September 8 Devotional (2021)

September 8, 2021
Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings:  Judges 15:1-20 / Matthew 17:14-21 / Give me a candle of the Spirit

Invocation

O Lord open thou my lips 

And my mouth shall declare thy praise. 

O God + come to my assistance; 

O Lord, make haste to help me. 

Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, * and to the Holy Ghost: As it was in the beginning, is now, * and ever shall be, world without end. Amen.

Opening Prayer

Sarum Prayer

God be in my head, 

        and in my understanding.

God by in mine eyes, 

        and in my looking.

God be in my mouth,

        and in my speaking.

God be in my heart, 

        and in my thinking.

God be at mine end, 

        and at my departing.

Amen. [1]

Hymn

“We are heirs”

Morning Prayer

Everliving God, whose will it is that all should come to you through your Son Jesus Christ: Inspire our witness to him, that all may know the power of his forgiveness and the hope of his resurrection; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen. [2]

Short Verse

You, O LORD, are a shield about me;* you are my glory, the one who lifts up my head. 

Psalm 3:3
Samson Slays a Thousand Men with the Jawbone of a Donkey (c. 1896–1902) by James Tissot

Morning Reading: Judges 15:1-20

Samson slays the Philistines

1 After some days, at the time of wheat harvest, Samson went to visit his wife with a young goat. And he said, “I will go in to my wife in the chamber.” But her father would not allow him to go in. 2 And her father said, “I really thought that you utterly hated her, so I gave her to your companion. Is not her younger sister more beautiful than she? Please take her instead.” 3 And Samson said to them, “This time I shall be innocent in regard to the Philistines, when I do them harm.” 4 So Samson went and caught 300 foxes and took torches. And he turned them tail to tail and put a torch between each pair of tails. 5 And when he had set fire to the torches, he let the foxes go into the standing grain of the Philistines and set fire to the stacked grain and the standing grain, as well as the olive orchards. 6 Then the Philistines said, “Who has done this?” And they said, “Samson, the son-in-law of the Timnite, because he has taken his wife and given her to his companion.” And the Philistines came up and burned her and her father with fire. 7 And Samson said to them, “If this is what you do, I swear I will be avenged on you, and after that I will quit.” 8 And he struck them hip and thigh with a great blow, and he went down and stayed in the cleft of the rock of Etam.

9 Then the Philistines came up and encamped in Judah and made a raid on Lehi. 10 And the men of Judah said, “Why have you come up against us?” They said, “We have come up to bind Samson, to do to him as he did to us.” 11 Then 3,000 men of Judah went down to the cleft of the rock of Etam, and said to Samson, “Do you not know that the Philistines are rulers over us? What then is this that you have done to us?” And he said to them, “As they did to me, so have I done to them.” 12 And they said to him, “We have come down to bind you, that we may give you into the hands of the Philistines.” And Samson said to them, “Swear to me that you will not attack me yourselves.” 13 They said to him, “No; we will only bind you and give you into their hands. We will surely not kill you.” So they bound him with two new ropes and brought him up from the rock.

14 When he came to Lehi, the Philistines came shouting to meet him. Then the Spirit of the LORD rushed upon him, and the ropes that were on his arms became as flax that has caught fire, and his bonds melted off his hands. 15 And he found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, and put out his hand and took it, and with it he struck 1,000 men. 16 And Samson said,

“With the jawbone of a donkey,

heaps upon heaps,

with the jawbone of a donkey

have I struck down a thousand men.”

17 As soon as he had finished speaking, he threw away the jawbone out of his hand. And that place was called Ramath-lehi.

18 And he was very thirsty, and he called upon the LORD and said, “You have granted this great salvation by the hand of your servant, and shall I now die of thirst and fall into the hands of the uncircumcised?” 19 And God split open the hollow place that is at Lehi, and water came out from it. And when he drank, his spirit returned, and he revived. Therefore the name of it was called En-hakkore; it is at Lehi to this day. 20 And he judged Israel in the days of the Philistines twenty years.

