Today our passages are Judges 4:1–5:31; Luke 22:35-53; Psalm 94:1-23; and Proverbs 14:3-4. The readings are from The Message by Eugene H. Peterson. If you find these readings helpful, please consider sending an offering directly to Cove Presbyterian Church, 3404 Main Street, Weirton, West Virginia or through PayPal.
Judges 4-5:31 (The Message)
Deborah1-3The People of Israel kept right on doing evil in God's sight. With Ehud dead, God sold them off to Jabin king of Canaan who ruled from Hazor. Sisera, who lived in Harosheth Haggoyim, was the commander of his army. The People of Israel cried out to God because he had cruelly oppressed them with his nine hundred iron chariots for twenty years. 4-5 Deborah was a prophet, the wife of Lappidoth. She was judge over Israel at that time. She held court under Deborah's Palm between Ramah and Bethel in the hills of Ephraim. The People of Israel went to her in matters of justice.
6-7 She sent for Barak son of Abinoam from Kedesh in Naphtali and said to him, "It has become clear that God, the God of Israel, commands you: Go to Mount Tabor and prepare for battle. Take ten companies of soldiers from Naphtali and Zebulun. I'll take care of getting Sisera, the leader of Jabin's army, to the Kishon River with all his chariots and troops. And I'll make sure you win the battle."
8 Barak said, "If you go with me, I'll go. But if you don't go with me, I won't go."
9-10 She said, "Of course I'll go with you. But understand that with an attitude like that, there'll be no glory in it for you. God will use a woman's hand to take care of Sisera."
Deborah got ready and went with Barak to Kedesh. Barak called Zebulun and Naphtali together at Kedesh. Ten companies of men followed him. And Deborah was with him.
11-13 It happened that Heber the Kenite had parted company with the other Kenites, the descendants of Hobab, Moses' in-law. He was now living at Zaanannim Oak near Kedesh. They told Sisera that Barak son of Abinoam had gone up to Mount Tabor. Sisera immediately called up all his chariots to the Kishon River—nine hundred iron chariots!—along with all his troops who were with him at Harosheth Haggoyim.
14 Deborah said to Barak, "Charge! This very day God has given you victory over Sisera. Isn't God marching before you?"
Barak charged down the slopes of Mount Tabor, his ten companies following him.
15-16 God routed Sisera—all those chariots, all those troops!—before Barak. Sisera jumped out of his chariot and ran. Barak chased the chariots and troops all the way to Harosheth Haggoyim. Sisera's entire fighting force was killed—not one man left.
17-18 Meanwhile Sisera, running for his life, headed for the tent of Jael, wife of Heber the Kenite. Jabin king of Hazor and Heber the Kenite were on good terms with one another. Jael stepped out to meet Sisera and said, "Come in, sir. Stay here with me. Don't be afraid."
So he went with her into her tent. She covered him with a blanket.
19 He said to her, "Please, a little water. I'm thirsty."
She opened a bottle of milk, gave him a drink, and then covered him up again.
20 He then said, "Stand at the tent flap. If anyone comes by and asks you, 'Is there anyone here?' tell him, 'No, not a soul.'"
21 Then while he was fast asleep from exhaustion, Jael wife of Heber took a tent peg and hammer, tiptoed toward him, and drove the tent peg through his temple and all the way into the ground. He convulsed and died.
22 Barak arrived in pursuit of Sisera. Jael went out to greet him. She said, "Come, I'll show you the man you're looking for." He went with her and there he was—Sisera, stretched out, dead, with a tent peg through his temple.
23-24 On that day God subdued Jabin king of Canaan before the People of Israel. The People of Israel pressed harder and harder on Jabin king of Canaan until there was nothing left of him.
Judges 51 That day Deborah and Barak son of Abinoam sang this song: 2 When they let down their hair in Israel,
they let it blow wild in the wind.
The people volunteered with abandon,
3 Hear O kings! Listen O princes!
To God, yes to God, I'll sing,
Make music to God,
to the God of Israel.
4-5 God, when you left Seir,
marched across the fields of Edom,
Earth quaked, yes, the skies poured rain,
oh, the clouds made rivers.
Mountains leapt before God, the Sinai God,
before God, the God of Israel.
6-8 In the time of Shamgar son of Anath,
and in the time of Jael,
Public roads were abandoned,
travelers went by backroads.
Warriors became fat and sloppy,
no fight left in them.
Then you, Deborah, rose up;
you got up, a mother in Israel.
God chose new leaders,
who then fought at the gates.
And not a shield or spear to be seen
among the forty companies of Israel.
9 Lift your hearts high, O Israel,
with abandon, volunteering yourselves with the people—bless God!
10-11 You who ride on prize donkeys comfortably mounted on blankets
And you who walk down the roads,
Gather at the town well
and listen to them sing,
Chanting the tale of God's victories,
his victories accomplished in Israel.
Then the people of God
went down to the city gates.
12 Wake up, wake up, Deborah!
Wake up, wake up, sing a song!
On your feet, Barak!
Take your prisoners, son of Abinoam!
13-18 Then the remnant went down to greet the brave ones.
The people of God joined the mighty ones.
The captains from Ephraim came to the valley,
behind you, Benjamin, with your troops.
Captains marched down from Makir,
from Zebulun high-ranking leaders came down.
Issachar's princes rallied to Deborah,
Issachar stood fast with Barak,
backing him up on the field of battle.
But in Reuben's divisions there was much second-guessing.
Why all those campfire discussions?
Diverted and distracted,
Reuben's divisions couldn't make up their minds.
Gilead played it safe across the Jordan,
and Dan, why did he go off sailing?
Asher kept his distance on the seacoast,
safe and secure in his harbors.
But Zebulun risked life and limb, defied death,
as did Naphtali on the battle heights.
