Today our passages are 2 Samuel 20:14–22:20; Acts 1:1-26; Psalm 121:1-8; and Proverbs 16:18. 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 Samuel 20:14-22:20 (Contemporary English Version)
Sheba Hides Out in the Town of Abel14Sheba had gone through all of the tribes of Israel when he came to the town of Abel Beth-Maacah. All of his best soldiers a<="" value="[a]" > met him there and followed him into the town. 15Joab and his troops came and surrounded Abel, so that no one could go in or come out. They made a dirt ramp up to the town wall and then started to use a battering ram to knock the wall down.
A Wise Woman Saves the Town16A wise woman shouted from the top of the wall, [b<="">] "Listen to me! Listen to me! I have to talk to Joab! Tell him to come here!" 17When he came, the woman said, "Are you Joab?" "Yes, I am," he answered. She said, "Please, listen to what I have to say."
"All right," he said. "I'll listen."
18She said, "Long ago people used to say, `If you want good advice, go to the town of Abel to get it.' The answers they got here were all that was needed to settle any problem. 19We are Israelites, and we want peace! You can trust us. Why are you trying to destroy a town that's like a mother in Israel? Why do you want to wipe out the LORD's people?"
20Joab answered, "No, no! I'm not trying to wipe you out or destroy your town! 21That's not it at all. There's a man in your town from the hill country of Ephraim. His name is Sheba, and he is the leader of a rebellion against King David. Turn him over to me, and we will leave your town alone."
The woman told Joab, "We will throw his head over the wall."
22She went to the people of the town and talked them into doing it. They cut off Sheba's head and threw it to Joab.
Joab blew a signal on his trumpet, and the soldiers returned to their homes. Joab went back to David in Jerusalem.
Another List of David's Officials (20.23 Another List of David's Officials: See also the list in 8.16,17.)23Joab was the commander of Israel's entire army. Benaiah the son of Jehoiada was in command of David's bodyguard. [c<="">] 24Adoram [d<="">] was in charge of the slave-labor force. Jehoshaphat the son of Ahilud kept government records.
25Sheva was the secretary.
Zadok and Abiathar were the priests.
26Ira from Jair was David's priest.
2 Samuel 21
The Gibeonites Hang Saul's Descendants1While David was king, there were three years in a row when the nation of Israel could not grow enough food. So David asked the LORD for help, and the LORD answered, "Saul and his family are guilty of murder, because he had the Gibeonites killed." 2The Gibeonites were not Israelites; they were descendants of the Amorites. The people of Israel had promised not to kill them, [e<="">] but Saul had tried to kill them because he wanted Israel and Judah to control all the land. David had the Gibeonites come, and he talked with them. 3He said, "What can I do to make up for what Saul did, so that you'll ask the LORD to be kind to his people again?" [f<="">] 4The Gibeonites answered, "Silver and gold from Saul and his family are not enough. On the other hand, we don't have the right to put any Israelite to death."
David said, "I'll do whatever you ask." [g<="">] 5They replied, "Saul tried to kill all our people so that none of us would be left in the land of Israel. 6Give us seven of his descendants. We will hang [h<="">] these men near the place where the LORD is worshiped in Gibeah, the hometown of Saul, the LORD's chosen king." "I'll give them to you," David said.
7David had made a promise to Jonathan with the LORD as his witness, so he spared Jonathan's son Mephibosheth, the grandson of Saul. 8But Saul and Rizpah the daughter of Aiah had two sons named Armoni and Mephibosheth. Saul's daughter Merab [i<="">] had five sons whose father was Adriel the son of Barzillai from Meholah. [j<="">] David took Rizpah's two sons and Merab's five sons and 9turned them over to the Gibeonites, who hanged [k<="">] all seven of them on the mountain near the place where the LORD was worshiped. This happened right at the beginning of the barley harvest. [l<="">]
Rizpah Takes Care of the Bodies10Rizpah spread out some sackcloth [m<="">] on a nearby rock. She wouldn't let the birds land on the bodies during the day, and she kept the wild animals away at night. She stayed there from the beginning of the harvest until it started to rain. [n<="">]
The Burial of Saul and His Descendants11-12Earlier the Philistines had killed Saul and Jonathan on Mount Gilboa and had hung their bodies in the town square at Beth-Shan. The people of Jabesh in Gilead had secretly taken the bodies away, but David found out what Saul's wife [o<="">] Rizpah had done, and he went to the leaders of Jabesh to get the bones of Saul and his son Jonathan. 13-14David had their bones taken to the land of Benjamin and buried in a side room in Saul's family burial place. Then he gave orders for the bones of the men who had been hanged [p<="">] to be buried there. It was done, and God answered prayers to bless the land.
