Shining a light on the weekly Bible Lessons published in the Christian Science Quarterly®
from the Responsive Reading
A day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, than to dwell in the tents of wickedness.
Like many psalms, this one has a dedication—“for the sons of Korah.” The ancestor for whom this musical family was named was a rebel leader who attempted to depose Moses and Aaron (see Numbers, chap. 16). Yet his descendants served in sacred roles in the Temple.
During David’s time, the Korahites were known as poets and singers (see I Chronicles 6:31) as well as doorkeepers outside the Temple courts. Recurring mentions of this and other families of musicians hint at the importance of organized music, especially in worship and celebration.
courts: temples or palaces
Thy vows are upon me, O God: I will render praises unto thee.
vows: strong promises
from Section 1
3 | Psalms 42:1
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God.
As a deer longs for flowing streams,
so my soul longs for you, O God.
—New Revised Standard Version
from Section 2
The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? . . . I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.
. . . The LORD protects my life.
So why should I be afraid? . . .
I truly believe
I will live to see the LORD’s goodness.
Wait for the LORD’s help.
Be strong and brave,
and wait for the LORD’s help.
—New Century Version
One scholar calls this psalm “The Conquest of Fear.” Another asserts, “The presence of the Lord . . . does not depend upon the faith of the psalmist; rather, this faith depends upon the Lord’s presence.”
It pleased Darius to set over the kingdom an hundred and twenty princes, which should be over the whole kingdom; and over these three presidents; of whom Daniel was first: . . . Then the presidents and princes sought to find occasion against Daniel concerning the kingdom; but they could find none occasion nor fault; . . . Then these presidents and princes assembled together to the king, and said thus unto him, King Darius, live for ever. All the presidents of the kingdom, the governors, and the princes, the counsellors, and the captains, have consulted together to establish a royal statute, and to make a firm decree, that whosoever shall ask a petition of any God or man for thirty days, save of thee, O king, he shall be cast into the den of lions. . . . Wherefore king Darius signed the writing and the decree.
In the Persian regime, Daniel’s lowly status as a Hebrew captive is greatly elevated. King Darius perceives in him “an excellent spirit” (v. 3 ) and sets him over the entire realm. Given that Daniel is a Jew and a foreigner, it is hardly surprising that Darius’ preferential treatment of him excites the jealousy of the other governors (though this envy could have arisen toward anyone the king favored).
The “law of the Medes and Persians” cited in verse 15 also appears in Esther 1:19 : “If it please the king, let there go a royal commandment from him, and let it be written among the laws of the Persians and the Medes, that it be not altered.” This expression is still used to describe something that is fixed and unchangeable.
decree: official order or command
petition: request; appeal; prayer
5 | Daniel 6:19, 20
Then the king arose very early in the morning, and went in haste unto the den of lions. And when he came to the den, he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel, O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?
lamentable: sorrowful; sad
5 | Daniel 6:25, 26
King Darius wrote unto all people, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth; Peace be multiplied unto you. I make a decree, That in every dominion of my kingdom men tremble and fear before the God of Daniel: for he is the living God, and stedfast for ever, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed, and his dominion shall be even unto the end.
Designed to entrap Daniel, the stratagems of the Persian officials serve instead to exalt the one God. Darius’ response to the demonstration of divine might goes beyond Nebuchadnezzar’s praise of Yahweh after the Hebrew youths’ deliverance from the furnace (see 3:28, 29). Where Nebuchadnezzar orders that no one speak against God, Darius requires respect for Yahweh from his subjects.
from Section 3
6 | I John 5:20
We know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.
We know that God’s Son has come and has given us understanding to know the one who is true. We are in the one who is true by being in his Son, Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
—Common English Bible
Both the Gospel of John and First John refer to eternal life repeatedly, linking it to Christ Jesus as the Son of God. In one instance, Jesus makes clear his role in the attainment of eternal life: “This is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life” (John 6:40 ).
Jesus taketh Peter, James, and John his brother, and bringeth them up into an high mountain apart, and was transfigured before them: and his face did shine as the sun, and his raiment was white as the light. And, behold, there appeared unto them Moses and Elias talking with him. . . . While he yet spake, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them: and behold a voice out of the cloud, which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him.
Commentators note several Old Testament allusions in the transfiguration story: a mountain, often the site of God’s communications; the cloud of the divine presence; a shining face (see examples in Exodus 24:12, 15, 16 ; 34:29, 30 ); and Moses and Elijah, seen as epitomizing the Law and the Prophets. One source explains: “These two men were the twin peaks of Israel’s religious history and achievement. . . . In them all history rose up and pointed Jesus on his way. In them all history recognized Jesus as its own consummation.”
God’s message, earlier pronounced at Jesus’ baptism (see Matthew 3:17 ), reaffirms His Son’s identity. Peter had come to this recognition not long before, replying to the Master, “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (16:16 ). Now God adds the command “Hear ye him.” From Old Testament times, the charge to hear implied obedience as well as close attention.
transfigured: spiritually transformed; completely changed in appearance
8 | Colossians 3:4
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.
. . . when Christ, who is your life, is revealed to the whole world, you will share in all his glory.
