Welcome to The Living Word Bible study for Sunday, June 27 (TLW25B). This non-denominational study lets the Bible explain the Bible, without leaning to any church’s practice or preferences. We recommend that you read the whole passage first and let the Holy Spirit begin speaking to you through it, then go deeper with the verse by verse commentary and reflections. Bible readings are from the Revised Common Lectionary which is the common source for many different churches and chapels.
Theme: Knowing and sharing God’s grace
2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27 — David shows God’s grace in honouring the good of his former persecutor
Mark 5:21-43 — Healing miracles highlight God’s gracious favour to two very different people
2 Corinthians 8:7-15 — Corinthians rich in gifts are urged to echo God’s grace by being generous to others
And also read: Psalm 130
• See also this week’s linked article A Story of Three ‘Opposites’
2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27 — David’s gracious forgiveness honours Saul
He shows emotional maturity in remembering the good of his former persecutor
1:1 After the death of Saul, David returned from striking down the Amalekites and stayed in Ziklag two days.
“After the death of Saul” — in the battle of Mount Gilboa, where Saul’s sons Jonathan, Abinadab and Malki-Shua were killed in the Philistine pursuit, and Saul, critically wounded, took his own life, 1 Samuel 31:1-4.
1:17-18 David took up this lament concerning Saul and his son Jonathan, and he ordered that the people of Judah be taught this lament of the bow (it is written in the Book of Jashar):
“Book of Jashar” — mentioned in Joshua 10:13, probably an Israelite epic poem of exploits, now lost, and in verse form like the “lament of the bow”, sung during drill with Israel’s weapon of choice.
19-20 “A gazelle lies slain on your heights, Israel. How the mighty have fallen!
“Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon, lest the daughters of the Philistines be glad, lest the daughters of the uncircumcised rejoice.
“Gazelle” — could be rendered ‘splendour’, here used for Saul and Jonathan. “Heights” refers to Mt Gilboa where the warriors died, 2 Samuel 1:6.
• For further study, see 1 Samuel 31:1-6
“Proclaim it not” — Gath to Ashkelon was the expanse of Philistine territory. For them to celebrate Israel’s defeat would bring reproach to the name of the Lord.
21-22 “Mountains of Gilboa, may you have neither dew nor rain, may no showers fall on your terraced fields. For there the shield of the mighty was despised, the shield of Saul — no longer rubbed with oil.
“From the blood of the slain, from the flesh of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back, the sword of Saul did not return unsatisfied.
“May no showers fall” — David calls for a withholding of blessing on the place where Saul and Jonathan perished.
“No longer rubbed with oil” — the shield no longer maintained, no longer needed.
23 “Saul and Jonathan — in life they were loved and admired, and in death they were not parted. They were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.
“Not parted” — Although Jonathan’s friendship with David defied Saul, he fought to defend Israel and gave his life beside his father.
24 “Daughters of Israel, weep for Saul, who clothed you in scarlet and finery, who adorned your garments with ornaments of gold.
“Scarlet” – associated with prosperity.
25 “How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights.
26 “I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.
“Your love for me was wonderful” – no sexual connotation here: Jonathan’s commitment to David, at personal risk, seeing him as God’s choice to succeed his own father, was a truly remarkable bond.
27 “How the mighty have fallen! The weapons of war have perished!”
“Weapons of war” — meaning Saul and Jonathan.
SUMMARY When David hears the news that King Saul ,and his close companion Jonathan, have both been killed while retreating from the Philistines, he composes a lament to honour them in every way he can think of. David had kept his heart clean from resentment for many years, and now he could allow God’s grace to flow and override human emotions.
APPLICATION It is an example for us to choose not to respond to injustice and betrayal, but to love our enemies by allowing the Holy Spirit to bring His flow of grace to our hearts.
QUESTION Why did Jesus say it was so important for us to forgive without condition? Think of the Lord’s Prayer…
Mark 5:21-43 — Two healing miracles highlight God’s gracious favour
Two very different people show desperation in approaching Jesus
21 When Jesus had again crossed over by boat to the other side of the lake, a large crowd gathered around Him while He was by the lake.
“The other side” – He had been on the eastern Gadara and Decapolis side of the lake, and now crossed back to the Capernaum and Galilee side.
22-24 Then one of the synagogue leaders, named Jairus, came, and when he saw Jesus, he fell at His feet. He pleaded earnestly with Him, “My little daughter is dying. Please come and put your hands on her so that she will be healed and live.” So Jesus went with him. A large crowd followed and pressed around Him.
“Synagogue leaders” – people of wealth and status, often Pharisees. Each synagogue had one who presided over the synagogue elders.
25-26 And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years. She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had, yet instead of getting better she grew worse.
“A woman was there” – but was considered ceremonially unclean owing to her condition.
27-29 When she heard about Jesus, she came up behind Him in the crowd and touched His cloak, because she thought, “If I just touch His clothes, I will be healed.” Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering.
“Touched His cloak” — by the law, Leviticus 15:19-23, she renders Jesus ceremonially unclean. However, He demonstrates that He is greater than purity laws by healing her, and therefore making her clean.
30 At once Jesus realised that power had gone out from Him. He turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”
31 “You see the people crowding against you,” His disciples answered, “and yet you can ask, ‘Who touched Me?’ ”
“Who touched Me?” – He senses a spiritual transaction distinct from the nudges of the crowd.
