Not a good sleeping night and up early. Too early!
Yesterday, and the day before, were chilly and rainy and gray. Tomorrow and Monday are expected to be the same. Today is predicted to be, if not warm and toasty, relatively sunny and a bit warmer. We'll take it. Next-door niece and her husband, also her brother the nephew and his wife, and, perhaps, all their kids, are tentatively going to some sort of automotive swap meet get-together and the fairgrounds of the county south of here. Supposed to be A Big Deal. Probably that means they'll leave their dog -- a beagle -- outside all day, and he'll bark at every flying bird, medium-sized bug, and kids walking down the street. So we hope to spend some time out doors, but it probably won't be all that quiet. But we'll take it. After six months of being tucked into our cave, any time seeing the sun and being out of the cave is quite welcome.
Not exactly a life on the Riviera or cruises up and down the Rhine, but it could be worse. We've both known worse, sometimes FAR worse. We're thankful for every blessing.
The Old Testament reading is chapters 23 and 24 of 2nd Samuel. This completes the two books of Samuel.
The story of David is drawing to a close, but not quite yet. And there are troubles remaining, but in the course of that, we see the marking of the location that will, later, become the center of the Temple that David's descendants will build. A location that is, to this very day, a focus of bloody conflicts. Conflicts that, barring the Lord's return, will continue past my lifetime. Yes, it matters.
Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said,
The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.
The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.
And he shall be as the light of the morning, when the sun riseth, even a morning without clouds; as the tender grass springing out of the earth by clear shining after rain.
Although my house be not so with God; yet he hath made with me an everlasting covenant, ordered in all things, and sure: for this is all my salvation, and all my desire, although he make it not to grow.
But the sons of Belial shall be all of them as thorns thrust away, because they cannot be taken with hands:
But the man that shall touch them must be fenced with iron and the staff of a spear; and they shall be utterly burned with fire in the same place.
These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time.
And after him was Eleazar the son of Dodo the Ahohite, one of the three mighty men with David, when they defied the Philistines that were there gathered together to battle, and the men of Israel were gone away:
He arose, and smote the Philistines until his hand was weary, and his hand clave unto the sword: and the LORD wrought a great victory that day; and the people returned after him only to spoil.
And after him was Shammah the son of Agee the Hararite. And the Philistines were gathered together into a troop, where was a piece of ground full of lentils: and the people fled from the Philistines.
But he stood in the midst of the ground, and defended it, and slew the Philistines: and the LORD wrought a great victory.
And three of the thirty chief went down, and came to David in the harvest time unto the cave of Adullam: and the troop of the Philistines pitched in the valley of Rephaim.
And David was then in an hold, and the garrison of the Philistines was then in Bethlehem.
And David longed, and said, Oh that one would give me drink of the water of the well of Bethlehem, which is by the gate!
And the three mighty men brake through the host of the Philistines, and drew water out of the well of Bethlehem, that was by the gate, and took it, and brought it to David: nevertheless he would not drink thereof, but poured it out unto the LORD.
And he said, Be it far from me, O LORD, that I should do this: is not this the blood of the men that went in jeopardy of their lives? therefore he would not drink it. These things did these three mighty men.
And Abishai, the brother of Joab, the son of Zeruiah, was chief among three. And he lifted up his spear against three hundred, and slew them, and had the name among three.
Was he not most honorable of three? therefore he was their captain: howbeit he attained not unto the first three.
And Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, the son of a valiant man, of Kabzeel, who had done many acts, he slew two lionlike men of Moab: he went down also and slew a lion in the midst of a pit in time of snow:
And he slew an Egyptian, a goodly man: and the Egyptian had a spear in his hand; but he went down to him with a staff, and plucked the spear out of the Egyptian's hand, and slew him with his own spear.
These things did Benaiah the son of Jehoiada, and had the name among three mighty men.
He was more honorable than the thirty, but he attained not to the first three. And David set him over his guard.
Asahel the brother of Joab was one of the thirty; Elhanan the son of Dodo of Bethlehem,
Shammah the Harodite, Elika the Harodite,
Helez the Paltite, Ira the son of Ikkesh the Tekoite,
Abiezer the Anethothite, Mebunnai the Hushathite,
Zalmon the Ahohite, Maharai the Netophathite,
Heleb the son of Baanah, a Netophathite, Ittai the son of Ribai out of Gibeah of the children of Benjamin,
Benaiah the Pirathonite, Hiddai of the brooks of Gaash,
Abialbon the Arbathite, Azmaveth the Barhumite,
Eliahba the Shaalbonite, of the sons of Jashen, Jonathan,
Shammah the Hararite, Ahiam the son of Sharar the Hararite,
Eliphelet the son of Ahasbai, the son of the Maachathite, Eliam the son of Ahithophel the Gilonite,
Hezrai the Carmelite, Paarai the Arbite,
Igal the son of Nathan of Zobah, Bani the Gadite,
Zelek the Ammonite, Nahari the Beerothite, armourbearer to Joab the son of Zeruiah,
Ira an Ithrite, Gareb an Ithrite,
Uriah the Hittite: thirty and seven in all.
