September 9 Devotional (2021)

September 9, 2021
Ordinary Time

Today’s Readings: Psalm 116:1-9 / Joshua 2:1-14 / Hebrews 11:17-22

A prayer inspired by Constance and her Companions, Martyrs of Memphis, Tennessee, 1878

We give thee thanks and praise, O God of compassion, for the Heroic witness of Constance and her companions, who, in a time of plague and pestilence, were steadfast in their care for the sick and the dying, and loved not their own lives, even unto death. Inspire in us a like love and commitment to those in need, following the example of our Savior Jesus Christ…

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.

The Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,

    hallowed be thy Name,

    thy kingdom come,

    thy will be done,

        on earth as it is in heaven.

Give us this day our daily bread.

And forgive us our trespasses,

    as we forgive those

        who trespass against us.

And lead us not into temptation,

    but deliver us from evil.

For thine is the kingdom,

    and the power, and the glory,

    for ever and ever. Amen.

Hymn

 “Leaning on the Everlasting Arms” by Elisha Hoffman
Representative Text:

1 What a fellowship, what a joy divine, 

leaning on the everlasting arms; 

what a blessedness, what a peace is mine, 

leaning on the everlasting arms.

Refrain:

Leaning, leaning, 

safe and secure from all alarms; 

leaning, leaning, 

leaning on the everlasting arms.

2 O how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way, 

leaning on the everlasting arms; 

O how bright the path grows from day to day, 

leaning on the everlasting arms. [Refrain]

3 What have I to dread, what have I to fear, 

leaning on the everlasting arms? 

I have blessed peace with my Lord so near, 

leaning on the everlasting arms. [Refrain] [1]


Morning Prayer

O God, who hast made of one blood all the peoples of the earth, and didst send thy blessed Son to preach peace to those who are far off and to those who are near: Grant that people everywhere may seek after thee and find thee; bring the nations into thy fold; pour out thy Spirit upon all flesh; and hasten the coming of thy kingdom; through the same thy Son Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. [2]

Short Verse

Sing to God, sing praises to his Name; exalt him who rides upon the heavens;* YAHWEH is his Name, rejoice before him!

Psalm 68:4

Morning Reading: Psalm 116:1-9

I will walk in God’s presence

I love the Lord, because he has heard

my voice and my supplications.

Because he inclined his ear to me,

therefore I will call on him as long as I live.

The snares of death encompassed me;

the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me;

I suffered distress and anguish.

Then I called on the name of the Lord:

“O Lord, I pray, save my life!”

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;

our God is merciful.

The Lord protects the simple;

when I was brought low, he saved me.

Return, O my soul, to your rest,

for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

For you have delivered my soul from death,

my eyes from tears,

my feet from stumbling.

I walk before the Lord

in the land of the living.


Midday Prayers

Midday Hour Prayers by St. John Chrysostom 

11:00 A.M. O Lord, sprinkle upon my heart the dew of Your grace. [3]

12:00 P.M. O Lord of heaven and earth, remember me, Your sinful servant, who am cold of heart and impure, in Your Kingdom. [4]

1:00 P.M. O Lord, receive my repentance. [5]

Short Verse

Sing a new song to YAHWEH! Let his praise be sung from the remotest parts of the earth, by those who sail the sea and by everything in it, by the coasts and the islands and those who inhabit them.

Isaiah 42:10
Rahab lets the spies escape in this 1860 woodcut by Julius Schnorr von Karolsfeld
(source)

Midday Reading: Joshua 2:1-14

Rahab shelters Joshua’s spies

1 And Joshua the son of Nun senta two men secretly from Shittim as spies, saying, “Go, view the land, especially Jericho.” And they went and came into the house of a prostitute whose name was Rahab and lodged there. 2 And it was told to the king of Jericho, “Behold, men of Israel have come here tonight to search out the land.” 3 Then the king of Jericho sent to Rahab, saying, “Bring out the men who have come to you, who entered your house, for they have come to search out all the land.” 4 But the woman had taken the two men and hidden them. And she said, “True, the men came to me, but I did not know where they were from. 5 And when the gate was about to be closed at dark, the men went out. I do not know where the men went. Pursue them quickly, for you will overtake them.” 6 But she had brought them up to the roof and hid them with the stalks of flax that she had laid in order on the roof. 7 So the men pursued after them on the way to the Jordan as far as the fords. And the gate was shut as soon as the pursuers had gone out.

