English Standard Version (ESV)
14 We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.
14 We must all die; we are like water spilled on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God will not take away life, and he devises means so that the banished one will not remain an outcast.
26 Then the Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah, saying, “Is not David hiding himself on the hill of Hachilah, which is on the east of Jeshimon?” 2 So Saul arose and went down to the wilderness of Ziph with three thousand chosen men of Israel to seek David in the wilderness of Ziph. 3 And Saul encamped on the hill of Hachilah, which is beside the road on the east of Jeshimon. But David remained in the wilderness. When he saw that Saul came after him into the wilderness, 4 David sent out spies and learned that Saul had indeed come. 5 Then David rose and came to the place where Saul had encamped. And David saw the place where Saul lay, with Abner the son of Ner, the commander of his army. Saul was lying within the encampment, while the army was encamped around him.
6 Then David said to Ahimelech the Hittite, and to Joab’s brother Abishai the son of Zeruiah, “Who will go down with me into the camp to Saul?” And Abishai said, “I will go down with you.” 7 So David and Abishai went to the army by night. And there lay Saul sleeping within the encampment, with his spear stuck in the ground at his head, and Abner and the army lay around him. 8 Then Abishai said to David, “God has given your enemy into your hand this day. Now please let me pin him to the earth with one stroke of the spear, and I will not strike him twice.” 9 But David said to Abishai, “Do not destroy him, for who can put out his hand against the Lord‘s anointed and be guiltless?”10 And David said, “As the Lord lives, the Lord will strike him, or his day will come to die, or he will go down into battle and perish. 11 The Lordforbid that I should put out my hand against the Lord‘s anointed. But take now the spear that is at his head and the jar of water, and let us go.” 12 So David took the spear and the jar of water from Saul’s head, and they went away. No man saw it or knew it, nor did any awake, for they were all asleep, because a deep sleep from the Lord had fallen upon them.
13 Then David went over to the other side and stood far off on the top of the hill, with a great space between them. 14 And David called to the army, and to Abner the son of Ner, saying, “Will you not answer, Abner?” Then Abner answered, “Who are you who calls to the king?” 15 And David said to Abner, “Are you not a man? Who is like you in Israel? Why then have you not kept watch over your lord the king? For one of the people came in to destroy the king your lord. 16 This thing that you have done is not good. As the Lord lives, you deserve to die, because you have not kept watch over your lord, the Lord‘s anointed. And now see where the king’s spear is and the jar of water that was at his head.”
17 Saul recognized David’s voice and said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And David said, “It is my voice, my lord, O king.” 18 And he said, “Why does my lord pursue after his servant? For what have I done? What evil is on my hands? 19 Now therefore let my lord the king hear the words of his servant. If it is the Lord who has stirred you up against me, may he accept an offering, but if it is men, may they be cursed before the Lord, for they have driven me out this day that I should have no share in the heritage of the Lord, saying, ‘Go, serve other gods.’ 20 Now therefore, let not my blood fall to the earth away from the presence of the Lord, for the king of Israel has come out to seek a single flea like one who hunts a partridge in the mountains.”
21 Then Saul said, “I have sinned. Return, my son David, for I will no more do you harm, because my life was precious in your eyes this day. Behold, I have acted foolishly, and have made a great mistake.” 22 And David answered and said, “Here is the spear, O king! Let one of the young men come over and take it. 23 The Lord rewards every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness, for the Lord gave you into my hand today, and I would not put out my hand against the Lord‘s anointed. 24 Behold, as your life was precious this day in my sight, so may my life be precious in the sight of the Lord, and may he deliver me out of all tribulation.” 25 Then Saul said to David, “Blessed be you, my son David! You will do many things and will succeed in them.” So David went his way, and Saul returned to his place.
9 David asked, “Is there anyone remaining from the family of Saul I can show kindness to for Jonathan’s sake?” 2 There was a servant of Saul’s family named Ziba. They summoned him to David, and the king said to him, “Are you Ziba?”
“I am your servant,” he replied.
3 So the king asked, “Is there anyone left of Saul’s family that I can show the kindness of God to?”
Ziba said to the king, “There is still Jonathan’s son who was injured in both feet.”
4 The king asked him, “Where is he?”
Ziba answered the king, “You’ll find him in Lo-debar at the house of Machir son of Ammiel.” 5 So King David had him brought from the house of Machir son of Ammiel in Lo-debar.
6 Mephibosheth son of Jonathan son of Saul came to David, fell facedown, and paid homage. David said, “Mephibosheth!”
“I am your servant, ” he replied.
7 “Don’t be afraid,” David said to him, “since I intend to show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all your grandfather Saul’s fields, and you will always eat meals at my table.”
8 Mephibosheth paid homage and said, “What is your servant that you take an interest in a dead dog like me?”
9 Then the king summoned Saul’s attendant Ziba and said to him, “I have given to your master’s grandson all that belonged to Saul and his family. 10 You, your sons, and your servants are to work the ground for him, and you are to bring in the crops so your master’s grandson will have food to eat. But Mephibosheth, your master’s grandson, is always to eat at my table.” Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.
11 Ziba said to the king, “Your servant will do all my lord the king commands.”
So Mephibosheth ate at David’s[a] table just like one of the king’s sons. 12 Mephibosheth had a young son whose name was Mica. All those living in Ziba’s house were Mephibosheth’s servants. 13 However, Mephibosheth lived in Jerusalem because he always ate at the king’s table. His feet had been injured.
24 [a] When Saul returned from following the Philistines, he was told, “Behold, David is in the wilderness of Engedi.” 2 Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of all Israel and went to seek David and his men in front of the Wildgoats’ Rocks. 3 And he came to the sheepfolds by the way, where there was a cave, and Saul went in to relieve himself.[b] Now David and his men were sitting in the innermost parts of the cave. 4 And the men of David said to him, “Here is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will give your enemy into your hand, and you shall do to him as it shall seem good to you.’” Then David arose and stealthily cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 5 And afterward David’s heart struck him, because he had cut off a corner of Saul’s robe. 6 He said to his men, “The Lordforbid that I should do this thing to my lord, the Lord‘s anointed, to put out my hand against him, seeing he is the Lord‘s anointed.” 7 So David persuaded his men with these words and did not permit them to attack Saul. And Saul rose up and left the cave and went on his way.
