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1 Samuel 15-16

15 Samuel (to Saul): 1-2 Because the Eternal One sent me to anoint you as ruler over His people Israel, listen to what the Eternal One, the Commander of heavenly armies, has to say: “I will punish Amalek because they waylaid Israel in her path out of Egypt. I want you to go down against Amalek and destroy them, everything they have. Do not allow anything to survive; destroy them all—man and woman, child and infant, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.”

Although Saul is given great victories, God rejects him, regretting that Saul was ever chosen as king. Several reasons are given for why Saul was judged for listening to his own counsel rather than trusting in God’s. First he takes the priest’s role as his own and carries out a ritual sacrifice. Later his hungry soldiers break the dietary regulations from the law of Moses by devouring meat and blood together. Finally Saul does not destroy every aspect of the Amalekite kingdom as God commanded.

So Saul gathered his forces, and at Telaim he counted them: 200,000 foot soldiers with 10,000 men from Judah. He approached the city of Amalek and set an ambush in the valley there. From there he sent a message to the Kenite people.

Message from Saul: Get out! Be gone! You showed kindness to the people of Israel when they came out of Egypt. Get away from among the Amalekites, or I will be forced to destroy you with them.

So the Kenites left their homes among the Amalekites. Then Saul attacked the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt. He cut down the entire population with the sword, as God had told him to do, except he captured King Agag of the Amalekites and kept him alive. Saul and the army spared Agag, and they saved the best of the livestock: the sheep, the oxen, the lambs, and the best of all the stock. They kept what was valuable instead of destroying it, and they only destroyed those things they considered worthless.

10 Then Samuel heard the voice of the Eternal.

Eternal One: 11 I regret that I made Saul king over Israel because he has turned away from Me and from executing My commands.

What do we make of this idea that God has changed His mind? Classical theologians (Augustine and Aquinas, particularly) believed that God is unchangeable, above all such petty things as regret, anger, and sorrow, although His actions sometimes seem as though God feels such things. More contemporary theologians suggest that God can change His mind as His purpose is being worked out through the actions of human beings. In either case, what we see here is God seeking someone who will act as His regent and do exactly as He says—and clearly, Saul is no longer capable of being that person.

Samuel was distressed when he heard this, and he cried out to the Eternal One all night long.

Samuel feels terrible about what is going to happen, and he spends the night weeping. This reaction makes Samuel’s conversation with Saul that much more powerful—what sorrow and anger Samuel must be feeling as he is laying down the law to this young king he anointed with his own hands. This tragic twist in the story of Saul develops because he has failed to live up to God’s requirements, so God decides that His chosen king will not remain on the throne.

12 Then he rose early in the morning to go and find Saul, only to hear that Saul had gone on to Carmel, where he had erected a monument to himself, and returned to Gilgal. 13 At last Samuel caught up with Saul. When Saul saw him, he greeted him as if nothing was wrong.

Saul (to Samuel): May you be blessed by the Eternal One. I have carried out His commands.

Samuel: 14 Then why do I hear the sounds of sheep and cattle?

Saul: 15 They brought the best of the Amalekites’ sheep and cattle to sacrifice to the Eternal One your God. But we destroyed all the rest as we were told.

Samuel: 16 That’s enough. Stop talking, and let me tell you what the Eternal told me last night.

Saul: Go ahead, I’m listening.

Samuel: 17 Don’t you remember when you didn’t amount to much in your own sight, but you were made the leader of the tribes of Israel? Wasn’t it the Eternal One who anointed you king over them? 18 The Eternal One sent you on a mission, commanding you, “Go and destroy the Amalekites, who are sinners. Fight them until they are completely destroyed.”

19 Why didn’t you obey the voice of the Eternal One? Why did you grab the spoils of battle, doing what the Eternal considers evil?

Saul (defending himself): 20 I did what the Eternal One instructed. As He commanded, I went on the mission and decimated all the Amalekites, and I have brought back Agag, their king. 21 It was the people who took the sheep and cattle from the spoil that would have been devoted to destruction and brought them back to sacrifice to the Eternal One, your True God, in Gilgal.

22 Samuel: Does the Eternal One delight in sacrifices and burnt offerings
as much as in perfect obedience to His voice?
Be certain of this: that obedience is better than sacrifice;
to heed His voice is better than offering the fat of rams.
23  Rebellion is as much a sin as fortune-telling,
and willfulness is as wicked as worshiping strange gods.
Because you have rejected His commands,
He has rejected you as king.

