Wednesday, January 27, 2010

2 Samuel Chapters 4-6

4:6 - Ish-bosheth's own captains use dishonesty, a lack of integrity and violence to try to win David's favor. They kill their former master and take his head to David looking for a reward. What they do not understand is that David has been anointed the king of Israel by the power of God...not through the strength of men. This is not a Canaanite kingdom where violence and intermarriage get you the throne...God is the giver of the throne in Israel...David's throne is divinely given and does not need to be won through shameless murder.

4:11 - David again shows his innocence of blood guilt by raining justice down on violent men who would murder a man in his sleep. He tells them, "If I killed a guy for putting Saul out of his misery - how much more am I going to destroy a couple of guys who will kill an innocent man in his own bed?" David wants to make certain that he is attaining the throne honorably in the eyes of God. It is also interesting to note, that though these men acted evilly, God uses their actions to bring about David's ascent to the throne. God is able to use all choice - good, evil and indifferent - for the purposes of his kingdom. (Ish-Bosheth is dead...Mephibosheth is David now has a clear path to the throne).

5:6 - Here we see an prime example of ancient smack talk. The Jedusites basically say, "Ha! Look at those Israelites...even a bunch of lame and blind guys could hold this fortress from their army!"

5:8-9 - Apparently (Although it is kinda unclear in the Hebrew), David devises a plan in which his men climb up through a water shaft and capture the city from the inside. He then answers with his own ancient smack talk retort saying, "All Jebusites must be blind and lame!" Oooo, he told you guys!

5:19 - Are you starting to get the message? David, the man after God's heart, never acts without getting God's blessing (Until later in life when he ignores God and really starts screwing things up, but I digress). Does this kind of spirit and faithful attitude pervade your life?

6:2 - The author throws down quite an impressive title for the ark - "The Ark of God: Which Is Called By The Name Of The Lord Of Hosts Who Sits Enthroned On The Cherubim." Wow! Even the acronym is impossible to remember - "The A.O.G.W.I.C.B.T.N.O.T.L.O.H.W.S.E."...say that fast! The author makes sure he lays the official title out because he wants us to understand how huge this moment is. After years of neglect by the hand of Saul...the ark of the Lord...the very presence of God (In the minds of the Israelites) will finally be returned to a seat of power and honor. This is a significant moment for David - the Lord is with him and a new era has begun.

6:6 - The dude tries to save the ark from falling and he gets killed foe it? That seems a little unfair! Even David thinks so - he gets mad. What is the deal? Well, David can get mad all he wants, but he is partially to blame for this debacle. This is not the way the ark is supposed to be transported. They throw it up on the back of a cart! God clearly instructs them in the Law that the ark is supposed to be transported by Levite priest carrying it on wooden poles. So the ark is in a cart, being pulled by oxen and a problem occurs (Shocker!)...though Uzzah means well, he is representative of the immaturity of the Israelite nation. He does not understand the holiness of God...he presumes to much...he dares to touch the ark of the covenant. Israel must be reminded of the holiness of the Lord their God and Uzzah's ignorance brings judgement on his life. We could probably stand some reminders ourselves on the holiness of God!

6:9 - David is not only angry, but he is scared. After being reminded of the holiness of God - he does not think he is worthy of being in the presence of the ark and he leaves it in Obed-edom. Have you ever doubted yourself as a usable player in God's kingdom? You are in good company. We see throughout scripture that God frequently uses the least likely candidates to bring honor to his name. Offer yourself to Him...He will take care of the rest.

6:14ff - David is so in-tune with the joy and the power of this moment, as the ark of the Lord returns to Jerusalem, that he absolutely lets himself go...he simply ignores everything around him and worships God.

6:16 - Notice that Michal is described as the daughter of Saul and not as the wife of David. That is important because we can see in this passage that she is a reflection of Saul and his issues. As Saul did before her, she is worried about her image and what people think of herself and her husband. She acts out of arrogance and just like her father before her, despises the close relationship that David has with God. Once again Saul - great legacy you left behind buddy!

6:20-22 - She confronts David in her anger and he rebukes her quickly. He says, "Don't compare me to your father, because God chose me and not your think that was something, I will become even more undignified for the name of my God!" I wish I always had an attitude like this...thinking nothing of what I look like to the rest of the world and worried only about how I can more deeply honor God with my life.

6:23 - Michal is barren for the rest of her life and so the line of Saul is effectively destroyed in the history of Israel, forever.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

2 Samuel Chapters 1-3

1:6-10 - We know from reading the story of Saul's death in I Samuel that this messenger is lying to David. He is increasing his importance in the story to get in good with the man he thinks is going to be the new king. He is assuming that since Saul was always try to kill David, that David will be pleased with the man who helped to kill him and came bearing Saul's crown. Oops...

1:12 - Though it would seem that this is a time to rejoice...the illegitimate king is dead...David's pursuer is dead...he can now assume the role of king for which God anointed him - but David and his men are all grief stricken. This shows David's great love for the nation of Israel and his faithfulness to God (And it shows all the people of God that David had nothing to do with Saul's death).

1:14-15 - Is this really fair - killing the messenger? Well, we already know he is a conniving liar who is trying to get in good with David. We also know that TWICE David could have easily killed Saul, but he refused to raise a hand against God's anointed out of his great love for God. Now this Amelekite (A enemy of Israel whose people David just killed to get his family back) is trying to curry favor and says he killed Saul...that's not gonna fly with a God-fearing man like David. His judgement is righteous and swift.

