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2 Samuel 2The Message (MSG)

After all this, David prayed. He asked God, “Shall I move to one of the cities of Judah?”

God said, “Yes, move.”

“And to which city?”

“To Hebron.”

2-3 So David moved to Hebron, along with his two wives, Ahinoam of Jezreel and Abigail the widow of Nabal of Carmel. David’s men, along with their families, also went with him and made their home in and around Hebron.

4-7 The citizens of Judah came to Hebron, and then and there made David king over the clans of Judah.

A report was brought to David that the men of Jabesh Gilead had given Saul a decent burial. David sent messengers to the men of Jabesh Gilead: “God bless you for this—for honoring your master, Saul, with a funeral. God honor you and be true to you—and I’ll do the same, matching your generous act of goodness. Strengthen your resolve and do what must be done. Your master, Saul, is dead. The citizens of Judah have made me their king.”

8-11 In the meantime, Abner son of Ner, commander of Saul’s army, had taken Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth to Mahanaim and made him king over Gilead, over Asher, over Jezreel, over Ephraim, over Benjamin—king, as it turns out, over all Israel. Ish-Bosheth Saul’s son, was forty years old when he was made king over Israel. He lasted only two years. But the people of Judah stuck with David. David ruled the people of Judah from Hebron for seven and a half years.

12-13 One day Abner son of Ner set out from Mahanaim with the soldiers of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, headed for Gibeon. Joab son of Zeruiah, with David’s soldiers, also set out. They met at the Pool of Gibeon, Abner’s group on one side, Joab’s on the other.

14 Abner challenged Joab, “Put up your best fighters. Let’s see them do their stuff.”

Joab said, “Good! Let them go at it!”

15-16 So they lined up for the fight, twelve Benjaminites from the side of Ish-Bosheth son of Saul, and twelve soldiers from David’s side. The men from each side grabbed their opponents’ heads and stabbed them with their daggers. They all fell dead—the whole bunch together. So, they called the place Slaughter Park. It’s right there at Gibeon.

17-19 The fighting went from bad to worse throughout the day. Abner and the men of Israel were beaten to a pulp by David’s men. The three sons of Zeruiah were present: Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel, as fast as a wild antelope on the open plain, chased Abner, staying hard on his heels.

20 Abner turned and said, “Is that you, Asahel?”

“It surely is,” he said.

21 Abner said, “Let up on me. Pick on someone you have a chance of beating and be content with those spoils!” But Asahel wouldn’t let up.

22 Abner tried again, “Turn back. Don’t force me to kill you. How would I face your brother Joab?”

23-25 When he refused to quit, Abner struck him in the belly with the blunt end of his spear so hard that it came out his back. Asahel fell to the ground and died at once. Everyone who arrived at the spot where Asahel fell and died stood and gaped—Asahel dead! But Joab and Abishai kept up the chase after Abner. As the sun began to set, they came to the hill of Ammah that faced Giah on the road to the backcountry of Gibeon. The Benjaminites had taken their stand with Abner there, deployed strategically on a hill.

26 Abner called out to Joab, “Are we going to keep killing each other till doomsday? Don’t you know that nothing but bitterness will come from this? How long before you call off your men from chasing their brothers?”

27-28 “As God lives,” said Joab, “if you hadn’t spoken up, we’d have kept up the chase until morning!” Then he blew the ram’s horn trumpet and the whole army of Judah stopped in its tracks. They quit chasing Israel and called off the fighting.

29 Abner and his soldiers marched all that night up the Arabah Valley. They crossed the Jordan and, after a long morning’s march, arrived at Mahanaim.

30-32 After Joab returned from chasing Abner, he took a head count of the army. Nineteen of David’s men (besides Asahel) were missing. David’s men had cut down 360 of Abner’s men, all Benjaminites—all dead. They brought Asahel and buried him in the family tomb in Bethlehem. Joab and his men then marched all night, arriving in Hebron as the dawn broke.

The Message (MSG)

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

1 Chronicles 11The Message (MSG)

King David

11 1-3 Then all Israel assembled before David at Hebron. “Look at us,” they said. “We’re your very flesh and blood. In the past, yes, even while Saul was king, you were the real leader of Israel. God told you, ‘You will shepherd my people Israel; you are to be the ruler of my people Israel.’” When all the elders of Israel came to the king at Hebron, David made a covenant with them in the presence of God at Hebron. Then they anointed David king over Israel exactly as God had commanded through Samuel.

