|The Parable of the Sower Explained - Matthew 13:18-23|
The words of Nehemiah son of Hacaliah. In the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, while I was in Susa the capital, one of my brothers, Hanani, came with certain men from Judah; and I asked them about the Jews that survived, those who had escaped the captivity, and about Jerusalem. They replied, "The survivors there in the province who escaped captivity are in great trouble and shame; the wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates have been destroyed by fire." When I heard these words I sat down and wept, and mourned for days, fasting and praying before the God of heaven. I said, "O LORD God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments; let your ear be attentive and your eyes open to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for your servants, the people of Israel, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Both I and my family have sinned. We have offended you deeply, failing to keep the commandments, the statutes, and the ordinances that you commanded your servant Moses. Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, 'If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples; but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are under the farthest skies, I will gather them from there and bring them to the place at which I have chosen to establish my name.' They are your servants and your people, whom you redeemed by your great power and your strong hand. O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight in revering your name. Give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man!" At the time, I was cupbearer to the king.
Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels surrounding the throne and the living creatures and the elders; they numbered myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, singing with full voice, "Worthy is the Lamb that was slaughtered to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, singing, "To the one seated on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" And the four living creatures said, "Amen!" And the elders fell down and worshiped. Then I saw the Lamb open one of the seven seals, and I heard one of the four living creatures call out, as with a voice of thunder, "Come!" I looked, and there was a white horse! Its rider had a bow; a crown was given to him, and he came out conquering and to conquer. When he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature call out, "Come!" And out came another horse, bright red; its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people would slaughter one another; and he was given a great sword. When he opened the third seal, I heard the third living creature call out, "Come!" I looked, and there was a black horse! Its rider held a pair of scales in his hand, and I heard what seemed to be a voice in the midst of the four living creatures saying, "A quart of wheat for a day's pay, and three quarts of barley for a day's pay, but do not damage the olive oil and the wine!" When he opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth living creature call out, "Come!" I looked and there was a pale green horse! Its rider's name was Death, and Hades followed with him; they were given authority over a fourth of the earth, to kill with sword, famine, and pestilence, and by the wild animals of the earth. When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slaughtered for the word of God and for the testimony they had given; they cried out with a loud voice, "Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long will it be before you judge and avenge our blood on the inhabitants of the earth?" They were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number would be complete both of their fellow servants and of their brothers and sisters, who were soon to be killed as they themselves had been killed.
"Hear then the parable of the sower. When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what is sown in the heart; this is what was sown on the path. As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet such a person has no root, but endures only for a while, and when trouble or persecution arises on account of the word, that person immediately falls away. As for what was sown among thorns, this is the one who hears the word, but the cares of the world and the lure of wealth choke the word, and it yields nothing. But as for what was sown on good soil, this is the one who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and yields, in one case a hundredfold, in another sixty, and in another thirty."
Psalm 50 Deus deorum
1 The LORD, the God of gods, has spoken; he has called the earth from the rising of the sun to its setting.
2 Out of Zion, perfect in its beauty, God reveals himself in glory.
3 Our God will come and will not keep silence; before him there is a consuming flame, and round about him a raging storm.
4 He calls the heavens and the earth from above to witness the judgment of his people.
5 Gather before me my loyal followers, those who have made a covenant with me and sealed it with sacrifice.
6 Let the heavens declare the rightness of his cause; for God himself is judge.
7 Hear, O my people, and I will speak: "O Israel, I will bear witness against you; for I am God, your God.
8 I do not accuse you because of your sacrifices; your offerings are always before me.
9 I will take no bull-calf from your stalls, nor he-goats out of your pens;
10 For all the beasts of the forest are mine, the herds in their thousands upon the hills.
11 I know every bird in the sky, and the creatures of the fields are in my sight.
12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the whole world is mine and all that is in it.
13 Do you think I eat the flesh of bulls, or drink the blood of goats?
14 Offer to God a sacrifice of thanksgiving and make good your vows to the Most High.
15 Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall honor me."
16 But to the wicked God says: "Why do you recite my statutes, and take my covenant upon your lips;
17 Since you refuse discipline, and toss my words behind your back?
18 When you see a thief, you make him your friend, and you cast in your lot with adulterers.
19 You have loosed your lips for evil, and harnessed your tongue to a lie.
20 You are always speaking evil of your brother and slandering your own mother's son.
21 These things you have done, and I kept still, and you thought that I am like you."
22 I have made my accusation; I have put my case in order before your eyes.
23 Consider this well, you who forget God, lest I rend you and there be none to deliver you.
24 Whoever offers me the sacrifice of thanksgiving honors me; but to those who keep in my way will I show the salvation of God."
Psalm 103 Benedic, anima mea
1 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy Name.
2 Bless the LORD, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits.
3 He forgives all your sins and heals all your infirmities;
4 He redeems your life from the grave and crowns you with mercy and loving-kindness;
5 He satisfies you with good things, and your youth is renewed like an eagle's.
6 The LORD executes righteousness and judgment for all who are oppressed.
7 He made his ways known to Moses and his works to the children of Israel.
8 The LORD is full of compassion and mercy, slow to anger and of great kindness.
9 He will not always accuse us, nor will he keep his anger for ever.
10 He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor rewarded us according to our wickedness.
11 For as the heavens are high above the earth, so is his mercy great upon those who fear him.
12 As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our sins from us.
13 As a father cares for his children, so does the LORD care for those who fear him.
14 For he himself knows whereof we are made; he remembers that we are but dust.
15 Our days are like the grass; we flourish like a flower of the field;
16 When the wind goes over it, it is gone, and its place shall know it no more.
17 But the merciful goodness of the LORD endures for ever on those who fear him, and his righteousness on children's children;
18 On those who keep his covenant and remember his commandments and do them.
19 The LORD has set his throne in heaven, and his kingship has dominion over all.
20 Bless the LORD, you angels of his, you mighty ones who do his bidding, and hearken to the voice of his word.
21 Bless the LORD, all you his hosts, you ministers of his who do his will.
22 Bless the LORD, all you works of his, in all places of his dominion; bless the LORD, O my soul.
New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright 1989, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The New Revised Standard Version Bible may be quoted and/or reprinted up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses without express written permission of the publisher, provided the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible or account for fifty percent (50%) of the total work in which they are quoted.