Day 227 – August 15
1 Samuel 30:1-16
Three days later, David and his soldiers reached Ziklag. The Amalekites had raided the arid southern plain and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it down, 2 taking the women and everyone in the city prisoner, whether young or old.[a] They hadn’t killed anyone but carried them off and went on their way. 3 When David and his soldiers got to the town and found it burned down, and their wives, their sons, and their daughters taken prisoner, 4 David and the troops with him broke into tears and cried until they could cry no more. 5 David’s two wives had been captured as well: Ahinoam from Jezreel and Abigail, Nabal’s widow from Carmel.
6 David was in deep trouble because the troops were talking about stoning him. Each of the soldiers was deeply distressed about their sons and daughters. But David found strength in the LORD his God. 7 David said to the priest Abiathar, Ahimelech’s son, “Bring the priestly vest[b] to me.” So Abiathar brought it to David.
8 Then David asked the LORD, “Should I go after this raiding party? Will I catch them?” “Yes, go after them!” God answered. “You will definitely catch them and will succeed in the rescue!”
9 So David set off with six hundred men. They came to the Besor ravine, where some stayed behind. 10 David and four hundred men continued the pursuit, while two hundred men stayed there, too exhausted to cross the Besor ravine.
11 They found an Egyptian in the countryside and brought him to David. They gave him bread, and he ate, and they gave him water to drink. 12 They also gave him a piece of fig cake and two raisin cakes. He ate and regained his strength because he hadn’t eaten any food or drunk any water for three days and nights. 13 Then David asked him, “Whose slave are you? Where do you come from?”
“I’m an Egyptian servant boy,” he said, “and the slave of an Amalekite. My master abandoned me when I got sick three days ago. 14 We had raided the arid southern plain belonging to the Cherethites, the territory belonging to Judah, and the southern plain of Caleb. We also burned Ziklag down.” 15 “Can you guide me to this raiding party?” David asked him. “Make a pledge to me by God that you won’t kill me or hand me over to my master,” the boy said, “and I will guide you to the raiding party.”
16 So the boy led David to them, and he found them scattered all over the countryside, eating, drinking, and celebrating over the large amount of plunder they had taken from Philistine and Judean territory.
Comment: if you, like I, still struggle with David in Philistine territory. The words of scholar Walter Brueggemann may be helpful regarding “David’s Philistine Venture: David is operating as a free-lance warrior pursuing his own ends. David gambles for high stakes in his Philistine venture. He risks his political future in Israel by standing in solidarity with the feared and hated Philistines. David is an endlessly inventive make to make such a gamble work.” Quoted from Brueggemann, First and Second Samuel, Interpretation Bible Commentary, page 188-189.
Gospel of Luke 2:36-52
36 There was also a prophet, Anna the daughter of Phanuel, who belonged to the tribe of Asher. She was very old. After she married, she lived with her husband for seven years. 37 She was now an 84-year-old widow. She never left the temple area but worshipped God with fasting and prayer night and day. 38 She approached at that very moment and began to praise God and to speak about Jesus to everyone who was looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.
39 When Mary and Joseph had completed everything required by the Law of the Lord, they returned to their hometown, Nazareth in Galilee. 40 The child grew up and became strong. He was filled with wisdom, and God’s favor was on him.
41 Each year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Passover Festival. 42 When he was 12 years old, they went up to Jerusalem according to their custom. 43 After the festival was over, they were returning home, but the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem. His parents didn’t know it. 44 Supposing that he was among their band of travelers, they journeyed on for a full day while looking for him among their family and friends. 45 When they didn’t find Jesus, they returned to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple. He was sitting among the teachers, listening to them and putting questions to them. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed by his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were shocked.
His mother said, “Child, why have you treated us like this? Listen! Your father and I have been worried. We’ve been looking for you!” 49 Jesus replied, “Why were you looking for me? Didn’t you know that it was necessary for me to be in my Father’s house?” 50 But they didn’t understand what he said to them. 51 Jesus went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. His mother cherished every word in her heart. 52 Jesus matured in wisdom and years, and in favor with God and with people.
12 Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that what has happened to me has actually served to advance the gospel. 13 As a result, it has become clear throughout the whole palace guard and to everyone else that I am in chains for Christ. 14 And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.
15 It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill. 16 The latter do so out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. 17 The former preach Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely, supposing that they can stir up trouble for me while I am in chains. 18 But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.
Yes, and I will continue to rejoice, 19 for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. 20 I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22 If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! 23 I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far; 24 but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.
Comment: think of this letter from Paul as a letter from a friend you receive in the mail, even though 1st Century letters carried a different type of weight than regular post today. It is not a gospel, with a series of stories set out with a purpose. It is a personal letter, it was not meant to be published. It is an open window into a pastor’s heart. Paul was writing from a prison cell, perhaps in Rome, but as a prisoner of the state listen to Paul’s words of concern for the church, not for himself.
Prayer: with hearts full of your Spirit dear Lord, no matter our circumstances, we pray for your church. Amen.