32-34 But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at His feet and, trembling with fear, told Him the whole truth. He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.”
“Trembling with fear” — from the perspective of the law her presence was shameful. Mark depicts how her fear turned to faith and awe, and shame turned to acceptance.
“Daughter” – not shunned outsider, part of the family of God.
“Healed” – the word sozo has a broader meaning encompassing healed, delivered, saved.
35 While Jesus was still speaking, some people came from the house of Jairus, the synagogue leader. “Your daughter is dead,” they said. “Why bother the teacher any more?”
“Why bother” — implying that Jesus can heal the sick but not raise one who is dead.
36 Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”
“Don’t be afraid” – as Jesus says to us in many circumstances, ‘Do not fear, but believe’. Fear is the true opposite of faith, but in exercising the will to regard Jesus, faith rises to dispels fear — a test for Jairus.
37-40 He did not let anyone follow Him except Peter, James and John the brother of James. When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly. He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.” But they laughed at Him.
After He put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with Him, and went in where the child was.
“People wailing loudly” – family and community mourners.
“Peter, James and John” – early days of the ministry and a small room, so a call to the ‘senior apprentices’ only.
“They laughed at Him” – the unbelieving crowd created an unbelieving spirituality.
41-43 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!” (which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”). Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around (she was twelve years old). At this they were completely astonished. He gave strict orders not to let anyone know about this, and told them to give her something to eat.
“Talitha koum” – Mark’s fast-paced gospel includes references to the vernacular that Jesus and the disciples customarily used.
“Not to let anyone know” – Jesus was never self-promoting. He was a Galilean with fast-growing popularity in his own region. This was attracting hostility from religious leaders and risking premature crisis, before His work was complete.
SUMMARY Two events are intertwined here. In a culture of male privilege and unequal deservedness, a woman with an embarrassing ailment and a little girl both ranked low in significance — but not to Jesus, who went out of His way to heal them. The word sozo makes no separation between spiritual and physical salvation.
APPLICATION These are stories which highlight God’s grace as well as mercy. His love flows out to connect with humbly-expressed need, demolishing our wrong perceptions of entitlement.
QUESTION One approached Jesus pleading earnestly, the other trembling with awe. What does this teach us about how we pray in apparently hopeless situations?
2 Corinthians 8:7-15 — God’s grace is echoed by believers generosity
Corinthians rich in gifts are exhorted to be earnest in their giving
7 But since you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in complete earnestness and in the love we have kindled in you – see that you also excel in this grace of giving.
“Since you excel” — a key verse in Paul’s teaching on Christian giving. They have a reputation for public debating and their richness of spiritual gifting. Now Paul challenges them to be known for their giving.
8-9 I am not commanding you, but I want to test the sincerity of your love by comparing it with the earnestness of others. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.
“Not commanding” – telling people they ought to give, often has the opposite effect. This is a different appeal which invites them to test the sincerity of their love. Less well-off Macedonian churches like Philippi and Thessalonica had shown their love, giving beyond their means at a time of severe trial and poverty. Would Corinth have the same heart?
“You know the grace of our Lord” – here in the sense of God’s love shown in saving action for undeserving mankind.
10-12 And here is my judgment about what is best for you in this matter. Last year you were the first not only to give but also to have the desire to do so. Now finish the work, so that your eager willingness to do it may be matched by your completion of it, according to your means. For if the willingness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has, not according to what one does not have.
“Eager willingness… is there” – the point is that God looks for faith and joy in giving which is part of our worship of Him. We can encourage each other to give more freely, willingly and joyfully, but to expect people to give more because they ought to, is unbiblical.
13-15 Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality, as it is written: “The one who gathered much did not have too much, and the one who gathered little did not have too little.”
“Your plenty will supply” — The Greek ethos of friendship was equality and sharing things in common — and Corinth was a generally prosperous city.
“Too much… too little” – quoting from Exodus 16:18 which refers to the Israelites gathering manna in the desert, illustrating the kind of equality he has in mind. Like giving out of duty, giving as a kind of religious penance is not the willingness and Spirit-led enthusiasm that God is seeking.
SUMMARY The Corinthians were early to respond when news of the need in Jerusalem reached them; false teachers may have put a stop to this. But, as Paul says, God loves a cheerful giver, the kind that counts it a way of celebrating God’s provision, and shares it willingly and joyfully.
APPLICATION Church treasurers who model faith have often found that a generous spirit in outreach, including sharing resources, is a big help to the church budget, not a hindrance. Sharing in faith and grace is a principle which discovers the Lord’s supply.
QUESTION In what ways can you worship God in your freedom to give and meet needs for others?
PRAYER Dear loving Father, once again we are challenged to measure our ideas of entitlement and reward, against Your incomparable grace and generosity. We are awed by David’s generosity of spirit towards a jealous man who tried to kill him, and Your love shown first to the least and last, in the healing miracles. We hear the challenge to be joyful, worshipful givers and share our plenty with those who need it. May we be released by the Spirit of Jesus, the ultimate Giver, to show and share His generosity as You direct us. In His name we pray, O God. Amen.
PRINT EDITION You can download a PDF of the print edition from the link below. It prints on A4 paper to produce a four-page Bible-size folder. Permission given to copy for your own use, for your Bible study or home group, or for inclusion with your church bulletin.
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