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24 June 2017 Bible Reading

Elisha was the disciple of the prophet Elijah. He followed Elijah from the moment they met, when Elisha was a young man, plowing his father’s field near Abel-mecholah in northern Israel. Elisha saw Elijah disappear in a fiery chariot, going to Heaven without dying first. Elisha carried on the work of Elijah, teaching people about God, bringing relief in times of trouble, and teaching them to be kind and charitable.

In today’s reading from the 142nd Psalm, we read of David’s cry for help. It tells of how his enemies have set a trap, how he feels alone and exhausted. He prays for rescue. The last two verses are the vow of praise, made after receiving an assurance of divine help.

2 Kings 6-7:20
6 The sons of the prophets said to Elisha, “See now, the place where we live and meet with you is too small for us. 2 Please let us go to the Jordan, and each man take a beam from there, and let us make us a place there, where we may live.”
He answered, “Go!”
3 One said, “Please be pleased to go with your servants.”
He answered, “I will go.” 4 So he went with them. When they came to the Jordan, they cut down wood. 5 But as one was cutting down a tree, the ax head fell into the water. Then he cried, and said, “Alas, my master! For it was borrowed.”
6 The man of God asked, “Where did it fall?” He showed him the place. He cut down a stick, threw it in there, and made the iron float. 7 He said, “Take it.” So he put out his hand and took it.
8 Now the king of Syria was at war against Israel; and he took counsel with his servants, saying, “My camp will be in such and such a place.”
9 The man of God sent to the king of Israel, saying, “Beware that you not pass this place; for the Syrians are coming down there.” 10 The king of Israel sent to the place which the man of God told him and warned him of; and he saved himself there, not once or twice. 11 The king of Syria’s heart was very troubled about this. He called his servants, and said to them, “Won’t you show me which of us is for the king of Israel?”
12 One of his servants said, “No, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.”
13 He said, “Go and see where he is, that I may send and get him.”
He was told, “Behold, he is in Dothan.”
14 Therefore he sent horses, chariots, and a great army there. They came by night, and surrounded the city. 15 When the servant of the man of God had risen early, and gone out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was around the city. His servant said to him, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?”
16 He answered, “Don’t be afraid; for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” 17 Elisha prayed, and said, “Yahweh, please open his eyes, that he may see.” Yahweh opened the young man’s eyes; and he saw: and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire around Elisha. 18 When they came down to him, Elisha prayed to Yahweh, and said, “Please strike this people with blindness.”
He struck them with blindness according to Elijah’s word. 19 Elisha said to them, “This is not the way, neither is this the city. Follow me, and I will bring you to the man whom you seek.” He led them to Samaria. 20 When they had come into Samaria, Elisha said, “Yahweh, open these men’s eyes, that they may see.”
Yahweh opened their eyes, and they saw; and behold, they were in the middle of Samaria. 21 The king of Israel said to Elisha, when he saw them, “My father, shall I strike them? Shall I strike them?”
22 He answered, “You shall not strike them. Would you strike those whom you have taken captive with your sword and with your bow? Set bread and water before them, that they may eat and drink, and go to their master.”
23 He prepared great feast for them. When they had eaten and drunk, he sent them away, and they went to their master. So the bands of Syria stopped raiding the land of Israel.
24 After this, Benhadad king of Syria gathered all his army, and went up and besieged Samaria. 25 There was a great famine in Samaria. Behold, they besieged it, until a donkey’s head was sold for eighty pieces of silver, and the fourth part of a kab of dove’s dung for five pieces of silver. 26 As the king of Israel was passing by on the wall, a woman cried to him, saying, “Help, my lord, O king!”
27 He said, “If Yahweh doesn’t help you, where could I get help for you? From of the threshing floor, or from the wine press?” 28 The king said to her, “What is your problem?”
She answered, “This woman said to me, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him today, and we will eat my son tomorrow.’ 29 So we boiled my son, and ate him: and I said to her on the next day, ‘Give your son, that we may eat him;’ and she has hidden her son.”
30 When the king heard the words of the woman, he tore his clothes. Now he was passing by on the wall, and the people looked, and behold, he had sackcloth underneath on his body. 31 Then he said, “God do so to me, and more also, if the head of Elisha the son of Shaphat stays on him today.”
32 But Elisha was sitting in his house, and the elders were sitting with him. Then the king sent a man from before him; but before the messenger came to him, he said to the elders, “Do you see how this son of a murderer has sent to take away my head? Behold, when the messenger comes, shut the door, and hold the door shut against him. Isn’t the sound of his master’s feet behind him?”
33 While he was still talking with them, behold, the messenger came down to him. Then he said, “Behold, this evil is from Yahweh. Why should I wait for Yahweh any longer?”
7 Elisha said, “Hear Yahweh’s word. Yahweh says, ‘Tomorrow about this time a seah of fine flour will be sold for a shekel, and two seahs of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria.’”
2 Then the captain on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God, and said, “Behold, if Yahweh made windows in heaven, could this thing be?”
He said, “Behold, you will see it with your eyes, but will not eat of it.”
3 Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate. They said to one another, “Why do we sit here until we die? 4 If we say, ‘We will enter into the city,’ then the famine is in the city, and we will die there. If we sit still here, we also die. Now therefore come, and let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they save us alive, we will live; and if they kill us, we will only die.”
5 They rose up in the twilight, to go to the camp of the Syrians. When they had come to the outermost part of the camp of the Syrians, behold, no man was there. 6 For the Lord had made the army of the Syrians to hear the sound of chariots, and the sound of horses, even the noise of a great army; and they said to one another, “Behold, the king of Israel has hired against us the kings of the Hittites and the kings of the Egyptians to attack us.” 7 Therefore they arose and fled in the twilight, and left their tents, and their horses, and their donkeys, even the camp as it was, and fled for their life. 8 When these lepers came to the outermost part of the camp, they went into one tent, and ate and drink, and carried away silver, gold, and clothing, and went and hid it. Then they came back, and entered into another tent, and carried things from there also, and went and hid them. 9 Then they said to one another, “We aren’t doing right. Today is a day of good news, and we keep silent. If we wait until the morning light, punishment will overtake us. Now therefore come, let’s go and tell the king’s household.”
10 So they came and called to the city gatekeepers; and they told them, “We came to the camp of the Syrians, and, behold, there was no man there, not even a man’s voice, but the horses tied, and the donkeys tied, and the tents as they were.”
11 He called the gatekeepers; and they told it to the king’s household within. 12 The king arose in the night, and said to his servants, “I will now show you what the Syrians have done to us. They know that we are hungry. Therefore are they gone out of the camp to hide themselves in the field, saying, ‘When they come out of the city, we shall take them alive, and get into the city.’”
13 One of his servants answered, “Please let some people take five of the horses that remain, which are left in the city. Behold, they are like all the multitude of Israel who are left in it. Behold, they are like all the multitude of Israel who are consumed. Let us send and see.”
14 Therefore they took two chariots with horses; and the king them sent out to the Syrian army, saying, “Go and see.”
15 They went after them to the Jordan; and behold, all the path was full of garments and equipment which the Syrians had cast away in their haste. The messengers returned, and told the king. 16 The people went out and plundered the camp of the Syrians. So a seah of fine flour was sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, according to Yahweh’s word. 17 The king appointed the captain on whose hand he leaned to be in charge of the gate; and the people trampled over him in the gate, and he died as the man of God had said, who spoke when the king came down to him. 18 It happened as the man of God had spoken to the king, saying, “Two seahs of barley for a shekel, and a seah of fine flour for a shekel, shall be tomorrow about this time in the gate of Samaria”; 19 and that captain answered the man of God, and said, “Now, behold, if Yahweh made windows in heaven, might such a thing be?” and he said, “Behold, you will see it with your eyes, but will not eat of it.” 20 It happened like that to him; for the people trampled over him in the gate, and he died.

