The Daily Audio Bible Reading for Thursday May 23, 2024 (NIV)

2 Samuel 2:12-3:39

12 Abner, the son of Ner, and the servants of Ish-bosheth (the son of Saul) traveled from Mahanaim to Gibeon. 13 David’s general Joab, whose mother was David’s sister Zeruiah, and David’s servants went out to meet them at the pool of Gibeon. Abner’s forces were by one side of the pool, Joab’s forces by the other.

Abner (to Joab): 14 Why don’t we send our young soldiers out to have a contest before us?

Joab: All right. Send them forward.

15 Twelve men came forward to represent the people of Benjamin and Ish-bosheth, the son of Saul, and twelve to represent David and his people. 16 They all caught their opponents by the head and thrust their swords into their opponents’ sides, so they all fell down together. That is why this place was called the Field of Adversaries, Helkath-hazzurim in Gibeon.

17 The battle that followed this contest was brutal that day, and Abner and the men of Israel were defeated by the servants of David.

18 All three of Zeruiah’s sons were fighting for David: Joab, Abishai, and Asahel. Asahel was a swift runner, fast as a gazelle, 19 and he chased after Abner intently. 20 Abner looked behind him.

Abner: Is that you, Asahel?

Asahel: It is.

Abner: 21 Stop pursuing me. Attack one of the soldiers of your own rank, and take his possessions instead.

But Asahel would not stop in his pursuit.

Abner: 22 If you don’t stop pursuing me, I’ll have no choice but to kill you! And how could I show my face in front of your brother Joab if I do such a thing?

23 But Asahel refused to be diverted. Abner didn’t even use the point of his spear. He thrust with the butt of his spear, and the spear struck Asahel in his abdomen and passed all the way through him. He fell, and there he died. And all those who arrived on that spot stopped and just stood there staring in amazement.

24 But Asahel’s brothers, Joab and Abishai, pursued Abner with their forces. As the sun was setting, they reached the hill of Ammah that is in front of Giah on the way to the wilderness of Gibeon. 25 The people of Benjamin banded together to protect Abner, and they made their stand on top of a hill.

Abner (calling to Joab): 26 Are we to continue this killing forever? Don’t you see that this will come to a bitter end? How long until you order your forces to stop pursuing their brothers?

Joab: 27 I swear before the living God that if you had not said this, my forces would have pursued their Israelite brothers until morning.

28 Joab blew the trumpet to call off the attack against the men of Israel, and all pursuit and battle stopped. 29 Abner and his men went on, traveling all night across the desert plain.[a] They crossed the Jordan River, and by traveling all morning reached Mahanaim. 30 Joab and his forces, meanwhile, came back together after pursuing Abner. They discovered that in addition to Asahel, 19 of David’s men were missing; 31 but David’s men had killed 360 of the men of Benjamin and the others who served Abner.

32 They brought Asahel’s body back and buried him in Bethlehem in his ancestral tomb. Joab and his men marched all night and arrived home in Hebron at dawn.

This was the beginning of a long war between the forces loyal to David and the forces loyal to Saul’s son Ish-bosheth. David’s forces continued to grow in strength, while the forces of Saul’s son Ish-bosheth grew ever weaker.

While David was king at Hebron, he fathered these sons: the first was Amnon, whose mother was Ahinoam of Jezreel; his second was Chileab, whose mother was Abigail, the widow of Nabal of Carmel; his third was Absalom, whose mother was Maacah, daughter of King Talmai of Geshur; his fourth was Adonijah, whose mother was Haggith; his fifth was Shephatiah, whose mother was Abital; his sixth was Ithream, whose mother was David’s wife Eglah. All of these sons were born at Hebron.

During the war between David and the house of Saul, Abner was carving out a place of power among those who supported Saul’s family. Earlier Saul had a mistress named Rizpah, who was the daughter of Aiah. Ish-bosheth went to Abner and accused him.

Ish-bosheth: Why have you slept with my father’s mistress?

Ish-bosheth is outraged because sleeping with a king’s wife or concubine is tantamount to claiming the throne.

This accusation of disloyalty made Abner very angry.

Abner: Am I no better than a dog, whose head is turned by any female? Do I serve Judah? I have done nothing but give my loyalty to your father Saul, to his brothers, and to his friends; and I have not betrayed you to David. How can you come to me and accuse me of a crime concerning this woman? Now I will see you are overthrown.

May the True God punish me severely if I don’t do for David what the Eternal One has promised him: 10 to take away the throne from Saul and set up David’s throne, who will be king over both Israel and Judah, from Dan in the far north to Beersheba in the southern desert.

11 Ish-bosheth didn’t dare to say anything else to Abner after this; he was afraid of him.

12 Abner sent this message on his own behalf to David at Hebron:

Abner’s Message: Who is in charge of this land? Make an agreement with me, and I will give you my support. I will persuade everyone in Israel to support your cause.

David: 13 Fine. I will make a covenant with you. But one thing is nonnegotiable: I don’t want to see you unless you have Saul’s daughter Michal with you when you come before me.

