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Parable of the Persistent Widow

18 One day Jesus told his disciples a story to show that they should always pray and never give up. “There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’”

Then the Lord said, “Learn a lesson from this unjust judge. Even he rendered a just decision in the end. So don’t you think God will surely give justice to his chosen people who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will grant justice to them quickly! But when the Son of Man[a] returns, how many will he find on the earth who have faith?”

Parable of the Pharisee and Tax Collector

Then Jesus told this story to some who had great confidence in their own righteousness and scorned everyone else: 10 “Two men went to the Temple to pray. One was a Pharisee, and the other was a despised tax collector. 11 The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed this prayer[b]: ‘I thank you, God, that I am not like other people—cheaters, sinners, adulterers. I’m certainly not like that tax collector! 12 I fast twice a week, and I give you a tenth of my income.’

13 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner.’ 14 I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God. For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Jesus Blesses the Children

15 One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him.

16 Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. 17 I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

The Rich Man

18 Once a religious leader asked Jesus this question: “Good Teacher, what should I do to inherit eternal life?”

19 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus asked him. “Only God is truly good. 20 But to answer your question, you know the commandments: ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not testify falsely. Honor your father and mother.’[c]

21 The man replied, “I’ve obeyed all these commandments since I was young.”

22 When Jesus heard his answer, he said, “There is still one thing you haven’t done. Sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

23 But when the man heard this he became very sad, for he was very rich.

24 When Jesus saw this,[d] he said, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the Kingdom of God! 25 In fact, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the Kingdom of God!”

26 Those who heard this said, “Then who in the world can be saved?”

27 He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.”

28 Peter said, “We’ve left our homes to follow you.”

29 “Yes,” Jesus replied, “and I assure you that everyone who has given up house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the Kingdom of God, 30 will be repaid many times over in this life, and will have eternal life in the world to come.”

Jesus Again Predicts His Death

31 Taking the twelve disciples aside, Jesus said, “Listen, we’re going up to Jerusalem, where all the predictions of the prophets concerning the Son of Man will come true. 32 He will be handed over to the Romans,[e] and he will be mocked, treated shamefully, and spit upon. 33 They will flog him with a whip and kill him, but on the third day he will rise again.”

34 But they didn’t understand any of this. The significance of his words was hidden from them, and they failed to grasp what he was talking about.

Jesus Heals a Blind Beggar

35 As Jesus approached Jericho, a blind beggar was sitting beside the road. 36 When he heard the noise of a crowd going past, he asked what was happening. 37 They told him that Jesus the Nazarene[f] was going by. 38 So he began shouting, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”

39 “Be quiet!” the people in front yelled at him.

But he only shouted louder, “Son of David, have mercy on me!”

40 When Jesus heard him, he stopped and ordered that the man be brought to him. As the man came near, Jesus asked him, 41 “What do you want me to do for you?”

“Lord,” he said, “I want to see!”

42 And Jesus said, “All right, receive your sight! Your faith has healed you.” 43 Instantly the man could see, and he followed Jesus, praising God. And all who saw it praised God, too.

Footnotes

  1. 18:8 “Son of Man” is a title Jesus used for himself.
  2. 18:11 Some manuscripts read stood and prayed this prayer to himself.
  3. 18:20 Exod 20:12-16; Deut 5:16-20.
  4. 18:24 Some manuscripts read When Jesus saw how sad the man was.
  5. 18:32 Greek the Gentiles.
  6. 18:37 Or Jesus of Nazareth.

The Collection for Christians in Jerusalem

I really don’t need to write to you about this ministry of giving for the believers in Jerusalem.[a] For I know how eager you are to help, and I have been boasting to the churches in Macedonia that you in Greece[b] were ready to send an offering a year ago. In fact, it was your enthusiasm that stirred up many of the Macedonian believers to begin giving.

But I am sending these brothers to be sure you really are ready, as I have been telling them, and that your money is all collected. I don’t want to be wrong in my boasting about you. We would be embarrassed—not to mention your own embarrassment—if some Macedonian believers came with me and found that you weren’t ready after all I had told them! So I thought I should send these brothers ahead of me to make sure the gift you promised is ready. But I want it to be a willing gift, not one given grudgingly.

