During this Pentecost Season, there are two “Tracks” of Scriptures offered, and congregations may choose which Track they 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.


2 Samuel 1:1, 17-27  


1 After the death of Saul, when David had returned from defeating the Amalekites, David remained two days in Ziklag.

17 David intoned this lamentation over Saul and his son Jonathan. 18 (He ordered that The Song of the Bow be taught to the people of Judah; it is written in the Book of Jashar.) He said:

19 Your glory, O Israel, lies slain upon your high places! How the mighty have fallen!

20 Tell it not in Gath, proclaim it not in the streets of Ashkelon; or the daughters of the Philistines will rejoice, the daughters of the uncircumcised will exult.

21 You mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew or rain upon you, nor bounteous fields! For there the shield of the mighty was defiled, the shield of Saul, anointed with oil no more.

22 From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of Jonathan did not turn back,
nor the sword of Saul return empty.

23 Saul and Jonathan, beloved and lovely! In life and in death they were not divided; they were swifter than eagles, they were stronger than lions.

24 O daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you with crimson, in luxury, who put ornaments of gold on your apparel.

25 How the mighty have fallen in the midst of the battle! Jonathan lies slain upon your high places.
26 I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; greatly beloved were you to me; your love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.

27 How the mighty have fallen, and the weapons of war perished!


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).

Last week’s readings from 1 Samuel (there were two of them) gave accounts of David’s slaying of Goliath, the jealousy of Saul against David because the people acclaimed David more than Saul, and the beginning of the relationship between David and Jonathan, Saul’s son.

The remaining chapters of 1 Samuel have a “soap opera” quality about them and reflect the numerous sources from which the Book was constructed. Many of the stories in this part of 1 Samuel are not in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible done in Alexandria from 300 BCE to 200 BCE).

In brief, although Saul was afraid of David (18:12), he offered David his first daughter in marriage, but then reneged on his promise (18:19). Saul’s next daughter, Michal, loved David (v.20) and they married, but Saul then realized YHWH was with David. Saul became David’s enemy (v.29).

From that point on, Saul tried to kill David (or hoped the Philistines would kill him) but Jonathan often thwarted Saul’s plans. At one point, Saul even tried to kill Jonathan (19:33) and pursued David to try to kill David. David had an opportunity to kill Saul but spared his life (24:10). David married two other women (25:42-43), and Saul gave Michal as a wife to another person. David spared Saul a second time (26:9), and then went over to fight for the Philistines (!) (Chapter 27).

After Samuel died, Saul consulted a medium at Endor (the so-called “Witch of Endor”) who conjured up the spirit of Samuel. The spirit told Saul again that YHWH had rejected him because of his disobedience regarding the annihilation of Amalekites (28:18).

The Philistine leaders then decided they did not want David and his men to fight on their side (Chapter 29). David left the Philistine camp and attacked and vanquished the Amalekites (Chapter 30). (As The New Oxford Annotated Bible points out, this story is inconsistent with 1 Sam 15 in which almost all the Amalekites were destroyed by Saul.) The Philistines attacked Saul and killed his sons and severely wounded Saul who then fell on his own sword (31:4).

Today’s reading is from the first chapter of 2 Samuel (1 and 2 Samuel were a single book but were divided so each would fit on one scroll.) The Jewish Study Bible points out that 2 Samuel is composed of three parts: David’s rise to power (Ch 1-8); his sin with Bathsheba and the ensuing troubles in his family (Ch 8-20); and an appendix consisting of miscellaneous materials (Ch 21-24).

The verses omitted from today’s reading (2-16) gave an account of Saul’s death that is different from the account at the end of 1 Sam and comes from a different source. In the omitted verses, an Amalekite soldier brought David the crown and armlet of Saul and (expecting a reward) told David that he had (at Saul’s request) put him out of his wounded misery by killing him (1:10). David, however, killed the Amalekite soldier because he “killed the LORD’s anointed” (v.16).

