It has been some time since I posted a Bible Study. I am not one to finish projects. Even in school I loved doing big projects, but I always thought there was more to be done when I turned it in. This was not helped by my getting good grades. Because I really liked the topics I chose to research there was no way to actually be finished, but also my teachers’ giving me an A would encourage me to procrastinate the next time, since I obviously was doing just fine.
As an adult this has affected me in projects as well. I continue to be a procrastinator and also will not always finish a project before we present or turn something in. Spiritually I have recognized that this is not the way that God “grades”. I do not get an A for merely reading 10 chapters to catch up after missing my Bible reading for days. I do not get praise for what He knows was not complete. He consistently and constantly reminds me that what He wants is a relationship. In relationship, of course it is never finished. Also, when He is telling me to read His Word, it isn’t for a grade, praise, kudos, etc. It is so I can know Him better and my life can reflect Him more.
Which is why I run so fast and hard from reading the Bible at times. And I bet some of you do the same.
I am a broken and shattered soul that God has picked up countless times to piece back together with gentleness and love. In a world that scoffs at True Love because we know that everyone will fail us, God will not relent. He won’t just mess up one time so we can comfortably allow Him into our lives like everyone else. He refuses to abandon us. He refuses to stop pursuing us. And for those of us who have had our trust broken, this is terrifying and we cannot believe it.
The first Blog Bible Study that I posted was Psalms Book 1, Psalms 1 through 41. It was a wonderful and relieving experience the days that I missed to realize that it was okay, and that I could help others see that missing a Bible chapter isn’t the end of the world. It is when I miss it and let the guilt beat me down and don’t pick the Bible up again that the world will soon feel like it is ending. As I block God out I will become lonely and scared and angry.
My postings of Psalm 40 to Psalm 41 were one month apart because I am a runner, and I ran from reading the Bible for a month. It felt like a lot longer when I finally broke down, so I rejoice that it was only one month. In the past it has been worse. Psalm 40 almost didn’t get done either because we had a conflict with a team member in Lebanon that just planted weeds in my heart. It caused fights with Louis, avoidance of that team member, and a myriad of emotions that I could not handle.
I felt like this other person, who handled it in a very Eastern way—through a mediator, so we never spoke to the person about the conflict, was in control of my life. This person got to say the things said, hurt my husband with words, and judge me and my choices. We had to make changes or lose the friendship. We couldn’t (and didn’t want to) make the changes and so every time we would do the things this person had commented on, I felt judged. It was also very isolating because it sounded as though this person believed this person was representing a group of people, so it felt like lots of eyes were watching us and judging us. For a month this plagued me and when Louis tried to get me to read the Bible I would do anything else. Besides we were reading the Bible every day to Davy, so I felt like I was still accomplishing the minimum requirements, ignoring the voice that reminded me that I was not growing in relationship with God that way.
One day I decided to read a Christian Book, a step in the right direction. It is a book I have meant to read for a long time, and it broke open some parts of me. It helped me realize the reason that this particular conflict and attack hurt me so deeply. It helped me allow God to start healing me, and finally, a week later I was able to open up the Bible to finish my Blog Bible Study. Reading Psalm 41 was harder than I thought it would be, but to accept the truths of God knowing the truth, and raising me up for my integrity was very challenging, bridging on impossible. I felt like such a bad person because this other person had judged us. I couldn’t let myself be loved by God because I felt unloved by this person. I couldn’t believe that this other person could have problems needing to be brought to God, so I couldn’t bring myself to pray for the person.
Once I read Psalm 41, finished the project, and prayed about it, I knew I was in the process of healing. I wasn’t healed, over it, or really ready to hang out with the person, but the process was underway. And then I knew it was about trusting God to continue healing me while I continue to pursue Him. I know there are going to be more chapters that I read that sting because of the truths I am not willing to accept yet or the spot on Words of God speaking to my soul that bring love I don’t usually want to allow myself. So, I must continue to read. Because hiding my heart inside isn’t going to help me in the long run. The prolonged stress on my body is not good from such bottling up of emotions and anger and lack of forgiveness.
So, I had to choose to Live Life instead of hiding from it. And the only way to do that is to keep reading my Bible and learning the things God has called me to pursue.
After Psalm Book 1, I used my chart from all the Cross References I have used in this Bible Study format. (1 Peter, Psalm Book 1, and some of Romans—Louis and I took a break a few chapters in and haven’t returned to it.) The book that had come up the most other than those three was 2 Samuel. It seems silly to start on 2 Samuel, and Louis said 1 Samuel was a good place to start because it was the beginning of something new, just like the many things in our lives currently (new baby, moving between countries, learning Arabic, new interns at the center, new teams, etc.). So, 1 Samuel here we come. If you choose to follow along, God Bless your time reading His Word also.
If you have not done a Blog Bible Study with me before or you want a refresher on the method I use, read my post Blog Bible Study.
With unknown authors, 1 and 2 Samuel tell the story of Samuel, Saul, and David. “The books of Samuel are about Israel’s first kings, Saul and David: who they were, how they came to the throne, and how they fared. But more than that, the books are about the great King, God himself. In the riveting stories of 1 and 2 Samuel we catch glimpses of who God is, what he does, what life is like with him and without him, and what life can become by his grace and in the power of his Spirit. These stories are part of our family history as children of Abraham by faith (Gal. 3:7-9, 14). They are meant to instruct us, “on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:11), to teach us endurance and, “through the encouragement of the Scriptures,” to give us hope, in order that we may “with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 15:4,6).”*
Galatians 3:7-14 “Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying “In you shall all the nations be blessed.” So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith. For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.” But the law is not of faith, rather “The one who does them shall live by them.” Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.”
1 Corinthians 10:11 “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”
Romans 15:4-6 “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”
“These are gospel-filled stories, unflinchingly honest about sin and society, but saturated with hope of salvation. The two key characters (apart from Samuel the prophet) are both royal sinners. But Saul and David are as different from one another as darkness is from light.”*
My Bible’s Introduction to 1 Samuel goes on to summarize what will happen with Samuel, Saul, and David. If you find anything interesting in your own Bible’s introduction to 1 Samuel that you would like to share, please feel free to post a comment at the end of this post. I will always put quotes from my own Bible’s Commentary, the ESV Gospel Transformation Study Bible, in quotes with an asterisk at the end to show that others wrote it instead of me. This Bible’s commentary focuses on how Jesus is being prophesied, shown, and prepared for in the Old Testament. This helps me to see the connections, which is another reason I am using this format to see cross references as well.
“Only to us, those privileged to live after the coming of the true King, the Lord’s Anointed (Messiah) from David’s line, is it given to understand that “the kingdom of this world is become the kingdom of our Lord, and of his Christ; and he shall reign for ever and ever…Hallelujah!” (from Handel’s Messiah).”*
I am looking forward to this study.
*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Psalm section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.
Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please leave a comment to share them with us.
Next Week: 1 Samuel 1
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