22 You gave them kingdoms and peoples
that they could divide up to the corners of their territory:
The country of Sihon (king of Hesbon)
and the territory of Og (king of Bashan).
23 The children of Israel multiplied
and rivaled the stars in the sky.
You brought them to the very land
You promised Abraham’s
His descendants would come into and possess.
24 Into the land they went, and it became theirs.
For our forefathers You made sure even the Canaanites there were powerless.
You subdued everything and everyone to their power—
land, kings, and people—to do with as they pleased.
25 They overwhelmed strong and secure cities.
They overtook fertile, productive land.
They claimed well-furnished houses, wells that were already dug,
vineyards, olive groves, and orchards filled with fruit.
They ate their fill. They grew fat.
They basked in Your generosity and goodness.
26 Even so, again they chose to defy You.
They abandoned Your law.
They killed the prophets who spoke Your word,
who pleaded with them to return to You, God.
And again, atrocities multiplied on top of atrocities.
27 So You surrendered them to their enemies,
and Your people suffered at their hands.
And in pain, they cried out to You.
From heaven You listened,
And in keeping with Your changeless and compassionate character,
You sent them liberators,
Saviors who rescued them from their cruel adversaries.
28 As soon as they were at peace, they began to wander and abandoned You
and did evil things, so You abandoned them to their enemies.
Thus, once more, You allowed them to be conquered.
Somehow Your mercy is inexhaustible.
Once more You listened to them when they cried to You in heaven for help.
Over and over and over You intervened and saved Your people.
29 You also warned them to return to Your ways
and follow the laws You have given.
They arrogantly violated the very commands,
Which if they would obey them
then they would live by them.
Stubborn, they turned away from You,
tensed their necks, and stopped listening.
30 Year after year, Your patience endured.
Your Spirit animated prophets, and they spoke many warnings to them.
In not listening and turning away from the prophets,
they turned directly into their advancing enemies.
31 It was because of Your great mercy
that they were not completely annihilated or forsaken.
You are a grace-filled and mercy-laden God;
32 Our True God—You who are great, majestic, and awesome,
You who always keep Your covenant of loyal love—
do not overlook the trouble we are facing here today.
This trouble confronts us all:
our kings and our princes,
our priests and our prophets, our ancestors and all of Your people—
From the time of the Assyrian kings until today.
33 You are righteous in all that You have done to us.
You have faithfully upheld Your part of the covenant,
but we have acted with evil.
34 None of our kings, princes, priests, or ancestors followed Your law.
They actively rejected Your commands and ignored the many warnings You sent.
35 Even when they had everything—
when they ruled in their own land without worry according to Your great generosity,
When they relaxed into the spacious and fertile land
You set before them—
Even then they refused to serve You
or turn away from their wicked ways.
36 And we are once again slaves in the bountiful land
You gave to our ancestors for our pleasure and enjoyment—
we are slaves in our own land!
37 We have sown sin, and the labor we provide on this land feeds the kings You have placed over us.
Our bodies and our beasts do not belong to us,
But to them, and they do with us what they want.
Our distress is great.
38 In light of it, we are writing a covenantal agreement.
It is sealed with the names of our leaders, our Levites, and our priests.
So moved by the instructions Ezra reads in the book of the law, the Jews cannot help but respond to them. After honoring God with a lavish feast—the Festival of Booths—acknowledging His role in liberating the Hebrews from Egypt and the Jews from Persia, everyone confesses God’s greatness and their own people’s shortcomings. Ezra has reminded them that God is fair; He gives them the law to warn them of and protect them from His judgments. And even when they break that law, He is unendingly merciful and faithful. God always remembers His people, rescues them, and begins fresh relationships with them. It is no wonder that everyone is so eager and joyous to sign a renewed covenant with Him.
