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2 Kings 4The Message (MSG)

One day the wife of a man from the guild of prophets called out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead. You well know what a good man he was, devoted to God. And now the man to whom he was in debt is on his way to collect by taking my two children as slaves.”

Elisha said, “I wonder how I can be of help. Tell me, what do you have in your house?”

“Nothing,” she said. “Well, I do have a little oil.”

3-4 “Here’s what you do,” said Elisha. “Go up and down the street and borrow jugs and bowls from all your neighbors. And not just a few—all you can get. Then come home and lock the door behind you, you and your sons. Pour oil into each container; when each is full, set it aside.”

5-6 She did what he said. She locked the door behind her and her sons; as they brought the containers to her, she filled them. When all the jugs and bowls were full, she said to one of her sons, “Another jug, please.”

He said, “That’s it. There are no more jugs.”

Then the oil stopped.

She went and told the story to the man of God. He said, “Go sell the oil and make good on your debts. Live, both you and your sons, on what’s left.”

One day Elisha passed through Shunem. A leading lady of the town talked him into stopping for a meal. And then it became his custom: Whenever he passed through, he stopped by for a meal.

9-10 “I’m certain,” said the woman to her husband, “that this man who stops by with us all the time is a holy man of God. Why don’t we add on a small room upstairs and furnish it with a bed and desk, chair and lamp, so that when he comes by he can stay with us?”

11 And so it happened that the next time Elisha came by he went to the room and lay down for a nap.

12 Then he said to his servant Gehazi, “Tell the Shunammite woman I want to see her.” He called her and she came to him.

13 Through Gehazi Elisha said, “You’ve gone far beyond the call of duty in taking care of us; what can we do for you? Do you have a request we can bring to the king or to the commander of the army?”

She replied, “Nothing. I’m secure and satisfied in my family.”

14 Elisha conferred with Gehazi: “There’s got to be something we can do for her. But what?”

Gehazi said, “Well, she has no son, and her husband is an old man.”

15 “Call her in,” said Elisha. He called her and she stood at the open door.

16 Elisha said to her, “This time next year you’re going to be nursing an infant son.”

“O my master, O Holy Man,” she said, “don’t play games with me, teasing me with such fantasies!”

17 The woman conceived. A year later, just as Elisha had said, she had a son.

18-19 The child grew up. One day he went to his father, who was working with the harvest hands, complaining, “My head, my head!”

His father ordered a servant, “Carry him to his mother.”

20 The servant took him in his arms and carried him to his mother. He lay on her lap until noon and died.

21 She took him up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, shut him in alone, and left.

22 She then called her husband, “Get me a servant and a donkey so I can go to the Holy Man; I’ll be back as soon as I can.”

23 “But why today? This isn’t a holy day—it’s neither New Moon nor Sabbath.”

She said, “Don’t ask questions; I need to go right now. Trust me.”

24-25 She went ahead and saddled the donkey, ordering her servant, “Take the lead—and go as fast as you can; I’ll tell you if you’re going too fast.” And so off she went. She came to the Holy Man at Mount Carmel.

25-26 The Holy Man, spotting her while she was still a long way off, said to his servant Gehazi, “Look out there; why, it’s the Shunammite woman! Quickly now. Ask her, ‘Is something wrong? Are you all right? Your husband? Your child?’”

She said, “Everything’s fine.”

27 But when she reached the Holy Man at the mountain, she threw herself at his feet and held tightly to him.

Gehazi came up to pull her away, but the Holy Man said, “Leave her alone—can’t you see that she’s in distress? But God hasn’t let me in on why; I’m completely in the dark.”

28 Then she spoke up: “Did I ask for a son, master? Didn’t I tell you, ‘Don’t tease me with false hopes’?”

29 He ordered Gehazi, “Don’t lose a minute—grab my staff and run as fast as you can. If you meet anyone, don’t even take time to greet him, and if anyone greets you, don’t even answer. Lay my staff across the boy’s face.”

30 The boy’s mother said, “As sure as God lives and you live, you’re not leaving me behind.” And so Gehazi let her take the lead, and followed behind.

31 But Gehazi arrived first and laid the staff across the boy’s face. But there was no sound—no sign of life. Gehazi went back to meet Elisha and said, “The boy hasn’t stirred.”

