Monday after the Last Sunday (Clement )


Psalmody: Psalm 39:4–12

The Shortness of Human Life

Lord, help me understand my end.
What is the limit of my days?
Let me know how fleeting I am.
See, you have cut short my days.[a]
My brief time before you is like nothing.
Indeed, every person, even at his best,
    is just a puff of air.[b] Interlude
A man flickers like a mirage.
He really has no more effect than a breeze.[c]
He piles things up, never knowing who will get them.

The Enduring Goodness of God

But now what do I wait for, Lord?
My hope is in you.
Save me from all my rebellious acts.
Do not let fools scorn me.
I said nothing.
I did not open my mouth,
because you are the one who caused this.
10 Stop punching me.
By the attack of your hand I am finished.
11 By your rebuke against guilt you discipline a man.
Like a moth you consume what he desires.
Indeed, every person is nothing but a puff of air. Interlude

Closing Prayer

12 Hear my prayer, O Lord.
Listen to my cry.
Do not ignore my tears,
for with you I am an alien,
just a visitor, as were all my ancestors.Read full chapter

Footnotes

  1. Psalm 39:5 Literally made them a few handbreadths. A handbreadth is about three inches.
  2. Psalm 39:5 Or a vapor that vanishes
  3. Psalm 39:6 Or he is all worked up for nothing


Luther’s notes on the Psalm:

The 39th psalm is a psalm of comfort. The psalmist prays that God not let him murmur or become impatient, even though the godless live securely and accumulate goods as if they would never die, while the godly are constantly plagued and punished on account of their sins. He desires rather that God would grant him to think of how short and uncertain this life is, lest he join the ungodly and live without fear of death in careless greed and vain display.

It is a great vexation and troubles many hearts that evil lives so confidently in riotous living, but the godly are troubled and in misery. However, in the end, we find that the best of all is still to have the forgiveness of sins and a gracious God, who will help us out of any misery, as the psalmist here says and prays.


Old Testament Reading: Daniel 3:1–30

Nebuchadnezzar’s Command to Worship His Idol

3 King Nebuchadnezzar made a golden statue. It was ninety feet tall and nine feet wide. He set it up in the plain of Dura in the province of Babylon. 2King Nebuchadnezzar sent word to assemble the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all of the rulers of the provinces to come to the dedication of the statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up. 3Then the satraps, the prefects and the governors, the counselors, the treasurers, the judges, the magistrates, and all of the rulers of the provinces assembled for the dedication of King Nebuchadnezzar’s statue. They stood in front of the statue that Nebuchadnezzar had set up.
4The herald called out loudly, “To you peoples, nations, and languages, this command is given: 5When you hear the sound of the horn, the flute, the lyre, the harp, the triangular harp, the drum, and all kinds of musical instruments, you will fall down and worship the gold statue that King Nebuchadnezzar set up. 6Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into the blazing fiery furnace.”
7Therefore, when all the peoples heard the sound of the horn, the flute, the lyre, the harp, the triangular harp, and all kinds of musical instruments, all the peoples, nations, and languages fell down and worshipped the golden statue that King Nebuchadnezzar had set up.

The Young Men Remain Faithful

8At that time, some Chaldeans approached the king and maliciously accused the Jews. 9They said to King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your Majesty, may you live forever! 10You, Your Majesty, gave an order that everyone who hears the sound of the horn, the flute, the lyre, the harp, the triangular harp, the drum, and all kinds of musical instruments must fall down and worship the golden statue, 11and whoever does not fall down and worship will be thrown into the blazing fiery furnace. 12There are Jews whom you appointed over the administration of the province of Babylon, namely, Shadrak, Meshak, and Abednego. These men do not pay attention to you, Your Majesty. They do not serve your gods, and they do not worship the gold statue that you set up.”
13Then in a furious rage Nebuchadnezzar said to bring Shadrak, Meshak, and Abednego. So these men were brought before the king. 14Nebuchadnezzar said to them, “Is it true, Shadrak, Meshak, and Abednego, that you do not serve my gods and that you do not worship the golden statue that I set up? 15Now, if you are ready, at the time when you hear the sound of the horn, the flute, the lyre, the harp, the triangular harp, the drum, and all kinds of musical instruments, you must fall down and worship the statue I made. But if you do not worship, you will immediately be thrown into the blazing fiery furnace. What god will be able to save you from my hands?”
16Shadrak, Meshak, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “We have no need to answer you about this matter. 17Since our God, whom we serve, does exist, he is able to save us from the blazing fiery furnace. So, he may save us from your hand, Your Majesty. 18But if he does not, you should know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods, and we will not worship the golden statue that you set up.”

