Today our passages are 2 Samuel 22:21–23:23; Acts 2:1-47; Psalm 122:1-9; and Proverbs 16:19-20. 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.
2 Samuel 22:21-23:23 (The Message)
21-25 God made my life complete
when I placed all the pieces before him.
When I cleaned up my act,
he gave me a fresh start.
Indeed, I've kept alert to God's ways;
I haven't taken God for granted.
Every day I review the ways he works,
I try not to miss a trick.
I feel put back together,
and I'm watching my step.
God rewrote the text of my life
when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.
26-28 You stick by people who stick with you,
you're straight with people who're straight with you,
You're good to good people,
you shrewdly work around the bad ones.
You take the side of the down-and-out,
but the stuck-up you take down a peg.
29-31 Suddenly, God, your light floods my path,
God drives out the darkness.
I smash the bands of marauders,
I vault the high fences.
What a God! His road
stretches straight and smooth.
Every God-direction is road-tested.
Everyone who runs toward him
32-46 Is there any god like God?
Are we not at bedrock?
Is not this the God who armed me well,
then aimed me in the right direction?
Now I run like a deer;
I'm king of the mountain.
He shows me how to fight;
I can bend a bronze bow!
You protect me with salvation-armor;
you touch me and I feel ten feet tall.
You cleared the ground under me
so my footing was firm.
When I chased my enemies I caught them;
I didn't let go till they were dead men.
I nailed them; they were down for good;
then I walked all over them.
You armed me well for this fight;
you smashed the upstarts.
You made my enemies turn tail,
and I wiped out the haters.
They cried "uncle"
but Uncle didn't come;
They yelled for God
and got no for an answer.
I ground them to dust; they gusted in the wind.
I threw them out, like garbage in the gutter.
You rescued me from a squabbling people;
you made me a leader of nations.
People I'd never heard of served me;
the moment they got wind of me they submitted.
They gave up; they came trembling from their hideouts.
47-51 Live, God! Blessing to my Rock,
my towering Salvation-God!
This God set things right for me
and shut up the people who talked back.
He rescued me from enemy anger.
You pulled me from the grip of upstarts,
You saved me from the bullies.
That's why I'm thanking you, God,
all over the world.
That's why I'm singing songs
that rhyme your name.
God's king takes the trophy;
God's chosen is beloved.
I mean David and all his children—
2 Samuel 231 These are David's last words:
The voice of the son of Jesse,
the voice of the man God took to the top,
Whom the God of Jacob made king,
and Israel's most popular singer!
2-7 God's Spirit spoke through me,
his words took shape on my tongue.
The God of Israel spoke to me,
Israel's Rock-Mountain said,
"Whoever governs fairly and well,
who rules in the Fear-of-God,
Is like first light at daybreak
without a cloud in the sky,
Like green grass carpeting earth,
glistening under fresh rain."
And this is just how my regime has been,
for God guaranteed his covenant with me,
Spelled it out plainly
and kept every promised word—
My entire salvation,
my every desire.
But the devil's henchmen are like thorns
culled and piled as trash;
Better not try to touch them;
keep your distance with a rake or hoe.
They'll make a glorious bonfire!
8 This is the listing of David's top men.
Josheb-Basshebeth, the Tahkemonite. He was chief of the Three. He once put his spear to work against eight hundred—killed them all in a day.
9-10 Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite was the next of the elite Three. He was with David when the Philistines poked fun at them at Pas Dammim. When the Philistines drew up for battle, Israel retreated. But Eleazar stood his ground and killed Philistines right and left until he was exhausted—but he never let go of his sword! A big win for God that day. The army then rejoined Eleazar, but all there was left to do was the cleanup.
11-12 Shammah son of Agee the Hararite was the third of the Three. The Philistines had mustered for battle at Lehi, where there was a field full of lentils. Israel fled before the Philistines, but Shammah took his stand at the center of the field, successfully defended it, and routed the Philistines. Another great victory for God!
13-17 One day during harvest, the Three parted from the Thirty and joined David at the Cave of Adullam. A squad of Philistines had set up camp in the Valley of Rephaim. While David was holed up in the Cave, the Philistines had their base camp in Bethlehem. David had a sudden craving and said, "Would I ever like a drink of water from the well at the gate of Bethlehem!" So the Three penetrated the Philistine lines, drew water from the well at the gate of Bethlehem, and brought it back to David. But David wouldn't drink it; he poured it out as an offering to God, saying, "There is no way, God, that I'll drink this! This isn't mere water, it's their life-blood—they risked their very lives to bring it!" So David refused to drink it.
This is the sort of thing that the Three did.
18-19 Abishai brother of Joab and son of Zeruiah was the head of the Thirty. He once got credit for killing three hundred with his spear, but he was never named in the same breath as the Three. He was the most respected of the Thirty and was their captain, but never got included among the Three.
20-21 Benaiah son of Jehoiada from Kabzeel was a vigorous man who accomplished a great deal. He once killed two lion cubs in Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he climbed down into a pit and killed a lion. Another time he killed a formidable Egyptian. The Egyptian was armed with a spear and Benaiah went against him with nothing but a walking stick; he seized the spear from his grip and killed him with his own spear.