8 Before the men lay down, she came up to them on the roof 9 and said to the men, “I know that the LORD has given you the land, and that the fear of you has fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land melt away before you. 10 For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red Sea before you when you came out of Egypt, and what you did to the two kings of the Amorites who were beyond the Jordan, to Sihon and Og, whom you devoted to destruction. 11 And as soon as we heard it, our hearts melted, and there was no spirit left in any man because of you, for the LORD your God, he is God in the heavens above and on the earth beneath. 12 Now then, please swear to me by the LORD that, as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign 13 that you will save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” 14 And the men said to her, “Our life for yours even to death! If you do not tell this business of ours, then when the LORD gives us the land we will deal kindly and faithfully with you.”

Midday Lesson

Rahab Hides the Spies
  • Verse 1: Shittim “Abel-shittim, ‘brook of the acacia trees,’ located 8 mi from the Jordan River, opposite Jericho, in the plains of Moab (Tell el-Hammam or Tell el-Kefren; cf Nu 25: 1 ; 33: 49– 50 ). Area offers strategic locations overlooking plains of Moab.” [6]
  • Verse 1: spies “Scripture does not condemn the use of spies either here or in Nu 13, where the Lord commands their use. Joshua uses his ‘spirit of wisdom’ (Dt 34:9). Jesus says that His disciples are to be ‘wise as serpents’ even while they are ‘innocent as doves’ (Mt 10:16).” [7]
  • Verse 1: especially Jericho “Key city because it controlled the routes into the heart of Canaan. It was near the main fords across the southern Jordan, and it controlled the fresh spring water vital to the area. To take Jericho would be a first step in taking the heart of Canaan (cf Nu 13:18–20).” [8]
  • Verse 1: came into the house of a prostitute “Context shows their purpose was to gather information. Rahab’s house may have served as an inn and was an ideal place for soaking up information on Jericho and the area. Because the house was built into the city wall (v 15), a quick escape from the city would be possible. Ultimately, the Lord’s grace leads them to this house so that He may rescue Rahab for eternal salvation. She will even become an ancestress of Jesus (Mt 1: 5).” [9]
  • Verse 2: king “Canaan at this time consisted of city-states, each with a king. Ch 12 names 31 such kings. The Amarna Letters, written about the time of Joshua, show that these Canaanite kings thought of Egyptian pharaohs as their overlords and protectors.” [10]
  • Verses 1-2:  Origen: “Because the scribes and Pharisees did not believe him, the Lord spoke concerning the baptism of John and said that the “prostitutes and publicans who believed” [Mt 21:32] were baptized. The same thing is fulfilled in the fact that the prostitute received the spies of Jesus [Joshua] and is snatched away and brought back from the destruction of every hostile nation” (Homilies on Joshua 3.3). [11]
  • Verses 1-2: Gregory of Elvira: “This Rahab, although she is called a prostitute, nevertheless is a sign of the virgin church, considered as a foreshadow of the coming realities at the end of the age, where she alone is preserved to life among all who are perishing. For even when it was said to the prophet Hosea [in Hs 1:2], “Take for your wife a prostitute,” surely then the image of the church as coming from the Gentiles was being prefigured, given that the people were to be gathered from the harlotry of the nations and from prostitution with idols, for, it says, “they prostituted themselves to strange gods” [Dt 31:16]. . . . And just as the apostle says, “An unfaithful wife is sanctified through her faithful husband” [1Co 7:14], so also is the church, coming from the infidelity of the Gentiles and prostitution with idols, sanctified through the body of Christ, of which we are members, as we learn from the same apostolic author [see Rm 12:5; 1Co 6:15; 12]. Because the church, as I have often said, gathered from the multitude of Gentiles, was then called a prostitute, therefore the church is found in the figure of Rahab, the hostess of saints”  (Origen’s Tractates on the Books of Holy Scripture 12). [12]
  • Verse 5: “Author simply records the facts and does not comment on the appropriateness of Rahab’s deception. Account does not use the word “lie” to describe what she does, nor do the two NT passages that speak of her actions (Heb 11:31; Jas 2:25)… We do not owe the truth to people who will use it for evil.” [13]
