Every few years I give some thought (and prayer) to what sort of material I should use for devotional reading. I would class much of Andrew Murray’s and AW Tozer’s works as ‘devotional’, but this is not what I have in mind. Some call is a quiet time, some a devotional, others call it spending time with the Lord. What I mean is some form or structure or intent of daily guided reading of Scripture with or without some additional commentary.
In this post I want to develop some thoughts regarding 2 Peter 1:8-11. The ESV1 text reads:  For if these qualities are yours and are increasing, they keep you from being ineffective or unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.  For whoever lacks these qualities is so nearsighted that he is blind, having forgotten that he was cleansed from his former sins.  Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to confirm your calling and election, for if you practice these qualities you will never fall.
The verses I want to comment on in this post are 2 Peter 1:5-7. The ESV1 text reads:  For this very reason, make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge,  and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness,  and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love. Verses 3 and 4 very much spoke about what God had done and was doing to redeem His people and restore His Kingdom.
Continuing my look at 2 Peter. The verses under consideration in this post are the same that were the subject of my alliteration the other day, viz. 1 Peter 1:3-4 from the ESV1 His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
As I wrote the other day in my alliterative post on 2 Peter 1:3-4 I’ve been spending time in 2 Peter. I’ll post some thoughts on my reading in 2 Peter as I progress. The first two verses of 2 Peter 1 in the ESV1 read, ‘ Simeon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who have obtained a faith of equal standing with ours by the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ:  May grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.
Over the last couple of weeks I’ve spent some time reading in and meditating on Peter’s second epistle. 2 Peter 1:3-4 from the ESV1 reads: His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
Here are some thoughts regarding Psalm 119: The central theme is the word of God. Some of the sub-themes are how obedience to and knowledge of the word of God leads to deliverance and salvation. The Psalmist recognises that much of the word contains God’s promises which flow from God’s goodness and faithfulness. There is a deep understanding and reliance by the Psalmist on the Lord’s goodness and sovereignty. Some of the verses are in the form of prayers, others are statement or declarations of intent.
The last stanza! After spending nearly 6 months of daily considering a verse from Psalm 119, we’re at the end. This last stanza covers verses 169 to 176 and all begin in the Hebrew with the letter tav. It can also be transliterated as tau or taw. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 169. Let my cry come before you, O LORD; give me understanding according to your word!
Second last stanza. In this post we’re considering the twenty-first stanza - verses 161 to 168 prefixed in the Hebrew with the letter shin. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 161. Princes persecute me without cause, but my heart stands in awe of your words. Persecution comes to all believers in some form or another. In the Psalmist’s case his pursuers wanted to kill him and destroy his reputation and legacy.
Third last stanza. In this post we’re considering the twentieth stanza–verses 153 to 160 prefixed in the Hebrew with the letter resh. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 153. Look on my affliction and deliver me, for I do not forget your law. Further prayers for relief–for ‘deliverance’ which is the Hebrew chalats (H2502). Its root meaning is to pull something off or strip something away.
We’re closing in on the end of the Psalm. These reflections below are on the nineteenth stanza which covers verses 145 to 152. Each verse in the Hebrew begins with the letter qof. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 145. With my whole heart I cry; answer me, O LORD! I will keep your statutes. This verse continues the dominating sub-theme of the Psalm seeking to be obedient in the face of pursuit and persecution.
We’re up to the eighteenth stanza of Psalm 119–looking at verses 137 to 144 where each line in the Hebrew begins with the letter tsade. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 137. Righteous are you, O LORD, and right are your rules. Here we see the necessary connection or relationship between a righteous God and His laws. If the Lord is wholly righteous, then His decrees (and acts) will also be right.
We’re considering the seventeenth stanza of Psalm 119 - from verses 129 to 136 prefixed with the letter pe. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 129. Your testimonies are wonderful; therefore my soul keeps them. The Psalmist recognises the beneficial character and purpose of God’s word. The word translated as ‘wonderful’ reflects the miraculous and marvellous. The use of the word ‘soul’ is interesting. It is the Hebrew nephesh (H5315) and literally refers to a breathing creature, but can be read as a man, a person, the self or soul.
We’ve made it as far as the sixteenth stanza of Psalm 119 - from verses 121 to 128 prefixed with the letter ayin. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 121. I have done what is just and right; do not leave me to my oppressors. One of the very few verses in the Psalm that doesn’t make specific reference to God’s word, testimonies, precepts, law, way, etc.
We’ve made it as far as the fifteenth stanza of Psalm 119 - from verses 113 to 120 prefixed with the letter samech. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 113. I hate the double-minded, but I love your law. An interesting comparison/contrast being drawn here. I guess the inference is that if one loves the law of God (and the consequence of seeking to be obedient to it) that double-mindedness is precluded.
We’re looking at the fourteenth of twenty-two stanzas of Psalm 119 - verses 105 to 112 prefixed with the letter nun. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 105. Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. Perhaps the best known verse from this Psalm? Inspiration and lyric-source for the song Thy Word by Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith. An interesting metaphor that indicates the Lord illuminates both the path we should take and the position of our feet.
