Today our passages are 1 Samuel 20:1–21:15; John 9:1-41; Psalm 113:1–114:8; and Proverbs 15:15-17. 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 20-21:15 (The Message)
1 Samuel 20
A Covenant Friendship in God's Name1 David got out of Naioth in Ramah alive and went to Jonathan. "What do I do now? What wrong have I inflicted on your father that makes him so determined to kill me?" 2 "Nothing," said Jonathan. "You've done nothing wrong. And you're not going to die. Really, you're not! My father tells me everything. He does nothing, whether big or little, without confiding in me. So why would he do this behind my back? It can't be."
3 But David said, "Your father knows that we are the best of friends. So he says to himself, 'Jonathan must know nothing of this. If he does, he'll side with David.' But it's true—as sure as God lives, and as sure as you're alive before me right now—he's determined to kill me."
4 Jonathan said, "Tell me what you have in mind. I'll do anything for you."
5-8 David said, "Tomorrow marks the New Moon. I'm scheduled to eat dinner with the king. Instead, I'll go hide in the field until the evening of the third. If your father misses me, say, 'David asked if he could run down to Bethlehem, his hometown, for an anniversary reunion, and worship with his family.' If he says, 'Good!' then I'm safe. But if he gets angry, you'll know for sure that he's made up his mind to kill me. Oh, stick with me in this. You've entered into a covenant of God with me, remember! If I'm in the wrong, go ahead and kill me yourself. Why bother giving me up to your father?"
9 "Never!" exclaimed Jonathan. "I'd never do that! If I get the slightest hint that my father is fixated on killing you, I'll tell you."
10 David asked, "And whom will you get to tell me if your father comes back with a harsh answer?"
11-17 "Come outside," said Jonathan. "Let's go to the field." When the two of them were out in the field, Jonathan said, "As God, the God of Israel, is my witness, by this time tomorrow I'll get it out of my father how he feels about you. Then I'll let you know what I learn. May God do his worst to me if I let you down! If my father still intends to kill you, I'll tell you and get you out of here in one piece. And God be with you as he's been with my father! If I make it through this alive, continue to be my covenant friend. And if I die, keep the covenant friendship with my family—forever. And when God finally rids the earth of David's enemies, stay loyal to Jonathan!" Jonathan repeated his pledge of love and friendship for David. He loved David more than his own soul!
18-23 Jonathan then laid out his plan: "Tomorrow is the New Moon, and you'll be missed when you don't show up for dinner. On the third day, when they've quit expecting you, come to the place where you hid before, and wait beside that big boulder. I'll shoot three arrows in the direction of the boulder. Then I'll send off my servant, 'Go find the arrows.' If I yell after the servant, 'The arrows are on this side! Retrieve them!' that's the signal that you can return safely—as God lives, not a thing to fear! But if I yell, 'The arrows are farther out!' then run for it—God wants you out of here! Regarding all the things we've discussed, remember that God's in on this with us to the very end!"
24-26 David hid in the field. On the holiday of the New Moon, the king came to the table to eat. He sat where he always sat, the place against the wall, with Jonathan across the table and Abner at Saul's side. But David's seat was empty. Saul didn't mention it at the time, thinking, "Something's happened that's made him unclean. That's it—he's probably unclean for the holy meal."
27 But the day after the New Moon, day two of the holiday, David's seat was still empty. Saul asked Jonathan his son, "So where's that son of Jesse? He hasn't eaten with us either yesterday or today."
28-29 Jonathan said, "David asked my special permission to go to Bethlehem. He said, 'Give me leave to attend a family reunion back home. My brothers have ordered me to be there. If it seems all right to you, let me go and see my brothers.' That's why he's not here at the king's table."
30-31 Saul exploded in anger at Jonathan: "You son of a slut! Don't you think I know that you're in cahoots with the son of Jesse, disgracing both you and your mother? For as long as the son of Jesse is walking around free on this earth, your future in this kingdom is at risk. Now go get him. Bring him here. From this moment, he's as good as dead!"
32 Jonathan stood up to his father. "Why dead? What's he done?"
33 Saul threw his spear at him to kill him. That convinced Jonathan that his father was fixated on killing David.
34 Jonathan stormed from the table, furiously angry, and ate nothing the rest of the day, upset for David and smarting under the humiliation from his father.