  • Verse 6: roof “Flat roofs of ancient houses made them practical as work spaces, spare rooms, storage areas, or as drying floors for crops (Jgs 16:27; 1Sm 9:25).” [14]
  • Verse 6: stalks of flax “Used to make linen clothing, sails, rope, and lamp wicks. Author does not explain how Rahab hid the men with the flax.” [15]
  • Verse 6: Jerome: “Even though she is a harlot, [Rahab] covers them with flax. Flax with much labor and care becomes of dazzling whiteness. You yourselves know that flax grows from the soil and that when it has come forth from the ground, it is black; it has no beauty; it has no use. First, it is pulled up from the ground, broken, then twisted, afterwards washed. Next, it is pounded; finally, combed, and after so much care and hard work, it finally becomes white. Here, then, is the meaning: this harlot took the messengers in and covered them with her flax so that these agents might turn her flax into dazzling whiteness” (Homilies on the Psalms 18 [Ps 86]). [16]
  • Verse 7: the fords “Shallow places in the Jordan gave Jericho strategic importance. Definite article ‘the’ may indicate that they were well known and used often. Cf 2Sm 19:16–19.” [17]
  • Verse 9: I know “Rahab reflects her saving faith ( Heb 11:31; Jas 2:25). She has somehow learned about the Lord of salvation and His plans for Israel. Because faith is always God’s gift, He ultimately is the author of her faith (1Co 12:3).” [15] Saint Ambrose: “After she believed in God, she found salvation.” [18]
  • Verse 9: melt away “Hearts disintegrating in fear. Moses had prophesied this “melting” of Canaanites in Ex 15: 15 , where he uses the same Hbr verb.” [19]
  • Verse 10: we have heard “Word of two dramatic events traveled far: Israel’s crossing of the Red Sea by the hand of the Lord 40 years earlier, and Israel’s recent defeat of two kings east of the Jordan River.” [20]
  • Verse 11: no spirit/ no courage “The LORD your God, He is God. Rahab’s saving faith shines in her confession. She knows the special name for the true God of free and faithful grace: the Lord, or Yahweh. She acknowledges that He is God of all.” [21]
  • Verse 12: swear “Oath that Rahab requests from the spies is evidence of her faith in the saving God, because she insists that they swear ‘by the LORD.’ She ties her future safety to the Lord by a solemn oath.” [22]
  • Verse 12: my father’s house “Rahab’s concern is for the entire household… Oath in the Lord’s name guarantees safety. Rahab needs no other sign because the Lord is always faithful to His name.” [23]
  • Verse 14: Our life for yours “The spies vow to give their very lives, if necessary, to keep their promise and protect Rahab.” [24]
  • Verse 14: yours “Hbr plural, showing their pledge extends to Rahab’s entire family.” [25]
  • Verses 12-18: Clement of Rome: “For her faith and hospitality Rahab the harlot was saved. . . And moreover [the spies] gave her a sign, that she should hang out from her house a scarlet thread [v. 18], thereby showing beforehand that through the blood of the Lord there shall be redemption for all them that believe and hope on God. You see, dearly beloved, not only faith, but prophecy, is found in the woman” (1 Clement 12). [26]

Eventide Prayer

An Evening Thanksgiving 

Accept, we beseech You, our evening thanksgiving, O You Fountain of all good, who have led us in safety through the length of the day; Who daily blesses us with so many temporal mercies, and have given us the hope of resurrection to eternal life; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN. 

—An Ancient Collect, Fifth Century [27]

Short Verse

Ascribe power to God;* his majesty is over Israel;… How wonderful is God in his holy places!… * Blessed be God!

Psalm 68:35-36
Jacob Blessing Ephraim and Manasseh, by Benjamin West
(source)

Eventide Reading: Hebrews 11:17-22

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob act on faith

17 By faith Abraham, when he was tested, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was in the act of offering up his only son, 18 of whom it was said, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named.” 19 He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back. 20 By faith Isaac invoked future blessings on Jacob and Esau. 21 By faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, bowing in worship over the head of his staff. 22 By faith Joseph, at the end of his life, made mention of the exodus of the Israelites and gave directions concerning his bones.

