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2 Samuel 14:1-15:22

David Permits Absalom to Return to Jerusalem

14 Now Joab son of Zeruiah realized that the king longed to see Absalom. So Joab sent to Tekoa and brought from there a wise woman. He told her, “Pretend to be in mourning and put on garments for mourning. Don’t anoint yourself with oil. Instead, act like a woman who has been mourning for the dead for some time. Go to the king and speak to him in the following fashion.” Then Joab told her what to say.

So the Tekoan woman went to the king. She bowed down with her face to the ground in deference to him and said, “Please help me, O king!” The king replied to her, “What do you want?” She answered, “I am a widow; my husband is dead. Your servant has two sons. When the two of them got into a fight in the field, there was no one present who could intervene. One of them struck the other and killed him. Now the entire family has risen up against your servant, saying, ‘Turn over the one who struck down his brother, so that we can execute him and avenge the death of his brother whom he killed. In so doing we will also destroy the heir.’ They want to extinguish my remaining coal, leaving no one on the face of the earth to carry on the name of my husband.”

Then the king told the woman, “Go to your home. I will give instructions concerning your situation.” The Tekoan woman said to the king, “My lord the king, let any blame fall on me and on the house of my father. But let the king and his throne be innocent!”

10 The king said, “Bring to me whoever speaks to you, and he won’t bother you again!” 11 She replied, “In that case, let the king invoke the name of the Lord your God so that the avenger of blood may not kill! Then they will not destroy my son!” He replied, “As surely as the Lord lives, not a single hair of your son’s head will fall to the ground.”

12 Then the woman said, “Please permit your servant to speak to my lord the king about another matter.” He replied, “Tell me.” 13 The woman said, “Why have you devised something like this against God’s people? When the king speaks in this fashion, he makes himself guilty, for the king has not brought back the one he has banished. 14 Certainly we must die, and are like water spilled on the ground that cannot be gathered up again. But God does not take away life; instead he devises ways for the banished to be restored. 15 I have now come to speak with my lord the king about this matter, because the people have made me fearful. But your servant said, ‘I will speak to the king! Perhaps the king will do what his female servant asks. 16 Yes! The king may listen and deliver his female servant from the hand of the man who seeks to remove both me and my son from the inheritance God has given us!’ 17 So your servant said, ‘May the word of my lord the king be my security, for my lord the king is like the angel of God when it comes to deciding between right and wrong! May the Lord your God be with you!’”

18 Then the king replied to the woman, “Don’t hide any information from me when I question you.” The woman said, “Let my lord the king speak!” 19 The king said, “Did Joab put you up to all of this?” The woman answered, “As surely as you live, my lord the king, there is no deviation to the right or to the left from all that my lord the king has said. For your servant Joab gave me instructions. He has put all these words in your servant’s mouth. 20 Your servant Joab did this so as to change this situation. But my lord has wisdom like that of the angel of God, and knows everything that is happening in the land.”

21 Then the king said to Joab, “All right! I will do this thing! Go and bring back the young man Absalom! 22 Then Joab bowed down with his face toward the ground and thanked the king. Joab said, “Today your servant knows that I have found favor in your sight, my lord the king, because the king has granted the request of your servant!”

23 So Joab got up and went to Geshur and brought Absalom back to Jerusalem. 24 But the king said, “Let him go over to his own house. He may not see my face.” So Absalom went over to his own house; he did not see the king’s face.

25 Now in all Israel everyone acknowledged that there was no man as handsome as Absalom. From the soles of his feet to the top of his head he was perfect in appearance. 26 When he would shave his head—at the end of every year he used to shave his head, for it grew too long and he would shave it—he used to weigh the hair of his head at three pounds according to the king’s weight. 27 Absalom had three sons and one daughter, whose name was Tamar. She was a very attractive woman.