The Descendants of the Rephaim
(1 Chronicles 20.4-8)15One time David got very tired when he and his soldiers were fighting the Philistines. 16One of the Philistine warriors was Ishbibenob, who was a descendant of the Rephaim, [q<="">] and he tried to kill David. Ishbibenob was armed with a new sword, [r<="">] and his bronze spearhead [s<="">] alone weighed seven and a half pounds. 17But Abishai [t<="">] came to the rescue and killed the Philistine. David's soldiers told him, "We can't let you risk your life in battle anymore! You give light to our nation, and we want that flame to keep burning." 18There was another battle with the Philistines at Gob, where Sibbecai from Hushah killed a descendant of the Rephaim named Saph.
19There was still another battle with the Philistines at Gob. A soldier named Elhanan killed Goliath [u<="">] from Gath, whose spear shaft was like a weaver's beam. [v<="">] Elhanan's father was Jari [w<="">] from Bethlehem. 20There was another war, this time in Gath. One of the enemy soldiers was a descendant of the Rephaim. He was as big as a giant and had six fingers on each hand and six toes on each foot. 21But when he made fun of Israel, David's nephew Jonathan killed him. Jonathan was the son of David's brother Shimei.
22David and his soldiers killed these four men who were descendants of the Rephaim from Gath.
2 Samuel 22
David Sings to the LORD
(Psalm 18.1-50)1David sang a song to the LORD after the LORD had rescued him from his enemies, especially Saul. These are the words to David's song: 2Our LORD and our God,
you are my mighty rock, [x<="">] my fortress, my protector.
3You are the rock
where I am safe.
You are my shield,
my powerful weapon, [y<="">] and my place of shelter.
You rescue me and keep me
from being hurt.
4I praise you, our LORD!
I prayed to you,
and you rescued me
from my enemies.
5Death, like ocean waves,
and I was almost swallowed
by its flooding waters.
6Ropes from the world
of the dead
had coiled around me,
and death had set a trap
in my path.
7I was in terrible trouble
when I called out to you,
but from your temple
you heard me
and answered my prayer.
8Earth shook and shivered!
The columns supporting the sky [z<="">] rocked back and forth.
You were angry
9and breathed out smoke.
Scorching heat and fiery flames
spewed from your mouth.
10You opened the heavens
and you came down
with storm clouds
under your feet.
11You rode on the backs
of flying creatures. [aa<="">] You appeared [ab<="">] with the wind as wings.
12Darkness was your tent!
Thunderclouds filled the sky,
hiding you from sight.
13Fiery coals lit up the sky
in front of you.
14LORD Most High, your voice
thundered from the heavens.
15You scattered your enemies
with arrows of lightning.
16You roared at the sea,
and its deepest channels
could be seen.
and the earth shook
to its foundations.
17You reached down from heaven,
and you lifted me
from deep in the ocean.
18You rescued me from enemies
who were hateful
and too powerful for me.
19On the day disaster struck,
they came and attacked,
but you defended me.
20When I was fenced in,
you freed and rescued me
because you love me.
- 2 Samuel 20:14 best soldiers: One ancient translation; the difficult Hebrew text may mean either "Berites" or "Bichrites," Sheba's relatives.
- 2 Samuel 20:16 the top of the wall: Or "the town."
- 2 Samuel 20:23 David's bodyguard: See the note at 8.18.
- 2 Samuel 20:24 Adoram: One ancient translation "Adoniram" (see 1 Kings 4.1-6; 5.14).
