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1 Samuel 22The Message (MSG)

Saul Murders the Priests of God

22 1-2 So David got away and escaped to the Cave of Adullam. When his brothers and others associated with his family heard where he was, they came down and joined him. Not only that, but all who were down on their luck came around—losers and vagrants and misfits of all sorts. David became their leader. There were about four hundred in all.

3-4 Then David went to Mizpah in Moab. He petitioned the king of Moab, “Grant asylum to my father and mother until I find out what God has planned for me.” David left his parents in the care of the king of Moab. They stayed there all through the time David was hiding out.

The prophet Gad told David, “Don’t go back to the cave. Go to Judah.” David did what he told him. He went to the forest of Hereth.

6-8 Saul got word of the whereabouts of David and his men. He was sitting under the big oak on the hill at Gibeah at the time, spear in hand, holding court surrounded by his officials. He said, “Listen here, you Benjaminites! Don’t think for a minute that you have any future with the son of Jesse! Do you think he’s going to hand over choice land, give you all influential jobs? Think again. Here you are, conspiring against me, whispering behind my back—not one of you is man enough to tell me that my own son is making deals with the son of Jesse, not one of you who cares enough to tell me that my son has taken the side of this, this . . . outlaw!”

9-10 Then Doeg the Edomite, who was standing with Saul’s officials, spoke up: “I saw the son of Jesse meet with Ahimelech son of Ahitub, in Nob. I saw Ahimelech pray with him for God’s guidance, give him food, and arm him with the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

11 Saul sent for the priest Ahimelech son of Ahitub, along with the whole family of priests at Nob. They all came to the king.

12 Saul said, “You listen to me, son of Ahitub!”

“Certainly, master,” he said.

13 “Why have you ganged up against me with the son of Jesse, giving him bread and a sword, even praying with him for God’s guidance, setting him up as an outlaw, out to get me?”

14-15 Ahimelech answered the king, “There’s not an official in your administration as true to you as David, your own son-in-law and captain of your bodyguard. None more honorable either. Do you think that was the first time I prayed with him for God’s guidance? Hardly! But don’t accuse me of any wrongdoing, me or my family. I have no idea what you’re trying to get at with this ‘outlaw’ talk.”

16 The king said, “Death, Ahimelech! You’re going to die—you and everyone in your family!”

17 The king ordered his henchmen, “Surround and kill the priests of God! They’re hand in glove with David. They knew he was running away from me and didn’t tell me.” But the king’s men wouldn’t do it. They refused to lay a hand on the priests of God.

18-19 Then the king told Doeg, “You do it—massacre the priests!” Doeg the Edomite led the attack and slaughtered the priests, the eighty-five men who wore the sacred robes. He then carried the massacre into Nob, the city of priests, killing man and woman, child and baby, ox, donkey, and sheep—the works.

20-21 Only one son of Ahimelech son of Ahitub escaped: Abiathar. He got away and joined up with David. Abiathar reported to David that Saul had murdered the priests of God.

22-23 David said to Abiathar, “I knew it—that day I saw Doeg the Edomite there, I knew he’d tell Saul. I’m to blame for the death of everyone in your father’s family. Stay here with me. Don’t be afraid. The one out to kill you is out to kill me, too. Stick with me. I’ll protect you.”

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 17The Message (MSG)

A David Prayer

17 1-2 Listen while I build my case, God,
    the most honest prayer you’ll ever hear.
Show the world I’m innocent—
    in your heart you know I am.

Go ahead, examine me from inside out,
    surprise me in the middle of the night—
You’ll find I’m just what I say I am.
    My words don’t run loose.

4-5 I’m not trying to get my way
    in the world’s way.
I’m trying to get your way,
    your Word’s way.
I’m staying on your trail;
    I’m putting one foot
In front of the other.
    I’m not giving up.

6-7 I call to you, God, because I’m sure of an answer.
    So—answer! bend your ear! listen sharp!
Paint grace-graffiti on the fences;
    take in your frightened children who
Are running from the neighborhood bullies
    straight to you.

8-9 Keep your eye on me;
    hide me under your cool wing feathers
From the wicked who are out to get me,
    from mortal enemies closing in.

10-14 Their hearts are hard as nails,
    their mouths blast hot air.
They are after me, nipping my heels,
    determined to bring me down,
Lions ready to rip me apart,
    young lions poised to pounce.
Up, God: beard them! break them!
    By your sword, free me from their clutches;
Barehanded, God, break these mortals,
    these flat-earth people who can’t think beyond today.

I’d like to see their bellies
    swollen with famine food,
The weeds they’ve sown
    harvested and baked into famine bread,
With second helpings for their children
    and crusts for their babies to chew on.

15 And me? I plan on looking
    you full in the face. When I get up,
I’ll see your full stature
    and live heaven on earth.

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 35The Message (MSG)

A David Psalm

35 1-3 Harass these hecklers, God,
    punch these bullies in the nose.
Grab a weapon, anything at hand;
    stand up for me!
Get ready to throw the spear, aim the javelin,
    at the people who are out to get me.
Reassure me; let me hear you say,
    “I’ll save you.”