Saul: 24 I have sinned. I disobeyed the voice of the Eternal One and your instructions because I was afraid of the people. I listened to their counsel instead of yours. 25 So now, please pardon my sin, and return with me so that I can worship the Eternal.

Samuel: 26 I will not return with you. Because you have rejected the voice of the Eternal One, He has rejected your claims to rule Israel. He is through with you.

27 As Samuel turned to go, Saul knelt to the ground, caught the prophet’s robe, and held on so tight that it tore.

Samuel: 28 Today the Eternal One has torn the kingdom of Israel from you to give to your neighbor, who is a better man than you. 29 The One who is the Glory of Israel will not recant or change His mind, for He is not like some mortal being who changes his mind.

Saul: 30 I have sinned. But please, do me this honor in front of the elders of Israel and all the people. Come back with me so that I may worship the Eternal One, your True God.

31 So Samuel returned with Saul, and Saul worshiped the Eternal One. Samuel then completed what Saul had begun.

Samuel: 32 Bring me Agag, king of the Amalekites.

Agag was led to him, being cautiously optimistic that the worst was surely past.

Samuel: 33 Just as your sword has taken children from women, so will this sword make your mother a childless woman.

So Samuel chopped Agag into pieces before the Eternal One at Gilgal. 34 Then Samuel went back to Ramah, and Saul returned to his house in Gibeah of Saul.

35 Samuel never saw Saul again until the day he died. The prophet grieved over the hapless king. And the Eternal grieved, too, regretting that He had ever anointed Saul king over Israel.

16 Eternal One (to Samuel): How long will you mourn over Saul? I have rejected him as king over My people Israel. Now take your horn, fill it with oil, and depart. I have selected a new king for Me from among the sons of Jesse of Bethlehem.

The Lord has yet another mission for Samuel.

Samuel: How can I do that? If Saul hears I am anointing a new king, he will kill me!

Eternal One: Take a heifer with you, and say, “I have come to sacrifice to the Eternal One.” Invite Jesse to that sacrifice, and when he arrives, I will show you what to do. You will anoint for Me the one I show to you.

Samuel did as the Eternal One had told him, and he went to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came out to him, unsure of what business he had there.

Elders (trembling): Do you come in peace?

Samuel: Yes, in peace. I have come to sacrifice to the Eternal One. Sanctify yourselves, and come with me to the sacrifice.

And Samuel consecrated Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice as well. When they came, he noticed the eldest son, Eliab.

Samuel (to himself): Surely this is the one the Eternal One will anoint.

Eternal One (to Samuel): Take no notice of his looks or his height. He is not the one, for the Eternal One does not pay attention to what humans value. Humans only care about the external appearance, but the Eternal considers the inner character.

Jesse called his son Abinadab and brought him to Samuel. Samuel looked at him.

Samuel: The Eternal has not chosen him either.

Then Jesse brought his son Shammah in front of Samuel.

Samuel: The Eternal has not chosen him either.

10 Jesse walked seven of his sons in front of Samuel, and each time, Samuel refused them because the Eternal One had chosen none of them.

Samuel (to Jesse): 11 Are all your sons here?

Jesse: All but the youngest. He is off keeping the sheep.

Samuel: Send for him, and bring him here. We will not sit down until he arrives.

12 Jesse sent for the youngest son, David, and he came in front of Samuel. He was a handsome boy, with a healthy complexion and bright eyes.

Eternal One: Rise and anoint him, because this is the one.

13 Then Samuel took the horn filled with olive oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and the Spirit of the Eternal fell strongly on David and remained from that day on. Samuel then left for Ramah.

14 The Spirit of the Eternal left Saul, and an evil spirit sent from the Eternal One tormented him. 15 Saul’s servants saw this.

Servants (to Saul): Look, an evil spirit from God is terrorizing you. 16 Let our lord command that his servants find someone skillful on the harp, so that when this evil spirit from God is bothering you, he will play and ease your mind.

Saul (to his servants): 17 I agree. Find someone who can play well, and bring him here to me.

One of the younger men there spoke up.

A Young Servant: 18 I know someone, one of the sons of Jesse of Bethlehem, who plays skillfully and who is a man of courage, a warrior, sensible in what he says, and handsome; and the Eternal One is surely with him.

19 So Saul dispatched messengers to Jesse.

Saul’s Message: Send your son David, who is watching your flocks, to me. Your king needs his service.

20 So Jesse did as his king commanded. He sent Saul a young goat and a donkey loaded down with bread and a skin of wine by his son David. 21 David came to Saul and served him. The king loved him greatly and made David his armor-bearer. 22 Then he sent a message to Jesse.