8 Afterward David also arose and went out of the cave, and called after Saul, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked behind him, David bowed with his face to the earth and paid homage. 9 And David said to Saul, “Why do you listen to the words of men who say, ‘Behold, David seeks your harm’? 10 Behold, this day your eyes have seen how the Lord gave you today into my hand in the cave. And some told me to kill you, but I spared you.[c] I said, ‘I will not put out my hand against my lord, for he is the Lord‘s anointed.’ 11 See, my father, see the corner of your robe in my hand. For by the fact that I cut off the corner of your robe and did not kill you, you may know and see that there is no wrong or treason in my hands. I have not sinned against you, though you hunt my life to take it. 12 May the Lord judge between me and you, may the Lord avenge me against you, but my hand shall not be against you. 13 As the proverb of the ancients says, ‘Out of the wicked comes wickedness.’ But my hand shall not be against you. 14 After whom has the king of Israel come out? After whom do you pursue? After a dead dog! After a flea! 15 May the Lord therefore be judge and give sentence between me and you, and see to it and plead my cause and deliver me from your hand.”
16 As soon as David had finished speaking these words to Saul, Saul said, “Is this your voice, my son David?” And Saul lifted up his voice and wept.17 He said to David, “You are more righteous than I, for you have repaid me good, whereas I have repaid you evil. 18 And you have declared this day how you have dealt well with me, in that you did not kill me when the Lord put me into your hands. 19 For if a man finds his enemy, will he let him go away safe? So may the Lord reward you with good for what you have done to me this day.20 And now, behold, I know that you shall surely be king, and that the kingdom of Israel shall be established in your hand. 21 Swear to me therefore by the Lord that you will not cut off my offspring after me, and that you will not destroy my name out of my father’s house.” 22 And David swore this to Saul. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went up to the stronghold.
On Galatians 3-4, the ESV Study Bible comments:
3:6-9 The Gospel in the OT (1): Abraham. Paul issues a second direct appeal to the Galatians: it is not just their own experience of receiving the gospel by faith that should teach them that salvation is not by the law by grace. Rather, the OT example of Abraham also teaches that it is through genuine faith, not the law, that one is counted righteous (see Gen. 15:6).
3:10-14 The Gospel in the OT (2): Leviticus, Deuteronomy, and Habakkuk. Any attempt to be justified by the law leads to a curse, for righteousness comes only by faith in the atoning work of Jesus Christ. All those indwelt by the Holy Spirit enjoy the blessing of Abraham.
4:21-31 The Gospel in the OT (3): Abraham Sons. Paul continues to emphasize the chasm between being a free child of God and being a slave to the law, sin, and false gods. The background to this passage is Genesis 16-17 and 21. Abraham’s son Ishmael–technically the firstborn–represents the slave sons of Abraham and hence the enslaving Sinai covenant, because he was Abraham’s son through the slave woman Hagar. Isaac, on the other hand, represents the free sons of Abraham (see Gal. 3:7, 29).
22 for they did not believe in God
or trust in his deliverance.
23 Yet he gave a command to the skies above
and opened the doors of the heavens;
24 he rained down manna for the people to eat,
he gave them the grain of heaven…
37 their hearts were not loyal to him,
they were not faithful to his covenant.
38 Yet he was merciful;
he forgave their iniquities
and did not destroy them.
Time after time he restrained his anger
and did not stir up his full wrath.
39 He remembered that they were but flesh,
a passing breeze that does not return.
16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more….
For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”
16 Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own. 17 The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David.
18 This is the genealogical record of their ancestor Perez:
Perez was the father of Hezron.
19 Hezron was the father of Ram.
Ram was the father of Amminadab.
20 Amminadab was the father of Nahshon.
Nahshon was the father of Salmon.[a]
21 Salmon was the father of Boaz.
Boaz was the father of Obed.
22 Obed was the father of Jesse.
Jesse was the father of David.
17 Jericho and everything in it must be completely destroyed[a] as an offering to the Lord. Only Rahab the prostitute and the others in her house will be spared, for she protected our spies.
18 “Do not take any of the things set apart for destruction, or you yourselves will be completely destroyed, and you will bring trouble on the camp of Israel. 19 Everything made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron is sacred to the Lord and must be brought into his treasury.”
20 When the people heard the sound of the rams’ horns, they shouted as loud as they could. Suddenly, the walls of Jericho collapsed, and the Israelites charged straight into the town and captured it. 21 They completely destroyed everything in it with their swords—men and women, young and old, cattle, sheep, goats, and donkeys.
22 Meanwhile, Joshua said to the two spies, “Keep your promise. Go to the prostitute’s house and bring her out, along with all her family.”
23 The men who had been spies went in and brought out Rahab, her father, mother, brothers, and all the other relatives who were with her. They moved her whole family to a safe place near the camp of Israel.
24 Then the Israelites burned the town and everything in it. Only the things made from silver, gold, bronze, or iron were kept for the treasury of the Lord’s house. 25 So Joshua spared Rahab the prostitute and her relatives who were with her in the house, because she had hidden the spies Joshua sent to Jericho. And she lives among the Israelites to this day.
26 At that time Joshua invoked this curse:
“May the curse of the Lord fall on anyone
who tries to rebuild the town of Jericho.
At the cost of his firstborn son,
he will lay its foundation.
At the cost of his youngest son,
he will set up its gates.”
27 So the Lord was with Joshua, and his reputation spread throughout the land.
Joshua 6:17 – 27
18 unless, when we come into the land, you bind this line of scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you bring your father, your mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household to your own home. 19 So it shall be that whoever goes outside the doors of your house into the street, his blood shall be on his own head, and we will be guiltless. And whoever is with you in the house, his blood shall be on our head if a hand is laid on him. 20 And if you tell this business of ours, then we will be free from your oath which you made us swear.”
21 Then she said, “According to your words, so be it.” And she sent them away, and they departed. And she bound the scarlet cord in the window.
46 Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer, and put fire from off the altar in it, and lay incense on it, and carry it quickly to the congregation, and make atonement for them; for wrath has gone out from Yahweh! The plague has begun.”
47 Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the middle of the assembly. Behold, the plague has begun among the people. He put on the incense, and made atonement for the people. 48 He stood between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed. 49 Now those who died by the plague were fourteen thousand and seven hundred, besides those who died about the matter of Korah. 50 Aaron returned to Moses to the door of the Tent of Meeting, and the plague was stopped.
3 Yahweh, if You considered sins,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But with You there is forgiveness,
so that You may be revered.
7b For there is faithful love with the Lord,
and with Him is redemption in abundance.
8 And He will redeem Israel
from all its sins.
11 The Lord said to Moses, “How long will these people despise me? How long will they not trust in me despite all the signs I have performed among them? 12 I will strike them with a plague and destroy them. Then I will make you into a greater and mightier nation than they are.”
