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2 Samuel 3The Message (MSG)

The war between the house of Saul and the house of David dragged on and on. The longer it went on the stronger David became, with the house of Saul getting weaker.

2-5 During the Hebron years, sons were born to David:

Amnon, born of Ahinoam of Jezreel—the firstborn;

Kileab, born of Abigail of Carmel, Nabal’s widow—his second;

Absalom, born of Maacah, daughter of Talmai, king of Geshur—the third;

Adonijah, born of Haggith—the fourth;

Shephatiah, born of Abital—the fifth;

Ithream, born of Eglah—the sixth.

These six sons of David were born in Hebron.

6-7 Abner took advantage of the continuing war between the house of Saul and the house of David to gain power for himself. Saul had had a concubine, Rizpah, the daughter of Aiah. One day Ish-Bosheth confronted Abner: “What business do you have sleeping with my father’s concubine?”

8-10 Abner lost his temper with Ish-Bosheth, “Treat me like a dog, will you! Is this the thanks I get for sticking by the house of your father, Saul, and all his family and friends? I personally saved you from certain capture by David, and you make an issue out of my going to bed with a woman! What God promised David, I’ll help accomplish—transfer the kingdom from the house of Saul and make David ruler over the whole country, both Israel and Judah, from Dan to Beersheba. If not, may God do his worst to me.”

11 Ish-Bosheth, cowed by Abner’s outburst, couldn’t say another word.

12 Abner went ahead and sent personal messengers to David: “Make a deal with me and I’ll help bring the whole country of Israel over to you.”

13 “Great,” said David. “It’s a deal. But only on one condition: You’re not welcome here unless you bring Michal, Saul’s daughter, with you when you come to meet me.”

14 David then sent messengers to Ish-Bosheth son of Saul: “Give me back Michal, whom I won as my wife at the cost of a hundred Philistine foreskins.”

15-16 Ish-Bosheth ordered that she be taken from her husband Paltiel son of Laish. But Paltiel followed her, weeping all the way, to Bahurim. There Abner told him, “Go home.” And he went home.

17-18 Abner got the elders of Israel together and said, “Only yesterday, it seems, you were looking for a way to make David your king. So do it—now! For God has given the go-ahead on David: ‘By my servant David’s hand, I’ll save my people Israel from the oppression of the Philistines and all their other enemies.’”

19 Abner took the Benjaminites aside and spoke to them. Then he went to Hebron for a private talk with David, telling him everything that Israel in general and Benjamin in particular were planning to do.

20 When Abner and the twenty men who were with him met with David in Hebron, David laid out a feast for them.

21 Abner then said, “I’m ready. Let me go now to rally everyone in Israel for my master, the king. They’ll make a treaty with you, authorizing you to rule them however you see fit.” Abner was sent off with David’s blessing.

22-23 Soon after that, David’s men, led by Joab, came back from a field assignment. Abner was no longer in Hebron with David, having just been dismissed with David’s blessing. As Joab and his raiding party arrived, they were told that Abner the son of Ner had been there with David and had been sent off with David’s blessing.

24-25 Joab went straight to the king: “What’s this you’ve done? Abner shows up, and you let him walk away scot-free? You know Abner son of Ner better than that. This was no friendly visit. He was here to spy on you, figure out your comings and goings, find out what you’re up to.”

26-27 Joab left David and went into action. He sent messengers after Abner; they caught up with him at the well at Sirah and brought him back. David knew nothing of all this. When Abner got back to Hebron, Joab steered him aside at the gate for a personal word with him. There he stabbed him in the belly, killed him in cold blood for the murder of his brother Asahel.

28-30 Later on, when David heard what happened, he said, “Before God I and my kingdom are totally innocent of this murder of Abner son of Ner. Joab and his entire family will always be under the curse of this bloodguilt. May they forever be victims of crippling diseases, violence, and famine.” (Joab and his brother, Abishai, murdered Abner because he had killed their brother Asahel at the battle of Gibeon.)

31-32 David ordered Joab and all the men under him, “Rip your cloaks into rags! Wear mourning clothes! Lead Abner’s funeral procession with loud lament!” King David followed the coffin. They buried Abner in Hebron. The king’s voice was loud in lament as he wept at the side of Abner’s grave. All the people wept, too.

33-34 Then the king sang this tribute to Abner:

Can this be? Abner dead like a nameless bum?
You were a free man, free to go and do as you wished—
Yet you fell as a victim in a street brawl.

And all the people wept—a crescendo of crying!

