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2 Samuel 22:21-23:23

21     The Eternal One rewarded me because I sought righteousness;
        He rewarded me because I kept my hands clean.
22     He rewarded me because I kept the ways of the Eternal
        and have not walked away from my True God in wickedness.
23     For all His laws were there before me,
        and I did not push His statutes away.
24     I made myself blameless before Him;
        I kept myself from guilt and shame.
25     That’s why the Eternal has rewarded me for seeking righteousness;
        He’s rewarded me because He sees I have remained pure.
26     To the good, You show Your goodness;
        to the blameless, You prove to be blameless;
27     To the pure, You show Your purity;
        to the crooked, You make Yourself twisted.
28     For You rescue weak people,
        but the proud You bring low.
29     You are the lamp who lights my way, O Eternal One,
        the Eternal, who lights up my darkness.
30     With Your help, I can conquer an army;
        with Your help, I can vault over walls.
31     God has made an upright way;
        the promise of the Eternal rings true;
        He stands and shields all who hide in Him.
32     Who is the True God except the Eternal One?
        Who stands like a rock except our God?
33     The True God who circled me with strength
        puts the upright on His way.
34     He made me sure-footed as a deer
        and placed me high up and safe.
35     He teaches me to fight
        so that my arms can bend a bronze bow.
36     You have given me the shield of Your salvation,
        and Your support has made me strong.
37     You taught me how to walk with care
        so my feet would not slip.
38     I pursued my enemies and defeated them
        and did not stop until all were destroyed.
39     When I eliminated them, they fell down beneath my feet
        so they could not rise again.
40     For You equipped me with strength for battle,
        and You made my enemies fall beneath me.
41     You made my enemies turn and run,
        and all who hated me, I destroyed.
42     They looked everywhere, but no one came to save them;
        they asked the Eternal for help, but He did not answer them.
43     I beat them until they were as small as the dust of the earth;
        I flung them away and beat them down like mud in the gutters.
44     You delivered me from conflict with the peoples;
        you raised me up to rule over nations;
        people whom I did not know came to serve me.
45     Strangers came to me, cringing and afraid;
        as soon as they heard about me, they obeyed me.
46     Strangers had their courage shrivel before them
        and came fearfully to me from behind their high walls.

47     The Eternal One is alive! May my Rock be blessed;
        and the True God, the Rock of my deliverance be exalted,
48     The God who avenged me
        and tamed the peoples under me,
49     Who rescued me from all my foes.
        You raised me up above my enemies;
        You saved me from the violent ones.
50     For this, I will praise You, O Eternal One, among the nations
        and sing praises to Your name.[a]
51     He is a tower of salvation for His king
        and shows His loyal love to His anointed,
        to David and his descendants, continually.[b]

23 Here are the last words of David, son of Jesse: the words of the one raised up, the anointed one of Jacob’s True God, the sweet songwriter of Israel.

David: The Spirit of the Eternal speaks through me;
        His voice emerges from my mouth.
    The God of Israel has talked to me;
        and the Rock of Israel said,
    “One who rules people with justice
        and who leads them in the fear of God
    Is like the morning light,
        the sun rising on a cloudless morning,
        and the shining grasslands brought up from rain.”

    Isn’t this how God has raised up my house?
        Because He has made a perpetual covenant with me,
        well-ordered and secure,
    Won’t He make all things to grow and prosper,
        save me, and give me all I desire?
    But the wicked are like thorns cut off and tossed away
        that can’t be picked up with your hands;
    No, to touch them, use the iron tip
        on the shaft of a spear.
        They are burned up on the spot.

David has been brought up from his position as a lowly shepherd, the youngest son in the household, to the pinnacle of success by his faith in God and his own willingness to follow God. It has been an adventure fraught with danger and intrigue, and marked with loss and heartbreak along the way. David’s own failings find themselves reflected—and magnified—in his children. But here is one of the high points of the story of the people of God, united at last under a powerful and beloved king, and victorious against their enemies.

Here is a list of the warriors who fought for David:

Josheb-basshebeth the Tahchemonite was the most powerful of David’s three most-honored warriors; he took up his spear[c] and killed 800 in one battle.

The next of David’s three mighty men was Eleazar, son of Dodo of Ahohi. Eleazar stood with David when they defied the Philistines who had gathered there to fight. The Israelites retreated, 10 but Eleazar stood his ground. He killed Philistine soldiers that day until his arm grew tired, but he never dropped his sword. The Eternal One gave them a decisive victory that day; and then the people came back, only to pillage the fallen.

11 Last of these top three was Shammah, son of Agee of Harar. The Philistines gathered at Lehi[d] where there was a field full of lentils, and the Israelites fled from them. 12 But Shammah stood in the center of the field and fought, killing many Philistines; and the Eternal gave His people a great victory.