[27]

Morning Lesson

Samson’s revenge 

“Samson’s reply in Judges 15:11 tells the story of this chapter: ‘I only did to them what they did to me.’ Revenge is an uncontrollable monster. Each act of retaliation brings another. The revenge cycle can be halted only by forgiveness.” [3]

“Samson was angry because a friend married his wife. This friend prefigured all heretics. It is a great mystery, my brothers. Heretics who divide the church have wanted to marry the wife of the Lord and carry her away. By departing from the church and the Gospels, they attempt through adulterous wickedness to seize the church, that is, the body of Christ, as their portion. For this reason that faithful servant and friend of the Lord’s bride says, ‘I betrothed you to one spouse, that I might present you a chaste virgin to Christ’ [2Co 11:2]” (St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 118.4). [4] “Has not that other Christian committed such vices, such adultery, or such robbery? And what evil has befallen him? Those are the first appearances of the foxes, and souls that are seduced pay attention; the fire is behind them. Nothing has happened to him now, it is said. Since nothing has gone before, will nothing be dragged after? He is sure to come to the fire which follows. Do you think further that the heretics drag along the fire with which to burn the fruits of their enemies but are not themselves burned? Doubtless, when the foxes burned the harvest they, too, were burned. This judgment will come back upon the heretics; what they do not see now they have behind them” (St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 118.4). [5]

“The Lord’s strength came upon Samson [vv. 14-17], but he was proud and boasted only of his own strength: ‘With the jawbone of a donkey . . . I’ve killed a thousand men!’ Pride can cause us to take credit for work we’ve done only because of God’s strength.” [6]

“[W]hen Samson destroyed a thousand men with a jawbone from the body of [a donkey], the Gentiles were prefigured in the [donkey]; for thus Scripture speaks concerning both Jews and Gentiles: ‘An ox knows its owner, and [a donkey] its master’s manger’ [Is 1:3]. Before the coming of Christ all the Gentiles were torn to pieces by the devil and lay scattered like dry bones from the [donkey’s] body, but when Christ the true Samson came, he seized them all in his holy hands. He restored them by the hands of his power, and with them overcame his and our adversaries. Thus, we who had given our members to the devil before so that he might kill us, were seized by Christ and became instruments of justice unto God” (St. Caesarius of Arles, Sermon 119.4). [7]

“Soon Samson began to feel a fierce thirst; there was no water, and he could no longer stand to bear his thirst. Knowing that to attain human help would not be easy and that it would be difficult without divine aid, he called upon and begged almighty God. He did not think God would help him because of his offense against him, and because he had unwisely and carefully attributed any success to himself [see v. 16]. No, he even assigned the victory to almighty God, saying, ‘You have given this very great deliverance into the hand of your servant, and it has been my help. And behold! Because I die of thirst, I am placed by my need of water into the power of those over whom you gave me a great triumph.’ Then God’s mercy opened the earth when Samson threw down the jawbone, and a stream issued from it, and Samson drank and resumed his spirit and called the place ‘the invoking of the spring.’ Thus, by his prayer, he atoned for his vaunting of victory” (St. Ambrose of Milan, Letter 35). [8]

When “Samson was physically and emotionally exhausted. After a great personal victory, his attitude declined quickly into self-pity—’Must I now die of thirst?’ Emotionally, we are most vulnerable after a great effort or when faced with real physical needs. Severe depression often follows great achievements, so don’t be surprised if you feel drained after a personal victory.” [9]

“During these times of vulnerability, avoid the temptation to think that God owes you for your efforts. It was his strength that gave you victory. Concentrate on keeping your attitudes, actions, and words focused on God instead of yourself.” [10]

OPTIONAL FURTHER READING:
ABOUT JUDGES 

Circumstances of Writing 

“No author is named in the book of Judges, nor is any indication given of the writer or writers who are responsible for it. The three divisions of the book are on a different footing regarding the sources from which they are drawn. The historical introduction presents a form of the traditional narrative of the conquest of Palestine that is parallel to the book of Joshua. The main portion of the book, comprising the narratives of the judges, appears to be based on oral or written traditions of a local observer.” [11]

“The period of the Israelite judges lay between the conquest of the promised land under Joshua and the rise of the monarchy with Saul and David. The events described are thus to be dated from the end of the fifteenth century BC to the latter part of the eleventh century BC, a period of around three hundred years. This was a time of social and religious anarchy, characterized by the repeated refrain, “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did whatever seemed right to him” (17:6; 18:1; 19:1; 21:25).” [12]

“We cannot ascertain exactly when the book of Judges was composed. The reference in 18:30 to the fate of Dan at “the time of the exile from the land” suggests a date of final editing after the exile of the northern kingdom by Assyria around 722 BC. Meanwhile, the suggestion that readers could visit the site of Gideon’s altar at Ophrah in 6:24 suggests a date prior to the exile of the southern kingdom, Judah, in 586 BC. Its message would have resonated strongly at several points of Israel’s history, and it has been argued that it fits well during the dark days of Manasseh (686–642 BC; 2Kg 21:1-18). However, it is not possible to date Judges with precision.” [13]