4-6 David and all Israel went to Jerusalem (it was the old Jebus, where the Jebusites lived). The citizens of Jebus told David, “No trespassing—you can’t come here.” David came on anyway and captured the fortress of Zion, the City of David. David had said, “The first person to kill a Jebusite will be commander-in-chief.” Joab son of Zeruiah was the first; and he became the chief.

7-9 David took up residence in the fortress city; that’s how it got its name, “City of David.” David fortified the city all the way around, both the outer bulwarks (the Millo) and the outside wall. Joab rebuilt the city gates. David’s stride became longer, his embrace larger—yes, God-of-the-Angel-Armies was with him!

David’s Mighty Men

10-11 These are the chiefs of David’s Mighty Men, the ones who linked arms with him as he took up his kingship, with all Israel joining in, helping him become king in just the way God had spoken regarding Israel. The list of David’s Mighty Men:

Jashobeam son of Hacmoni was chief of the Thirty. Singlehandedly he killed three hundred men, killed them all in one skirmish.

12-14 Next was Eleazar son of Dodai the Ahohite, one of the Big Three of the Mighty Men. He was with David at Pas Dammim, where the Philistines had mustered their troops for battle. It was an area where there was a field of barley. The army started to flee from the Philistines and then took its stand right in that field—and turned the tide! They slaughtered the Philistines, God helping them—a huge victory.

15-19 The Big Three from the Thirty made a rocky descent to David at the Cave of Adullam while a company of Philistines was camped in the Valley of Rephaim. David was holed up in the Cave while the Philistines were prepared for battle at Bethlehem. David had a sudden craving: “What I wouldn’t give for a drink of water from the well in Bethlehem, the one at the gate!” The Three penetrated the Philistine camp, drew water from the well at the Bethlehem gate, shouldered it, and brought it to David. And then David wouldn’t drink it! He poured it out as a sacred offering to God, saying, “I’d rather be damned by God than drink this! It would be like drinking the lifeblood of these men—they risked their lives to bring it.” So he refused to drink it. These are the kinds of things that the Big Three of the Mighty Men did.

20-21 Abishai brother of Joab was the chief of the Thirty. Singlehandedly he fought three hundred men, and killed the lot, but he never made it into the circle of the Three. He was highly honored by the Thirty—he was their chief—still, he didn’t measure up to the Three.

22-25 Benaiah son of Jehoiada was a Mighty Man from Kabzeel with many exploits to his credit: he killed two famous Moabites; he climbed down into a pit and killed a lion on a snowy day; and he killed an Egyptian, a giant seven and a half feet tall. The Egyptian had a spear like a ship’s boom but Benaiah went at him with a mere club, tore the spear from the Egyptian’s hand, and killed him with it. These are some of the things Benaiah son of Jehoiada did. But he was never included with the Three. He was highly honored among the Thirty, but didn’t measure up to the Three. David put him in charge of his personal bodyguard.

26-47 The Mighty Men of the military were Asahel brother of Joab, Elhanan son of Dodo of Bethlehem, Shammoth the Harorite, Helez the Pelonite, Ira son of Ikkesh the Tekoite, Abiezer the Anathothite, Sibbecai the Hushathite, Ilai the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite, Heled son of Baanah the Netophathite, Ithai son of Ribai from Gibeah of the Benjaminite, Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hurai from the ravines of Gaash, Abiel the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Baharumite, Eliahba the Shaalbonite, the sons of Hashem the Gizonite, Jonathan son of Shagee the Hararite, Ahiam son of Sacar the Haranite, Eliphal son of Ur, Hepher the Mekerathite, Ahijah the Pelonite, Hezro the Carmelite, Naarai son of Ezbai, Joel brother of Nathan, Mibhar son of Hagri, Zelek the Ammonite, Naharai the Berothite, the armor bearer of Joab son of Zeruiah, Ira the Ithrite, Gareb the Ithrite, Uriah the Hittite, Zabad son of Ahlai, Adina son of Shiza the Reubenite, the Reubenite chief of the Thirty, Hanan son of Maacah, Joshaphat the Mithnite, Uzzia the Ashterathite, Shama and Jeiel the sons of Hotham the Aroerite, Jediael son of Shimri, Joha the Tizite his brother, Eliel the Mahavite, Jeribai and Joshaviah the sons of Elnaam, Ithmah the Moabite, Eliel, Obed, and Jaasiel the Mezobaite.

