Week 11

8 - 14 June:
Psalms 52 - 57, 2 Samuel, Mark 9.14 - end, Proverbs 13

8 June
2 Samuel 1 - 3Mark 9.14 - 10.16
9 June
2 Samuel 4 - 8Mark 10.17 - 11.11
10 June
2 Samuel 9 - 12Mark 11.12 - 12.27
11 June
2 Samuel 13 - 15Mark 12.28 - 13.37
12 June
2 Samuel 16 - 18Mark 14.1 - 52
13 June
Ps 562 Samuel 19 - 21 Mark 14.53 - 15.24
14 June
2 Samuel 22 - endMark 15.25 - end 16


Psalm 52 questions what is the strength that sustains life, and its theme is the conflict between good and bad in a world subject to God's rule.
Psalm 53 is a slightly different version of Psalm 14, and like Psalm 14 considers that things are not what they seem, that what appears good and sensible to the wicked is really foolish, and the apparent foolishness of depending on God is true wisdom.
Psalm 54 is a short individual prayer for help.
Psalm 55 is also a prayer for help at a time of social chaos, and when even close friends prove false. The text of this psalm is uncertain, as a comparison of different version in English demonstrates.
Psalm 56, again a prayer for help, asserts trust in God and gives thanks for his saving grace.
Psalm 57 is similarly a prayer for help, in which trust in God and praise of him predominate.

2 Samuel

By the end of 1 Samuel, Israel's first king, Saul, has been both honoured and humiliated, but although he is not portrayed as a successful king, he is shown to be faithful and people are still loyal to him. His death, and that of his son, Jonathan, means not only military victory to the Philistines, but demonstrates that his God has apparently been defeated by the Philistine gods.
2 Samuel begins with David, and continues his rise to power. David is initially anointed king of Judah, but the northern tribes are ruled by a son of Saul. Eventually, David is anointed king of all Israel.
David is keen to erect a temple for God, but the prophet Nathan tells him that this honour will fall to one of his sons, not to him. Despite David's many military victories, God sends disasters on him because of his adultery with Bathsheba and plotting to get rid of her husband, and the rest of his reign is marred by rape and bloodshed among his children.
The two books of Samuel were originally one book. Their main themes are the sovereignty of Israel's God, Yahweh, the reversal of human fortunes and kingship. Samuel, the prophet, is portrayed as a prophet like Moses who has direct contact with God. He warns the people against wanting kings, but nevertheless God grants them kingship which can be a blessing if they remain faithful. The king chosen by Yahweh is Saul, who is therefore anointed by Samuel. He is ultimately rejected because he disobeys God. David, the successor again chosen by God, becomes a covenant partner with God, so that his line promises divine protection for the people in perpetuity.

Mark's Gospel

The narrative moves from Jesus' healings and miracles to his path to glory through suffering. His entrance to Jerusalem in the final week of his life moves forward to his arrest, trials and passion.
If you read it online, or using a modern translation, you will see that there are alternative endings for Mark's gospel. The 'long ending' with resurrection appearances is missing from some important early manuscripts, and some early commentators did not know of it. In addition to the 'long ending', there is an alternative 'short ending'. All this suggests that there was uncertainty about how Mark actually ended his gospel for some time. Perhaps Mark intended to write more after 16.8, but was prevented somehow; perhaps what he actually wrote has been lost; perhaps he wrote one of the two endings we now have. Current views are that actually he meant to stop at 16.8, with the fact of the resurrection and the reaction of the women.
Although Mark's gospel is the shortest, and lacks a birth narrative, or much assessment of the resurrection, we should not ignore its importance. Mark was the inventor of the form 'gospel', which weaves biographical material about Jesus with the proclamation of his message, and an assessment of his significance - that he is the Son of God, the Messiah. Mark's Jesus is very human, so the church can never forget his human nature, and he focuses us very strongly on the cross on which a real human being died. Jesus was a real person, who lived at a particular point in history, who is also the Son of God.

Proverbs 13

Sayings about desire and life, the poor and wealth, with discipline seen as a form of love.

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