Remember this—a farmer who plants only a few seeds will get a small crop. But the one who plants generously will get a generous crop. You must each decide in your heart how much to give. And don’t give reluctantly or in response to pressure. “For God loves a person who gives cheerfully.”[c] And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others. As the Scriptures say,

“They share freely and give generously to the poor.
    Their good deeds will be remembered forever.”[d]

10 For God is the one who provides seed for the farmer and then bread to eat. In the same way, he will provide and increase your resources and then produce a great harvest of generosity[e] in you.

11 Yes, you will be enriched in every way so that you can always be generous. And when we take your gifts to those who need them, they will thank God. 12 So two good things will result from this ministry of giving—the needs of the believers in Jerusalem[f] will be met, and they will joyfully express their thanks to God.

13 As a result of your ministry, they will give glory to God. For your generosity to them and to all believers will prove that you are obedient to the Good News of Christ. 14 And they will pray for you with deep affection because of the overflowing grace God has given to you. 15 Thank God for this gift[g] too wonderful for words!

Footnotes

  1. 9:1 Greek about the offering for God’s holy people.
  2. 9:2 Greek in Achaia, the southern region of the Greek peninsula. Macedonia was in the northern region of Greece.
  3. 9:7 See footnote on Prov 22:8.
  4. 9:9 Ps 112:9.
  5. 9:10 Greek righteousness.
  6. 9:12 Greek of God’s holy people.
  7. 9:15 Greek his gift.

That was the beginning of a long war between those who were loyal to Saul and those loyal to David. As time passed David became stronger and stronger, while Saul’s dynasty became weaker and weaker.

David’s Sons Born in Hebron

These are the sons who were born to David in Hebron:

The oldest was Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam from Jezreel.
The second was Daniel,[a] whose mother was Abigail, the widow of Nabal from Carmel.
The third was Absalom, whose mother was Maacah, the daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur.
The fourth was Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith.
The fifth was Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital.
The sixth was Ithream, whose mother was Eglah, David’s wife.

These sons were all born to David in Hebron.

Abner Joins Forces with David

As the war between the house of Saul and the house of David went on, Abner became a powerful leader among those loyal to Saul. One day Ishbosheth,[b] Saul’s son, accused Abner of sleeping with one of his father’s concubines, a woman named Rizpah, daughter of Aiah.

Abner was furious. “Am I some Judean dog to be kicked around like this?” he shouted. “After all I have done for your father, Saul, and his family and friends by not handing you over to David, is this my reward—that you find fault with me about this woman? May God strike me and even kill me if I don’t do everything I can to help David get what the Lord has promised him! 10 I’m going to take Saul’s kingdom and give it to David. I will establish the throne of David over Israel as well as Judah, all the way from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south.” 11 Ishbosheth didn’t dare say another word because he was afraid of what Abner might do.

12 Then Abner sent messengers to David, saying, “Doesn’t the entire land belong to you? Make a solemn pact with me, and I will help turn over all of Israel to you.”

13 “All right,” David replied, “but I will not negotiate with you unless you bring back my wife Michal, Saul’s daughter, when you come.”

14 David then sent this message to Ishbosheth, Saul’s son: “Give me back my wife Michal, for I bought her with the lives[c] of 100 Philistines.”

15 So Ishbosheth took Michal away from her husband, Palti[d] son of Laish. 16 Palti followed along behind her as far as Bahurim, weeping as he went. Then Abner told him, “Go back home!” So Palti returned.

17 Meanwhile, Abner had consulted with the elders of Israel. “For some time now,” he told them, “you have wanted to make David your king. 18 Now is the time! For the Lord has said, ‘I have chosen David to save my people Israel from the hands of the Philistines and from all their other enemies.’” 19 Abner also spoke with the men of Benjamin. Then he went to Hebron to tell David that all the people of Israel and Benjamin had agreed to support him.

20 When Abner and twenty of his men came to Hebron, David entertained them with a great feast. 21 Then Abner said to David, “Let me go and call an assembly of all Israel to support my lord the king. They will make a covenant with you to make you their king, and you will rule over everything your heart desires.” So David sent Abner safely on his way.

Joab Murders Abner

22 But just after David had sent Abner away in safety, Joab and some of David’s troops returned from a raid, bringing much plunder with them. 23 When Joab arrived, he was told that Abner had just been there visiting the king and had been sent away in safety.

24 Joab rushed to the king and demanded, “What have you done? What do you mean by letting Abner get away? 25 You know perfectly well that he came to spy on you and find out everything you’re doing!”

