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2 Kings 6-7

An ax head floats

The members of the group of prophets said to Elisha, “Look, the place where we now live under your authority is too small for us. Let’s go to the Jordan River and each get a log from there. Then we can make a place to live there.”

Elisha said, “Do it!”

One of them said, “Please come with us, your servants.”

Elisha said, “Okay, I’ll go.” So he went with them. They came to the Jordan River and began cutting down trees. One of them was cutting down a tree when his ax head fell into the water. He cried out, “Oh, no! Master, it was a borrowed ax!”

The man of God said, “Where did it fall?” He showed Elisha the place. Elisha then cut a piece of wood, threw it into the river there, and the ax head floated up. “Lift it out,” Elisha said. So the man then reached out and grabbed it.

Aramean attacks are stopped

Aram’s king was fighting against Israel. He took counsel with his officers, saying, “I’ll camp at such-and-such a place.”

The man of God sent word to Israel’s king: “Beware of passing by this place because the Arameans are going down there.” 10 Then Israel’s king sent word to the place the man of God had mentioned to him. Time after time, Elisha warned the king, and the king stayed on the alert.

11 Aram’s king was extremely upset about this. He called his officers and said to them, “Tell me! Who among us is siding with Israel’s king?”

12 One of his officers said, “No one, Your Majesty! It’s Elisha the Israelite prophet who tells Israel’s king the words that you speak in the privacy of your bedroom.”

13 He said, “Go and find out where he is. Then I will send men to capture him.”

They told him, “He is in Dothan.” 14 So the king sent horses and chariots there with a strong army. They came at night and surrounded the city.

15 Elisha’s servant got up early and went out. He saw an army with horses and chariots surrounding the city. His servant said to Elisha, “Oh, no! Master, what will we do?”

16 “Don’t be afraid,” Elisha said, “because there are more of us than there are of them.” 17 Then Elisha prayed, “Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw that the mountain was full of horses and fiery chariots surrounding Elisha. 18 The Arameans came toward him, so Elisha prayed to the Lord, “Strike this nation with blindness.” And the Lord struck them blind, just as Elisha asked. 19 Elisha said to them, “This isn’t the right road or the right city. Follow me, and I’ll lead you to the man you are looking for.” But he took them to Samaria!

20 When they arrived in Samaria, Elisha said, “Lord, open the eyes of these men so they can see.” The Lord opened their eyes, and they saw that they were right in the middle of Samaria! 21 When he saw them, Israel’s king said to Elisha, “Should I kill them, my father? Should I?”

22 He said, “No, don’t kill them. Did you capture them with your own sword or bow? Do you have the right to kill them?[a] Put food and water in front of them so they can eat and drink and return to their master.” 23 So the king gave them a great feast, and they ate and drank. Then the king let them go, and they returned to their master. After that, Aramean raiding parties didn’t come into Israel anymore.

Ben-hadad attacks Samaria

24 Now it happened later that Aram’s King Ben-hadad gathered all his forces and went up to attack Samaria. 25 The siege lasted so long that there was a great famine in Samaria. A donkey’s head sold for eighty shekels of silver and a quarter kab of doves’ dung[b] for five shekels. 26 Israel’s king was passing by on the city wall when a woman appealed to him, “Help me, Your Majesty!”

27 The king said, “No! May the Lord help you! Where can I find help for you? From the threshing floor or the winepress?” 28 But then the king asked her, “What’s troubling you?”

She answered, “A woman said to me, ‘Give up your son so we can eat him today; we’ll eat my son tomorrow.’ 29 So we cooked and ate my son. The next day I said to her, ‘Hand over your son so we can eat him.’ But she had hidden her son.”

30 When the king heard the woman’s story, he ripped his clothes. And as he passed by along the wall, the people could see that he was wearing mourning clothes underneath. 31 He said, “So may God do to me, and more, if the head of Elisha, Shaphat’s son, remains on his shoulders today!”

32 Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. The king sent a messenger on ahead, but before the man arrived, Elisha said to the elders, “Do you see that this murderer has sent someone to cut off my head? Watch for when the messenger comes, then close the door and hold it shut against him. The sound of his master’s feet is right behind him, isn’t it?”

33 While Elisha was still speaking with them, the messenger[c] arrived and said, “Look, this disaster is the Lord’s doing. Why should I trust the Lord any longer?”

Elisha said, “Hear the Lord’s word! This is what the Lord says: At this time tomorrow a seah[d] of wheat flour will sell for a shekel at Samaria’s gate, and two seahs of barley will sell for a shekel.”

Then the officer, the one the king leaned on for support, spoke to the man of God: “Come on! Even if the Lord should make windows in the sky, how could that happen?”

Elisha said, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you won’t eat from it.”

The siege is broken

Now there were four men with skin disease[e] at the entrance to the city. They said to each other, “What are we doing sitting here until we die? If we decide, ‘Let’s go into the city,’ the famine is there, and we’ll die in the city. But if we stay here, we’ll die just the same. So let’s go and surrender to the Aramean camp. If they let us live, we’ll live. If they kill us, we’ll die.” So they set out in the evening to the Aramean camp, and they came to the edge of the camp. But there was no one there because the Lord had made the Aramean camp hear the sound of chariots, horses, and a strong army. They had said to each other, “Listen! Israel’s king has hired the Hittite and Egyptian kings to come against us!” So they had got up and fled in the evening, leaving their tents, horses, and donkeys. They left the camp exactly as it was and ran for their lives.

