Shining a light on the weekly Bible Lessons published in the Christian Science Quarterly®
from the Golden Text
As your days, so shall your strength be.
—New King James Version®
Just as Jacob (then known as Israel) addresses each of his sons before his death (see Genesis 49), Moses speaks some final words to the tribes of Israel. Verse 25 is part of the Hebrew leader’s farewell blessing on Asher, a tribe located in a coastland area bordering Phoenicia and subject to frequent threats and attacks.
Strength in this declaration is translated from the term dōbe’, used only here in the Bible and thought by some to signify both might and security—qualities the tribe is assured of enjoying perpetually.
from the Responsive Reading
Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
With imagery of a fruitful tree planted near a river, Jeremiah repeats a simile found in the Psalmist’s portrayal of a righteous person: “He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper” (Psalms 1:3).
Significantly, the tree symbol shows up again in the last chapter of the Bible. Depicted as planted by a river “proceeding out of the throne of God,” it yields fruit not only “in his season” but continuously (Revelation 22:1, 2).
drought: long period without rain
from Section 1
1 | II Samuel 22:33
God is my strength and power: and he maketh my way perfect.
In the Hebrew Bible, the concept of perfection commonly relates to humanity’s highest expressions of Godlikeness. It is first mentioned in recording Noah as “perfect in his generations” and in God’s charge to Abram to be perfect (see Genesis 6:9; 17:1). Moses directs the people, “Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God” (Deuteronomy 18:13).
Here perfect is translated from the Hebrew adjective tāmîm, signifying whole, sound, without defect, blameless, and innocent. It comes from the same root as the Hebrew term rendered perfect in Psalms 37:37, “Mark the perfect man, and behold the upright: for the end of that man is peace.”
The entirety of this chapter—David’s song of thanksgiving to God for delivering him from danger—is replicated with slight variations in Psalm 18.
2 | Genesis 1:28
God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.
subdue: bring under control
3 | Psalms 8:6
Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet.
Interpreting the second phrase as “You have placed everything under their authority,” the New English Translation suggests that the tense of the verb put “refers to the continuing effects of God’s original mandate” in the first chapter of Genesis. Another source explains this spiritual authority as derived from God: “The whole secret of spiritual strength resides in union with ‘the Lord.’ ”
from Section 2
5 | Isaiah 2:22
Cease ye from man, whose breath is in his nostrils: for wherein is he to be accounted of?
In Isaiah’s decisive admonition, cease is translated from the Hebrew verb hādal, implying total withdrawal or rejection. “Man, whose breath is in his nostrils” recalls Genesis 2:7: “The Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life.” It is this man who is not “to be accounted of ” (Hebrew, hāšab)—not to be esteemed or regarded.
6 | Psalms 139:14
I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.
• • •
I will praise You
because I have been remarkably and wonderfully made.
Your works are wonderful,
and I know this very well.
—Holman Christian Standard Bible
7 | Psalms 84:2
My soul longeth, yea, even fainteth for the courts of the Lord: my heart and my flesh crieth out for the living God.
• • •
My very being longs, even yearns,
for the LORD'S courtyards.
My heart and my body
will rejoice out loud to the living God!
—Common English Bible
from Section 3
9 | Titus 2:11, 12
The grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.
• • •
. . . God’s grace that can save everyone has come. It teaches us not to live against God nor to do the evil things the world wants to do. Instead, that grace teaches us to live in the present age in a wise and right way and in a way that shows we serve God.
—New Century Version
10 | Jeremiah 35:1, 2, 6
The word which came unto Jeremiah from the Lord . . . , saying, Go unto the house of the Rechabites, and speak unto them, and bring them into the house of the Lord, into one of the chambers, and give them wine to drink. . . . But they said, We will drink no wine: for Jonadab the son of Rechab our father commanded us, saying, Ye shall drink no wine, neither ye, nor your sons for ever.