The Message (MSG)

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

Psalm 142The Message (MSG)

A David Prayer—When He Was in the Cave

142 1-2 I cry out loudly to God,
    loudly I plead with God for mercy.
I spill out all my complaints before him,
    and spell out my troubles in detail:

3-7 “As I sink in despair, my spirit ebbing away,
    you know how I’m feeling,
Know the danger I’m in,
    the traps hidden in my path.
Look right, look left—
    there’s not a soul who cares what happens!
I’m up against it, with no exit—
    bereft, left alone.
I cry out, God, call out:
    ‘You’re my last chance, my only hope for life!’
Oh listen, please listen;
    I’ve never been this low.
Rescue me from those who are hunting me down;
    I’m no match for them.
Get me out of this dungeon
    so I can thank you in public.
Your people will form a circle around me
    and you’ll bring me showers of blessing!”

The Message (MSG)

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

Matthew 14The Message (MSG)

The Death of John

14 1-2 At about this time, Herod, the regional ruler, heard what was being said about Jesus. He said to his servants, “This has to be John the Baptizer come back from the dead. That’s why he’s able to work miracles!”

3-5 Herod had arrested John, put him in chains, and sent him to prison to placate Herodias, his brother Philip’s wife. John had provoked Herod by naming his relationship with Herodias “adultery.” Herod wanted to kill him, but he was afraid because so many people revered John as a prophet of God.

6-12 But at his birthday celebration, he got his chance. Herodias’s daughter provided the entertainment, dancing for the guests. She swept Herod away. In his drunken enthusiasm, he promised her on oath anything she wanted. Already coached by her mother, she was ready: “Give me, served up on a platter, the head of John the Baptizer.” That sobered the king up fast. Unwilling to lose face with his guests, he did it—ordered John’s head cut off and presented to the girl on a platter. She in turn gave it to her mother. Later, John’s disciples got the body, gave it a reverent burial, and reported to Jesus.

Supper for Five Thousand

13-14 When Jesus got the news, he slipped away by boat to an out-of-the-way place by himself. But unsuccessfully—someone saw him and the word got around. Soon a lot of people from the nearby villages walked around the lake to where he was. When he saw them coming, he was overcome with pity and healed their sick.

15 Toward evening the disciples approached him. “We’re out in the country and it’s getting late. Dismiss the people so they can go to the villages and get some supper.”

16 But Jesus said, “There is no need to dismiss them. You give them supper.”

17 “All we have are five loaves of bread and two fish,” they said.

18-21 Jesus said, “Bring them here.” Then he had the people sit on the grass. He took the five loaves and two fish, lifted his face to heaven in prayer, blessed, broke, and gave the bread to the disciples. The disciples then gave the food to the congregation. They all ate their fill. They gathered twelve baskets of leftovers. About five thousand were fed.

Walking on the Water

22-23 As soon as the meal was finished, he insisted that the disciples get in the boat and go on ahead to the other side while he dismissed the people. With the crowd dispersed, he climbed the mountain so he could be by himself and pray. He stayed there alone, late into the night.

24-26 Meanwhile, the boat was far out to sea when the wind came up against them and they were battered by the waves. At about four o’clock in the morning, Jesus came toward them walking on the water. They were scared out of their wits. “A ghost!” they said, crying out in terror.

27 But Jesus was quick to comfort them. “Courage, it’s me. Don’t be afraid.”

28 Peter, suddenly bold, said, “Master, if it’s really you, call me to come to you on the water.”

29-30 He said, “Come ahead.”

Jumping out of the boat, Peter walked on the water to Jesus. But when he looked down at the waves churning beneath his feet, he lost his nerve and started to sink. He cried, “Master, save me!”

31 Jesus didn’t hesitate. He reached down and grabbed his hand. Then he said, “Faint-heart, what got into you?”

32-33 The two of them climbed into the boat, and the wind died down. The disciples in the boat, having watched the whole thing, worshiped Jesus, saying, “This is it! You are God’s Son for sure!”

34-36 On return, they beached the boat at Gennesaret. When the people got wind that he was back, they sent out word through the neighborhood and rounded up all the sick, who asked for permission to touch the edge of his coat. And whoever touched him was healed.

The Message (MSG)

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

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