—New Living Translation
In his letter to the Christians in Galatia, Paul declares, “I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” (Galatians 2:20 ). A scriptural authority suggests: “. . . we live most truly our own life when we refer everything to motives which are centered in Christ. For in the deepest sense he is our life . . . .”
from Section 4
A certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. . . . When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby. Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. . . . Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.
According to ancient Jewish custom, burial took place on the day someone died—but death was considered final only after three days. Until that period had elapsed, it was thought, the soul could reenter the body and resuscitate it.
The four days in this account included a day for the news to reach Jesus, two days of waiting to travel, and a day’s journey to Bethany. By the time the Master arrived at Lazarus’ tomb, there would have been no question that his friend was dead, and no doubt about Jesus’ restoration of Lazarus to life.
When Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. . . . It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. . . . Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.
Mary’s protest is identical to her sister Martha’s earlier statement to Jesus (see v. 21 ). Scholars surmise that the sisters spoke about their longing for the Savior’s personal presence in the days after their brother’s death. The Savior’s answer to Martha reorients her viewpoint with the ringing affirmation “I am the resurrection, and the life” (v. 25 )—a truth decisively illustrated when he raises Lazarus from death.
By voicing aloud his gratitude to God, Jesus publicly proclaims his relation to God and confirms God’s healing power before any evidence of healing is apparent. A commentator writes, “If he had not uttered this thanksgiving, the multitude would have glorified him rather than his Father, nor would they have learned . . . that he came forth from God.”
from Section 5
10 | Ephesians 4:22, 23
Put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts; and be renewed in the spirit of your mind.
. . . throw off your old sinful nature and your former way of life, which is corrupted by lust and deception. Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes.
—New Living Translation
11 | Romans 6:23
The wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The payment for sin is death. But God gives us the free gift of life forever in Christ Jesus our Lord.
—New Century Version
12 | Romans 8:1, 2
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.
Therefore, [there is] now no condemnation (no adjudging guilty of wrong) for those who are in Christ Jesus, who live [and] walk not after the dictates of the flesh, but after the dictates of the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life [which is] in Christ Jesus [the law of our new being] has freed me from the law of sin and of death.
—Amplified® Bible Classic
from Section 6
13 | Isaiah 60:1
Arise, shine; for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.
Sources believe that this charge addresses Zion symbolically as a woman prostrate in dust and darkness. Now she is called to stand in what one authority describes as “the light which radiates from the holy nature of God.” The rising sun image appears elsewhere in biblical prophecy (see II Samuel 23:4 ; Malachi 4:2 ), and a psalmist identifies God with the sun (see Psalms 84:11 ).
If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.
If anyone belongs to Christ, then he is made new. The old things have gone; everything is made new! All this is from God. Through Christ, God made peace between us and himself. And God gave us the work of bringing everyone into peace with him.
—International Children’s Bible
ministry: service; duty
reconciled: brought into agreement or harmony; unified
15 | I John 5:11
This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.
Witness of Jesus’ spiritual status and mission by his followers was paramount after the ascension—and First John opens with a declaration of what has been seen and handled “of the Word of life” (see 1:1 ). Now the author testifies to God’s gift of eternal life, to be understood and experienced in Christ Jesus.
Eternal is translated from the Greek adjective aiōnios, meaning without beginning or end. The underlying Greek term aiōn is the source of the English word eon.
In the New Testament, eternity is nearly always linked with life—not just as a reference to time, but as a depiction of God’s infinite creation. One scholar writes: “Eternal life is . . . a term that describes the salvation that God bestows on those who trust and serve him. It denotes not only the length of time that God’s favor extends to his people but also the quality of existence that they may enjoy as they worship and serve him.”
Read a related poem, “Lazarus” by Godfrey John.
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
Cit. 4: Laymon, Charles M. The Interpreter’s One-Volume Commentary on the Bible. Nashville: Abingdon, 1971; Mays, James L., Joseph Blenkinsopp, et al., eds. Harper’s Bible Commentary. San Francisco: Harper & Row, 1988.
Cit 7: Barclay, William. The Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2. Edinburgh: Saint Andrew, 1955. Revised and updated by Saint Andrew, 2001. Reprinted as The New Daily Study Bible: The Gospel of Matthew, Vol. 2. Louisville, KY: Westminster John Knox, 2001–04.
Cit. 8: Eiselen, Frederick Carl., Edwin Lewis, and David G. Downey, eds. The Abingdon Bible Commentary: New Testament. New York: Abingdon Press, 1929.
Cit. 9: Spence-Jones, Henry Donald Maurice, Joseph S. Exell, and Edward Mark Deems, eds. The Pulpit Commentary. London, 1880–1909. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries.
Cit. 13: Keil, Carl Friedrich, and Franz Delitzsch. Commentary on the Old Testament. 10 vols. Translated by James Martin. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark, 1864–88. Reprint, Peabody, MA: Hendrickson, 1996. Also available at biblehub.com/commentaries.
Cit. 15: Elwell, Walter A., ed. Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 1996. Reprinted as Baker Theological Dictionary of the Bible. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2000. Also available at biblestudytools.com.
Scriptural quotations marked New Revised Standard Version Bible are taken from the New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Scriptural quotations marked New Century Version are taken from the New Century Version®, copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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.
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 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 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.
© 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.