Daily Devotional for August 11-17
Romans 6:19.. I speak after the manner of men because of the infirmity of your flesh: for as ye have yielded your members servants to uncleanness and to iniquity unto iniquity; even so now yield your members servants to righteousness unto holiness. For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteous- ness. What fruit had ye then in those things whereof ye are now ashamed? for the end of those things is death. But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life. For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
Prayer: O Most Holy Trinity, have mercy on us. O Lord, blot out our sins. O Master, pardon our iniquities. O Holy One, visit and heal our infirmities for Thy name’s sake.
*Practical Commentary cont.
[1 Kings 1–7]
IN the days when Heli, the High Priest, was Judge in Israel, there lived at Mount Ephraim a virtuous man, called Elcana, and the name of his wife was Anna. Now Anna had no children. She therefore multiplied her prayers before the Lord that He would deign to give her children. So one day she went to Silo to pray in the Tabernacle of the Lord. There, before the door of the Tabernacle, she shed many tears and prayed, and made a vow saying: “O Lord of Hosts, if Thou wilt be mindful of me and give me a man-child, I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life.”
The Lord heard her prayer, and gave her a son, whom she called Samuel, which means “heard of God”, or also “asked of God”. Now when three years were passed, and the child was yet very young, Anna took three calves, three bushels of flour, and a bottle of wine, and carrying the boy with her she went to the House of the Lord. There she offered her son to Heli the High Priest, saying: “The Lord has granted my petition, therefore I also have lent my child to the Lord all the days of his life.” And the child ministered in the sight of the Lord before the face of Heli. Now the two sons of Heli, Ophni and Phinees, were wicked and had no fear of God, for when the people came to offer sacrifices, Ophni and Phinees carried the flesh of the victims away by force. So their sin was very great, because they withdrew men from the sacrifice of the Lord.
Heli knew all this; he knew what wicked things his sons did in the Sanctuary, and he mildly rebuked them, saying: “It is no good report that I hear, that you make the people of the Lord to transgress.” But, being very old, he took no severe measures to punish them, or prevent their evil deeds.
It came to pass that one night, before the lamp of the Lord had gone out, Heli slept on a couch near the Tabernacle, and Samuel hard by. The Lord called Samuel. He answered: “Here am I”, and went to Heli and asked: “Why hast thou called me?” But Heli replied: “I did not call thee, my son: return and sleep.”
So he returned and slept again. But the Lord called him a second time, and Samuel acted as before. Heli said: “I did not call thee, my son: return and sleep.” Then the Lord called Samuel a third time. And Samuel, rising up, went again to Heli, saying: “Here am I, for thou didst call me.” Heli now understood that the Lord had called the boy.
And he said to Samuel: “Go and sleep, and if He shall call thee any more, thou shalt say: ‘Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth!’ ” So Samuel went and slept in his place. Then the Lord came and stood, and called: “Samuel, Samuel.” He answered: “Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth.” The Lord spoke: “Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, and whosoever shall hear it, both his ears shall tingle. In that day I will raise up against Heli all the things that I have spoken. I will begin and I will make an end, because he knew that his sons did wickedly, and he would not chastise them.”
Prayer: O come, let us worship God our King.
O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ our King and God.
O come, let us worship and fall down before Christ Himself, our King and God.
Continued from Monday…
Next morning, Heli asked the boy to tell him what the Lord had said. But Samuel was afraid. Heli, however, insisted, and Samuel at length told the vision. Thereupon Heli humbly replied: “It is the Lord: let Him do what is good in His sight.”
And swiftly the judgment of God overtook the house of Heli. For it soon came to pass that the Philistines waged war against Israel, and when they joined battle the Israelites were defeated, and lost about four thousand men. After the people had returned to the camp, the ancients of Israel said: “Let us fetch the Ark of the Covenant from Silo, that it may save us from the hands of our enemies.” They sent therefore to Silo, and the two sons of Heli, Ophni and Phinees, accompanied the Ark to the camp. The people, on beholding the Ark in their midst, set up a great shout, and the earth rang with their shouting.
The Philistines, however, made a new attack, and the Israelites were again defeated, with great slaughter; thirty thousand were slain, and the rest put to flight. And a messenger came to Heli, saying: “Thy two sons, Ophni and Phinees, are dead, and the Ark of the Lord is taken.” Now Heli, who was far advanced in years, on hearing that the Ark was taken, fell from his chair backwards by the door, and broke his neck and died. The Philistines took the Ark of the Lord, and placed it in the temple of Dagon, their false god.