28 Absalom lived in Jerusalem for two years without seeing the king’s face. 29 Then Absalom sent a message to Joab asking him to send him to the king, but Joab was not willing to come to him. So he sent a second message to him, but he still was not willing to come. 30 So he said to his servants, “Look, Joab has a portion of field adjacent to mine and he has some barley there. Go and set it on fire.” So Absalom’s servants set Joab’s portion of the field on fire.

31 Then Joab got up and came to Absalom’s house. He said to him, “Why did your servants set my portion of field on fire?” 32 Absalom said to Joab, “Look, I sent a message to you saying, ‘Come here so that I can send you to the king with this message: “Why have I come from Geshur? It would be better for me if I were still there.”’ Let me now see the face of the king. If I am at fault, let him put me to death!”

33 So Joab went to the king and informed him. The king summoned Absalom, and he came to the king. Absalom bowed down before the king with his face toward the ground and the king kissed him.

Absalom Leads an Insurrection against David

15 Some time later Absalom managed to acquire a chariot and horses, as well as fifty men to serve as his royal guard. Now Absalom used to get up early and stand beside the road that led to the city gate. Whenever anyone came by who had a complaint to bring to the king for arbitration, Absalom would call out to him, “What city are you from?” The person would answer, “I, your servant, am from one of the tribes of Israel.” Absalom would then say to him, “Look, your claims are legitimate and appropriate. But there is no representative of the king who will listen to you.” Absalom would then say, “If only they would make me a judge in the land! Then everyone who had a judicial complaint could come to me and I would make sure he receives a just settlement.”

When someone approached to bow before him, Absalom would extend his hand and embrace him and kiss him. Absalom acted this way toward everyone in Israel who came to the king for justice. In this way Absalom won the loyalty of the citizens of Israel.

After four years Absalom said to the king, “Let me go and repay my vow that I made to the Lord while I was in Hebron. For I made this vow when I was living in Geshur in Aram: ‘If the Lord really does allow me to return to Jerusalem, I will serve the Lord.’” The king replied to him, “Go in peace.” So Absalom got up and went to Hebron.

10 Then Absalom sent spies through all the tribes of Israel who said, “When you hear the sound of the horn, you may assume that Absalom rules in Hebron.” 11 Now two hundred men had gone with Absalom from Jerusalem. Since they were invited, they went naively and were unaware of what Absalom was planning. 12 While he was offering sacrifices, Absalom sent for Ahithophel the Gilonite, David’s adviser, to come from his city, Giloh. The conspiracy was gaining momentum, and the people were starting to side with Absalom.

David Flees from Jerusalem

13 Then a messenger came to David and reported, “The men of Israel are loyal to Absalom!” 14 So David said to all his servants who were with him in Jerusalem, “Come on! Let’s escape! Otherwise no one will be delivered from Absalom! Go immediately, or else he will quickly overtake us and bring disaster on us and kill the city’s residents with the sword.” 15 The king’s servants replied to the king, “We will do whatever our lord the king decides.”

16 So the king and all the members of his royal court set out on foot, though the king left behind ten concubines to attend to the palace. 17 The king and all the people set out on foot, pausing at a spot some distance away. 18 All his servants were leaving with him, along with all the Kerethites, all the Pelethites, and all the Gittites—some six hundred men who had come on foot from Gath. They were leaving with the king.

19 Then the king said to Ittai the Gittite, “Why should you come with us? Go back and stay with the new king, for you are a foreigner and an exile from your own country. 20 It seems like you arrived just yesterday. Today should I make you wander around by going with us? I go where I must go. But as for you, go back and take your men with you. May genuine loyal love protect you!”

21 But Ittai replied to the king, “As surely as the Lord lives and as my lord the king lives, wherever my lord the king is, whether dead or alive, there I will be as well!” 22 So David said to Ittai, “Come along then.” So Ittai the Gittite went along, accompanied by all his men and all the dependents who were with him.

