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1 Samuel 19-21The Message (MSG)

The Black Mood of Saul

19 1-3 Saul called his son Jonathan together with his servants and ordered them to kill David. But because Jonathan treasured David, he went and warned him: “My father is looking for a way to kill you. Here’s what you are to do. Tomorrow morning, hide and stay hidden. I’ll go out with my father into the field where you are hiding. I’ll talk about you with my father and we’ll see what he says. Then I’ll report back to you.”

4-5 Jonathan brought up David with his father, speaking well of him. “Please,” he said to his father, “don’t attack David. He hasn’t wronged you, has he? And just look at all the good he has done! He put his life on the line when he killed the Philistine. What a great victory God gave Israel that day! You were there. You saw it and were on your feet applauding with everyone else. So why would you even think of sinning against an innocent person, killing David for no reason whatever?”

Saul listened to Jonathan and said, “You’re right. As God lives, David lives. He will not be killed.”

Jonathan sent for David and reported to him everything that was said. Then he brought David back to Saul and everything was as it was before.

War broke out again and David went out to fight Philistines. He beat them badly, and they ran for their lives.

9-10 But then a black mood from God settled over Saul and took control of him. He was sitting at home, his spear in his hand, while David was playing music. Suddenly, Saul tried to skewer David with his spear, but David ducked. The spear stuck in the wall and David got away. It was night.

11-14 Saul sent men to David’s house to stake it out and then, first thing in the morning, to kill him. But Michal, David’s wife, told him what was going on. “Quickly now—make your escape tonight. If not, you’ll be dead by morning!” She let him out of a window, and he made his escape. Then Michal took a dummy god and put it in the bed, placed a wig of goat’s hair on its head, and threw a quilt over it. When Saul’s men arrived to get David, she said, “He’s sick in bed.”

15-16 Saul sent his men back, ordering them, “Bring him, bed and all, so I can kill him.” When the men entered the room, all they found in the bed was the dummy god with its goat-hair wig!

17 Saul stormed at Michal: “How could you play tricks on me like this? You sided with my enemy, and now he’s gotten away!”

18 Michal said, “He threatened me. He said, ‘Help me out of here or I’ll kill you.’”

David made good his escape and went to Samuel at Ramah and told him everything Saul had done to him. Then he and Samuel withdrew to the privacy of Naioth.

19-20 Saul was told, “David’s at Naioth in Ramah.” He immediately sent his men to capture him. They saw a band of prophets prophesying with Samuel presiding over them. Before they knew it, the Spirit of God was on them, too, and they were ranting and raving right along with the prophets!

21 That was reported back to Saul, and he dispatched more men. They, too, were soon prophesying. So Saul tried a third time—a third set of men—and they ended up mindlessly raving as well!

22 Fed up, Saul went to Ramah himself. He came to the big cistern at Secu and inquired, “Where are Samuel and David?”

A bystander said, “Over at Naioth in Ramah.”

23-24 As he headed out for Naioth in Ramah, the Spirit of God was on him, too. All the way to Naioth he was caught up in a babbling trance! He ripped off his clothes and lay there rambling gibberish before Samuel for a day and a night, stretched out naked. People are still talking about it: “Saul among the prophets! Who would have guessed?”

A Covenant Friendship in God’s Name

20 David got out of Naioth in Ramah alive and went to Jonathan. “What do I do now? What wrong have I inflicted on your father that makes him so determined to kill me?”

“Nothing,” said Jonathan. “You’ve done nothing wrong. And you’re not going to die. Really, you’re not! My father tells me everything. He does nothing, whether big or little, without confiding in me. So why would he do this behind my back? It can’t be.”

But David said, “Your father knows that we are the best of friends. So he says to himself, ‘Jonathan must know nothing of this. If he does, he’ll side with David.’ But it’s true—as sure as God lives, and as sure as you’re alive before me right now—he’s determined to kill me.”

Jonathan said, “Tell me what you have in mind. I’ll do anything for you.”

5-8 David said, “Tomorrow marks the New Moon. I’m scheduled to eat dinner with the king. Instead, I’ll go hide in the field until the evening of the third. If your father misses me, say, ‘David asked if he could run down to Bethlehem, his hometown, for an anniversary reunion, and worship with his family.’ If he says, ‘Good!’ then I’m safe. But if he gets angry, you’ll know for sure that he’s made up his mind to kill me. Oh, stick with me in this. You’ve entered into a covenant of God with me, remember! If I’m in the wrong, go ahead and kill me yourself. Why bother giving me up to your father?”

“Never!” exclaimed Jonathan. “I’d never do that! If I get the slightest hint that my father is fixated on killing you, I’ll tell you.”