35-39 In the morning, Jonathan went to the field for the appointment with David. He had his young servant with him. He told the servant, "Run and get the arrows I'm about to shoot." The boy started running and Jonathan shot an arrow way beyond him. As the boy came to the area where the arrow had been shot, Jonathan yelled out, "Isn't the arrow farther out?" He yelled again, "Hurry! Quickly! Don't just stand there!" Jonathan's servant then picked up the arrow and brought it to his master. The boy, of course, knew nothing of what was going on. Only Jonathan and David knew.
40-41 Jonathan gave his quiver and bow to the boy and sent him back to town. After the servant was gone, David got up from his hiding place beside the boulder, then fell on his face to the ground—three times prostrating himself! And then they kissed one another and wept, friend over friend, David weeping especially hard.
42 Jonathan said, "Go in peace! The two of us have vowed friendship in God's name, saying, 'God will be the bond between me and you, and between my children and your children forever!'"
1 Samuel 21
David Pretends to Go Crazy1David went on his way and Jonathan returned to town. David went to Nob, to Ahimelech the Priest. Ahimelech was alarmed as he went out to greet David: "What are you doing here all by yourself—and not a soul with you?" 2-3 David answered Ahimelech the Priest, "The king sent me on a mission and gave strict orders: 'This is top secret—not a word of this to a soul.' I've arranged to meet up with my men in a certain place. Now, what's there here to eat? Do you have five loaves of bread? Give me whatever you can scrounge up!"
4 "I don't have any regular bread on hand," said the priest. "I only have holy bread. If your men have not slept with women recently, it's yours."
5 David said, "None of us has touched a woman. I always do it this way when I'm on a mission: My men abstain from sex. Even when it is an ordinary mission we do that—how much more on this holy mission."
6 So the priest gave them the holy bread. It was the only bread he had, Bread of the Presence that had been removed from God's presence and replaced by fresh bread at the same time.
7 One of Saul's officials was present that day keeping a religious vow. His name was Doeg the Edomite. He was chief of Saul's shepherds.
8 David asked Ahimelech, "Do you have a spear or sword of any kind around here? I didn't have a chance to grab my weapons. The king's mission was urgent and I left in a hurry."
9 The priest said, "The sword of Goliath, the Philistine you killed at Oak Valley—that's here! It's behind the Ephod wrapped in a cloth. If you want it, take it. There's nothing else here."
10-11 "Oh," said David, "there's no sword like that! Give it to me!"
And at that, David shot out of there, running for his life from Saul. He went to Achish, king of Gath. When the servants of Achish saw him, they said, "Can this be David, the famous David? Is this the one they sing of at their dances?
Saul kills by the thousand,
David by the ten thousand!"
12-15 When David realized that he had been recognized, he panicked, fearing the worst from Achish, king of Gath. So right there, while they were looking at him, he pretended to go crazy, pounding his head on the city gate and foaming at the mouth, spit dripping from his beard. Achish took one look at him and said to his servants, "Can't you see he's crazy? Why did you let him in here? Don't you think I have enough crazy people to put up with as it is without adding another? Get him out of here!"
John 9:1-41 (The Message)
1-2 Walking down the street, Jesus saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked, "Rabbi, who sinned: this man or his parents, causing him to be born blind?" 3-5Jesus said, "You're asking the wrong question. You're looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. We need to be energetically at work for the One who sent me here, working while the sun shines. When night falls, the workday is over. For as long as I am in the world, there is plenty of light. I am the world's Light."
6-7He said this and then spit in the dust, made a clay paste with the saliva, rubbed the paste on the blind man's eyes, and said, "Go, wash at the Pool of Siloam" (Siloam means "Sent"). The man went and washed—and saw.
8Soon the town was buzzing. His relatives and those who year after year had seen him as a blind man begging were saying, "Why, isn't this the man we knew, who sat here and begged?"
9Others said, "It's him all right!"
But others objected, "It's not the same man at all. It just looks like him."
He said, "It's me, the very one."
10They said, "How did your eyes get opened?"
11"A man named Jesus made a paste and rubbed it on my eyes and told me, 'Go to Siloam and wash.' I did what he said. When I washed, I saw."
12"So where is he?"
"I don't know."
