1 Samuel 18

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Overview

This chapter opens with a friendship that I think we all long for. Jonathan and David are connected: “the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.” (verse 1b).

David continues to have success and move up the ranks in Saul’s army, becoming the man in charge of all the men of war. The people are pleased with this position for David and he continues to grow in esteem with all around him. However, Saul becomes jealous of David’s success and then afraid of David because the Lord was with David. One of the days that David is playing the lyre for Saul, Saul throws a spear at him to kill him and misses twice. Saul then tries to snare him by marrying him off to one of his daughters. As the price to wed Michal, Saul asks for 100 foreskins of the Philistines. David goes out and brings back 200. Saul is even more afraid of David when he sees that his daughter truly loves David. “So Saul was David’s enemy continually.” (verse 29b).

The chapter ends with the continued success of David in battle against the Philistines who continue to come out against them.

Characters

Saul, Jonathan, David, all the people, Saul’s servants, the women, Merab, Adriel, Michal, the Philistines, and the princes of the Philistines.

Key Verse

1 Samuel 18:1 “As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul.”

1 Samuel 18:12 “Saul was afraid of David because the Lord was with him but had departed from Saul.”

Cross References

Cross References for 1 Samuel 18:1:

1 Samuel 20:17 “And Jonathan made David swear again by his love for him, for he loved him as he loved his own soul.”

Deuteronomy 13:6 “”If your brother, the son of your mother, or your son or your daughter or the wife you embrace or your friend who is as your own soul entices you secretly, saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods,’ which neither you nor your fathers have known, some of the gods of the people who are around you, whether near you or far off from you, from the one end of the earth to the other, you shall not yield to him or listen to him, nor shall your eye pity him, nor shall you spare him, nor shall you conceal him.”

1 Samuel 19:2 “And Jonathan told David, “Saul my father seeks to kill you. Therefore be on your guard in the morning. Stay in a secret place and hide yourself.”

2 Samuel 1:26 “I am distressed for you, my brother Jonathan; very pleasant have you been to me; your love to me was extraordinary, surpassing the love of women.”

Cross References for 1 Samuel 18:12:

1 Samuel 18:15, 28-29 “And when Saul saw that he had great success, he stood in fearful awe of him…But when Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal, Saul’s daughter, loved him, Saul was even more afraid of David. So Saul was David’s enemy continually.”

1 Samuel 16:18 “One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.””

1 Samuel 28:15 “Then Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by bringing me up?” Saul answered, “I am in great distress, for the Philistines are warring against me, and God has turned away from me and answers me no more, either by prophets or by dreams. Therefore I have summoned you to tell me what I shall do.””

Conclusion

    Here are two very different relationships: one of sincere love and devotion, and another of fear and murder. Because the Lord is with David he is well liked among everyone he meets. Because Saul does not have the Lord with him he grows in his anger and murderous desires. We need good friends around us to keep us accountable. The Deuteronomy verse above is one example of why we must keep our friends accountable, so that we stay on the path toward God, following His heart rather than the world’s passions. Also, we must stand firm in what we know is right when we are with God. Saul is the king, a man of authority, and it must have been harder and harder for David as Saul will continue to try to kill him. David is doing the right thing, following God, and yet the leader of his people is trying to kill him.

Jesus in the Old Testament

“Such selflessness is possible only for those in sync with the purposes of God. Believers today are called to just this kind of selflessness: “Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves” (Phil. 2:3). In his self-emptying, Jonathan anticipates the far greater act of love rendered by the son of David to come. “Though he was in the form of God,” Jesus “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant” (Phil. 2:6-7).”*

Philippians 2:1-8 “So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any comfort from love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

“Like Jonathan, Saul senses that David is to replace him as king (1 Sam. 18:8). But Saul’s reaction is the precise opposite: anger (v. 8), aggression (v. 11), fear (v. 12), scheming (vv. 17, 25), and enmity (v. 28). Being at odds with God puts one at odds with God’s purpose in other people’s lives.”*

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament 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 take a moment to leave a comment to share them with us.

