During this Pentecost Season, there are two “Tracks” of Scriptures that are offered, and congregations may choose which Track they will follow. The first two readings presented are the readings from Tracks 1 and 2, respectively. The third and fourth readings are the same in both Tracks.

Today, Track 1 offers two different readings from 1 Samuel 17 so there are a total of five readings.


1 Samuel 17:1a, 4-11, 19-23, 32-49  


1a The Philistines gathered their armies for battle. 4 And there came out from the camp of the Philistines a champion named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. 5 He had a helmet of bronze on his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of bronze. 6 He had greaves of bronze on his legs and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders. 7 The shaft of his spear was like a weaver’s beam, and his spear’s head weighed six hundred shekels of iron; and his shield-bearer went before him. 8 He stood and shouted to the ranks of Israel, “Why have you come out to draw up for battle? Am I not a Philistine, and are you not servants of Saul? Choose a man for yourselves and let him come down to me. 9 If he is able to fight with me and kill me, then we will be your servants; but if I prevail against him and kill him, then you shall be our servants and serve us.” 10 And the Philistine said, “Today I defy the ranks of Israel! Give me a man, that we may fight together.” 11 When Saul and all Israel heard these words of the Philistine, they were dismayed and greatly afraid.

19 Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines. 20 David rose early in the morning, left the sheep with a keeper, took the provisions, and went as Jesse had commanded him. He came to the encampment as the army was going forth to the battle line, shouting the war cry. 21 Israel and the Philistines drew up for battle, army against army. 22 David left the things in charge of the keeper of the baggage, ran to the ranks, and went and greeted his brothers. 23 As he talked with them, the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, came up out of the ranks of the Philistines, and spoke the same words as before. And David heard him.

32 David said to Saul, “Let no one’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” 33 Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him; for you are just a boy, and he has been a warrior from his youth.” 34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father; and whenever a lion or a bear came, and took a lamb from the flock, 35 I went after it and struck it down, rescuing the lamb from its mouth; and if it turned against me, I would catch it by the jaw, strike it down, and kill it. 36 Your servant has killed both lions and bears; and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, since he has defied the armies of the living God.” 37 David said, “The LORD, who saved me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, will save me from the hand of this Philistine.” So Saul said to David, “Go, and may the LORD be with you!”

38 Saul clothed David with his armor; he put a bronze helmet on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail. 39 David strapped Saul’s sword over the armor, and he tried in vain to walk, for he was not used to them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot walk with these; for I am not used to them.” So David removed them. 40 Then he took his staff in his hand, and chose five smooth stones from the wadi, and put them in his shepherd’s bag, in the pouch; his sling was in his hand, and he drew near to the Philistine.

41 The Philistine came on and drew near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. 42 When the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was only a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. 43 The Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 44 The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the field.” 45 But David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword and spear and javelin; but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 This very day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head; and I will give the dead bodies of the Philistine army this very day to the birds of the air and to the wild animals of the earth, so that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, 47 and that all this assembly may know that the LORD does not save by sword and spear; for the battle is the LORD’s and he will give you into our hand.”

48 When the Philistine drew nearer to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. 49 David put his hand in his bag, took out a stone, slung it, and struck the Philistine on his forehead; the stone sank into his forehead, and he fell face down on the ground.


The Book of Samuel is part of the “Deuteronomic History” that includes the books of Deuteronomy, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings. These books are a “didactic history” that covered the period from just before the entry into the Promised Land (c.1220 BCE, if the account is historical) to the beginning of Babylonian Captivity (586 BCE). The books were written in the period from 640 BCE to 550 BCE and continued to be revised even after that.

The authors of the Deuteronomic Books artfully wove their stories from numerous sources. They then used the stories in these books to demonstrate that that God controls history and to assert that it was the failures of the kings of Israel and the kings of Judea to worship YHWH and obey God’s commands that led to the conquest of Northern Israel in 722 BCE by the Assyrians and the conquest of Judea by the Babylonians in 597 BCE. (The conquests were not seen as the result of the Assyrians’ and Babylonians’ greater wealth and more powerful armies.)

The Book of Samuel (to the extent it may be historical) covers from the end of the time of the Judges (c.1030 BCE) to the last years of the Reign of David (c. 965 BCE).

The story of the killing of Goliath appears twice in the Book of Samuel. The older version is in 2 Sam. 21:19, in which Goliath of Gath was killed by Elhanan, the son of a Bethlehemite. Today’s account is the better-known story. In the Bible, it follows an account in which Saul (who was being tormented by “an evil spirit”) sent messengers to Jesse (David’s father) to have David come to him to play his lyre for him. David’s music soothed Saul and the evil spirit departed from Saul when David played (16:23). David’s lyre playing became the basis for the fiction that David was the author of the psalms.

The description of Goliath is fearsome. The cubit was about 18” so he was 9 feet tall. His armor weighed about 130 pounds and his spear weighed 15 pounds. Scholars have noted that the shepherd boy vs. the giant incorporated many fairy tale motifs.

Having each side represented by a hero was not uncommon in literature, particularly in The Iliad in which Paris opposed Menelaus and Hector opposed Ajax.