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John 18:1-24

Betrayal and Arrest

18 When he had said these things, Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron Valley. There was an orchard there, and he and his disciples went into it. (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, knew the place too, because Jesus had met there many times with his disciples.) So Judas obtained a squad of soldiers and some officers of the chief priests and Pharisees. They came to the orchard with lanterns and torches and weapons.

Then Jesus, because he knew everything that was going to happen to him, came and asked them, “Who are you looking for?” They replied, “Jesus the Nazarene.” He told them, “I am he.” (Now Judas, the one who betrayed him, was standing there with them.) So when Jesus said to them, “I am he,” they retreated and fell to the ground. Then Jesus asked them again, “Who are you looking for?” And they said, “Jesus the Nazarene.” Jesus replied, “I told you that I am he. If you are looking for me, let these men go.” He said this to fulfill the word he had spoken, “I have not lost a single one of those whom you gave me.”

10 Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, pulled it out and struck the high priest’s slave, cutting off his right ear. (Now the slave’s name was Malchus.) 11 But Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword back into its sheath! Am I not to drink the cup that the Father has given me?”

Jesus Before Annas

12 Then the squad of soldiers with their commanding officer and the officers of the Jewish leaders arrested Jesus and tied him up. 13 They brought him first to Annas, for he was the father-in-law of Caiaphas, who was high priest that year. 14 (Now it was Caiaphas who had advised the Jewish leaders that it was to their advantage that one man die for the people.)

Peter’s First Denial

15 Simon Peter and another disciple followed them as they brought Jesus to Annas. (Now the other disciple was acquainted with the high priest, and he went with Jesus into the high priest’s courtyard.) 16 But Simon Peter was left standing outside by the door. So the other disciple who was acquainted with the high priest came out and spoke to the slave girl who watched the door, and brought Peter inside. 17 The girl who was the doorkeeper said to Peter, “You’re not one of this man’s disciples too, are you?” He replied, “I am not.” 18 (Now the slaves and the guards were standing around a charcoal fire they had made, warming themselves because it was cold. Peter also was standing with them, warming himself.)

Jesus Questioned by Annas

19 While this was happening, the high priest questioned Jesus about his disciples and about his teaching. 20 Jesus replied, “I have spoken publicly to the world. I always taught in the synagogues and in the temple courts, where all the Jewish people assemble together. I have said nothing in secret. 21 Why do you ask me? Ask those who heard what I said. They know what I said.” 22 When Jesus had said this, one of the high priest’s officers who stood nearby struck him on the face and said, “Is that the way you answer the high priest?” 23 Jesus replied, “If I have said something wrong, confirm what is wrong. But if I spoke correctly, why strike me?” 24 Then Annas sent him, still tied up, to Caiaphas the high priest.

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Psalm 119:97-112

מ (Mem)

97 O how I love your law!
All day long I meditate on it.
98 Your commandments make me wiser than my enemies,
for I am always aware of them.
99 I have more insight than all my teachers,
for I meditate on your rules.
100 I am more discerning than those older than I,
for I observe your precepts.
101 I stay away from the evil path,
so that I might keep your instructions.
102 I do not turn aside from your regulations,
for you teach me.
103 Your words are sweeter
in my mouth than honey!
104 Your precepts give me discernment.
Therefore I hate all deceitful actions.

נ (Nun)

105 Your word is a lamp to walk by,
and a light to illumine my path.
106 I have vowed and solemnly sworn
to keep your just regulations.
107 I am suffering terribly.
O Lord, revive me with your word!
108 O Lord, please accept the freewill offerings of my praise!
Teach me your regulations!
109 My life is in continual danger,
but I do not forget your law.
110 The wicked lay a trap for me,
but I do not wander from your precepts.
111 I claim your rules as my permanent possession,
for they give me joy.
112 I am determined to obey your statutes
at all times, to the very end.

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Proverbs 16:8-9

Better to have a little with righteousness
than to have abundant income without justice.
A person plans his course,
but the Lord directs his steps.

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New English Translation (NET)

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