10 David asked, “And whom will you get to tell me if your father comes back with a harsh answer?”

11-17 “Come outside,” said Jonathan. “Let’s go to the field.” When the two of them were out in the field, Jonathan said, “As God, the God of Israel, is my witness, by this time tomorrow I’ll get it out of my father how he feels about you. Then I’ll let you know what I learn. May God do his worst to me if I let you down! If my father still intends to kill you, I’ll tell you and get you out of here in one piece. And God be with you as he’s been with my father! If I make it through this alive, continue to be my covenant friend. And if I die, keep the covenant friendship with my family—forever. And when God finally rids the earth of David’s enemies, stay loyal to Jonathan!” Jonathan repeated his pledge of love and friendship for David. He loved David more than his own soul!

18-23 Jonathan then laid out his plan: “Tomorrow is the New Moon, and you’ll be missed when you don’t show up for dinner. On the third day, when they’ve quit expecting you, come to the place where you hid before, and wait beside that big boulder. I’ll shoot three arrows in the direction of the boulder. Then I’ll send off my servant, ‘Go find the arrows.’ If I yell after the servant, ‘The arrows are on this side! Retrieve them!’ that’s the signal that you can return safely—as God lives, not a thing to fear! But if I yell, ‘The arrows are farther out!’ then run for it—God wants you out of here! Regarding all the things we’ve discussed, remember that God’s in on this with us to the very end!”

24-26 David hid in the field. On the holiday of the New Moon, the king came to the table to eat. He sat where he always sat, the place against the wall, with Jonathan across the table and Abner at Saul’s side. But David’s seat was empty. Saul didn’t mention it at the time, thinking, “Something’s happened that’s made him unclean. That’s it—he’s probably unclean for the holy meal.”

27 But the day after the New Moon, day two of the holiday, David’s seat was still empty. Saul asked Jonathan his son, “So where’s that son of Jesse? He hasn’t eaten with us either yesterday or today.”

28-29 Jonathan said, “David asked my special permission to go to Bethlehem. He said, ‘Give me leave to attend a family reunion back home. My brothers have ordered me to be there. If it seems all right to you, let me go and see my brothers.’ That’s why he’s not here at the king’s table.”

30-31 Saul exploded in anger at Jonathan: “You son of a slut! Don’t you think I know that you’re in cahoots with the son of Jesse, disgracing both you and your mother? For as long as the son of Jesse is walking around free on this earth, your future in this kingdom is at risk. Now go get him. Bring him here. From this moment, he’s as good as dead!”

32 Jonathan stood up to his father. “Why dead? What’s he done?”

33 Saul threw his spear at him to kill him. That convinced Jonathan that his father was fixated on killing David.

34 Jonathan stormed from the table, furiously angry, and ate nothing the rest of the day, upset for David and smarting under the humiliation from his father.

35-39 In the morning, Jonathan went to the field for the appointment with David. He had his young servant with him. He told the servant, “Run and get the arrows I’m about to shoot.” The boy started running and Jonathan shot an arrow way beyond him. As the boy came to the area where the arrow had been shot, Jonathan yelled out, “Isn’t the arrow farther out?” He yelled again, “Hurry! Quickly! Don’t just stand there!” Jonathan’s servant then picked up the arrow and brought it to his master. The boy, of course, knew nothing of what was going on. Only Jonathan and David knew.

40-41 Jonathan gave his quiver and bow to the boy and sent him back to town. After the servant was gone, David got up from his hiding place beside the boulder, then fell on his face to the ground—three times prostrating himself! And then they kissed one another and wept, friend over friend, David weeping especially hard.

42 Jonathan said, “Go in peace! The two of us have vowed friendship in God’s name, saying, ‘God will be the bond between me and you, and between my children and your children forever!’”

David Pretends to Go Crazy

21 David went on his way and Jonathan returned to town.

David went to Nob, to Ahimelech the Priest. Ahimelech was alarmed as he went out to greet David: “What are you doing here all by yourself—and not a soul with you?”

2-3 David answered Ahimelech the Priest, “The king sent me on a mission and gave strict orders: ‘This is top secret—not a word of this to a soul.’ I’ve arranged to meet up with my men in a certain place. Now, what’s there here to eat? Do you have five loaves of bread? Give me whatever you can scrounge up!”

“I don’t have any regular bread on hand,” said the priest. “I only have holy bread. If your men have not slept with women recently, it’s yours.”

David said, “None of us has touched a woman. I always do it this way when I’m on a mission: My men abstain from sex. Even when it is an ordinary mission we do that—how much more on this holy mission.”

So the priest gave them the holy bread. It was the only bread he had, Bread of the Presence that had been removed from God’s presence and replaced by fresh bread at the same time.

