NEHEMIAH 1:1-3:14 | 1 CORINTHIANS 7:1-24 | PSALM 31:19-24 | PROVERBS 21:4
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Following on the heels of the book of Ezra, we start a new book today authored by Nehemiah in the first-person. Nehemiah, a cup-bearer, and possibly a high official in the court of King Artaxerxes of Persia, finds favor with the king to be appointed as Governor of Judah, and goes down to Jerusalem to rebuild the walls of the city. Nehemiah accomplishes what he has set out to do, and by the end of the third chapter, we learn all the details of how the walls have been rebuilt, and the men who have been credited for the rebuilding effort are cited by name.
Turning next to our continued reading in the book of I Corinthians, we find Paul giving advice concerning marital matters. He speaks frankly about the expectations that ought to exist and be observed between married couples.
Paul says, 5 Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. 6 I say this as a concession, not as a command. 7 I wish that all of you were as I am. But each of you has your own gift from God; one has this gift, another has that.
And to the single people, Paul has this classic advice: 8 Now to the unmarried and the widows I say: It is good for them to stay unmarried, as I do. 9 But if they cannot control themselves, they should marry, for it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
Also, Paul advises tolerance amongst couples where the one might be a believer and the other might not. He says, If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband.
Finally, in this chapter, Paul speaks to the matter concerning change of status from non-believer to believer. He stresses that this change is not an outwardly one based on appearance or reputation, but one that is of the heart. Therefore, it matters not if some are circumcised and others are not, as also, if some are slaves and others not.
There is no distinction from one to the other in God’s sight, and he says this: 24 Brothers and sisters, each person, as responsible to God, should remain in the situation they were in when God called them.
Turning now to our psalm for the day, we find we are still in Psalm 31, and all six verses are so beautiful that I reproduce them here in their entirety. May it be that like David, the psalmist, we are also of the same mind to give high praise to our God who truly shows us the “wonders of his love.”
19 How abundant are the good things
that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
on those who take refuge in you.
20 In the shelter of your presence you hide them
from all human intrigues;
you keep them safe in your dwelling
from accusing tongues.
21 Praise be to the LORD,
for he showed me the wonders of his love
when I was in a city under siege.
22 In my alarm I said,
“I am cut off from your sight!”
Yet you heard my cry for mercy
when I called to you for help.
23 Love the LORD, all his faithful people!
The LORD preserves those who are true to him,
but the proud he pays back in full.
24 Be strong and take heart,
all you who hope in the LORD.
Finally, one verse from the book of Proverbs in which Solomon, the wise king of Israel, reminds us of two qualities that we would all be better off without:
4 Haughty eyes and a proud heart—
the unplowed field of the wicked—produce sin.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word.