Contribution to the Bible 

“The book of Judges shows us that the nation of Israel survived the dark days of the judges entirely by the grace of God. In mercy he sent oppressors as reminders of their rebellion. In mercy he responded to their cries and raised up deliverers. Judges also illustrates the fundamental problem of the human heart. When God’s people forget his saving acts, they go after other gods. Judges also illustrates the link between spiritual commitments and ethical conduct. In the end the book of Judges illustrates the eternal truth: the Lord will build his kingdom, in spite of our sin and rebellion.” [14]

Structure 

“The book falls into three parts. There is a prologue (1:1–3:6) that deals with the failure of the second generation to press on with the conquest of Canaan. This is followed by a sixfold cycle of sin and salvation (3:7–16:31), which forms the bulk of the book. Finally, there is an appendix (chaps. 17–21) that shows the full effects of total depravity let loose upon the people. This structure demonstrates not only the repetition of patterns of sin and judgment but also negative progress. The midpoint of the narrative is the linked episode involving Gideon and Abimelech, which serves to highlight further the significance of the issue of kingship.” [15]

Gregory the Great on Judges 

“Almighty God shows wonderful providence in distributing his blessings. Frequently, by denying lesser gifts to those whom he has favored with great virtues, he offers their souls an opportunity for self-reproach. . . . For a similar reason the Lord destroyed the powerful enemies who beset his chosen people on their way to the promised land, but [he] allowed the Philistines and Canaanites to survive, so that, as it is written, “he might try Israel by them.” Sometimes, as I have said, those who have received exceptional graces are the very ones God allows to retain small imperfections so that they may always have obstacles with which to contend. As a result they do not foster pride in their hearts even though they are victorious over powerful enemies, for they realize that the weakest of adversaries still causes them great weariness. It is quite remarkable how one and the same person can be vigorous in virtue and weak with infirmity, and while strongly fortified on one side see himself laid waste on the other. The good, therefore, for which he is striving without success, makes him cherish humbly the gifts God has given him.” [16]


Midday Prayer

Before I depart from this life, grant me the knowledge of Your truth. Preserve my life in this world until I offer You true repentance. Do not take me away in the midst of my days, and when You are pleased to bring my life to an end, forewarn me of my death, that I may prepare my soul to come before You. Be with me then, O Lord, on that great and sacred day, and grant me the joy of Your salvation. Cleanse me from my sins, manifest and hidden, from all iniquity concealed within me; and grant me a good defense before Your dread judgment seat. AMEN.

  • By Elder Sophrony Of Essex [17]

Short Verse

Let all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;* let those who love your salvation say for ever, “Great is the LORD!” 

Psalm 70:4

Midday Reading: Matthew 17:14-21

Healing by faith

14 And when they were come to the multitude, there came to him a man, kneeling to him, saying, 15 Lord, have mercy on my son: for he is epileptic, and suffereth grievously; for oft-times he falleth into the fire, and off-times into the water. 16 And I brought him to thy disciples, and they could not cure him. 17 And Jesus answered and said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? how long shall I bear with you? bring him hither to me. 18 And Jesus rebuked him; and the demon went out of him: and the boy was cured from that hour.

19 Then came the disciples to Jesus apart, and said, Why could not we cast it out? 20 And he saith unto them, Because of your little faith: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. 21 But this kind goeth not out save by prayer and fasting.

Midday Lesson

The banishment of demons

“The Scripture shows that this man is very weak in faith. This is evident from many things: from Christ’s saying [in Mk 9:23], “All things are possible to him who believes,” and from the fact that the man himself as he approached said, ‘Help my unbelief.’ And it is evident from Christ’s ordering the demon “never to enter him again” [Mk 9:25] and from the man’s saying again to Christ, “If you can” [Mk 9:22]. But you will say, ‘If his unbelief was the reason why the demon had not gone out of the boy, why does he blame the disciples?’ To show that they can often cure the sick, even though no one brings them in with faith. For just as the faith of the one bringing in the sick was often sufficient for receiving a cure even from lesser ministers, so the virtue of the minister was also sufficient to achieve a miracle even without the faith of those bringing them in. Both of these are demonstrated in the Scriptures; for those around Cornelius drew to them the power of the Spirit by their faith. And in the time of Elisha, when no one believed, a dead man was raised” (St. Chrysostom, The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 57.3). [18]

