Today I rummaged through my boxes in the garage to find the one commentary I own. I believe I purchased it at a garage sale actually! I know the better way to truly study a passage of the Bible is to read many different perspectives, not just one, but this is what I have. But I also have the best study tool with me always: the Holy Spirit.
It's exciting to me to read the commentary because it often confirms what I thought the passage was about or it makes it THAT much better. I'll think the passage says one thing and the commentator will talk about a whole new dimension to it that I thought about and it makes the passage so much fuller.
Obviously, as you can see, while I may be able to bring my Kindle with me wherever I go on this journey for the next year of reading the Bible, this commentary is not as portable. But it will be good to have this commentary on occasion to clarify questions that I may have. Also, really important, it's fall and Trader Joe's is selling pumpkin things, it's the most wonderful time of the year. (not pictured, my TJ's pumpkin spice coffee as it is also national coffee day).
Matthew Henry's perspective on this passage of Isaiah clarified some things for me. The first part: the prophet is talking about hypocrites, hypocrites in his current time in history, Pharisees, and hypocrites in general. They "fast" and then wonder why God doesn't answer their prayers. God says, "um, are you really fasting though? and why are you doing it?"
"Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter--when you see the naked, to clothe them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?" (Is. 58:14)
Also, something Henry said that I liked, about chapter 59: "in this chapter we have sin appearing exceedingly sinful, and grace appearing exceedingly gracious." Thanks Matt!
God, what are you trying to communicate to me through Your Word today?
I think for one thing, I do love the commentary, but I learned that I prefer to read the Scripture for myself before I pull that out. I get too scattered when I look at the commentary first. I need to hear what I can hear first and then if I am left with questions I need to offer them to You in prayer and I can use the commentary when I get really stuck. Isaiah can make me feel stuck sometimes, but it may mostly just be my insecurity. Whether I am seeing the full theological picture or not while reading, You are speaking true things to me through it.
I love Philippians, particularly Philippians 4, so when I get there I will have a lot to say. But I have always loved Philippians and I loved it even more when I realized: this is the letter to the church in Philippi...the church that met at Lydia's house! (Acts 16) I had always felt this letter spoke to me and I was amazed when I realized it was literally written and addressed to my namesake!
I highlighted verse 6 today in my kindle though: "[I am] confident of this, that He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus."
Don't I know He's not finished with me? Don't I know He has been working in my life and He's not ever going to give up on me? Don't I know that He has a plan for my life? Don't I know that His plan for my life is inconceivable?
What an exciting God.
What a great God to promise us anything.
And He promises us a great deal.
A great deal of unimaginably good.