literally “buy back,” that is, “your people” whom “you sold … for a pittance” (v. 12).

What is perhaps most remarkable about this psalm is that it is part of Scripture at all. Included within this sacred collection that reveals God is this public liturgy that expresses utter disappointment in God. And no editorial comments are appended to make clear that God eventually came through for his people. As it stands it is left unanswered. If we take this canonical shaping seriously, we have here a testimony that such disappointment in God may occur for believers; nonetheless, this does not invalidate other testimonies of the saving God. Both of these experiences have their legitimate place in the life of faith. If we encounter an inexplicable loss in our lives, we are not guaranteed an explanation from God. If one is not forthcoming, this should not catapult us into doubting all other testimonies of God’s salvation that we have heard and made ourselves.

We may be offended at the direct way Psalm 44 accuses God, especially of betrayal. But in fact, this psalm shows us a response to disappointment with God that is better than what we tend to make. When we encounter tragedy, we sometimes in our heart of hearts blame God. We may not even admit this to ourselves, let alone to God, since our piety tells us that fault must lie elsewhere, especially with ourselves. So our response to disappointment with God is to withdraw. But this psalm presents the way of direct confrontation. It displays a higher view of God’s integrity and does not fear embarrassing God. It acknowledges that he alone can solve the dilemma—especially since he may be its cause. It also displays a higher view of personal integrity. The whole, integrated person, even with one’s embittered feelings, addresses God, not just the acceptable, pious parts of human personality.[2]


44:23–26 The Psalm reaches a peak of bold urgency in verse 23, when the Lord is roused from His apparent slumber and asked to intervene for His people. It is more than the psalmist can understand—how God can hide His face in neglect and indifference while His people lie prostrate in the dust. And so he sounds reveille once again:

Arise for our help,

And redeem us for Your mercies’ sake.[3]


23–26 The God of the future: a cry for help. All unite in an urgent cry for help. They pray against apparent divine idleness and forgetfulness (23–24); they plead the extremity of their need and call for action because they know that his love remains unchanged (25–26). 23 The boldness of prayer. 25 We are so personally precious to the Lord that we can come pleading our need. 26Redeem, ‘pay the price’, i.e. provide out of your own resources whatever is required to meet our need. Unfailing love, love centred in the will, the love to which the Lord has obligated himself.[4]


44:23–26 Israel’s God does not sleep (121:3, 4; Is. 40:28). The cry to awake is an appeal for God to act on behalf of His people. The cry is based on the people’s faith that the Lord will forgive. redeem us: In v. 12, the people suggested that God had sold them; here they ask Him to redeem them—to buy them back for Himself.[5]


The prayer for victory (44:23–26)

44:23–26. The nation asked God for help (rouse Yourself!) for she saw no reason why He should ignore her misery. Moreover, the nation felt that God must rescue her (rise up and help us) because she was at her lowest (brought down to the dust; i.e., about to die). Though the nation was seemingly rejected by God and had apparently lost a battle (even though she had been faithful), she wholeheartedly trusted in the Lord to redeem (cf. comments on 26:11) her. This is the proper age-old response of the genuine believer to suffering (cf. Job 13:15, “Though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him”).[6]


[1] VanGemeren, W. A. (2008). Psalms. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Psalms (Revised Edition) (Vol. 5, pp. 394–395). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Hubbard, R. L. J., & Johnston, R. K. (2012). Foreword. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Psalms (pp. 204–205). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 618). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Motyer, J. A. (1994). The Psalms. In D. A. Carson, R. T. France, J. A. Motyer, & G. J. Wenham (Eds.), New Bible commentary: 21st century edition (4th ed., p. 514). Leicester, England; Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press.

[5] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (pp. 677–678). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[6] Ross, A. P. (1985). Psalms. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, p. 827). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

MARCH 22 GOD IS GLORIFIED IN OUR MORAL VICTORIES

For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.