13 At the beginning of harvest, these top three of David’s thirty chief warriors joined David at the cave of Adullam. A group of Philistines was camped in the valley of Rephaim, 14 David was hiding in his safe place, and the main force of the Philistines was quartered in Bethlehem.

David (with longing): 15 I wish someone would bring me some water to drink from the well of Bethlehem by the gate!

16 So these three mighty men broke through the nearby camp of the Philistines, drew water from the Bethlehem well that was by the gate, and brought it back for David. But he would not drink it; instead he poured it out, although he was parched with thirst, as a drink offering to the Eternal One.

David: 17 O Eternal God, I have no right to drink this water. It would be like drinking the blood of the men who risked their lives for it!

So he did not drink it. This is the kind of thing the three mighty men did for David.

18 Besides the three highest ranking soldiers, there was Abishai (Zeruiah’s son and the brother of Joab), who was commander of the elite force of 30.[e] With his spear he killed 300 men in battle and won honor as the three did. 19 Abishai was the most honored of the 30 and became their commander, but he did not become one of the three.

20 And there was Benaiah (Jehoiada’s son), son of a great man from Kabzeel, who also did great deeds. He struck down two lionhearted heroes of Moab. Benaiah also killed a lion in a pit one snowy day, 21 and he killed an Egyptian who was a powerful-looking man. The Egyptian was armed with a spear while Benaiah had only his staff, but he took the spear away from him and killed the Egyptian with his own weapon. 22 These were the kinds of feats Benaiah, the son of Jehoiada, performed that won him a name equal to the three mighty men for bravery. 23 He was famous among the 30, but never became one of the three. David made him the captain of his personal guard.

Footnotes:

  1. 22:50 Romans 15:9
  2. 22:2–51 Psalm 18
  3. 23:8 Hebrew is very difficult; some read, “Adino the Eznite.”
  4. 23:11 Or, “as a troop”
  5. 23:18 1 Chronicles 11:20–21
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Acts 2

When the holy day of Pentecost came 50 days after Passover, they were gathered together in one place.

Picture yourself among the disciples:

A sound roars from the sky without warning, the roar of a violent wind, and the whole house where you are gathered reverberates with the sound. Then a flame appears, dividing into smaller flames and spreading from one person to the next. All the people present are filled with the Holy Spirit and begin speaking in languages they’ve never spoken, as the Spirit empowers them.

Because of the holy festival, there are devout Jews staying as pilgrims in Jerusalem from every nation under the sun. They hear the sound, and a crowd gathers. They are amazed because each of them can hear the group speaking in their native languages. They are shocked and amazed by this.

Pilgrims: Just a minute. Aren’t all of these people Galileans? How in the world do we all hear our native languages being spoken? Look—there are Parthians here, and Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, and Judeans, residents of Cappadocia, Pontus, and Asia, 10 Phrygians and Pamphylians, Egyptians and Libyans from Cyrene, Romans including both Jews by birth and converts, 11 Cretans, and Arabs. We’re each, in our own languages, hearing these people talk about God’s powerful deeds.

12 Their amazement becomes confusion as they wonder,

Pilgrims: What does this mean?

Skeptics: 13 It doesn’t mean anything. They’re all drunk on some fresh wine!

This miraculous sign of God’s kingdom is astounding. The followers of Jesus are not known as people who drink too much wine with breakfast, so this fantastic episode requires some other kind of explanation. Unfortunately it is impossible to comprehend or explain what transpires on Pentecost. But this is not a novelty performance; rather, it is the foundation of the kingdom of God in that it establishes the church as the place where God moves on the earth through His Spirit. They expect a political kingdom, but God moves in people’s hearts to transform individuals and communities.

14 As the twelve stood together, Peter shouted to the crowd,

Peter: Men of Judea and all who are staying here in Jerusalem, listen. I want you to understand: 15 these people aren’t drunk as you may think. Look, it’s only nine o’clock in the morning! 16 No, this isn’t drunkenness; this is the fulfillment of the prophecy of Joel. 17 Hear what God says!

    In the last days,
    I will offer My Spirit to humanity as a libation.
    Your children will boldly speak the word of the Lord.
    Young warriors will see visions,
        and your elders will dream dreams.
18     Yes, in those days I shall offer My Spirit to all servants,
        both male and female, and they will boldly speak My word.
19     And in the heaven above and on the earth below,
    I shall give signs of impending judgment: blood, fire, and clouds of smoke.
20     The sun will become a void of darkness,
        and the moon will become blood.
    Then the great and dreadful day of the Lord will arrive,
21     And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord
        will be liberated into God’s freedom and peace.[a]

22 All of you Israelites, listen to my message: it’s about Jesus of Nazareth, a man whom God authenticated for you by performing in your presence powerful deeds, wonders, and signs through Him, just as you yourselves know. 23 This man, Jesus, who came into your hands by God’s sure plan and advanced knowledge, you nailed to a cross and killed in collaboration with lawless outsiders. 24 But God raised Jesus and unleashed Him from the agonizing birth pangs of death, for death could not possibly keep Jesus in its power. 25 David spoke of Jesus’ resurrection, saying:

    I see the Lord is ever present with me.
    I will not live in fear or abandon my calling because He guides my right hand.
26     My heart is glad; my soul rejoices;
        my body is safe.
27     You will not abandon me to experience the suffering of a miserable afterlife,
        nor leave Your Holy One to rot alone.
28     Instead, You direct me on a path that leads to a beautiful life.
    As I walk with You, the pleasures are never-ending, and I know true joy and contentment.[b]

29 My fellow Israelites, I can say without question that David our ancestor died and was buried, and his tomb is with us today. 30 David wasn’t speaking of himself; he was speaking as a prophet. He saw with prophetic insight that God had made a solemn promise to him: God would put one of his descendants on His throne. 31 Here’s what David was seeing in advance; here’s what David was talking about—the Anointed One would be resurrected. Think of David’s words about Him not being abandoned to the place of the dead nor being left to decay in the grave. 32 He was talking about Jesus, the One God has raised, whom all of us have seen with our own eyes and announce to you today. 33 Since Jesus has been lifted to the right hand of God—the highest place of authority and power—and since Jesus has received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, He has now poured out what you have seen and heard here today. 34 Remember: David couldn’t have been speaking of himself rising to the heavens when he said,

    The Master said to my master,
    “Sit here at My right hand,
        in the place of honor and power,
35     And I will gather Your enemies together,
        lead them in on hands and knees,
        and You will rest Your feet on their backs.”[c]

36 Everyone in Israel should now realize with certainty what God has done: God has made Jesus both Lord and Anointed King—this same Jesus whom you crucified.

37 When the people heard this, their hearts were pierced; and they said to Peter and his fellow apostles,

Pilgrims: Our brothers, what should we do?

Peter: 38 Reconsider your lives; change your direction. Participate in the ceremonial washing of baptism[d] in the name of Jesus God’s Anointed, the Liberating King. Then your sins will be forgiven, and the gift of the Holy Spirit will be yours. 39 For the promise of the Spirit is for you, for your children, for all people—even those considered outsiders and outcasts—the Lord our God invites everyone to come to Him.

Just as God raised Jesus from a decaying body, Peter holds out hope for God to liberate those who follow Him from their decaying culture.

40 Peter was pleading and offering many logical reasons to believe. 41 Whoever made a place for his message in their hearts received the baptism;[e] in fact, that day alone, about 3,000 people joined the disciples.

42 The community continually committed themselves to learning what the apostles taught them, gathering for fellowship, breaking bread, and praying. 43 Everyone felt a sense of awe because the apostles were doing many signs and wonders among them. 44 There was an intense sense of togetherness among all who believed; they shared all their material possessions in trust. 45 They sold any possessions and goods that did not benefit the community and used the money to help everyone in need. 46 They were unified as they worshiped at the temple day after day. In homes, they broke bread and shared meals with glad and generous hearts. 47 The new disciples praised God, and they enjoyed the goodwill of all the people of the city. Day after day the Lord added to their number everyone who was experiencing liberation.

Footnotes:

  1. 2:17–21 Joel 2:28–32
  2. 2:25–28 Psalm 16:8–11
  3. 2:34–35 Psalm 110:1
  4. 2:38 Literally, immersion, a rite of initiation and purification
  5. 2:41 Literally, immersion, a rite of initiation and purification
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Psalm 122

Psalm 122

A song [of David][a] for those journeying to worship.

This is a Davidic psalm celebrating the grandeur and significance of Jerusalem and its temple. It is ironic that Jerusalem means “city of peace” since more battles have been fought over it than over any other city.

I was so happy when my fellow pilgrims said,
    “Let’s go to the house of the Eternal!”
We have made the journey, and now we are standing
    within your gates, O Jerusalem.

Jerusalem! What a magnificent city!
    Buildings so close together, so compact.
God’s people belong here. Every tribe of the Eternal
    makes its way to Jerusalem
Just as God decreed for Israel
    to come together and give thanks to the Eternal.
In Jerusalem, justice is the order of the day because there sit the judges
    and kings, the descendants of David.

Ask heaven to grant peace to Jerusalem:
    “May those who love you prosper.
O Jerusalem, may His peace fill this entire city!
    May this citadel be quiet and at ease!”
It’s because of people—my family, friends, and acquaintances
    that I say, “May peace permeate you.”
And because the house of Eternal One, our God, is here, know this:
    I will always seek your good!

Footnotes:

  1. 122:title Some manuscripts omit this portion.
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Proverbs 16:19-20

19 It is better to be humble and live among the poor,
    than to divide up stolen property with the proud.
20 Those devoted to instruction will prosper in goodness;
    those who trust in the Eternal will experience His favor.

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The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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