June 5 - Romans 11.1-24, 1 Samuel 20 and Psalm 65

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God Has Not Rejected His People

Romans 11 Am I saying that God has turned his back on his people? Certainly not! I am one of the people of Israel, and I myself am a descendant of Abraham from the tribe of Benjamin. 2God did not turn his back on his chosen people. Don't you remember reading in the Scriptures how Elijah complained to God about the people of Israel? 3He said, "Lord, they killed your prophets and destroyed your altars. I am the only one left, and now they want to kill me."
4But the Lord told Elijah, "I still have seven thousand followers who have not worshiped Baal." 5It is the same way now. God was kind to the people of Israel, and so a few of them are still his followers. 6This happened because of God's undeserved kindness and not because of anything they have done. It could not have happened except for God's kindness.
7This means that only a chosen few of the people of Israel found what all of them were searching for. And the rest of them were stubborn, 8just as the Scriptures say,
"God made them so stupid that their eyes are blind,
and their ears are still deaf."
9Then David said,
"Turn their meals into bait for a trap,
so that they will stumble
and be given what they deserve.
10Blindfold their eyes! Don't let them see.
Bend their backs beneath a burden
that will never be lifted."

Gentiles Will Be Saved

11Do I mean that the people of Israel fell, never to get up again? Certainly not! Their failure made it possible for the Gentiles to be saved, and this will make the people of Israel jealous. 12But if the rest of the world's people were helped so much by Israel's sin and loss, they will be helped even more by their full return.
13I am now speaking to you Gentiles, and as long as I am an apostle to you, I will take pride in my work. 14I hope in this way to make some of my own people jealous enough to be saved. 15When Israel rejected God, the rest of the people in the world were able to turn to him. So when God makes friends with Israel, it will be like bringing the dead back to life. 16If part of a batch of dough is made holy by being offered to God, then all of the dough is holy. If the roots of a tree are holy, the rest of the tree is holy too.
17You Gentiles are like branches of a wild olive tree that were made to be part of a cultivated olive tree. You have taken the place of some branches that were cut away from it. And because of this, you enjoy the blessings that come from being part of that cultivated tree. 18But don't think you are better than the branches that were cut away. Just remember that you are not supporting the roots of that tree. Its roots are supporting you.
19Maybe you think those branches were cut away, so that you could be put in their place. 20That's true enough. But they were cut away because they did not have faith, and you are where you are because you do have faith. So don't be proud, but be afraid. 21If God cut away those natural branches, couldn't he do the same to you?
22Now you see both how kind and how hard God can be. He was hard on those who fell, but he was kind to you. And he will keep on being kind to you, if you keep on trusting in his kindness. Otherwise, you will be cut away too.
23If those other branches will start having faith, they will be made a part of that tree again. God has the power to put them back. 24After all, it wasn't natural for branches to be cut from a wild olive tree and to be made part of a cultivated olive tree. So it is much more likely that God will join the natural branches back to the cultivated olive tree.

Jonathan Helps David Escape

1 Samuel 20 David escaped from Prophets Village. Then he ran to see Jonathan and asked, "Why does your father Saul want to kill me? What have I done wrong?"
2"My father can't be trying to kill you! He never does anything without telling me about it. Why would he hide this from me? It can't be true!"
3"Jonathan, I swear it's true! But your father knows how much you like me, and he didn't want to break your heart. That's why he didn't tell you. I swear by the living LORD and by your own life that I'm only one step ahead of death."
4Then Jonathan said, "Tell me what to do, and I'll do it."
5David answered:
Tomorrow is the New Moon Festival, and I'm supposed to eat dinner with your father. But instead, I'll hide in a field until the evening of the next day. 6If Saul wonders where I am, tell him, "David asked me to let him go to his hometown of Bethlehem, so he could take part in a sacrifice his family makes there every year."
7If your father says it's all right, then I'm safe. But if he gets angry, you'll know he wants to harm me. 8Be kind to me. After all, it was your idea to promise the LORD that we would always be loyal friends. If I've done anything wrong, kill me yourself, but don't hand me over to your father.

9"Don't worry," Jonathan said. "If I find out that my father wants to kill you, I'll certainly let you know."
10"How will you do that?" David asked.
11"Let's go out to this field, and I'll tell you," Jonathan answered.
When they got there, 12Jonathan said:
I swear by the LORD God of Israel, that two days from now I'll know what my father is planning. Of course I'll let you know if he's friendly toward you. 13But if he wants to harm you, I promise to tell you and help you escape. And I ask the LORD to punish me severely if I don't keep my promise.
I pray that the LORD will bless you, just as he used to bless my father. 14-15Someday the LORD will wipe out all of your enemies. Then if I'm still alive, please be as kind to me as the LORD has been. But if I'm dead, be kind to my family.