The Rechabites were a clan of nomadic herders who moved among the Israelites but maintained a separate culture. In this account, Jeremiah is directed to offer them wine—even though he well knows that their ancestor, Jonadab, had forbidden the drinking of wine. While the episode seems strange, the faithful Rechabites are to be an example to the people of Judah, who had disobeyed God’s covenant with them.
Recognizing the Rechabites’ obedience, God promises them permanence and continuity, especially in their service to Him: They “shall not want a man to stand before me for ever” (v. 19).
11 | James 1:13, 14
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
• • •
No one who is tested should say, “God is tempting me!” This is because God is not tempted by any form of evil, nor does he tempt anyone. Everyone is tempted by their own cravings; they are lured away and enticed by them.
—Common English Bible
11 | James 1:14
Every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed.
enticed: persuaded away from right actions
12 | Ephesians 5:17, 18
Be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is. And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.
• • •
. . . don’t be foolish, but understand what the Lord wants. Don’t get drunk on wine, which leads to wild living. Instead, be filled with the Spirit.
—GOD’S WORD Translation
12 | Ephesians 5:18
Be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit.
Several Bible passages caution against drunkenness (see examples in Proverbs 23:20, 21; Isaiah 28:1, 7). This writer goes further, contrasting the emptiness of intoxication with the fullness of spiritual inspiration. A scholar observes: “. . . the Spirit dwells not in the mind that seeks the disturbing influences of excitement, but in the well-balanced prayerful mind. Such a one expresses his joy, not in drunken or worldly songs, but in Christian hymns of thankfulness.”
excess: behavior that goes beyond what is right or lawful
from Section 4
14 | Psalms 25:17
The troubles of my heart are enlarged: O bring thou me out of my distresses.
• • •
My problems go from bad to worse.
Oh, save me from them all!
—New Living Translation
15 | Psalms 73:26, 28
My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever. . . . it is good for me to draw near to God: I have put my trust in the Lord God, that I may declare all thy works.
• • •
My body and my mind may become weak,
but God is my strength.
He is mine forever.
. . . I am close to God, and that is good.
The LORD GOD is my protection.
I will tell all that you have done.
—New Century Version
15 | Psalms 73:26
My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
from Section 5
19 | Psalms 80:7, 17
Turn us again, O God of hosts, and cause thy face to shine; and we shall be saved. . . . Let thy hand be upon the man of thy right hand, upon the son of man whom thou madest strong for thyself.
• • •
Turn us again to yourself, O God of Heaven’s Armies.
Make your face shine down upon us.
Only then will we be saved.
. . . . .
Strengthen the man you love,
the son of your choice.
—New Living Translation
20 | Matthew 11:28–30
Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Although meekness is generally seen as gentle submissiveness, one Bible authority notes that ancient authors often applied it to people who have “a strength of character that enables them to master emotions and act toward others with compassion.” From his own towering strength of character, Jesus encourages humble yielding to the “yoke” of following him—and describes it as easy.
Khrēstos, the Greek term rendered easy, can signify well-fitting or appropriate (as well as good, kind, or gracious). Another commentator remarks that oxen’s yokes were individually fitted and highlights a parallel to this in interpreting Jesus’ words: “ ‘The life I give you is not a burden to gall you; your task is made to measure to fit you.’ Whatever God sends us is made to fit our needs and our abilities exactly.”
laden: weighed down; burdened
21 | Galatians 6:9, 10
Let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith.
let us not lose heart and grow weary and faint in acting nobly and doing right, for in due time and at the appointed season we shall reap, if we do not loosen and relax our courage and faint. So then, as occasion and opportunity open up to us, let us do good [morally] to all people [not only being useful or profitable to them, but also doing what is for their spiritual good and advantage]. Be mindful to be a blessing, especially to those of the household of faith [those who belong to God’s family with you, the believers].