1:26 - Big question about this passage...does this prove that David and Jonathan were in a homosexual relationship? (There are a lot of people that have tried to read such an idea into this scripture and others that came before) No! 1.) First of all the word used for "love" in the Hebrew in this passage is referring to covenantal love - and we know that David and Jonathan had a covenant of trust between them. They did love each other. There is never in reference in the relationship between Jonathan and David to the Hebrew word for "know" which was used to denote sexual relationships - never. 2.) What about the "love you more than a woman" stuff? Well, for defeating Goliath David is promised Saul's daughter Michal. But long before he is ever able to marry Michal - Jonathan, (Saul's son) befriends and welcomes David as a brother. David is saying that ultimately, his relationship with Jonathan was more powerful and important than any of the one's he had with women who he married for political power and as prizes for winning battles. 3.) The entire story of David's ascent tot he throne in I and II Samuel is told to portray David as the king after God's heart...homosexuality was explicitly against Israelite law...there is no way the narrators would have painted David in that light.

2:1 - Yet again, David refuses to act until he is sure of the will of God.

2:4 - Men have finally recognized what God made a reality years before - David is crowned king of Israel (Well, Judah anyway...the rest will come later).

2:8 - The person with the real power here is Abner. The text says that he made Ish-Bosheth the king of Israel. Abner is Saul's cousin and the general of Saul's armies, and Ish is just a puppet king (No offense Ish!). This is the legacy that Saul left for his sons...a weak and powerless king whose only proclamation as king comes in chapter three when he gives in to King Davids demands for getting his wife Michal back. The tragedy of ignoring God's will lived out over generations.

2:16 - They try to keep the blood shed down and use champions to decide to battle...but all 24 men kill each other, so the slaughter of brother against brother - children of God...continues.

2:26ff - After seeing the body of Ashael (With the butt of a spear driven through his entire body...that must have left a mess) and the other dead Israelites, both sides lose heart...they just walk away. They know what they are doing is wrong. They know that they are killing their own brothers, but the war continues on over the next few years.

3:8 - Ish-Bosheth falsely accuses Abner of sleeping with one of King Saul's concubines (Which is basically like accusing Abner of trying to steal the throne from him, because it would have legitimized Abner's claim to be king)...and it is the last straw for Abner. He has fought a losing battle for Saul's lineage and finally decides that he is going to help bring about what God wanted anyway - he was going to help unify the kingdom under David. I wonder why he waited so long if he knew what God wanted all along? Maybe out of respect for Saul? Why do you and I keep wallowing in the crap that we get ourselves into when we know what God wants all along?

3:27ff - Joab lies to Abner, deceives everyone, breaks the covenant that David made with Abner and kills him in revenge for his brother Ashael. Violence begets violence. Again David's road to the throne is paved in murder and death...and again he weeps and mourns the loss of Abner and proves to the people of Israel that he is innocent.

3:32ff - Over and over int he first three chapters we see the author defend David's innocence of blood guilt. Though David was anointed by God as the king of Israel...and he probably had a right to bring justice against these men that opposed him - he is absolutely honorable in the way he attains rule of the kingdom.

Friday, January 22, 2010

I Samuel Chapters 28-31

How many times have you heard this chapter taught on in church? How about never!

28:6 - Saul finally turns back to God in desperation and asks Him for guidance, but what he finds out is that it is too late. He is answered with only silence because God has turned away from Saul.

28:8 - When God refuses to answer Saul...Saul decides to get really crazy. Although he knows it is evil (He has already kicked all the mediums and necromancers out of Israel) - he searches everywhere for a medium who will communicate with the dead for him.

28:12 - I think it is pretty funny that when the woman performs her ritual and Samuel actually shows up she screams. This tells me that she is a con artist (As I sure all the mediums and false priests were in this time...either con artists or connected to demonic influence)...she doesn't really expect somebody to show up, she just wants to say some mumbo-jumbo and then tell the king what he wants to hear (I'm sure that's how she has made her living, like Ms. Cleo the TV psychic). Instead, she does her thing and God allows Samuel to actually show up and the medium freaks out!

28:13 - Samuel appears to the woman in the image of a god. What does this tell us about the afterlife? Has Samuel gone immediately into the presence of God where he has been clothes in heavenly power? Has he come from a waiting place of the dead until final judgement can take place? We don't know! I have no idea. What I do know is that black and death cults are evil, and the only true source of power in this story is God working out his judgement on Saul.

28:16 - Saul goes to all that trouble to talk to Samuel and Samuel tells him the same exact them he told him when he was alive - God has rejected you and it is time for your house to come to an end. Not exactly the words that Saul wanted to hear at this point.

*What can we learn from this episode today? I think we can remember that there is one and only true source of power in this universe and it is God. God is working out His plan to bring about salvation of the world. Whatever good or bad choices people make...God is shaping the destiny of this universe to His will. There are Christians today who treat Christianity like it is a form of magic. They give their tithe expecting that God will be forced to bless them. They say prayers to try to get God to do their will. What we all need to understand is that God is not a fickle being that can be used to get whatever we want out of Him if we use the right "magical" formula. God is God and we are not...God is working throughout His creation for His name's sake, not to meet our selfish needs.

