1 Samuel 27-29The Message (MSG)
27 David thought to himself, “Sooner or later, Saul’s going to get me. The best thing I can do is escape to Philistine country. Saul will count me a lost cause and quit hunting me down in every nook and cranny of Israel. I’ll be out of his reach for good.”
2-4 So David left; he and his six hundred men went to Achish son of Maoch, king of Gath. They moved in and settled down in Gath, with Achish. Each man brought his household; David brought his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail, widow of Nabal of Carmel. When Saul was told that David had escaped to Gath, he called off the hunt.
5 Then David said to Achish, “If it’s agreeable to you, assign me a place in one of the rural villages. It doesn’t seem right that I, your mere servant, should be taking up space in the royal city.”
6-7 So Achish assigned him Ziklag. (This is how Ziklag got to be what it is now, a city of the kings of Judah.) David lived in Philistine country a year and four months.
8-9 From time to time David and his men raided the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites—these people were longtime inhabitants of the land stretching toward Shur and on to Egypt. When David raided an area he left no one alive, neither man nor woman, but took everything else: sheep, cattle, donkeys, camels, clothing—the works. Then he’d return to Achish.
10-11 Achish would ask, “And whom did you raid today?”
David would tell him, “Oh, the Negev of Judah,” or “The Negev of Jerahmeel,” or “The Negev of the Kenites.” He never left a single person alive lest one show up in Gath and report what David had really been doing. This is the way David operated all the time he lived in Philistine country.
12 Achish came to trust David completely. He thought, “He’s made himself so repugnant to his people that he’ll be in my camp forever.”
28 During this time the Philistines mustered their troops to make war on Israel. Achish said to David, “You can count on this: You’re marching with my troops, you and your men.”
2 And David said, “Good! Now you’ll see for yourself what I can do!”
“Great!” said Achish. “I’m making you my personal bodyguard—for life!”
Saul Prayed, but God Didn’t Answer
3 Samuel was now dead. All Israel had mourned his death and buried him in Ramah, his hometown. Saul had long since cleaned out all those who held séances with the dead.
4-5 The Philistines had mustered their troops and camped at Shunem. Saul had assembled all Israel and camped at Gilboa. But when Saul saw the Philistine troops, he shook in his boots, scared to death.
6 Saul prayed to God, but God didn’t answer—neither by dream nor by sign nor by prophet.
7 So Saul ordered his officials, “Find me someone who can call up spirits so I may go and seek counsel from those spirits.”
His servants said, “There’s a witch at Endor.”
8 Saul disguised himself by putting on different clothes. Then, taking two men with him, he went under the cover of night to the woman and said, “I want you to consult a ghost for me. Call up the person I name.”
9 The woman said, “Just hold on now! You know what Saul did, how he swept the country clean of mediums. Why are you trying to trap me and get me killed?”
10 Saul swore solemnly, “As God lives, you won’t get in any trouble for this.”
11 The woman said, “So whom do you want me to bring up?”
“Samuel. Bring me Samuel.”
12 When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out loudly to Saul, “Why did you lie to me? You’re Saul!”
13 The king told her, “You have nothing to fear . . . but what do you see?”
“I see a spirit ascending from the underground.”
14 “And what does he look like?” Saul asked.
“An old man ascending, robed like a priest.”
Saul knew it was Samuel. He fell down, face to the ground, and worshiped.
15 Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by calling me up?”
“Because I’m in deep trouble,” said Saul. “The Philistines are making war against me and God has deserted me—he doesn’t answer me any more, either by prophet or by dream. And so I’m calling on you to tell me what to do.”
16-19 “Why ask me?” said Samuel. “God has turned away from you and is now on the side of your neighbor. God has done exactly what he told you through me—ripped the kingdom right out of your hands and given it to your neighbor. It’s because you did not obey God, refused to carry out his seething judgment on Amalek, that God does to you what he is doing today. Worse yet, God is turning Israel, along with you, over to the Philistines. Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. And, yes, indeed, God is giving Israel’s army up to the Philistines.”
20-22 Saul dropped to the ground, felled like a tree, terrified by Samuel’s words. There wasn’t an ounce of strength left in him—he’d eaten nothing all day and all night. The woman, realizing that he was in deep shock, said to him, “Listen to me. I did what you asked me to do, put my life in your hands in doing it, carried out your instructions to the letter. It’s your turn to do what I tell you: Let me give you some food. Eat it. It will give you strength so you can get on your way.”