The reading today is a lament/dirge of David and refers to a lost type of song (“The Bow”) and a lost collection of poems that is also mentioned in Joshua 10:13. Given the strained relationship between Saul and David, the description of Saul as “beloved” (v.23) shows that these verses came from a different source. The NOAB suggests that the reference to Philistines as “uncircumcised” is intended to disparage them. The JSB notes that the lament does not mention God and the expressions of grief relate solely to the deaths of Saul and Jonathan, and not to Israel’s defeat. The NOAB opines that the closeness of David’s relationship with Jonathan (“passing the love of women” in v. 26) does not necessarily imply a sexual relationship.


Wisdom 1:13-15, 2:23-24


13 God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living.
14 For he created all things so that they might exist; the generative forces of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them, and the dominion of Hades is not on earth.
15 For righteousness is immortal.

2:23 God created us for incorruption and made us in the image of his own eternity,
24 but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his company experience it.


The Book of Wisdom, also known as “The Wisdom of Solomon,” is not part of the “Canon” (accepted books) of the Hebrew Bible. It is, however, included as part of the Hebrew Scriptures in Roman Catholic and Orthodox Church Bibles as “deutero-canonical” – part of a “second” Canon. In Protestant Bibles, Wisdom is not included in the Hebrew Scriptures but is part of the Apocrypha (“hidden books”).

This difference in treatment arises because in the period from 300 to 200 BCE, the existing Hebrew Scriptures were translated into Greek (the common language of the time). Compilations of these translations were called the “Septuagint.” The Book of Wisdom was included in most versions of the Septuagint, but this book (among others) was not included in the Canon of the Hebrew Bible (the “TaNaKh”) when it was codified around 110 CE by the Pharisees/Rabbis after the Destruction of the Temple in 70 CE.

Jerome included “Wisdom” and the other books that were part of the Septuagint in the Vulgate (the Latin translation of the Hebrew and the Christian Scriptures around 405 CE). Jerome wrote prefaces to some books that were not in the Jewish Canon of the Hebrew Bible. Later compilers overlooked Jerome’s prefaces, and the Council of Trent in 1546 decreed that the Roman Catholic Canon of the Old Testament included the books that were in the Septuagint.

Luther and other Protestants followed the Jewish Canon of the Hebrew Bible and put books from the Septuagint (such as Wisdom) in a separate section called the Apocrypha.

The Wisdom of Solomon purports to be written by Solomon (who reigned in Israel from 965 to 930 BCE). It was actually written in Greek by an anonymous Hellenistic Jew in the late First Century BCE or the early First Century CE. The author’s intent was to show the superiority of Judaism in language that would be relevant to persons familiar with Greek philosophy, and to encourage Jews in the Diaspora during the Greco-Roman Era to be faithful. For this reason, there is an emphasis in the Book on Platonic ideas such as soul, immortality, and the guiding force of Sophia (Wisdom).

Today’s reading (v.14) referred to Hades, the Greek abode of the dead (“Sheol” in Judaism) and affirmed that “righteousness” (right relation with God, others, and the world) is immortal. According to The New Jerome Biblical Commentary, the author of Wisdom, contrary to Greek philosophy, did not conclude that immortality arose from the nature of the soul but from one’s relationship with God. Immortality was seen as a gift of God to the righteous. For those who were not righteous (v.24), death is the result of the Disobedience Event in the Garden of Eden (Gen 3:19) – “to dust you shall return.”


2 Corinthians 8:7-15


7 As you excel in everything — in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you — so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.

8 I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. 9 For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. 10 And in this matter, I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something – 11 now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. 12 For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has — not according to what one does not have. 13 I do not mean that there should be relief for others and pressure on you, but it is a question of a fair balance between 14 your present abundance and their need, so that their abundance may be for your need, in order that there may be a fair balance. 15 As it is written, “The one who had much did not have too much, and the one who had little did not have too little.”


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.