- 2 Samuel 21:2 promised. . . them: See Joshua 9.3-27.
- 2 Samuel 21:3 ask. . . again: Saul's guilt had become a curse on Israel that had resulted in famine. For the effects of this curse to be removed, the Gibeonites would have to ask the LORD to be kind to Israel.
- 2 Samuel 21:4 I'll. . . ask: Or "What are you asking me to do for you?"
- 2 Samuel 21:6 hang: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 2 Samuel 21:8 Merab: Some Hebrew manuscripts and some manuscripts of one ancient translation. Most other manuscripts have "Michal," Saul's daughter who was one of David's wives, but she never had any children (see 2 Samuel 6.23). According to 1 Samuel 18.19, Merab was Saul's daughter, and she married Adriel from Meholah.
- 2 Samuel 21:8 Meholah: Also known as Abel-Meholah.
- 2 Samuel 21:9 hanged: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 2 Samuel 21:9 This. . . harvest: This would have been late in April.
- 2 Samuel 21:10 sackcloth: See the note at 3.31.
- 2 Samuel 21:10 started to rain: This may have been the beginning of the rainy season in September or October. It usually didn't rain from May to September. Or, it may have been a sign that now there would be enough rain again.
- 2 Samuel 21:11 wife: See the note at 3.7.
- 2 Samuel 21:13 hanged: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 2 Samuel 21:16 Rephaim: This may refer to a group of people that lived in Palestine before the Israelites and who were famous for their large size.
- 2 Samuel 21:16 new sword: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
- 2 Samuel 21:16 spearhead: Or "helmet."
- 2 Samuel 21:17 Abishai: David's nephew, the brother of Joab.
- 2 Samuel 21:19 Goliath: According to 1 Chronicles 20.5, Elhanan killed the brother of Goliath.
- 2 Samuel 21:19 weaver's beam: A large wooden rod used by a weaver when making cloth.
- 2 Samuel 21:19 Jari: Or "Jaare."
- 2 Samuel 22:2 mighty rock: The Hebrew text has "rock," which is sometimes used in poetry to compare the LORD to a mountain where his people can run for protection from their enemies.
- 2 Samuel 22:3 powerful weapon: The Hebrew has "the horn," which refers to the horn of a bull, one of the most powerful animals in ancient Palestine.
- 2 Samuel 22:8 columns. . . sky: The sky was sometimes described as a dome that was held up by a foundation or pillars.
- 2 Samuel 22:11 flying creatures: These were supernatural beings (see the note at 6.2).
- 2 Samuel 22:11 appeared: Most Hebrew manuscripts; some Hebrew manuscripts "swooped down" (see Psalm 18.10).
Acts 1:1-26 (Contemporary English Version)
Acts 11Theophilus, I first wrote to you a<="" value="[a]" > about all that Jesus did and taught from the very first 2until he was taken up to heaven. But before he was taken up, he gave orders to the apostles he had chosen with the help of the Holy Spirit. 3For forty days after Jesus had suffered and died, he proved in many ways that he had been raised from death. He appeared to his apostles and spoke to them about God's kingdom. 4While he was still with them, he said: Don't leave Jerusalem yet. Wait here for the Father to give you the Holy Spirit, just as I told you he has promised to do. 5John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.
Jesus Is Taken to Heaven6While the apostles were still with Jesus, they asked him, "Lord, are you now going to give Israel its own king again?" [b<="">] 7Jesus said to them, "You don't need to know the time of those events that only the Father controls. 8But the Holy Spirit will come upon you and give you power. Then you will tell everyone about me in Jerusalem, in all Judea, in Samaria, and everywhere in the world." 9After Jesus had said this and while they were watching, he was taken up into a cloud. They could not see him, 10but as he went up, they kept looking up into the sky. Suddenly two men dressed in white clothes were standing there beside them. 11They said, "Why are you men from Galilee standing here and looking up into the sky? Jesus has been taken to heaven. But he will come back in the same way that you have seen him go."
