05 March 2016

Stone 9 - 1 Samuel

We finished the book of Ruth with a short genealogy that pointed to David. Remember that Ruth is David's great grandma. In 1 Samuel we get an opportunity to meet David.

Samuel Comes on the Scene
We will start by introducing Hannah, Samuel's mother. For some time Hannah was barren (1Sam 1:2,5). *Has anyone else noticed that many of the prominent figures came from some sort of barrenness or difficult situation? There is no question that God is part of these encounters.* The bad part for Hannah is that not only is she childless but her husband has a second wife who constantly goads her about it (1Sam 1:6). Hannah then pleads with God (1Sam 1:11) for a son and promises to dedicate the child to Him. We see that God granted Hannah's request (1 Sam 1:20) and she kept her promise (1Sam 1:27-28).

While the text simply covers this in a sort of "matter of fact" way, I imagine it being a more difficult time than the text would make it appear. I am a father of five myself and have dedicated all five of my own children to the Lord as well. However, that did not mean dropping them off at a church in a far off town as a toddler. How emotionally charged those moments must have been. Here is Hannah, just had her first child after being barren for a while and she just drops the kid off with Eli the priest. We also don't get any information on what Eli was thinking. Imagine a woman coming in to say "Hey, remember me? I am the lady that prayed here a couple years ago. Here is my son that I prayed for and am giving to the Lord. BAM - and like that Eli becomes a foster parent. We can know that Hannah did come and visit at least once a year (1Sam 2:19).

The Foster Family
OK - so now we learn that the family of the priest where Samuel is staying is not the exactly the best crowd to be hanging with (1Sam 2:12). Now Eli gets after them verbally (1Sam 2:23-24) but never enforces anything or puts an end to their antics (1Sam 3:13). This makes God angry and therefore Eli's ancestral line will be cut off (1Sam 2:30).

Samuel Gets Promoted
God calls to Samuel in such a way that Samuel thinks it is Eli calling for him (1Sam 3:4-5). This happens a couple more times until Eli figures out what is going on (1Sam 3:8). *Perhaps one day I might experience this audible type of speaking with God. That would be awesome.* Over time, Samuel developed a reputation (1Sam 3:20).

Segue now to some battles where Eli's sons are engaged. The Philistines were busy beating up the Israelites pretty good (1Sam 4:2) and so the Israelites thought they might bring out the big guns (1Sam 4:4) which is the ark. Now this had the effect they were looking for (1Sam 4:7-8) but unfortunately for the Israelites it did not help them win the battle since the Lord was not with them (1Sam 4:10-11). Eli's sons die in the battle and the ark is captured and when Eli hears the news and also dies (1Sam 4:18).

So the Philistines have the ark now - imagine the victory dance they were performing that night! Alright - so that would be short lived... (1Sam 5:6) So they move the ark and the plagues follow (1Sam 5:9) and they move it again to no avail (1Sam 5:10) - apparently they had heard about the other two cities and what happened to them and wanted nothing to do with the ark. Alas, the Philistines ended up giving their loot back to the Israelites (1Sam 6:1-2).

Some 20 years later, the Israelites began seeking the Lord again (1Sam 7:2). Samuel, of course, is well into his adult years by this point and he give them sound advice to get rid of all the false gods they have (1Sam 7:3) and to meet at Mizpah where Samuel prays and begins to lead as the judge (1Sam 7:5-6).

Keeping Up With The Jones'
I titled the section this way because I see some connections here with how Israel behaves. So Samuel, as good a man as he is, does not have sons who follow in his footsteps. It would appear that the position of power they were given had corrupted them (1Sam 8:1-3). So Isreal keeps asking for a king to rule over them because that is what the other nations have (1Sam 8:5). I can just imagine the whining now...

The sad part is that they had the best King already... God himself... but they rejected Him (1Sam 8:7) and (1Sam 10:19). Samuel tries to warn them about what the appointed king would do but the Israelites don't seem to care (1Sam 8:19-20). Notice in verse 20 where it states "Then we'll be like all the other nations..." - Isreal was supposed to Holy - set apart - not like the others... alas God gives them over to the desires of their hearts. They just wanted what everyone else had.

Surprise! You Are Now King
So what starts out as a simple search for a few donkeys (1Sam 9:3) ends up netting Saul with the highest position in the land (1Sam 10:1). Who would not be a little weirded out by that? Later on there is a public ceremony in Mizpah (1Sam 10:17-19) so that all would know Saul was the new king.