We’re looking at the thirteenth of twenty-two stanzas of Psalm 119 - verses 97 to 104 prefixed with the letter mem. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 97. Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day. This is one of the better known and most frequently quoted verses from this Psalm. David’s love for and appreciation of the word of God was so great that he declares that it is the object of his meditation continually.
Continuing on to record my reflections on a verse of Psalm 119 each day that began here and left off here. We’re looking at the twelfth of twenty-two stanzas of Psalm 119 - verses 89 to 96 prefixed with the letter lamed. These verses, from the ESV®1, interspersed with my comments are: 89. Forever, O LORD, your word is firmly fixed in the heavens. This verse firstly contains the idea that the Lord’s words are for perpetuity - continuing forever.
A couple of months ago I mentioned that I was reading in the early part of Luke’s gospel using Search the Scriptures to guide my reading and questions. I’ve since completed that, done some reading/studying in 1 Peter using a different method and have recommenced Search the Scriptures reading in Genesis. In just the second week of readings from Luke I came across three instances where the Bible text didn’t accord with what I been told it meant over the years.
Over the past week-and-a-half I’ve been spending time reading the early stages of Luke’s gospel. I’m not reading aimlessly or randomly but have begun using Search the Scriptures - which is a book first published in 1934 and revised in 1949 and 1967 that seeks to encourage regular, systematic Bible reading and study. The material in Search the Scriptures covers the entire Bible and contains studies to take exactly three years if it is used daily.
We’re looking at the eleventh stanza of Psalm 119 - verses 81 to 88 prefixed with the letter kaf. This will bring us to the half way mark in the Psalm. These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments are: 81. My soul languishes for Your salvation; I wait for Your word. Interesting to see the words ‘languishes’ and ‘wait’ in this verse. It runs counter to the idea common in Christian (and other) circles that we always need to be doing something.
We’re looking at the tenth stanza of Psalm 119 - verses 73 to 80 prefixed with the letter yod. These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments are: 73. Your hands made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Your commandments. Begins (as all sensible thinking should) with an acknowledgement of God’s creatorship2 and, therefore, a prayer for understanding. Here the understanding is sought to enable the Psalmist to learn the commandments.
We’re up to the ninth stanza from Psalm 119 - verses 65 to 72 prefixed with the letter tet. These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 65. You have dealt well with Your servant, O LORD, according to Your word. An interesting phrase or concept - that God has ‘dealt well’ with David. Equally interesting is David’s observation of this state of affairs. We can rely on the fact that God will deal with us is accordance with His word.
We’re up to the eighth stanza from Psalm 119 - verses 57 to 64 prefixed with the letter chet. These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 57. The LORD is my portion; I have promised to keep Your words. The word translated as ‘portion’ is the Hebrew cheleq (H2506) which refers to an allotment, inheritance or portion. The verse is a declaration of intent. The word translated as ‘promise’ is the Hebrew amar (H559) and can be read as to say or to speak, to call out or declare, to promise.
We’re up to the seventh stanza from Psalm 119 - verses 49 to 56 prefixed with the letter zayin. These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 49. Remember the word to Your servant, In which You have made me hope. An interesting turn-around in this verse where David asks the Lord to remember His word. Is this word the general revelation of God’s will to the Jewish people as David would have received it (the Torah or first five books of the Bible)?
We’re now looking at the sixth of the 22 stanzas of Psalm 119. This covers verses 41 to 48 under the letter vav (also spelt waw). These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 41. May Your lovingkindnesses also come to me, O LORD, Your salvation according to Your word; This is the first (and indeed only) verse from the Psalm whose structure per the NASB continues over two verses.
This is my fifth post reflecting on stanzas from Psalm 119. This covers verses 33 to 40 under the letter he (also spelt hei). These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 33. Teach me, O LORD, the way of Your statutes, And I shall observe it to the end. This verse contains a prayer or request and a declaration. The first clause prayer is answered in many ways and times, but seen explicitly in Scripture in John 14:26 (which I mention in relation to Psalm 119 verse 26) where Jesus speaks about the role of the Spirit.
This is my fourth post reflecting on stanzas from Psalm 119. This covers verses 25 to 32 under the letter dalet (also spelt daleth). These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 25. My soul cleaves to the dust; Revive me according to Your word. ‘My soul cleaves to the dust’ is such an interesting and evocative phrase. A soul (our mind, will and emotions) grovelling and wallowing in the dust.
My third post looking at a stanza of Psalm 119. This covers verses 17 to 24 under the letter gimel. These verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 17. Deal bountifully with Your servant, That I may live and keep Your word. The word translated as ‘bounty’ is the Hebrew gamal (H1580) and speaks of bestowing, doing good, rewarding or serving. So ‘deal bountifully’ could equally be ‘do good’, ‘bestow reward’.