22-23 These are the things that Benaiah son of Jehoiada is famous for. But neither did he ever get ranked with the Three. He was held in greatest respect among the Thirty, but he never got included with the Three. David put him in charge of his bodyguard.
Acts 2:1-47 (The Message)
A Sound Like a Strong Wind1-4 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them. 5-11There were many Jews staying in Jerusalem just then, devout pilgrims from all over the world. When they heard the sound, they came on the run. Then when they heard, one after another, their own mother tongues being spoken, they were thunderstruck. They couldn't for the life of them figure out what was going on, and kept saying, "Aren't these all Galileans? How come we're hearing them talk in our various mother tongues?
Parthians, Medes, and Elamites;
Visitors from Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia,
Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia,
Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene;
Immigrants from Rome, both Jews and proselytes;
Even Cretans and Arabs!
"They're speaking our languages, describing God's mighty works!"
12Their heads were spinning; they couldn't make head or tail of any of it. They talked back and forth, confused: "What's going on here?"
13Others joked, "They're drunk on cheap wine."
Peter Speaks Up14-21That's when Peter stood up and, backed by the other eleven, spoke out with bold urgency: "Fellow Jews, all of you who are visiting Jerusalem, listen carefully and get this story straight. These people aren't drunk as some of you suspect. They haven't had time to get drunk—it's only nine o'clock in the morning. This is what the prophet Joel announced would happen:
"In the Last Days," God says,
"I will pour out my Spirit
on every kind of people:
Your sons will prophesy,
also your daughters;
Your young men will see visions,
your old men dream dreams.
When the time comes,
I'll pour out my Spirit
On those who serve me, men and women both,
and they'll prophesy.
I'll set wonders in the sky above
and signs on the earth below,
Blood and fire and billowing smoke,
the sun turning black and the moon blood-red,
Before the Day of the Lord arrives,
the Day tremendous and marvelous;
And whoever calls out for help
to me, God, will be saved." 22-28"Fellow Israelites, listen carefully to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man thoroughly accredited by God to you—the miracles and wonders and signs that God did through him are common knowledge—this Jesus, following the deliberate and well-thought-out plan of God, was betrayed by men who took the law into their own hands, and was handed over to you. And you pinned him to a cross and killed him. But God untied the death ropes and raised him up. Death was no match for him. David said it all:
I saw God before me for all time.
Nothing can shake me; he's right by my side.
I'm glad from the inside out, ecstatic;
I've pitched my tent in the land of hope.
I know you'll never dump me in Hades;
I'll never even smell the stench of death.
You've got my feet on the life-path,
with your face shining sun-joy all around.
29-36"Dear friends, let me be completely frank with you. Our ancestor David is dead and buried—his tomb is in plain sight today. But being also a prophet and knowing that God had solemnly sworn that a descendant of his would rule his kingdom, seeing far ahead, he talked of the resurrection of the Messiah—'no trip to Hades, no stench of death.' This Jesus, God raised up. And every one of us here is a witness to it. Then, raised to the heights at the right hand of God and receiving the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, he poured out the Spirit he had just received. That is what you see and hear. For David himself did not ascend to heaven, but he did say,
God said to my Master, "Sit at my right hand
Until I make your enemies a stool for resting your feet."
"All Israel, then, know this: There's no longer room for doubt—God made him Master and Messiah, this Jesus whom you killed on a cross."
37Cut to the quick, those who were there listening asked Peter and the other apostles, "Brothers! Brothers! So now what do we do?"
38-39Peter said, "Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is targeted to you and your children, but also to all who are far away—whomever, in fact, our Master God invites."
40He went on in this vein for a long time, urging them over and over, "Get out while you can; get out of this sick and stupid culture!"
41-42That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.
43-45Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person's need was met.
46-47They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.
Psalm 122:1-9 (The Message)
A Pilgrim Song of David1-2 When they said, "Let's go to the house of God," my heart leaped for joy.
And now we're here, O Jerusalem,
inside Jerusalem's walls!
3-5 Jerusalem, well-built city,
built as a place for worship!
The city to which the tribes ascend,
all God's tribes go up to worship,
To give thanks to the name of God—
this is what it means to be Israel.
Thrones for righteous judgment
are set there, famous David-thrones.
6-9 Pray for Jerusalem's peace!
Prosperity to all you Jerusalem-lovers!
Friendly insiders, get along!
Hostile outsiders, keep your distance!
For the sake of my family and friends,
I say it again: live in peace!
For the sake of the house of our God, God,
I'll do my very best for you.
Proverbs 16:19-20 (The Message)
19 It's better to live humbly among the poor
than to live it up among the rich and famous.
20 It pays to take life seriously;
things work out when you trust in God.
Verse of the Day
“Your power is great, and your glory is seen everywhere in heaven and on earth. You are king of the entire world,” - 1 Chronicles 29:11
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for Day
French poet, novelist, and dramatist of the Romantic movement, Victor Hugo wrote, “Life is the flower for which love is the honey.”