23-25 He refused. “I’m not eating anything.”
But when his servants joined the woman in urging him, he gave in to their pleas, picked himself up off the ground, and sat on the bed. The woman moved swiftly. She butchered a grain-fed calf she had, and took some flour, kneaded it, and baked some flat bread. Then she served it all up for Saul and his servants. After dining handsomely, they got up from the table and were on their way that same night.
29 1-2 The Philistines mustered all their troops at Aphek. Meanwhile Israel had made camp at the spring at Jezreel. As the Philistine warlords marched forward by regiments and divisions, David and his men were bringing up the rear with Achish.
3 The Philistine officers said, “What business do these Hebrews have being here?”
Achish answered the officers, “Don’t you recognize David, ex-servant of King Saul of Israel? He’s been with me a long time. I’ve found nothing to be suspicious of, nothing to complain about, from the day he defected from Saul until now.”
4-5 Angry with Achish, the Philistine officers said, “Send this man back to where he came from. Let him stick to his normal duties. He’s not going into battle with us. He’d switch sides in the middle of the fight! What better chance to get back in favor with his master than by stabbing us in the back! Isn’t this the same David they celebrate at their parties, singing,
Saul kills by the thousand,
6-7 So Achish had to send for David and tell him, “As God lives, you’ve been a trusty ally—excellent in all the ways you have worked with me, beyond reproach in the ways you have conducted yourself. But the warlords don’t see it that way. So it’s best that you leave peacefully, now. It’s not worth it, displeasing the Philistine warlords.”
8 “But what have I done?” said David. “Have you had a single cause for complaint from the day I joined up with you until now? Why can’t I fight against the enemies of my master the king?”
9-10 “I agree,” said Achish. “You’re a good man—as far as I’m concerned, God’s angel! But the Philistine officers were emphatic: ‘He’s not to go with us into battle.’ So get an early start, you and the men who came with you. As soon as you have light enough to travel, go.”
11 David rose early, he and his men, and by daybreak they were on their way back to Philistine country. The Philistines went on to Jezreel.
Luke 13:1-22The Message (MSG)
Unless You Turn to God
13 1-5 About that time some people came up and told him about the Galileans Pilate had killed while they were at worship, mixing their blood with the blood of the sacrifices on the altar. Jesus responded, “Do you think those murdered Galileans were worse sinners than all other Galileans? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die. And those eighteen in Jerusalem the other day, the ones crushed and killed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed and fell on them, do you think they were worse citizens than all other Jerusalemites? Not at all. Unless you turn to God, you, too, will die.”
6-7 Then he told them a story: “A man had an apple tree planted in his front yard. He came to it expecting to find apples, but there weren’t any. He said to his gardener, ‘What’s going on here? For three years now I’ve come to this tree expecting apples and not one apple have I found. Chop it down! Why waste good ground with it any longer?’
8-9 “The gardener said, ‘Let’s give it another year. I’ll dig around it and fertilize, and maybe it will produce next year; if it doesn’t, then chop it down.’”
Healing on the Sabbath
10-13 He was teaching in one of the meeting places on the Sabbath. There was a woman present, so twisted and bent over with arthritis that she couldn’t even look up. She had been afflicted with this for eighteen years. When Jesus saw her, he called her over. “Woman, you’re free!” He laid hands on her and suddenly she was standing straight and tall, giving glory to God.
14 The meeting-place president, furious because Jesus had healed on the Sabbath, said to the congregation, “Six days have been defined as work days. Come on one of the six if you want to be healed, but not on the seventh, the Sabbath.”
15-16 But Jesus shot back, “You frauds! Each Sabbath every one of you regularly unties your cow or donkey from its stall, leads it out for water, and thinks nothing of it. So why isn’t it all right for me to untie this daughter of Abraham and lead her from the stall where Satan has had her tied these eighteen years?”
17 When he put it that way, his critics were left looking quite silly and red-faced. The congregation was delighted and cheered him on.
The Way to God
18-19 Then he said, “How can I picture God’s kingdom for you? What kind of story can I use? It’s like a pine nut that a man plants in his front yard. It grows into a huge pine tree with thick branches, and eagles build nests in it.”
20-21 He tried again. “How can I picture God’s kingdom? It’s like yeast that a woman works into enough dough for three loaves of bread—and waits while the dough rises.”
22 He went on teaching from town to village, village to town, but keeping on a steady course toward Jerusalem.