In today’s reading, David was sent by Jesse to bring food to his three older brothers who were in Saul’s army. In this version of the Goliath story, it appeared that David met Saul for the first time when David volunteered to fight the Philistine (vv. 31-37). (As an attempt to reconcile the accounts, verse 15 – a later addition — suggests David was shuttling back and forth from playing his lyre for Saul and then returning to Bethlehem to watch the flocks.) 

The promise by Saul to give his daughter in marriage (v.25) to the person who defeated Goliath was upheld, and one of David’s first wives was Michal (18:27). Michal loved David (18:20) and served him well for many years, choosing David over her father in some instances. The Jewish Study Bible points out: “Michal is the only woman in all biblical narrative of whom it is said that she loves a man.” She was later effectively banished because she criticized David for dancing naked in the streets of Jerusalem after he brought the Ark of Covenant there. (2 Sam.6:20-23.)

Referring to the Philistine as “uncircumcised” (v.26) was intended as an insult and may also reflect a later addition. In opposition to the Philistine’s taunts, David gave a theological speech about the power of YHWH (vv.45-47).

In today’s reading, David killed Goliath with a stone. In the verses that follow, David beheaded Goliath (v.51) and brought the head to Jerusalem (v.54). This is clearly an anachronism, because – according to another tradition — Jerusalem was not conquered by David until later (2 Sam. 5:6-9).


1 Samuel 17:57-18:5, 10-16  


57 On David’s return from killing the Philistine, Abner took him and brought him before Saul, with the head of the Philistine in his hand. 58 Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.”

18:1 When David had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was bound to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. 2 Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. 3 Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. 4 Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that he was wearing, and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt. 5 David went out and was successful wherever Saul sent him; as a result, Saul set him over the army. And all the people, even the servants of Saul, approved.

10 The next day an evil spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house, while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand 11 and Saul threw the spear, for he thought, “I will pin David to the wall.” But David eluded him twice.

12 Saul was afraid of David, because the LORD was with him but had departed from Saul. 13 So Saul removed him from his presence and made him a commander of a thousand; and David marched out and came in, leading the army. 14 David had success in all his undertakings; for the LORD was with him. 15 When Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in awe of him. But all Israel and Judah loved David; for it was he who marched out and came in leading them.


The alternative Track 1 Reading for today continued the account in Samuel after the killing of Goliath. It was derived from another source  — as shown by the anomaly that David brought the Philistine’s head to Saul (v.57), even though v.54 said he brought it to Jerusalem. David’s introduction to Saul by Abner was presented as if it were the first meeting between David and Saul (Saul asked David who was his father in v.58), notwithstanding the stories in Chapter 16 and the conversation between David and Saul in Chapter 17.

Scholars agree that verses 1-5 are an insert to establish the depth of the relationship between Saul’s son, Jonathan, and David. The New Oxford Annotated Bible observes that “loved” (v.3) implied political loyalty in addition to personal affection, and that Jonathan’s royal robe and armor represented his status as crown prince. Jonathan’s giving the robe and armor therefore depicted David as Saul’s true successor  — a status achieved by the initiative of Jonathan himself. Throughout the Book of Samuel, David never usurped the throne or harmed Saul, even though he had opportunities to do so.

The omitted verses (6-9) stated that the women gave greater glory to David than to Saul because of David’s prowess in battle, and this made Saul angry and jealous of David (v.9).

This jealousy explained Saul’s throwing a spear at David while he was playing his lyre (v.11). Saul’s  decision to put David in charge of a large army group (a “thousand”) was done because Saul was afraid to have David nearby and he hoped David might be killed in battle.

The relationship between David and Jonathan was developed in the balance of 1 Samuel, and Jonathan (like his sister, Michal) was loyal to David rather than his father.

One of the unspoken issues in the books of Samuel was the legitimacy of David’s accession to the throne. The JSB points out that by becoming Saul’s son-in-law, it gave David a right of succession, even though Saul’s own sons would have precedence. The New Jerome Biblical Commentary emphasizes that David’s accession to the throne was presented in these stories as the will of God, and that there was no justification for any charge of ruthless ambition.


Job 38:1-11


1 The LORD answered Job out of the whirlwind:

2 “Who is this that darkens counsel by words without knowledge?

3 Gird up your loins like a man, I will question you, and you shall declare to me.

4 “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell me, if you have understanding.

5 Who determined its measurements—surely you know! Or who stretched the line upon it?

6 On what were its bases sunk, or who laid its cornerstone

7 when the morning stars sang together, and all the heavenly beings shouted for joy?

8 “Or who shut in the sea with doors when it burst out from the womb?—

9 when I made the clouds its garment, and thick darkness its swaddling band,

10 and prescribed bounds for it, and set bars and doors,

11 and said, ‘Thus far shall you come, and no farther, and here shall your proud waves be stopped’?”


The Book of Job is a unique poetic story in the Hebrew Scriptures. Job was presented as a righteous person (in right relation with God and others) and as a non-Jew living in the land of Uz (somewhere in what is now Saudi Arabia).