32-35 Elisha entered the house and found the boy stretched out on the bed dead. He went into the room and locked the door—just the two of them in the room—and prayed to God. He then got into bed with the boy and covered him with his body, mouth on mouth, eyes on eyes, hands on hands. As he was stretched out over him like that, the boy’s body became warm. Elisha got up and paced back and forth in the room. Then he went back and stretched himself upon the boy again. The boy started sneezing—seven times he sneezed!—and opened his eyes.

36 He called Gehazi and said, “Get the Shunammite woman in here!” He called her and she came in.

Elisha said, “Embrace your son!”

37 She fell at Elisha’s feet, face to the ground in reverent awe. Then she embraced her son and went out with him.

38 Elisha went back down to Gilgal. There was a famine there. While he was consulting with the guild of prophets, he told his servant, “Put a large pot on the fire and cook up some stew for the prophets.”

39-40 One of the men went out into the field to get some herbs; he came across a wild vine and picked gourds from it, filling his gunnysack. He brought them back, sliced them up, and put them in the stew, even though no one knew what kind of plant it was. The stew was then served up for the men to eat. They started to eat, and then exclaimed, “Death in the pot, O man of God! Death in the pot!” Nobody could eat it.

Elisha ordered, “Get me some meal.” Then he sprinkled it into the stew pot.

41 “Now serve it up to the men,” he said. They ate it, and it was just fine—nothing wrong with that stew!

42 One day a man arrived from Baal Shalishah. He brought the man of God twenty loaves of fresh-baked bread from the early harvest, along with a few apples from the orchard.

Elisha said, “Pass it around to the people to eat.”

43 His servant said, “For a hundred men? There’s not nearly enough!”

Elisha said, “Just go ahead and do it. God says there’s plenty.”

44 And sure enough, there was. He passed around what he had—they not only ate, but had leftovers.

The Message (MSG)

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

2 Kings 5The Message (MSG)

1-3 Naaman was general of the army under the king of Aram. He was important to his master, who held him in the highest esteem because it was by him that God had given victory to Aram: a truly great man, but afflicted with a grievous skin disease. It so happened that Aram, on one of its raiding expeditions against Israel, captured a young girl who became a maid to Naaman’s wife. One day she said to her mistress, “Oh, if only my master could meet the prophet of Samaria, he would be healed of his skin disease.”

Naaman went straight to his master and reported what the girl from Israel had said.

“Well then, go,” said the king of Aram. “And I’ll send a letter of introduction to the king of Israel.”

So he went off, taking with him about 750 pounds of silver, 150 pounds of gold, and ten sets of clothes.

Naaman delivered the letter to the king of Israel. The letter read, “When you get this letter, you’ll know that I’ve personally sent my servant Naaman to you; heal him of his skin disease.”

When the king of Israel read the letter, he was terribly upset, ripping his robe to pieces. He said, “Am I a god with the power to bring death or life that I get orders to heal this man from his disease? What’s going on here? That king’s trying to pick a fight, that’s what!”

Elisha the man of God heard what had happened, that the king of Israel was so distressed that he’d ripped his robe to shreds. He sent word to the king, “Why are you so upset, ripping your robe like this? Send him to me so he’ll learn that there’s a prophet in Israel.”

So Naaman with his horses and chariots arrived in style and stopped at Elisha’s door.

10 Elisha sent out a servant to meet him with this message: “Go to the River Jordan and immerse yourself seven times. Your skin will be healed and you’ll be as good as new.”

11-12 Naaman lost his temper. He turned on his heel saying, “I thought he’d personally come out and meet me, call on the name of God, wave his hand over the diseased spot, and get rid of the disease. The Damascus rivers, Abana and Pharpar, are cleaner by far than any of the rivers in Israel. Why not bathe in them? I’d at least get clean.” He stomped off, mad as a hornet.

13 But his servants caught up with him and said, “Father, if the prophet had asked you to do something hard and heroic, wouldn’t you have done it? So why not this simple ‘wash and be clean’?”

14 So he did it. He went down and immersed himself in the Jordan seven times, following the orders of the Holy Man. His skin was healed; it was like the skin of a little baby. He was as good as new.

15 He then went back to the Holy Man, he and his entourage, stood before him, and said, “I now know beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is no God anywhere on earth other than the God of Israel. In gratitude let me give you a gift.”

16 “As God lives,” Elisha replied, “the God whom I serve, I’ll take nothing from you.” Naaman tried his best to get him to take something, but he wouldn’t do it.