35-37 They all came then to David, trying to get him to eat something before dark. But David solemnly swore, “I’ll not so much as taste a piece of bread, or anything else for that matter, before sunset, so help me God!” Everyone at the funeral took notice—and liked what they saw. In fact everything the king did was applauded by the people. It was clear to everyone that day, including all Israel, that the king had nothing to do with the death of Abner son of Ner.

38-39 The king spoke to his servants: “You realize, don’t you, that today a prince and hero fell victim of foul play in Israel? And I, though anointed king, was helpless to do anything about it. These sons of Zeruiah are too much for me. God, requite the criminal for his crime!”

The Message (MSG)

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

1 Chronicles 12The Message (MSG)

12 1-2 These are the men who joined David in Ziklag; it was during the time he was banished by Saul the son of Kish; they were among the Mighty Men, good fighters. They were armed with bows and could sling stones and shoot arrows either right- or left-handed. They hailed from Saul’s tribe, Benjamin.

3-7 The first was Ahiezer; then Joash son of Shemaah the Gibeathite; Jeziel and Pelet the sons of Azmaveth; Beracah; Jehu the Anathothite; Ishmaiah the Gibeonite, a Mighty Man among the Thirty, a leader of the Thirty; Jeremiah; Jahaziel; Johanan; Jozabad the Gederathite; Eluzai; Jerimoth; Bealiah; Shemariah; Shephatiah the Haruphite; Elkanah; Isshiah; Azarel; Joezer; Jashobeam; the Korahites; and Joelah and Zebadiah, the sons of Jeroham from Gedor.

8-15 There were some Gadites there who had defected to David at his wilderness fortress; they were seasoned and eager fighters who knew how to handle shield and spear. They were wild in appearance, like lions, but as agile as gazelles racing across the hills. Ezer was the first, then Obadiah, Eliab, Mishmannah, Jeremiah, Attai, Eliel, Johanan, Elzabad, Jeremiah, and Macbannai—eleven of them. These Gadites were the cream of the crop—any one of them was worth a hundred lesser men, and the best of them were worth a thousand. They were the ones who crossed the Jordan when it was at flood stage in the first month, and put everyone in the lowlands to flight, both east and west.

16-17 There were also men from the tribes of Benjamin and Judah who joined David in his wilderness fortress. When David went out to meet them, this is what he said: “If you have come in peace and to help me, you are most welcome to join this company; but if you have come to betray me to my enemies, innocent as I am, the God of our ancestors will see through you and bring judgment on you.”

18 Just then Amasai chief of the Thirty, moved by God’s Spirit, said,

We’re on your side, O David,
    We’re committed, O son of Jesse;
All is well, yes, all is well with you,
    And all’s well with whoever helps you.
Yes, for your God has helped and does help you.

So David took them on and assigned them a place under the chiefs of the raiders.

19 Some from the tribe of Manasseh also defected to David when he started out with the Philistines to go to war against Saul. In the end, they didn’t actually fight because the Philistine leaders, after talking it over, sent them home, saying, “We can’t trust them with our lives—they’ll betray us to their master Saul.”

20-22 The men from Manasseh who defected to David at Ziklag were Adnah, Jozabad, Jediael, Michael, Jozabad, Elihu, and Zillethai, all leaders among the families of Manasseh. They helped David in his raids against the desert bandits; they were all stalwart fighters and good leaders among his raiders. Hardly a day went by without men showing up to help—it wasn’t long before his band seemed as large as God’s own army!

23-37 Here are the statistics on the battle-seasoned warriors who came down from the north to David at Hebron to hand over Saul’s kingdom, in accord with God’s word: from Judah, carrying shield and spear, 6,800 battle-ready; from Simeon, 7,100 stalwart fighters; from Levi, 4,600, which included Jehoiada leader of the family of Aaron, bringing 3,700 men and the young and stalwart Zadok with twenty-two leaders from his family; from Benjamin, Saul’s family, 3,000, most of whom had stuck it out with Saul until now; from Ephraim, 20,800, fierce fighters and famous in their hometowns; from the half-tribe of Manasseh, 18,000 elected to come and make David king; from Issachar, men who understood both the times and Israel’s duties, 200 leaders with their families; from Zebulun, 50,000 well-equipped veteran warriors, unswervingly loyal; from Naphtali, 1,000 chiefs leading 37,000 men heavily armed; from Dan, 28,600 battle-ready men; from Asher, 40,000 veterans, battle-ready; and from East of Jordan, men from Reuben, Gad, and the half-tribe of Manasseh, heavily armed, 120,000.