13 But Moses replied to the Lord, “The Egyptians will hear about it, for by your strength you brought up this people from them. 14 They will tell it to the inhabitants of this land. They have heard that you, Lord, are among these people, how you, Lord, are seen face to face, how your cloud stands over them, and how you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and in a pillar of fire by night. 15 If you kill this people with a single blow,[a] the nations that have heard of your fame will declare, 16 ‘Since the Lord wasn’t able to bring this people into the land he swore to give them, he has slaughtered them in the wilderness.’
17 “So now, may my Lord’s power be magnified just as you have spoken: 18 The Lord is slow to anger and abounding in faithful love, forgiving iniquity and rebellion. But he will not leave the guilty unpunished, bringing the consequences of the fathers’ iniquity on the children to the third and fourth generation. 19 Please pardon the iniquity of this people, in keeping with the greatness of your faithful love, just as you have forgiven them from Egypt until now.”
20 The Lord responded, “I have pardoned them as you requested.
Bible Rank: 188
“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.” NIV
16 Send lambs to the ruler of the land,
from Sela in the desert
to the mountain of Daughter Zion.
2 Like a bird fleeing,
forced from the nest,
the daughters of Moab
will be at the fords of the Arnon.
3 Give us counsel and make a decision.
Shelter us at noonday
with shade that is as dark as night.
Hide the refugees;
do not betray the one who flees.
4 Let my refugees stay with you;
be a refuge for Moab[a] from the aggressor.
When the oppressor has gone,
destruction has ended,
and marauders have vanished from the land,
5 a throne will be established in love,
and one will sit on it faithfully[b]
in the tent of David,
judging and pursuing what is right,
quick to execute justice.
6 We have heard of Moab’s pride—
how very proud he is—
his haughtiness, his pride, his arrogance,
and his empty boasting.
7 Therefore let Moab wail;
let every one of them wail for Moab.
You who are completely devastated, mourn
for the raisin cakes of Kir-hareseth.
8 For Heshbon’s terraced vineyards
and the grapevines of Sibmah have withered.
The rulers of the nations
have trampled its choice vines
that reached as far as Jazer
and spread to the desert.
Their shoots spread out
and reached the sea.
9 So I join with Jazer
to weep for the vines of Sibmah;
I drench Heshbon and Elealeh with my tears.
Triumphant shouts have fallen silent[c]
over your summer fruit and your harvest.
10 Joy and rejoicing have been removed from the orchard;
no one is singing or shouting for joy in the vineyards.
No one tramples grapes[d] in the winepresses.
I have put an end to the shouting.
11 Therefore I moan like the sound of a lyre for Moab,
as does my innermost being for Kir-heres.
12 When Moab appears
and tires himself out on the high place
and comes to his sanctuary to pray,
it will do him no good.
13 This is the message that the Lord previously announced about Moab. 14 And now the Lord says, “In three years, as a hired worker counts years, Moab’s splendor will become an object of contempt, in spite of a very large population. And those who are left will be few and weak.”
Bible Rank: 196
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. NIV
6 In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord seated on a high and lofty throne, and the hem of his robe filled the temple. 2 Seraphim[a] were standing above him; they each had six wings: with two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they flew. 3 And one called to another:
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Armies;
his glory fills the whole earth.
4 The foundations of the doorways shook at the sound of their voices, and the temple was filled with smoke.
5 Then I said:
Woe is me for I am ruined[b]
because I am a man of unclean lips
and live among a people of unclean lips,
and because my eyes have seen the King,
the Lord of Armies.
6 Then one of the seraphim flew to me, and in his hand was a glowing coal that he had taken from the altar with tongs. 7 He touched my mouth with it and said:
Now that this has touched your lips,
your iniquity is removed
and your sin is atoned for.
8 Then I heard the voice of the Lord asking:
Who should I send?
Who will go for us?
Here I am. Send me.
9 And he replied:
Go! Say to these people:
Keep listening, but do not understand;
keep looking, but do not perceive.
10 Make the minds[c] of these people dull;
deafen their ears and blind their eyes;
otherwise they might see with their eyes
and hear with their ears,
understand with their minds,
turn back, and be healed.
11 Then I said, “Until when, Lord?” And he replied:
Until cities lie in ruins without inhabitants,
houses are without people,
the land is ruined and desolate,
12 and the Lord drives the people far away,
leaving great emptiness in the land.
13 Though a tenth will remain in the land,
it will be burned again.
Like the terebinth or the oak
that leaves a stump when felled,
the holy seed is the stump.
20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion,
to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,”
declares the Lord.
21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the Lord. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the Lord.
22 The other men turned and headed toward Sodom, but the Lord remained with Abraham.23 Abraham approached him and said, “Will you sweep away both the righteous and the wicked?24 Suppose you find fifty righteous people living there in the city—will you still sweep it away and not spare it for their sakes? 25 Surely you wouldn’t do such a thing, destroying the righteous along with the wicked. Why, you would be treating the righteous and the wicked exactly the same! Surely you wouldn’t do that! Should not the Judge of all the earth do what is right?”
26 And the Lord replied, “If I find fifty righteous people in Sodom, I will spare the entire city for their sake.”
27 Then Abraham spoke again. “Since I have begun, let me speak further to my Lord, even though I am but dust and ashes. 28 Suppose there are only forty-five righteous people rather than fifty? Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?”
And the Lord said, “I will not destroy it if I find forty-five righteous people there.”
29 Then Abraham pressed his request further. “Suppose there are only forty?”
And the Lord replied, “I will not destroy it for the sake of the forty.”
30 “Please don’t be angry, my Lord,” Abraham pleaded. “Let me speak—suppose only thirty righteous people are found?”
And the Lord replied, “I will not destroy it if I find thirty.”
31 Then Abraham said, “Since I have dared to speak to the Lord, let me continue—suppose there are only twenty?”
And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the twenty.”
32 Finally, Abraham said, “Lord, please don’t be angry with me if I speak one more time. Suppose only ten are found there?”
And the Lord replied, “Then I will not destroy it for the sake of the ten.”
33 When the Lord had finished his conversation with Abraham, he went on his way, and Abraham returned to his tent.
1 The Lord says to my lord:[a]
“Sit at my right hand
until I make your enemies
a footstool for your feet.”
2 The Lord will extend your mighty scepterfrom Zion, saying,
“Rule in the midst of your enemies!”
3 Your troops will be willing
on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy splendor,
your young men will come to you
like dew from the morning’s womb.[b]
4 The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
in the order of Melchizedek.”
