Psalm 17 The Voice (VOICE)
A prayer of David.
1 Listen, O Eternal One, to my cry for justice.
6 I am crying aloud to You, O True God, for I long to know Your answer.
8 Keep close watch over me as the apple of Your eye;
13 Rise up and confront them, O Eternal One! Make them pay.
15 But as for me, my hope is to see Your face.
1 Chronicles 21:1-17 The Voice (VOICE)
21 After our King David had consolidated his power in Israel, conquering his surrounding enemies, an adversary[a] stood against Israel, and incited David to conduct a census in the nation to determine the strength of his army before going to war.
In the parallel passage of 2 Samuel 24, David receives three options for punishment concerning his disobedience. He knows the Eternal is far more merciful than human beings, so he elects three days of divine pestilence. Sadly thousands of Israelites die because of David’s arrogance in wanting to know just how powerful his kingdom has become. But the chronicler does something the writer of Samuel does not: he explains how this incident determines where David will plan to build the temple (22:1). The threshing floor of Ornan is the perfect spot for it since this is where God stops the hand of the heavenly messenger from destroying Jerusalem.
David (to Joab and Israel’s tribal leaders): 2 Count the number of people in Israel from Beersheba in the south to Dan in the north and report that number to me.
Joab: 3 May the Eternal add immeasurably to His followers! But, my lord the king, aren’t every one of those people your subjects? Why does my lord seek this? Why would you do something that could cause your Israelites guilt?
4 In spite of Joab’s objections, David’s census occurred. Joab obeyed his king, traveled throughout Israel, and returned to Jerusalem. 5 He then reported the number of all the people to David: 1,100,000 swordsmen were in Israel and 470,000 were in Judah. 6 But Joab rebelled against David’s command and did not count Levi and Benjamin because he was against the census.
7 As Joab anticipated, God was displeased with the census and He struck Israel. 8 The king then prayed to God.
David: I know that I have sinned greatly by requiring a census. Please remove the sin of Your servant, who has acted so very foolishly.
9 The Eternal spoke to Gad, David’s seer.
Eternal One: 10 Give David My message: “I am offering you a choice of three punishments. Make your selection, and I will do that to you.”
So Gad paid the king a visit.
Gad (to David): 11 The Eternal One says, “Choose your punishment: 12 three years of famine, three months of pursuit by your enemies, or three days of the Eternal’s sword—plague and destruction by His messenger.” So, what answer should I tell Him?
David: 13 This choice greatly distresses me. Tell Him I would rather fall before the Eternal, whose mercies are very great, than fall before men.
14 So the Eternal did as He promised and sent a violent plague to Israel; 70,000 men of Israel died. 15 God also sent a heavenly messenger to destroy Jerusalem; but as the messenger was poised to ruin it, the Eternal saw the damage caused by the plague and grieved over the calamity. He told the messenger, “The pestilence is enough punishment; stand down.” The Eternal’s messenger stood by the threshing floor of Ornan the Jebusite when the True God stopped him.
16 When David looked up and saw the Eternal’s messenger standing between earth and heaven with his sword stretched out over Jerusalem, David and the elders mourned. They dressed in sackcloth and prostrated themselves.
David (calling out to God): 17 Wasn’t I the one who commanded the census? I, the shepherd, certainly have sinned and done evil; but what have the rest of the nation, Your sheep, done? Eternal One, my True God, please punish only me and my father’s household, not all of Your people.
1 John 2:1-6 The Voice (VOICE)
The word “sin” has virtually disappeared from modern conversation. Afraid of sounding judgmental, we call sin something else—a mistake, an addiction, a tendency, a bad decision—and ignore it as normal and natural behavior. But John is calling the church to a radical holiness where those in the church will regularly remember their sins and seek God’s forgiveness. Each sin, small and large, injures us or someone else; it imprints on our soul, makes us imperfect, and separates us from the perfect God. If we confess our sins to God each day, then He will purify our hearts and draw us closer to Him.
2 You are my little children, so I am writing these things to help you avoid sin. If, however, any believer does sin, we have a high-powered defense lawyer—Jesus the Anointed, the righteous—arguing on our behalf before the Father. 2 It was through His sacrificial death that our sins were atoned. But He did not stop there—He died for the sins of the whole world.
John is affectionately addressing this letter to his “little children,” and he is writing to help them avoid sin and the pain and guilt that come with it. The glamour of decadent lifestyles devoid of God is often advertised as the epitome of joy and freedom. But what are often conveniently left out of these portrayals are the agonizing consequences of such destructive lifestyles. Meaningful pleasure comes not when we are enslaved by the empty promises of the world, but when we are living in loving obedience to God.
3 We know we have joined Him in an intimate relationship because we live out His commands. 4 If someone claims, “I am in an intimate relationship with Him,” but this big talker doesn’t live out His commands, then this individual is a liar and a stranger to the truth. 5 But if someone responds to and obeys His word, then God’s love has truly taken root and filled him. This is how we know we are in an intimate relationship with Him: 6 anyone who says, “I live in intimacy with Him,” should walk the path Jesus walked.
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