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First Reading: Deuteronomy Chapter 31 and 32

Deuteronomy 31

31:1 Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel: 2 "I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The LORD has said to me, 'You shall not cross the Jordan.' 3 The LORD your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the LORD said. 4 And the LORD will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land. 5 The LORD will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you."
7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance. 8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."
9 So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel. 10 Then Moses commanded them: "At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Feast of Tabernacles, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people — men, women and children, and the aliens living in your towns — so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law. 13 Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess."
14 The LORD said to Moses, "Now the day of your death is near. Call Joshua and present yourselves at the Tent of Meeting, where I will commission him." So Moses and Joshua came and presented themselves at the Tent of Meeting.
15 Then the LORD appeared at the Tent in a pillar of cloud, and the cloud stood over the entrance to the Tent. 16 And the LORD said to Moses: "You are going to rest with your fathers, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them. 17 On that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and difficulties will come upon them, and on that day they will ask, 'Have not these disasters come upon us because our God is not with us?' 18 And I will certainly hide my face on that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods.
19 "Now write down for yourselves this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them. 20 When I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, the land I promised on oath to their forefathers, and when they eat their fill and thrive, they will turn to other gods and worship them, rejecting me and breaking my covenant. 21 And when many disasters and difficulties come upon them, this song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten by their descendants. I know what they are disposed to do, even before I bring them into the land I promised them on oath." 22 So Moses wrote down this song that day and taught it to the Israelites.
23 The LORD gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: "Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you."
24 After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from beginning to end, 25 he gave this command to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD: 26 "Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God. There it will remain as a witness against you. 27 For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the LORD while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die! 28 Assemble before me all the elders of your tribes and all your officials, so that I can speak these words in their hearing and call heaven and earth to testify against them. 29 For I know that after my death you are sure to become utterly corrupt and to turn from the way I have commanded you. In days to come, disaster will fall upon you because you will do evil in the sight of the LORD and provoke him to anger by what your hands have made."
30 And Moses recited the words of this song from beginning to end in the hearing of the whole assembly of Israel:

Deuteronomy 32

Listen, O heavens, and I will speak;hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. 2 Let my teaching fall like rain and my words descend like dew,like showers on new grass,like abundant rain on tender plants.
3 I will proclaim the name of the LORD.Oh, praise the greatness of our God! 4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect,and all his ways are just.A faithful God who does no wrong,upright and just is he.
5 They have acted corruptly toward him;to their shame they are no longer his children,but a warped and crooked generation. 6 Is this the way you repay the LORD,O foolish and unwise people?Is he not your Father, your Creator, who made you and formed you?
7 Remember the days of old;consider the generations long past.Ask your father and he will tell you,your elders, and they will explain to you. 8 When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,when he divided all mankind,he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel. 9 For the LORD's portion is his people,Jacob his allotted inheritance.
10 In a desert land he found him,in a barren and howling waste.He shielded him and cared for him;he guarded him as the apple of his eye, 11 like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young,that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them on its pinions. 12 The LORD alone led him;no foreign god was with him.
13 He made him ride on the heights of the land and fed him with the fruit of the fields.He nourished him with honey from the rock,and with oil from the flinty crag, 14 with curds and milk from herd and flock and with fattened lambs and goats,with choice rams of Bashan and the finest kernels of wheat.You drank the foaming blood of the grape.
15 Jeshurun grew fat and kicked;filled with food, he became heavy and sleek.He abandoned the God who made him and rejected the Rock his Savior. 16 They made him jealous with their foreign gods and angered him with their detestable idols. 17 They sacrificed to demons, which are not God — gods they had not known,gods that recently appeared,gods your fathers did not fear. 18 You deserted the Rock, who fathered you;you forgot the God who gave you birth.
19 The LORD saw this and rejected them because he was angered by his sons and daughters. 20 "I will hide my face from them," he said,"and see what their end will be;for they are a perverse generation,children who are unfaithful. 21 They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols.I will make them envious by those who are not a people;I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding. 22 For a fire has been kindled by my wrath,one that burns to the realm of death below.It will devour the earth and its harvests and set afire the foundations of the mountains.
23 "I will heap calamities upon them and spend my arrows against them. 24 I will send wasting famine against them,consuming pestilence and deadly plague;I will send against them the fangs of wild beasts,the venom of vipers that glide in the dust. 25 In the street the sword will make them childless;in their homes terror will reign.Young men and young women will perish,infants and gray-haired men. 26 I said I would scatter them and blot out their memory from mankind, 27 but I dreaded the taunt of the enemy,lest the adversary misunderstand and say, 'Our hand has triumphed;the LORD has not done all this.'"
28 They are a nation without sense,there is no discernment in them. 29 If only they were wise and would understand this and discern what their end will be! 30 How could one man chase a thousand,or two put ten thousand to flight,unless their Rock had sold them,unless the LORD had given them up? 31 For their rock is not like our Rock,as even our enemies concede. 32 Their vine comes from the vine of Sodom and from the fields of Gomorrah.Their grapes are filled with poison,and their clusters with bitterness. 33 Their wine is the venom of serpents,the deadly poison of cobras.
34 "Have I not kept this in reserve and sealed it in my vaults? 35 It is mine to avenge; I will repay.In due time their foot will slip;their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them."
36 The LORD will judge his people and have compassion on his servants when he sees their strength is gone and no one is left, slave or free. 37 He will say: "Now where are their gods,the rock they took refuge in, 38 the gods who ate the fat of their sacrifices and drank the wine of their drink offerings?Let them rise up to help you!Let them give you shelter!
39 "See now that I myself am He!There is no god besides me.I put to death and I bring to life,I have wounded and I will heal,and no one can deliver out of my hand. 40 I lift my hand to heaven and declare:As surely as I live forever, 41 when I sharpen my flashing sword and my hand grasps it in judgment,I will take vengeance on my adversaries and repay those who hate me. 42 I will make my arrows drunk with blood,while my sword devours flesh:the blood of the slain and the captives,the heads of the enemy leaders."
43 Rejoice, O nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants;he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people.
44 Moses came with Joshua son of Nun and spoke all the words of this song in the hearing of the people. 45 When Moses finished reciting all these words to all Israel, 46 he said to them, "Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law. 47 They are not just idle words for you — they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess."
48 On that same day the LORD told Moses, 49 "Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession. 50 There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people. 51 This is because both of you broke faith with me in the presence of the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the Desert of Zin and because you did not uphold my holiness among the Israelites. 52 Therefore, you will see the land only from a distance; you will not enter the land I am giving to the people of Israel."

