Monday, July 11, 2011

1 Samuel

This first book of Samuel follows the people of Israel from the birth of Samuel, the fall of Saul, and the rise of David; through out this whole time the nation of Israel are battling with the Philistines.

The first chapter begins with anguish and heartbreak... Hannah was unable to have children and was continually ridiculed by the other wives. Finally she couldn't take it anymore and cried out to God for a child, vowing to give the child to God. When Hannah gave birth to a son she named him Samuel {which sounds like the Hebrew word for "asked of God" or "heard by God". I love the how names in Hebrew have so much meaning.

Chapters 2-7 tell the story of the rise of Samuel to becoming Israel's Judge. When he is old enough Samuel goes to work in the temple with Eli. Eli is warned that his sons are committing evil and dishonoring God, but he does nothing. So God calls out to Samuel 3 times one night; he keeps thinking that it is Eli calling out to him. Finally Eli says it is God, when he calls you again tell him your servant is listening. God tells Samuel that because of Eli's sins and the sins of his sons, no sacrifice will ever redeem them, and the sons will be killed on the same day. This was interesting to me, continual blaspheme and defiling of the temple permanently removed this family from god... How do I honor God, How do I treat His temple? This comes to pass during a battle with the Philistine army, Phineas and Hophini are killed and the Arc is taken. A 98 year old blind man ran all the way from the battle to Eli to tell him of the news. I of course thought this was pretty cool! He's 98 and blind and runs for quite a distance, I don't know how far, but it says he arrived later that day. While the Arc is in the possession of the Philistines, they continue to find their gods lieing face down in front of the Arc. The city is struck with a plague, so they decide to send the Arc back with a guilt offering. Samuel then becomes judge of Israel and drives out the Philistines.

Chapters 8-13 are when Saul becomes king, but because of his disobedience his reign as king will be short. In these chapters the people of God demand a king, which breaks Samuele's heart, God tells him "they are not rejecting you they are rejecting me, they no longer want Me as their King." Samuel is shown that Saul will be king, he is tall and handsome, and again from the least family from the least tribe. To prove he is king Saul is given signs and prophecies. Saul lead a massive army to free Israel from the Amorites and with a decided victory, there is no doubt that Saul is meant to be king. Later, while fighting the Philistines, the Israeli people scatter at the sight of the Philistine's huge army. Saul is supposed to wait for Samuel to offer a sacrifice, but does not and offers his own. Because of this disobedience Saul is told that his reign will end, and a man after God's own heart will rise to be Israel's king.

The rest of 1 Samuel is a bit confusing chronologically for me; it seemed like David met Saul twice, as well as Samuel died twice... David is chosen to be king by Samuel and goes and plays music and serves Saul. Then there is the story of the bravery of David facing Goliath. We all have heard this story, but what struck me reading it this time was that David was so outraged at the blasphemy coming from Goliath that he takes the challenge, knocking him out with a stone then cutting off his head. David goes to live with Saul (see he meets him twice). For the remainder of the book Saul waffles between loving David and wanting to kill him, and David running around the wilderness freeing Israel from oppression and hiding for his life. David is given 2 chances to kill Saul, but each time spares his life, and Saul repents for trying to kill David, but then resumes his jealousy and begins to hunt David again.

In the final battle of the book against the Philistines Saul and his remaining 3 sons are killed. Saul is fatally wounded and in order to keep from being captured and tortured by the Philistines he falls on his own sword.

It saddened me that King Saul was so overcome with jealousy for David that it really corrupted and consumed him. He was even confronted by David who told him, Who am I that a king spends all these resources on finding and killing one man... It makes me think about how much I let other people get to me. Maybe they are complete strangers that just do stupid stuff and it annoys me, or an acquaintance that drives me to speak judgemental and harsh, or a friend that wounds me deeply. The truth in all of this is that humans are just that, human, fallen, corrupt with sin, only redeemed by Jesus. Even though we are redeemed, we have to continually work to not indulge our sinful nature. Only in God can I place full confidence, knowing He will never let me down. Knowing this to be true doesn't make it any easier to act upon, after all our only experience is that of being human...

No comments: