Do you remember as a kid when your parents gave you rules you didn’t like? Didn’t you always think either they were just being mean or that it was to make things easier on them? The truth is, for the most part, rules are for the good of the child. This is similar to Paul’s message today in 2 Corinthians. He is asking them to remain faithful for their good, not for his own.
- 2 – The second half of this verse is repeated two other times in Scripture: Exodus 15:2 and Psalm 118:14. It is a powerful thought that God acts first as our strength and this leads him into the roll of our salvation.
- 13 – This begins a 10 chapter series of prophecies against various nations.
- 1-22 – This section is aimed at Babylon. In later years, Babylon would destroy Jerusalem and complete the exile of all of the Israelites out of their promised land. This hasn’t happened yet though.
- 3-23 – This prophecy is a bit of taunting toward the Babylonian king.
2 Corinthians 13:1-14:
- 1-3 – Clearly the Corinthians were questioning the validity of Paul’s message and it was showing in their actions.
- 5-10 – Paul is doing everything he can to ensure the Corinthians return to faithfulness. He assures them that he is not asking this of them for his own sake, but for theirs. He hopes to not have to come down on them when he visits.
- David writes this psalm as his life is in peril. He remains faithful through it and puts his trust in God. He even promises to tell others about these great things God has done.
- 10-11 – Moving a landmark amounted to stealing it. Entering the fields of the fatherless would be to wrong someone who is powerless. These wrongs would be avenged.
As a culture, we are terrible at trusting God. Most of it is due to our conditioning. We have the means to take care of most things ourselves. We might pray about a situation, but ultimately we know we’ll be the ones to fix it. When we lose a job, we pray about it, but when we get a new job we normally credit ourselves with our diligent work. Prayer was mostly lip service. In today’s psalm, David trusts God in a dire situation. We can learn a lot from his depth of reliance on God.
- 5-19 – God used Assyria to punish Israel when Assyria toppled Israel, but now God is speaking against them because they have overstepped their bounds and are going after Jerusalem.
- 20-23 – Though the Israelites in the Northern Kingdom were occupied by Assyria and only a few remained, they were able to have hope because God said they would eventually be able to return to relying on him.
- 24-27 – God assures Judah that they will not be overtaken by Assyria like Israel was.
- 1-16 – This is another Messianic prophecy. The root of Jesse refers to Jesse, David’s father. Jesus was from David’s line and thus part of Jesse’s family. This passage refers to the great power and influence the Messiah would have.
2 Corinthians 12:11-21:
- 14-15 – Paul describes himself as a type of spiritual father to the Corinthians explaining that he was not trying to get anything from them. He was just trying to offer them salvation. His goal was to give to them, not take away.
- 20-21 – Paul was fearful that the Corinthians were not actually living faithfully and he would be confronted with a failure in his ministry.
- David, though faced with a life-threatening situation, is able to put his full trust in God. He makes a powerful statement saying, “what can flesh do to me?” He understands that God is in control no matter how scary circumstances look.
- This is a warning against false kindness and false generosity.
Have you ever been betrayed by a friend? Or worse, have you ever betrayed a friend? In today’s psalm, David feels the pain of betrayal at the hands of a friend. Though this is always the risk, we know that God designed us to be in relationship and that, though betrayal is excruciating, the benefits of relationship are worth the risk.
- 11-15 – The Lord becomes a safe place to those who follow him but becomes a stumbling block for those who oppose him.
- 1-7 – A prophecy describing the Messiah that is to come. Enjoy this musical interpretation of this powerful prophecy.
- 8-21 – This foretells the coming demise of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Though God’s hand is still available, the people continue to walk towards evil and destruction.
2 Corinthians 12:1-10:
- 7-9 – Most theologians believe that Paul did have some sort of infirmity that he wanted to get rid of but could not. This kept him humble and may have also been a hindrance from moving quickly and traveling easily.
- 10 – It is often our difficulties that cause us to better relate to others with difficult conditions. They also allow us to be more thankful. Paul also realized that these are often the places where we are actually strongest.
- 12-15 – David was betrayed by a friend, which, as we all know, hurts much more than when we’re hurt by an enemy or stranger.
- 16-19 – David has great trust in the Lord to take care of him despite the ill intentions of his enemies.
- Though wealth seems to bring earthly status, it is fleeting and not worth spinning our wheels over.
Isaiah becomes one of the most bold, confident mouthpieces for God in his years as a prophet, but in his calling, which we’ll read today, he’s timid. He, like so many others in Scripture, feels unworthy of what God is calling him to do. When God calls us, he also gives us the ability to fulfill that calling.
- 1-4 – This sets the scene for Isaiah’s calling to be God’s prophet. God is described as vast and powerful.
- 5 – It is very common for folks in the Bible to be hesitant to accept their callings. They often have excuses.
- 6-7 – God always has a solution for people’s excuses.