What I find interesting here is that I get this impression that Saul has some cold feet about this because it appears that he is hiding during the ceremony. Who would not be a little nervous? First king ever and was simply snatched up during a search for some donkeys - was not even planning on running a campaign for king... Whoa big load just dropped on shoulders... So in 1Sam 10:21-22 we read that they found him hidden among some supplies. LOL That is an interesting first impression for a new king to make.

So Saul does a pretty good job at first by winning a battle against the Ammonites and saving the people of Jabesh-gilead. The people are happy and they have a sort of party (1Sam 11:14-15). Samuel then gives a little speech to the people of Israel and reminds them of all the things that the Lord has done for them over the years (1Sam 12:1-25). *Reminds me of the speeches of Moses and Joshua*

Costly Decisions
If we look back a little to 1Sam 10:8, Samuel gives instructions to Saul to go to Gilgal and wait for him for seven days. Samuel says he will come and offer some sacrifices and tell Saul what to do. We read in 1Sam 13:9 that Saul gives the offering himself. Just then, Samuel shows up (v.10) and rebukes Saul for not listening. This was to be the beginning of the end for Saul (1Sam 13:13-14).

Later, Samuel comes to Saul and gives direction from the Lord (1Sam 15:3). Saul, however, does not carry out the instructions correctly (1Sam 15:9). We also see that Saul created a monument to himself in verse twelve.

Samuel confronts Saul (1Sam 15:14-19) and true to human form, Saul tries to justify his actions as being OK (1Sam 15:20-21). Notice that it takes the form of "...but I was going to do it for the Lord..."

The Next King
God now sends Samuel on a mission to go and anoint David as the next king (1Sam 16:1). So Samuel heads off to Bethlehem to meet up with Jesse - Ruth's Grandson (remember that David is the great grandson) - Samuel will be anointing one of the sons. So Jesse's sons start to come out before Samuel and Samuel notices one of the sons and figures that this must be the one (1Sam 16:6).

*Now this next verse has been one of my favorites over the years - 1Sam 16:7 - "But the Lord said to Samuel, 'Do not look at his appearance or his stature, because I have rejected him. Man does not see what the Lord sees, for man sees what is visible, but the Lord sees the heart.'"*

Eventually David comes out and God tells Samuel that he is the one.

Interestingly, as David is anointed, Saul has evil thoughts and calls for someone to come and play the harp for him and calm him down. It just so happens that David is a pretty good harp player (1Sam 16:18). Fancy that.

David comes and does a good job and gets to stay and that brings us to the conflict with Goliath. This is a rather popular account so to keep it short, Goliath, this really big guy, pretty much comes out and taunts the Israelites to a one-on-one battle but no one wants to take him up on the challenge. So for 40 days Goliath is out there sending out a challenge that the Israelites do not respond to making them look like a bunch of wimps (1Sam 17:16). So David comes along and hears about all the commotion with this Goliath fellow and says I will do it and Saul says 'No' (1Sam 17:33). David convinces Saul that he has God on his side and will win so he goes out proclaiming the Lord and slings a stone right in Goliath's head and down he goes - David then cuts his head off (1Sam 17:45-51).

This became the beginning of David's success as well as Saul's jealousy towards him. Saul tries to kill David on more than one occasion when he comes to play the harp for him as he had done in the past (1Sam 18:10-11, 19:9-10). David flees to several places as Saul pursued (1Sam 21-26).

On at least two occasions, David had the opportunity to take out Saul but did not. Once in a cave (1Sam 24:8-11) and once in their camp (1Sam 26:9-12).

Saul says that he will not harm David (1Sam 26:21) but I don't think David believes that (1Sam 27:1). He ends up hanging out in Philistine territory for some time until another battle between the Israelites and the Philistines comes up. Saul consults with a medium (1Sam 28:7) to speak with Samuel who had passed away by this point. Samuel informs him that he will lose (1Sam 28:19). David and his crew were planning on fighting with the Philistines (1Sam 28:1-2) but they were discovered as being Israelites and asked to leave (1Sam 29:3-5).

So David left to go back and gather his family and posessions and discovered that the Amalekites had raided the territory and kidnapped his family (1Sam 30:3-5). David tracks down the Amalekites and recovers all his family (1Sam 30:18). Meanwhile, as the Philistines were attacking the Israelites in the battle that David was sent away from, Saul was killed (1Sam 31:2-6).

Thus 1 Samuel comes to a close with the death of its first king, Saul. Next we will see David become the new king of the Israelites.

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