Next Week: 1 Samuel 19—20

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1 Samuel 17

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Overview

    David and Goliath. It is always good to actually read the stories that we supposedly have known since we were children. Children’s Bibles never have the whole story, so it is good to take the time to know the Scripture. It is also good to know where to find the story. Knowing that the story of David and Goliath is found in 1 Samuel helps us with our Big Picture knowledge of the Bible. When David gets brought up in the New Testament, this is not the only story we can think of. This story should help shape and add to our historical understanding of David’s place in the New Testament as well.

David is sent to where the Philistines and Israelites are set to fight. However, they are not fighting, but rather waiting for someone to agree to fight Goliath. Goliath clearly states that he is defying Israel with his challenge, and when David arrives he finds that offensive. It is offensive that Goliath thinks they have no hope of winning, and it is pitiful that the Israelites are agreeing with this Philistine. So, when David asks around about why this is happening when there is obviously great reward in store for the man who defeats Goliath, David’s oldest brother gets annoyed and offended. Of course, Eliab, the oldest of Jesse’s sons, was there when David was anointed as the next king, and whether or not he understood that at the time, it did set David apart. And David is the youngest. Even the 4th through 7th son were not even sent into the battle. However, here David is stirring people up and offending them, and then volunteering to fight Goliath.

David’s speech to Goliath is my favorite part, which of course will be my key verses. He knows God is on his side, and that God can win without armor and sword to show His glory. David wins with a sling and a stone and then the Israelites chase the Philistines, killing them all along the way. David gains even more esteem in King Saul’s eyes.

Characters

The Philistines, Saul, the men of Israel, Goliath, David, Jesse, Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah, the commander of Jesse’s sons thousand, a keeper of the sheep, the keeper of the baggage, God.

Key Verse

Verses 45-47 “Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hand.””

Cross References

1 Samuel 17:6 “And he had bronze armor on his legs, and a javelin of bronze slung between his shoulders.”

1 Samuel 17:36 “Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.”

Deuteronomy 28:26 “And your dead body shall be food for all birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away.”

1 Samuel 17:44 “The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.””

1 Kings 18:36 “And at the time of the offering of the oblation, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O Lord, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that you are God in Israel, and that I am your servant, and that I have done all these things at your word.”

Joshua 4:23-24 “For the Lord your God dried up the waters of the Jordan for you until you passed over, as the Lord your God did to the Red Sea, which he dried up for us until we passed over, so that all the peoples of the earth may know that the hand of the Lord is mighty, that you may fear the Lord your God forever.””

Conclusion

    Once again it is hard for Western ears and eyes to hear and read about these wars that God is orchestrating, and that God wants certain people dead. However, these are people who are defying the Lord, and we all know that the wages of sin is death. We are all deserving of death in these ways, but we must turn our hearts to God. With Jesus we have forgiveness to avoid this end for ourselves.

The other thing that stands out to me is that David fully latches onto the truth that God is in charge. He not only believes in God, but longs to uphold His name, to give him honor and esteem as Saul has not done in this book. David shows the Philistines and the Israelites that God is in charge of the battle. Every battle is the Lord’s.

Finally, the verse about Goliath’s armor made me think about the reading of this passage about Goliath is much like when Jesus is walking with his disciples and the disciples are pointing out amazing architecture. Jesus is not impressed. As God’s army, we should not be impressed with Goliath’s size, because our God is bigger. The same goes with money, employment, family, trauma. God is bigger than all of it, and He is in charge.

Jesus in the Old Testament

    “For those who see only as mortals see (cf. 16:7), every aspect of Goliath’s description inspires fear—his giant proportions, his oversized armor and military equipment, his mocking words. “Saul and all Israel” are certainly “dismayed and greatly afraid” (17:11). David, however, arrives on the scene of battle with different eyes and ears. He sees Goliath’s size but measures it not against a human standard but against a big God. He hears Goliath’s words but finds them ridiculous when one considers that they are aimed at the “armies of the living God” (v. 26). In David’s eyes, Goliath is no more threatening than one of the brute beasts from which God had rescued him (vv. 34-37; cf. 2 Pet. 2:12).”*

My notes are so good at finding references that fit, not just the verse referenced from 2 Peter, but the whole section is directly related to what we were just discussing above about Goliath’s defiance of God, and that it is a sin that deserves death. So, I will include the whole section from 2 Peter (this epistle is only 3 chapters long, so I suggest going to read this in your spare time in the next week as well). I will italicize the part that the notes are commenting on because it does relate specifically to how David is comparing Goliath to the lions and bears he had fought in the past.