ROMANS 8:6

In the Pauline epistles, the gravitational pull of the heart in one direction or another is called “the mind.” In the eighth chapter of Romans, for instance, when Paul refers to the “mind” he is referring to the sum of our dominant desires.

The mere intellect, then, is not the mind: the mind is intellect plus an emotional tug strong enough to determine action!

As Christians, our only safety lies in complete honesty. We must surrender our hearts to God so that we have no unholy desires, then let the Scriptures pronounce their judgment on a contemplated course. If the Scriptures condemn an object, we must accept that judgment and conform to it, no matter how we may for the moment feel about it.

To want a thing, or feel that we want it, and then to turn from it because we see that it is contrary to the will of God is to win a great battle on the way to spiritual mindedness.

To bring our desires to the cross and allow them to be nailed there with Christ is a good and a beautiful thing.

To be tempted and yet to glorify God in the midst of it is to honor Him where it counts. This is more pleasing to God than any amount of sheltered and untempted piety could ever be!

God is always glorified when He wins a moral victory over us, and we are always benefited, immeasurably and gloriously benefited!

The blood of Christ will cleanse not only actual sins but the very inward desires so that we will not want to sin. A blessed state indeed, and blessed are they that reach it![1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

March 22 Posture for Gladness

Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.—Matt. 5:12

The Christian’s response to persecution and affliction should not be to retreat and hide. Jesus told us we are the “salt of the earth” and the “light of the world” (Matt. 5:13–14). For our salt to flavor the earth and our light to lighten the world, we must be active in the world. The gospel is not given to be hidden but to enlighten. “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (v. 16).

When we become Christ’s salt and light, our salt will sting the world’s open wounds of sin, and our light will irritate its eyes that are accustomed to darkness. But even when our salt and light are resented, rejected, and thrown back into our face, we should “rejoice, and be glad.”

The meaning of “be glad” is to exult, to rejoice greatly, to be overjoyed. Jesus used the imperative mood, thus commanding us to be glad. Not to be glad when we suffer for Christ’s sake is to be untrusting and disobedient.

The world can take away a great deal from God’s people, but it cannot take away their joy and their happiness. When people attack us for Christ’s sake, they are really attacking Him (cf. Gal. 6:17; Col. 1:24). And their attacks can do us no more permanent damage than they can do to Him.

So rejoice in the privilege we have been given to be salt and light, no matter the reaction.

ASK YOURSELF

Gladness joins many of the other qualities that make up the beatitudes, character traits that are unnatural enough to be impossible without the Holy Spirit’s empowerment. So, what does it tell you when gladness bubbles up from within you? How can fear of persecution rival the joy of knowing that Christ is living and active in your heart?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 90). Chicago: Moody Publishers.

March 22 The Model of Witnessing

Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.

1 Corinthians 11:1

Christ is the perfect model to imitate in witnessing to others. First, He was available. Although there were times when He left the crowds, Jesus was regularly among the people, even when He was busy.

Second, He wasn’t partial. Often Jesus was with common people, lepers, prostitutes, and tax collectors—those belonging to the lower classes socially and morally. But He also helped a Roman centurion, a man of dignity and stature (Matt. 8:5–13), and ministered to wealthy Jairus, whose daughter needed a miracle (Mark 5:22–24, 35–43). Jesus reflected the mind of God, who is no respecter of persons (Acts 10:34).

Third, He was sensitive to the pain of others. In Mark 5, a lady with a hemorrhage for twelve years reached out and touched Christ’s garment. Jesus asked, “Who touched My garments?” (v. 30) out of concern for her.

Last, He secured a public confession from those who believed in Him, such as the blind man (John 9:1–41), and the Samaritan leper (Luke 17:11–19).

Follow Christ’s example as you witness to others.[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (2001). Truth for today : a daily touch of God’s grace (p. 94). Nashville, Tenn.: J. Countryman.

40 Days to the Cross: Week Five – Thursday

Confession: Psalm 103:8–14

Yahweh is compassionate and gracious,

slow to anger and abundant in loyal love.

He does not dispute continually,

nor keep his anger forever.