5 The Lord is at your right hand[c];
he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
6 He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
7 He will drink from a brook along the way,[d]
and so he will lift his head high.
9 Then Job spoke again:
2 “Yes, I know all this is true in principle.
But how can a person be declared innocent in God’s sight?
3 If someone wanted to take God to court,[a]
would it be possible to answer him even once in a thousand times?
4 For God is so wise and so mighty.
Who has ever challenged him successfully?
5 “Without warning, he moves the mountains,
overturning them in his anger.
6 He shakes the earth from its place,
and its foundations tremble.
7 If he commands it, the sun won’t rise
and the stars won’t shine.
8 He alone has spread out the heavens
and marches on the waves of the sea.
9 He made all the stars—the Bear and Orion,
the Pleiades and the constellations of the southern sky.
10 He does great things too marvelous to understand.
He performs countless miracles.
11 “Yet when he comes near, I cannot see him.
When he moves by, I do not see him go.
12 If he snatches someone in death, who can stop him?
Who dares to ask, ‘What are you doing?’
13 And God does not restrain his anger.
Even the monsters of the sea[b] are crushed beneath his feet.
14 “So who am I, that I should try to answer God
or even reason with him?
15 Even if I were right, I would have no defense.
I could only plead for mercy.
16 And even if I summoned him and he responded,
I’m not sure he would listen to me.
17 For he attacks me with a storm
and repeatedly wounds me without cause.
18 He will not let me catch my breath,
but fills me instead with bitter sorrows.
19 If it’s a question of strength, he’s the strong one.
If it’s a matter of justice, who dares to summon him[c] to court?
20 Though I am innocent, my own mouth would pronounce me guilty.
Though I am blameless, it[d] would prove me wicked.
21 “I am innocent,
but it makes no difference to me—
I despise my life.
22 Innocent or wicked, it is all the same to God.
That’s why I say, ‘He destroys both the blameless and the wicked.’
23 When a plague[e] sweeps through,
he laughs at the death of the innocent.
24 The whole earth is in the hands of the wicked,
and God blinds the eyes of the judges.
If he’s not the one who does it, who is?
25 “My life passes more swiftly than a runner.
It flees away without a glimpse of happiness.
26 It disappears like a swift papyrus boat,
like an eagle swooping down on its prey.
27 If I decided to forget my complaints,
to put away my sad face and be cheerful,
28 I would still dread all the pain,
for I know you will not find me innocent, O God.
29 Whatever happens, I will be found guilty.
So what’s the use of trying?
30 Even if I were to wash myself with soap
and clean my hands with lye,
31 you would plunge me into a muddy ditch,
and my own filthy clothing would hate me.
32 “God is not a mortal like me,
so I cannot argue with him or take him to trial.
33 If only there were a mediator between us,
someone who could bring us together.
34 The mediator could make God stop beating me,
and I would no longer live in terror of his punishment.
35 Then I could speak to him without fear,
but I cannot do that in my own strength.
This morning we begin our exposition of the wonderful book of Romans. Indeed, this is a wonderful book. Some have called it the “Magnum Opus” of all of Paul’s letters. That is, the best of Paul’s writings. It is the longest. And it could easily be argued that it is the best.
Indeed, it is the most theological of all of Paul’s letters. The truths of Romans are grand. Nearly every crucial doctrine of Christianity is addressed. Paul addresses the awful depths of our sin (chapters 1-3). He presents the glorious wonders of our salvation (chapter 3). He details how we are justified by faith and can have peace with God (chapter 4). He describes the imputation of Christ’s righteousness to us (chapter 5). He exhorts us to live righteously (chapter 6). He counsels us in our battle against sin (chapter 7). He comforts us in the secure love of Christ (chapter 8). He explains the sovereignty of God (chapter 9). He urges the priority of missions efforts (chapter 10). He talks of the future of Israel (chapter 11).
But, far from a mere doctrinal letter, the book of Romans is eminently practical. In the second half of the book, Paul describes how those in the church should act toward one another (chapter 12). He tells of how those in the church should act toward outsiders (chapter 13). He pushes for the unity of the church through accepting one another (chapter 14).
Such grand themes have caused many to look at Paul’s letter to the Romans as a sort of systematic theology, as if Paul’s purpose in the letter is to present an organized doctrinal thesis on Christianity. But I think that it’s an error to see it this way. See it as a systematic theology which would lead us into a mere study of theology, rather than grasping Paul’s heart in the letter.
See, Paul isn’t giving us a theology lesson in Romans. Rather, he is giving us a missionary appeal for support. Let me show you what I mean.
Turn with me to chapter 15. My message this morning is going to be an overview of the book. And I think that the best place to begin is in chapter 15. Because, here is where he lays out his major purpose in writing. I want to begin reading in verse 15. It’s here that he turns his attention to those in Rome. He writes, …
But on some points I have written to you very boldly by way of reminder, because of the grace given me by God to be a minister of Christ Jesus to the Gentiles in the priestly service of the gospel of God, so that the offering of the Gentiles may be acceptable, sanctified by the Holy Spirit.
It’s right here that you see Paul’s commission from God to bring the gospel to the Gentiles. This came the very first day of his conversion on the road to Damascus. He was blinded by a light and led into the city (Acts 9:4, 9), where he began to pray (Acts 9:12). While in the city, the Lord appeared to a disciple at Damascus named Ananias (Acts 9:10). The Lord told Ananias that Paul “is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel” (Acts 9:15). And this was communicated to Paul.
And this is what Paul did! Paul was a missionary who carried the name of Jesus to the Gentiles. He carried the name of Jesus to the Jews. He stood before kings and proclaimed the gospel to them.
After Paul was commissioned he spend a decade with the Lord, learning about the Christian faith. And then, His missionary career began. It began with a prayer meeting in Antioch with the leaders of the church. And the Holy Spirit spoke to those who were fasting and praying. He said, …
“Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.”
And so, Barnabas and Saul set out to sea, heading west. You can read about their journey in Acts 13 and 14. He sailed to Cyprus, l to Perga in Pamphylia, then travelled on land to Pisidian Antioch. He then went to Iconium, Lystra, and Derbe, where he was stoned and left for dead. He then went from Derbe, back to Lystra, and back to Iconium.
encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.
In Acts 14:23, we read about the appointment of elders in every city. Then, Paul and Barnabas return by sea to the church in Antioch and “declared all that God had done with them, and how he had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles” (Acts 14:27). That was Paul’s first missionary journey.
After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let us return and visit the brothers in every city where we proclaimed the word of the Lord, and see how they are” (Acts 15:36). There was a dispute between Paul and Barnabas.