14 At the same time, David sent Ish-bosheth, Saul’s son, this message:

David’s Message: Send me back my wife, your sister, Michal. I bought her with a bride-price of 100 Philistine foreskins.

15 So Ish-bosheth sent for Michal and had her taken away from her husband Paltiel, the son of Laish. 16 Paltiel followed the party, weeping, all the way to Bahurim in Benjamin. Finally Abner ordered him to stop following them, and he returned home.

17 Abner sent a message to the leaders of Israel.

Abner’s Message: For some time now you have wanted David to be your king; 18 now is the time for you to make it happen. You remember that the Eternal One promised David that He would use him to deliver Israel from the Philistines and from all our enemies.

19 Abner also communicated directly with the people of Benjamin, Saul’s tribe, to enlist their support; and at last he went to Hebron to tell David that the people of Israel—all of them, including Benjamin—were ready to support him.

20 Abner came with 20 of his men to meet with David at Hebron, and David held a great feast for them.

Abner (to David): 21 Let me go now and enlist all of Israel behind you my lord, the king, so that they may make a covenant with you, and you will be ruler over all your heart desires.

David dismissed Abner then and sent him away in peace. 22 But after he left, Joab and some of David’s warriors returned with the spoils of a raid. 23 Joab and his forces arrived and heard that Abner, the son of Ner, had met with the king, and that he had gone his way in peace. 24 Joab went to David.

Joab is still angry over the death of his brother Asahel, and he considers it a blood debt that needs to be collected.

Joab: What have you done? You had Abner in your hands! Why did you let him get away? He’s gone. 25 Don’t you know that Abner, the son of Ner, came here only to deceive you, to find out your strength and what you are up to?

26 When Joab left David’s presence, he sent for messengers to find Abner. They caught up to him at the cistern of Sirah; and without David’s knowledge, 27 Abner returned to Hebron. Then, under the pretext of speaking to Abner privately, Joab took him inside the gateway and stabbed him in the stomach. Joab had his revenge on Abner for killing his brother Asahel, and Abner died.

28 When David heard this news, he wanted it understood:

David: I and my kingdom are guiltless for all time in the eyes of the Eternal of the murder of Abner, son of Ner. 29 May all the guilt fall on Joab and on his descendants. May the men in Joab’s line always have an oozing sore or skin disease, no longer be fit for battle, fall in battle, or go hungry.

30 This was the curse King David pronounced because Joab and his brother Abishai murdered Abner in revenge for their brother Asahel, whom Abner killed at the battle at Gibeon. 31 Then David gave an order to Joab and his followers.

David: Tear your clothes. Put on sackcloth, and let me see you mourn for Abner in front of the procession.

And King David himself walked in the procession behind the corpse. 32 They buried Abner at Hebron. At the graveside, David lifted his voice and wept for Abner; and the people wept with him.

33 The king sang a song of lament for Abner.

David: Why should Abner die a fool’s death?
34 Your hands were not bound;
your feet were not chained.
You have fallen
as one falls among the wicked.

And the people wept again over Abner’s grave.

This song reminds us that David may be the writer of many psalms, and that David is a great warrior, musician, poet, and soon, a great king. David is also a person of great contradiction—not perfect, by any means—but a man of oversized loves and passions who must generally have his heart in the right place, since we’re reminded again and again that God loves him. He is powerful, and people in his way do tend to have horrible things happen to them. But he respects the dead, and sometimes, as with Saul, grieves in ways that feel—all these centuries later—authentic.

35 After the ceremony, the people came to David and tried to convince him to eat something that day, but he turned them away because fasting until evening was part of the mourning ritual.

David: May the True God punish me severely if I taste bread or anything else before the sun sets.

36 The people noticed that he honored Abner by fasting, and they approved—as they approved of everything their king did. 37 So everyone believed it was not David’s intention, nor did he have any part in the murder of Abner, the son of Ner.

David (to his servants): 38 Don’t you know that today a prince, a great man, has fallen in Israel? 39 Although I am his anointed king, today I have no power to punish his murderers. The sons of my sister Zeruiah are too violent for me to restrain. May the Eternal repay the wicked according to their wickedness!


  1. 2:29 Hebrew, Arabah
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The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

John 13:1-30

13 Before the Passover festival began, Jesus was keenly aware that His hour had come to depart from this world and to return to the Father. From beginning to end, Jesus’ days were marked by His love for His people. Before Jesus and His disciples gathered for dinner, the adversary filled Judas Iscariot’s heart with plans of deceit and betrayal. Jesus, knowing that He had come from God and was going away to God, stood up from dinner and removed His outer garments. He then wrapped Himself in a towel, poured water in a basin, and began to wash the feet of the disciples, drying them with His towel.

Simon Peter (as Jesus approaches): Lord, are You going to wash my feet?

Jesus: Peter, you don’t realize what I am doing, but you will understand later.

Peter: You will not wash my feet, now or ever!