He has not dealt with us according to our sins,

nor repaid us according to our iniquities.

For as the heavens are high above the earth,

so his loyal love prevails over those who fear him.

As far as east is from west,

so he has removed far from us the guilt of our transgressions.

As a father pities his children,

so Yahweh pities those who fear him.

For he knows our frame.

He remembers that we are dust.

Reading: Mark 14:53–65

And they led Jesus away to the high priest, and all the chief priests and the elders and the scribes came together. And Peter followed him from a distance, right inside, into the courtyard of the high priest. And he was sitting with the officers and warming himself by the fire. Now the chief priests and the whole Sanhedrin were looking for testimony against Jesus in order to put him to death, and they did not find it. For many gave false testimony against him, and their testimony was not consistent. And some stood up and began to give false testimony against him, saying, “We heard him saying, ‘I will destroy this temple made by hands, and within three days I will build another not made by hands.’ ” And their testimony was not even consistent about this. And the high priest stood up in the midst of them and asked Jesus, saying, “Do you not reply anything? What are these people testifying against you?” But he was silent and did not reply anything. Again the high priest asked him and said to him, “Are you the Christ, the Son of the Blessed One?” And Jesus said, “I am, and you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Power and coming with the clouds of heaven.” And the high priest tore his clothes and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy! What do you think?” And they all condemned him as deserving death. And some began to spit on him and to cover his face and to strike him with their fists, and to say to him “Prophesy!” And the officers received him with slaps in the face.

Reflection

Admire the self-command of the disciples, who relate these things with exactness. Here, we clearly see their disposition as they truthfully relate the things that seem to be scornful. Disguising nothing, nor being ashamed, they rather account it a great glory (as indeed it was) that the Lord of the universe should endure to suffer such things for us. This shows both His unutterable tenderness and the inexcusable wickedness of those men.… For neither did Christ fail in gentleness, nor they of insolence and cruelty in what they did and said. These things the prophet Isaiah foretold, proclaiming beforehand and by one word intimating all this insolence. For “like as many were astonished at you,” he said, “so shall your form be held inglorious of men, and your glory of the sons of men” (Isa 52:14 [paraphrase]).

… Indeed, they inflicted the blows that are most insulting of all—buffeting, smiting with the palms of their hands, and adding to these blows the insult of spitting at Him. And with words teeming again with much derision they spoke, saying, “Prophesy to us, you Messiah! Who is it that stuck you?” (Matt 26:68 nrsv) because the multitude called Him a prophet.

But another disciple said that they covered His face with His own garment, and did these things, as though they had in the midst of them some vile and worthless fellow.…

These things let us read continually; these things let us hear again; these things let us write in our minds, for these are our honors. In these things do I take a pride, not only in the thousands of dead He raised, but also in the sufferings which He endured. These things Paul puts forward in every way—the cross, the death, the sufferings, the revilings, the insults, the scoffs. And now he says, “Let us then go … bear the abuse he endured” (Heb 13:13 nrsv); and now, “who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame” (Heb 12:2 nrsv).

—John Chrysostom

Homilies of St. John Chrysostom

Response

What does it mean to you that Christ suffered scorn and reproach for your sake? Jesus was brought outside of Jerusalem to die—like a criminal. Paul says “we must go outside the camp and bear the abuse he endured” (Heb 13:13). What does it mean to you—that no matter how much shame you might feel—you must follow Christ? How is this radically present in your life?[1]


[1] Van Noord, R., & Strong, J. (Eds.). (2014). 40 Days to the Cross: Reflections from Great Thinkers. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

March 22, 2018 Morning Verse Of The Day

22:34 The climax of the chapter asserts that the altar was a witness … that the Lord is God. Previously, the chapter indicated only that it was to be a witness (vv. 27, 28), without saying what it would be a witness of. In a similar vein, Jesus told His disciples that people would know they were His disciples by seeing their love for each other; that is, their love would point people to Christ (John 13:35).[1]