38-40 All these soldiers came to David at Hebron, ready to fight if necessary; they were both united and determined to make David king over all Israel. And everyone else in Israel was of the same mind—“Make David king!” They were with David for three days of feasting celebration, with food and drink supplied by their families. Neighbors ranging from as far north as Issachar, Zebulun, and Naphtali arrived with donkeys, camels, mules, and oxen loaded down with food for the party: flour, fig cakes, raisin cakes, wine, oil, cattle, and sheep—joy in Israel!

The Message (MSG)

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

Matthew 15The Message (MSG)

What Pollutes Your Life

15 1-2 After that, Pharisees and religion scholars came to Jesus all the way from Jerusalem, criticizing, “Why do your disciples play fast and loose with the rules?”

3-9 But Jesus put it right back on them. “Why do you use your rules to play fast and loose with God’s commands? God clearly says, ‘Respect your father and mother,’ and, ‘Anyone denouncing father or mother should be killed.’ But you weasel around that by saying, ‘Whoever wants to, can say to father and mother, What I owed to you I’ve given to God.’ That can hardly be called respecting a parent. You cancel God’s command by your rules. Frauds! Isaiah’s prophecy of you hit the bull’s-eye:

These people make a big show of saying the right thing,
    but their heart isn’t in it.
They act like they’re worshiping me,
    but they don’t mean it.
They just use me as a cover
    for teaching whatever suits their fancy.”

10-11 He then called the crowd together and said, “Listen, and take this to heart. It’s not what you swallow that pollutes your life, but what you vomit up.”

12 Later his disciples came and told him, “Did you know how upset the Pharisees were when they heard what you said?”

13-14 Jesus shrugged it off. “Every tree that wasn’t planted by my Father in heaven will be pulled up by its roots. Forget them. They are blind men leading blind men. When a blind man leads a blind man, they both end up in the ditch.”

15 Peter said, “I don’t get it. Put it in plain language.”

16-20 Jesus replied, “You, too? Are you being willfully stupid? Don’t you know that anything that is swallowed works its way through the intestines and is finally defecated? But what comes out of the mouth gets its start in the heart. It’s from the heart that we vomit up evil arguments, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, lies, and cussing. That’s what pollutes. Eating or not eating certain foods, washing or not washing your hands—that’s neither here nor there.”

Healing the People

21-22 From there Jesus took a trip to Tyre and Sidon. They had hardly arrived when a Canaanite woman came down from the hills and pleaded, “Mercy, Master, Son of David! My daughter is cruelly afflicted by an evil spirit.”

23 Jesus ignored her. The disciples came and complained, “Now she’s bothering us. Would you please take care of her? She’s driving us crazy.”

24 Jesus refused, telling them, “I’ve got my hands full dealing with the lost sheep of Israel.”

25 Then the woman came back to Jesus, went to her knees, and begged. “Master, help me.”

26 He said, “It’s not right to take bread out of children’s mouths and throw it to dogs.”

27 She was quick: “You’re right, Master, but beggar dogs do get scraps from the master’s table.”

28 Jesus gave in. “Oh, woman, your faith is something else. What you want is what you get!” Right then her daughter became well.

29-31 After Jesus returned, he walked along Lake Galilee and then climbed a mountain and took his place, ready to receive visitors. They came, tons of them, bringing along the paraplegic, the blind, the maimed, the mute—all sorts of people in need—and more or less threw them down at Jesus’ feet to see what he would do with them. He healed them. When the people saw the mutes speaking, the maimed healthy, the paraplegics walking around, the blind looking around, they were astonished and let everyone know that God was blazingly alive among them.

32 But Jesus wasn’t finished with them. He called his disciples and said, “I hurt for these people. For three days now they’ve been with me, and now they have nothing to eat. I can’t send them away without a meal—they’d probably collapse on the road.”

33 His disciples said, “But where in this deserted place are you going to dig up enough food for a meal?”

34-39 Jesus asked, “How much bread do you have?”

“Seven loaves,” they said, “plus a few fish.” At that, Jesus directed the people to sit down. He took the seven loaves and the fish. After giving thanks, he divided it up and gave it to the people. Everyone ate. They had all they wanted. It took seven large baskets to collect the leftovers. Over four thousand people ate their fill at that meal. After Jesus sent them away, he climbed in the boat and crossed over to the Magadan hills.

The Message (MSG)

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

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