So these men with skin disease came to the edge of the camp. They entered a tent where they ate and drank. They carried off some silver, gold, and garments, and they hid them. Then they returned and went into another tent. They took more things from there, went away, and hid them. But then they said to each other, “What we’re doing isn’t right. Today is a day of good news, but we’re keeping quiet about it. If we wait until dawn, something bad will happen to us. Come on! Let’s go and tell the palace.” 10 So they went and called out to the gatekeepers, telling them, “We went to the Aramean camp, and listen to this: No one was there, not even the sound of anyone! The only things there were tied-up horses and donkeys, and the tents left just as they were.” 11 The gatekeepers shouted out the news, and it was reported within the palace.

12 The king got up in the night. He said to his servants, “Let me tell you what the Arameans are doing to us. They know we are starving, so they’ve left the camp to hide in the fields. They are thinking, The Israelites will come out from the city, and then we’ll capture them alive and invade the city.”

13 But one of his servants answered, “Please let some men take five of the horses that are left, and let’s send them out to see what happens. They are in the same situation as the large number of Israelites who are left here; they are no better off than the large number of Israelites who’ve already perished.”[f] 14 So they chose two chariots with their horses.

The king sent them after the Aramean army, saying, “Go and see!” 15 So they went after the Arameans as far as the Jordan River. The road was filled the whole way with garments and equipment that the Arameans had thrown away in their rush. The messengers returned and reported this to the king.

16 Then the people went out and looted the Aramean camp. And so it happened that a seah of wheat flour did sell for a shekel, and two seahs of barley sold for a shekel, in agreement with the Lord’s word. 17 But the king had put the officer whom he leaned on for support in charge of the city gate. The people trampled the officer at the gate, and he died. This was just what the man of God said when the king had come down to him. 18 Because when the man of God said to the king, “At this time tomorrow two seahs of barley will sell for a shekel at Samaria’s gate, and one seah of wheat flour will sell for a shekel,” 19 the officer had answered the man of God, “Come on! Even if the Lord should make windows in the sky, how could that happen?” Then Elisha had said, “You will see it with your own eyes, but you won’t eat from it.” 20 That’s exactly what happened to him. The people trampled him at the city gate, and he died.

Footnotes:

  1. 2 Kings 6:22 Heb uncertain
  2. 2 Kings 6:25 Or wild onions or carob pods
  3. 2 Kings 6:33 Or perhaps the king; cf 7:2
  4. 2 Kings 7:1 One seah is approximately seven and a half quarts.
  5. 2 Kings 7:3 Traditionally leprosy, a term used for several different skin diseases
  6. 2 Kings 7:13 Heb uncertain
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Acts 15:36-16:15

Paul and Barnabas part company

36 Some time later, Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s go back and visit all the brothers and sisters in every city where we preached the Lord’s word. Let’s see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas wanted to take John Mark with them. 38 Paul insisted that they shouldn’t take him along, since he had deserted them in Pamphylia and hadn’t continued with them in their work. 39 Their argument became so intense that they went their separate ways. Barnabas took Mark and sailed to Cyprus. 40 Paul chose Silas and left, entrusted by the brothers and sisters to the Lord’s grace. 41 He traveled through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.

Paul adds Timothy

16 Paul reached Derbe, and then Lystra, where there was a disciple named Timothy. He was the son of a believing Jewish woman and a Greek father. The brothers and sisters in Lystra and Iconium spoke well of him. Paul wanted to take Timothy with him, so he circumcised him. This was because of the Jews who lived in those areas, for they all knew Timothy’s father was Greek. As Paul and his companions traveled through the cities, they instructed Gentile believers to keep the regulations put in place by the apostles and elders in Jerusalem. So the churches were strengthened in the faith and every day their numbers flourished.

Vision of the Macedonian

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the regions of Phrygia and Galatia because the Holy Spirit kept them from speaking the word in the province of Asia. When they approached the province of Mysia, they tried to enter the province of Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus wouldn’t let them. Passing by Mysia, they went down to Troas instead. A vision of a man from Macedonia came to Paul during the night. He stood urging Paul, “Come over to Macedonia and help us!” 10 Immediately after he saw the vision, we prepared to leave for the province of Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to proclaim the good news to them.

Lydia’s conversion

11 We sailed from Troas straight for Samothrace and came to Neapolis the following day. 12 From there we went to Philippi, a city of Macedonia’s first district and a Roman colony. We stayed in that city several days. 13 On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate to the riverbank, where we thought there might be a place for prayer. We sat down and began to talk with the women who had gathered. 14 One of those women was Lydia, a Gentile God-worshipper from the city of Thyatira, a dealer in purple cloth. As she listened, the Lord enabled her to embrace Paul’s message. 15 Once she and her household were baptized, she urged, “Now that you have decided that I am a believer in the Lord, come and stay in my house.” And she persuaded us.

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Psalm 142

Psalm 142

A maskil[a] of David, when he was in the cave. A prayer.

142 I cry out loud for help from the Lord.
    I beg out loud for mercy from the Lord.
I pour out my concerns before God;
    I announce my distress to him.
When my spirit is weak inside me, you still know my way.
    But they’ve hidden a trap for me in the path I’m taking.
Look right beside me: See?
    No one pays attention to me.
There’s no escape for me.
    No one cares about my life.

I cry to you, Lord, for help.
    “You are my refuge,” I say.
    “You are all I have in the land of the living.”
Pay close attention to my shouting,
    because I’ve been brought down so low!
Deliver me from my oppressors
    because they’re stronger than me.
Get me out of this prison
    so I can give thanks to your name.
Then the righteous will gather all around me
    because of your good deeds to me.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 142:1 Perhaps instruction; it also appears in Pss 42, 44–45, 52–55, 74, 78, 88–89, 142; cf 47:7; the root is used in Ps 32:8.
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Proverbs 17:24-25

24 Wisdom is right in front of those with understanding,
    but the eyes of fools are off to the edges of the earth.
25 A foolish son is irritating to his father
    and bitter to her who gave birth to him.

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Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible

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