Reading #1 – Joshua 20
Reading #2 – Psalms 145
Reading #3 – Proverbs 2
Reading #4 – John 18
Reading #5 – 2 Samuel 21
Joshua 20 – Cities of Refuge. The Lord G_d commanded that these cities be established to protect the individual who accidentally caused the death of another person (Deuteronomy 4:41-43). The family of the slain individual could not go after the slayer until he or she stood trial. The person seeking refuge would have to stay in the city until the death of the High Priest. These cities were set apart for all the Israelites as well as the foreigners living among them. Anyone who accidentally killed another person could take refuge in one of these cities. In this way, they could escape being killed in revenge before standing trial before the local assembly (9).
2 Samuel 21 – David Avenges the Gibeonites. During the latter part of David’s reign, a famine occurred that lasted three years. David did the only thing he knew how to do and that was to seek G_d’s face. David was told how Saul in his zeal for G_d tried to wipe out the Gibeonites whom Joshua and the leadership had agreed to protect. When we make before G_d no matter how much pain it may cause us, we are held responsible for it. Saul was dead and no amount of money would ever bring the dead men back to life. So let seven of Saul’s sons be handed over to us, and we will execute them before the LORD at Gibeon, on the mountain of the LORD (6). A parallel to this would be Solomon’s response to Lord G_d’s question “What do you want? Ask, and I will give it to you (1 Kings 3:4-8)!” In David’s youth, he had killed the Philistine giant Goliath and the Philistine’s had not forgotten it. Now David is over 80 years old and no longer the spry fierce warrior. The giant had almost killed David had it not been for the support of his valiant warriors.
Psalms 145 – A Psalm of Praise. When I consider all that G_d has done in and through mankind, all I can do is lift my hands in praise to him. I will exalt you, my God and King, and praise your name forever and ever. I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever. Great is the LORD! He is most worthy of praise! No one can measure his greatness (1-3). So, how can we show G_d how thankful we are? What can we bring to the LORD? Should we bring him burnt offerings? Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God (Micah 6:6-8).
Proverbs 2 – Wisdom Our Ally. Life offers many venues and choices. Discerning which venue or choice is good or bad for us is difficult because each is offered in pristine or mint condition. Only when we go down the road offered do we understand how foolish it was to follow it or how much it would bless our life. Unfortunately, many of the choices we need to make require casting the dice and trusting the Lord G_d. There are other choices, like adultery, that we have a clear piece of scripture to follow. Wisdom will save you from evil people, from those whose words are twisted. These men turn from the right way to walk down dark paths. They take pleasure in doing wrong, and they enjoy the twisted ways of evil. Their actions are crooked, and their ways are wrong. Wisdom will save you from the immoral woman, from the seductive words of the promiscuous woman (12-16).
John 18 – Jesus is Betrayed and Arrested. The final hour had come and Judas had played his role unwittingly. Interestingly, Jesus was still in command though he was arrested and tried by the Sanhedrin. In the previous 3 books, the reader is led to believe that the arrest was a simple matter but John’s testimony points out how the captors were “slain in the spirit”. If I were taking Jesus into captivity with the soldiers, I would respect Jesus and be careful of overstepping my bounds. Peter’s denial is understandable because amid the storm our first fear is always for our safety. Before the storm(s) we proudly proclaim that we will go into the gates of Hell for Jesus without one time considering the cost or the implications of our choice. In the end, only one of the 12 went with Jesus into the courtroom because he was known to the Sanhedrin.