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Psalm 1-4

BOOK I

(Psalms 1-41)

The Way to Happiness

God blesses those people
    who refuse evil advice
    and won’t follow sinners
    or join in sneering at God.
Instead, the Law of the Lord
    makes them happy,
    and they think about it
    day and night.

They are like trees
    growing beside a stream,
trees that produce
fruit in season
    and always have leaves.
Those people succeed
    in everything they do.

That isn’t true of those
    who are evil,
    because they are like straw
    blown by the wind.
Sinners won’t have an excuse
    on the day of judgment,
    and they won’t have a place
    with the people of God.
The Lord protects everyone
    who follows him,
    but the wicked follow a road
    that leads to ruin.

The Lord’s Chosen King

Why do the nations plot,[a]
    and why do their people
    make useless plans?[b]
The kings of this earth
    have all joined together
    to turn against the Lord
    and his chosen one.
They say, “Let’s cut the ropes
    and set ourselves free!”

In heaven the Lord laughs
as he sits on his throne,
    making fun of the nations.
The Lord becomes furious
    and threatens them.
His anger terrifies them
    as he says,
    “I’ve put my king on Zion,
    my sacred hill.”

I will tell the promise
    that the Lord made to me:
“You are my son, because today
    I have become your father.
Ask me for the nations,
    and every nation on earth
    will belong to you.
You will smash them
    with an iron rod
    and shatter them
    like dishes of clay.”

10 Be smart, all you rulers,
    and pay close attention.
11     Serve and honor the Lord;
    be glad and tremble.
12 Show respect to his son
    because if you don’t,
the Lord might become furious
    and suddenly destroy you.[c]
But he blesses and protects
    everyone who runs to him.

(Written by David when he was running from his son Absalom.)

An Early Morning Prayer

I have a lot of enemies, Lord.
Many fight against me and say,
    “God won’t rescue you!”

But you are my shield,
    and you give me victory
    and great honor.
I pray to you, and you answer
    from your sacred hill.

I sleep and wake up refreshed
    because you, Lord,
    protect me.
Ten thousand enemies attack
from every side,
    but I am not afraid.

Come and save me, Lord God!
Break my enemies' jaws
    and shatter their teeth,
    because you protect
    and bless your people.

(A psalm by David for the music leader. Use stringed instruments.)

An Evening Prayer

You are my God and protector.
    Please answer my prayer.
I was in terrible distress,
    but you set me free.
    Now have pity and listen
    as I pray.

How long will you people
    refuse to respect me?[d]
You love foolish things,
    and you run after
    what is worthless.[e]

The Lord has chosen
    everyone who is faithful
to be his very own,[f]
    and he answers my prayers.
But each of you
had better tremble
    and turn from your sins.
Silently search your heart
    as you lie in bed.
    Offer the proper sacrifices
    and trust the Lord.

There are some who ask,
    “Who will be good to us?”
    Let your kindness, Lord,
    shine brightly on us.
You brought me more happiness
    than a rich harvest
    of grain and grapes.
I can lie down
    and sleep soundly
    because you, Lord,
    will keep me safe.

Footnotes:

  1. 2.1 Why. . . plot: Or “Why are the nations restless?”
  2. 2.1 make useless plans: Or “grumble uselessly.”
  3. 2.11,12 Serve. . . you: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text of verses 11,12.
  4. 4.2 me: Or “my God.”
  5. 4.2 foolish. . . worthless: This may refer to idols and false gods.
  6. 4.3 has chosen. . . very own: Some Hebrew manuscripts have “work miracles for his faithful people.”
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Psalm 7

(Written by David.[a] He sang this to the Lord because of Cush from the tribe of Benjamin.)

The Lord Always Does Right

You, Lord God,
    are my protector.
    Rescue me and keep me safe
    from all who chase me.
Or else they will rip me apart
like lions
    attacking a victim,
    and no one will save me.

I am innocent, Lord God!
I have not betrayed a friend
    or had pity on an enemy[b]
    who attacks for no reason.
If I have done any of this,
    then let my enemies
    chase and capture me.
Let them stomp me to death
    and leave me in the dirt.

Get angry, Lord God!
    Do something!
    Attack my furious enemies.
    See that justice is done.
Make the nations come to you,
    as you sit on your throne[c]
    above them all.