So, Paul takes Silas to the cities. This time, he began his journey northward, eventually coming to Derbe, Lystra (where he picks up Timothy), and Iconium He continues on westward, through Phrygia and Galatia. The Holy Spirit forbid them from speaking the word in Asia (south). The Spirit of Jesus prevented them from going into Bithynia (north). He passes by Mysia and ends up at Troas on the coast, where he receives a vision to come to Macedonia (Acts l6:9).
So, he sets sail and lands at Samothrace (an Island). Then, he arrives at Neapolis and journeys on to Philippi, where he started a church. He travelled to Amphipolis, Apolonia, and Thessalonica (where he began another church). From there, he went to Berea, Athens, Corinth (where he spent 18 months) (Acts 18:11), and Ephesus. Finally, he travelled to Caesarea, Jerusalem, and ended in Antioch (Acts 19:23). That was his second missionary journey.
God was using him mightily! He was planting churches. He was seeing people come to Christ! You just can’t keep Paul down. He left again for his third missionary journey. He was a missionary at heart, bringing the gospel to the Gentiles.
He again travels across Asia Minor through the regions of Galatia and Phyrgia, “strengthening all the disciples” (Acts 18:23). And he comes to Ephesus where he remains for three years. And it is here that we read, …
Paul resolved in the Spirit to pass through Macedonia and Achaia and go to Jerusalem, saying, “After I have been there, I must also see Rome.”
And so, he travels through Macedonia, and he arrives in Corinth. It is probably here in Corinth that he pens his letter to the Romans. He writes, …
In Christ Jesus, then, I have reason to be proud of my work for God. For I will not venture to speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me to bring the Gentiles to obedience—by word and deed, by the power of signs and wonders, by the power of the Spirit of God—so that from Jerusalem and all the way around to Illyricum I have fulfilled the ministry of the gospel of Christ; and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written,
“Those who have never been told of him will see,
and those who have never heard will understand.”
And this is why he wants to come to Rome! He wants to preach the gospel where Christ hasn’t yet been named. Christ has been preached in the east, all around Jerusalem and Galatia and Macedonia, but not so much in the west. And here you can see Paul’s heart to reach out to others with the gospel; those who have never heard before.
Now, it’s not that they hadn’t heard the gospel in Rome. Indeed, they had. There was a church there, which had probably been started by some folks who had come to Jerusalem during the days of Pentecost. It says in Acts 2:10 that some had visited Jerusalem from Rome. These people had heard the gospel in Jerusalem, and brought it back to Rome where a church was started. This was the church to which Paul was writing.
But, from Paul’s perspective, there was much more opportunity for the gospel around Rome. And so, he longed to be there.
This is what’s so exciting about my trips to Nepal and India. I get to go to places where the gospel hasn’t really penetrated. Oh, to be sure, the gospel is there. But, the church is in its infancy. For instance, when Yvonne and I went in May to Arunachal, we went to the Bagra village where there is enough Christian presence to have a church, but it is still in its infancy. They just received their translation of the New Testament in 2008 into Galo. And certainly, there are some missionaries there working on the translation of the Old Testament!
But there are whole villages where not a single person is a Christian! Currently, people there are engaged in the worship of the sun! And they need to hear the gospel.
There are some faithful workers there in Arunachal, working hard to bring the gospel to these people. They are praying for them. They are visiting them. They are preaching to them. They are waiting for the Lord to open their hearts to the things of Christ.
It is so different than here in America, where churches are on every corner and where Christianity has been in our country since its founding. But not so in India. And not so in Rome. But, the church there was weak and there was much opportunity for the gospel.
But, Paul’s gaze wasn’t merely upon Rome. His gaze was beyond Rome. Let’s continue reading in Romans 15, …
This is the reason why I have so often been hindered from coming to you. But now, since I no longer have any room for work in these regions, and since I have longed for many years to come to you, I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while. At present, however, I am going to Jerusalem bringing aid to the saints. For Macedonia and Achaia have been pleased to make some contribution for the poor among the saints at Jerusalem. For they were pleased to do it, and indeed they owe it to them. For if the Gentiles have come to share in their spiritual blessings, they ought also to be of service to them in material blessings. When therefore I have completed this and have delivered to them what has been collected, I will leave for Spain by way of you. I know that when I come to you I will come in the fullness of the blessing of Christ.
It is here that we see Paul’s ultimate gaze: Spain. The gospel hadn’t yet gone to Spain yet. In Spain, there was no church, no converts, no contacts. People in the darkness who need to hear the message that the light has dawned (Matthew 4:16).
Here’s Paul’s plan. He has a gift from the churches in Macedonia and Achaia (where he had just been), to help with some famine relief efforts in Jerusalem. He needs to go back and deliver it to the saints in Jerusalem. And then, he’s heading west.
And so, we see Paul’s third missionary journey come to an end as he travels back to Jerusalem. Returning back through Macedonia, setting sail from Philippi (Acts 20:6), he came to Troas, where he spent seven days (Acts 20:6), Wanting to arrive in Jerusalem for Pentecost, he briefly stops in Miletus and has his final farewell to the Ephesian elders who had come to the coast to visit him (Acts 20:17). And he made it to Jerusalem in time for Pentecost, a strategic time of the year. Paul’s plan was to regroup and head west to Spain, through Rome.
Now, in God’s providence, Paul made it to Rome. But, not how he had expected. He came as a prisoner. His crime? Preaching the gospel! He was arrested in the temple under false charges (Acts 21). For his own safety, they transported him to Caesarea, where Paul remained imprisoned for several years. Here, he was able to preach to a couple governors, who had jurisdiction over Israel: Felix (Acts 23) and Festus (Acts 24). He was even able to address King Agrippa (Acts 26).
But, when the rulers wanted to return him to Jerusalem for trail, Paul appealed to Caesar, knowing that he stood no chance in Jerusalem. And so, he was sent by ship to Rome, where he was to stand trial. His trip was adventurous, as they had to dodge a storm. They even shipwrecked in Malta. But, eventually, Paul made it to Rome, as a prisoner for preaching the gospel.
And that’s where the book of Acts ends. It ends with Paul in Rome. He’s under house arrest, …
proclaiming the kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.
Now, we don’t know if he ever made it to Spain or not. There is no evidence that he did. My guess is that he didn’t. But, he wanted to. Why? Because he had this burning passion to preach Christ, where Christ had never been named before!
I tell you all of that for this. You won’t understand Romans unless you understand Paul’s passion to preach the gospel. Paul’s letter to the Romans is a missionary support letter. He wanted the church in Rome to help him in his efforts to preach to bring the gospel to Spain. Look back again at Romans 15.
