181 – June 30
1 Samuel 4:1-13
And Samuel’s word went out to all Israel.
In those days the Philistines gathered for war against Israel, so Israel went out to engage the Philistines in war. Israel camped at Ebenezer, while the Philistines camped at Aphek. 2 The Philistines readied themselves to fight Israel. When the battle was joined, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the battlefield. 3 When the troops returned to the camp, Israel’s elders said, “Why did the LORD defeat us today before the Philistines? Let’s bring the chest containing the LORD’s covenant from Shiloh so it can go with us and save us from our enemies’ power.” 4 So the people sent to Shiloh and brought from there the chest containing the covenant of the LORD of heavenly forces, who sits enthroned on the winged heavenly creatures. Eli’s two sons Hophni and Phinehas were there with the chest containing God’s covenant.
5 When the chest containing the LORD’s covenant entered the camp, all Israel let out such a loud shout that the ground shook. 6 When the Philistines heard the sound of that shout, they asked, “What is that loud shouting in the Hebrew camp about?” When they learned that the LORD’s chest had come into the camp, 7 the Philistines were afraid and said, “A god has come into that camp! We’re doomed,” they said, “because nothing like this has ever happened before. 8 We’re doomed! Who will deliver us from the grip of these powerful deities? They are the same gods who struck the Egyptians in the desert with every kind of wound. 9 Pull yourselves together and act like men, Philistines! Otherwise, you’ll serve the Hebrews like they’ve been serving you. Act like men and fight!”
10 So the Philistines fought. Israel was defeated, and everyone fled to their homes. It was a massive defeat: thirty thousand Israelite foot soldiers fell, 11 God’s chest was taken, and Eli’s two sons Hophni and Phinehas died.
12 That very day, a Benjaminite ran from the battle to Shiloh. His clothes were torn, and dirt was on his head. 13 When he got there, Eli was sitting in a chair beside the road, waiting because he was nervous about God’s chest. The man arrived and gave the news to the city, and the whole city cried out.
13 Some time later King Agrippa and Bernice came to Caesarea to pay a visit of welcome to Festus. 14 After they had been there several days, Festus explained Paul’s situation to the king: “There is a man here who was left a prisoner by Felix; 15 and when I went to Jerusalem, the Jewish chief priests and elders brought charges against him and asked me to condemn him. 16 But I told them that we Romans are not in the habit of handing over any who are accused of a crime before they have met their accusers face-to-face and have had the chance of defending themselves against the accusation. 17 When they came here, then, I lost no time, but on the very next day I sat in the judgment court and ordered the man to be brought in. 18 His opponents stood up, but they did not accuse him of any of the evil crimes that I thought they would. 19 All they had were some arguments with him about their own religion and about a man named Jesus, who has died; but Paul claims that he is alive. 20 I was undecided about how I could get information on these matters, so I asked Paul if he would be willing to go to Jerusalem and be tried there on these charges. 21 But Paul appealed; he asked to be kept under guard and to let the Emperor decide his case. So I gave orders for him to be kept under guard until I could send him to the Emperor.”
22 Agrippa said to Festus, “I would like to hear this man myself.” “You will hear him tomorrow,” Festus answered.
23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great pomp and ceremony and entered the audience hall with the military chiefs and the leading men of the city. Festus gave the order, and Paul was brought in. 24 Festus said, “King Agrippa and all who are here with us: You see this man against whom all the Jewish people, both here and in Jerusalem, have brought complaints to me. They scream that he should not live any longer. 25 But I could not find that he had done anything for which he deserved the death sentence. And since he himself made an appeal to the Emperor, I have decided to send him. 26 But I have nothing definite about him to write to the Emperor. So I have brought him here before you—and especially before you, King Agrippa!—so that, after investigating his case, I may have something to write. 27 For it seems unreasonable to me to send a prisoner without clearly indicating the charges against him.”
33 LORD, teach me what your statutes are about,
and I will guard every part of them.
34 Help me understand so I can guard your Instruction
and keep it with all my heart.
35 Lead me on the trail of your commandments
because that is what I want.
36 Turn my heart to your laws,
not to greedy gain.
37 Turn my eyes away from looking at worthless things.
Make me live by your way.
38 Confirm your promise to your servant—
the promise that is for all those who honor you.
39 Remove the insults that I dread
because your rules are good.
40 Look how I desire your precepts!
Make me live by your righteousness.
41 LORD, let your faithful love come to me—
let your salvation come to me according to your promise—
42 so I can have a response for those who mock me
because I have trusted in your word!
43 Please don’t take your true word out of my mouth,
because I have waited for your rules.
44 I will always keep your Instruction,
always and forever!
45 I will walk around in wide-open spaces,
because I have pursued your precepts.
46 I will talk about your laws
before rulers with no shame whatsoever.
47 I will rejoice in your commandments
because I love them.
48 I will lift up my hands to your commandments
because I love them,
and I will contemplate all your statutes.
Comment: the letter he, when added to a verb means to cause. Used in prayer it means, God, cause me to desire your ways, cause me to turn my heart to your ways, etc.
Prayer: Lord, cause me to live your way, and I will rejoice in your commands. Amen.