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Psalm 142

(A special psalm and a prayer by David when he was in the cave.)

A Prayer for Help

142 I pray to you, Lord.
    I beg for mercy.
I tell you all of my worries
    and my troubles,
    and whenever I feel low,
    you are there to guide me.

A trap has been hidden
    along my pathway.
Even if you look,
    you won’t see anyone
    who cares enough
    to walk beside me.
There is no place to hide,
    and no one who really cares.

I pray to you, Lord!
    You are my place of safety,
    and you are my choice
    in the land of the living.
Please answer my prayer.
    I am completely helpless.

Help! They are chasing me,
    and they are too strong.
    Rescue me from this prison,
    so I can praise your name.
And when your people notice
your wonderful kindness to me,
    they will rush to my side.

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Amos 5:1-9

Turn Back to the Lord

Listen, nation of Israel,
    to my mournful message:
You, dearest Israel, have fallen,
    never to rise again—
you lie deserted in your own land,
    with no one to help you up.

The Lord God has warned,
“From every ten soldiers
    only one will be left;
from a thousand troops,
    only a hundred will survive.”

The Lord keeps saying,
“Israel, turn back to me
    and you will live!
Don’t go to Gilgal or Bethel
    or even to Beersheba.[a]
Gilgal will be dragged away,
and Bethel will end up
    as nothing.”[b]

Turn back to the Lord,
you descendants of Joseph,[c]
    and you will live.
If you don’t, the Lord
    will attack like fire.
Bethel will burn to the ground,
    and no one can save it.
You people are doomed!
You twist the truth
    and stomp on justice.

But the Lord created the stars
    and put them in place.[d]
He turns darkness to dawn
    and daylight to darkness;
he scoops up the ocean
    and empties it on the earth.
God destroys mighty soldiers
    and strong fortresses.

Footnotes:

  1. 5.5 Gilgal. . . Bethel. . . Beersheba: These were ancient places of worship, but the Lord had warned his people to stay away from them.
  2. 5.5 Gilgal. . . nothing: In Hebrew “Gilgal” and “dragged away” sound something alike. Bethel (meaning “house of God”) is sometimes called “house of nothing” or “house of sin” by the prophets (see Hosea 4.15; 5.8; 10.5-8).
  3. 5.6 descendants of Joseph: Another name for the people of the northern kingdom of Israel.
  4. 5.8 the stars. . . place: The Hebrew text mentions two groups of stars, Pleiades and Orion. Since the Lord is the Creator of the stars, he controls the seasons that are signaled by the different positions of the stars. Moreover, the stars are created objects and should not be worshiped.
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Acts 21:27-39

Paul Is Arrested

27 When the period of seven days for the ceremony was almost over, some of the Jewish people from Asia saw Paul in the temple. They got a large crowd together and started attacking him. 28 They were shouting, “Friends, help us! This man goes around everywhere, saying bad things about our nation and about the Law of Moses and about this temple. He has even brought shame to this holy temple by bringing in Gentiles.” 29 Some of them thought that Paul had brought Trophimus from Ephesus into the temple, because they had seen them together in the city.

30 The whole city was in an uproar, and the people turned into a mob. They grabbed Paul and dragged him out of the temple. Then suddenly the doors were shut. 31 The people were about to kill Paul when the Roman army commander heard that all Jerusalem was starting to riot. 32 So he quickly took some soldiers and officers and ran to where the crowd had gathered.

As soon as the mob saw the commander and soldiers, they stopped beating Paul. 33 The army commander went over and arrested him and had him bound with two chains. Then he tried to find out who Paul was and what he had done. 34 Part of the crowd shouted one thing, and part of them shouted something else. But they were making so much noise that the commander could not find out a thing. Then he ordered Paul to be taken into the fortress. 35 As they reached the steps, the crowd became so wild that the soldiers had to lift Paul up and carry him. 36 The crowd followed and kept shouting, “Kill him! Kill him!”

Paul Speaks to the Crowd

37 When Paul was about to be taken into the fortress, he asked the commander, “Can I say something to you?”

“How do you know Greek?” the commander asked. 38 “Aren’t you that Egyptian who started a riot not long ago and led four thousand terrorists into the desert?”

39 “No!” Paul replied. “I am a Jew from Tarsus, an important city in Cilicia. Please let me speak to the crowd.”

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