Saul’s Message: David has impressed me. Please allow him to remain here in my service.

23 Whenever God allowed the evil spirit to afflict Saul, David would play the harp, Saul would be relieved of his torment, and the evil spirit would depart.

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

John 8:1-20

8 Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. He awoke early in the morning to return to the temple. When He arrived, the people surrounded Him, so He sat down and began to teach them. While He was teaching, the scribes and Pharisees brought in a woman who was caught in the act of adultery; and they stood her before Jesus.

Pharisees: Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. Moses says in the law that we are to kill such women by stoning. What do You say about it?

This was all set up as a test for Jesus; His answers would give them grounds to accuse Him of crimes against Moses’ law. Jesus bent over and wrote something in the dirt with His finger. They persisted in badgering Jesus, so He stood up straight.

Jesus: Let the first stone be thrown by the one among you who has not sinned.

Once again Jesus bent down to the ground and resumed writing with His finger. The Pharisees who heard Him stood still for a few moments and then began to leave slowly, one by one, beginning with the older men. Eventually only Jesus and the woman remained, 10 and Jesus looked up.

Jesus: Dear woman, where is everyone? Are we alone? Did no one step forward to condemn you?

Woman Caught in Adultery: 11 Lord, no one has condemned me.

Jesus: Well, I do not condemn you either; all I ask is that you go and from now on avoid the sins that plague you.]

12 On another occasion, Jesus spoke to the crowds again.

Jesus: I am the light that shines through the cosmos; if you walk with Me, you will thrive in the nourishing light that gives life and will not know darkness.

Pharisees: 13 Jesus, what You are claiming about Yourself cannot possibly be true. The only person bearing witness is You.

Jesus: 14 Even if I am making bold claims about Myself—who I am, what I have come to do—I am speaking the truth. You see, I know where I came from and where I will go when I am done here. You know neither where I come from nor where I will go. 15 You spend your time judging by the wrong criteria, by human standards; but I am not here to judge anyone. 16 If I were to judge, then My judgment would be based on truth; but I would not judge anyone alone. I act in harmony with the One who sent Me. 17 Your law states that if the testimonies of two witnesses agree, their testimony is true. 18 Well, I testify about Myself, and so does the Father who sent Me here.

Pharisees: 19 Where is the Father who testifies on Your behalf?

Jesus: You don’t know the Father or Me. If you knew Me, then you would also know the Father.

20 Jesus said all of these things in the treasury while He was teaching in the temple; followers and opponents alike gathered to hear Him, but none of His enemies tried to seize Him because His time had not yet come.

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Psalm 110

Psalm 110

A song of David.

Psalm 110 may have been written to celebrate the coronation of one of David’s sons as king. The Eternal invites the royal son of David to take his rightful place at His right hand, the place of power and authority—not just over Jerusalem but over his enemies as well. But the royal son is to be more than a king, he is to be a priest according the order of that mysterious and enigmatic figure, Melchizedek (Genesis 14:17-24). God promises to give this royal priest-king victory over his enemies as he marches out to war.

This psalm is the psalm most quoted by early Christian writers in the New Testament. As they considered the significance of Jesus, they found that this psalm, more than any, expressed their conviction that the risen Jesus now occupies a unique place at God’s right hand and will be victorious over His enemies.

The Eternal said to my lord,
“Sit here at My right hand,
in the place of honor and power,
And I will gather your enemies together,
lead them in on hands and knees;
you will rest your feet on their backs.”

The Eternal will extend your reach as you rule
from your throne on Zion.
You will be out in enemy lands, ruling.
Your people will come as volunteers that day; they will be a sight to see:
on that day, you will lead your army, noble in their holiness.
As the new day dawns and dew settles on the grass,
your young volunteers will make their way to you.
The Eternal has sworn an oath
and cannot change His mind:
“You are a priest forever—
in the honored order of Melchizedek.”

The lord is at Your right hand;
on the day that his fury comes to its peak, he will crush kings.
You will see the dead in heaps at the roadside,
corpses spread far and wide in valleys and on hillsides.
Rulers and military leaders will lie among them without distinction.
This will be his judgment on the nations.
There is a brook along the way.
He will stop there and drink;
And when he is finished,
he will raise his head.

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Proverbs 15:8-10

When the wicked offer sacrifices, they disgust the Eternal,
but the prayers of those who do right are a pleasure to Him.
The lifestyle of the wicked is repulsive to Him,
while those who do right delight Him.
10 Harsh punishment is waiting for those who reject the path of life,
and those who hate correction will die.

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

 

 

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