“Sickness in Scripture is often connected to demonic activity. By kneeling, this father shows humility, but he lacks fath.” [19] Furthermore, “the disciples’ faith was too weak to cure the epileptic boy. Lack of faith can limit the effectiveness of our prayers.” [20]

“While the disciples also lacked faith (v. 20), Christ rebuke[d] the man for placing the blame on the disciples when it was his greater lack of faith that prevented the boy’s healing. In effect, Jesus defend[ed] His disciples in front of the multitudes but later rebuk[ed] them privately (vv. 19-21), teaching us that we ought first to correct people in private (see 18:15-17).” [21] “St. John Chrysostom note[d] that this rebuke [was] directed at the nine disciples who could not cast out the demon, whereas ‘the pillars’ of faith – Peter, James, and John (Gal 2:9) – were not included in the rebuke, as they had been on the mountain with Christ (v. 1).” [22]

Today’s passage concludes with verse 21: But this kind goeth not out save by prayer and fasting. This kind (v. 21) refers to all powers of darkness, not simply those that cause a particular illness. The banishment of demons requires faith (v. 20), prayer, and fasting (v. 21), for there is no healing and no victory in spiritual warfare without all three.” [23]


Eventide Prayer

An Evening Prayer 

Save us, O God, and raise us up by Your Christ. Let us stand up, and beg for the mercies of the Lord, and His compassions, for the angel of peace, for what things are good and profitable, for a Christian departure out of this life, an evening and a night of peace, and free from sin; and let us beg that the whole course of our life may be unblamable. Let us dedicate ourselves and one another to the living God through His Christ. AMEN. 

  • Apostolic Constitutions, Fourth Century [24]

Short Verse

Be exalted, O LORD, in your might;* we will sing and praise your power. 

PSalm 21:14

Eventide Reading

Give me a candle of the Spirit

Give me a candle of the Spirit, O God, as I go down into the deeps of my being. Show me the hidden things, the creatures of my dreams, the storehouse of forgotten memories and hurts. Take me down to the spring of my life, and tell me my nature and my name. Give me freedom to grow, so that I may become that self, the seed of which You planted in me at my making. Out of the depths I cry to You… 

  • George Appleton [25]

Compline Prayer

O Lord, you surrounded your people at night as a pillar of fire to defend them from the plans of the Pharaoh and the captains of his army. Also send us your Holy Spirit from your flaming, jeweled, and awesome throne to take care of your people. Defend us this night with the shield of faith, that we may not fear the terrors of the night; for you reign forever and ever. Amen. [26]


Devotionals compiled/written by S. P. Rogers

Citations:

[1] Kitch, A. E. (2004). A Sarum Prayer. In The Anglican family prayer book (Kindle ed., 110). Harrisburg, PA: Morehouse Pub.

[2] Episcopal Church. (1979). Prayers and Thanksgivings. In The Book of common prayer: And administration of the sacraments, and other rites and ceremonies of the church, according to the use of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America: Together with the psalter, or, Psalms of David (pp. 816-817). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[3] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Judges. In Chronological life application study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 5517). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[4] Caesarius of Arles. (2019). Judges. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 824). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[5] Ibid. 4

[6] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Judges. In Chronological life application study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 5517). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[7] Caesarius of Arles. (2019). Judges. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 824). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[8] Ambrose. (2019). Judges. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 824). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[9] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Judges. In Chronological life application study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 5518). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

[10] Ibid. 9

[11] Judges. (2019). In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 779). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[12] Ibid. 11

[13] Ibid. 11

[14] Ibid. 11

[15] Ibid. 11

[16] Ibid. 11, P. 780

[17] Papavassiliou, V. (2014). Prayers of the Saints. In The ancient faith prayer book (Kindle ed., p. 133). Chesterton, IN: Ancient Faith Publishing.

[18] Chrysostom. (2019). Matthew. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 2736). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[19] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Matthew. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1331). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[20] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Matthew. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 2869). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

[21] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Matthew. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. 1331). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[22] Ibid. 21

[23] Ibid. 21

[24] Potts, J. M. (2020). Fourth Century Prayers. In Prayers of the Early Church (Kindle, pp. 55). essay. 

[25] The Northumbria Community. (2015). Daily Prayer. In Celtic Daily Prayer (Kindle ed., p. 16402). London: HarperCollins.

[26] Stratman, P. (2001). Evening Prayers. In Prayers from the Ancient Celtic Church (Kindle ed., p. 20). Rossway.

[27] Tyndale House Publishers. (2012). Samson [Profile]. In Chronological life application study Bible (p. 397). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Pub.

One thought on “September 8 Devotional (2021)

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