16Jonathan and David made an agreement that even David's descendants would have to keep. Then Jonathan said, "I pray that the LORD will take revenge on your descendants if they break our promise."
17Jonathan thought as much of David as he did of himself, so he asked David to promise once more that he would be a loyal friend. 18After this Jonathan said:
Tomorrow is the New Moon Festival, and people will wonder where you are, because your place will be empty. 19By the day after tomorrow, everyone will think you've been gone a long time. Then go to the place where you hid before and stay beside Going-Away Rock. 20I'll shoot three arrows at a target off to the side of the rock, 21and send my servant to find the arrows.
You'll know if it's safe to come out by what I tell him. If it is safe, I swear by the living LORD that I'll say, "The arrows are on this side of you! Pick them up!" 22But if it isn't safe, I'll say to the boy, "The arrows are farther away!" This will mean that the LORD wants you to leave, and you must go. 23But he will always watch us to make sure that we keep the promise we made to each other.

24So David hid there in the field.
During the New Moon Festival, Saul sat down to eat 25by the wall, just as he always did. Jonathan sat across from him, and Abner sat next to him. But David's place was empty. 26Saul didn't say anything that day, because he was thinking, "Something must have happened to make David unfit to be at the Festival. Yes, something must have happened."
27The day after the New Moon Festival, when David's place was still empty, Saul asked Jonathan, "Why hasn't that son of Jesse come to eat with us? He wasn't here yesterday, and he still isn't here today!"
28-29Jonathan answered, "The reason David hasn't come to eat with you is that he begged me to let him go to Bethlehem. He said, 'Please let me go. My family is offering a sacrifice, and my brother told me I have to be there. Do me this favor and let me slip away to see my brothers.' "
30Saul was furious with Jonathan and yelled, "You're no son of mine, you traitor! I know you've chosen to be loyal to that son of Jesse. You should be ashamed of yourself! And your own mother should be ashamed that you were ever born. 31You'll never be safe, and your kingdom will be in danger as long as that son of Jesse is alive. Turn him over to me now! He deserves to die!"
32"Why do you want to kill David?" Jonathan asked. "What has he done?"
33Saul threw his spear at Jonathan and tried to kill him. Then Jonathan was sure that his father really did want to kill David. 34Jonathan was angry that his father had insulted David so terribly. He got up, left the table, and didn't eat anything all that day.
35In the morning, Jonathan went out to the field to meet David. He took a servant boy along 36and told him, "When I shoot the arrows, you run and find them for me."
The boy started running, and Jonathan shot an arrow so that it would go beyond him. 37When the boy got near the place where the arrow had landed, Jonathan shouted, "Isn't the arrow on past you?" 38Jonathan shouted to him again, "Hurry up! Don't stop!"
The boy picked up the arrows and brought them back to Jonathan, 39but he had no idea about what was going on. Only Jonathan and David knew. 40Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and told him, "Take these back into town."
41After the boy had gone, David got up from beside the mound and bowed very low three times. Then he and Jonathan kissed each other and cried, but David cried louder. 42Jonathan said, "Take care of yourself. And remember, we each have asked the LORD to watch and make sure that we and our descendants keep our promise forever."
David left and Jonathan went back to town.

Psalm 65
[A psalm by David and a song for the music leader.]
God Answers Prayer

1Our God, you deserve praise in Zion,
where we keep our promises to you.
2Everyone will come to you because you answer prayer.
3Our terrible sins get us down, but you forgive us.
4You bless your chosen ones, and you invite them
to live near you in your temple.
We will enjoy your house, the sacred temple.

5Our God, you save us, and your fearsome deeds
answer our prayers for justice!
You give hope to people everywhere on earth,
even those across the sea.
6You are strong,
and your mighty power put the mountains in place.
7You silence the roaring waves
and the noisy shouts of the nations.
8People far away marvel at your fearsome deeds,
and all who live under the sun
celebrate and sing because of you.

9You take care of the earth and send rain
to help the soil grow all kinds of crops.
Your rivers never run dry,
and you prepare the earth to produce much grain.
10You water all of its fields and level the lumpy ground.
You send showers of rain to soften the soil
and help the plants sprout.
11Wherever your footsteps touch the earth,
a rich harvest is gathered.
12Desert pastures blossom, and mountains celebrate.
13Meadows are filled with sheep and goats;
valleys overflow with grain
and echo with joyful songs.

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

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