29:4 - If David and his men come into the battle as the rear-guard, they will be able to destroy the Philistines from one side while Saul destroyed them from the other. We see in verse 8 that David says he is itching to fight the enemies of his Lord. What Achish doesn't understand is that the enemies of David's Lord are Achish and the other Philistines. David's involvement could have saved Saul's life, but God had determined that it was time for judgement to be poured out on Saul and David is kept out of the battle.

30:6 - David returns to his town and finds that everything has fallen apart. The town is burned. The women and children have been stolen while they were away at war. David's men are so broken hearted that they discuss amngst themselves whether or not they should stone David to death. Not a great situation. And what does David do? He immediately turns to God fro strength and help. He always remains faithful.

30:8,11,15,23,26 - Do you want to see what a good leader looks like Saul? Here you go. Before acting David makes sure that he is doing what God wants him to do. When they come upon a sick slave of the Amelekites who have just torched David's village he shows mercy. They nurse the man back to health. Afterwards David shows intelligence by using the man as a source of information to get his people back. After they have destroyed the Amelekite raiders, David chooses to share the spoils even with the men who were not physically able to go to war (Setting a new precedent for all of Israel)...he is kind and thoughtful, he knows how to win the hearts of the people. He continues to build up his power base back in Israel by sending some of the spoils of war to the people of Judah. He is a great leader and a man of God.

31:2-4 - In a totally different vein, we see what it looks like to sacrifice everything God could have done with your life for jealousy, pride, fear, faithlessness - through the death of Saul. Everyone associated with Saul by the end of I Samuel is dead. That is the legacy that Saul's rule left behind...that is the lineage he left for his sons...a lineage of death, because he refused to be God's king. Saul wanted to be the god of his own life and we can all see how that worked out for him.

31:9 - Saul and his family are not the only ones hurt through his folly...the name of God is run into the dirt. The Philistines return with Saul's body and believe that their gods have been victorious over Yahweh. God is shamed by Saul's rebellion.

31:12 - Why do these men come out to rescue the body of the king? Jabesh-Gilead is the site of Saul's one major military victory, where he saved the people of that city. The men come out, not to contest God's judgement, but to honor the memory of the man who once saved them. A little bit of a positive note on the life of Saul, from a time when he was still willing to humble himself before God.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

I Samuel Chapters 25-27

25:7-8 - This sounds like mafia-style protection/extortion going on here, but it is really pretty different. David and his men have been camped out in the mountains, and while they were there, they chose to protect fellow Israelites from raiders. They don't steal anything and they protect the shepherds. What David asks for is very little and would have been easy for Nabal to fact, it fit within the requirements of middle eastern hospitality to give David what he asked for. We see from the reaction of the shepherds later that they are shocked when Nabal refuses to help out David and his is insulting and embarrassing. David doesn't take the rejection well.

25:13 - We have begun to see a little shift in the personality of David, and its not necessarily a good shift. When he fought Goliath he proudly yelled to Goliath that he doesn't need the sword and spear because God will bring about the victory. In this story, when he is shamed by Nabal, he tells all his men to strap on their swords. Instead of allowing God to bring about justice...David acts rashly with an intent to do violence...this is not something that bodes well for his future as the king of Israel.

25:28 - Abigail rides in on a donkey to save the day. She makes an incredibly intelligent speech. She supports David's right to the throne and future kingship. She sees that he is acting rashly and encourages him to leave the vengeance to the Lord so as not to sin in his anger. Abigail convinces him to keep himself pure as God's anointed king. We need people in our lives who are wise and who have the guts to speak to us when we are in the my experience these people are usually called wives.

25:33 - David knows that Abigail has helped him avoid making a huge mistake. Because he is able to step back and listen to the wise advice of another person, he learns another important lesson of faith. He learns that personal restraint (not instantly acting on emotions) allows room for the Lord to work in his life, while taking things into his own hands and acting without thought will bring serious repercussions. Something for all of us to remember.

25:38 - God avenges David and brings justice on Nabal.

26:7 - David and Abishai - the first biblical ninjas. They sneak into a camp full of warriors undetected to get to Saul. Although, we see from verse 12 that they are only able to do this because God has put all the men into a deep sleep. I guess this settles the great ninja/pirate debate. If ninjas are allowed to operate by the intervention of God - they must be the best!

26:9 - Again David allows Saul to live. I think after the Nabal episode David is fully confident that he simply needs to trust God to act. He knows God will handle everything and he acts out of wisdom and mercy.

27:8 - While living in Philistia, David start raiding the enemy tribal groups that surround the people of Judah. Even while in exile, he is protecting God's people. He is doing the duty of a king while running for his life. I love his commitment. As I read through these verses, I asked myself, "Am I faithful enough to continue serving God even when things aren't going my way?" So many times I think Christians just shut down their ministry and their faithfulness to God when events in their life are going crazy. David is the anointed king of Israel who is being hunted down by the corrupt king and living in the land of his enemies...yet he is faithfully serving God.

