Today our passages are 2 Kings 3:1–4:17; Acts 14:8-28; Psalm 140:1-13; and Proverbs 17:22. The readings are from the Contemporary English Version. 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 by using the link below.
2 Kings 3-4:17 (Contemporary English Version)
2 Kings 3
King Joram of Israel1Joram [a] son of Ahab became king of Israel in Jehoshaphat's eighteenth year as king of Judah. [b] Joram ruled twelve years from Samaria 2and disobeyed the LORD by doing wrong. He tore down the stone image his father had made to honor Baal, and so he wasn't as sinful as his parents. 3But he kept doing the sinful things that Jeroboam son of Nebat had led Israel to do. [c]
The Country of Moab Rebels against Israel4For many years the country of Moab had been controlled by Israel and was forced to pay taxes to the kings of Israel. King Mesha of Moab raised sheep, so he paid the king of Israel one hundred thousand lambs and the wool from one hundred thousand rams. 5But soon after the death of Ahab, Mesha rebelled against Israel. 6One day, Joram left Samaria and called together Israel's army. 7He sent this message to King Jehoshaphat of Judah, "The king of Moab has rebelled. Will you go with me to attack him?"
"Yes, I will," Jehoshaphat answered. "I'm on your side, and my soldiers and horses are at your command. 8But which way should we go?"
"We will march through Edom Desert," Joram replied.
9So Joram, Jehoshaphat, and the king of Edom led their troops out. But seven days later, there was no drinking water left for them or their animals. 10Joram cried out, "This is terrible! The LORD must have led us out here to be captured by Moab's army."
11Jehoshaphat said, "Which of the LORD's prophets is with us? We can find out from him what the LORD wants us to do."
One of Joram's officers answered, "Elisha son of Shaphat is here. He was one of Elijah's closest followers."
12Jehoshaphat replied, "He can give us the LORD's message."
The three kings went over to Elisha, 13and he asked Joram, "Why did you come to me? Go talk to the prophets of the foreign gods your parents worshiped." [d] "No," Joram answered. "It was the LORD who led us out here, so that Moab's army could capture us."
14Elisha said to him, "I serve the LORD All-Powerful, and as surely as he lives, I swear I wouldn't even look at you if I didn't respect King Jehoshaphat." 15Then Elisha said, "Send for someone who can play the harp."
The harpist began playing, and the LORD gave Elisha this message for Joram:
16The LORD says that this dry riverbed will be filled with water. [e] 17You won't feel any wind or see any rain, but there will be plenty of water for you and your animals. 18That simple thing isn't all the LORD is going to do. He will also help you defeat Moab's army. 19You will capture all their walled cities and important towns. You will chop down every good tree and stop up every spring of water, then ruin their fertile fields by covering them with rocks.
20The next morning, while the sacrifice was being offered, water suddenly started flowing from the direction of Edom, and it flooded the land.
21Meanwhile, the people of Moab had heard that the three kings were coming to attack them. They had called together all of their fighting men, from the youngest to the oldest, and these troops were now standing at their border, ready for battle. 22When they got up that morning, the sun was shining across the water, making it look red. The Moabite troops took one look 23and shouted, "Look at that blood! The armies of those kings must have fought and killed each other. Come on, let's go take what's left in their camp."
24But when they arrived at Israel's camp, the Israelite soldiers came out and attacked them, until they turned and ran away. Israel's army chased them all the way back to Moab, and even there they kept up the attack. [f] 25The Israelites destroyed the Moabite towns. They chopped down the good trees and stopped up the springs of water, then covered the fertile fields with rocks. Finally, the only city left standing was Kir-Hareseth, but soldiers armed with slings surrounded and attacked it. 26King Mesha of Moab saw that he was about to be defeated. So he took along seven hundred soldiers with swords and tried to break through the front line where the Edomite troops were positioned. But he failed. 27He then grabbed his oldest son who was to be the next king and sacrificed him as an offering on the city wall. The Israelite troops were so horrified that [g] they left the city and went back home.