Today’s reading began with flattery to support Paul’s exhortation to Jesus Followers in Corinth to give generously to a collection he was taking up on behalf of the Jerusalem Jesus Follower community. The Jewish Annotated New Testament points out that Paul’s appeal was intended to bring both economic relief for the Jerusalem church and also show unity between it and the Gentile diaspora congregations. (It also notes that Acts of the Apostles – which details much of Paul’s activity – does not mention the collection.) Chapter 9 repeated much of Chapter 8, but may have been from a different letter that made a similar appeal to a different group in Corinth.

In verse 15, Paul paraphrased Exodus 16:18 which described the amount of manna each Israelite received in the Wilderness – neither too much nor too little.


Mark 5:21-43


21 When Jesus had crossed again in the boat to the other side, a great crowd gathered around him; and he was by the sea. 22 Then one of the leaders of the synagogue named Jairus came and, when he saw him, fell at his feet 23 and begged him repeatedly, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” 24 So he went with him.

And a large crowd followed him and pressed in on him. 25 Now there was a woman who had been suffering from hemorrhages for twelve years. 26 She had endured much under many physicians and had spent all that she had; and she was no better, but rather grew worse. 27 She had heard about Jesus and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his cloak, 28 for she said, “If I but touch his clothes, I will be made well.” 29 Immediately her hemorrhage stopped; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. 30 Immediately aware that power had gone forth from him, Jesus turned about in the crowd and said, “Who touched my clothes?” 31 And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing in on you; how can you say, ‘Who touched me?’” 32 He looked all around to see who had done it. 33 But the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came in fear and trembling, fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. 34 He said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace and be healed of your disease.”

35 While he was still speaking, some people came from the leader’s house to say, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the teacher any further?” 36 But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the leader of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” 37 He allowed no one to follow him except Peter, James, and John, the brother of James. 38 When they came to the house of the leader of the synagogue, he saw a commotion, people weeping and wailing loudly. 39 When he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a commotion and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” 40 And they laughed at him. Then he put them all outside and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him and went in where the child was. 41 He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha cum,” which means, “Little girl, get up!” 42 And immediately the girl got up and began to walk about (she was twelve years of age). At this they were overcome with amazement. 43 He strictly ordered them that no one should know this and told them to give her something to eat.


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.” 

In last week’s reading, Jesus crossed to the east/Gentile side of the Sea of Galilee and calmed the storm. While there, he confronted the Gerasene Demoniac (5:2-13) and caused the evil spirits within the Demoniac to enter 2,000 swine who rushed into the sea and drowned (v.13). Not surprisingly (after this economic disaster), the people begged Jesus to leave them. The man who had been possessed by demons asked Jesus to be allowed to go with him, but Jesus refused and told him to go around the Decapolis proclaiming what had done for him (v.20).

Today’s reading picked up after Jesus returned to the western/Jewish side of the Sea of Galilee. In these verses, the author has “sandwiched” separate healing stories.

At these times, “leaders of the synagogue” (v.22) would not have been religious figures but were prominent persons in the community.

Jewish Law distinguished between a woman having her period, and one suffering from a genital hemorrhage. In either case, this woman might well have been regarded as ritually unclean and in a continuously impure state – which might also have affected the community’s response to her. The JANT questions whether such ritual impurity (a topic not mentioned in the text) would have mattered in a local village where access to the Jerusalem Temple was not an issue. The JANT points out that the contrast presented in the story was between sickness and a healing based on faith. Where Jesus’ healing is emphasized, the Kingdom of God is presented as a time of liberation from impurity not from purity laws.

The healing of Jairus’ daughter is not unlike Elijah’s raising of the widow’s son (1 Kings 17:22). In both stories, the child was understood by others to be dead. Noting that the girl’s age (12) is the same number of years as the woman suffered from a hemorrhage, some scholars regard the stories as a reference to the renewal of the 12 tribes of Israel. Jairus called the child “little daughter” (v. 23) and Jesus called her “little girl” (v.41) even though she was on the cusp of  marriageable age in the First Century.