27:10-11 - David tells Achish that he is attacking territories in Israel so the Philistine king thinks that David is destroying all his ties to Israel...the king thinks David will be under his control for good. What he doesn't know is that David is destroying Israel's enemies and building up his popularity with the people of Judah.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I Samuel Chapters 22-24

The Cave - that would be a cool name for our new youth room. This cave in I Samuel was a gathering place for the lost and broken and hurt...where they find encouragement and purpose. That's exactly what I want our youth group to be about. Thoughts?

22:4 - Why would he take his parents to Moab? Well, if you can remember, Jesse's grandmother Ruth came from Moab...they probably had some family connections that hooked them up with the king.

22:17 - This is tragic. The priests state the case of their innocence, yet Saul is deaf to their words and makes an evil judgement on them. Hope you are enjoying the kingship you asked for people of Israel...this is what they do...they get corrupted by power and do evil (Even David is corrupted by the power of the kingship eventually). Saul says, "Kill the priests of the Lord..." - is he not insane?! He knows these men are God's priests and he still orders them killed...the only god Saul worships at this point is the god of self.

23:2, 10-12 - David a true man of God inquires of the Lord before doing anything. It is refreshing to see a leader in Israel who is in tune with God. He is totally reliant on God and will not act without an understanding that he is working within God's will. How are you doing in that department?

23:16 - "Strengthened his hand" means that Jonathan came and encouraged David. In his time f greatest need...Jonathan is willing to leave the army o his father and go t his friend for lift him up. Do you have friends like these? You need to get some!

23:21 - My stomach kinda turned with disgust after reading this verse. How sick is it that Saul, a man who just slaughtered God's innocent priests, would dare to speak blessing from God over people?

23:28 - Saul's jealousy has so blinded him that he is ignoring his duty as a leader to try to chase David down. Have you ever allowed jealousy and obsession to derail the focus of your life?

24:5ff - Even though David knows that Saul is evil and living in open rebellion towards God...David loves God so deeply that he refuses to kill a man that God has anointed as king. This really highlights the difference between Saul and David.

24:12 - Though he lets Saul live, David does not completely let Saul of the hook. He calls him out in front of all the men there. He states that Saul has done evil against him, but he is willing to let God be the judge, not himself. Many Christians have a difficult time with this concept of allowing God to be the judge and avenger...we fall into the same desires to get revenge that plagues all of human kind. We can learn alot from David at this point in his life.

24:16ff - Somewhere deep inside, Saul knows that he is absolutely wrong...he knows the righteousness of David...we even see that he feels guilt - his heart is momentarily broken because of what he is doing. But eventually he chooses to let his jealousy cloud his judgement over right and wrong again. There have been times in my life where I was dealing with sin struggles that constantly left me feeling guilty and vile...I would feel remorse and hate the sin, yet when refused to deal with the root of the problem - I would always return to the sin again. We have to be willing to take drastic steps to seek righteousness...if we let the lies and temptations remain in our lives - they will eventually blind our judgement.

Friday, January 15, 2010

I Samuel Chapters 19-21

19:2,9,12 - Saul's evil spirit of jealousy has corrupted everyone and everything around him. His children are forced to lie to him and deceive him to protect an innocent man. The situation between David and Saul has become irreconcilable.

19:13 - Th writer seems to be telling us a little joke through this comical part of the story. Michal lays down one of the household idols and puts hair on its head to fool Saul's men into thinking that David is in bed asleep (Ala Ferris Buehler). It's a funny way to tel us that man made images are good fro nothing except deception and lies.

19:18 - This whole situation has got to be heartbreaking for David. He has been brought into the court of the king of Israel...he is a hero of Israel, and he is on the run for his life. His world is falling apart and he turns to Samuel, a mature man of faith. He uses this time of isolation to learn from someone older and to grow as a man of God.

19:20-21 - The men come on a foul errand from Saul (They have come to get David), yet when they are in the presence of God's king (David) and true worship - they cannot help but get caught up. As they enter into the presence of God, they forget about their mission from Saul and worship in the Spirit of God. True worship carries such raw emotional power with it.

19:24 - Even Saul himself who is bent on destroying David is caught up in the power of the worship experience. He is so caught up in spiritual fervor that David is given the time to escape.

20:16-17 - Jonathan with yet another show of character and humility acknowledges the kingship of David. He fully understands that God's favor has shifted to David and instead of feeling jealous...he chooses to support David and makes a covenant with him. The covenant they make will help to protect Jonathan's family when David does eventually take power.

20:30 - Saul is so angry that he basically calls his son, "The stupid son of a whore!" As we read on, we see the root of his extreme anger towards his son. His son is willing to sacrifice the kingly lineage of Saul in support of David. Saul's legacy will die when he dies and when faced with his own mortality he snaps.

20:41 - This verse illustrates the depth of their relationship. Do you have a Jonathan in your life? Someone who you know has your back no matter what? Somebody who you can trust your life with? Somebody that is willing to chase after Christ with you?

21:1 - We see again that when David is in trouble...he does not blame God or run from God...he actually goes immediately to godly men for help. When everything falls apart he relies on his faith.

21:4-6 - Both of the things that David gets from Ahimelech are very significant to his situation in life at this point. The priest has no regular brad, so he actually gives David the "bread of presence" - sacred bread to eat. This bread also serves as a symbol that the presence of God is with David. The priest only has one weapon - the sword of Goliath. It is fitting that David takes this sword as his weapon and it serves as a reminder that God can provide victory no matter what the odds. Plus, how insanely cool must David have looked with that massive sword strapped to his back?!