22:34 called the altar Witness. This sixth monument in the land (see note on 4:20) bears witness to the unity of the Transjordanian tribes with Israel west of the Jordan.[2]


22:34 called the altar Naming an altar was a common practice after its creation in commemoration of some event or covenant. The actual name is not given here, but the account does note that whatever it was, it served as a witness to the tribes’ unity. See v. 10.[3]


22:34 Witness. The altar witnessed (v. 27) to the one reality that united all Israel and, by implication, to the offense that could destroy Israel (v. 16).[4]


[1] Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 300). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

[2] Crossway Bibles. (2008). The ESV Study Bible (p. 428). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] Barry, J. D., Mangum, D., Brown, D. R., Heiser, M. S., Custis, M., Ritzema, E., … Bomar, D. (2012, 2016). Faithlife Study Bible (Jos 22:34). Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

[4] Sproul, R. C. (Ed.). (2005). The Reformation Study Bible: English Standard Version (p. 330). Orlando, FL; Lake Mary, FL: Ligonier Ministries.

March 22 The Humility of Jesus’ Servanthood

“Who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond–servant, and being made in the likeness of men.”

Philippians 2:6–7

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Jesus is the role model of the suffering servant.

Jesus not only gave up His divine privileges when He emptied Himself, but He also became a servant. For us, this is the next phase in His supreme example of humility. Paul’s phrase “the form of a bond–servant” can also be translated “the essence of a slave.” Christ’s servanthood was not just external—it extended to the essential, down–to–earth role of a bond–slave doing the will of His Father.

We would expect Jesus, the God–man, to be a servant only in the truest fashion. His servitude was not performed like a stage player putting on and taking off the costume of a servant. Jesus truly became a servant. He perfectly fulfilled everything Isaiah predicted about Him (52:13–14). Jesus was the Messiah who was a suffering servant.

Christ’s entire earthly ministry is the yardstick by which we can measure servanthood. As God, He owned everything; as the servant, He had to borrow everything: a place to be born, a boat in which to cross the Sea of Galilee and preach from, a donkey (itself a symbol of humility and servitude) to ride into Jerusalem for His triumphal entry, a room to celebrate His final Passover in, and a grave to be buried in.

Our Savior acknowledged His role as a servant very simply: “I am among you as the one who serves” (Luke 22:27). And it was all done with love, with consistency, with humility, without the pretense of outward form.

As we continue to look to our Lord Jesus as the role model of humility, the challenge for us is to follow His attitude and practice. Paul instructs those who would be servants of Christ, “Let love be without hypocrisy…. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor; not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord” (Rom. 12:9–11).

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Suggestions for Prayer: Thank and praise the Lord that Jesus was such a humble but willing servant on your behalf.

For Further Study: Isaiah 52:13–53:12 is known as the Suffering Servant passage. As you read it, write down the various ways it describes Jesus’ suffering. ✧ How is His humility in evidence?[1]


[1] MacArthur, J. (1997). Strength for today. Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

MARCH 22 INFINITE EXCELLENCE

Let them praise the name of the LORD: for his name alone is excellent; his glory is above the earth and heaven.

—Psalm 148:13

I once heard Dr. George D. Watson, one of the great Bible teachers of his generation, point out that men can have two kinds of love for God—the love of gratitude or the love of excellence. He urged that we go on from gratefulness to a love of God just because He is God and because of the excellence of His character.

Unfortunately, God’s children rarely go beyond the boundaries of gratitude. I seldom hear anyone in worshipful prayer admiring and praising God for His eternal excellence.

Many of us are strictly “Santa Claus” Christians. We think of God as putting up the Christmas tree and putting our gifts underneath. That is only an elementary kind of love.

