Today our passages are 1 Samuel 13:23–14:52; John 7:30-53; Psalm 109:1-31; and Proverbs 15:5-7. 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.
1 Samuel 13:23-14:52 (The Message)
23 A patrol of Philistines took up a position at Micmash Pass.
1 Samuel 14
1-3 Later that day, Jonathan, Saul's son, said to his armor bearer, "Come on, let's go over to the Philistine garrison patrol on the other side of the pass." But he didn't tell his father. Meanwhile, Saul was taking it easy under the pomegranate tree at the threshing floor on the edge of town at Geba (Gibeah). There were about six hundred men with him. Ahijah, wearing the priestly Ephod, was also there. (Ahijah was the son of Ahitub, brother of Ichabod, son of Phinehas, who was the son of Eli the priest of God at Shiloh.) No one there knew that Jonathan had gone off.
4-5 The pass that Jonathan was planning to cross over to the Philistine garrison was flanked on either side by sharp rock outcroppings, cliffs named Bozez and Seneh. The cliff to the north faced Micmash; the cliff to the south faced Geba (Gibeah).
6 Jonathan said to his armor bearer, "Come on now, let's go across to these uncircumcised pagans. Maybe God will work for us. There's no rule that says God can only deliver by using a big army. No one can stop God from saving when he sets his mind to it."
7 His armor bearer said, "Go ahead. Do what you think best. I'm with you all the way."
8-10 Jonathan said, "Here's what we'll do. We'll cross over the pass and let the men see we're there. If they say, 'Halt! Don't move until we check you out,' we'll stay put and not go up. But if they say, 'Come on up,' we'll go right up—and we'll know God has given them to us. That will be our sign."
11 So they did it, the two of them. They stepped into the open where they could be seen by the Philistine garrison. The Philistines shouted out, "Look at that! The Hebrews are crawling out of their holes!"
12 Then they yelled down to Jonathan and his armor bearer, "Come on up here! We've got a thing or two to show you!"
13 Jonathan shouted to his armor bearer, "Up! Follow me! God has turned them over to Israel!" Jonathan scrambled up on all fours, his armor bearer right on his heels. When the Philistines came running up to them, he knocked them flat, his armor bearer right behind finishing them off, bashing their heads in with stones.
14-15 In this first bloody encounter, Jonathan and his armor bearer killed about twenty men. That set off a terrific upheaval in both camp and field, the soldiers in the garrison and the raiding squad badly shaken up, the ground itself shuddering—panic like you've never seen before!
Straight to the Battle
16-18 Saul's sentries posted back at Geba (Gibeah) in Benjamin saw the confusion and turmoil raging in the camp. Saul commanded, "Line up and take the roll. See who's here and who's missing." When they called the roll, Jonathan and his armor bearer turned up missing.
18-19 Saul ordered Ahijah, "Bring the priestly Ephod. Let's see what God has to say here." (Ahijah was responsible for the Ephod in those days.) While Saul was in conversation with the priest, the upheaval in the Philistine camp became greater and louder. Then Saul interrupted Ahijah: "Put the Ephod away."
20-23 Saul immediately called his army together and they went straight to the battle. When they got there they found total confusion—Philistines swinging their swords wildly, killing each other. Hebrews who had earlier defected to the Philistine camp came back. They now wanted to be with Israel under Saul and Jonathan. Not only that, but when all the Israelites who had been hiding out in the backwoods of Ephraim heard that the Philistines were running for their lives, they came out and joined the chase. God saved Israel! What a day!
The fighting moved on to Beth Aven. The whole army was behind Saul now—ten thousand strong!—with the fighting scattering into all the towns throughout the hills of Ephraim.
24 Saul did something really foolish that day. He addressed the army: "A curse on the man who eats anything before evening, before I've wreaked vengeance on my enemies!" None of them ate a thing all day.
25-27 There were honeycombs here and there in the fields. But no one so much as put his finger in the honey to taste it, for the soldiers to a man feared the curse. But Jonathan hadn't heard his father put the army under oath. He stuck the tip of his staff into some honey and ate it. Refreshed, his eyes lit up with renewed vigor.
28 A soldier spoke up, "Your father has put the army under solemn oath, saying, 'A curse on the man who eats anything before evening!' No wonder the soldiers are drooping!"
29-30 Jonathan said, "My father has imperiled the country. Just look how quickly my energy has returned since I ate a little of this honey! It would have been a lot better, believe me, if the soldiers had eaten their fill of whatever they took from the enemy. Who knows how much worse we could have whipped them!"