—Amplified® Bible Classic
In addition to urging Christly goodwill to all, Paul acknowledges the need for special attention to “family” relationships. Jesus called his followers brethren (see Matthew 12:49, for instance)—a practice embraced in early churches. Similarly, Peter commends “unfeigned love of the brethren” and enjoins his fellow Christians to “love one another with a pure heart fervently” (I Peter 1:22).
One source writes, “Life in the Spirit is not a life of lonely striving, not a life restricted to a zone of privacy; rather, it is a life lived in community.” He continues: “. . . the Spirit-powered community was given the task of doing good and offering the message of reconciliation to the whole world (cf 2 Cor 5:18–21), but that reconciling work had to begin at home within the community of believers. As long as rivalry and envy prevailed . . . , the work of God was being hindered.”
from Section 6
Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible.
You know that in a race all the runners run. But only one gets the prize. So run like that. Run to win! All those who compete in the games use strict training. They do this so that they can win a crown. That crown is an earthly thing that lasts only a short time. But our crown will continue forever.
—International Children’s Bible
Paul’s sports metaphor would have had immediate meaning to his readers. In addition to the Olympics held every four years in Olympia, the popular Isthmian Games took place biennially near Corinth (where the apostle had spent a year and a half teaching; see Acts 18:11). As today, competing athletes were highly honored and winners feted.
In this image, Paul compares preparation for running to spiritual discipline. In the same way that athletes require rigorous training and self-discipline to achieve victory, Christians need wholehearted commitment to the mental “training” that brings eternal salvation.
temperate: using self-control
23 | I Timothy 4:8
Bodily exercise profiteth little: but godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come.
. . . the training of the body has a limited benefit,
but godliness is beneficial in every way,
since it holds promise for the present life
and also for the life to come.
—Holman Christian Standard Bible
profiteth: benefits; gives an advantage
Related healing ideas
Read a related article at: jsh.christianscience.com/healing-weariness
The Bible Lessons serve as weekly study guides as well as the sermon in every Christian Science Sunday church service. Learn more at BibleLesson.com
Resources quoted in this issue
GT: New King James Version®, copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Cit. 3: NET Bible® copyright © 1996–2006 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved. Also available at biblegateway.com; Perowne, John J. S., Alexander F. Kirkpatrick, Frederic H. Chase, Reginald St. John Parry, and Alexander Nairne, eds. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges. 58 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1882–1922. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries.
Cit. 12: Jamieson, Robert, Andrew Robert Fausset, and David Brown. A Commentary, Critical and Explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. 2 vols. Hartford, CT: S. S. Scranton, 1871. Also available at biblestudytools.com/commentaries.
Cit. 20: Contexticon of New Testament Language: Copyright © 2009 by Contexticon Learning and Research, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA. All rights reserved; Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1955. Revised and updated by Saint Andrew, 2001. Reprinted as The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 1. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001–04.
Cit. 21: Keck, Leander E., et al., eds. The New Interpreter’s Bible: A Commentary in Twelve Volumes.Vol. 9, Luke, John. Nashville: Abingdon, 1996–2001.
Scriptural quotations marked New Living Translation are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.
Scriptural quotations marked GOD’S WORD Translation are taken from GOD’S WORD®, copyright © 1995 God’s Word to the Nations. Used by permission of God’s Word Mission Society.
Scriptural quotations marked International Children’s Bible are taken from the International Children’s Bible®, copyright © 1986, 1988, 1999 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scriptural quotations marked English Standard Version are taken from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®, copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scriptural quotations marked Amplified® Bible Classic are taken from the Amplified® Bible Classic, copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. www.Lockman.org.
Scriptural quotations marked Common English Bible are taken from the Common English Bible, copyright © 2011 by the Common English Bible. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
© 2021 The Christian Science Publishing Society. The design of the Cross and Crown is a trademark owned by the Christian Science Board of Directors and is used by permission. Bible Lens and Christian Science Quarterly are trademarks owned by The Christian Science Publishing Society. Unless otherwise indicated, all scriptural quotations are taken from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.