June 18 - Mark 4.1-20, 2 Samuel 9-10 and Daniel 5
A Story about a Farmer
3Now listen! A farmer went out to scatter seed in a field. 4While the farmer was scattering the seed, some of it fell along the road and was eaten by birds. 5Other seeds fell on thin, rocky ground and quickly started growing because the soil wasn't very deep. 6But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched and dried up, because they did not have enough roots. 7Some other seeds fell where thornbushes grew up and choked out the plants. So they did not produce any grain. 8But a few seeds did fall on good ground where the plants grew and produced thirty or sixty or even a hundred times as much as was scattered.
9Then Jesus said, "If you have ears, pay attention."
Why Jesus Used Stories
I have explained the secret about God's kingdom to you, but for others I can use only stories. 12The reason is,
"These people will look and look, but never see.
They will listen and listen, but never understand.
If they did, they would turn to God,
and he would forgive them."
Jesus Explains the Story about the Farmer
If you don't understand this story, you won't understand any others. 14What the farmer is spreading is really the message about the kingdom. 15The seeds that fell along the road are the people who hear the message. But Satan soon comes and snatches it away from them. 16The seeds that fell on rocky ground are the people who gladly hear the message and accept it right away. 17But they don't have any roots, and they don't last very long. As soon as life gets hard or the message gets them in trouble, they give up.
18The seeds that fell among the thornbushes are also people who hear the message. 19But they start worrying about the needs of this life. They are fooled by the desire to get rich and to have all kinds of other things. So the message gets choked out, and they never produce anything. 20The seeds that fell on good ground are the people who hear and welcome the message. They produce thirty or sixty or even a hundred times as much as was planted.
David Is Kind to Mephibosheth2 Samuel 9 One day, David thought, "I wonder if any of Saul's family are still alive. If they are, I will be kind to them, because I made a promise to Jonathan." 2David called in Ziba, one of the servants of Saul's family. David said, "So you are Ziba."
"Yes, Your Majesty, I am."
3David asked, "Are any of Saul's family still alive? If there are, I want to be kind to them."
Ziba answered, "One of Jonathan's sons is still alive, but he can't walk."
4"Where is he?" David asked.
Ziba replied, "He lives in Lo-Debar with Machir the son of Ammiel."
5-6David sent some servants to bring Jonathan's son from Lo-Debar. His name was Mephibosheth, and he was the grandson of Saul. He came to David and knelt down.
David asked, "Are you Mephibosheth?"
"Yes, I am, Your Majesty."
7David said, "Don't be afraid. I'll be kind to you because Jonathan was your father. I'm going to give you back the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul. Besides that, you will always eat with me at my table."
8Mephibosheth knelt down again and said, "Why should you care about me? I'm worth no more than a dead dog."
9David called in Ziba, Saul's chief servant, and told him, "Since Mephibosheth is Saul's grandson, I've given him back everything that belonged to your master Saul and his family. 10You and your fifteen sons and twenty servants will work for Mephibosheth. You will farm his land and bring in his crops, so that Saul's family and servants will have food. But Mephibosheth will always eat with me at my table."
11-13Ziba replied, "Your Majesty, I will do exactly what you tell me to do." So Ziba's family and servants worked for Mephibosheth.
Mephibosheth was lame, but he lived in Jerusalem and ate at David's table, just like one of David's own sons. And he had a young son of his own, named Mica.
Israel Fights Ammon
3But Hanun's officials told him, "Do you really believe David is honoring your father by sending these people to comfort you? He probably sent them to spy on our city, so he can destroy it." 4Hanun arrested David's officials and had their beards shaved off on one side of their faces. He had their robes cut off just below the waist, and then he sent them away. 5They were terribly ashamed.
When David found out what had happened to his officials, he sent a message and told them, "Stay in Jericho until your beards grow back. Then you can come home."
6The Ammonites realized that they had made David very angry, so they hired more foreign soldiers. Twenty thousand of them were foot soldiers from the Aramean cities of Beth-Rehob and Zobah, one thousand were from the king of Maacah, and twelve thousand were from the region of Tob. 7David heard what they had done, and he sent out Joab with all of his well-trained soldiers.
8The Ammonite troops came out and got ready to fight in front of the gate to their city. The Arameans from Zobah and Rehob and the soldiers from Tob and Maacah formed a separate group in the nearby fields.
9Joab saw that he had to fight in front and behind at the same time, and he picked some of the best Israelite soldiers to fight the Arameans. 10He put his brother Abishai in command of the rest of the army and had them fight the Ammonites. 11Joab told his brother, "If the Arameans are too much for me to handle, you can come and help me. If the Ammonites are too strong for you, I'll come and help you. 12Be brave and fight hard to protect our people and the cities of our God. I pray that the LORD will do whatever pleases him."