- 8 – Yet another example of a person in Scripture who answers, “Here I am”.
- 9-13 – God is fed up with the Israelites unfaithfulness. He sends Isaiah to speak a message of repentance but knows the people won’t listen.
- 1-9 – Syria and Israel are in cahoots to attack Jerusalem, which is part of Judah. Isaiah is to assure Judah that Syria and Israel will not prevail.
- 14 – This is a clear prophecy of Jesus’ birth, which wouldn’t happen for over 400 years, but is also specifically talking about Isaiah’s son, Immanuel.
2 Corinthians 11:16-33:
- 19-21 – Apparently the Corinthians were very patient with those who wronged them. Paul admits he did not have that kind of strength.
- 22-29 – These are Paul’s credentials. This is what he’s been willing to endure for the sake of Christ.
- David writes this Psalm after being ratted out. He has been betrayed but his hope is still in the Lord because he knows God has taken care of him before and will continue to do so.
Sin tells us it’s not a big deal. Sin tells us it won’t hurt us. Sin often even tells us it’s good for us and will ultimately make us better. Sin lies. If it was always obvious how harmful sin is, we would probably avoid it more. But it hides in the bushes and lurks around waiting to attack. Today’s 2 Corinthians reading reminds us of just how deceptive sin can be.
- 1-15 – Now the judgment switches over to the Southern Kingdom of Judah.
- 16-26 – This judgment is directed towards “the daughters of Zion” – aka – Jerusalem.
- 2-6 – This is the plan for the future of Jerusalem after all the sinful folks are wiped out.
- 1-7 – This section describes Judah and Israel as a vineyard that has yielded wild grapes instead of the good, winemaking grapes that were intended. The vintner allows the vineyard to be destroyed.
- 6-23 – This is a series of laments of various ways people sin.
2 Corinthians 11:1-15:
- 3-6 – Paul fears that though the Corinthians are currently devoted to Christ and his gospel, they could easily be swayed.
- 12-15 – This is why it’s difficult to recognize sin. The devil, and those who follow him, make it difficult to decipher good from evil. They make them both look the same.
- 2-3 – This is not difficult to believe since both with Noah and Job, they seem to be the only faithful ones remaining. People corrupt one another and it grows exponentially.
- 6 – Though Jesus wasn’t from Jerusalem, that is where he died and thus salvation did occur in Jerusalem.
Isaiah is one of the most recognizable prophets. It is the most quoted Old Testament book and is one of the longest books in the Bible. Despite all that, it can be a challenge to follow. Isaiah sometimes uses confusing language and he repeats things a lot. So, here’s a little synopsis to keep you on track: in the first half, look for prophecies of destruction against the Israelites; in the second half, look for prophecies of restoration; sprinkled throughout, look for prophecies that foretell a coming Messiah.
- The book of Isaiah is told from the perspective of Isaiah the prophet about a vision he has had. Sometimes he will quote God, but he will identify it when he is. It is set before the Babylonian exile.
- 2-17 – This is a vision God has given Isaiah explaining that the Israelites are sinful and that God is tired of receiving meaningless sacrifices from people who go on sinning. They are no longer pleasing to him.
- 18 – There seems to be a plan in place for how God will restore the Israelites to himself.
- 1-4 – This is a vision for future peace and perfection.
- 5-22 – Though the majority of Isaiah addresses Judah, this vision calls upon the house of Jacob, which is most likely the Northern Kingdom of Israel, to repent.
2 Corinthians 10:1-18:
- 2-6 – Paul is hoping he doesn’t have a major spiritual battle to fight when he is with the Corinthians. He is not shy to do so, but he’s hoping there’s not a need there.
- 11 – Paul doesn’t just ask others to live faithfully, he does so himself.
- 17-18 – Our only boasts should be in what the Lord has done in the world and in us.
- This Psalm is from David’s perspective and contrasts his faithfulness and connection to God with someone else who delights in evil.
- This advises against making promises you can’t keep.
Though today’s Proverb isn’t to the point of McCarthyism, it does try to establish that the company we keep does influence who we are. If greed is a great temptation for us, we should not associate with those who get rich unscrupulously. If we struggle with lust, we shouldn’t hangout with people who frequent strip clubs. It makes good sense when you think about it.
Song of Solomon 5:1-8:14:
- 2-8 – Her lover comes to visit her but her teasing jokes accidentally send him away and she is unable to find him.
- 1-9 – His loving descriptions of her get a little racy.
- 6-7 – The woman declares that she and the man are inseparable. She also explains that the force of love cannot be resisted.
2 Corinthians 9:1-15:
- 6-8 – Sowing sparingly or bountifully doesn’t have to do with amount. Rather, it is about our willingness to give of what we have and trust God with what we’ve been given. We should not do so begrudgingly but cheerfully.
- 10-12 – Paul makes it clear that everything we have is from God and that God gives to us so that we can bless others.