13-15They marched the man to the Pharisees. This day when Jesus made the paste and healed his blindness was the Sabbath. The Pharisees grilled him again on how he had come to see. He said, "He put a clay paste on my eyes, and I washed, and now I see."
16Some of the Pharisees said, "Obviously, this man can't be from God. He doesn't keep the Sabbath."
Others countered, "How can a bad man do miraculous, God-revealing things like this?" There was a split in their ranks.
17They came back at the blind man, "You're the expert. He opened your eyes. What do you say about him?"
He said, "He is a prophet."
18-19The Jews didn't believe it, didn't believe the man was blind to begin with. So they called the parents of the man now bright-eyed with sight. They asked them, "Is this your son, the one you say was born blind? So how is it that he now sees?"
20-23His parents said, "We know he is our son, and we know he was born blind. But we don't know how he came to see—haven't a clue about who opened his eyes. Why don't you ask him? He's a grown man and can speak for himself." (His parents were talking like this because they were intimidated by the Jewish leaders, who had already decided that anyone who took a stand that this was the Messiah would be kicked out of the meeting place. That's why his parents said, "Ask him. He's a grown man.")
24They called the man back a second time—the man who had been blind— and told him, "Give credit to God. We know this man is an impostor."
25He replied, "I know nothing about that one way or the other. But I know one thing for sure: I was blind . . . I now see."
26They said, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"
27"I've told you over and over and you haven't listened. Why do you want to hear it again? Are you so eager to become his disciples?"
28-29With that they jumped all over him. "You might be a disciple of that man, but we're disciples of Moses. We know for sure that God spoke to Moses, but we have no idea where this man even comes from."
30-33The man replied, "This is amazing! You claim to know nothing about him, but the fact is, he opened my eyes! It's well known that God isn't at the beck and call of sinners, but listens carefully to anyone who lives in reverence and does his will. That someone opened the eyes of a man born blind has never been heard of—ever. If this man didn't come from God, he wouldn't be able to do anything."
34They said, "You're nothing but dirt! How dare you take that tone with us!" Then they threw him out in the street.
35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and went and found him. He asked him, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"
36The man said, "Point him out to me, sir, so that I can believe in him."
37Jesus said, "You're looking right at him. Don't you recognize my voice?"
38"Master, I believe," the man said, and worshiped him.
39Jesus then said, "I came into the world to bring everything into the clear light of day, making all the distinctions clear, so that those who have never seen will see, and those who have made a great pretense of seeing will be exposed as blind."
40Some Pharisees overheard him and said, "Does that mean you're calling us blind?"
41Jesus said, "If you were really blind, you would be blameless, but since you claim to see everything so well, you're accountable for every fault and failure."
Psalm 113-114:8 (The Message)
Just to speak his name is praise!
Just to remember God is a blessing—
now and tomorrow and always.
From east to west, from dawn to dusk,
keep lifting all your praises to God!
4-9 God is higher than anything and anyone,
outshining everything you can see in the skies.
Who can compare with God, our God,
so majestically enthroned,
Surveying his magnificent
heavens and earth?
He picks up the poor from out of the dirt,
rescues the wretched who've been thrown out with the trash,
Seats them among the honored guests,
a place of honor among the brightest and best.
He gives childless couples a family,
gives them joy as the parents of children.
Judah became holy land for him,
Israel the place of holy rule.
Sea took one look and ran the other way;
River Jordan turned around and ran off.
The mountains turned playful and skipped like rams,
the hills frolicked like spring lambs.
What's wrong with you, Sea, that you ran away?
and you, River Jordan, that you turned and ran off?
And mountains, why did you skip like rams?
and you, hills, frolic like spring lambs?
Tremble, Earth! You're in the Lord's presence!
in the presence of Jacob's God.
He turned the rock into a pool of cool water,
turned flint into fresh spring water.
Proverbs 15:15-17 (The Message)
15 A miserable heart means a miserable life;
a cheerful heart fills the day with song.
16 A simple life in the Fear-of-God
is better than a rich life with a ton of headaches.
17 Better a bread crust shared in love
than a slab of prime rib served in hate.
Verse of the Day
“Who can measure the wealth and wisdom and knowledge of God? Who can understand his decisions or explain what he does?” - Romans 11:33
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
English-American political activist, philosopher, political theorist, and revolutionary, Thomas Paine wrote, “The World is my country, all mankind are my brethren, and to do good is my religion.”