One of Saul’s officials was present that day keeping a religious vow. His name was Doeg the Edomite. He was chief of Saul’s shepherds.

David asked Ahimelech, “Do you have a spear or sword of any kind around here? I didn’t have a chance to grab my weapons. The king’s mission was urgent and I left in a hurry.”

The priest said, “The sword of Goliath, the Philistine you killed at Oak Valley—that’s here! It’s behind the Ephod wrapped in a cloth. If you want it, take it. There’s nothing else here.”

10-11 “Oh,” said David, “there’s no sword like that! Give it to me!”

And at that, David shot out of there, running for his life from Saul. He went to Achish, king of Gath. When the servants of Achish saw him, they said, “Can this be David, the famous David? Is this the one they sing of at their dances?

Saul kills by the thousand,
David by the ten thousand!”

12-15 When David realized that he had been recognized, he panicked, fearing the worst from Achish, king of Gath. So right there, while they were looking at him, he pretended to go crazy, pounding his head on the city gate and foaming at the mouth, spit dripping from his beard. Achish took one look at him and said to his servants, “Can’t you see he’s crazy? Why did you let him in here? Don’t you think I have enough crazy people to put up with as it is without adding another? Get him out of here!”

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

Luke 11:29-54The Message (MSG)

Keep Your Eyes Open

29-30 As the crowd swelled, he took a fresh tack: “The mood of this age is all wrong. Everybody’s looking for proof, but you’re looking for the wrong kind. All you’re looking for is something to titillate your curiosity, satisfy your lust for miracles. But the only proof you’re going to get is the Jonah-proof given to the Ninevites, which looks like no proof at all. What Jonah was to Nineveh, the Son of Man is to this age.

32,31 “On Judgment Day the Ninevites will stand up and give evidence that will condemn this generation, because when Jonah preached to them they changed their lives. A far greater preacher than Jonah is here, and you squabble about ‘proofs.’ On Judgment Day the Queen of Sheba will come forward and bring evidence that condemns this generation, because she traveled from a far corner of the earth to listen to wise Solomon. Wisdom far greater than Solomon’s is right in front of you, and you quibble over ‘evidence.’

33-36 “No one lights a lamp, then hides it in a drawer. It’s put on a lamp stand so those entering the room have light to see where they’re going. Your eye is a lamp, lighting up your whole body. If you live wide-eyed in wonder and belief, your body fills up with light. If you live squinty-eyed in greed and distrust, your body is a dank cellar. Keep your eyes open, your lamp burning, so you don’t get musty and murky. Keep your life as well-lighted as your best-lighted room.”

Frauds!

37-41 When he finished that talk, a Pharisee asked him to dinner. He entered his house and sat right down at the table. The Pharisee was shocked and somewhat offended when he saw that Jesus didn’t wash up before the meal. But the Master said to him, “I know you Pharisees burnish the surface of your cups and plates so they sparkle in the sun, but I also know your insides are maggoty with greed and secret evil. Stupid Pharisees! Didn’t the One who made the outside also make the inside? Turn both your pockets and your hearts inside out and give generously to the poor; then your lives will be clean, not just your dishes and your hands.

42 “I’ve had it with you! You’re hopeless, you Pharisees! Frauds! You keep meticulous account books, tithing on every nickel and dime you get, but manage to find loopholes for getting around basic matters of justice and God’s love. Careful bookkeeping is commendable, but the basics are required.

43-44 “You’re hopeless, you Pharisees! Frauds! You love sitting at the head table at church dinners, love preening yourselves in the radiance of public flattery. Frauds! You’re just like unmarked graves: People walk over that nice, grassy surface, never suspecting the rot and corruption that is six feet under.”

45 One of the religion scholars spoke up: “Teacher, do you realize that in saying these things you’re insulting us?”

46 He said, “Yes, and I can be even more explicit. You’re hopeless, you religion scholars! You load people down with rules and regulations, nearly breaking their backs, but never lift even a finger to help.

47-51 “You’re hopeless! You build tombs for the prophets your ancestors killed. The tombs you build are monuments to your murdering ancestors more than to the murdered prophets. That accounts for God’s Wisdom saying, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, but they’ll kill them and run them off.’ What it means is that every drop of righteous blood ever spilled from the time earth began until now, from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was struck down between altar and sanctuary, is on your heads. Yes, it’s on the bill of this generation and this generation will pay.

52 “You’re hopeless, you religion scholars! You took the key of knowledge, but instead of unlocking doors, you locked them. You won’t go in yourself, and won’t let anyone else in either.”

53-54 As soon as Jesus left the table, the religion scholars and Pharisees went into a rage. They went over and over everything he said, plotting how they could trap him in something from his own mouth.

The Message (MSG)

Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson

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