2 Kings 4
Elisha Helps a Poor Widow1One day the widow of one of the LORD's prophets said to Elisha, "You know that before my husband died, he was a follower of yours and a worshiper of the LORD. But he owed a man some money, and now that man is on his way to take my two sons as his slaves." 2"Maybe there's something I can do to help," Elisha said. "What do you have in your house?"
"Sir, I have nothing but a small bottle of olive oil."
3Elisha told her, "Ask your neighbors for their empty jars. And after you've borrowed as many as you can, 4go home and shut the door behind you and your sons. Then begin filling the jars with oil and set each one aside as you fill it." 5The woman left.
Later, when she and her sons were back inside their house, the two sons brought her the jars, and she began filling them.
6At last, she said to one of her sons, "Bring me another jar."
"We don't have any more," he answered, and the oil stopped flowing from the small bottle.
7After she told Elisha what had happened, he said, "Sell the oil and use part of the money to pay what you owe the man. You and your sons can live on what is left."
Elisha Brings a Rich Woman's Son Back to Life8Once, while Elisha was in the town of Shunem, [h] he met a rich woman who invited him to her home for dinner. After that, whenever he was in Shunem, he would have a meal there with her and her husband. 9Some time later the woman said to her husband, "I'm sure the man who comes here so often is a prophet of God. 10Why don't we build him a small room on the flat roof of our house? We can put a bed, a table and chair, and an oil lamp in it. Then whenever he comes, he can stay with us." 11The next time Elisha was in Shunem, he stopped at their house and went up to his room to rest. 12-13He said to his servant Gehazi, "This woman has been very helpful. Have her come up here to the roof for a moment." She came, and Elisha told Gehazi to say to her, "You've gone to a lot of trouble for us, and we want to help you. Is there something we can request the king or army commander to do?" [i] The woman answered, "With my relatives nearby, I have everything I need."
14"Then what can we do for her?" Elisha asked Gehazi.
Gehazi replied, "I do know that her husband is old, and that she doesn't have a son."
15"Ask her to come here again," Elisha told his servant. He called for her, and she came and stood in the doorway of Elisha's room.
16Elisha said to her, "Next year at this time, you'll be holding your own baby son in your arms."
"You're a man of God," the woman replied. "Please don't lie to me."
17But a few months later, the woman got pregnant. She gave birth to a son, just as Elisha had promised.
- 2 Kings 3:1 Joram: See the note at 1.17.
- 2 Kings 3:1 Joram. . . Judah: See 1.17 and 8.16 and the notes there.
- 2 Kings 3:3 the sinful things. . . to do: When Jeroboam became king of Israel, he made two gold statues of calves and put them in the towns of Bethel and Dan, so the people of Israel could worship them (see 1 Kings 12.26-30).
- 2 Kings 3:13 the prophets. . . worshiped: These were prophets of the Canaanite god Baal and the goddess Asherah (see 1 Kings 16.30-33; 18.19).
- 2 Kings 3:16 that. . . water: Or "to dig holes everywhere in this riverbed."
- 2 Kings 3:24 chased. . . attack: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 2 Kings 3:27 The Israelite. . . that: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 2 Kings 4:8 Shunem: A town in Israel, about twenty-five miles north of Samaria.
- 2 Kings 4:12 request the king. . . do: Elisha may have meant that he could ask these leaders to lower her taxes.