Eventide Lesson

The faith of the Patriarchs
  • Verses 8-22: “Abraham and other figures of the patriarchal era of Israel exhibited great faith in God’s promises even though they would die before they would ever see these promises fulfilled. They accepted their vocation and trials in this life as they eagerly looked forward to the coming Messiah of God’s promise. Christians live in hope of extending to many others the Good News of the Gospel and reaching eternal life.” [28]
  • Verse 19: “God told Abraham to offer up his own son in sacrifice as a test of his obedience. Abraham obeyed, and the angel of God stopped him before the sacrifice took place (cf. Gn 22:1-20). This happened on the third day after God had given his command. Isaac is a type, or figure, of Christ, the Son who would be offered in Sacrifice; the third day prefigures Christ’s Resurrection. Through their painful trial, Abraham’s faith and trust in God never wavered.” [29]
  • Verse 21: “Jacob prefigured the Cross when he venerated the top of the staff of Joseph (Gn 47:31) and when he blessed Joseph’s sons with his hands crossed (Gn 48:14).” [30]

Compline Prayer

*  God of life, this night, O darken not to me Thy light. *  God of life, this night, close not Thy gladness to my sight. *  Keep Your people, Lord, in the arms of Your embrace. Shelter them under Your wings. *  Be their light in darkness. Be their hope in distress. Be their calm in anxiety. *  Be strength in their weakness. *  Be their comfort in pain. *  Be their song in the night. Amen. [31]


Citations:

[1] Author: E. A. HoffmanElisha Hoffman (1839-1929) after graduating from Union Seminary in Pennsylvania was ordained in 1868. As a minister he was appointed to the circuit in Napoleon, O. in 1872. H. worked with the E. A. publishing arm in C. for eleven years. H. served in many chapels and churches in C. and in G. in the 1880s. (n.d.). Leaning on the everlasting arms. Hymnary.org. https://hymnary.org/text/what_a_fellowship_what_a_joy_divine

[2] Episcopal Church. (1979). Daily Office. 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. 58). New York, NY: Church Publishing Incorporated.

[3] Papavassiliou, V. (2014). Prayers of the Saints. In The ancient faith prayer book (Kindle ed., p. 129). Chesterton, IN: Ancient Faith Publishing.

[4] Ibid. 3

[5] Ibid. 3

[6] A., E. E. (2016). Joshua. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 1732). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[7] Ibid. 6

[8] Ibid. 6

[9] Ibid. 6

[10] Ibid. 6, P. 1733

[11] Origen. (2019). Joshua. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 719). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[12] Gregory of Elvira. (2019). Joshua. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 719). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[13] A., E. E. (2016). Joshua. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 1733). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[14] Ibid.13

[15] Ibid. 13

[16] Jerome. (2019). Joshua. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 720). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[17] A., E. E. (2016). Joshua. In The Lutheran study Bible: English standard version (Kindle ed., pp. 1732). Saint Louis: Concordia Publishing House.

[18] Ibid. 17

[19] Ibid. 17, P. 1733-1734

[20] Ibid. 17, P. 1734

[21] Ibid. 17, P. 1734

[22] Ibid. 17, P. 1734

[23] Ibid. 17, P. 1735

[24] Ibid. 17, P. 1735

[25] Ibid. 17, P. 1735

[26] Clement of Rome. (2019). Joshua. In Ancient faith study Bible (Kindle ed., p. 720). Nashville: Holman Bible.

[27] Potts, J. M. (2020). Fifth Century Prayers. In Prayers of the Early Church (Kindle, pp. 62). essay. 

[28] Cole, J. (Ed.). (2015). Hebrews. In Didache Bible: With commentaries based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church (Kindle ed., p. 3711). Downers Grove, IL: Midwest Theological Forum,, Ignatius Press.

[29] Ibid. 28

[30] Academic Community of St. Athanasius Academy of Orthodox Theology (2008). Hebrews. In The Orthodox study Bible (p. O 1697-1698). Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.

[31] The Northumbria Community. (2015). Compline. In Celtic Daily Prayer (Kindle ed., p. 92049). London: HarperCollins.

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