Next morning, when they went into the temple, they found the idol lying prostrate on the ground before the Ark. Besides, the Lord afflicted them with many evils on account of the Ark. Many persons died, and from the fields there came forth a multitude of mice, and there was great confusion in the country.
Perceiving this, the Philistines resolved that the Ark of God should no longer remain amongst them. Then they took the Ark and laid it upon a cart, and taking two kine, or young cows, they yoked them to the cart. The cows took the way that led to Bethsames, and thus the Ark was brought again into the country of the Israelites.
Meanwhile, after the death of Heli, Samuel had become Judge in Israel. He assembled the people, reproached them for their evil doings, and then said: “If you turn to the Lord with all your heart, and put away the strange gods from among you, and prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve Him only, He will deliver you out of the hands of the Philistines.”
So they humbled themselves before God in prayer and fasting, Samuel interceding and offering sacrifice for them. And the Lord took pity upon them, and gave them such a victory over the Philistines, that for many years after the latter did not dare to approach the frontiers of Israel.
Commetart: This story teaches us above all things to know, fear, and love God. He rewarded the virtuous Samuel by revealing Himself to him, by calling him to be Judge, and by freeing and converting His people through him. On the other hand God punished Heli, his sons, and the impenitent Israelites by their defeat, and the loss of the Ark. He also punished the idolatrous Philistines by means of various plagues, and finally by their complete overthrow.
Prayer: Soul of Christ, sanctify me, Body of Christ, save me Blood of Christ, inebriate me, Water from Christ’s side, wash me, Passion of Christ, strengthen me, O good Jesus, hear me, Within Thy wounds hide me, Suffer me not to be separated from Thee, From the malicious enemy defend me, In the hour of my death call me, And bid me come unto Thee, That I may praise Thee with Thy saints, and with Thy angels, Forever and ever, Amen.
[1 Kings 8–15]
SAMUEL having grown old appointed his two sons as Judges over Israel. They, however, were not just and God-fearing like their father, but took bribes and perverted judgment. So the ancients came to Samuel and said: “Thy sons walk not in thy ways; therefore give us a king to judge us, as all nations have.” This word was displeasing to Samuel, for he knew that the Lord was their king, and none other. Still the Lord told him to hearken to the voice of the people, and to give them a king for their punishment. Moreover, he added, the king would rule over them with a heavy hand, and they would cry out and lament, but the Lord would not hear them, because they had desired for themselves a king.
Now there was a man of the tribe of Benjamin who lost his asses, and he said to Saul, his son: “Take one of the servants with thee, and arise, go, and seek the asses.” So they both started out, seeking the asses; and not being able to find them anywhere, they resolved to go to the city of Suph in order to consult Samuel, the seer, about them. Now the day before Saul’s arrival, the Lord had spoken to Samuel: “To-morrow, about this same hour, I will send to thee a man, whom thou shalt anoint king over my people Israel.” It so happened that Samuel met Saul in the midst of the city. And Samuel said: “Go up before me, that you may eat with me to-day, and that I may let you go in the morning; and as for the asses, be not solicitous, for they are found.” Next morning, when the day began to dawn, Samuel took a little vial of oil, and poured it on the head of Saul, and kissed him, and said: “Behold, the Lord has anointed thee to be prince over His inheritance.”
Thereupon Samuel assembled the people, and Saul stood in their midst; and he was a choice man, being taller than any one else from his shoulders and upwards. Then Samuel said: “Behold him whom the Lord has chosen.” And the people cried out: “God save the king!”
Now the people of Amalec were very bad, and the measure of their iniquity was full. God, in His wrath, sent Samuel to Saul, saying: “Go and smite Amalec and all that he hath. Spare him not, nor covet anything that is his, but slay both man and woman and child, ox and sheep and camel.”
Saul, therefore, waged war against Amalec, and defeated them along the line from Hevila till Sur. The common people he slew with the edge of the sword; but, contrary to the command of God, he spared Agag the king. The flocks and herds of little value he also destroyed, but spared the best flocks and the best herds. Moreover, filled with pride, and forgetting that success comes from God, he erected an arch of triumph in memory of his victory.
Prayer: Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that anyone who fled to thy protection, implored thy help, or sought thine intercession was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto thee, O Virgin of virgins, my mother; to thee do I come, before thee I stand, sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my petitions, but in thy mercy hear and answer me.