2 Peter 2:1, 4-12 “But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction… For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction,

“The main takeaway for believers today involves seeing parallels between what David did and what Jesus does for us today. David, by his confidence in and relationship with God, functions as a representative champion of his cowering people. Christ, similarly, is the representative champion of his cowering people. Both David and Christ win a victory that results of which are imputed to their people. Christians are not meant to read the story of David and Goliath and mainly identify with David, but with the people who need saving. Reflecting on the rescue that our true and final champion, Jesus himself, has won on our behalf, our hearts are moved to worship and to greater trust in him.”*

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament 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 take a moment to leave a comment to share them with us.

Next Week: 1 Samuel 18

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1 Samuel 16:14-23

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Overview

    We ended with the Spirit of the Lord rushing upon David in our last section, and this section begins with the Spirit of the Lord leaving Saul. The Spirit of the Lord is replaced by a harmful spirit from God that torments Saul. His servants find for him David, son of Jesse, who can play the lyre, which brings Saul relief from this harmful spirit. He likes David so much that David becomes Saul’s armor-bearer, and plays the lyre for Saul whenever the spirit afflicts him.

Characters

The Spirit of the Lord, Saul, a harmful spirit from God, Saul’s servants, Jesse the Bethlehemite, God

Key Verse

Verse 23 “And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him.”

Cross References

1 Samuel 16:14 “Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him.”

1 Samuel 16:16 “Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.””

1 Samuel 16:21-22 “And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.””

1 Kings 10:8 “Happy are your men! Happy are your servants, who continually stand before you and hear your wisdom!”

1 Samuel 18:10 “The next day a harmful spirit from God rushed upon Saul, and he raved within his house while David was playing the lyre, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand.” (ooooh!! Suspense building for what will come next!)

1 Samuel 19:9 “Then a harmful spirit from the Lord came upon Saul, as he sat in his house with his spear in his hand. And David was playing the lyre.” (Even more suspense!)

2 Kings 3:15 “But now bring me a musician.” And when the musician played, the hand of the Lord came upon him.”

Conclusion

    I don’t have much to conclude today. Here are 3 Thoughts:

  1. Music is healing.

     

  2. God is getting in a good laugh at the fact that the chosen king is now learning all about being a king right under Saul’s nose.

 

  1. There is a lot we have to look forward to as far as other stories involving David, and then in 1 and 2 Kings, there are some great stories. All in all, I am looking forward to the Bible!

Jesus in the Old Testament

“The spirit that at the time of Saul’s anointing changed him “into another man” (10:6, 9-10) and that had intermittently overwhelmed him to propel him into action, is now removed, and Saul is tormented by “a harmful spirit from the Lord” (16:14). To grieve the Spirit of the Lord is to invite calamity (Isa. 63:10; Eph. 4:30). But even still the Lord extends a measure of kindness to Saul by bringing David into Saul’s court to soothe him with music (1 Sam. 16:23).”*

Isaiah 63:9-10 “In all their affliction he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them; in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old. But they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them.”

Ephesians 4:30 “And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption.”

I do have one final thought. As Oscar nominees are being talked about, The Theory of Everything has caught a lot of attention. I haven’t seen it, but I want to take the opportunity to ask that we all take a minute to pray for Steven Hawking, who has really been on the run from God for years. I pray that he will recognize that it is God extending his life, giving him chance after chance to repent and turn to Him.

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament 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 take a moment to leave a comment to share them with us.