19-23 The kings came, they fought,
the kings of Canaan fought.
At Taanach they fought, at Megiddo's brook,
but they took no silver, no plunder.
The stars in the sky joined the fight,
from their courses they fought against Sisera.
The torrent Kishon swept them away,
the torrent attacked them, the torrent Kishon.
Oh, you'll stomp on the necks of the strong!
Then the hoofs of the horses pounded,
charging, stampeding stallions.
"Curse Meroz," says God's angel.
"Curse, double curse, its people,
Because they didn't come when God needed them,
didn't rally to God's side with valiant fighters."
24-27 Most blessed of all women is Jael,
wife of Heber the Kenite,
most blessed of homemaking women.
He asked for water,
she brought milk;
In a handsome bowl,
she offered cream.
She grabbed a tent peg in her left hand,
with her right hand she seized a hammer.
She hammered Sisera, she smashed his head,
she drove a hole through his temple.
He slumped at her feet. He fell. He sprawled.
He slumped at her feet. He fell.
Slumped. Fallen. Dead.
28-30 Sisera's mother waited at the window,
a weary, anxious watch.
"What's keeping his chariot?
What delays his chariot's rumble?"
The wisest of her ladies-in-waiting answers
with calm, reassuring words,
"Don't you think they're busy at plunder,
dividing up the loot?
A girl, maybe two girls,
for each man,
And for Sisera a bright silk shirt,
a prize, fancy silk shirt!
And a colorful scarf—make it two scarves—
to grace the neck of the plunderer."
31 Thus may all God's enemies perish,
while his lovers be like the unclouded sun.
The land was quiet for forty years.
Luke 22:35-53 (The Message)
35Then Jesus said, "When I sent you out and told you to travel light, to take only the bare necessities, did you get along all right?"
"Certainly," they said, "we got along just fine."
36-37He said, "This is different. Get ready for trouble. Look to what you'll need; there are difficult times ahead. Pawn your coat and get a sword. What was written in Scripture, 'He was lumped in with the criminals,' gets its final meaning in me. Everything written about me is now coming to a conclusion."
38They said, "Look, Master, two swords!"
But he said, "Enough of that; no more sword talk!"
A Dark Night
39-40Leaving there, he went, as he so often did, to Mount Olives. The disciples followed him. When they arrived at the place, he said, "Pray that you don't give in to temptation."
41-44He pulled away from them about a stone's throw, knelt down, and prayed, "Father, remove this cup from me. But please, not what I want. What do you want?" At once an angel from heaven was at his side, strengthening him. He prayed on all the harder. Sweat, wrung from him like drops of blood, poured off his face.
45-46He got up from prayer, went back to the disciples and found them asleep, drugged by grief. He said, "What business do you have sleeping? Get up. Pray so you won't give in to temptation."
47-48No sooner were the words out of his mouth than a crowd showed up, Judas, the one from the Twelve, in the lead. He came right up to Jesus to kiss him. Jesus said, "Judas, you would betray the Son of Man with a kiss?"
49-50When those with him saw what was happening, they said, "Master, shall we fight?" One of them took a swing at the Chief Priest's servant and cut off his right ear.
51Jesus said, "Let them be. Even in this." Then, touching the servant's ear, he healed him.
52-53Jesus spoke to those who had come—high priests, Temple police, religion leaders: "What is this, jumping me with swords and clubs as if I were a dangerous criminal? Day after day I've been with you in the Temple and you've not so much as lifted a hand against me. But do it your way—it's a dark night, a dark hour."
Psalm 94:1-23 (The Message)
Judge of the earth, take your stand;
throw the book at the arrogant.
3-4 God, the wicked get away with murder—
how long will you let this go on?
They brag and boast
and crow about their crimes!
5-7 They walk all over your people, God,
exploit and abuse your precious people.
They take out anyone who gets in their way;
if they can't use them, they kill them.
They think, "God isn't looking,
Jacob's God is out to lunch."
8-11 Well, think again, you idiots,
fools—how long before you get smart?
Do you think Ear-Maker doesn't hear,
Eye-Shaper doesn't see?
Do you think the trainer of nations doesn't correct,
the teacher of Adam doesn't know?
God knows, all right—
knows your stupidity,
sees your shallowness.
12-15 How blessed the man you train, God,
the woman you instruct in your Word,
Providing a circle of quiet within the clamor of evil,
while a jail is being built for the wicked.
God will never walk away from his people,
never desert his precious people.
Rest assured that justice is on its way
and every good heart put right.
16-19 Who stood up for me against the wicked?
Who took my side against evil workers?
If God hadn't been there for me,
I never would have made it.
The minute I said, "I'm slipping, I'm falling,"
your love, God, took hold and held me fast.
When I was upset and beside myself,
you calmed me down and cheered me up.
20-23 Can Misrule have anything in common with you?
Can Troublemaker pretend to be on your side?
They ganged up on good people,
plotted behind the backs of the innocent.
But God became my hideout,
God was my high mountain retreat,
Then boomeranged their evil back on them:
for their evil ways he wiped them out,
our God cleaned them out for good.
Proverbs 14:3-4 (The Message)
3 Frivolous talk provokes a derisive smile;
wise speech evokes nothing but respect.
4 No cattle, no crops;
a good harvest requires a strong ox for the plow.
Verse of the Day
“God did this because he wanted you Gentiles to understand his wonderful and glorious mystery. And the mystery is that Christ lives in you, and he is your hope of sharing in God's glory. We announce the message about Christ, and we use all our wisdom to warn and teach everyone, so that all of Christ's followers will grow and become mature.” - Colossians 1:27-28
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
French fashion designer of women's clothes and founder of the Chanel brand, Coco Chanel wrote, “Don't spend time beating on a wall, hoping to transform it into a door.”