Continued from Wed…
When Samuel had come to the camp of Israel, Saul said to him: “I have fulfilled the word of the Lord.” Samuel answered: “What meaneth, then, the bleating of the flocks, and the lowing of the herds which I hear?” Saul tried to excuse himself, saying that the people had spared the best flocks and herds, to sacrifice them to the Lord. Samuel, being angry, spoke to him in the name of the Lord: “Doth the Lord desire holocausts and victims, and not rather that the voice of the Lord should be obeyed? For obedience is better than sacrifices; and to hearken better than to offer the fat of rams. For as much, therefore, as thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, the Lord hath also rejected thee from being king over Israel. The Lord hath rent the kingdom from thee this day, and has given it to one who is better.” Then Samuel departed, and beheld Saul no more till the day of his death.
Commentary: God’s Providence directed that the asses should be lost and that Saul, while seeking them, should meet Samuel. By God’s command Samuel anointed Saul king, and presented him as such to the people. God commands and directs everything as He wills.
To Saul’s excuse that the flocks and herds had been kept to offer as sacrifices, Samuel, filled with the Holy Ghost, replied: “Obedience is better than sacrifice”, i. e. sacrifices of beasts are good and pleasing to God if they are offered with a right intention; but still better and more pleasing to God is obedience, whereby a man offers to God the spiritual sacrifice of his own will, on the altar of his heart. By sacrifices man gives to God something which he possesses; by obedience he offers himself, and his free will, the noblest of all his possessions. He who loves God will love and do His holy will.
Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth. O, God, who taught the hearts of the faithful by the light of the Holy Spirit, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice in His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen.
[1 Kings 16]
SAMUEL loved Saul, and mourned for him because the Lord had rejected him. One day the Lord said to Samuel: “How long wilt thou mourn for Saul whom I have rejected? Fill thy horn with oil, and come that I may send thee to Isai, the Bethlehemite; for I have provided me a king among his sons.”
So Samuel went to Bethlehem, and took with him a victim, and called Isai and his sons to partake of the sacrifice. Now when Eliab, the eldest son, had come forward, who was of a high stature, the Lord said to Samuel: “Look not on his countenance; for man seeth those things that appear, but the Lord seeth the heart.”
Isai then called in his other sons, one by one, six in number. When Samuel had seen them all, he said: “The Lord has not chosen any of these. Are these all thy sons?” Isai replied: “There remaineth yet a young one who keepeth the sheep.” Samuel hastened to answer: “Send and fetch him, for we will not sit down till he come hither.”
Now when David came in, he was beautiful to behold, and of a comely face; and the Lord said: “Arise, and anoint him, for this is he.” Then Samuel, taking the horn of oil, anointed him in the midst of his brethren. Immediately the Spirit of the Lord came upon David, and remained with him.
But the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and an evil spirit troubled him. Wherefore the servants of Saul said to him: “Let our lord give orders, and we will seek out a man skilful in playing on the harp, that when the evil spirit is upon thee he may play with his hand, and thou mayest bear it more easily.”
When the servants saw that this counsel was pleasing in the eyes of Saul, one of them added: “Behold, I have seen the son of Isai, a skilful player, and a man fit for war, and prudent in his words, and a comely person.” Thereupon David was sent for, and Saul made him his armour-bearer. And whenever the evil spirit was upon Saul, David took his harp and played with his hand, and Saul was refreshed and better, for the evil spirit departed from him.
Prayer: We fly to thy patronage, O holy Mother of God; despise not our petitions in our necessities, but deliver us always from all dangers, O glorious and blessed Virgin. Amen.
*Sub Tuum Praesidium
Commetary on David from last night’s reading…
It was by the guidance of Divine Providence that, on account of his musical talents, David was summoned to the court of the king, who naturally had no suspicion that the young shepherd was destined to be his successor. The simple youth, who was then about twenty years old, learnt at court the art of government and the duties of a king, and was thus prepared for his future position.
Almighty God, by choosing David of the tribe of Juda to be king, fulfilled that which He promised by the mouth of the dying Jacob, i. e. that there should be a sceptre in Juda, which should not depart from him till the Messias Himself came. David did not waste his time while he was watching his sheep. He prayed and meditated on the attributes of God, which were revealed to his holy mind in the works of creation; and in the joy of his heart he composed and sang holy psalms and canticles. The stars of heaven, the flowers of the field, the songs of the birds, all raised his heart to God, and so he lived constantly in God’s presence, having God before his eyes and in his heart. By his holy and innocent youth this humble, though highly gifted boy was prepared to be God’s chosen instrument.
Prayer: Lord, I have cried to Thee, hearken unto me. Hearken unto me, O Lord. Lord, I have cried to Thee, hearken unto me. Attend to the voice of my prayer, when I cry unto Thee. Hearken unto me, O Lord. Let my prayer be set forth as incense before Thee, the lifting up of my hands as an evening sacrifice. Hearken unto me, O Lord.
*Psalm 140 (141)