21:13 - David is fearful, because these people are the enemies of the Israelites and they recognize who he is. When they say, "Hey, isn't that David the guy they say has killed tens of thousands?" They are saying, "Hey isn't that the guy who killed tens and thousands of us?" Not exactly the kind of attention you want in a foreign country.

21:13-15 - So naturally, David acts like a crazy person...that's what I'd do - start drooling in my beard and what not. I think the king's response to David's craziness is hilarious...he says, "We already have enough insane people in this country - get this guy outta here!" The king is implying that their country is full of truly mad men...they were societally corrupt and crumbling from the inside out - that's what happens in a world without God followers.

I Samuel Chapters 16-18

16:1 - I can understand what Samuel is going through here. When you have invested in somebody and had high hopes for somebodies life and is hard to see it all fall apart and move on. When there is pain and broken relationships and church discipline's hard to getting going again. Although leaders are allowed to grieve...they cannot allow failure and rejection to destroy their future ministry.

16:7 - This is a great verse for people to really take to heart. Gd doesn't care about what people look like, He cares about total inner surrender to His will - that's what is important...that is what defines worth.

16:11 - To his family, David is an after thought. He is the youngest...he's a shepherd (Which was looked down on in their culture)...they figured, why bother bringing David in - it's just David!

16:13 - The transition of godly leadership of Israel is complete. The Spirit of God leaves Saul and moves to David. It takes a while for Saul to get the picture, but we will see that God instantly starts using David as His leader. I also find is shocking that it is written that the Spirit of God is with David from that day forward, because there are some times when he does some really vile stuff. Imagine the grief of the Holy Spirit as David ignores His leading and forces the Spirit with him into that situation with Bathsheba!

16:14 - God is not evil...the word for evil can also be translated as harmful. Throughout the OT we see that God has no problem using pagan/vile people to bring judgement on Israel. Like when he allows the Philistines to oppress His rebellious people. Here we see that God allows an evil/harmful spirit to bring judgement on Saul. It also leads o David being brought into the royal court...all part of God's plan.

16:18 - Good reminder for us...David's godly actions speak volumes to people who see him. What does your life preach?

16:23 - David becomes entrenched in the world of the royal court and God allows the spirit to leave Saul, because that part of the plan is fulfilled.

Goliath - Here are some stats for ya - 9 feet 9 inches tall. He has a shield that covers his entire body (I'm guessing its custom made...that' one big shield!). The chain mail he wears, weighs 125 lbs! The head on his spear weighs 15 lbs - which is insanely heavy for a spearhead. He is basically a walking, human tank. I'd be scared.

17:26 - David rejects the fear that everyone else in Israel has and instead is insanely jealous for the name of God. Do you fight for his name?

17:28 - His older brother is jealous of David and feels guilty because he knows David's response is more godly, so he tries to belittle him. He tries to embarrass David by bringing up the fact that he is supposed to be watching sheep not going to war like the big boys. I have seen this happen a million times...Christians try to embarrass other Christian who are actually willing to live God honoring lives. As we should - David ignores him.

17:37 - David's faith in God ends up being much more important and valuable than battle experience and training. This is also often the case in ministry. Give me a leader or minister who is a faithful follower of God with no skill over and experienced jerk any day.

17:43 - I love it! Ancient battle smack talk! It's pretty good too..."Am I a dog that you come at me with sticks?" Is he referring to David's skinny teenage arms or just coming to battle with a staff...either way it's good. Of course David is un-phased and answers like any good teenager..."Whatever - God's gonna hand you over to me so let's get to it."

17:55 - Saul knows David from court, but cannot remember where he comes from. He wants to know the heritage of the boy, so that he can bring him into court full time.

18:1 - Jonathan is a man of God and instantly connects with David who is also a man of God. David and Jonathan share the same heart for God...Jonathan could have been an incredibly godly king, but his dad sacrificed it all.

18:3 - This is a picture of Jonathan (symbolically) giving up his right to the throne for David. It just speaks s highly of Jonathan's character. David is his number one rival fr the throne...he is loved by the people...and Jonathan befriends him and supports him unconditionally.

18:8 - Saul is again driven mad with jealousy because he cares more about what people think than about what God thinks.

18:12 - Saul cared nothing about what was best for the kingdom and what honored God...he cared only for himself. It is the downfall of his kingdom.

18:21 - Saul is so jealous he is even willing to use the love of his daughter to try to kill David. Sometimes people get so blinded by their jealousy and self-worship that they will use anyone around them to get their way.

18:28 - Saul knows that God is with David and he still hates David. That is vile. Jealousy like this still exists in churches today. Sometimes people allow jealous to ruin their ability to support and encourage the ministry of others.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

I Samuel Chapters 13-15

13:10-12 - Shows how different eh Israelite kingship is from the typical kingship in ancient times. Saul is not in control - Saul is not is charge...God is. God commands the king to act and then the king should act. God has commanded Saul to wait until Samuel gets there to make the sacrifice...Saul gets nervous, rejects God's plan because he lacks faith and pays a heavy price as we will see.