Our Lord, judge the nations!
Judge me
    and show that I
    am honest and innocent.
You know every heart and mind,
    and you always do right.
Now make violent people stop,
    but protect all of us
    who obey you.

10 You, God, are my shield,
    the protector of everyone
    whose heart is right.
11 You see that justice is done,
    and each day
    you take revenge.
12 Whenever your enemies refuse
    to change their ways,
    you sharpen your sword
    and string your bow.
13 Your deadly arrows are ready
    with flaming tips.

14 An evil person is like a woman
    about to give birth
    to a hateful, deceitful,
    and rebellious child.
15 Such people dig a deep hole,
    then fall in it themselves.
16 The trouble they cause
    comes back on them,
    and their heads are crushed
    by their own evil deeds.

17 I will praise you, Lord!
    You always do right.
    I will sing about you,
    the Lord Most High.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 7 Written by David: The Hebrew text has “a shiggaion by David,” which may refer to a psalm of mourning.
  2. 7.4 had pity on an enemy: Or “failed to have pity on an enemy.”
  3. 7.7 sit. . . throne: Or “return to your place.”
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Proverbs 3:11-20

11 My child, don’t turn away
or become bitter
    when the Lord corrects you.
12 The Lord corrects
    everyone he loves,
    just as parents correct
    their favorite child.

The Value of Wisdom

13 God blesses everyone
who has wisdom
    and common sense.
14 Wisdom is worth more
    than silver;
    it makes you much richer
    than gold.
15 Wisdom is more valuable
    than precious jewels;
    nothing you want
    compares with her.

16 In her right hand
    Wisdom holds a long life,
    and in her left hand
    are wealth and honor.
17 Wisdom makes life pleasant
    and leads us safely along.
18 Wisdom is a life-giving tree,
    the source of happiness
    for all who hold on to her.

19 By his wisdom and knowledge
    the Lord created
    heaven and earth.
20 By his understanding
he let the ocean break loose
    and clouds release the rain.

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1 John 3:18-4:6

18 Children, you show love for others by truly helping them, and not merely by talking about it.

19 When we love others, we know that we belong to the truth, and we feel at ease in the presence of God. 20 But even if we don’t feel at ease, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. 21 Dear friends, if we feel at ease in the presence of God, we will have the courage to come near him. 22 He will give us whatever we ask, because we obey him and do what pleases him. 23 God wants us to have faith in his Son Jesus Christ and to love each other. This is also what Jesus taught us to do. 24 If we obey God’s commandments, we will stay one in our hearts with him, and he will stay one with us. The Spirit that he has given us is proof that we are one with him.

God Is Love

Dear friends, don’t believe everyone who claims to have the Spirit of God. Test them all to find out if they really do come from God. Many false prophets have already gone out into the world, and you can know which ones come from God. His Spirit says that Jesus Christ had a truly human body. But when someone doesn’t say this about Jesus, you know that person has a spirit that doesn’t come from God and is the enemy of Christ. You knew that this enemy was coming into the world and now is already here.

Children, you belong to God, and you have defeated these enemies. God’s Spirit[a] is in you and is more powerful than the one that is in the world. These enemies belong to this world, and the world listens to them, because they speak its language. We belong to God, and everyone who knows God will listen to us. But the people who don’t know God won’t listen to us. That is how we can tell the Spirit that speaks the truth from the one that tells lies.

Footnotes:

  1. 4.4 God’s Spirit: The Greek text has “he” and may refer to the Spirit or to God or to Jesus.
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Matthew 11:1-6

John the Baptist

11 After Jesus had finished instructing his twelve disciples, he left and began teaching and preaching in the towns.[a]

John was in prison when he heard what Christ was doing. So John sent some of his followers to ask Jesus, “Are you the one we should be looking for? Or must we wait for someone else?”

Jesus answered, “Go and tell John what you have heard and seen. The blind are now able to see, and the lame can walk. People with leprosy[b] are being healed, and the deaf can hear. The dead are raised to life, and the poor are hearing the good news. God will bless everyone who doesn’t reject me because of what I do.”

Footnotes:

  1. 11.1 the towns: The Greek text has “their towns,” whichmay refer to the towns of Galilee or to the towns where Jesus' disciples had lived.
  2. 11.5 leprosy: See the note at 8.2.
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