Second Reading: Psalms Chapter 38 and 39

Psalms 38

38:1 A psalm of David. A petition.

O LORD, do not rebuke me in your anger or discipline me in your wrath. 2 For your arrows have pierced me,and your hand has come down upon me. 3 Because of your wrath there is no health in my body;my bones have no soundness because of my sin. 4 My guilt has overwhelmed me like a burden too heavy to bear.
5 My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. 6 I am bowed down and brought very low;all day long I go about mourning. 7 My back is filled with searing pain;there is no health in my body. 8 I am feeble and utterly crushed;I groan in anguish of heart.
9 All my longings lie open before you, O Lord;my sighing is not hidden from you. 10 My heart pounds, my strength fails me;even the light has gone from my eyes. 11 My friends and companions avoid me because of my wounds;my neighbors stay far away. 12 Those who seek my life set their traps,those who would harm me talk of my ruin;all day long they plot deception.
13 I am like a deaf man, who cannot hear,like a mute, who cannot open his mouth; 14 I have become like a man who does not hear,whose mouth can offer no reply. 15 I wait for you, O LORD;you will answer, O Lord my God. 16 For I said, "Do not let them gloat or exalt themselves over me when my foot slips."
17 For I am about to fall,and my pain is ever with me. 18 I confess my iniquity;I am troubled by my sin. 19 Many are those who are my vigorous enemies;those who hate me without reason are numerous. 20 Those who repay my good with evil slander me when I pursue what is good.
21 O LORD, do not forsake me;be not far from me, O my God. 22 Come quickly to help me,O Lord my Savior.

Psalms 39

39:1 For the director of music. For Jeduthun. A psalm of David.

I said, "I will watch my ways and keep my tongue from sin;I will put a muzzle on my mouth as long as the wicked are in my presence." 2 But when I was silent and still,not even saying anything good,my anguish increased. 3 My heart grew hot within me,and as I meditated, the fire burned;then I spoke with my tongue:
4 "Show me, O LORD, my life's end and the number of my days;let me know how fleeting is my life. 5 You have made my days a mere handbreadth;the span of my years is as nothing before you.Each man's life is but a breath.Selah 6 Man is a mere phantom as he goes to and fro:He bustles about, but only in vain;he heaps up wealth, not knowing who will get it.
7 "But now, Lord, what do I look for?My hope is in you. 8 Save me from all my transgressions;do not make me the scorn of fools. 9 I was silent; I would not open my mouth,for you are the one who has done this. 10 Remove your scourge from me;I am overcome by the blow of your hand. 11 You rebuke and discipline men for their sin;you consume their wealth like a moth — each man is but a breath.Selah
12 "Hear my prayer, O LORD,listen to my cry for help;be not deaf to my weeping.For I dwell with you as an alien,a stranger, as all my fathers were. 13 Look away from me, that I may rejoice again before I depart and am no more."

Bible Background


Part 2 of 5

A second form of Hebrew poetry is an alphabetic acrostic. We cannot see this in the English but some of the Psalms written in this form are Psalm 34, 37 and 111. Psalm 119 is an alphabetic acrostic poem by stanza. There are 22 stanzas of 8 verses each. Each verse of each stanza starts with the Hebrew letter of that stanza. For instance, the first eight verses of Psalm 119 begin with the Hebrew letter Aleph. The second eight verses start with the Hebrew letter Beth.

Another interesting feature of Psalm 119 is its consistent theme. Each of the 176 verses has one of the following words: law, command, statue, decree, word, promise, or precept.


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