June 5 - Romans 11.1-24, 1 Samuel 20 and Psalm 65
God's Mercy on IsraelRomans 11 I ask, then: Did God reject his own people? Certainly not! I myself am an Israelite, a descendant of Abraham, a member of the tribe of Benjamin. 2God has not rejected his people, whom he chose from the beginning. You know what the scripture says in the passage where Elijah pleads with God against Israel: 3"Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me." 4What answer did God give him? "I have kept for myself seven thousand men who have not worshiped the false god Baal." 5It is the same way now: there is a small number left of those whom God has chosen because of his grace. 6His choice is based on his grace, not on what they have done. For if God's choice were based on what people do, then his grace would not be real grace.
7What then? The people of Israel did not find what they were looking for. It was only the small group that God chose who found it; the rest grew deaf to God's call. 8As the scripture says, "God made their minds and hearts dull; to this very day they cannot see or hear." 9And David says,
"May they be caught and trapped at their feasts;
may they fall, may they be punished!
10May their eyes be blinded so that they cannot see;
and make them bend under their troubles at all times."
11I ask, then: When the Jews stumbled, did they fall to their ruin? By no means! Because they sinned, salvation has come to the Gentiles, to make the Jews jealous of them. 12The sin of the Jews brought rich blessings to the world, and their spiritual poverty brought rich blessings to the Gentiles. Then, how much greater the blessings will be when the complete number of Jews is included!
The Salvation of the Gentiles13I am speaking now to you Gentiles: As long as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I will take pride in my work. 14Perhaps I can make the people of my own race jealous, and so be able to save some of them. 15For when they were rejected, all other people were changed from God's enemies into his friends. What will it be, then, when they are accepted? It will be life for the dead!
16If the first piece of bread is given to God, then the whole loaf is his also; and if the roots of a tree are offered to God, the branches are his also. 17Some of the branches of the cultivated olive tree have been broken off, and a branch of a wild olive tree has been joined to it. You Gentiles are like that wild olive tree, and now you share the strong spiritual life of the Jews. 18So then, you must not despise those who were broken off like branches. How can you be proud? You are just a branch; you don't support the roots--the roots support you.
19But you will say, "Yes, but the branches were broken off to make room for me." 20That is true. They were broken off because they did not believe, while you remain in place because you do believe. But do not be proud of it; instead, be afraid. 21God did not spare the Jews, who are like natural branches; do you think he will spare you? 22Here we see how kind and how severe God is. He is severe toward those who have fallen, but kind to you--if you continue in his kindness. But if you do not, you too will be broken off. 23And if the Jews abandon their unbelief, they will be put back in the place where they were; for God is able to do that. 24You Gentiles are like the branch of a wild olive tree that is broken off and then, contrary to nature, is joined to a cultivated olive tree. The Jews are like this cultivated tree; and it will be much easier for God to join these broken-off branches to their own tree again.
Jonathan Helps David1 Samuel 20 Then David fled from Naioth in Ramah and went to Jonathan. "What have I done?" he asked. "What crime have I committed? What wrong have I done to your father to make him want to kill me?"
2Jonathan answered, "God forbid that you should die! My father tells me everything he does, important or not, and he would not hide this from me. It just isn't so!"
3But David answered, "Your father knows very well how much you like me, and he has decided not to let you know what he plans to do, because you would be deeply hurt. I swear to you by the living LORD that I am only a step away from death!"
4Jonathan said, "I'll do anything you want."
5"Tomorrow is the New Moon Festival," David replied, "and I am supposed to eat with the king. But if it's all right with you, I will go and hide in the fields until the evening of the day after tomorrow. 6If your father notices that I am not at the table, tell him that I begged your permission to hurry home to Bethlehem, since it's the time for the annual sacrifice there for my whole family. 7If he says, 'All right,' I will be safe; but if he becomes angry, you will know that he is determined to harm me. 8Please do me this favor, and keep the sacred promise you made to me. But if I'm guilty, kill me yourself ! Why take me to your father to be killed?"
9"Don't even think such a thing!" Jonathan answered. "If I knew for sure that my father was determined to harm you, wouldn't I tell you?"
10David then asked, "Who will let me know if your father answers you angrily?"
11"Let's go out to the fields," Jonathan answered. So they went, 12and Jonathan said to David, "May the LORD God of Israel be our witness! At this time tomorrow and on the following day I will question my father. If his attitude toward you is good, I will send you word. 13If he intends to harm you, may the LORD strike me dead if I don't let you know about it and get you safely away. May the LORD be with you as he was with my father! 14And if I remain alive, please keep your sacred promise and be loyal to me; but if I die, 15show the same kind of loyalty to my family forever. And when the LORD has completely destroyed all your enemies, 16may our promise to each other still be unbroken. If it is broken, the LORD will punish you."
