Archive for July, 2010
So, Saul has some victories and the people are pleased with their new king.
Then, Saul was told to wait seven days for Samuel to come and make a burnt offering before the Lord. However, Samuel doesn’t show in that time, so Saul takes it upon himself (pride?) and makes the burnt offering without Samuel.
Wow, big mistake. Samuel says, “You have acted foolishly, you have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you, for now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever. But now your kingdom shall not endure.”
Dang. Pride and impatience. So glad I don’t have issues in those two areas.
Oh, wait, I do. How many times would Samuel had to sit me down with a similar chastisement? Guess that’s why I’m not “king” of much at this time.
Hey, did you see that even back then the Philistines were hooked on Oprah? See verse 17:
And the raiders came from the camp of the Philistines in three companies: one company turned toward Oprah…
I guess they didn’t fight that day because they watched TV instead.
God chose them.
Then, they forgot about that and fell under Egyptian captivity.
Then, they cried out to God and he delivered them.
Then, they forgot about that and fell under Babylonian captivity.
Then, they cried out to God and he delivered them.
Then, they forgot and were threatened by the Amonites.
Then, they cried out for a king, which was clearly frowned upon by the Lord, but they demanded it anyway.
What’s with these people?
Sounds a lot like me sometimes. I just want to believe that someone back then could have reminded them, but then again, I can’t even stay faithful myself.
So glad that God is merciful and full of grace towards His people.
Can’t wait to see what Saul does next…
Nahash the Ammonite. Not the nicest fella, nor the smartest.
First he besieged Jabesh-gilead. When the occupants pleaded, he said they could be his servants, but he’d first have to gouge out one of each of their eyes.
Then, they asked for 7 days to muster help.
Um…let me see if I get this right. Nahash agreed to wait a week while the citizens of Jabesh-giliead had the chance to gather an army?
Very interesting. Perhaps Nahash felt the Jews were weak and that no one would come to their rescue. Perhaps because the people had no “king” they had the reputation of being weak.
Oh, Israel, if you only understood the power of God on your side.
Story turns out good for Israel. Saul gets involved, persuades all his Jewish buddies to fight and they slaughtered the Ammonites. Now, the people recognized Saul ask king.
And so it begins…
One day he wakes up as Saul, son of Kish, in search of lost donkeys. The next, he wakes up as Saul, anointed first king of Israel, in search of the first king of Israel instruction manual.
Must have been an amazing and confusing time for everyone. I get the feeling that God was saying, “You asked for it. Here you go.” But, maybe that’s just what I would have said if I were God.
I found it amazing how Samuel gave Saul all these very specific instructions:
When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, “What shall I do about my son?”
3 “Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. 4 They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them.
5 “After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. 6 The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. 7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.
8 “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.”
And, this was all done without the use of cell phones. Did Samuel have all this arranged ahead of time? Or, did God just give Samuel these instructions right there on the spot, and then make them all happen just as Samuel said?
I prefer to believe the latter.
Lord, you ordain my steps. I wish to follow in the steps you have laid out for me today that you may be glorified.
Think of how God worked all this out.
The people demanded a king – against the wishes of God’s prophet, Samuel, against the wishes of God Himself.
So, Samuel sets out on his quest to find a king for the nation of Israel.
Meanwhile (back at the donkey ranch), Saul’s dad happens to lose some donkeys. Saul just happens to be sent out to look for them. Saul just happens to not be able to find them anywhere and is about to give up. Saul’s servant just happens to mention that Samuel is nearby and might know where the donkeys are. They just happen to go there to find Samuel.
Coincidence? Of course not. But to Saul it must have been pretty strange. He even tries to point out that he’s from one of the smallest Israel tribes, the tribe of Benjamin. But God has already told Samuel to be looking out for the man He has chosen for the job. Saul, being a full head taller than others, and handsome, was probably an obvious sight to Samuel.
I’m reminded that God is very intentional and in charge. Even when things seem impossible or leading in the wrong direction, God may be at work. I’m sure Saul wasn’t happy about having to traipse halfway across the countryside in search of a few donkeys – even to the point of the food running out. But look where God was leading him.
You just never know where God may be leading – even if it’s quite uncomfortable or annoying – even if it feels like a wild donkey chase.
PS – I hope you’re all enjoying reading Samuel as much as I am. This should be the next Bible movie, if you ask me.
I’ve read this before, but it never hit me how important the decision of the people of Israel’s demand for a king.
Samuel tried to convince them otherwise, but they refused to listen. I wonder how things might be different today if they had listened to God. Instead, God told Samuel to give them what they want.
I was troubled by God’s remark “all they’ve done since I delivered them out of Egypt is complain and disobey.”
Sounds a lot like me sometimes.
Lord, help me to have a soft heart again and listen to Your words and obey You. You know me. You know my future. You know what’s best for me and I submit to that.
1 Samuel 6 talks about how the Phillies returned the ark to Israel, and at a great cost – not only in lives lost because of taking it, but the “guilt” offering that had to accompany it on its return.
1 When the ark of the LORD had been in Philistine territory seven months, 2 the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the LORD ? Tell us how we should send it back to its place.”
3 They answered, “If you return the ark of the god of Israel, do not send it away empty, but by all means send a guilt offering to him. Then you will be healed, and you will know why his hand has not been lifted from you.”
It got me thinking how costly it is to mess with God. I’m reminded of the scripture that says, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
It also got me thinking about the whole concept of “guilt offering.” Not sure how applicable it is since the Phillies were not God followers to begin with, and they stole something from God. But – have I stolen anything from God? Is it more costly to give back PLUS the guilt offering?
Something to think about…
I probably already mentioned this, but the books of Samuel in the OT are some of my favorite Bible passages. They read like a gladiator movie or Indiana Jones or something.
I am especially fond of this chapter where the Philistines put the ark of God in their temple next to their Dagon god. In the morning, the Dagon had fallen on its face before the ark. So, the Phillies put Dagon back up. The next morning, same thing – Dagon fell over before the ark, but this time his head and limbs broke off and were lying in the threshold.
After that, they kept moving the ark around because where ever it went, the people of that area were inflicted with terrible devastation like tumors. Finally, they realized it would be better to send it back to Israel.
It got me thinking about what kind of abomination do we carry with us? Is there anything in our lives, or in our homes that is not pleasing to God? Are there things that tempt us that we keep within reach? Maybe there are things that aren’t bad per se, but rob us of time or focus. Perhaps it’s time to send them back to the enemy because they’re causing devastation in our lives.
Wondering what God told Samuel in chapter 3? Check it out:
11 And the LORD said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’ ” 1 Samuel 3 (NIV)
So in chapter 4, we see God carrying out his judgment upon Israel. You see, back in chapter 2 Samuel’s sons dishonored God and took advantage of their position in leadership and stealing from God and taking advantage of women at the temple. Look at the devastation their disobedience caused:
Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. 2 The Philistines deployed their forces to meet Israel, and as the battle spread, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand of them on the battlefield.
And, later in the chapter:
10 So the Philistines fought, and the Israelites were defeated and every man fled to his tent. The slaughter was very great; Israel lost thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11 The ark of God was captured, and Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
Eli’s sons were killed. The ark of God captured by the enemy.
What a sobering reminder of the consequences of disobedience to God’s commands.
Lord, keep me from temptation to do things my own way today. I long to follow You with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.