We need to go on. We need to know the blessing of worshiping in the presence of God without thought of wanting to rush out again. We need to be delighted in the presence of utter, infinite excellence. WHT087

Lord, quiet my heart and minister to my spirit. I’ll take time to unhurriedly meditate on Your infinite excellence and worship You without asking for a thing! Amen.[1]


[1] Tozer, A. W., & Eggert, R. (2015). Tozer on the almighty god: a 365-day devotional. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

March 21 Daily Help

BUT two opinions in the matter of soul-religion you cannot hold. If God be God, serve him, and do it thoroughly; but if this world be God, serve it, and make no profession of religion. If you think the things of the world the best, serve them. But remember, if the Lord be your God, you cannot have Baal too; you must have one thing or else the other. “No man can serve two masters.” If God be served, he will be a master; and if the devil be served, he will not be long before he will be a master; and “ye cannot serve two masters.” Oh! be wise, and think not that the two can be mingled together.[1]


[1] Spurgeon, C. H. (1892). Daily Help (p. 84). Baltimore: R. H. Woodward & Company.

March 21, 2018 Evening Verse Of The Day

6Family, child training. Proper training of a child will endure throughout his life. The parallelism is formal; the second clause provides the consequence of the first. The imperative is “train” (anōk, GK 2852); this verb includes the idea of “dedicate,” and so the training should be with purpose. The “child” (naʿar) presumably is in the youngest years, although the Talmud places him between sixteen and twenty-four. The NEB captures the point of early instruction: “Start a boy on the right road.”

The right road is expressed by “in the way he should go” (ʿal-pî darkô). The way the verse has been translated shows that there is a standard of life to which one should go. Of course, a person must be young enough when change for the better is still possible. The consequence is that when he is old (yazqîn), he will not depart from it. Whybray, 125, notes that the sages were confident of the character-forming quality of their teaching.

In recent years it has become popular to interpret this verse to mean that the training should be according to the child’s way. The view is not new; over a thousand years ago Saadia suggested that one should train the child in accordance with his ability and potential. The wise parent will discern the natural bent of the individual child and train it accordingly. Kidner, 147, acknowledges that the wording implies respect for the child’s individuality but not his self-will; he reminds us that the emphasis is still on the parental duty of training. Training in accordance with a child’s natural bent may be a practical and useful idea, but it is not likely what this proverb has in mind.

In the book of Proverbs there are only two “ways” a child can go: the way of the wise and the righteous, or the way of the fool and the wicked. Moreover, it is difficult to explain why a natural bent needs training. Ralbag, in fact, offered a satirical interpretation: “Train the child according to his evil inclinations (let him have his will) and he will continue in his evil way throughout life” (cited in Greenstone, 234). Toy, 415, summarizes the ways that one might take “according to his way”:

not exactly “in the path of industry and piety” (which would require in the right way), nor “according to the bodily and mental development of the child” (which does not agree with the second cl.), but “in accordance with the manner of life to which he is destined,” the implication being that the manner of life will not be morally bad.

McKane, 564, agrees that “according to his way” must mean the way he ought to go: “There is only one right way—the way of life—and the educational discipline which directs young men along this way is uniform.”[1]


22:6 / Synthetic. The imperative in verse 6a is equivalent to a conditional clause. The Hebrew has literally, “according to his way,” which has been variously interpreted; most agree with the niv. The point is that proper training early on will have lasting results. The verse is lacking in the Greek.[2]


22:6 The usual interpretation of this proverb is that if you train up a child properly (in the way he should go), he will go on well in later life. Of course there are exceptions, but it stands as a general rule. Henry Ward Beecher observes:

It is not hard to make a child or a tree grow right if you train them when they’re young, but to make them straighten out after you’ve allowed things to go wrong is not an easy matter.

Susannah Wesley, the mother of Charles, John, and 15 other children, followed these rules in training them: (1) Subdue self-will in a child and thus work together with God to save his soul. (2) Teach him to pray as soon as he can speak. (3) Give him nothing he cries for and only what is good for him if he asks for it politely. (4) To prevent lying, punish no fault which is freely confessed, but never allow a rebellious, sinful act to go unnoticed. (5) Commend and reward good behavior. (6) Strictly observe all promises you have made to your child.