And again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he moved David against them to say, Go, number Israel and Judah.
For the king said to Joab the captain of the host, which was with him, Go now through all the tribes of Israel, from Dan even to Beersheba, and number ye the people, that I may know the number of the people.
And Joab said unto the king, Now the LORD thy God add unto the people, how many soever they be, an hundredfold, and that the eyes of my lord the king may see it: but why doth my lord the king delight in this thing?
Notwithstanding the king's word prevailed against Joab, and against the captains of the host. And Joab and the captains of the host went out from the presence of the king, to number the people of Israel.
And they passed over Jordan, and pitched in Aroer, on the right side of the city that lieth in the midst of the river of Gad, and toward Jazer:
Then they came to Gilead, and to the land of Tahtimhodshi; and they came to Danjaan, and about to Zidon,
And came to the strong hold of Tyre, and to all the cities of the Hivites, and of the Canaanites: and they went out to the south of Judah, even to Beersheba.
So when they had gone through all the land, they came to Jerusalem at the end of nine months and twenty days.
And Joab gave up the sum of the number of the people unto the king: and there were in Israel eight hundred thousand valiant men that drew the sword; and the men of Judah were five hundred thousand men.
And David's heart smote him after that he had numbered the people. And David said unto the LORD, I have sinned greatly in that I have done: and now, I beseech thee, O LORD, take away the iniquity of thy servant; for I have done very foolishly.
For when David was up in the morning, the word of the LORD came unto the prophet Gad, David's seer, saying,
Go and say unto David, Thus saith the LORD, I offer thee three things; choose thee one of them, that I may do it unto thee.
So Gad came to David, and told him, and said unto him, Shall seven years of famine come unto thee in thy land? or wilt thou flee three months before thine enemies, while they pursue thee? or that there be three days' pestilence in thy land? now advise, and see what answer I shall return to him that sent me.
And David said unto Gad, I am in a great strait: let us fall now into the hand of the LORD; for his mercies are great: and let me not fall into the hand of man.
So the LORD sent a pestilence upon Israel from the morning even to the time appointed: and there died of the people from Dan even to Beersheba seventy thousand men.
And when the angel stretched out his hand upon Jerusalem to destroy it, the LORD repented him of the evil, and said to the angel that destroyed the people, It is enough: stay now thine hand. And the angel of the LORD was by the threshingplace of Araunah the Jebusite.
And David spake unto the LORD when he saw the angel that smote the people, and said, Lo, I have sinned, and I have done wickedly: but these sheep, what have they done? let thine hand, I pray thee, be against me, and against my father's house.
And Gad came that day to David, and said unto him, Go up, rear an altar unto the LORD in the threshingfloor of Araunah the Jebusite.
And David, according to the saying of Gad, went up as the LORD commanded.
And Araunah looked, and saw the king and his servants coming on toward him: and Araunah went out, and bowed himself before the king on his face upon the ground.
And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the LORD, that the plague may be stayed from the people.
And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood.
All these things did Araunah, as a king, give unto the king. And Araunah said unto the king, The LORD thy God accept thee.
And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver.
And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel.
The New Testament reading is verses 31-53 in the 22nd chapter of the Gospel of Luke.
This is intense. The Last Supper has been concluded, now Jesus is praying in the Garden of Gethsemane, and then the soldiers come to arrest him. After Judas points Him out.
And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat:
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.
And he said unto him, Lord, I am ready to go with thee, both into prison, and to death.
And he said, I tell thee, Peter, the cock shall not crow this day, before that thou shalt thrice deny that thou knowest me.
And he said unto them, When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, lacked ye any thing? And they said, Nothing.
Then said he unto them, But now, he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise his scrip: and he that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one.
For I say unto you, that this that is written must yet be accomplished in me, And he was reckoned among the transgressors: for the things concerning me have an end.
And they said, Lord, behold, here are two swords. And he said unto them, It is enough.
And he came out, and went, as he was wont, to the mount of Olives; and his disciples also followed him.
And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.
And he was withdrawn from them about a stone's cast, and kneeled down, and prayed,
Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.
And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.
And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.
And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,
And said unto them, Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.
And while he yet spake, behold a multitude, and he that was called Judas, one of the twelve, went before them, and drew near unto Jesus to kiss him.
But Jesus said unto him, Judas, betrayest thou the Son of man with a kiss?
When they which were about him saw what would follow, they said unto him, Lord, shall we smite with the sword?
And one of them smote the servant of the high priest, and cut off his right ear.
And Jesus answered and said, Suffer ye thus far. And he touched his ear, and healed him.
Then Jesus said unto the chief priests, and captains of the temple, and the elders, which were come to him, Be ye come out, as against a thief, with swords and staves?
When I was daily with you in the temple, ye stretched forth no hands against me: but this is your hour, and the power of darkness.