31-32 They killed Philistines that day all the way from Micmash to Aijalon, but the soldiers ended up totally exhausted. Then they started plundering. They grabbed anything in sight—sheep, cattle, calves—and butchered it where they found it. Then they glutted themselves—meat, blood, the works.
33-34 Saul was told, "Do something! The soldiers are sinning against God. They're eating meat with the blood still in it!"
Saul said, "You're biting the hand that feeds you! Roll a big rock over here—now!" He continued, "Disperse among the troops and tell them, 'Bring your oxen and sheep to me and butcher them properly here. Then you can feast to your heart's content. Please don't sin against God by eating meat with the blood still in it.'"
And so they did. That night each soldier, one after another, led his animal there to be butchered.
35 That's the story behind Saul's building an altar to God. It's the first altar to God that he built.
Find Out What God Thinks
36 Saul said, "Let's go after the Philistines tonight! We can spend the night looting and plundering. We won't leave a single live Philistine!"
"Sounds good to us," said the troops. "Let's do it!"
But the priest slowed them down: "Let's find out what God thinks about this."
37 So Saul prayed to God, "Shall I go after the Philistines? Will you put them in Israel's hand?" God didn't answer him on that occasion.
38-39 Saul then said, "All army officers, step forward. Some sin has been committed this day. We're going to find out what it is and who did it! As God lives, Israel's Savior God, whoever sinned will die, even if it should turn out to be Jonathan, my son!"
Nobody said a word.
40 Saul said to the Israelites, "You line up over on that side, and I and Jonathan my son will stand on this side."
The army agreed, "Fine. Whatever you say."
41 Then Saul prayed to God, "O God of Israel, why haven't you answered me today? Show me the truth. If the sin is in me or Jonathan, then, O God, give the sign Urim. But if the sin is in the army of Israel, give the sign Thummim."
The Urim sign turned up and pointed to Saul and Jonathan. That cleared the army.
42 Next Saul said, "Cast the lots between me and Jonathan—and death to the one God points to!"
The soldiers protested, "No—this is not right. Stop this!" But Saul pushed on anyway. They cast the lots, Urim and Thummim, and the lot fell to Jonathan.
43 Saul confronted Jonathan. "What did you do? Tell me!"
Jonathan said, "I licked a bit of honey off the tip of the staff I was carrying. That's it—and for that I'm to die?"
44 Saul said, "Yes. Jonathan most certainly will die. It's out of my hands— I can't go against God, can I?"
45 The soldiers rose up: "Jonathan—die? Never! He's just carried out this stunning salvation victory for Israel. As surely as God lives, not a hair on his head is going to be harmed. Why, he's been working hand-in-hand with God all day!" The soldiers rescued Jonathan and he didn't die.
46 Saul pulled back from chasing the Philistines, and the Philistines went home.
47-48 Saul extended his rule, capturing neighboring kingdoms. He fought enemies on every front—Moab, Ammon, Edom, the king of Zobah, the Philistines. Wherever he turned, he came up with a victory. He became invincible! He smashed Amalek, freeing Israel from the savagery and looting.
49-51 Saul's sons were Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malki-Shua. His daughters were Merab, the firstborn, and Michal, the younger. Saul's wife was Ahinoam, daughter of Ahimaaz. Abner son of Ner was commander of Saul's army (Ner was Saul's uncle). Kish, Saul's father, and Ner, Abner's father, were the sons of Abiel.
52 All through Saul's life there was war, bitter and relentless, with the Philistines. Saul conscripted every strong and brave man he laid eyes on.
John 7:30-53 (The Message)
30-31They were looking for a way to arrest him, but not a hand was laid on him because it wasn't yet God's time. Many from the crowd committed themselves in faith to him, saying, "Will the Messiah, when he comes, provide better or more convincing evidence than this?"
32-34The Pharisees, alarmed at this seditious undertow going through the crowd, teamed up with the high priests and sent their police to arrest him. Jesus rebuffed them: "I am with you only a short time. Then I go on to the One who sent me. You will look for me, but you won't find me. Where I am, you can't come."
35-36The Jews put their heads together. "Where do you think he is going that we won't be able to find him? Do you think he is about to travel to the Greek world to teach the Jews? What is he talking about, anyway: 'You will look for me, but you won't find me,' and 'Where I am, you can't come'?"
