April 1 1 Samuel 1-3
April 2 1 Samuel 4-8
April 3 1 Samuel 9-12
April 4 1 Samuel 13-16
April 5 1 Samuel 17-20; Psalm 59
April 6 1 Samuel 21-24; Psalm 91
This week, we learned about Samuel. A child with a name that means “requested of the Lord”, he was dedicated to God from before his birth by his mother, Hannah. She was one of two wives of Elkanah, and he loved her most – even though she was childless. (Children were a measure of a woman’s “worth” at this point in history). Hannah was at God’s house early one morning, praying so hard that the priest accused her of being drunk! After Samuel was weaned, Hannah did as she promised and took Samuel back to Eli. She left Samuel at the temple – truly dedicated him to the Lord!
Have you ever dedicated something to God? Have you had the faith to literally leave something at the altar in church to keep your commitment to God? I can’t even imagine the love and faith that Hannah had – her first born son left in the care of the priests because of her vow! God honored that vow with five more children, and Hannah also had the privilege of watching her son grow up as a servant of God.
Samuel’s home was not the holy place that it should have been. Eli’s sons were corrupt and desecrated the sacrifices made by the people. Despite that, Samuel grew up wholly devoted to God. As a child, he heard the literal call of God in the night. God’s first message was not a pleasant one for Eli to hear. Because Eli couldn’t stop his sons’ behavior, the entire family would be cut out.
Israel went to battle and brought the Ark of the Covenant with them. It seems that the Ark was brought more as a talisman or good luck charm than as a representation of the Holy God. The Israelites were defeated; the Ark was taken – and God’s promise to kill both of Eli’s sons in the same day came to pass.
The people were turning from God again. They demanded a king so that they could be more like the other nations. God granted their wish, but told the people that they wouldn’t be happy.
Have you ever “demanded” something from God – received it – and then found that what you prayed for wasn’t what you really wanted? Why would an all knowing God allow you to receive something that wasn’t good for you? In the answer, were you being protected by God? Did you learn your lesson?
When I was a young adult, I prayed and prayed for a car. Because of my youth, I didn’t expect to work for the car. I just informed God that He promised to give me the desire of my heart, that my current desire was a car, and that He had to keep His promise because He was God. How arrogant! After a few months of praying (but not saving to buy the car, still expecting it to show up with a clear title), I received my answer. Someone was going to give me a car! HA! SEE! I GOT GOD TO DO WHAT I WANTED! But God has a sense of humor. Yep, I got my car… but it didn’t have an engine! From that experience I learned that God does answer prayers, but that I can’t demand from Him. I’ve never forgotten that lesson.
Anyway, God has Samuel anoint Saul king. The people figure out that they have sinned in their demands:
And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.” 20 And Samuel said to the people, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. 21 And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. 22 For the Lord will not forsake his people, for his great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you a people for himself. 23 Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. 24 Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 25 But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.” 1 Sam 12:19-25 (ESV)
A precious promise and a promise of destruction if the people turn from God! And of course, the people managed to turn from God! During one battle, the troops ate meat with the blood still in it, which was against God’s command and a dietary restriction. Saul turned from God, and an evil spirit was sent to torment him. God used that spirit to bring David into Saul’s life. David was anointed king even before Saul died, and Saul remained king after David’s anointing. At this point in the young man’s life, he was court harpist – the only one who would calm Saul when he was being tormented by the evil spirit.
David wasn’t just a talented musician. He was also a shepherd – and a brave warrior. We see the story of David and Goliath, where the very tall Philistine taunted the Israelites for 40 days. David volunteers to kill Goliath, even though he has had no formal military training. His faith in God’s ability to lead him brought him to a place where more experienced men refused to go. With one well-placed stone, Goliath was wounded, and David cut off his head. I see a parallel here to Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness With His words, Satan’s lies were revealed, and in His death, Satan was mortally wounded. God uses the number 40 many times in the Bible – 40 years of wandering in the wilderness, a 40 day retreat for Jesus – it will be interesting to see where that number pops up throughout the year.
After David defeated Goliath, he became friends with Jonathan, Saul’s friend. Saul became jealous because God was with David, and eventually spent much time trying to kill him. David was successful not because of his military prowess, but:
And David had success in all his undertakings, for the Lord was with him. 1 Sam 18:14 (ESV)
We see Saul’s attacks on David, and David’s response in Psalm 59 and Psalm 91 – deliver me! You look down and see my adversaries. Consume them, so the people will know that You rule. I will sing of Your strength and joyfully proclaim Your faithfulness!
In one story, we see David and his men coming to the temple, weary from battle, and looking for food. The priest tells David all that is available is the shew-bread, consecrated to God. He asks if David and his men are ceremonially clean. David says that they are, and he and his men eat.
Jesus and His disciples were walking by a field and hungry on the Sabbath. They picked wheat, and the priests told Jesus that He was breaking the law. Jesus used David’s story as a life lesson:
At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry, and they began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 But when the Pharisees saw it, they said to him, “Look, your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath.” 3 He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the bread of the Presence, which it was not lawful for him to eat nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the Law how on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath and are guiltless? 6 I tell you, something greater than the temple is here. 7 And if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is lord of the Sabbath.” Matt 12:1-8 (ESV)
The final Psalm reading this week was so touching to me. I finish with David’s words of comfort and assurance in times of trouble.
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say to the Lord, “My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3 For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. 5 You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. 9 Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge — 10 no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. 12 On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. 14 “Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. 15 When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. 16 With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” Psalms 91:1-16 (ESV)
There was so much that stood out for me this week. What did you find most interesting? Which passages helped you deal with life this week? Leave a comment or send me an email I really want to know!
I pray your plans for Resurrection Sunday include inviting someone to church – and of course church attendance for you and your family! He is risen, indeed!