The Young Men Are Miraculously Saved by God

19Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with rage, and the expression on his face changed against Shadrak, Meshak, and Abednego. He said to heat the furnace seven times hotter than it was usually heated. 20He ordered some men, who were soldiers from his army, to bind Shadrak, Meshak, and Abednego in order to throw them into the blazing fiery furnace. 21So these men were bound in their coats, their pants, their turbans, and their other clothing, and they were thrown into the middle of the blazing fiery furnace. 22Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace was extremely hot, those men who carried Shadrak, Meshak, and Abednego were killed by the intense heat of the fire. 23But these three men, Shadrak, Meshak, and Abednego, who had been tied up, fell into the blazing fiery furnace.
24Then King Nebuchadnezzar was startled and immediately stood up. He said to his advisors, “Didn’t we throw three men, who had been tied up, into the middle of the fire?”
They answered the king, “Certainly, Your Majesty.”
25He said, “Look! I see four men, who are untied and walking around in the middle of the fire, unharmed. What is more, the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
26Then Nebuchadnezzar approached the door of the blazing fiery furnace. He said, “Shadrak, Meshak, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out!” Then Shadrak, Meshak, and Abednego came out from the middle of the furnace. 27The satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the royal advisors gathered together and looked at these men. The fire had no power over their bodies. Not a hair on their head was singed, their robes were not damaged, and the smell of fire had not stuck to them.
28Nebuchadnezzar said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrak, Meshak, and Abednego, who sent his angel and saved his servants, who trusted in God and ignored the king’s command. They gave up their bodies and did not pay homage or worship any god except their God. 29So I have issued an order that every people, nation, and language that speaks any blasphemy against the God of Shadrak, Meshak, and Abednego shall be cut to pieces, and his house shall be turned into a pile of rubble, because there is no other god who is able to save like this.”
30Then the king promoted Shadrak, Meshak, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.

New Testament Reading: Revelation 20:1–15

Christ and Satan

20 Then I saw an angel coming down from heaven. He had the key to the abyss and a great chain in his hand. 2He seized the dragon, the ancient serpent, who is the Devil and Satan, bound him for a thousand years, 3threw him into the abyss, locked it, and set a seal on it, so that he could no longer deceive the nations until the thousand years come to an end. After this he must be released for a short time.

They Lived and Reigned With Christ

4Then I saw thrones, and those who were sitting on them were given the authority to judge. And I saw the souls of those who had been beheaded because of their testimony about Jesus and because of the word of God. They had not worshipped the beast and his image, and they did not receive his mark on their forehead and on their hand. They lived and reigned with Christ a thousand years. 5(The rest of the dead did not live until the thousand years came to an end.) This is the first resurrection.
6Blessed and holy is the one who has a share in the first resurrection. The second death has no power over them. Instead they will be priests of God and of Christ. And they will reign with him for a thousand years.

Satan Defeated

7When the thousand years come to an end, Satan will be released from his prison. 8He will go out to deceive the nations that are in the four corners of the earth—Gog and Magog—to gather them for battle. They are as numerous as the sand of the sea.
9They came up over the broad expanse of the earth, and they surrounded the camp of the saints and the beloved city. And fire came down from God out of heaven and devoured them. 10And the Devil, who deceived them, was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur, where the beast and the false prophet are. There they will be tormented day and night, forever and ever.

The Final Judgment

11Then I saw a great white throne and the one who sat on it. The earth and the sky fled from his presence, and no place was found for them. 12I also saw the dead, great and small, standing in front of the throne, and books were opened. Another book was also opened, which is the Book of Life. The dead were judged by the things written in the books, according to what they had done. 13The sea gave up the dead that were in it, and Death and the Grave gave up the dead that were in them, and they were judged, each one according to what he had done.
14Death and the Grave were thrown into the Lake of Fire. The Lake of Fire is the second death. 15If anyone’s name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the Lake of Fire.

Writing from a Church Father:

But not to dwell upon ancient examples, let us come to the most recent spiritual heroes. Let us take the noble examples furnished in our own generation. Through envy and jealousy, the greatest and most righteous pillars [of the Church] have been persecuted and put to death. Let us set before our eyes the illustrious apostles. Peter, through unrighteous envy, endured not one or two, but numerous labors and, when he had at length suffered martyrdom, departed to the place of glory due to him. Owing to envy, Paul also obtained the reward of patient endurance, after being seven times thrown into captivity, compelled to flee, and stoned. After preaching both in the east and west, he gained the illustrious reputation due his faith, having taught righteousness to the whole world, and [coming] to the extreme limit of the west, he suffered martyrdom under the prefects. Thus was he removed from the world, and went into the holy place, having proved himself a striking example of patience.…

It is right and holy, therefore, men and brethren, to obey God rather than to follow those who, through pride and sedition, have become the leaders of a detestable emulation. For we shall incur no slight injury, but rather great danger, if we rashly yield ourselves to the inclinations of men who aim at exciting strife and tumults, so as to draw us away from what is good. Let us be kind one to another after the pattern of the tender mercy and kindness of our Creator. For it is written, “The kind-hearted shall inhabit the land, and the guiltless shall be left upon it, but transgressors shall be destroyed from off the face of it.”

 —Clement of Rome

Clement of Rome, Pastor

Clement (ca. AD 35–100) is remembered for having established the pattern of apostol-ic authority that governed the Christian Church during the first and second centuries. He also insisted on keeping Christ at the center of the Church’s worship and outreach. In a letter to the Christians at Corinth, he emphasized the centrality of Jesus’ death and resurrection: “Let us fix our eyes on the blood of Christ, realizing how precious it is to His Father, since it was poured out for our salvation and brought the grace of repentance to the whole world” (1 Clement 6:31). Prior to suffering a martyr’s death by drowning, Clement displayed a steadfast, Christlike love for God’s redeemed people, serving as an inspiration to future generations to continue to build the Church on the foundation of the prophets and apostles, with Christ as the one and only cornerstone.

Prayer of the Day:

Almighty God, Your servant Clement of Rome called the Church in Corinth to repentance and faith to unite them in Christian love. Grant that Your Church may be anchored in Your truth by the presence of the Holy Spirit and kept blameless in Your service until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.