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Psalm 5-6

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

A Prayer for Help

Listen, Lord, as I pray!
    Pay attention when I groan.[a]
You are my King and my God.
Answer my cry for help
    because I pray to you.
Each morning you listen
    to my prayer,
as I bring my requests[b] to you
    and wait for your reply.

You are not the kind of God
who is pleased with evil.
    Sinners can’t stay with you.
No one who boasts can stand
in your presence, Lord,
    and you hate evil people.
You destroy every liar,
    and you despise violence
    and deceit.

Because of your great mercy,
    I come to your house, Lord,
and I am filled with wonder
as I bow down
    to worship
    at your holy temple.
You do what is right,
    and I ask you to guide me.
    Make your teaching clear
    because of my enemies.

Nothing they say is true!
    They just want to destroy.
Their words are deceitful
    like a hidden pit,
    and their tongues are good
    only for telling lies.
10 Punish them, God,
    and let their own plans
    bring their downfall.
Get rid of them!
    They keep committing crimes
    and turning against you.

11 Let all who run to you
for protection
    always sing joyful songs.
Provide shelter for those
who truly love you
    and let them rejoice.
12 Our Lord, you bless those
    who live right,
    and you shield them
    with your kindness.

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

A Prayer in Time of Trouble

Don’t punish me, Lord,
or even correct me
    when you are angry!
Have pity on me and heal
    my feeble body.
My bones tremble with fear,
    and I am in deep distress.
    How long will it be?

Turn and come to my rescue.
    Show your wonderful love
    and save me, Lord.
If I die, I cannot praise you
    or even remember you.
My groaning has worn me out.
    At night my bed and pillow
    are soaked with tears.
Sorrow has made my eyes dim,
and my sight has failed
    because of my enemies.

You, Lord, heard my crying,
and those hateful people
    had better leave me alone.
You have answered my prayer
    and my plea for mercy.
10 My enemies will be ashamed
    and terrified,
    as they quickly run away
    in complete disgrace.

Footnotes:

  1. 5.1 when I groan: Or “to my thoughts” or “to my words.”
  2. 5.3 requests: Or “sacrifices.”
  3. Psalm 6 instruments: The Hebrew text adds “according to the sheminith,” which may refer to a musical instrument with eight strings.
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Psalm 10-11

A Prayer for Help

10 Why are you far away, Lord?
    Why do you hide yourself
    when I am in trouble?
Proud and brutal people
    hunt down the poor.
    But let them get caught
    by their own evil plans!

The wicked brag about
    their deepest desires.
    Those greedy people hate
    and curse you, Lord.
The wicked are too proud
to turn to you
    or even think about you.
They are always successful,
though they can’t understand
    your teachings,
    and they keep sneering
    at their enemies.

In their hearts they say,
    “Nothing can hurt us!
    We’ll always be happy
    and free from trouble.”
They curse and tell lies,
and all they talk about
    is how to be cruel
    or how to do wrong.

They hide outside villages,
    waiting to strike and murder
    some innocent victim.
They are hungry lions
    hiding in the bushes,
    hoping to catch
    some helpless passerby.
They trap the poor in nets
    and drag them away.
10 They crouch down and wait
    to grab a victim.
11     They say, “God can’t see!
    He’s got on a blindfold.”

12 Do something, Lord God,
    and use your powerful arm
    to help those in need.
13 The wicked don’t respect you.
    In their hearts they say,
    “God won’t punish us!”

14 But you see the trouble
and the distress,
    and you will do something.
The poor can count on you,
    and so can orphans.
15 Now break the arms
    of all merciless people.
    Punish them for doing wrong
    and make them stop.

16 Our Lord, you will always rule,
    but nations will vanish
    from the earth.
17 You listen to the longings
    of those who suffer.
You offer them hope,
    and you pay attention
    to their cries for help.
18 You defend orphans
    and everyone else in need,
    so that no one on earth
    can terrify others again.

(A psalm by David for the music leader.)

Trusting the Lord

11 The Lord is my fortress!
    Don’t say to me,
    “Escape like a bird
    to the mountains!”
You tell me, “Watch out!
Those evil people
    have put
    their arrows on their bows,
and they are standing
in the shadows,
    aiming at good people.
What can an honest person do
    when everything crumbles?”

The Lord is sitting
in his sacred temple
    on his throne in heaven.
He knows everything we do
    because he sees us all.
The Lord tests honest people,
but despises those
    who are cruel
    and love violence.
He will send fiery coals[a]
and flaming sulfur
    down on the wicked,
and they will drink nothing
    but a scorching wind.

