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Psalm 57-59The Message (MSG)

A David Psalm, When He Hid in a Cave from Saul

57 1-3 Be good to me, God—and now!
    I’ve run to you for dear life.
I’m hiding out under your wings
    until the hurricane blows over.
I call out to High God,
    the God who holds me together.
He sends orders from heaven and saves me,
    he humiliates those who kick me around.
God delivers generous love,
    he makes good on his word.

I find myself in a pride of lions
    who are wild for a taste of human flesh;
Their teeth are lances and arrows,
    their tongues are sharp daggers.

Soar high in the skies, O God!
    Cover the whole earth with your glory!

They booby-trapped my path;
    I thought I was dead and done for.
They dug a mantrap to catch me,
    and fell in headlong themselves.

7-8 I’m ready, God, so ready,
    ready from head to toe,
Ready to sing, ready to raise a tune:
    “Wake up, soul!
Wake up, harp! wake up, lute!
    Wake up, you sleepyhead sun!”

9-10 I’m thanking you, God, out loud in the streets,
    singing your praises in town and country.
The deeper your love, the higher it goes;
    every cloud is a flag to your faithfulness.

11 Soar high in the skies, O God!
    Cover the whole earth with your glory!

A David Psalm

58 1-2 Is this any way to run a country?
    Is there an honest politician in the house?
Behind the scenes you brew cauldrons of evil,
    behind closed doors you make deals with demons.

3-5 The wicked crawl from the wrong side of the cradle;
    their first words out of the womb are lies.
Poison, lethal rattlesnake poison,
    drips from their forked tongues—
Deaf to threats, deaf to charm,
    decades of wax built up in their ears.

6-9 God, smash their teeth to bits,
    leave them toothless tigers.
Let their lives be buckets of water spilled,
    all that’s left, a damp stain in the sand.
Let them be trampled grass
    worn smooth by the traffic.
Let them dissolve into snail slime,
    be a miscarried fetus that never sees sunlight.
Before what they cook up is half-done, God,
    throw it out with the garbage!

10-11 The righteous will call up their friends
    when they see the wicked get their reward,
Serve up their blood in goblets
    as they toast one another,
Everyone cheering, “It’s worth it to play by the rules!
    God’s handing out trophies and tending the earth!”

A David Psalm, When Saul Set a Watch on David’s House in Order to Kill Him

59 1-2 My God! Rescue me from my enemies,
    defend me from these mutineers.
Rescue me from their dirty tricks,
    save me from their hit men.

3-4 Desperadoes have ganged up on me,
    they’re hiding in ambush for me.
I did nothing to deserve this, God,
    crossed no one, wronged no one.
All the same, they’re after me,
    determined to get me.

4-5 Wake up and see for yourself! You’re God,
    God-of-Angel-Armies, Israel’s God!
Get on the job and take care of these pagans,
    don’t be soft on these hard cases.

6-7 They return when the sun goes down,
    They howl like coyotes, ringing the city.
    Then suddenly they’re all at the gate,
    Snarling invective, drawn daggers in their teeth.
    They think they’ll never get caught.

8-10 But you, God, break out laughing;
    you treat the godless nations like jokes.
Strong God, I’m watching you do it,
    I can always count on you.
God in dependable love shows up on time,
    shows me my enemies in ruin.

11-13 Don’t make quick work of them, God,
    lest my people forget.
Bring them down in slow motion,
    take them apart piece by piece.
Let all their mean-mouthed arrogance
    catch up with them,
Catch them out and bring them down
    —every muttered curse
    —every barefaced lie.
Finish them off in fine style!
    Finish them off for good!
Then all the world will see
    that God rules well in Jacob,
    everywhere that God’s in charge.

14-15 They return when the sun goes down,
    They howl like coyotes, ringing the city.
    They scavenge for bones,
    And bite the hand that feeds them.

16-17 And me? I’m singing your prowess,
    shouting at cockcrow your largesse,
For you’ve been a safe place for me,
    a good place to hide.
Strong God, I’m watching you do it,
    I can always count on you—
    God, my dependable love.