Acts 15:36-16:15
36 After some days Paul said to Barnabas, “Let’s return now and visit our brothers in every city in which we proclaimed the word of the Lord, to see how they are doing.” 37 Barnabas planned to take John, who was called Mark, with them also. 38 But Paul didn’t think that it was a good idea to take with them someone who had withdrawn from them in Pamphylia, and didn’t go with them to do the work. 39 Then the contention grew so sharp that they separated from each other. Barnabas took Mark with him, and sailed away to Cyprus, 40 but Paul chose Silas, and went out, being commended by the brothers to the grace of God. 41 He went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the assemblies.
16 He came to Derbe and Lystra: and behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewess who believed; but his father was a Greek. 2 The brothers who were at Lystra and Iconium gave a good testimony about him. 3 Paul wanted to have him go out with him, and he took and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those parts; for they all knew that his father was a Greek. 4 As they went on their way through the cities, they delivered the decrees to them to keep which had been ordained by the apostles and elders who were at Jerusalem. 5 So the assemblies were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.
6 When they had gone through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia. 7 When they had come opposite Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit didn’t allow them. 8 Passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. 9 A vision appeared to Paul in the night. There was a man of Macedonia standing, begging him, and saying, “Come over into Macedonia and help us.” 10 When he had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go out to Macedonia, concluding that the Lord had called us to preach the Good News to them. 11 Setting sail therefore from Troas, we made a straight course to Samothrace, and the day following to Neapolis; 12 and from there to Philippi, which is a city of Macedonia, the foremost of the district, a Roman colony. We were staying some days in this city.
13 On the Sabbath day we went outside of the city by a riverside, where we supposed there was a place of prayer, and we sat down, and spoke to the women who had come together. 14 A certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, one who worshiped God, heard us; whose heart the Lord opened to listen to the things which were spoken by Paul. 15 When she and her household were baptized, she begged us, saying, “If you have judged me to be faithful to the Lord, come into my house, and stay.” So she persuaded us.

Psalm 142:1-7
A contemplation by David, when he was in the cave. A Prayer.
142 I cry with my voice to Yahweh.
With my voice, I ask Yahweh for mercy.
2 I pour out my complaint before him.
I tell him my troubles.
3 When my spirit was overwhelmed within me,
you knew my route.
On the path in which I walk,
they have hidden a snare for me.
4 Look on my right, and see;
for there is no one who is concerned for me.
Refuge has fled from me.
No one cares for my soul.
5 I cried to you, Yahweh.
I said, “You are my refuge,
my portion in the land of the living.”
6 Listen to my cry,
for I am in desperate need.
deliver me from my persecutors,
For they are stronger than me.
7 Bring my soul out of prison,
that I may give thanks to your name.
The righteous will surround me,
for you will be good to me.

Proverbs 17:24-25
24 Wisdom is before the face of one who has understanding,
but the eyes of a fool wander to the ends of the earth.
25 A foolish son brings grief to his father,
and bitterness to her who bore him.

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