I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while.
When Paul says that he wants the church in Rome to “help [him] on [his] way.” That’s a polite way of asking for money, for funds to help him bring the gospel to Spain.
The book of Romans is not unlike the sorts of letters that I receive almost every week. Yvonne and I have many missionary friends (some of whom we support financially) who regularly send us letters (or emails). These letters update us on their ministry, telling us of their vision for the future, sharing particular prayer requests, and giving opportunity to send finances their way to help the in the work. These letters are always a joy, as I read them and hear of God’s working in foreign lands.
And then, there are missionaries who are new to us, who want our support. And hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear from someone new going out to the mission field, looking for support. For instance, here’s an email that I just received this past week. It reads in part, …
Dear Church Leader,
I am writing to you, to introduce myself and humbly ask that you consider partnering with me in my work of training national pastors in service of the global church.
I have recently been appointed as an International Trainer with an organization called Training Leaders International (TLI). Our family of five will soon be relocating to Minneapolis where TLI is headquartered. From there I will be leading 5-6 international teaching trips each year to provide theological education to pastors in underserved regions of the world where they have little-to-no access to such teaching.
The need is great. Local pastors and church leaders are eager to learn. Expat missionaries and training schools are requesting our help. Just this month I traveled to … Haiti where we were able to teach 20 local leaders two courses—the Doctrine of God and Biblical Theology. They were thrilled at the opportunity to have two weeks of focused study on these important subjects. …
In 2008, my wife and I then took our three children to Turkey where we served for the last seven years with the International Mission Board. While there, we ministered to Turkish and Kurdish Muslims doing evangelism and pioneer church planting. Due to some medical and educational issues, our family returned stateside this spring, but our hearts are still very much overseas. So we are excited by the opportunity to continue international ministry through TLI.
Because our previous work was fully funded through our denomination, we are now starting from scratch in the effort to raise support. I am writing to ask that your church consider supporting us for the sake of Christ’s name among the nations. If you are interested, I would be happy to set up a time for a call or video conference. I am also planning a trip to northern Illinois in mid-September, so that might provide a great opportunity to meet with you, or another church representative, in person.
Thank you for your consideration, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Grace and peace,
I don’t know this man, but I know his brother. I think he’s worthy of support, as are dozens of other missionaries that I know about and that you might know about. And it’s difficult to know how to give, because the need is so great. And our resources can only go so far.
Regarding missionary support, I often feel like a kid in a candy store who has been given a dollar. He has to figure out how to spend the dollar. The opportunities to purchase candy are endless. There are Snickers and Kit Kats and Almond Joys. There are M&M’s and skittles and bottle caps. There are mild duds and sweet-n-sours and licorice. There are Jawbreakers and Jolly Ranchers and Cadbury Eggs and candy corn and Andes Mints and Bazooka Bubble Gum and gumdrops and Gummi bears and dum dums and smarties and everlasting gobstoppers!
All of these options look good. All of these options are tasty. But I’m a kid, and I only have a dollar. I have to decide how I’m going to spend the dollar.
So it is with missions. The need is great, far beyond our ability to support it all. But, with a heart to give and some means at our disposal, we can support some missionaries. And the book of Romans is a missionary support letter.
Paul is seeking support from those in Rome to help him on his journey to Spain. I don’t think that Paul’s support was simply confined to financial support. When he said (in verse 24), “I hope to see you in passing as I go to Spain, and to be helped on my journey there by you, once I have enjoyed your company for a while” (Romans 15:24), Paul is asking for any kind of help. He is asking for prayer, finances, partners to go with him, support with resources – perhaps someone owned a boat or helped him with clothes or books. He is asking for contacts in Spain, help with the language, help with travel advice, and flat out encouragement. All of these ways of help would have been received gladly by the apostle Paul.
And a great application to us will be next Sunday morning as Bob Clinton comes to be with us along with some faithful laborers from India, Joel and Tara. We have helped Bob Clinton and First Love financially over the years, contributing to the purchase of land and construction of Children’s Homes and church buildings, to supporting children in these homes, supporting with earthquake relief in Nepal, and supporting Bob personally.
We have prayed often for First Love and their work in prayer meeting and from this pulpit. Some of us have traveled to be with them. We have sought to encourage them in the work.
Well, they will be with us next week, sharing the work that they are doing in India and Nepal. We will have a great opportunity to “help them on their way.” And so, I encourage you, when they come to “help them on their way.
In the book of Romans, Paul was seeking help because of his passion for the gospel. The reason why I went through Paul’s missionary journeys was to show you his hear to preach the gospel. But, it’s not only from the book of acts that we get Paul’s passion. It also comes from the text of Romans itself. Turn back to Romans, chapter 1.
I do not want you to be unaware, brothers, that I have often intended to come to you (but thus far have been prevented), in order that I may reap some harvest among you as well as among the rest of the Gentiles. I am under obligation both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to the wise and to the foolish. So I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.
From everything that we know of the apostle Paul, this is entirely consistent. You can see it in his life. You can read it in his words. And I think that’s the primary reason why Paul expounds his theology to the Romans. He says, “Here’s the gospel that I preach. Here’s the gospel that I am eager to preach. Here’s the gospel that I’m bringing to Spain. Will you help me in the work?”
Do you know this gospel? Are you eager to preach this gospel?
I remember hearing a man speak about a conversation that he had with a pastor. This man had asked how the church was doing. The pastor said, “It’s doing great. I just finished preaching through Romans.” And the man replied, “How did it change your church’s evangelistic efforts?” The pastor was a bit confused. This man explained how missions and evangelism is at the heart the book of Romans and how any proper exposition of the book should propel the church in a zeal for the gospel. This pastor’s face sunk. Because he didn’t preach along these lines. He was too concerned with a focus on the wonderful doctrines that he missed the heart of the apostle Paul.
This is my heart and my hope as we work our way through Romans: That it would stir our hearts for the gospel. That we would be eager to preach the gospel. That we would be eager to speak with our friends. That we would be eager to speak with our neighbors. That we would be eager to speak with our relative.
And by God’s grace, I’ll be able to keep the theme alive. And I’m also praying for God to stir my own heart toward evangelism, towards being bold to speak with others about Christ. I’m praying that we might finish with the book of Romans, and that we might be stirred to evangelism in greater ways than ever before.
Here’s my theme for preaching through the book of Romans: “Eager to Preach the Gospel.” It comes straight from verse 15. It talks about Paul’s passion to preach the gospel. It begs the question to all of us, “Are you eager to preach the gospel?” Perhaps you are here this morning and you say, “I don’t even know what the gospel is?”
