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Acts 28:1-16; 1 Samuel 4; 1 Samuel 5; Psalm 52

Acts 28:1-16

Malta's Hospitality

1 Safely ashore, we then learned that the island was called Malta. 2 The local people showed us extraordinary kindness, for they lit a fire and took us all in, since rain was falling and it was cold. 3 As Paul gathered a bundle of brushwood and put it on the fire, a viper came out because of the heat and fastened itself to his hand. 4 When the local people saw the creature hanging from his hand, they said to one another, "This man is probably a murderer, and though he has escaped the sea, Justice does not allow him to live!" 5 However, he shook the creature off into the fire and suffered no harm. 6 They expected that he would swell up or suddenly drop dead. But after they waited a long time and saw nothing unusual happen to him, they changed their minds and said he was a god.

Ministry in Malta

7 Now in the area around that place was an estate belonging to the leading man of the island, named Publius, who welcomed us and entertained us hospitably for three days. 8 It happened that Publius' father was in bed suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went to him, and praying and laying his hands on him, he healed him. 9 After this, the rest of those on the island who had diseases also came and were cured. 10 So they heaped many honors on us, and when we sailed, they gave us what we needed.

Rome at Last

11 After three months we set sail in an Alexandrian ship that had wintered at the island, with the Twin Brothers as its figurehead. 12 Putting in at Syracuse, we stayed three days. 13 From there, after making a circuit along the coast, we reached Rhegium. After one day a south wind sprang up, and the second day we came to Puteoli. 14 There we found believers and were invited to stay with them for seven days. And so we came to Rome. 15 Now the believers from there had heard the news about us and had come to meet us as far as Forum of Appius and Three Taverns. When Paul saw them, he thanked God and took courage. 16 And when we entered Rome, Paul was permitted to stay by himself with the soldier who guarded him.

1 Samuel 4

1 And Samuel's words came to all Israel. Israel went out to meet the Philistines in battle and camped at Ebenezer while the Philistines camped at Aphek.

The Ark Captured by the Philistines

2 The Philistines lined up in battle formation against Israel, and as the battle intensified, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who struck down about 4,000 men on the battlefield. 3 When the troops returned to the camp, the elders of Israel asked, "Why did the Lord let us be defeated today by the Philistines? Let's bring the ark of the Lord's covenant from Shiloh. Then it will go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies." 4 So the people sent [men] to Shiloh to bring back the ark of the covenant of the Lord of Hosts, who dwells [between] the cherubim. Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. 5 When the ark of the covenant of the Lord entered the camp, all the Israelites raised such a loud shout that the ground shook. 6 The Philistines heard the sound of the war cry and asked, "What's this loud shout in the Hebrews' camp?" When the Philistines discovered that the ark of the Lord had entered the camp, 7 they panicked. "The gods have entered their camp!" they said. "Woe to us, nothing like this has happened before. 8 Woe to us, who will rescue us from the hand of these magnificent gods? These are the gods that slaughtered the Egyptians with all kinds of plagues in the wilderness. 9 Show some courage and be men, Philistines! Otherwise, you'll serve the Hebrews just like they served you. Now be men and fight!" 10 So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and each man fled to his tent. The slaughter was severe-30,000 of the Israelite foot soldiers fell. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

Eli's Death and Ichabod's Birth

12 That same day, a Benjaminite man ran from the battle and came to Shiloh. His clothes were torn, and there was dirt on his head. 13 When he arrived, there was Eli sitting on his chair beside the road watching, because he was anxious about the ark of God. When the man entered the city to give a report, the entire city cried out. 14 Eli heard the outcry and asked, "Why this commotion?" The man quickly came and reported to Eli. 15 At that time Eli was 98 years old, and his gaze was fixed because he couldn't see. 16 The man said to Eli, "I'm the one who came from the battle. I fled from there today." "What happened, my son?" Eli asked. 17 The messenger answered, "Israel has fled from the Philistines, and also there was a great slaughter among the people. Your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are both dead, and the ark of God has been captured." 18 When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell backwards off the chair by the city gate, and since he was old and heavy, his neck broke and he died. Eli had judged Israel 40 years. 19 Eli's daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and about to give birth. When she heard the news about the capture of God's ark and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband, she collapsed and gave birth because her labor pains came on her. 20 As she was dying, the women taking care of her said, "Don't be afraid. You've given birth to a son!" But she did not respond, and did not pay attention. 21 She named the boy Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel," referring to the capture of the ark of God and to [the deaths of] her father-in-law and her husband. 22 "The glory has departed from Israel," she said, "because the ark of God has been captured."

1 Samuel 5

The Ark in Philistine Hands

1 After the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they took it from Ebenezer to Ashdod, 2 brought it into the temple of Dagonand placed it next to his statue. 3 When the people of Ashdod got up early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen with his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and returned him to his place. 4 But when they got up early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen with his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. [This time], both Dagon's head and the palms of his hands were broken off and lying on the threshold. Only Dagon's torso remained. 5 That is why, to this day, the priests of Dagon and everyone who enters the temple of Dagon in Ashdod do not step on Dagon's threshold. 6 The Lord severely oppressed the people of Ashdod, terrorizing and afflicting the people of Ashdod and its territory with tumors. 7 When the men of Ashdod saw what was happening, they said, "The ark of Israel's God must not stay here with us, because His hand is severe against us and our god Dagon." 8 So they called all the Philistine rulers together and asked, "What should we do with the ark of Israel's God?" "The ark of Israel's God should be moved to Gath," they replied. So the men of Ashdod moved the ark. 9 After they had moved it, the Lord's hand was against the city of Gath, causing a great panic. He afflicted the men of the city, from the youngest to the oldest, with an outbreak of tumors. 10 The Gathites then sent the ark of God to Ekron, but when it got there, the Ekronites cried out, "They've moved the ark of Israel's God to us to kill us and our people!" 11 The Ekronites called all the Philistine rulers together. They said, "Send the ark of Israel's God away. It must return to its place so it won't kill us and our people!" For the fear of death pervaded the city; God's hand was very heavy there. 12 The men who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.

Psalm 52

God Judges the Proud

For the choir director. A Davidic Maskil. When Doeg the Edomite went and reported to Saul, telling him, "David went to Ahimelech's house."

1 Why brag about evil, you hero! God's faithful love is constant. 2 Like a sharpened razor, your tongue devises destruction, working treachery. 3 You love evil instead of good, lying instead of speaking truthfully. Selah 4 You love any words that destroy, you treacherous tongue! 5 This is why God will bring you down forever. He will take you, ripping you out of your tent; He will uproot you from the land of the living. Selah 6 The righteous will look on with awe and will ridicule him: 7 "Here is the man who would not make God his refuge, but trusted in the abundance of his riches, taking refuge in his destructive behavior." 8 But I am like a flourishing olive tree in the house of God; I trust in God's faithful love forever and ever. 9 I will praise You forever for what You have done. In the presence of Your faithful people, I will put my hope in Your name, for it is good.
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