Next Week: 1 Samuel 17

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1 Samuel 15:31 – 16:13

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Overview

    After Saul tells Samuel that even though he disobeyed God he wants to be honored rather than repent of his sin. Samuel goes with him, and after Saul bows before God Samuel asks for Agag to come. Samuel then “hacked Agag to pieces before the Lord in Gilgal” (v. 33). and then he and Saul separate until Saul’s death. Samuel returns to Ramah and grieves for Saul. God rouses him from his grieving to send him to anoint the next king, which, of course, is David. Samuel goes and sees all the sons of Jesse, and God chooses the youngest, who was watching the sheep, David. He anoints David and “the Spirit of the Lord rushed upon David from that day forward” (v. 13b). Once again Samuel returns to Ramah.

Characters

    Samuel, Saul, the Lord, Agag the king of the Amalekites, Jesse the Bethlehemite and all eight of his sons: Eliab, Abinadab, Shammah, and others progressing to the youngest: David, and the Spirit of the Lord

Key Verse

Verse 7 “But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him. For the Lord sees not as man sees: man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.””

Cross References

Psalm 147:10-11 “His delight is not in the strength of the horse, nor his pleasure in the legs of a man, but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him, in those who hope in his steadfast love.”

1 Kings 8:38- “whatever prayer, whatever plea is made by any man or by all your people Israel, each knowing the affliction of his own heart and stretching out his hands toward this house, then hear in heaven your dwelling place and forgive and act and render to each whose heart you know, according to all his ways (for you, you only, know the hearts of all the children of mankind), that they may fear you all the days that they lie in the land that you gave to our fathers.”

1 Chronicles 28:9 “And you, Solomon, my son, know the God of your father and serve him with a whole heart and with a willing mind, for the Lord searches all hearts and understands every plan and thought. If you seek him, he will be found by you, but if your forsake him, he will cast you off forever.”

Psalm 7:9 “Oh, let the evil of the wicked come to an end, and may you establish the righteous—you who test the minds and hearts, O righteous God!”

Jeremiah 11:20 “But, O Lord of hosts, who judges righteously, who tests the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause.”

Jeremiah 17:10 “I the Lord search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.””

Jeremiah 20:12 “O Lord of hosts, who tests the righteous, who sees the heart and the mind, let me see your vengeance upon them, for to you have I committed my cause.”

Acts 1:24 “And they prayed and said, “You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two you have chosen”

Conclusion

The fear of the Lord is so tightly knit with God’s pleasure. He does not take delight in us making up what he wants, like Saul tried to do, because that comes from a heart of greed and selfishness. He does not take delight in the feats of man or tools we use. He is delighted with us fearing Him, seeking Him. I want to please the Lord, so I want to seek that fear of the Lord, and I want my heart and mind to come up clean and pure when tested by Him.

Jesus in the Old Testament

“Who is the Lord’s king? Not the tall and impressive (1 Sam. 16:7), but the smallest of Jesse’s sons (v.11; “smallest” and “youngest” render the same word in Hebrew). For “the “Lord sees not as man sees; man looks on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart” (v. 7). The opening frame of 1 Samuel included Hannah’s declaration that it is not by human might that one prevails (2:9). Rather, where true faith and trust are, God’s “power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Cor. 12:9; cf. note on 1 Sam. 14:1-14). David may seem insignificant—the youngest, left to tend the sheep—but God sees in him something special. As his story unfolds, we will encounter sin and failure—David, unlike the Son of David to come, was not sinless. But David had a heart for God. Of equal, or greater, importance, he had the “Spirit of the Lord” powerfully working within him “from that day forward” (16:13).”*

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

 

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament 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 take a moment to leave a comment to share them with us.

Next Week: 1 Samuel 16:14-23

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1 Samuel 14:47-15:30

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Overview

    Once again Saul is not quite getting it. He just doesn’t seem to care that he is disobeying God at every turn. This time we start with Saul battling people left and right. It seems he has finally caught the fire to fight that God had tried to tell him to do before. However, when Samuel comes to him with specific instructions to wipe out an evil people who are against God and God’s people, Saul cannot follow through. The key verses I picked reflect Saul’s deafness when it comes to listening to God, he just can’t seem to get it. God tells Samuel, who tells Saul that the kingdom will be torn from him. God has given Saul enough chances and has chosen another who is better than Saul to be the king of Israel.