Ha-Satan (the “adversary” – not the post-First Century name of the devil) made a wager with God and argued that Job was righteous only because he had health, family, and riches. Ha-Satan bet God that Job would curse God if he lost his family, health, and wealth.

Ha-Satan took everything from Job, but Job did not curse God. His friends came to “comfort” him and (using typical Deuteronomic thought) told him that his deprivations must be the result of a sin by him or his forebears.

Job denied this reasoning and (contrary to the claim in the traditional translation of Jas. 5:11) Job was anything but “patient.”  He “endured,” was steadfast and in some respects, defiant. He asked for someone to judge whether a God who caused a person to suffer is really a just God and worthy to be called “God.” He asked to confront God face-to-face.

Today’s reading is the beginning of a four-chapter “response” by God to Job. The “response” is structured by the author (called “Poet-Job”) as a series of rhetorical questions from God to Job that demonstrated the complexity of created reality and presented an imaginative inspection of the cosmos. God did not, however, give Job a “straight answer” to his question. The NOAB points out that storms typically accompany a theophany and this answer came “out of the whirlwind” (v.1).

After the theophany (the appearance of God to Job), Job acknowledged his limitations as a human (“I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes” – 42:6). The NOAB suggests that the words translated as “I despise myself” should probably be translated as “I relent” or “I recant.”  It goes on to say that Job may be understood to say that he recanted and regretted mournfully, and that he was consoled about the limitations of the humanity.

In a later-added Epilogue, Job’s riches were restored, he had another family, and the LORD told Job’s friends that they had not “spoken the truth about Me as did My servant Job” (42:7).

The Book of Job does not “answer” the question “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  Bad things just happen, and humans cannot demand that a God of Mystery must act in a certain way in order to be “worthy” to be known as God.


2 Corinthians 6:1-13


1 As we work together with Christ, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.”

See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! 3 We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, 4 but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, 5 beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights, hunger; 6 by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love, 7 truthful speech, and the power of God; with the weapons of righteousness for the right hand and for the left; 8 in honor and dishonor, in ill repute and good repute. We are treated as impostors, and yet are true; 9 as unknown, and yet are well known; as dying, and see — we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; 10 as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.

11 We have spoken frankly to you Corinthians; our heart is wide open to you. 12 There is no restriction in our affections, but only in yours. 13 In return — I speak as to children — open wide your hearts also.


Corinth, a large port city in Greece, was among the early Jesus Follower communities that Paul founded. Its culture was diverse and Hellenistic. Corinthians emphasized reason and secular wisdom. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was written in the 50’s (CE) and presented his views on many issues that were controversial in this Jesus Follower Community.

Based on internal references in the two remaining letters to the Corinthians, scholars agree that Paul likely wrote at least four letters to the Corinthians. The so-called Second Letter to the Corinthians is composed of fragments of these letters.

Paul’s relationship with the Corinthians was sometimes strained (2:2-4). In today’s reading, Paul relied on Isaiah 49:8 in which the prophet, speaking for YHWH, told the Judeans that “on a day of salvation” they would be delivered from the Babylonian Exile. Paul used this verse to urge the Corinthians to accept God’s grace as an inbreaking of salvation.

He continued his defense of his ministry (v.3), enumerated his sufferings (v.4-5), defended his works (v.6-7), and countered charges against him (v.8-10). He claimed that his affection for the Corinthians was unrestricted, but the affections of the Corinthians were limited (v.11).

The NOAB observes that Paul’s use of contrasting pairs in verses 8-10 are not paradoxes to show that he was imperturbable (like an ideal sage in Stoic philosophy) but were antitheses to refute charges made against him. It sees these verses as a summary of his self-defense that began in chapter 2.

The NJBC understands Paul’s use of the words “sorrowful” (v.10) and “poor” as demonstrating his refusal to accept support from the Corinthians – a notion that had been used by his opponents to prove that he was not an apostle.


Mark 4:35-41


35 When evening had come, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. 37 A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. 38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 He woke up and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great awe and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”


The Gospel According to Mark was the first Gospel that was written and is generally dated to the time around the Destruction of the Temple in 70 CE. Mark’s Gospel is the shortest gospel and forms the core for the Gospels According to Matthew and Luke (both of which were written around 85 CE). Over 50% of the material in those two Gospels is based on Mark. Because these three Gospels follow similar chronologies of Jesus’ life and death, they are called “Synoptic Gospels” for the Greek words meaning “Same Look/View.” 

Today’s reading (and readings that follow up to Chapter 8) emphasize Jesus’ connection to both Moses and Elijah with sea crossings, exorcisms, healings, and wilderness feedings. These actions occur in the face of opposition and the disciples’ misunderstandings about the person of Jesus and his ministry.

In today’s story, Jesus was going from the Jewish/Western side of the Sea of Galilee to the Gentile/Eastern side. Like Jonah, Jesus was asleep in the boat during a storm. The disciples were presented here (and elsewhere) by Mark as uncomprehending, weak-willed or cowardly. The boat may also be a symbol for the small Jesus Follower community in 70 CE.

The sea was often portrayed as a metaphor for confusion or chaos. Control of the sea and the restoration of order (shalom) was seen as a divine power.