13:13-14 - We see that Saul actually could have been the head of the line that would lead to the human birth of the eternal king Jesus, but he rejects God's will. The Lord is going to instead seek a man who is actually interested in chasing after His heart. Imagine the great eternal cost when we choose to reject the will of God for our lives.

13:19 - The Philistines are totally in control of all military advancements/weaponry/technology in the area...they have the Israelites under their thumb. They dominate in numbers, they dominate in armaments - that is why they feel they can split their main force into three "raiding parties (v.17)" to cut the Israelites off. They are toying with God's people...taking their time with them.

14:6 - It is interesting to see the contrast between Saul and his son Jonathan. Every picture we get of Jonathan is a picture of a man of faith. He is a man of action who is willing to act in the name of God's honor. Everything we know about Jonathan tells us that he would have been a great king...he would have been a man after God's heart, but Saul's foolishness destroyed the opportunity.

14:15 - Because of Jonathan's faithfulness and willingness to trust God...God acts on behalf of the Israelites and goes to war for them - sending the Philistines into mass confusion.

14:19 - Contrast Jonathan to we find Saul sitting back from the battle, unsure of what o do and how to act (He is always nervous about what people think of him). He summons the priests to tell him what to do and then abandons that idea in the middle and charges into battle. He shows us the picture of the incompetent, confused leader.

14:24 - The craziness continues...Saul makes a ridiculous oath. His men are in the midst of a long, brutal battle. They are fighting for their lives and burning energy, and he make a vow that none of them can eat anything until the battle is over. His idiotic oath actually lessens the extent of God's victory.

14:29 - Jonathan hears about his dad's oath and rejects it. He eats food and remarks about the idiocy of his father's words. He knows that Saul has spoken from ego and boasting, and not thought about what God would want for his people. Jonathan knows that Saul's oath has actually tainted their victory and driven the people into sin (When they become so hungry they start eating raw, bloody meat).

14:39 - Another hasty oath like the one Jephthah made - even if it is my own son who has eaten food...I will kill him! was his own son - stop bragging and trying to prove your worth to people and lead you ninny!

14:45 - In the end after his son has rejected his leadership, even the army rebels against him. Saul has lost all credibility and effectiveness.

15:8-9 - Here we see that Saul only partially obeys God. He kills all the people, except the king who he keeps alive to parade around as a trophy (Again, he is all about showing people how important he is). He destroys all the useless items and keeps the healthiest livestock alive. Unfortunately for Saul, partial obedience has another is called disobedience. You and I need to remember that the next time we are running through a list of excuses in our heads about why we are partially disobeying God.

15:11 - God is grieved that He ever made Saul the king over Israel. Saul has rejected God's leadership over him and has led God's people astray.

15:17 - The bible lays out for us that Saul has never thought much of himself. He has never been able to see himself as worthy of the calling God placed on his life, and so he destroyed that calling by trying to overcompensate and honor himself. Christians will hamstring their ministry potential in life if they never accept that they are worthy of being God's children and worthy of being used to build His kingdom in this world.

15:22 - God wants obedience, not empty religion.

15:24 - A godly leader acts to honor God, not please the masses.

15:33-35 - Samuel steps up and does what Saul refused to do - he brings an end to the Amalekites as God promised would happen in Ex. 17:14 and Deut. 25:19. So in the end, the prophet of God parts ways with the king who rejected God and Saul is never truly God's king again. His true reign is effectively over at this point.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

I Samuel Chapters 10-12

10:6 - Saul is told that he will be turned into another man by the Spirit of God. This is really important for us to understand, because God is not just giving in to the people of Israel on the whole king issue. They have rejected Him in order to get a king "like everybody else has (read that in a whiny voice)," but God doesn't give them a king like the Canaanites or Egyptians. Those cultures believed that their rulers were divine or semi-divine, send from heaven to save their people and rule. God makes it clear that he is choosing the Israelite king and making the man into His ruler. God is still in control. The Israelite king only has any authority, because God gave it to him. Church leaders should always keep this in mind too.

10:16 - We see throughout this narrative that Saul is reluctant to accept the calling that God has placed upon him. He has an opportunity to tell his uncle that God has anointed him the ruler of Israel, but hides that and talks about some donkeys. This attitude doesn't really bode well fro his future kingship. I think if he had been willing to accept his calling and be God's ruler/God's man...he could have been the godly king of Israel and patriarch in the line of Jesus...but he rejected his opportunity (that will be evident in a few chapters).

10:19 - Every time he gets a chance, Samuel reminds the people how stupid it is to reject God for a human being...and every time they ignore him and push forward with what they want to do. Ever been there? How did it turn out for you?

10:22 - Again, after all God has done to show Saul that He is with him...Saul is off hiding in the luggage when he should be honored to be chosen as God's king.

10:27 - Saul doesn't deal with the doubters here. We can look at this in two ways. On one hand, Saul shows great mercy by not attacking the men who are rejecting the king God has chosen. On the other hand, he may have been negatively affected by their doubts, because we will see that later in his life, he becomes obsessed with the public's opinion of him. In many ways, his obsession with how people view him leads to his downfall. Sometimes you have to deal with tough situations, because it has to be done.

11:5 - Still uncomfortable in his new leadership role, Saul is doing what he has always done...working in the fields and not leading. Do you ever ignore what God has called you to do, by slipping back into the routine of what you always do?