In my own reading plan I was reading Matthew as well, and a verse that Jesus was using from Isaiah to explain the hypocrisy of the Pharisees also seems to fit here. “You hypocrites! Well did Isaiah prophesy of you, when he said: “‘This people honors me with their lips, but their heart is far from me; in vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines the commandments of man.'”” (Matthew 15:7-9 cited from Isaiah 29:13)

Characters

Saul, people of Israel, his enemies: Moab, the Ammonites, Edom, the kings of Zobah, the Philistines, the Amalekites; the sons of Saul: Jonathan, Ishvi, Malchi-shua; the daughters of Saul: Merab and Michal; the commander of Saul’s army: Abner son of Ner and uncle of Saul; Saul’s father: Kish; Ner’s father: Abiel; Samuel; the Lord; Agag the king of the Amalekites; the one who will be king next; and the Glory of Israel.

Key Verse

15:13-15, 20-21 “And Samuel came to Saul, and Saul said to him, “Blessed be you to the Lord. I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” Saul said, “They have brought them from the Amalekites, for the people spared the best of the sheep and of the oxen to sacrifice to the Lord your God, and the rest we have devoted to destruction….And Saul said to Samuel, “I have obeyed the voice of the Lord. I have gone on the mission on which the Lord sent me. I have brought Agag the king of Amalek, and I have devoted the Amalekites to destruction. But the people took of the spoil, sheep and oxen, the best of the things devoted to destruction, to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.””

Cross References

Isaiah 29:13-14 “And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.””

Ruth 2:20 “And Naomi said to her daughter-in-law, “May he be blessed by the Lord, whose kindness has not forsaken the living or the dead!” Naomi also said to her, “The man is a close relative of ours, one of our redeemers.””

1 Samuel 15:9 “But Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep and f the oxen and of the fattened calves and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.”

Conclusion

When Jesus comes and does great signs and wonders among the people it puts to shame the Pharisees. Their wisdom and discernment are not very great when they do not even recognize the Messiah, in fact they do not have wisdom or discernment. When Saul speaks, his words are empty. He comes saying “Blessed be you to the Lord” while not really even believing in that Lord. The example from Ruth shows two women who strongly believed in the weight their words held in saying “May he be blessed by the Lord”. And the triple description of his sin in bringing home the goods just show his lack of understanding. God had said that all the Amalekites had was no good to Him, and here they come bringing “the best” for God. In reality, any offerings they offer, they will get to share in eating, so they are doing this out of selfishness and greed, not out of loving devotion to God.

It can be hard for a Western mind to wrap around this concept of utterly destroying this other people. It seems like God is crazy or angry all the time in the Old Testament. God is a God of grace both now, in the New Testament, and in the Old Testament. God knows people’s hearts, and He knows the pain that will come later on when these people are not destroyed: Look at that part of the world now.

There are times in our own life that God has asked us to cut things completely out, and we merely move them to the backs of our closets (figuratively or actually). This displays our own lack of trust in God and in so doing we place ourselves above God. What is it that God has asked you to get rid of that just keeps coming back? Pornography, Pills, Eating Disorders, Rage, Self-Mutilation (not just cutting, but putting yourself down, taking on guilt, thinking poorly of yourself), Isolation, OCD, Idolatry of any kind, Friendships that are Poisonous to you. This is just a short list of things that God has healed and removed or is in process in my own life. Take an honest moment, or day, or week, or month to pray through your own veil keeping you away from the fullness of God’s Glory in your life.

2 Corinthians 3:12-18 “Since we have such a hope, we are very bold, not like Moses, who would put a veil over his face so that the Israelites might not gaze at the outcome of what was being brought to an end. But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away. Yes, to this day whenever Moses is read a veil lies over their hearts. But when one turns to the Lord, the veil is removed. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.”