17Once again Jonathan made David promise to love him, for Jonathan loved David as much as he loved himself. 18Then Jonathan said to him, "Since tomorrow is the New Moon Festival, your absence will be noticed if you aren't at the meal. 19The day after tomorrow your absence will be noticed even more; so go to the place where you hid yourself the other time, and hide behind the pile of stones there. 20I will then shoot three arrows at it, as though it were a target. 21Then I will tell my servant to go and find them. And if I tell him, 'Look, the arrows are on this side of you; get them,' that means that you are safe and can come out. I swear by the living LORD that you will be in no danger. 22But if I tell him, 'The arrows are on the other side of you,' then leave, because the LORD is sending you away. 23As for the promise we have made to each other, the LORD will make sure that we will keep it forever."
24So David hid in the fields. At the New Moon Festival, King Saul came to the meal 25and sat in his usual place by the wall. Abner sat next to him, and Jonathan sat across the table from him. David's place was empty, 26but Saul said nothing that day, because he thought, "Something has happened to him, and he is not ritually pure." 27On the following day, the day after the New Moon Festival, David's place was still empty, and Saul asked Jonathan, "Why didn't David come to the meal either yesterday or today?"
28Jonathan answered, "He begged me to let him go to Bethlehem. 29'Please let me go,' he said, 'because our family is celebrating the sacrificial feast in town, and my brother ordered me to be there. So then, if you are my friend, let me go and see my relatives.' That is why he isn't in his place at your table."
30Saul became furious with Jonathan and said to him, "How rebellious and faithless your mother was! Now I know you are taking sides with David and are disgracing yourself and that mother of yours! 31Don't you realize that as long as David is alive, you will never be king of this country? Now go and bring him here--he must die!"
32"Why should he die?" Jonathan replied. "What has he done?"
33At that, Saul threw his spear at Jonathan to kill him, and Jonathan realized that his father was really determined to kill David. 34Jonathan got up from the table in a rage and ate nothing that day--the second day of the New Moon Festival. He was deeply distressed about David, because Saul had insulted him. 35The following morning Jonathan went to the fields to meet David, as they had agreed. He took a young boy with him 36and said to him, "Run and find the arrows I'm going to shoot." The boy ran, and Jonathan shot an arrow beyond him. 37When the boy reached the place where the arrow had fallen, Jonathan shouted to him, "The arrow is farther on! 38Don't just stand there! Hurry up!" The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master, 39not knowing what it all meant; only Jonathan and David knew. 40Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and told him to take them back to town.
41After the boy had left, David got up from behind the pile of stones, fell on his knees and bowed with his face to the ground three times. Both he and Jonathan were crying as they kissed each other; David's grief was even greater than Jonathan's. 42Then Jonathan said to David, "God be with you. The LORD will make sure that you and I, and your descendants and mine, will forever keep the sacred promise we have made to each other." Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.
Praise and ThanksgivingPsalm 65 O God, it is right for us to praise you in Zion
and keep our promises to you,
2because you answer prayers.
People everywhere will come to you
3on account of their sins.
Our faults defeat us,
but you forgive them.
4Happy are those whom you choose,
whom you bring to live in your sanctuary.
We shall be satisfied with the good things of your house,
the blessings of your sacred Temple.
5You answer us by giving us victory,
and you do wonderful things to save us.
People all over the world
and across the distant seas trust in you.
6You set the mountains in place by your strength,
showing your mighty power.
7You calm the roar of the seas
and the noise of the waves;
you calm the uproar of the peoples.
8The whole world stands in awe
of the great things that you have done.
Your deeds bring shouts of joy
from one end of the earth to the other.
9You show your care for the land by sending rain;
you make it rich and fertile.
You fill the streams with water;
you provide the earth with crops.
This is how you do it:
10you send abundant rain on the plowed fields
and soak them with water;
you soften the soil with showers
and cause the young plants to grow.
11What a rich harvest your goodness provides!
Wherever you go there is plenty.
12The pastures are filled with flocks;
the hillsides are full of joy.
13The fields are covered with sheep;
the valleys are full of wheat.
Everything shouts and sings for joy.
This reading is from The Holy
Bible, Today's English Version, Second Edition copyright © American
Bible Society, 1992;
Old Testament copyright © American Bible Society, 1976, 1992; New Testament © American Bible Society, 1966, 1971, 1976, 1992.
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