June 3 - Romans 9.1-29, 1 Samuel 17.55-18.30 and Psalm 63

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God's Choice of Israel

Romans 9 I am a follower of Christ, and the Holy Spirit is a witness to my conscience. So I tell the truth and I am not lying when I say 2my heart is broken and I am in great sorrow. 3I would gladly be placed under God's curse and be separated from Christ for the good of my own people. 4They are the descendants of Israel, and they are also God's chosen people. God showed them his glory. He made agreements with them and gave them his Law. The temple is theirs and so are the promises that God made to them. 5They have those famous ancestors, who were also the ancestors of Jesus Christ. I pray that God, who rules over all, will be praised forever! Amen.
6It cannot be said that God broke his promise. After all, not all of the people of Israel are the true people of God. 7-8In fact, when God made the promise to Abraham, he meant only Abraham's descendants by his son Isaac. God was talking only about Isaac when he promised 9Sarah, "At this time next year I will return, and you will already have a son."
10Don't forget what happened to the twin sons of Isaac and Rebekah. 11-12Even before they were born or had done anything good or bad, the Lord told Rebekah that her older son would serve the younger one. The Lord said this to show that he makes his own choices and that it wasn't because of anything either of them had done. 13That's why the Scriptures say that the Lord liked Jacob more than Esau.
14Are we saying that God is unfair? Certainly not! 15The Lord told Moses that he has pity and mercy on anyone he wants to. 16Everything then depends on God's mercy and not on what people want or do. 17In the Scriptures the Lord says to the king of Egypt, "I let you become king, so that I could show you my power and be praised by all people on earth." 18Everything depends on what God decides to do, and he can either have pity on people or make them stubborn.

God's Anger and Mercy

19Someone may ask, "How can God blame us, if he makes us behave in the way he wants us to?" 20But, my friend, I ask, "Who do you think you are to question God? Does the clay have the right to ask the potter why he shaped it the way he did? 21Doesn't a potter have the right to make a fancy bowl and a plain bowl out of the same lump of clay?"
22God wanted to show his anger and reveal his power against everyone who deserved to be destroyed. But instead, he patiently put up with them. 23He did this by showing how glorious he is when he has pity on the people he has chosen to share in his glory. 24Whether Jews or Gentiles, we are those chosen ones, 25just as the Lord says in the book of Hosea,
"Although they are not my people,
I will make them my people.
I will treat with love those nations
that have never been loved.
26"Once they were told, 'You are not my people.'
But in that very place they will be called
children of the living God."
27And this is what the prophet Isaiah said about the people of Israel,
"The people of Israel are as many
as the grains of sand along the beach.
But only a few who are left will be saved.
28The Lord will be quick and sure to do on earth
what he has warned he will do."
29Isaiah also said,
"If the Lord All-Powerful
had not spared some of our descendants,
we would have been destroyed
like the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah."

David Becomes One of Saul's Officers

1 Samuel 17 55After King Saul had watched David go out to fight Goliath, Saul turned to the commander of his army and said, "Abner, who is that young man?"
"Your Majesty," Abner answered, "I swear by your life that I don't know."
56"Then find out!" Saul told him.
57When David came back from fighting Goliath, he was still carrying Goliath's head.
Abner took David to Saul, 58and Saul asked, "Who are you?"
"I am David the son of Jesse, a loyal Israelite from Bethlehem."
1 Samuel 18 David and Saul finished talking, and soon David and Jonathan became best friends. Jonathan thought as much of David as he did of himself. 2From that time on, Saul kept David in his service and would not let David go back to his own family.
3Jonathan liked David so much that they promised to always be loyal friends. 4Jonathan took off the robe that he was wearing and gave it to David. He also gave him his military clothes, his sword, his bow and arrows, and his belt.
5David was a success in everything that Saul sent him to do, and Saul made him a high officer in his army. That pleased everyone, including Saul's other officers.

Saul Becomes David's Enemy

6David had killed Goliath, the battle was over, and the Israelite army set out for home. As the army went along, women came out of each Israelite town to welcome King Saul. They were singing happy songs and dancing to the music of tambourines and harps. 7They sang:
Saul has killed a thousand enemies;
David has killed ten thousand enemies!
8This song made Saul very angry, and he thought, "They are saying that David has killed ten times more enemies than I ever did. Next they will want to make him king." 9Saul never again trusted David.
10The next day the LORD let an evil spirit take control of Saul, and he began acting like a crazy man inside his house. David came to play the harp for Saul as usual, but this time Saul had a spear in his hand. 11Saul thought, "I'll pin David to the wall." He threw the spear at David twice, but David dodged and got away both times.
12Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was helping David and was no longer helping him. 13Saul put David in charge of a thousand soldiers and sent him out to fight. 14The LORD helped David, and he and his soldiers always won their battles. 15This made Saul even more afraid of David. 16But everyone else in Judah and Israel was loyal to David, because he led the army in battle.
17One day, Saul told David, "If you'll be brave and fight the LORD's battles for me, I'll let you marry my oldest daughter Merab." But Saul was really thinking, "I don't want to kill David myself, so I'll let the Philistines do it for me."
18David answered, "How could I possibly marry your daughter? I'm not very important, and neither is my family."
19But when the time came for David to marry Saul's daughter Merab, Saul told her to marry Adriel from the town of Meholah.
20Saul had another daughter. Her name was Michal, and Saul found out that she was in love with David. This made Saul happy, 21and he thought, "I'll tell David he can marry Michal, but I'll set it up so that the Philistines will kill him." He told David, "I'm going to give you a second chance to marry one of my daughters."
22-23Saul ordered his officials to speak to David in private, so they went to David and said, "Look, the king likes you, and all of his officials are loyal to you. Why not ask the king if you can marry his daughter Michal?"
"I'm not rich or famous enough to marry princess Michal!" David answered.
24The officials went back to Saul and told him exactly what David had said. 25Saul was hoping that the Philistines would kill David, and he told his officials to tell David, "The king doesn't want any silver or gold. He only wants to get even with his enemies. All you have to do is to bring back proof that you have killed a hundred Philistines!" 26The officials told David, and David wanted to marry the princess.
King Saul had set a time limit, and before it ran out, 27David and his men left and killed two hundred Philistines. He brought back the proof and showed it to Saul, so he could marry Michal. Saul agreed to let David marry Michal. 28Saul knew that she loved David, and he also realized that the LORD was helping David. 29But knowing those things made Saul even more afraid of David, and he was David's enemy for the rest of his life.
30The Philistine rulers kept coming to fight Israel, but whenever David fought them, he won. He was famous because he won more battles against the Philistines than any of Saul's other officers.

Psalm 63
[A psalm by David when he was in the desert of Judah.]
God's Love Means More than Life

1You are my God. I worship you.
In my heart, I long for you,
as I would long for a stream in a scorching desert.

2I have seen your power and your glory
in the place of worship.
3Your love means more than life to me,
and I praise you.
4As long as I live, I will pray to you.
5I will sing joyful praises and be filled with excitement
like a guest at a banquet.

6I think about you before I go to sleep,
and my thoughts turn to you during the night.
7You have helped me,
and I sing happy songs in the shadow of your wings.
8I stay close to you,
and your powerful arm supports me.

9All who want to kill me will end up in the ground.
10Swords will run them through,
and wild dogs will eat them.

11Because of you, our God, the king will celebrate
with your faithful followers,
but liars will be silent.

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This reading is from The Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American Bible Society, 1995.

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