Jesus in the Old Testament

“That Saul receives yet another chance to hear and obey God’s instructions (v. 1) is remarkable evidence of God’s grace. After Saul’s repeated failure in the preceding chapters, beginning with his failure to step out in faith and “do what his hand found to do” at the time of his anointing (cf. 10:7), Samuel stresses the importance of Saul’s paying very close attention to the word of God (15:1). Sadly, Saul’s conduct in the battle against the Amalekites (quintessential enemies of God; see Ex. 17:8-16) removes any doubt that Saul’s main concern is not with God’s honor but with his own. His obedience is partial at best, which is tantamount to disobedience (1 Sam. 15:8-9); he builds a “monument to himself” (v. 12); he attempts to shift the blame for any infractions from himself to the people (vv. 13-15; 20-21); his first confession is insincere, as evidenced by Samuel’s reaction (vv. 24-26); and ultimately Saul admits that all he actually cares about is his own honor (v. 30).”*

Exodus 17:8-16 “Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. Then the Lord said to Moses, “Write this as a memorial in a book and recite it in the ears of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven.” And Moses built an altar and called the name of it, The Lord Is My Banner, saying “A hand upon the throne of the Lord! The Lord will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.””

Also, another thought that I have for us to pray about in our own lives: How connected do you feel to these stories in the Bible? Saul was not alive when the Israelites met the Amalekites in the desert, and so he does not seem to feel particularly wronged by them, or any connection to or memory of God’s promise to wipe the Amalekites out. However, knowing our past, our history and keeping our historical memory strong is how we can understand the bigger picture, and also not remain ignorant. There are many pieces of Biblical history that I feel convicted about not knowing more about. I pray that God shows me the resources to learn more, and that I continue to read the Bible so that I can become even more connected to these stories. These are real stories, not fairy tales.

“This episode, and indeed the entire career of Saul, has much to teach us regarding what it means to be a godly leader. First and foremost, as was explicitly stated in the story of Eli, it means giving God proper honor, that is, giving God ultimate weight in every circumstance and in every decision (cf. 2:29-30).Our obedience to God is not to be trimmed down to our own liking. And we are not to assume that God can be manipulated: “he is not a man, that he should have regret” (15:29). Despite the finality of Saul’s failure, this episode also teaches us something about God’s gracious provision of leadership—specifically, the “neighbor” better than Saul, whom we meet in the next chapter. And ultimately our hearts are brought to rest in the Leader who was descended from David and who, unlike even David, unfailingly and sinlessly leads his people as their champion (Acts 5:31; Heb. 2:10; 12:2).

Acts 5:29-32 “But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus, whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses to these things, and so is the Holy Spirit, whom God has given to those who obey him.””

Hebrews 2:9-11 “But we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone. For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering. For he who sanctifies and those who are sanctified all have one source. That is why he is not ashamed to call them brothers,”

We are united with Christ! He is not ashamed to call you a brother, a family member, a part of His family! Own that! Dance, jump around, and sing about it, for it is Amazing News!

Hebrews 12:1-6 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.””

I just have to comment on the beginning of Hebrews chapter 12. If you go back to chapter 11 and read through the names, do you know the stories? And yet the author of Hebrews is telling us that these are the cloud of witnesses surrounding us, and yes all the men and women of faith you have known who have died, too. This is a great beginning in expanding our Biblical Historical Memory, to connect with these stories, to know just by the mention of a name the heritage and legacy that comes with it.

Secondly, in removing sins and disobedience from your own life, keep this verse in mind because it is true that we have not suffered anywhere near as much as Christ, and yet that is what we deserve for our sin, so in the struggle against sin, it may be hard, but it is worth it. And here again we are reminded that the struggle, the pain that we do have to endure in fighting sin, is the discipline of a Father, our Lord! We are sons and daughters of the King!

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament 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 take a moment to leave a comment to share them with us.