Acts 14:8-28 (Contemporary English Version)
Paul and Barnabas in Lystra8In Lystra there was a man who had been born with crippled feet and had never been able to walk. 9The man was listening to Paul speak, when Paul saw that he had faith in Jesus and could be healed. So he looked straight at the man 10and shouted, "Stand up!" The man jumped up and started walking around. 11When the crowd saw what Paul had done, they yelled out in the language of Lycaonia, "The gods have turned into humans and have come down to us!" 12The people then gave Barnabas the name Zeus, and they gave Paul the name Hermes, [a] because he did the talking. 13The temple of Zeus was near the entrance to the city. Its priest and the crowds wanted to offer a sacrifice to Barnabas and Paul. So the priest brought some bulls and flowers to the city gates. 14When the two apostles found out about this, they tore their clothes in horror and ran to the crowd, shouting:
15Why are you doing this? We are humans just like you. Please give up all this foolishness. Turn to the living God, who made the sky, the earth, the sea, and everything in them. 16In times past, God let each nation go its own way. 17But he showed that he was there by the good things he did. God sends rain from heaven and makes your crops grow. He gives food to you and makes your hearts glad.
18Even after Paul and Barnabas had said all this, they could hardly keep the people from offering a sacrifice to them.
19Some Jewish leaders from Antioch and Iconium came and turned the crowds against Paul. They hit him with stones and dragged him out of the city, thinking he was dead. 20But when the Lord's followers gathered around Paul, he stood up and went back into the city. The next day he and Barnabas went to Derbe.
Paul and Barnabas Return to Antioch in Syria21Paul and Barnabas preached the good news in Derbe and won some people to the Lord. Then they went back to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch in Pisidia. 22They encouraged the followers and begged them to remain faithful. They told them, "We have to suffer a lot before we can get into God's kingdom." 23Paul and Barnabas chose some leaders for each of the churches. Then they went without eating [b] and prayed that the Lord would take good care of these leaders. 24Paul and Barnabas went on through Pisidia to Pamphylia, 25where they preached in the town of Perga. Then they went down to Attalia 26and sailed to Antioch in Syria. It was there that they had been placed in God's care for the work they had now completed. [c] 27After arriving in Antioch, they called the church together. They told the people what God had helped them do and how he had made it possible for the Gentiles to believe. 28Then they stayed there with the followers for a long time.
Psalm 140:1-13 (Contemporary English Version)
(A psalm by David for the music leader.)
A Prayer for the LORD's Help1Rescue me from cruel and violent enemies, LORD!
2They think up evil plans
and always cause trouble.
3Their words bite deep
like the poisonous fangs
of a snake.
4Protect me, LORD, from cruel
and brutal enemies,
who want to destroy me.
5Those proud people have hidden
traps and nets
to catch me as I walk.
6You, LORD, are my God!
Please listen to my prayer.
7You have the power to save me,
and you keep me safe
in every battle.
8Don't let the wicked succeed
in doing what they want,
or else they might never
stop planning evil.
9They have me surrounded,
but make them the victims
of their own vicious lies. [a] 10Dump flaming coals on them
and throw them into pits
where they can't climb out.
11Chase those cruel liars away!
Let trouble hunt them down.
12Our LORD, I know that you
defend the homeless
and see that the poor
are given justice.
13Your people will praise you
and will live with you
because they do right.
- Psalm 140:9 or else. . . lies: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
Proverbs 17:22 (Contemporary English Version)
22If you are cheerful,
you feel good;
if you are sad,
you hurt all over.
you feel good;
if you are sad,
you hurt all over.
Thought for the Day
American author, aviator, and the wife of aviator Charles Lindbergh, Anne Morrow Lindbergh wrote, “I find I am shedding hypocrisy in human relationships. What a rest that will be! The most exhausting thing in life, I have discovered, is being insincere. That is why so much of social life is exhausting; one is wearing a mask. I have shed my mask.”
A minister is walking down the street one day when he notices a very small boy trying to press a doorbell on a house across the street. However, the boy is very small and the doorbell is too high for him to reach.
After watching the boy’s efforts for some time, the minister moves closer to the boy's position. He steps smartly across the street, walks up behind the little fellow and, placing his hand kindly on the child's shoulder leans over and gives the doorbell a solid ring. Crouching down to the child's level, the minister smiles benevolently and asks, "And now what, my little man?" To which the boy replies, "Now we run!"