11:6 - Here we see what Saul can do when he opens himself to God's leading. The Spirit moves in him and he mobilizes the nation to protect their Israelite brothers and sisters.

11:13 - Saul has every right to kill the men who have doubted fact, that is what the rest of the country expects him to do. But again, Saul surprises us and displays a great deal of godly leadership. He shows grace. He treats his detractors the same way that God has treated the men and women of Israel - shows them them another chance.

12:6ff - What a sad retirement speech for the prophet and judge Samuel. He is giving over his leadership of Isreal to Saul as the king, but he also runs down the history of rebellion lived out by the people. That is their legacy. They consistently turn away from God and He consistently shows them mercy. As one final warning, Samuel reminds them of their history and tells them to follow God if they hope to change their legacy.

12:21 - Such a powerful and fitting verse for any era. Don't waste your life chasing after empty things that mean nothing...offer nothing and leave you empty.

12:22 - This is a great definition of the awesome grace of God. God offers grace, not because of anything the people did or because they were going to pay God back...He offered grace for the sake of His own name. Grace is a free gift that can never be repaid...grace is about God being God and doing what only God can do. What we need to do is accept it...and let it change us.

Friday, January 8, 2010

I Samuel Chapters 7-9

7:2-3 - The people lament for their broken relationship with God in verse 2, but we see i in verse three that they still have their household gods...they are still worshipping false idols. The absurdity is incredible. It's like when we feel guilty about sin struggles in our lives and how they are destroying our relationship with God, yet we refuse to change the things that keep leading us astray...we refuse to make hard changes in our lives that would remove temptations - that's absurd!

7:10 - God always offers us a way out of trouble if we choose to accept it. I see sin in our lives, like the Philistines creeping up...ready to attack and run roughshod over our lives. Do we like the Israelites throw ourselves at the mercy of we cry out for help with our struggles? Or do we try to face them alone and fail yet again?

7:14 - God brings restoration and renewal to the lives of those who humble themselves before Him.

8:7 - My hart breaks as I read this! I couldn't help but cry as this verse hit so close to home. The rejection is so huge. This is on the short list of brutally tragic verses in the bible. Samuel is upset, thinking that the people have rejected him...but God makes it clear that the people have chosen to reject God. When you and I choose not to walk in God's path, we are not rejecting the biblical writers or church dogmas or individual preachers...we are rejecting God. When we choose to buy into the lies of this world...we are rejecting God...plain and simple.

8:18 - When we chose to find fulfillment in something other than God - we eventually find out how big a mistake we made.

9:2 - Hahaha! Great criteria for a leader..."Okay who is the tallest and best looking person here? You...well, you're the new king - congrats!" Ha!

9:5, 7 - Keep this is mind, Saul is a really good guy. He thinks about his dad and is willing to turn back from his mission so his dad doesn't start to worry about him. He is thoughtful enough to consider bringing a gift to the prophet before he approaches him. He is a good candidate when it comes to human kings.

9:16 - I find it amazing that God is willing to work through a human king even after the people have completely rejecting Him. If Mandy had chosen to marry another guy right before we were about to get married - I don't think I would have showed up at the wedding to support their future happiness. God's heart is so huge and merciful.

9:21 - Whether out of fear or humility, Saul is not some arrogant jerk. He is a pretty meek young man. I wonder if the absolute power he is about to receive as a king will change him any?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

I Samuel Chapters 4-6

4:3 - The Israelites, much like in the book of Judges, still have a very primitive/pagan view of God. They believe that they can bring the ark into battle with them and it will give them the power to defeat their enemies. They act like God is in the ark, or God is the ark and they treat it like a lucky charm. After all these years and all these miracles, they do not understand the magnitude of God...they do not understand that God cannot be put in a box! They lost the battle because of their sin and the sin of Phineas and Hophni...not because they didn't bring the ark. Do you see any modern day application there?

4:10 - Unfortunately, because of the Israelites unfaithfulness, it is God's name that is run into the ground (That sounds really familiar for some reason). The Philistines believe that they have defeated God because they defeated the men of Israel while they had the ark, but they were really being used by God as a tool of judgement to destroy a corrupt priesthood like Samuel prophesied.

5:3,4,6 - Now we see that God can stand up for himself. He humiliates the god Dagon and forces the statue to bow to the ark. He plagues the people of Philistia with tumors and mice wherever they move the ark - God defends His own name, because His people refuse to do so.

6:4 - The Philistines realize that they have desecrated the ark of God, and they are willing to pay a guilt offering in gold and send the ark back to the Israelites. The funny thing is that the Philistines are quicker to see their own sinfulness with regards to God, than the Israelites are. Sometimes religious people can get so caught up in their "superiority" that they fail to see the corruption in their lives that is running the name of God into the ground.

6:12 - The cows don't even falter...they head straight back to Israel. God wants to make it clear to the Philistines that He has been in control the whole time - this is no freak accident.

6:19 - This is kinda shocking - why do the Israelites get killed for looking at the ark? They seem like they were really happy to have it back, so what's the problem? The problem comes from how they looked at the ark. With God, motivation and heart are always key. The Hebrew word for "looked upon" used int his passage actually implies that they stared and gloated over the ark with irreverence. They were not killed for looking at the ark...they were killed for for their disrespect of God and the ark. It would be good fro contemporary Christian to remember how important it is to treat God and His name with great respect.