Next Week: 1 Samuel 15:31—16:30

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1 Samuel 14:15-46

Screenshot 2015-01-29 21.46.16 (2)

Overview

    Each section we read some pretty negative things that Saul does and believes. When I read today’s section I think, “Wow, that dude is crazy!” Then the section heading for the part where they can’t eat is called “Saul’s Rash Vow”. Exactly! Once again, I like to point out that the Bible is not just a book of what to do, but also has many many characters showing us what not to do. And we realize at the same time that we may be very similar to them, running toward some of the same mistakes. This section opens where the last one left off, with Jonathan and his armor-bearer causing quite the uproar in the Philistine camp while Saul and the Israelites who hadn’t deserted or joined the Philistines hid out in a cave. As the Philistine camp uproar is noticed, the people realize Jonathan is not with them, and as the ruckus increases they go to battle. The men who ran away as well as those who had joined the Philistines all join the fight, which is routing and chasing down the Philistines. Then while they are winning, Saul makes a crazy vow that there will be a curse upon his people for eating before they finish the job, using his power in exactly the way God had told the people a king would. So, the people are faint because they can’t eat, and Jonathan, who is now reunited with them, doesn’t know, so he eats some honey. Later Saul wants to chase down the Philistines some more (after everyone has finally eaten, and after yet another breach of God’s law because starving people didn’t cook or bleed their meat resulting in Saul building his very first altar to God), and the priest says they should consult God. God doesn’t answer. Well, of course, Saul doesn’t stop with the first rash decision, he also promises that he will kill whoever brought this lack of communication from God upon them. They cast lots and it falls to Jonathan, who explains he ate honey. Saul tries to kill him, but the people stand up for him, since Jonathan had been with God in his fight. So, Jonathan gets to live to see another day of his crazy dad being king.

Characters

The garrison of Philistines, the raiders, the watchmen of Saul, Saul, Jonathan, Jonathan’s armor-bearer, Ahijah, the ark of God, the people of Israel, the Lord.

Key Verse

Verse 45 “Then the people said to Saul, “Shall Jonathan die, who has worked this great salvation in Israel? Far from it! As the Lord lives, there shall not one hair of his head fall to the ground, for he has worked with God this day.” So the people ransomed Jonathan, so that he did not die.”

Cross References

1 Samuel 14:39 “For as the Lord lives who saves Israel, though it be in Jonathan my son, he shall surely die.” But there was not a man among all the people who answered him.”

2 Samuel 14:11 “Then she said, “Please let the king invoke the Lord your God, that the avenger of blood kill no more, and my son be not destroyed.” He said, “As the Lord lives, not one hair of your son shall fall to the ground.””

1 Kings 1:52 “And Solomon said, “If he will show himself a worthy man, not one of his hairs shall fall to the earth, but if wickedness is found in him, he shall die.””

Luke 21:16-19 “You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. You will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But not a hair of your head will perish. By your endurance you will gain your lives.”

Acts 27:34-36 “Therefore I urge you to take some food. For it will give you strength, for not a hair is to perish from the head of any of you.” And when he had said these things, he took bread, and giving thanks to God in the presence of all he broke it and began to eat. Then they all were encouraged and ate some food themselves.”

Matthew 10:30-33 “But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

Luke 12:7-9 “Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not; you are of more value than many sparrows. “And I tell you, everyone who acknowledges me before men, the Son of Man also will acknowledge before the angels of God, but the one who denies me before men will be denied before the angels of God.”

Conclusion

    There is a time to eat, and God has a plan for us all. He knows us so intimately that he knows how many hairs are on my head, and yours. And he takes care of us far better than the birds, which includes providing food to us in times of need. If only Saul could grow in a relationship with God during this story instead of remaining so distant from Him. Saul might have recognized the simple fact that people in battle need sustenance to keep going. Jonathan’s insight is that the battle turned out not to be as great because the people were so hungry. The people recognize his help in beating the Philistines, and so they keep him from being killed by his own father. We must trust God completely, to provide us bread and honey, to keep us from true harm. And we must also make sure that we are not making rash promises. Many of us, myself included, can speak in hyperbole, blowing things way out of proportion. This can extend to goals, plans, and promises we make. Before we eat we have to run five errands! Then at errand two we are snapping at our family from hunger, but we HAVE to go to three more places. Instead of making promises and rules in this way, we can go with a more flexible approach which would allow us to eat after errand two and apologize for snapping at our loved ones.