10 The covenant was signed and sealed with the following names: Nehemiah (the governor and son of Hacaliah), Zedekiah, 2 Seraiah, Azariah, Jeremiah, 3 Pashhur, Amariah, Malchijah, 4 Hattush, Shebaniah, Malluch, 5 Harim, Meremoth, Obadiah, 6 Daniel, Ginnethon, Baruch, 7 Meshullam, Abijah, Mijamin, 8 Maaziah, Bilgai, and Shemaiah. These were the priests. 9 The Levites listed were Jeshua (Azaniah’s son), Binnui (one of Henadad’s sons), Kadmiel; 10 also their brothers: Shebaniah, Hodiah, Kelita, Pelaiah, Hanan, 11 Mica, Rehob, Hashabiah, 12 Zaccur, Sherebiah, Shebaniah, 13 Hodiah, Bani, and Beninu. 14 The leaders of the people listed were Parosh, Pahath-moab, Elam, Zattu, Bani, 15 Bunni, Azgad, Bebai, 16 Adonijah, Bigvai, Adin, 17 Ater, Hezekiah, Azzur, 18 Hodiah, Hashum, Bezai, 19 Hariph, Anathoth, Nebai, 20 Magpiash, Meshullam, Hezir, 21 Meshezabel, Zadok, Jaddua, 22 Pelatiah, Hanan, Anaiah, 23 Hoshea, Hananiah, Hasshub, 24 Hallohesh, Pilha, Shobek, 25 Rehum, Hashabnah, Maaseiah, 26 Ahiah, Hanan, Anan, 27 Malluch, Harim, and Baanah.
28 Everyone else—the priests, Levites, gatekeepers, singers, temple servants, and all those who separated themselves from their foreign neighbors in order to obey God’s law, along with all their wives and sons and daughters who are old enough to understand— 29 everyone joins with their leaders and relatives and binds himself with an oath and a curse to carefully observe and obey the way God has placed before us through His servant Moses—with all its commands, rules, and decrees. These are the Eternal Lord’s laws and judgments:
30 Our daughters will not be married to the sons of any of our foreign neighbors. We will not allow our sons to marry their daughters.
31 If any of our foreign neighbors come to sell their goods, their grain, or their produce on the Sabbath, we will not buy from them then or on any holy day.
Every seven years, every Jew everywhere will allow the land to rest for one year. We will not work on it; we will not make it work. We will also cancel all outstanding debts, freeing any Israelite who has become enslaved to a creditor.
32 We are committing to tax ourselves as well. Every year each man will pay eight ounces of silver to care for God’s temple. 33 This tax will pay for bread for the table; for the daily grain and burnt offerings; for offerings made on Sabbaths, new moon festivals, and all other yearly feasts; it will pay for the holy offerings and for the sin offerings to cover Israel’s sins. We are obligating ourselves to provide for everything that is necessary for the working of the temple of our God.
34 The priests, the Levites, and the people have drawn lots to decide which ancestral family will be responsible for bringing the wood that burns on the Eternal’s altar in God’s temple. Each family will be appointed times of the year, in every year, to fill this need as the law says it should be done.[a]
35 It is also our responsibility to support the temple workers through our offerings. We will bring to the temple the first part of every crop, grain from the earth and fruit from the tree alike, every year. 36 We will also bring all of our firstborns and give them to the priests working at the temple—our firstborn sons and cattle, our firstborn from our flocks and our herds—as the law of God says.[b] 37-38 We will bring to the priests the best of our coarse meal[c] (which is a sacred contribution), the fruit of our trees, and our new wine and oil—to be placed in the storerooms of our God’s temple instead of used in the sanctuary. One-tenth of our crops will go for the Levites. When the Levites come to our towns to collect our offerings, we will make sure there is also a priest from Aaron’s house with them who will bring the tithes to the house of the Eternal and its storehouse. 39 The Levites and the Israelites must bring the offerings of grain, new wine, and olive oil to the storerooms of the temple where the sacred containers are kept, where the working priests, the gatekeepers, and the singers gather.
We all agree—we will not neglect the temple of our God.
19 that also means that I am free of obligations to all people. And, even though no one (except Jesus) owns me, I have become a slave by my own free will to everyone in hopes that I would gather more believers. 20 When around Jews, I emphasize my Jewishness in order to win them over. When around those who live strictly under the law, I live by its regulations—even though I have a different perspective on the law now—in order to win them over. 21 In the same way, I’ve made a life outside the law to gather those who live outside the law (although I personally abide by and live under the Anointed One’s law). 22 I’ve been broken, lost, depressed, oppressed, and weak that I might find favor and gain the weak. I’m flexible, adaptable, and able to do and be whatever is needed for all kinds of people so that in the end I can use every means at my disposal to offer them salvation. 23 I do it all for the gospel and for the hope that I may participate with everyone who is blessed by the proclamation of the good news.