Let me take you through “The Romans Road,” simply pulling verses from Romans that bring us to the essence of the gospel. If you are wanting to be eager to preach the gospel, these verses might be helpful for you to memorize.
For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.
The wrath of God is revealed against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness.
Nine is righteous, no not one.
For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
But God demonstrates his own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus, our Lord
There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be save.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. 2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
May God make us eager to preach the gospel.
This sermon was delivered to Rock Valley Bible Church on September 4, 2016 by Steve Brandon.
For more information see www.rvbc.cc.
14 Now the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 2 “Speak to the children of Israel, that they turn and camp before Pi Hahiroth, between Migdol and the sea, opposite Baal Zephon; you shall camp before it by the sea. 3 For Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel, ‘They are bewildered by the land; the wilderness has closed them in.’ 4 Then I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, so that he will pursue them; and I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, that the Egyptians may know that I am the Lord.” And they did so.
5 Now it was told the king of Egypt that the people had fled, and the heart of Pharaoh and his servants was turned against the people; and they said, “Why have we done this, that we have let Israel go from serving us?” 6 So he made ready his chariot and took his people with him. 7 Also, he took six hundred choice chariots, and all the chariots of Egypt with captains over every one of them. 8 And the Lord hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued the children of Israel; and the children of Israel went out with boldness. 9 So the Egyptians pursued them, all the horses and chariots of Pharaoh, his horsemen and his army, and overtook them camping by the sea beside Pi Hahiroth, before Baal Zephon.
10 And when Pharaoh drew near, the children of Israel lifted their eyes, and behold, the Egyptians marched after them. So they were very afraid, and the children of Israel cried out to the Lord. 11 Then they said to Moses, “Because there were no graves in Egypt, have you taken us away to die in the wilderness? Why have you so dealt with us, to bring us up out of Egypt? 12 Is this not the word that we told you in Egypt, saying, ‘Let us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than that we should die in the wilderness.”
13 And Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which He will accomplish for you today. For the Egyptians whom you see today, you shall see again no more forever. 14 The Lord will fight for you, and you shall hold your peace.”
15 And the Lord said to Moses, “Why do you cry to Me? Tell the children of Israel to go forward. 16 But lift up your rod, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it. And the children of Israel shall go on dry ground through the midst of the sea. 17 And I indeed will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them. So I will gain honor over Pharaoh and over all his army, his chariots, and his horsemen. 18 Then the Egyptians shall know that I am the Lord, when I have gained honor for Myself over Pharaoh, his chariots, and his horsemen.”
19 And the Angel of God, who went before the camp of Israel, moved and went behind them; and the pillar of cloud went from before them and stood behind them. 20 So it came between the camp of the Egyptians and the camp of Israel. Thus it was a cloud and darkness to the one, and it gave light by night to the other, so that the one did not come near the other all that night.
21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and the Lord caused the sea to go back by a strong east wind all that night, and made the sea into dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 So the children of Israel went into the midst of the sea on the dry ground, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 23 And the Egyptians pursued and went after them into the midst of the sea, all Pharaoh’s horses, his chariots, and his horsemen.
24 Now it came to pass, in the morning watch, that the Lord looked down upon the army of the Egyptians through the pillar of fire and cloud, and He troubled the army of the Egyptians. 25 And He took off[a] their chariot wheels, so that they drove them with difficulty; and the Egyptians said, “Let us flee from the face of Israel, for the Lord fights for them against the Egyptians.”
26 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Stretch out your hand over the sea, that the waters may come back upon the Egyptians, on their chariots, and on their horsemen.” 27 And Moses stretched out his hand over the sea; and when the morning appeared, the sea returned to its full depth, while the Egyptians were fleeing into it. So the Lord overthrew the Egyptians in the midst of the sea. 28 Then the waters returned and covered the chariots, the horsemen, and all the army of Pharaoh that came into the sea after them. Not so much as one of them remained. 29 But the children of Israel had walked on dry land in the midst of the sea, and the waters were a wall to them on their right hand and on their left.
30 So the Lord saved Israel that day out of the hand of the Egyptians, and Israel saw the Egyptians dead on the seashore. 31 Thus Israel saw the great work which the Lord had done in Egypt; so the people feared the Lord, and believed the Lord and His servant Moses.
“and the altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the altar shall become holy.”
Exodus 29:37 b,c
2 Why do the nations rage[a]
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
3 “Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.”
4 He who sits in the heavens laughs;
the Lord holds them in derision.
5 Then he will speak to them in his wrath,
and terrify them in his fury, saying,
6 “As for me, I have set my King
on Zion, my holy hill.”
7 I will tell of the decree:
The Lord said to me, “You are my Son;
today I have begotten you.
8 Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage,
and the ends of the earth your possession.
9 You shall break[b] them with a rod of iron
and dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”
10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise;
be warned, O rulers of the earth.
11 Serve the Lord with fear,
and rejoice with trembling.
12 Kiss the Son,
lest he be angry, and you perish in the way,
for his wrath is quickly kindled.
Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
28 The rings of the breastpiece are to be tied to the rings of the ephod with blue cord, connecting it to the waistband, so that the breastpiece will not swing out from the ephod.
29 “Whenever Aaron enters the Holy Place, he will bear the names of the sons of Israel over his heart on the breastpiece of decision as a continuing memorial before the Lord.
38 It will be on Aaron’s forehead, and he will bear the guilt involved in the sacred gifts the Israelites consecrate, whatever their gifts may be. It will be on Aaron’s forehead continually so that they will be acceptable to the Lord.
4 “Now you son of man, get yourself a brick, place it before you and inscribe a city on it, Jerusalem. 2 Then lay siege against it, build a siege wall, [a]raise up a ramp, pitch camps and place battering rams against it all around. 3 Then get yourself an iron plate and set it up as an iron wall between you and the city, and set your face toward it so that it is under siege, and besiege it. This is a sign to the house of Israel.
4 “As for you, lie down on your left side and lay the iniquity of the house of Israel on it; you shall bear their iniquity for the number of days that you lie on it. 5 For I have assigned you a number of days corresponding to the years of their iniquity, three hundred and ninety days; thus you shall bear the iniquity of the house of Israel. 6 When you have completed these, you shall lie down a second time, but on your right side and bear the iniquity of the house of Judah; I have assigned it to you for forty days, a day for each year. 7 Then you shall set your face toward the siege of Jerusalem with your arm bared and prophesy against it. 8 Now behold, I will put ropes on you so that you cannot turn from one side to the other until you have completed the days of your siege.