Monday, January 4, 2010

I Samuel Chapters 1-3

1:2 - Hannah was name first, so she was the first wife, but when she couldn't have children, Elkanah most likely married Peninnah to carry on his family line. We can see from verse one that his heritage was very important and he doesn't want to bring it to an end. Talk about an awkward family dynamic though! We see that problems arise much like in the Hagar/Sarah story earlier, because Peninnah never lets Hannah forget that she is barren. Jealousy is a destroyer of relationships and families. Peninnah is jealous of Hannah because Elkanah loves Hannah more, and so she reacts by hurting Hannah who is bitter that she cannot have children.

1:9ff - I love this portion of the story. Hannah is pouring herself out before God...she could care less about what anyone thinks of her...she just wants God to hear her cries. Eli confronts her about public intoxication, and she sets him straight (The confrontation is ironic, because it is clear that Eli has rarely ever confronted his sons who steal offerings from God and have sex with women who serve in God's tent). I would hope that all of us have such an meaningful relationship with God that others could see it. Some will react like Eli and think you are nuts, but when people see the difference God's makes in our life - it speaks volumes.

2:12ff - The "worthless" sons of Eli paint a really brutal picture of the priesthood at this point. They are trying to steal the best potions of meat from God for themselves, and even ordinary worshippers can see how wrong it is (v. 16). These guys are supposed to be the religious leaders, keeping the country on track towards God. They are also sleeping with women who have given themselves to God's service, so they are also defiling God's people. They have spent their whole life "serving" God and they have no idea who God is. There are people in churches all over the world, who have spent their lives in churches...yet they can walk away and profane the name of God through their actions and attitudes - they probably don't know God either.

3:19 - I like the phrase "none of his words fell on the ground." What it means in this passage is that everything Samuel said came true. He was the first true prophet in Israel in a long time and the people took notice. After choosing to constantly destroy the covenant with God throughout the years of the judges - the nation of Israel finally has a religious leader at the helm who is actually a man of God. YAY! I also think this applies to us...we should never let our words fall to the ground. Don't waste your words. Don't waste words on things that are vile and degrading - the mouth that we have is the mouth we worship God with...we should honor God through our speech at all times and not let some words fall to the ground.

Friday, January 1, 2010

The Book of Ruth

Might as well crank this one out in one day - it is only 4 chapters.

1:4 - Ruth is a Moabite woman or foreigner, which is important to understand because she is in the line of King David and Jesus. Another example f God's willingness to use anyone who is open to His leading.

1:9 - Naomi wants the girls to have a second chance at life...she knows that a powerless, penniless widow with no sons has no inheritance and nothing to offer to young women. They weep because they know she is right and that she is returning to Israel o live off the scraps of others.

1:14 - Orpah leaves - Ruth stays.

1:16 - Incredibly Ruth makes the most binding pledge a person in the OT could possibly make. She doesn't just say, "I'll stay with you." She says, "As God is my witness, may he strike me down if I ever leave you for any reason other than death." That is commited love...and it does not do unnoticed!

1:20ff - I always love how the bible paints such realistic pictures of people. Naomi is bitter! She has lost her husband and both sons and is a poor widow - she has every right to feel a little bitter...what human wouldn't be? Bu much like Job, even i her bitterness, she remains faithful to God.

2:9 - Boaz is a great guy...he is a man of honor. He looks out for the honor of this foreign woman - protects her from less honorable men and brings her int the fold of his workers....helping her in a time of need. He goes above and beyond what is expected of a helping kinsmen. This is also called "flirting" in the OT!

2:11 - The life that Ruth lives and the commitment she shows to Ruth, stand as a bold testament to her character. People who see the way she lives her life, know she is a woman of honor and a woman of God. What do people see when they look at our lives?

2:20 - Boaz is not the closest relative, nor the next in line to redeem the family name of Noami's husband and sons, but he is willing to step up and do what needs to be done. He treats her as a man would treat a wife long before they ever get married. He looks out for her...protects her...provides for her. I know a lot of young men who could learn a lot about about how to treat women from Boaz here. Before you are ever ready to date or look for a future spouse, you should already be living as people worthy of such an honor.

3:9 - Like Ruth, Boaz's actions speak volumes about his character. Ruth sees him as a man who is living his life as a reflection of God's traits. She says, "Spread your wings over me as a refuge and redeemer," which is language just like the description of God in 2:12 ("The God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.").
4:6 - The closer redeemer is more concerned about the inheritance of his own family. He doesn't want to share anything with Naomi's family and rejects his duty as kinsmen redeemer. In doing so, he misses out on being the father of the line of David and the savior of the world - Jesus! How often has selfishness submarined the plans that God has had for my life?

4:10 - Boaz on the other hand is willing to step up and become the kinsmen redeemer and begin his family with a foreign wife. He is a selfless man of integrity and becomes the great grandfather f King David.

4:11 - The elders call out a blessing on Ruth - they say she will be like Rachel and Leah, two of the mothers of the Israelite nation. They speak and God delivers as Ruth begins the line of David and Jesus that will share the history of all creation.

4:15 - Ruth is revered by the people who know her. They give her the ultimate compliment in this time of chauvinism...they say she is worth more than 7 sons! That is like saying she is priceless.