Today our passages are 2 Samuel 23:24–24:25; Acts 3:1-26; Psalm 123:1-4; and Proverbs 16:21-23. 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 23:24-24:25 (The Message)
The Thirty24-39 "The Thirty" consisted of:
Asahel brother of Joab;
Elhanan son of Dodo of Bethlehem;
Shammah the Harodite;
Elika the Harodite;
Helez the Paltite;
Ira son of Ikkesh the Tekoite;
Abiezer the Anathothite;
Sibbecai the Hushathite;
Zalmon the Ahohite;
Maharai the Netophathite;
Heled son of Baanah the Netophathite;
Ithai son of Ribai from Gibeah of the Benjaminites;
Benaiah the Pirathonite;
Hiddai from the badlands of Gaash;
Abi-Albon the Arbathite;
Azmaveth the Barhumite;
Eliahba the Shaalbonite;
Jashen the Gizonite;
Jonathan son of Shammah the Hararite;
Ahiam son of Sharar the Urite;
Eliphelet son of Ahasbai the Maacathite;
Eliam son of Ahithophel the Gilonite;
Hezro the Carmelite;
Paarai the Arbite;
Igal son of Nathan, commander of the army of Hagrites;
Zelek the Ammonite;
Naharai the Beerothite, weapon bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah;
Ira the Ithrite;
Gareb the Ithrite;
Uriah the Hittite. Thirty-seven, all told.
2 Samuel 241-2 Once again God's anger blazed out against Israel. He tested David by telling him, "Go and take a census of Israel and Judah." So David gave orders to Joab and the army officers under him, "Canvass all the tribes of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, and get a count of the population. I want to know the number." 3 But Joab resisted the king: "May your God multiply people by the hundreds right before the eyes of my master the king, but why on earth would you do a thing like this?"
4-9 Nevertheless, the king insisted, and so Joab and the army officers left the king to take a census of Israel. They crossed the Jordan and began with Aroer and the town in the canyon of the Gadites near Jazer, proceeded through Gilead, passed Hermon, then on to Dan, but detoured Sidon. They covered Fort Tyre and all the Hivite and Canaanite cities, and finally reached the Negev of Judah at Beersheba. They canvassed the whole country and after nine months and twenty days arrived back in Jerusalem. Joab gave the results of the census to the king: 800,000 able-bodied fighting men in Israel; in Judah 500,000.
10 But when it was all done, David was overwhelmed with guilt because he had counted the people, replacing trust with statistics. And David prayed to God, "I have sinned badly in what I have just done. But now God forgive my guilt—I've been really stupid."
11-12 When David got up the next morning, the word of God had already come to Gad the prophet, David's spiritual advisor, "Go and give David this message: 'God has spoken thus: There are three things I can do to you; choose one out of the three and I'll see that it's done.'"
13 Gad came to deliver the message: "Do you want three years of famine in the land, or three months of running from your enemies while they chase you down, or three days of an epidemic on the country? Think it over and make up your mind. What shall I tell the one who sent me?"
14 David told Gad, "They're all terrible! But I'd rather be punished by God, whose mercy is great, than fall into human hands."
15-16 So God let loose an epidemic from morning until suppertime. From Dan to Beersheba seventy thousand people died. But when the angel reached out over Jerusalem to destroy it, God felt the pain of the terror and told the angel who was spreading death among the people, "Enough's enough! Pull back!"
The angel of God had just reached the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite. David looked up and saw the angel hovering between earth and sky, sword drawn and about to strike Jerusalem. David and the elders bowed in prayer and covered themselves with rough burlap.
17 When David saw the angel about to destroy the people, he prayed, "Please! I'm the one who sinned; I, the shepherd, did the wrong. But these sheep, what did they do wrong? Punish me and my family, not them."
18-19 That same day Gad came to David and said, "Go and build an altar on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite." David did what Gad told him, what God commanded.
20-21 Araunah looked up and saw David and his men coming his way; he met them, bowing deeply, honoring the king and saying, "Why has my master the king come to see me?"
"To buy your threshing floor," said David, "so I can build an altar to God here and put an end to this disaster."