Jesus in the Old Testament

“Saul’s willingness to wait on the Lord, already in question after chapter 13, shows a pattern of decline. In 14:18-19, Saul calls for anoracular inquiry in order to discover God’s will but, when the situation gets too intense, breaks it off before receiving an answer (“withdraw your hand”). Later, in verse 36, Saul apparently forgets to inquire of the Lord altogether and must bereminded by the priest. How true this pattern can be in the lives of those who don’t take God seriously. When God does not occupy first place, he seldom remains long in second, but is quickly relegated to ever lower standing, until he is forgotten altogether. By contrast, those responsive to the gospel are encouraged to “hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful,” and they are enjoined to “consider how to stir up one another to love and good works” (Heb. 10:23-24).”*

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament 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 take a moment to leave a comment to share them with us.

Next Week: 1 Samuel 14:47—15:30

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1 Samuel 14:1-14

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Overview

    While Saul and the men remaining with him hide out in a cave, Jonathan decides to take on the Philistines. He makes a deal with his armor bearer that is much like a verbal casting of lots. If A happens then God is not telling us to do this, and if B happens He is. So, because the Philistines invite Jonathan up, God has handed them over. And Jonathan and his armor bearer start a battle, and are doing quite well at it.

Characters

Jonathan the son of Saul, Saul, Jonathan’s armor bearer, the Philistines, Ahijah (the priest descendant of Eli), the Lord

Key Verse

Verse 6 “Jonathan said to the young man who carried his armor, “Come, let us go over to the garrison of those uncircumcised. It may be that the Lord will work for us, for nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many of by few.”

Cross References

1 Samuel 17:26 “And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?””

Judges 14:3 “But his father and mother said to him, “Is there not a woman among the daughters of your relatives, or among all our people, that you must go to take a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” But Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she is right in my eyes.””

Judges 7:4, 7 “And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.”…And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.””

2 Chronicles 14:11 “And Asa cried to the Lord his God, “O Lord, there is none like you to help, between the mighty and the weak. Help us, O Lord our God, for we rely on you, and in your name we have come against this multitude. O Lord, you are our God; let not man prevail against you.””

Conclusion

    I have been reading 1 Corinthians and Galatians at the same time that I am reading through this section, and it talks about the circumcision. I think that this is a part that can throw people off. The point is not just the physical act of circumcision, but also the promise involved. God has given us a promise as His people, and He asks that we follow His way to receive the promise. Therefore, we must trust Him, as Gideon does with the 300. Asa trusted and God routed the Ethiopians. Instead, Saul does not trust and is hiding in a cave, the Cross Reference to Judges 14 brings forth Samson who instead of trusting thought only of his romantic life and intimacy, and so he ends up weak and dead. We must not do what seems right in our own eyes, but what is right by God. Because God said so really is a good enough reason to do something. God can do anything with nothing. Hence all of Creation, you, me, Jesus, everything!

Jesus in the Old Testament

“Unlike his father in the preceding chapter, for whom loss of troop strength outweighed the necessity of waiting for the prophet Samuel and hearing from God, Jonathan is convinced that “nothing can hinder the Lord from saving by many or by few” (v. 6). This conviction, however, does not by itself propel Jonathan into action; he first waits to discern God’s will (vv. 8-12). Having received a clear sign from the Lord, Jonathan and his armor-bearer go out in faith and, though greatly outnumbered, win a great victory (vv. 13-14). A consistent theme, not only in the books of Samuel but throughout Scripture, is that God’s strength “is made perfect in weakness””.*

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 13:4 “For he was crucified in weakness, but lives by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but in dealing with you we will live with him by the power of God.”

1 Corinthians 1:25-27 “For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong;”

Hebrews 11:34

“As we fill our minds with the truths of the gospel that are secured in Christ, we come to see that God is bigger than anything life can throw against us. When God calls us to step out in faith, with the help of God’s Spirit we can face any odds.”*

*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament 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 take a moment to leave a comment to share them with us.

Next Week: 1 Samuel 14:15-46

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