Jesus: If I don’t wash you, you will have nothing to do with Me.

Peter: Then wash me but don’t stop with my feet. Cleanse my hands and head as well.

Jesus: 10 Listen, anyone who has bathed is clean all over except for the feet. But I tell you this, not all of you are clean.

Within pain and filth, there is an opportunity to extend God’s kingdom through an expression of love, humility, and service. This simple act of washing feet is a metaphor for how the world looks through the lens of Jesus’ grace. He sees the people—the world He created—which He loves. He also sees the filthy corruption in the world that torments everyone. His mission is to cleanse those whom He loves from those horrors. This is His redemptive work with feet, families, disease, famine, and hearts.

When Jesus sees disease, He sees the opportunity to heal. When He sees sin, He sees a chance to forgive and redeem. When He sees dirty feet, He sees a chance to wash them.

11 He knew the one with plans of betraying Him, which is why He said, “not all of you are clean.” 12 After washing their feet and picking up His garments, He reclined at the table again.

Jesus: Do you understand what I have done to you? 13 You call Me Teacher and Lord, and truly, that is who I am. 14 So if your Lord and Teacher washes your feet, then you should wash one another’s feet. 15 I am your example; keep doing what I do. 16 I tell you the truth: a servant is not greater than the master. Those who are sent are not greater than the one who sends them.[a] 17 If you know these things, and if you put them into practice, you will find happiness. 18 I am not speaking about all of you. I know whom I have chosen, but let the Hebrew Scripture be fulfilled that says, “The very same man who eats My bread with Me will stab Me in the back.” 19 Assuredly, I tell you these truths before they happen so that when it all transpires, you will believe that I am. 20 I tell you the truth: anyone who accepts the ones I send accepts Me. In turn, the ones who accept Me also accept the One who sent Me.

21 Jesus was becoming visibly distressed.

Jesus: I tell you the truth: one of you will betray Me.

22 The disciples began to stare at one another, wondering who was the unfaithful disciple. 23 One disciple in particular, who was loved by Jesus, reclined next to Him at the table. 24 Peter motioned to the disciple at Jesus’ side.

Peter (to the beloved disciple): Find out who the betrayer is.

Beloved Disciple (leaning in to Jesus): 25 Lord, who is it?

Jesus: 26 I will dip a piece of bread in My cup and give it to the one who will betray Me.

He dipped one piece in the cup and gave it to Judas, the son of Simon Iscariot. 27 After this occurred, Satan entered into Judas.

Jesus (to Judas): Make haste, and do what you are going to do.

28 No one understood Jesus’ instructions to Judas. 29 Because Judas carried the money, some thought he was being instructed to buy the necessary items for the feast or give some money to the poor. 30 So Judas took his piece of bread and departed into the night.


  1. 13:16 Literally, apostle
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The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Psalm 119:1-16

Psalm 119[a]

Psalm 119 is the longest psalm in the collection. It is a hymn in praise of and appreciation for God’s instructions to His people. You see, God not only called Israel to be His people and gave them a wonderful land, but He gave them a blueprint for living. The Hebrew word for that is torah, sometimes translated “law” or “teachings.” In torah God tells them how to structure their lives and communities so that they will live long, prosperous lives in the land He has given them. As you read through the psalm, you will notice words like law, teachings, precepts, word, decrees, and commands. Each of these words is a synonym highlighting some attribute of God’s instructions to His people.

Another memorable feature of this psalm is its form. The psalmist constructs this hymn as an elaborate acrostic poem that moves artfully through each letter of the Hebrew alphabet. Essentially, all the elements of this psalm combine to emphasize the importance of God’s Word to His people, to the praise and glory of the one True God.


Happy are the people who walk with integrity,
who live according to the teachings of the Eternal.
Happy are the people who keep His decrees,
who pursue Him wholeheartedly.
These are people who do nothing wrong;
they do what it takes to follow His ways.
You have given us Your precepts
so we would be careful about keeping them.
Oh, that every part of my life would remain in line
with what You require!
Then I would feel no shame
when I fix my eyes upon Your commands.
With a pure heart, I will give thanks to You
when I hear about Your just and fair rulings.
I will live within Your limits;
do not abandon me completely!


How can a young person remain pure?
Only by living according to Your word.
10 I have pursued You with my whole heart;
do not let me stray from Your commands.
11 Deep within me I have hidden Your word
so that I will never sin against You.
12 You are blessed, O Eternal One;
instruct me in what You require.
13 My lips have told how
You have delivered all Your wise rulings.
14 I have celebrated Your testimonies
as though rejoicing over an immeasurable fortune.
15 I will fix my mind on Your instructions
and my eyes on Your path.
16 I will find joy in Your ordinances;
I will remember Your word forever.


  1. Psalm 119 A Hebrew acrostic poem
The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

Proverbs 15:29-30

29 The Eternal stays far from the wrongdoers,
but He listens to the prayer of the right-living.
30 Bright eyes and a cheerful expression bring joy to the heart,
and good news revives the spirit and renews health.

The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.