This is the second post looking at a stanza of Psalm 119. The first looked at the first eight verses called aleph. This second stanza is called beth (apparently pronounced like ‘bet’). In Hebrew these eight verses all begin with the letter beth. These eight verses, from the NASB®1, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 9. How can a young man keep his way pure? By keeping it according to Your word.
This is my first post looking at a stanza of Psalm 119 which I’ve spoken about here and here. The first staza of Psalm 119 is entitled ‘aleph’ - being the first letter of the Hebrew alphabet where each verse begins with this Hebrew letter1. The first eight verses, from the NASB®2, interspersed with my comments read as follows: 1. How blessed are those whose way is blameless, Who walk in the law of the LORD.
This year (all nine days of it) I’ve been taking advice that pastor Philip Henry gave to his son Matthew some 300 years ago. Matthew was the author of the well-regarded commentary he called An Exposition of the Old and New Testaments, but is more commonly known today as Matthew Henry’s Complete Bible Commentary. I wrote about this particular piece of advice mid last year. The advice is to meditate on a new verse from Psalm 119 each day.
We come to the final chapter, and final post on my comments and reflections on the book of the prophet Micah. Micah 7 begins with a brief lament by Micah as he seeks righteous people in Israel but, like a fruit-picker arriving after the harvest, finds little joy (verse 1). Instead he finds people who are violent, seek opportunities to undertake violence, and do it well (2-3). He finds rulers and judges who are corrupt and can be bought with the bribe.
Micah chapter 6 is very much a chapter in two parts. Whilst the chapter and verse divisions in the Bible make it easier to find specific sentences, sometimes the divisions run counter to the narrative and make it more difficult to understand. The chapter divisions in use today were added in the early 13th century, and versification we use was added in the mid-1500s. Micah 6:1-8 The first three verses are a recap of the indictment of the Lord against His people, Israel.
We come to Micah, chapter 5. The early verses (from 2 through 4) speak of the coming Messiah. The words prophecy that one will come from Bethlehem, from the tribe of Judah and will become the ruler of Israel. Interestingly Micah also recognises or speak that this ruler is “from the days of eternity”. Verse 4 is worth quoting in full: And He will arise and shepherd His flock In the strength of the LORD, In the majesty of the name of the LORD His God.
Continuing my thoughts on Micah. Today we’re on chapter 4. The first 5 verses contain a prophecy of what will happen in the last days or latter days. This is a time to come. There is some beautiful imagery in these verses, viz. And it will come about in the last days that the mountain of the house of the LORD will be established as the chief of the mountains.
Further thoughts on the prophet Micah - this time on chapter 3. Micah 3 is a short chapter - 12 verses - and is a chapter in three parts. The first part - verses 1 through 4 details more of what we saw in the previous chapter about injustice, oppression, evil being perpetrated against the people by the elite (the charges are specifically against the “heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel”).
Continuing some thoughts on the book of the prophet Micah. Today looking at chapter 2. The chapter begins with the Lord’s/Micah’s indictment against the people: Woe to those who scheme iniquity, Who work out evil on their beds! When morning comes, they do it, For it is in the power of their hands. They covet fields and then seize them, And houses, and take them away. They rob a man and his house, A man and his inheritance.
In April, May and June I posted some thoughts on what I had been reading in the first 13 chapters of the major prophet, Jeremiah1. Towards the end of May and into early June I read my way through one of the minor prophets, Micah2, reading a chapter (more or less) every day or two. As I read, I journal. This journalling may take the form of observations or comments about the text.
This the third and final post in a short series looking at some interesting verses from the first thirteen chapters of the prophet Jeremiah. The first part considered aspects of chapters one through six whilst the second part covered chapters seven through twelve. This final part takes a look at chapter thirteen and focuses on one fairly extensive word picture that is painted or drawn in the first eleven verses. The extensive quote is from the New American Standard Bible.
Around a month ago I posted some thoughts from the first six chapters of Jeremiah. I’ve now finished reading the first thirteen chapters (out of fifty-two) and have moved on to another book1 for the time being. Like that previous post I’m intending to quote from the New American Standard Bible. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices.
Earlier this year I began reading in the book of the prophet Jeremiah as a part of my not-quite-daily “quiet time”/“devotional time”/“time with the Lord” 1. I’ve read through Jeremiah several times in the past but not spending time to pause and ponder 2. These days I would read something like 10 or 15 verses - maybe a third to half a chapter at a time and make some notes as I go.
I was looking through some notes I’d made a month-or-two ago whilst reading the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzuro. In it he advocates that believers participate in the Daily Office which are set times of stillness, Bible reading and prayer each day. He suggests the components and indeed the times and frequency can vary and be flexible, but there is value in setting aside multiple parts of the day for spiritual input and reflection.
Lectio divina (‘divine reading’) is a Bible reading method that is more than a Bible reading method. It has its origins in 6th century catholicism, but before you switch off, bear in mind that most historical Christian spiritual practices have their antecedents either in biblical times, the early church or catholicism since there were few alternatives until the reformation in the 16th century. It was first practiced by Benedict of Nursia in the 6th century and further developed bu Guigo II, a Carthusian monk in the 12th century.