"O ye sons of men, how long will ye turn my glory into shame?"
An instructive writer has made a mournful list of the honours which the blinded people of Israel awarded to their long expected King.
1. They gave him a procession of honour, in which Roman legionaries, Jewish priests, men and women, took a part, he himself bearing his cross. This is the triumph which the world awards to him who comes to overthrow man's direst foes. Derisive shouts are his only acclamations, and cruel taunts his only paeans of praise.
2. They presented him with the wine of honour. Instead of a golden cup of generous wine they offered him the criminal's stupefying death-draught, which he refused because he would preserve an uninjured taste wherewith to taste of death; and afterwards when he cried, "I thirst," they gave him vinegar mixed with gall, thrust to his mouth upon a sponge. Oh! wretched, detestable inhospitality to the King's Son.
3. He was provided with a guard of honour, who showed their esteem of him by gambling over his garments, which they had seized as their booty. Such was the body-guard of the adored of heaven; a quaternion of brutal gamblers.
4. A throne of honour was found for him upon the bloody tree; no easier place of rest would rebel men yield to their liege Lord. The cross was, in fact, the full expression of the world's feeling towards him; "There," they seemed to say, "thou Son of God, this is the manner in which God himself should be treated, could we reach him."
5. The title of honour was nominally "King of the Jews," but that the blinded nation distinctly repudiated, and really called him "King of thieves," by preferring Barabbas, and by placing Jesus in the place of highest shame between two thieves. His glory was thus in all things turned into shame by the sons of men, but it shall yet gladden the eyes of saints and angels, world without end.
"Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, thou God of my salvation; and my tongue shall sing aloud of thy righteousness."
In this solemn confession, it is pleasing to observe that David plainly names his sin. He does not call it manslaughter, nor speak of it as an imprudence by which an unfortunate accident occurred to a worthy man, but he calls it by its true name, bloodguiltiness. He did not actually kill the husband of Bathsheba; but still it was planned in David's heart that Uriah should be slain, and he was before the Lord his murderer. Learn in confession to be honest with God. Do not give fair names to foul sins; call them what you will, they will smell no sweeter. What God sees them to be, that do you labour to feel them to be; and with all openness of heart acknowledge their real character. Observe, that David was evidently oppressed with the heinousness of his sin. It is easy to use words, but it is difficult to feel their meaning. The fifty-first Psalm is the photograph of a contrite spirit. Let us seek after the like brokenness of heart; for however excellent our words may be, if our heart is not conscious of the hell-deservingness of sin, we cannot expect to find forgiveness.
Our text has in it an earnest prayer--it is addressed to the God of salvation. It is his prerogative to forgive; it is his very name and office to save those who seek his face. Better still, the text calls him the God of my salvation. Yes, blessed be his name, while I am yet going to him through Jesus' blood, I can rejoice in the God of my salvation.
The psalmist ends with a commendable vow: if God will deliver him he will sing--nay, more, he will "sing aloud." Who can sing in any other style of such a mercy as this! But note the subject of the song--"Thy righteousness." We must sing of the finished work of a precious Saviour; and he who knows most of forgiving love will sing the loudest.
[Cā'leb] - bold, impetuous (also an animal name, meaning "dog").
1. A son of Jephunneh, usually so designated to distinguish him from other persons bearing the same name (Num. 13:6, 30).
The Man Who Desired a Mountain
Although Caleb was not an Israelite by birth, he was "an Israelite indeed." He was one of the chief spies sent out by Moses. He was courageous and persevered when the other spies became discouraged. He was invincible in driving out giants, completely devoted to God and vigorous in old age. Six times it is recorded of Caleb, "he hath fully followed the Lord."
His consecration was thorough. What magnificent adverbs are used to describe Caleb. He followed faithfully, wholly, fully. He never lowered his standards, but was perpetually wholehearted.
His courage was unfaltering. Giants did not disturb Caleb nor did those dastards who were ready to stone him.
His request was answered. To Caleb, whose life was woven of one piece throughout, reward crowned his faith and faithfulness. Through autumn winds and premonitions of snow, he brought forth fruit in his old age. When we come to the record of Caleb's personal inheritance in the land of Canaan we find him at eighty years of age asking of Joshua, "Now therefore give me this mountain." Caleb was a man of altitudes. He was not content with the average or the commonplace. He never thought in terms of fences or walled cities. It was the heights for Caleb, and although the mountain he wanted was filled with hostile Anakims, he refused defeat and claimed his inheritance. At long last a worthy recompense came to this noble man for "to patient faith the prize is sure."
2. The son of Hezron, a Judahite and father of Hur and grandfather of Caleb No. 1. There is some confusion about this Caleb (1 Chron. 2:18, 19, 42).
3. The son of Hur the son of Caleb No. 2 (1 Chron. 2:50).
Today's reading: 1 Samuel 7-9, Luke 9:18-36 (NIV)View today's reading on Bible Gateway
Today's Old Testament reading: 1 Samuel 7-91 So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the LORD. They brought it to Abinadab's house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the LORD. 2The ark remained at Kiriath Jearim a long time--twenty years in all.
Samuel Subdues the Philistines at Mizpah
Then all the people of Israel turned back to the LORD. 3 So Samuel said to all the Israelites, "If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines." 4 So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only....
Today's New Testament reading: Luke 9:18-36
Peter Declares That Jesus Is the Messiah
18 Once when Jesus was praying in private and his disciples were with him, he asked them, "Who do the crowds say I am?"
19 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, that one of the prophets of long ago has come back to life."
20 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
Peter answered, "God's Messiah...."
IS THERE A WAY FOR OUR SIN TO BE TAKEN AWAY?
The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, ‘A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel.”
Then John gave this testimony: “I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, ‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God.” (John 1:29-34).
Back at the beginning, before Jesus had even called his first disciples, there had been a moment of revelation. A wild-looking prophet named John who was baptizing people in the Jordan River and preaching about God reigning as king encountered Jesus of Nazareth. He looked at Jesus (who was John’s own cousin), and God opened his eyes to see that this was the one he had been prophesying about.
“Behold, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” is what John said. What he meant was: “Look! There is our salvation! There is the one whom all of the sacrifices in the Old Testament are pointing to. God has promised to take away our sin–and now that is becoming a reality!”
The dilemma that all of us face is: what can we do with all the mistakes, the transgressions, the shortcomings, the sins, that we commit? What does God make of us? Is it really possible that God is willing to forgive?
It is not merely that God forgives sinners–he “takes away” our sin. His forgiveness is so powerful, so complete, that it is appropriate to believe that our sin has been “taken away.” And the sign that God has really done that is that Jesus, like a sacrificial lamb, took our sin upon himself and carried it away.
Ponder What makes it hard for us to believe that Jesus has “taken away” our sin? Is it sometimes because we hold onto it? And if so, for what reason?
Today's Lent reading: Luke 19-20 (NIV)View today's Lent reading on Bible Gateway
Zacchaeus the Tax Collector
1 Jesus entered Jericho and was passing through. 2 A man was there by the name of Zacchaeus; he was a chief tax collector and was wealthy. 3 He wanted to see who Jesus was, but because he was short he could not see over the crowd. 4So he ran ahead and climbed a sycamore-fig tree to see him, since Jesus was coming that way.
5 When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, "Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today." 6 So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
7 All the people saw this and began to mutter, "He has gone to be the guest of a sinner...."