The proverb can also be understood as encouraging parents to train their children along the lines of their natural talents, rather than forcing them into professions or trades for which they have no native inclination. Thus Kidner says that the verse teaches respect for the child’s individuality and vocation, though not for his self-will.

And the proverb may be a warning that if you train a child in the way that he himself wants to go, he will continue to be spoiled and self-centered in later life. Jay Adams writes:

The verse stands not as a promise but as a warning to parents that if they allow a child to train himself after his own wishes (permissively), they should not expect him to want to change these patterns when he matures. Children are born sinners and, when allowed to follow their own wishes, will naturally develop sinful habit responses. The basic thought is that such habit patterns become deep-seated when they have been ingrained in the child from the earliest days.[3]


22:6. This is perhaps the best-known verse in Proverbs on child training. The other verses on child-rearing (13:24; 19:18; 22:15; 23:13–14; 29:17) are all on discipline. The Hebrew word for train (ḥānaḵ) means to dedicate. It is used of dedicating a house (Deut. 20:5), the temple (1 Kings 8:63; 2 Chron. 7:5), and an image (Dan. 3:2). The noun ḥănukkâh speaks of the dedication of an altar (Num. 7:10; 2 Chron. 7:9) and of the walls of Jerusalem (Neh. 12:27). Only in Proverbs 22:6 is the verb translated “train.” Ḥānaḵ seems to include the idea of setting aside, narrowing, or hedging in. The word is sometimes used in the sense of “start.” Child-training involves “narrowing” a child’s conduct away from evil and toward godliness and starting him in the right direction. Gleason L. Archer points out that this Hebrew verb is similar to the Egyptian ḥ-n-k, which means “to give to the gods” or “to set up something for divine service.” He suggests that in verse 6 this gives “the following range of possible meanings: ‘Dedicate the child to God,’ ‘Prepare the child for his future responsibilities,’ ‘Exercise or train the child for adulthood’ ” (Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1982, p. 252).

In the way he should go is literally, “upon the mouth of his way.” “Upon the mouth of” is a Hebrew idiom meaning “according to” or “in accord with.” A servant would respond “upon the mouth of” or at the command of his superior. But what does “the way” mean? Scholars have interpreted this differently. Does it mean according to the way he ought to go (kjv, nasb, niv) either vocationally or morally? Or does it mean, as others have suggested, according to the demands of his personality, conduct, or stage in life? Since “way” in Proverbs does not mean personality or stage in life, it is preferable to say that “way” means proper way, the path of wise, godly living, which is emphasized frequently in Proverbs-basically the way of wisdom. It is from this proper behavior pattern or godly lifestyle that he will not turn when he is old, that is, when he is grown (attains adulthood).

Some parents, however, have sought to follow this directive but without this result. Their children have strayed from the godly training the parents gave them. This illustrates the nature of a “proverb.” A proverb is a literary device whereby a general truth is brought to bear on a specific situation. Many of the proverbs are not absolute guarantees for they express truths that are necessarily conditioned by prevailing circumstances. For example, verses 3–4, 9, 11, 16, 29 do not express promises that are always binding. Though the proverbs are generally and usually true, occasional exceptions may be noted. This may be because of the self-will or deliberate disobedience of an individual who chooses to go his own way-the way of folly instead of the way of wisdom (see v. 15 and comments there). For that he is held responsible. It is generally true, however, that most children who are brought up in Christian homes, under the influence of godly parents who teach and live God’s standards (cf. Eph. 6:4), follow that training.[4]


[1] Ross, A. P. (2008). Proverbs. In T. Longman III, Garland David E. (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Proverbs–Isaiah (Revised Edition) (Vol. 6, pp. 188–189). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[2] Murphy, R. E., & Carm, O. (2012). Proverbs. In W. W. Gasque, R. L. Hubbard Jr., & R. K. Johnston (Eds.), Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (p. 109). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[3] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 847). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

[4] Buzzell, S. S. (1985). Proverbs. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 1, pp. 952–953). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.