I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin.
God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don't you know what the Scripture says in the passage about Elijah--how he appealed to God against Israel:
"Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me" ?
And what was God's answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal."
So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.
And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.
What then? What Israel sought so earnestly it did not obtain, but the elect did. The others were hardened,
as it is written: "God gave them a spirit of stupor, eyes so that they could not see and ears so that they could not hear, to this very day."
And David says: "May their table become a snare and a trap, a stumbling block and a retribution for them.
May their eyes be darkened so they cannot see, and their backs be bent forever."
Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious.
But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their fullness bring!
I am talking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles, I make much of my ministry
in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people to envy and save some of them.
For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead?
If the part of the dough offered as firstfruits is holy, then the whole batch is holy; if the root is holy, so are the branches.
If some of the branches have been broken off, and you, though a wild olive shoot, have been grafted in among the others and now share in the nourishing sap from the olive root,
do not boast over those branches. If you do, consider this: You do not support the root, but the root supports you.
You will say then, "Branches were broken off so that I could be grafted in."
Granted. But they were broken off because of unbelief, and you stand by faith. Do not be arrogant, but be afraid.
For if God did not spare the natural branches, he will not spare you either.
Consider therefore the kindness and sternness of God: sternness to those who fell, but kindness to you, provided that you continue in his kindness. Otherwise, you also will be cut off.
And if they do not persist in unbelief, they will be grafted in, for God is able to graft them in again.
After all, if you were cut out of an olive tree that is wild by nature, and contrary to nature were grafted into a cultivated olive tree, how much more readily will these, the natural branches, be grafted into their own olive tree!
Then David fled from Naioth at Ramah and went to Jonathan and asked, "What have I done? What is my crime? How have I wronged your father, that he is trying to take my life?"
"Never!" Jonathan replied. "You are not going to die! Look, my father doesn't do anything, great or small, without confiding in me. Why would he hide this from me? It's not so!"
But David took an oath and said, "Your father knows very well that I have found favor in your eyes, and he has said to himself, 'Jonathan must not know this or he will be grieved.' Yet as surely as the LORD lives and as you live, there is only a step between me and death."
Jonathan said to David, "Whatever you want me to do, I'll do for you."
So David said, "Look, tomorrow is the New Moon festival, and I am supposed to dine with the king; but let me go and hide in the field until the evening of the day after tomorrow.
If your father misses me at all, tell him, 'David earnestly asked my permission to hurry to Bethlehem, his hometown, because an annual sacrifice is being made there for his whole clan.'
If he says, 'Very well,' then your servant is safe. But if he loses his temper, you can be sure that he is determined to harm me.
As for you, show kindness to your servant, for you have brought him into a covenant with you before the LORD. If I am guilty, then kill me yourself ! Why hand me over to your father?"
"Never!" Jonathan said. "If I had the least inkling that my father was determined to harm you, wouldn't I tell you?"
David asked, "Who will tell me if your father answers you harshly?"
"Come," Jonathan said, "let's go out into the field." So they went there together.
Then Jonathan said to David: "By the LORD, the God of Israel, I will surely sound out my father by this time the day after tomorrow! If he is favorably disposed toward you, will I not send you word and let you know?
But if my father is inclined to harm you, may the LORD deal with me, be it ever so severely, if I do not let you know and send you away safely. May the LORD be with you as he has been with my father.
But show me unfailing kindness like that of the LORD as long as I live, so that I may not be killed,
and do not ever cut off your kindness from my family--not even when the LORD has cut off every one of David's enemies from the face of the earth."
So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, "May the LORD call David's enemies to account."
And Jonathan had David reaffirm his oath out of love for him, because he loved him as he loved himself.
Then Jonathan said to David: "Tomorrow is the New Moon festival. You will be missed, because your seat will be empty.
The day after tomorrow, toward evening, go to the place where you hid when this trouble began, and wait by the stone Ezel.
I will shoot three arrows to the side of it, as though I were shooting at a target.
Then I will send a boy and say, 'Go, find the arrows.' If I say to him, 'Look, the arrows are on this side of you; bring them here,' then come, because, as surely as the LORD lives, you are safe; there is no danger.
But if I say to the boy, 'Look, the arrows are beyond you,' then you must go, because the LORD has sent you away.
And about the matter you and I discussed--remember, the LORD is witness between you and me forever."
So David hid in the field, and when the New Moon festival came, the king sat down to eat.
He sat in his customary place by the wall, opposite Jonathan, and Abner sat next to Saul, but David's place was empty.
Saul said nothing that day, for he thought, "Something must have happened to David to make him ceremonially unclean--surely he is unclean."
But the next day, the second day of the month, David's place was empty again. Then Saul said to his son Jonathan, "Why hasn't the son of Jesse come to the meal, either yesterday or today?"
Jonathan answered, "David earnestly asked me for permission to go to Bethlehem.
He said, 'Let me go, because our family is observing a sacrifice in the town and my brother has ordered me to be there. If I have found favor in your eyes, let me get away to see my brothers.' That is why he has not come to the king's table."
Saul's anger flared up at Jonathan and he said to him, "You son of a perverse and rebellious woman! Don't I know that you have sided with the son of Jesse to your own shame and to the shame of the mother who bore you?
As long as the son of Jesse lives on this earth, neither you nor your kingdom will be established. Now send and bring him to me, for he must die!"
"Why should he be put to death? What has he done?" Jonathan asked his father.
But Saul hurled his spear at him to kill him. Then Jonathan knew that his father intended to kill David.
Jonathan got up from the table in fierce anger; on that second day of the month he did not eat, because he was grieved at his father's shameful treatment of David.
In the morning Jonathan went out to the field for his meeting with David. He had a small boy with him,
and he said to the boy, "Run and find the arrows I shoot." As the boy ran, he shot an arrow beyond him.
When the boy came to the place where Jonathan's arrow had fallen, Jonathan called out after him, "Isn't the arrow beyond you?"
Then he shouted, "Hurry! Go quickly! Don't stop!" The boy picked up the arrow and returned to his master.
(The boy knew nothing of all this; only Jonathan and David knew.)
Then Jonathan gave his weapons to the boy and said, "Go, carry them back to town."
After the boy had gone, David got up from the south side [of the stone] and bowed down before Jonathan three times, with his face to the ground. Then they kissed each other and wept together--but David wept the most.
Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, for we have sworn friendship with each other in the name of the LORD, saying, 'The LORD is witness between you and me, and between your descendants and my descendants forever.' " Then David left, and Jonathan went back to the town.
Praise awaits you, O God, in Zion; to you our vows will be fulfilled.
O you who hear prayer, to you all men will come.
When we were overwhelmed by sins, you forgave our transgressions.
Blessed are those you choose and bring near to live in your courts! We are filled with the good things of your house, of your holy temple.
You answer us with awesome deeds of righteousness, O God our Savior, the hope of all the ends of the earth and of the farthest seas,
who formed the mountains by your power, having armed yourself with strength,
who stilled the roaring of the seas, the roaring of their waves, and the turmoil of the nations.
Those living far away fear your wonders; where morning dawns and evening fades you call forth songs of joy.
You care for the land and water it; you enrich it abundantly. The streams of God are filled with water to provide the people with grain, for so you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows and level its ridges; you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
You crown the year with your bounty, and your carts overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the desert overflow; the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks and the valleys are mantled with grain; they shout for joy and sing.