Someone To Take the Place of Judas12-13The Mount of Olives was about half a mile from Jerusalem. The apostles who had gone there were Peter, John, James, Andrew, Philip, Thomas, Bartholomew, Matthew, James the son of Alphaeus, Simon, known as the Eager One, [c<="">] and Judas the son of James. After the apostles returned to the city, they went upstairs to the room where they had been staying. 14The apostles often met together and prayed with a single purpose in mind. [d<="">] The women and Mary the mother of Jesus would meet with them, and so would his brothers. 15One day there were about one hundred twenty of the Lord's followers meeting together, and Peter stood up to speak to them. 16-17He said: My friends, long ago by the power of the Holy Spirit, David said something about Judas, and what he said has now happened. Judas was one of us and had worked with us, but he brought the mob to arrest Jesus. 18Then Judas bought some land with the money he was given for doing that evil thing. He fell headfirst into the field. His body burst open, and all his insides came out. 19When the people of Jerusalem found out about this, they called the place Akeldama, which in the local language means "Field of Blood."
20In the book of Psalms it says,
"Leave his house empty,
and don't let anyone
It also says,
"Let someone else
have his job."
21-22So we need someone else to help us tell others that Jesus has been raised from death. He must also be one of the men who was with us from the very beginning. He must have been with us from the time the Lord Jesus was baptized by John until the day he was taken to heaven.
23Two men were suggested: One of them was Joseph Barsabbas, known as Justus, and the other was Matthias. 24Then they all prayed, "Lord, you know what everyone is like! Show us the one you have chosen 25to be an apostle and to serve in place of Judas, who got what he deserved." 26They drew names, and Matthias was chosen to join the group of the eleven apostles.
- Acts 1:1 I first wrote to you: The Gospel of Luke.
- Acts 1:6 are you now going to give Israel its own king again: Or "Are you now going to rule Israel as its king?"
- Acts 1:12 Eager One: The Greek text has "Zealot," a name later given to the members of the Jewish group that resisted and fought against the Romans.
- Acts 1:14 met together and prayed with a single purpose in mind: Or "met together in a special place for prayer."
Psalm 121:1-8 (Contemporary English Version)
(A song for worship.)
The LORD Will Protect His People1I look to the hills! Where will I find help?
2It will come from the LORD,
who created the heavens
and the earth.
3The LORD is your protector,
and he won't go to sleep
or let you stumble.
4The protector of Israel
or ever get drowsy.
5The LORD is your protector,
there at your right side
to shade you from the sun.
6You won't be harmed
by the sun during the day
or by the moon a<="" value="[a]" > at night. 7The LORD will protect you
and keep you safe
from all dangers.
8The LORD will protect you
now and always
wherever you go.
- Psalm 121:6 harmed. . . sun. . . moon: In ancient times people saw the harmful effects of the rays of the sun, and they thought that certain illnesses (especially mental disorders) were also caused by the rays of the moon.
Thought for the Day
Canadian-American chemist and author, O.A. Battista wrote, “Personality is what a man has if his dog starts running for him the moment he comes into sight.”
A Joke for Today
A nun, really needing to go to the bathroom, walked into a neighborhood pub. The place was hopping with music and dancing but every once in a while the lights would turn off. Each time after the lights would go out the place would erupt into cheers. However, when the revelers saw the nun, the room went dead silent. She walked up to the bartender, and asked," May I please use the restroom?"
The bartender replied, "I really don't think you should."
"Why not? " the nun asked.
"Well, there is a statue of a naked man in there, and his most private part is covered only by a fig leaf."
"Nonsense," said the nun, "I'll just look the other way."
So the bartender showed the nun the door at the top of the stairs, and she proceeded to the restroom. After a few minutes, she came back out, and the whole place was hopping with music and dancing again. However, they did stop just long enough to give the nun a loud round of applause.
She went to the bartender and said, "Sir, I don't understand. Why did they applaud for me just because I went to the restroom?"
"Well, now they know you're one of us," said the bartender. "Would you like a drink?"
"But, I still don't understand," said the puzzled nun.
"You see," laughed the bartender, "every time the fig leaf is lifted on the statue, the lights go out in the whole place. Now, how about that drink, Sister?”