13Joab and his soldiers attacked the Arameans, and the Arameans ran from them. 14When the Ammonite soldiers saw that the Arameans had run away, they ran from Abishai's soldiers and went back into their own city. Joab stopped fighting the Ammonites and returned to Jerusalem.
15The Arameans realized they had lost the battle, so they brought all their troops together again. 16Hadadezer sent messengers to call in the Arameans who were on the other side of the Euphrates River. Then Shobach, the commander of Hadadezer's army, led them to the town of Helam.
17David found out what the Arameans were doing, and he brought Israel's whole army together. They crossed the Jordan River and went to Helam, where the Arameans were ready to meet them. 18The Arameans attacked, but then they ran from Israel. David killed seven hundred chariot drivers and forty thousand cavalry. He also killed Shobach, their commander.
19When the kings who had been under Hadadezer's rule saw that Israel had beaten them, they made peace with Israel and accepted David as their ruler. The Arameans were afraid to help Ammon any more.
King Belshazzar's BanquetDaniel 5 One evening, King Belshazzar gave a great banquet for a thousand of his highest officials, and he drank wine with them. 2He got drunk and ordered his servants to bring in the gold and silver cups his father Nebuchadnezzar had taken from the temple in Jerusalem. Belshazzar wanted the cups, so that he and all his wives and officials could drink from them.
3-4When the gold cups were brought in, everyone at the banquet drank from them and praised their idols made of gold, silver, bronze, iron, wood, and stone.
5Suddenly a human hand was seen writing on the plaster wall of the palace. The hand was just behind the lampstand, and the king could see it writing. 6He was so frightened that his face turned pale, his knees started shaking, and his legs became weak.
7The king called in his advisors, who claimed they could talk with the spirits of the dead and understand the meanings found in the stars. He told them, "The man who can read this writing and tell me what it means will become the third most powerful man in my kingdom. He will wear robes of royal purple and a gold chain around his neck."
8All of King Belshazzar's highest officials came in, but not one of them could read the writing or tell what it meant, 9and they were completely puzzled. Now the king was more afraid than ever before, and his face turned white as a ghost.
10When the queen heard the king and his officials talking, she came in and said:
Your Majesty, I hope you live forever! Don't be afraid or look so pale. 11In your kingdom there is a man who has been given special powers by the holy gods. When your father Nebuchadnezzar was king, this man was known to be as smart, intelligent, and wise as the gods themselves. Your father put him in charge of all who claimed they could talk with the spirits or understand the meanings in the stars or tell about the future. 12He also changed the man's name from Daniel to Belteshazzar. Not only is he wise and intelligent, but he can explain dreams and riddles and solve difficult problems. Send for Daniel, and he will tell you what the writing means.
13When Daniel was brought in, the king said:
So you are Daniel, one of the captives my father brought back from Judah! 14I was told that the gods have given you special powers and that you are intelligent and very wise. 15Neither my advisors nor the men who talk with the spirits of the dead could read this writing or tell me what it means. 16But I have been told that you understand everything and that you can solve difficult problems. Now then, if you can read this writing and tell me what it means, you will become the third most powerful man in my kingdom. You will wear royal purple robes and have a gold chain around your neck.
Your Majesty, I will read the writing and tell you what it means. But you may keep your gifts or give them to someone else. 18Sir, the Most High God made your father a great and powerful man and brought him much honor and glory. 19God did such great things for him that people of all nations and races shook with fear.
Your father had the power of life or death over everyone, and he could honor or ruin anyone he chose. 20But when he became proud and stubborn, his glorious kingdom was taken from him. 21His mind became like that of an animal, and he was forced to stay away from people and live with wild donkeys. Your father ate grass like an ox, and he slept outside where his body was soaked with dew. He was forced to do this until he learned that the Most High God rules all kingdoms on earth and chooses their kings.
22King Belshazzar, you knew all of this, but you still refused to honor the Lord who rules from heaven. 23Instead, you turned against him and ordered the cups from his temple to be brought here, so that you and your wives and officials could drink wine from them. You praised idols made of silver, gold, bronze, iron, wood, and stone, even though they cannot see or hear or think. You refused to worship the God who gives you breath and controls everything you do. 24That's why he sent the hand to write this message on the wall.
25-28The words written there are mene, which means "numbered," tekel, which means "weighed," and parsin, which means "divided." God has numbered the days of your kingdom and has brought it to an end. He has weighed you on his balance scales, and you fall short of what it takes to be king. So God has divided your kingdom between the Medes and the Persians.
29Belshazzar gave a command for Daniel to be made the third most powerful man in his kingdom and to be given a purple robe and a gold chain.
30That same night, the king was killed. 31Then Darius the Mede, who was sixty-two years old, took over his kingdom.
This reading is from The
Holy Bible, Contemporary English Version, copyright © American
Bible Society, 1995.
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