The Message (MSG)

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

Romans 4The Message (MSG)

Trusting God

1-3 So how do we fit what we know of Abraham, our first father in the faith, into this new way of looking at things? If Abraham, by what he did for God, got God to approve him, he could certainly have taken credit for it. But the story we’re given is a God-story, not an Abraham-story. What we read in Scripture is, “Abraham entered into what God was doing for him, and that was the turning point. He trusted God to set him right instead of trying to be right on his own.”

4-5 If you’re a hard worker and do a good job, you deserve your pay; we don’t call your wages a gift. But if you see that the job is too big for you, that it’s something only God can do, and you trust him to do it—you could never do it for yourself no matter how hard and long you worked—well, that trusting-him-to-do-it is what gets you set right with God, by God. Sheer gift.

6-9 David confirms this way of looking at it, saying that the one who trusts God to do the putting-everything-right without insisting on having a say in it is one fortunate man:

Fortunate those whose crimes are carted off,
    whose sins are wiped clean from the slate.
Fortunate the person against
    whom the Lord does not keep score.

Do you think for a minute that this blessing is only pronounced over those of us who keep our religious ways and are circumcised? Or do you think it possible that the blessing could be given to those who never even heard of our ways, who were never brought up in the disciplines of God? We all agree, don’t we, that it was by embracing what God did for him that Abraham was declared fit before God?

10-11 Now think: Was that declaration made before or after he was marked by the covenant rite of circumcision? That’s right, before he was marked. That means that he underwent circumcision as evidence and confirmation of what God had done long before to bring him into this acceptable standing with himself, an act of God he had embraced with his whole life.

12 And it means further that Abraham is father of all people who embrace what God does for them while they are still on the “outs” with God, as yet unidentified as God’s, in an “uncircumcised” condition. It is precisely these people in this condition who are called “set right by God and with God”! Abraham is also, of course, father of those who have undergone the religious rite of circumcision not just because of the ritual but because they were willing to live in the risky faith-embrace of God’s action for them, the way Abraham lived long before he was marked by circumcision.

13-15 That famous promise God gave Abraham—that he and his children would possess the earth—was not given because of something Abraham did or would do. It was based on God’s decision to put everything together for him, which Abraham then entered when he believed. If those who get what God gives them only get it by doing everything they are told to do and filling out all the right forms properly signed, that eliminates personal trust completely and turns the promise into an ironclad contract! That’s not a holy promise; that’s a business deal. A contract drawn up by a hard-nosed lawyer and with plenty of fine print only makes sure that you will never be able to collect. But if there is no contract in the first place, simply a promise—and God’s promise at that—you can’t break it.

16 This is why the fulfillment of God’s promise depends entirely on trusting God and his way, and then simply embracing him and what he does. God’s promise arrives as pure gift. That’s the only way everyone can be sure to get in on it, those who keep the religious traditions and those who have never heard of them. For Abraham is father of us all. He is not our racial father—that’s reading the story backward. He is our faith father.

17-18 We call Abraham “father” not because he got God’s attention by living like a saint, but because God made something out of Abraham when he was a nobody. Isn’t that what we’ve always read in Scripture, God saying to Abraham, “I set you up as father of many peoples”? Abraham was first named “father” and then became a father because he dared to trust God to do what only God could do: raise the dead to life, with a word make something out of nothing. When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!”

19-25 Abraham didn’t focus on his own impotence and say, “It’s hopeless. This hundred-year-old body could never father a child.” Nor did he survey Sarah’s decades of infertility and give up. He didn’t tiptoe around God’s promise asking cautiously skeptical questions. He plunged into the promise and came up strong, ready for God, sure that God would make good on what he had said. That’s why it is said, “Abraham was declared fit before God by trusting God to set him right.” But it’s not just Abraham; it’s also us! The same thing gets said about us when we embrace and believe the One who brought Jesus to life when the conditions were equally hopeless. The sacrificed Jesus made us fit for God, set us right with God.

The Message (MSG)

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

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