26 Joab then left David and sent messengers to catch up with Abner, asking him to return. They found him at the well of Sirah and brought him back, though David knew nothing about it. 27 When Abner arrived back at Hebron, Joab took him aside at the gateway as if to speak with him privately. But then he stabbed Abner in the stomach and killed him in revenge for killing his brother Asahel.

28 When David heard about it, he declared, “I vow by the Lord that I and my kingdom are forever innocent of this crime against Abner son of Ner. 29 Joab and his family are the guilty ones. May the family of Joab be cursed in every generation with a man who has open sores or leprosy[e] or who walks on crutches[f] or dies by the sword or begs for food!”

30 So Joab and his brother Abishai killed Abner because Abner had killed their brother Asahel at the battle of Gibeon.

David Mourns Abner’s Death

31 Then David said to Joab and all those who were with him, “Tear your clothes and put on burlap. Mourn for Abner.” And King David himself walked behind the procession to the grave. 32 They buried Abner in Hebron, and the king and all the people wept at his graveside. 33 Then the king sang this funeral song for Abner:

“Should Abner have died as fools die?
34 Your hands were not bound;
    your feet were not chained.
No, you were murdered—
    the victim of a wicked plot.”

All the people wept again for Abner. 35 David had refused to eat anything on the day of the funeral, and now everyone begged him to eat. But David had made a vow, saying, “May God strike me and even kill me if I eat anything before sundown.”

36 This pleased the people very much. In fact, everything the king did pleased them! 37 So everyone in Judah and all Israel understood that David was not responsible for Abner’s murder.

38 Then King David said to his officials, “Don’t you realize that a great commander has fallen today in Israel? 39 And even though I am the anointed king, these two sons of Zeruiah—Joab and Abishai—are too strong for me to control. So may the Lord repay these evil men for their evil deeds.”

Footnotes

  1. 3:3 As in parallel text at 1 Chr 3:1 (see also Greek version, which reads Daluia, and possible support by Dead Sea Scrolls); Hebrew reads Kileab.
  2. 3:7 Ishbosheth is another name for Esh-baal.
  3. 3:14 Hebrew the foreskins.
  4. 3:15 As in 1 Sam 25:44; Hebrew reads Paltiel, a variant spelling of Palti.
  5. 3:29a Or or a contagious skin disease. The Hebrew word used here can describe various skin diseases.
  6. 3:29b Or who is effeminate; Hebrew reads who handles a spindle.

10 As dead flies cause even a bottle of perfume to stink,
    so a little foolishness spoils great wisdom and honor.

A wise person chooses the right road;
    a fool takes the wrong one.

You can identify fools
    just by the way they walk down the street!

If your boss is angry at you, don’t quit!
    A quiet spirit can overcome even great mistakes.

The Ironies of Life

There is another evil I have seen under the sun. Kings and rulers make a grave mistake when they give great authority to foolish people and low positions to people of proven worth. I have even seen servants riding horseback like princes—and princes walking like servants!

When you dig a well,
    you might fall in.
When you demolish an old wall,
    you could be bitten by a snake.
When you work in a quarry,
    stones might fall and crush you.
When you chop wood,
    there is danger with each stroke of your ax.

10 Using a dull ax requires great strength,
    so sharpen the blade.
That’s the value of wisdom;
    it helps you succeed.

11 If a snake bites before you charm it,
    what’s the use of being a snake charmer?

12 Wise words bring approval,
    but fools are destroyed by their own words.

13 Fools base their thoughts on foolish assumptions,
    so their conclusions will be wicked madness;
14     they chatter on and on.

No one really knows what is going to happen;
    no one can predict the future.

15 Fools are so exhausted by a little work
    that they can’t even find their way home.

16 What sorrow for the land ruled by a servant,[a]
    the land whose leaders feast in the morning.
17 Happy is the land whose king is a noble leader
    and whose leaders feast at the proper time
    to gain strength for their work, not to get drunk.

18 Laziness leads to a sagging roof;
    idleness leads to a leaky house.

19 A party gives laughter,
    wine gives happiness,
    and money gives everything!

20 Never make light of the king, even in your thoughts.
    And don’t make fun of the powerful, even in your own bedroom.
For a little bird might deliver your message
    and tell them what you said.

Footnotes

  1. 10:16 Or a child.

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