4-8 When those thugs try to knife me in the back,
    make them look foolish.
Frustrate all those
    who are plotting my downfall.
Make them like cinders in a high wind,
    with God’s angel working the bellows.
Make their road lightless and mud-slick,
    with God’s angel on their tails.
Out of sheer cussedness they set a trap to catch me;
    for no good reason they dug a ditch to stop me.
Surprise them with your ambush—
    catch them in the very trap they set,
    the disaster they planned for me.

9-10 But let me run loose and free,
    celebrating God’s great work,
Every bone in my body laughing, singing, “God,
    there’s no one like you.
You put the down-and-out on their feet
    and protect the unprotected from bullies!”

11-12 Hostile accusers appear out of nowhere,
    they stand up and badger me.
They pay me back misery for mercy,
    leaving my soul empty.

13-14 When they were sick, I dressed in black;
    instead of eating, I prayed.
My prayers were like lead in my gut,
    like I’d lost my best friend, my brother.
I paced, distraught as a motherless child,
    hunched and heavyhearted.

15-16 But when I was down
    they threw a party!
All the nameless riffraff of the town came
    chanting insults about me.
Like barbarians desecrating a shrine,
    they destroyed my reputation.

17-18 God, how long are you going
    to stand there doing nothing?
Save me from their brutalities;
    everything I’ve got is being thrown to the lions.
I will give you full credit
    when everyone gathers for worship;
When the people turn out in force
    I will say my Hallelujahs.

19-21 Don’t let these liars, my enemies,
    have a party at my expense,
Those who hate me for no reason,
    winking and rolling their eyes.
No good is going to come
    from that crowd;
They spend all their time cooking up gossip
    against those who mind their own business.
They open their mouths
    in ugly grins,
Mocking, “Ha-ha, ha-ha, thought you’d get away with it?
    We’ve caught you hands down!”

22 Don’t you see what they’re doing, God?
    You’re not going to let them
Get by with it, are you? Not going to walk off
    without doing something, are you?

23-26 Please get up—wake up! Tend to my case.
    My God, my Lord—my life is on the line.
Do what you think is right, God, my God,
    but don’t make me pay for their good time.
Don’t let them say to themselves,
    “Ha-ha, we got what we wanted.”
Don’t let them say,
    “We’ve chewed him up and spit him out.”
Let those who are being hilarious
    at my expense
Be made to look ridiculous.
    Make them wear donkey’s ears;
Pin them with the donkey’s tail,
    who made themselves so high and mighty!

27-28 But those who want
    the best for me,
Let them have the last word—a glad shout!—
    and say, over and over and over,
God is great—everything works
    together for good for his servant.”
I’ll tell the world how great and good you are,
    I’ll shout Hallelujah all day, every day.

The Message (MSG)

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

Matthew 6The Message (MSG)

The World Is Not a Stage

“Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don’t make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won’t be applauding.

2-4 “When you do something for someone else, don’t call attention to yourself. You’ve seen them in action, I’m sure—‘playactors’ I call them—treating prayer meeting and street corner alike as a stage, acting compassionate as long as someone is watching, playing to the crowds. They get applause, true, but that’s all they get. When you help someone out, don’t think about how it looks. Just do it—quietly and unobtrusively. That is the way your God, who conceived you in love, working behind the scenes, helps you out.

Pray with Simplicity

“And when you come before God, don’t turn that into a theatrical production either. All these people making a regular show out of their prayers, hoping for stardom! Do you think God sits in a box seat?

“Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace.

7-13 “The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:

Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
    as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
    Yes. Yes. Yes.

14-15 “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.

16-18 “When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.

A Life of God-Worship

19-21 “Don’t hoard treasure down here where it gets eaten by moths and corroded by rust or—worse!—stolen by burglars. Stockpile treasure in heaven, where it’s safe from moth and rust and burglars. It’s obvious, isn’t it? The place where your treasure is, is the place you will most want to be, and end up being.

22-23 “Your eyes are windows into your body. If you open your eyes wide 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. If you pull the blinds on your windows, what a dark life you will have!

24 “You can’t worship two gods at once. Loving one god, you’ll end up hating the other. Adoration of one feeds contempt for the other. You can’t worship God and Money both.

25-26 “If you decide for God, living a life of God-worship, it follows that you don’t fuss about what’s on the table at mealtimes or whether the clothes in your closet are in fashion. There is far more to your life than the food you put in your stomach, more to your outer appearance than the clothes you hang on your body. Look at the birds, free and unfettered, not tied down to a job description, careless in the care of God. And you count far more to him than birds.

27-29 “Has anyone by fussing in front of the mirror ever gotten taller by so much as an inch? All this time and money wasted on fashion—do you think it makes that much difference? Instead of looking at the fashions, walk out into the fields and look at the wildflowers. They never primp or shop, but have you ever seen color and design quite like it? The ten best-dressed men and women in the country look shabby alongside them.

30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

The Message (MSG)

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

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