- 1-6 – David is confronted with his sin and is in anguish.
- 7-12 – David asks God to forgive and cleanse him from his sins.
- 13-17 – David explains how he will act in response to God’s forgiveness.
- We have to be careful with the company we keep. They can tend to influence us into their own sin if we have any weakness in that particular area.
Ok all you lovebirds, get ready. Song of Solomon is written as a conversation between two people in love. If you need a pickup line, some sweet nothings to write in your spouse’s anniversary card, or just a reminder of how much you love your significant other, this is the biblical place to land. Try these out, “you are a sachet of myrrh” or “you are like a gazel or a young stag” or “your teeth are like a flock of shorn ewes”. You can’t go wrong.
Song of Solomon 1:10-4:16:
- The identifications of who is speaking are different in different translations based on what is thought to be happening. Translators agree that it is a conversation. Many believe it is between a bride and a groom, but from the conversation it is clear they’re in love.
- 1-17 – The man and woman flirt and plan to meet up. They are not shy about expressing how attracted they are to one another.
- 1-7 – I mean…what girl doesn’t want to be described like this? “Thank you for saying my teeth look like shorn ewes…”. But truly, this entire passage, particularly the beginning and end are such loving descriptions.
2 Corinthians 8:16-24:
- Titus was one of Paul’s co-laborers. He was a trusted friend of Paul’s. Paul is letting the Corinthians know that Titus and two others will soon come to Corinth to raise money and spread the gospel.
- 24 – Paul gives the Corinthians encouragement to live up to all the great things he’s been saying about them.
- 7-15 – The psalmist quotes God as saying that he does not need our sacrifices. He has all he needs because he made all things. He does, however, accept our sacrifices as offerings of thanksgiving.
- The poor and powerless are easy to steal from and oppress but this proverb reminds us that God has their back and will right the wrongs done to them.
In Hurricane Harvey’s aftermath, for the most part, we have seen the best of people. People far and wide are sending supplies and money to help the victims with anything and everything they need. Good Samaritans drove down to Southeast Texas with their boats ready to rescue anyone they could. In 2 Corinthians, Paul encourages believers to do just this kind of thing, but continually. He asks them to share of their resources and assure everyone is taken care of. Sounds like a good plan to me.
- 8-10 – There is danger in the world, but wisdom can minimize the danger we face.
- 1-4 – The world is uncertain and bad things will happen, but we are called to faithfulness and generosity in the midst of the uncertainty.
- 13 – This is the gist of the whole book. Though so much of what we focus on and worry about is “a chasing after the wind”, we have this one purpose that matters – to follow God and keep his commandments. This could simplify a lot for us.
2 Corinthians 8:1-15:
- 3-5 – Paul is encouraging and challenging the Corinthians in their faith by sharing about the Macedonians’ faith in action. They were giving from what they had and committed to God and the apostles.
- 8-15 – Paul encourages the Corinthians to be generous with those in need. He is kind of preaching a common pot that everyone draws from so whether you put in lots or little, everyone ends up with what they need.
- 5-11 – Like the message of Ecclesiastes, the psalmist makes it clear that we cannot trust in our things. They cannot save us from death. Death comes to all of us.
Do you have any Scripture memorized? If not, and even if you have some, I’d encourage you to do your best to memorize Scripture. Today’s Proverb indirectly encourages it. There are probably songs you can start singing at the drop of a hat, or movie lines you can quote…that’s because you have them memorized and they’re on the tip of your tongue. When we treat Scripture like this, we are blessed through the comfort, hope, and joy Scripture brings and we can be a blessing by sharing it with others.
- 1-14 – Though not the most exciting message, this aims our sites at death because, ultimately, that’s where we’re all headed. The section also lets us know that joy is always accompanied by sorrow. God made both and we can’t really have one without the other.
- 19-22 – These verses make it clear that righteousness in humanity is very relative.
- 27-29 – In biblical poetry, women tend to be personified as either tempting seductresses or virginal and pure. This is most likely what’s going on here as Solomon explains the temptation of folly in the face of wisdom.
- 1-7 – Solomon continually retorts that what we achieve on earth is somewhat insignificant because we all die. But be sure to read through to the end to learn his final conclusion.
2 Corinthians 7:8-16:
- 9 – Paul is ok with the Corinthians feeling a little bit of pain because it led to the ultimate good of repentance.
- 13-16 – Though much of the content of Paul’s letters was rebuke and instruction, he delighted when new believers acted in Christ-like ways. This is why both he and Titus rejoiced.
- 1-8 – The psalmist calls on people to give God praise because of the great protection God had offered them in past situations.
- 9-14 – The reflections of who God is and what he has done cause the people to share of his goodness for generations to come.
- When we have words of wisdom on our lips, they are the ones that come out of our mouths first. This is the same reason we want to have Scripture memorized.