Reading for Today:
2 Samuel 1:1–2:32
2 Samuel 1:19 The beauty of Israel. Literally, the gazelle or antelope of Israel, the chosen symbol of youthful elegance and symmetry, most likely referring to Jonathan. Thus, the song began and ended with Saul’s noble son (vv. 25,26). high places. These were open-air worship sites generally established at high elevations. In this case, the high place was Mt. Gilboa, where Saul had died. How the mighty have fallen! They were not only Israel’s slain “beauty,” but Saul and Jonathan were mighty men who had fallen in battle. This phrase is repeated as a refrain in vv. 25 and 27.
2 Samuel 2:4 anointed David king. David had already been privately anointed king by Samuel (1 Sam. 16:3). This anointing recognized his rule in the southern area of Judah. Later he would be anointed as king over all Israel (2 Sam.5:3).men of Jabesh Gilead. Jabesh, a city of Israel east of the Jordan, demonstrated its loyalty to Saul by giving him a proper burial (1 Sam. 31:11–13).
John 4:4 Samaria. When the nation of Israel split politically after Solomon’s rule, King Omri named the capital of the northern kingdom of Israel “Samaria” (1 Kin. 16:24). The name eventually referred to the entire district and sometimes to the entire northern kingdom, which had been taken captive (capital, Samaria) by Assyria in 722 B.C. (2 Kin. 17:1–6). While Assyria led most of the populace of the 10 northern tribes away (into the region which today is northern Iraq), it left a sizable population of Jews in the northern Samaritan region and transported many non-Jews into Samaria. These groups intermingled to form a mixed race through intermarriage. Eventually tension developed between the Jews who returned from captivity and the Samaritans. The Samaritans withdrew from the worship of Yahweh at Jerusalem and established their worship at Mt. Gerizim in Samaria (vv. 20–22). Samaritans regarded only the Pentateuch as authoritative. As a result of this history, Jews repudiated Samaritans and considered them heretical. Intense ethnic and cultural tensions raged historically between the two groups so that both avoided contact as much as possible (v. 9; Ezra 4:1–24; Neh. 4:1–6; Luke 10:25–37).
John 4:10 living water. The Old Testament is the background for this term, which has important metaphorical significance. In Jeremiah 2:13, Yahweh decries the disobedient Jews for rejecting Him, the “fountain of living waters.” The Old Testament prophets looked forward to a time when “living waters shall flow from Jerusalem” (Zech. 14:8; Ezek. 47:9). The Old Testament metaphor spoke of the knowledge of God and His grace which provides cleansing, spiritual life, and the transforming power of the Holy Spirit (Is. 1:16–18; 12:3; 44:3; Ezek. 36:25–27). John applies these themes to Jesus Christ as the living water which is symbolic of eternal life mediated by the Holy Spirit from Him (v. 14; 6:35; 7:37–39). Jesus used the woman’s need for physical water to sustain life in this arid region in order to serve as an object lesson for her need for spiritual transformation.
DAY 15: What aspect of worship toward God is absolutely essential?
In His conversation with the Samaritan woman in John 4:24, Jesus reminded her that “God is Spirit.” This verse represents the classical statement on the nature of God as Spirit. The phrase means that God is invisible (Col. 1:15; 1 Tim. 1:17; Heb. 11:27) as opposed to the physical or material nature of man (1:18; 3:6).The word order of this phrase puts an emphasis on “Spirit,” and the statement is essentially emphatic. Man could never comprehend the invisible God unless He revealed Himself, as He did in Scripture and the Incarnation.
“Must worship.” Jesus is not speaking of a desirable element in worship but that which is absolutely necessary. “In spirit and truth.” The word “spirit” does not refer to the Holy Spirit but to the human spirit. Jesus’ point here is that a person must worship not simply by external conformity to religious rituals and places (outwardly) but inwardly (“in spirit”) with the proper heart attitude. The reference to “truth” refers to worship of God consistent with the revealed Scripture and centered on the “Word made flesh” who ultimately revealed His Father (14:6).
The Samaritans also anticipated Messiah’s coming. The Samaritan woman responded, pushing toward the future.“ I who speak to you am He”—Jesus forthrightly declared Himself to be Messiah, though His habit was to avoid such declarations to His own Jewish people, who had such crassly political and militaristic views regarding Messiah (10:24;Mark 9:41).The “He” in this translation is not in the original Greek for Jesus literally said “I who speak to you am.” The usage of “I am” is reminiscent of 8:58. This claim constitutes the main point of the story regarding the Samaritan woman, upon which all worship is centered.