17-18 “If you won’t take anything,” said Naaman, “let me ask you for something: Give me a load of dirt, as much as a team of donkeys can carry, because I’m never again going to worship any god other than God. But there’s one thing for which I need God’s pardon: When my master, leaning on my arm, enters the shrine of Rimmon and worships there, and I’m with him there, worshiping Rimmon, may you see to it that God forgive me for this.”

19-21 Elisha said, “Everything will be all right. Go in peace.”

But he hadn’t gone far when Gehazi, servant to Elisha the Holy Man, said to himself, “My master has let this Aramean Naaman slip through his fingers without so much as a thank-you. By the living God, I’m going after him to get something or other from him!” And Gehazi took off after Naaman.

Naaman saw him running after him and jumped down from his chariot to greet him, “Is something wrong?”

22 “Nothing’s wrong, but something’s come up. My master sent me to tell you: ‘Two young men just showed up from the hill country of Ephraim, brothers from the guild of the prophets. Supply their needs with a gift of 75 pounds of silver and a couple of sets of clothes.’”

23 Naaman said, “Of course, how about a 150 pounds?” Naaman insisted. He tied up the money in two sacks and gave him the two sets of clothes; he even gave him two servants to carry the gifts back with him.

24 When they got to the fort on the hill, Gehazi took the gifts from the servants, stored them inside, then sent the servants back.

25 He returned and stood before his master. Elisha said, “So what have you been up to, Gehazi?”

“Nothing much,” he said.

26-27 Elisha said, “Didn’t you know I was with you in spirit when that man stepped down from his chariot to greet you? Tell me, is this a time to look after yourself, lining your pockets with gifts? Naaman’s skin disease will now infect you and your family, with no relief in sight.”

Gehazi walked away, his skin flaky and white like snow.

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 83The Message (MSG)

An Asaph Psalm

83 1-5 God, don’t shut me out;
    don’t give me the silent treatment, O God.
Your enemies are out there whooping it up,
    the God-haters are living it up;
They’re plotting to do your people in,
    conspiring to rob you of your precious ones.
“Let’s wipe this nation from the face of the earth,”
    they say; “scratch Israel’s name off the books.”
And now they’re putting their heads together,
    making plans to get rid of you.

6-8 Edom and the Ishmaelites,
    Moab and the Hagrites,
    Gebal and Ammon and Amalek,
    Philistia and the Tyrians,
    And now Assyria has joined up,
    Giving muscle to the gang of Lot.

9-12 Do to them what you did to Midian,
    to Sisera and Jabin at Kishon Brook;
They came to a bad end at Endor,
    nothing but dung for the garden.
Cut down their leaders as you did Oreb and Zeeb,
    their princes to nothings like Zebah and Zalmunna,
With their empty brags, “We’re grabbing it all,
    grabbing God’s gardens for ourselves.”

13-18 My God! I’ve had it with them!
    Blow them away!
Tumbleweeds in the desert waste,
    charred sticks in the burned-over ground.
Knock the breath right out of them, so they’re gasping
    for breath, gasping, “God.”
Bring them to the end of their rope,
    and leave them there dangling, helpless.
Then they’ll learn your name: “God,”
    the one and only High God on earth.

The Message (MSG)

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

1 Timothy 2The Message (MSG)

Simple Faith and Plain Truth

1-3 The first thing I want you to do is pray. Pray every way you know how, for everyone you know. Pray especially for rulers and their governments to rule well so we can be quietly about our business of living simply, in humble contemplation. This is the way our Savior God wants us to live.

4-7 He wants not only us but everyone saved, you know, everyone to get to know the truth we’ve learned: that there’s one God and only one, and one Priest-Mediator between God and us—Jesus, who offered himself in exchange for everyone held captive by sin, to set them all free. Eventually the news is going to get out. This and this only has been my appointed work: getting this news to those who have never heard of God, and explaining how it works by simple faith and plain truth.

8-10 Since prayer is at the bottom of all this, what I want mostly is for men to pray—not shaking angry fists at enemies but raising holy hands to God. And I want women to get in there with the men in humility before God, not primping before a mirror or chasing the latest fashions but doing something beautiful for God and becoming beautiful doing it.

11-15 I don’t let women take over and tell the men what to do. They should study to be quiet and obedient along with everyone else. Adam was made first, then Eve; woman was deceived first—our pioneer in sin!—with Adam right on her heels. On the other hand, her childbearing brought about salvation, reversing Eve. But this salvation only comes to those who continue in faith, love, and holiness, gathering it all into maturity. You can depend on this.

The Message (MSG)

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

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