One Slice of the Knife…

Daily Scripture readings for October, set #23:

2 Samuel, chapters 20-21
Psalm 116
Mark 15:33-41
Galatians 5:1-12

Today’s chapters in 2 Samuel are somewhat confusing, and especially the issue of the Gibeonites in chapter 21. I did another Google search and found a very helpful (although a little long) explanation of this account from Old Testament scholar Bob Deffinbaugh. Check it out.

An encouraging word from the Psalmist in Psalm 116: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints” (vs 15). Death is not to be feared. It has been wrenched from the enemy and defeated, made instead to be the means by which we are ushered into salvation, and is therefore precious to the Lord.

“And some of the bystanders hearing it said, ‘Behold, he is calling Elijah’” (Mark 15:35). Ok, seriously… what part of “my god, my god, why have you forsaken me?” makes anyone think that Jesus is calling to Elijah? This association on the part of the bystanders has always struck me as odd. Does anyone know why Elijah is in view here?

Paul’s rhetoric in Galatians 5 turns ugly in verse 12: “I wish those who unsettle you would emasculate themselves!” It’s helpful to understand the overtones in this statement for Jews – that the Law forbade anyone with deformed genitals from entering the temple. James Dunn offers an interesting summary of Paul’s intention in this verse: “It has the force of a reductio ad absurdum argument: one slice of the knife = acceptability to God; another slice of the knife = total unacceptability to God.”

Daily Scripture readings for October, set #24:

2 Samuel 22
Psalm 117
– Mark 15:42-47
Galatians 5:13-26

2 Samuel 22 struck me as very familiar as I read it today, so I did a little research and found that the same passage (for the most part) is recorded in Psalm 18, so I suppose my notes and questions from that chapter apply here as well.

Psalm 117… shortest chapter in the Bible. And yet there are enough verses to included the recurring “enduring steadfast love” theme. “For great is his steadfast love toward us,and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever” (vs 2).

Joseph of Arimathea, the man who saw to it that Jesus be laid in a tomb after his death, is described in Mark 15:43 as “a respected member of the council, who was also himself looking for the kingdom of God.” It’s not surprising then that this man would have an interest in Jesus, who taught more on “The Kingdom of God” than on any other subject.

The concept of Christian Liberty and “freedom in Christ” is always a rousing topic of discussion, and can be easily misunderstood and misapplied. Paul knows this, and puts the ambiguous concept into as clear a context as he can in Galatians 5: “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another” (vs 13). Yes, you are free… but the point of your freedom, and the anchor of EVERYTHING in the Christian life, is love for one another.

And… to get the October readings completed, here’s set #25:

2 Samuel, chapters 23-24
Psalm 118
Mark 16
Galatians 6

2 Samuel 24:24 is an extremely relevant verse for my daily life. “I will not offer burnt offerings to the Lord my God that cost me nothing.” I find this thought going through my mind constantly, in many different contexts and scenarios. It’s always a helpful perspective to bring to bear.

On another personal note, Psalm 118:24 is a verse that my 2-yr-old and I say together every morning when I get her out of bed. We’ve done that her whole life, with her joining in about 6 months ago when talking became a reality for her. An additional but unrelated note on this Psalm… it really feels like the two verses in Psalm 117 should have just been tacked onto the beginning of Psalm 118. Does anybody know how the chapter breaks in these Psalms came to be?

As a good Evangelical I view baptism as an outward sign of an inward transformation, and thus not itself a deal-maker/breaker. And then Mark 16:16 comes along and ruins my confidence: “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” AND IS BAPTIZED… why include this? How should this verse be understood if not to include baptism as a mandatory component in salvation?

A final personal note… when I read Galatians 6:10 last year I decided to make it my day-to-day motto. “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” As I am able I will be a blessing to everyone In encounter, especially to brothers and sisters in Christ. Based on my own experiences I think that last part is there because fellow Christians tend to be the easiest people to target my bad vibes at, as opposed to those that I would go out of my way to help.


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