37-39On the final and climactic day of the Feast, Jesus took his stand. He cried out, "If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Rivers of living water will brim and spill out of the depths of anyone who believes in me this way, just as the Scripture says." (He said this in regard to the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were about to receive. The Spirit had not yet been given because Jesus had not yet been glorified.)
40-44Those in the crowd who heard these words were saying, "This has to be the Prophet." Others said, "He is the Messiah!" But others were saying, "The Messiah doesn't come from Galilee, does he? Don't the Scriptures tell us that the Messiah comes from David's line and from Bethlehem, David's village?" So there was a split in the crowd over him. Some went so far as wanting to arrest him, but no one laid a hand on him.
45That's when the Temple police reported back to the high priests and Pharisees, who demanded, "Why didn't you bring him with you?"
46The police answered, "Have you heard the way he talks? We've never heard anyone speak like this man."
47-49The Pharisees said, "Are you carried away like the rest of the rabble? You don't see any of the leaders believing in him, do you? Or any from the Pharisees? It's only this crowd, ignorant of God's Law, that is taken in by him—and damned."
50-51Nicodemus, the man who had come to Jesus earlier and was both a ruler and a Pharisee, spoke up. "Does our Law decide about a man's guilt without first listening to him and finding out what he is doing?"
52-53But they cut him off. "Are you also campaigning for the Galilean? Examine the evidence. See if any prophet ever comes from Galilee."
Then they all went home.
Psalm 109:1-31 (The Message)
A David Prayer1-5 My God, don't turn a deaf ear to my hallelujah prayer. Liars are pouring out invective on me;
Their lying tongues are like a pack of dogs out to get me,
barking their hate, nipping my heels—and for no reason!
I loved them and now they slander me—yes, me!—
and treat my prayer like a crime;
They return my good with evil,
they return my love with hate.
6-20 Send the Evil One to accuse my accusing judge;
dispatch Satan to prosecute him.
When he's judged, let the verdict be "Guilty,"
and when he prays, let his prayer turn to sin.
Give him a short life,
and give his job to somebody else.
Make orphans of his children,
dress his wife in widow's weeds;
Turn his children into begging street urchins,
evicted from their homes—homeless.
May the bank foreclose and wipe him out,
and strangers, like vultures, pick him clean.
May there be no one around to help him out,
no one willing to give his orphans a break.
Chop down his family tree
so that nobody even remembers his name.
But erect a memorial to the sin of his father,
and make sure his mother's name is there, too—
Their sins recorded forever before God,
but they themselves sunk in oblivion.
That's all he deserves since he was never once kind,
hounded the afflicted and heartbroken to their graves.
Since he loved cursing so much,
let curses rain down;
Since he had no taste for blessing,
let blessings flee far from him.
He dressed up in curses like a fine suit of clothes;
he drank curses, took his baths in curses.
So give him a gift—a costume of curses;
he can wear curses every day of the week!
That's what they'll get, those out to get me—
an avalanche of just deserts from God.
21-25 Oh, God, my Lord, step in;
work a miracle for me—you can do it!
Get me out of here—your love is so great!—
I'm at the end of my rope, my life in ruins.
I'm fading away to nothing, passing away,
my youth gone, old before my time.
I'm weak from hunger and can hardly stand up,
my body a rack of skin and bones.
I'm a joke in poor taste to those who see me;
they take one look and shake their heads.
26-29 Help me, oh help me, God, my God,
save me through your wonderful love;
Then they'll know that your hand is in this,
that you, God, have been at work.
Let them curse all they want;
you do the blessing.
Let them be jeered by the crowd when they stand up,
followed by cheers for me, your servant.
Dress my accusers in clothes dirty with shame,
discarded and humiliating old ragbag clothes.
30-31 My mouth's full of great praise for God,
I'm singing his hallelujahs surrounded by crowds,
For he's always at hand to take the side of the needy,
to rescue a life from the unjust judge.
Proverbs 15:5-7 (The Message)
5 Moral dropouts won't listen to their elders;
welcoming correction is a mark of good sense.
6 The lives of God-loyal people flourish;
a misspent life is soon bankrupt.
7 Perceptive words spread knowledge;
fools are hollow—there's nothing to them.
Verse of the Day
“Charm can be deceiving, and beauty fades away, but a woman who honors the LORD deserves to be praised.” - Proverbs 31:30
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
American philosopher, self-help author, and a motivational speaker, Wayne Dyer wrote, “When you judge another, you do not define them, you define yourself.”