22-23 "Oh," said Araunah, "let my master the king take and sacrifice whatever he wants. Look, here's an ox for the burnt offering and threshing paddles and ox-yokes for fuel—Araunah gives it all to the king! And may God, your God, act in your favor."
24-25 But the king said to Araunah, "No. I've got to buy it from you for a good price; I'm not going to offer God, my God, sacrifices that are no sacrifice."
So David bought the threshing floor and the ox, paying out fifty shekels of silver. He built an altar to God there and sacrificed burnt offerings and peace offerings. God was moved by the prayers and that was the end of the disaster.
Acts 3:1-26 (The Message)
Acts 31-5One day at three o'clock in the afternoon, Peter and John were on their way into the Temple for prayer meeting. At the same time there was a man crippled from birth being carried up. Every day he was set down at the Temple gate, the one named Beautiful, to beg from those going into the Temple. When he saw Peter and John about to enter the Temple, he asked for a handout. Peter, with John at his side, looked him straight in the eye and said, "Look here." He looked up, expecting to get something from them. 6-8Peter said, "I don't have a nickel to my name, but what I do have, I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, walk!" He grabbed him by the right hand and pulled him up. In an instant his feet and ankles became firm. He jumped to his feet and walked.
8-10The man went into the Temple with them, walking back and forth, dancing and praising God. Everybody there saw him walking around and praising God. They recognized him as the one who sat begging at the Temple's Gate Beautiful and rubbed their eyes, astonished, scarcely believing what they were seeing.
11The man threw his arms around Peter and John, ecstatic. All the people ran up to where they were at Solomon's Porch to see it for themselves.
Turn to Face God12-16When Peter saw he had a congregation, he addressed the people: "Oh, Israelites, why does this take you by such complete surprise, and why stare at us as if our power or piety made him walk? The God of Abraham and Isaac and Jacob, the God of our ancestors, has glorified his Son Jesus. The very One that Pilate called innocent, you repudiated. You repudiated the Holy One, the Just One, and asked for a murderer in his place. You no sooner killed the Author of Life than God raised him from the dead—and we're the witnesses. Faith in Jesus' name put this man, whose condition you know so well, on his feet—yes, faith and nothing but faith put this man healed and whole right before your eyes.
17-18"And now, friends, I know you had no idea what you were doing when you killed Jesus, and neither did your leaders. But God, who through the preaching of all the prophets had said all along that his Messiah would be killed, knew exactly what you were doing and used it to fulfill his plans.
19-23"Now it's time to change your ways! Turn to face God so he can wipe away your sins, pour out showers of blessing to refresh you, and send you the Messiah he prepared for you, namely, Jesus. For the time being he must remain out of sight in heaven until everything is restored to order again just the way God, through the preaching of his holy prophets of old, said it would be. Moses, for instance, said, 'Your God will raise up for you a prophet just like me from your family. Listen to every word he speaks to you. Every last living soul who refuses to listen to that prophet will be wiped out from the people.'
24-26"All the prophets from Samuel on down said the same thing, said most emphatically that these days would come. These prophets, along with the covenant God made with your ancestors, are your family tree. God's covenant-word to Abraham provides the text: 'By your offspring all the families of the earth will be blessed.' But you are first in line: God, having raised up his Son, sent him to bless you as you turn, one by one, from your evil ways."
Psalm 123:1-4 (The Message)
A Pilgrim Song1-4 I look to you, heaven-dwelling God, look up to you for help.
Like servants, alert to their master's commands,
like a maiden attending her lady,
We're watching and waiting, holding our breath,
awaiting your word of mercy.
Mercy, God, mercy!
We've been kicked around long enough,
Kicked in the teeth by complacent rich men,
kicked when we're down by arrogant brutes.
Proverbs 16:21-23 (The Message)
21 A wise person gets known for insight;
gracious words add to one's reputation.
22 True intelligence is a spring of fresh water,
while fools sweat it out the hard way.
23 They make a lot of sense, these wise folks;
whenever they speak, their reputation increases.
Verse of the Day
“That's why you must encourage and help each other, just as you are already doing.” - 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Today's passage is from the Contemporary English Version.
Thought for the Day
American football player, coach, and executive, Vince Lombardi wrote, “Practice does not make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.”