24 We all know that when there’s a race, all the runners bolt for the finish line, but only one will take the prize. When you run, run for the prize! 25 Athletes in training are very strict with themselves, exercising self-control over desires, and for what? For a wreath that soon withers or is crushed or simply forgotten. That is not our race. We run for the crown that we will wear for eternity. 26 So I don’t run aimlessly. I don’t let my eyes drift off the finish line. When I box, I don’t throw punches in the air. 27 I discipline my body and make it my slave so that after all this, after I have brought the gospel to others, I will still be qualified to win the prize.
10 I wouldn’t want you to be ignorant of our history, brothers and sisters. Our ancestors were once safeguarded under a miraculous cloud in the wilderness and brought safely through the sea. 2 Enveloped in water by cloud and by sea, they were, you might say, ritually cleansed into Moses through baptism.[a] 3 Together they were sustained supernaturally: they all ate the same spiritual food, manna; 4 and they all drank the same spiritual water, flowing from a spiritual rock that was always with them, for the rock was the Anointed One, our Liberating King. 5 Despite all of this, they were punished in the wilderness because God was unhappy with most of them.
6 Look at what happened to them as an example; it’s right there in the Scriptures so that we won’t make the same mistakes and hunger after evil as they did. So here’s my advice: 7 don’t degrade yourselves by worshiping anything less than the living God as some of them did. Remember it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and then rose up in dance and play.”[b] 8 We must be careful not to engage in sexual sins as some of them did. In one day, 23,000 died because of sin.[c] 9 None of us must test the limits of the Lord’s patience. Some of the Israelites did, and serpents bit them and killed them. 10 You need to stop your groaning and whining. Remember the story. Some of them complained, and the messenger of death came for them and destroyed them. 11 All these things happened for a reason: to sound a warning. They were written down and passed down to us to teach us. They were meant especially for us because the beginning of the end is happening in our time. 12 So let even the most confident believers remember their examples and be very careful not to fall as some of them did.
One of the strengths of the Jewish people is their corporate identity that comes from belonging to a unique, suffering people deeply loved by God. The tendency for the new, non-Jewish believers may be to create a new identity among themselves because they lack the sense of belonging shared by Israel’s descendants. A new day is dawning, a day when all may come to God regardless of ethnicity, locale, or social class. Believers in Corinth are not part of a new movement; they are a fresh expression of the historic movement of God.
The twenty-first century church needs to hear this truth today as much as the church in Corinth did two millennia ago. The world has changed drastically since the times of Abraham, David, John the Baptist, and even Martin Luther. In the midst of radical economic and technological advances, some within the church are embracing new or contemporary practices and regarding them as somehow superior to ancient and historic practices. Paul is challenging this idea and calling all believers to see themselves as a part of the local, global, and historic church.
13 Any temptation you face will be nothing new. But God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can handle. But He always provides a way of escape so that you will be able to endure and keep moving forward.
While there is nothing specific to tie this Davidic psalm to the events in 1 Samuel 21:10–15, the superscription recalls a time when David pretended to be insane to protect himself from the Philistines.
1 I will praise the Eternal in every moment through every situation.
Whenever I speak, my words will always praise Him.
2 Everything within me wants to pay tribute to Him.
Whenever the poor and humble hear of His greatness, they will celebrate too!
3 Come and lift up the Eternal with me;
let’s praise His name together!
4 When I needed the Lord, I looked for Him;
I called out to Him, and He heard me and responded.
He came and rescued me from everything that made me so afraid.
5 Look to Him and shine,
so shame will never contort your faces.
6 This poor soul cried, and the Eternal heard me.
He rescued me from my troubles.
7 The messenger of the Eternal God surrounds
everyone who walks with Him and is always there to protect and rescue us.
8 Taste of His goodness; see how wonderful the Eternal truly is.
Anyone who puts trust in Him will be blessed and comforted.
9 Revere the Eternal, you His saints,
for those who worship Him will possess everything important in life.
10 Young lions may grow tired and hungry,
but those intent on knowing the Eternal God will have everything they need.
13 If you ignore the groans of the poor,
one day your own cries for help will go unanswered.