The Lord always does right
    and wants justice done.
    Everyone who does right
    will see his face.

Footnotes:

  1. 11.6 fiery coals: Or “trouble, fire.”
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Numbers 35:1-3

The Towns for the Levites

35 While the people of Israel were still camped in the lowlands of Moab across the Jordan River from Jericho, the Lord told Moses to say to them:

When you receive your tribal lands, you must give towns and pastures to the Levi tribe. That way, the Levites will have towns to live in and pastures for their animals.

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Numbers 35:9-15

The Safe Towns

The Lord then told Moses 10 to tell the people of Israel:

After you have crossed the Jordan River and are settled in Canaan, 11 choose Safe Towns, where a person who has accidentally killed someone can run for protection. 12 If the victim’s relatives think it was murder, they might try to take revenge.[a] Anyone accused of murder can run to one of these Safe Towns for protection and not be killed before a trial is held.

13 There are to be six of these Safe Towns, 14 three on each side of the Jordan River. 15 They will be places of protection for anyone who lives in Israel and accidentally kills someone.

Footnotes:

  1. 35.12,19 the victim’s relatives. . . revenge: At this time in Israel’s history, the clan would appoint the closest male relative to find and kill a person who had killed a member of their clan.
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Numbers 35:30-34

30 Death is the penalty for murder. But no one accused of murder can be put to death unless there are at least two witnesses to the crime. 31 You cannot give someone money to escape the death penalty; you must pay with your own life! 32 And if you have been proven innocent of murder and are living in a Safe Town, you cannot pay to go back home; you must stay there until the high priest dies.

33-34 I, the Lord, live among you people of Israel, so your land must be kept pure. But when a murder takes place, blood pollutes the land, and it becomes unclean. If that happens, the murderer must be put to death, so the land will be clean again. Keep murder out of Israel!

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Romans 8:31-39

God’s Love

31 What can we say about all this? If God is on our side, can anyone be against us? 32 God did not keep back his own Son, but he gave him for us. If God did this, won’t he freely give us everything else? 33 If God says his chosen ones are acceptable to him, can anyone bring charges against them? 34 Or can anyone condemn them? No indeed! Christ died and was raised to life, and now he is at God’s right side,[a] speaking to him for us. 35 Can anything separate us from the love of Christ? Can trouble, suffering, and hard times, or hunger and nakedness, or danger and death? 36 It is exactly as the Scriptures say,

“For you we face death
    all day long.
We are like sheep
on their way
    to be butchered.”

37 In everything we have won more than a victory because of Christ who loves us. 38 I am sure that nothing can separate us from God’s love—not life or death, not angels or spirits, not the present or the future, 39 and not powers above or powers below. Nothing in all creation can separate us from God’s love for us in Christ Jesus our Lord!

Footnotes:

  1. 8.34 right side: The place of power and honor.
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Matthew 23:13-26

13-14 You Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses are in for trouble! You’re nothing but show-offs. You lock people out of the kingdom of heaven. You won’t go in yourselves, and you keep others from going in.[a]

15 You Pharisees and teachers of the Law of Moses are in for trouble! You’re nothing but show-offs. You travel over land and sea to win one follower. And when you have done so, you make that person twice as fit for hell as you are.

16 You are in for trouble! You are supposed to lead others, but you are blind. You teach that it doesn’t matter if a person swears by the temple. But you say that it does matter if someone swears by the gold in the temple. 17 You blind fools! Which is greater, the gold or the temple that makes the gold sacred?

18 You also teach that it doesn’t matter if a person swears by the altar. But you say that it does matter if someone swears by the gift on the altar. 19 Are you blind? Which is more important, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? 20 Anyone who swears by the altar also swears by everything on it. 21 And anyone who swears by the temple also swears by God, who lives there. 22 To swear by heaven is the same as swearing by God’s throne and by the one who sits on that throne.

23 You Pharisees and teachers are show-offs, and you’re in for trouble! You give God a tenth of the spices from your garden, such as mint, dill, and cumin. Yet you neglect the more important matters of the Law, such as justice, mercy, and faithfulness. These are the important things you should have done, though you should not have left the others undone either. 24 You blind leaders! You strain out a small fly but swallow a camel.

25 You Pharisees and teachers are show-offs, and you’re in for trouble! You wash the outside of your cups and dishes, while inside there is nothing but greed and selfishness. 26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of a cup, and then the outside will also be clean.

Footnotes:

  1. 23.13,14 from going in: Some manuscripts add, “You Pharisees and teachers are in for trouble! And you’re nothing but show-offs! You cheat widows out of their homes and then pray long prayers just to show off. So you will be punished most of all.”
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