9 “But as for you, take wheat, barley, beans, lentils, millet and spelt, put them in one vessel and make them into bread for yourself; you shall eat it according to the number of the days that you lie on your side, three hundred and ninety days.10 Your food which you eat shall be twenty shekels a day by weight; you shall eat it from time to time. 11 The water you drink shall be the sixth part of a hin by measure; you shall drink it from time to time. 12 You shall eat it as a barley cake, having baked it in their sight over human dung.” 13 Then the Lord said, “Thus will the sons of Israel eat their bread unclean among the nations where I will banish them.” 14 But I said, “Ah, Lord [b]God! Behold, I have never been defiled; for from my youth until now I have never eaten what died of itself or was torn by beasts, nor has any unclean meat ever entered my mouth.” 15 Then He said to me, “See, I will give you cow’s dung in place of human dung over which you will prepare your bread.” 16 Moreover, He said to me, “Son of man, behold, I am going to break the staff of bread in Jerusalem, and they will eat bread by weight and with anxiety, and drink water by measure and in horror, 17 because bread and water will be scarce; and they will be appalled with one another and waste away in their iniquity.
For zeal for Your house has consumed Me, and the reproaches of those who reproach You have fallen on Me.
Zeal for [your name here] has consumed Me and the reproaches of [name again] have fallen on Me.
23 My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing to You,
And my soul, which You have redeemed.
24 My tongue also shall talk of Your righteousness all the day long;
18 David now mustered the men who were with him and appointed generals and captains[a] to lead them. 2 He sent the troops out in three groups, placing one group under Joab, one under Joab’s brother Abishai son of Zeruiah, and one under Ittai, the man from Gath. The king told his troops, “I am going out with you.”
3 But his men objected strongly. “You must not go,” they urged. “If we have to turn and run—and even if half of us die—it will make no difference to Absalom’s troops; they will be looking only for you. You are worth 10,000 of us,[b] and it is better that you stay here in the town and send help if we need it.”
4 “If you think that’s the best plan, I’ll do it,” the king answered. So he stood alongside the gate of the town as all the troops marched out in groups of hundreds and of thousands.
5 And the king gave this command to Joab, Abishai, and Ittai: “For my sake, deal gently with young Absalom.” And all the troops heard the king give this order to his commanders.
6 So the battle began in the forest of Ephraim,7 and the Israelite troops were beaten back by David’s men. There was a great slaughter that day, and 20,000 men laid down their lives. 8 The battle raged all across the countryside, and more men died because of the forest than were killed by the sword.
9 During the battle, Absalom happened to come upon some of David’s men. He tried to escape on his mule, but as he rode beneath the thick branches of a great tree, his hair[c] got caught in the tree. His mule kept going and left him dangling in the air. 10 One of David’s men saw what had happened and told Joab, “I saw Absalom dangling from a great tree.”
11 “What?” Joab demanded. “You saw him there and didn’t kill him? I would have rewarded you with ten pieces of silver[d] and a hero’s belt!”
12 “I would not kill the king’s son for even a thousand pieces of silver,[e]” the man replied to Joab. “We all heard the king say to you and Abishai and Ittai, ‘For my sake, please spare young Absalom.’ 13 And if I had betrayed the king by killing his son—and the king would certainly find out who did it—you yourself would be the first to abandon me.”
14 “Enough of this nonsense,” Joab said. Then he took three daggers and plunged them into Absalom’s heart as he dangled, still alive, in the great tree. 15 Ten of Joab’s young armor bearers then surrounded Absalom and killed him.
16 Then Joab blew the ram’s horn, and his men returned from chasing the army of Israel. 17 They threw Absalom’s body into a deep pit in the forest and piled a great heap of stones over it. And all Israel fled to their homes.
18 During his lifetime, Absalom had built a monument to himself in the King’s Valley, for he said, “I have no son to carry on my name.” He named the monument after himself, and it is known as Absalom’s Monument to this day.
19 Then Zadok’s son Ahimaaz said, “Let me run to the king with the good news that the Lord has rescued him from his enemies.”
20 “No,” Joab told him, “it wouldn’t be good news to the king that his son is dead. You can be my messenger another time, but not today.”
21 Then Joab said to a man from Ethiopia,[f] “Go tell the king what you have seen.” The man bowed and ran off.
22 But Ahimaaz continued to plead with Joab, “Whatever happens, please let me go, too.”
“Why should you go, my son?” Joab replied. “There will be no reward for your news.”
23 “Yes, but let me go anyway,” he begged.
Joab finally said, “All right, go ahead.” So Ahimaaz took the less demanding route by way of the plain and ran to Mahanaim ahead of the Ethiopian.
24 While David was sitting between the inner and outer gates of the town, the watchman climbed to the roof of the gateway by the wall. As he looked, he saw a lone man running toward them. 25 He shouted the news down to David, and the king replied, “If he is alone, he has news.”
As the messenger came closer, 26 the watchman saw another man running toward them. He shouted down, “Here comes another one!”
The king replied, “He also will have news.”
27 “The first man runs like Ahimaaz son of Zadok,” the watchman said.
“He is a good man and comes with good news,” the king replied.
28 Then Ahimaaz cried out to the king, “Everything is all right!” He bowed before the king with his face to the ground and said, “Praise to the Lord your God, who has handed over the rebels who dared to stand against my lord the king.”
29 “What about young Absalom?” the king demanded. “Is he all right?”
Ahimaaz replied, “When Joab told me to come, there was a lot of commotion. But I didn’t know what was happening.”
30 “Wait here,” the king told him. So Ahimaaz stepped aside.
31 Then the man from Ethiopia arrived and said, “I have good news for my lord the king. Today the Lord has rescued you from all those who rebelled against you.”
32 “What about young Absalom?” the king demanded. “Is he all right?”
And the Ethiopian replied, “May all of your enemies, my lord the king, both now and in the future, share the fate of that young man!”
33 [g]The king was overcome with emotion. He went up to the room over the gateway and burst into tears. And as he went, he cried, “O my son Absalom! My son, my son Absalom! If only I had died instead of you! O Absalom, my son, my son.”
19 [a]Word soon reached Joab that the king was weeping and mourning for Absalom. 2 As all the people heard of the king’s deep grief for his son, the joy of that day’s victory was turned into deep sadness. 3 They crept back into the town that day as though they were ashamed and had deserted in battle. 4 The king covered his face with his hands and kept on crying, “O my son Absalom! O Absalom, my son, my son!”