David Saul drama Samuel the prophet

Day 108 (April 18): David spares Saul again, Philistine refuge, two tribes join David, Saul talks to Samuel … who is dead, Philistines reject David

Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
1 Samuel 26:1-27:7
1 Chronicles 12:1-7
1 Samuel 27:8-29:11
1 Chronicles 12:19
Psalm 56
(1011-1002 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Samuel 26:1-25): Why is Saul after David when they’ve been through this cat-and-mouse chase and after David won, they made peace where Saul acknowledged David’s grace and David agreed to not harm Saul’s family.  Although, I didn’t mention it in yesterday’s reading, when I looked back, a verse stuck out.  1 Samuel 24:22 says that Saul went home, but David stayed in the wilderness.  If the fighting was truly over, why would David stay hidden?

A. Because he still didn’t trust Saul is the only reason I can give you.  It appears his instinct not to trust Saul was proven correct.

Q. (26:16): David keeps referring to Saul as “the Lord’s anointed” almost in jest.  So, does everyone know that David is anointed or is it to be revealed to all at a later time?

A. God has made David His king, but he will not become Israel’s king until Saul is dead.  It appears that God’s selection of David was not a secret at this point, so perhaps Samuel talked about it before he died.

Q. (27:8-12): Do I have this right that David and his soldiers and their families were living among the Philistines?  David would go on raids of whom and why?  David was aligning with King Achish, a Philistine.  I don’t get this.

A. He did so to move out of Saul’s territory, since this appears to be the only place where Saul would not pursue him — probably because he did not have the military strength.  That is probably your answer as to why he allied himself with the Philistines: because they were the only nation strong enough to protect David.  It seems to fit under the rule of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Q. (28:8-19): We haven’t seen anyone talk to anyone in heaven besides God.  I always thought that mediums, fortune tellers, witches, whatever they are called were a farce.  Apparently not?  Again, this is the OT.  Are these people just present in the OT times or are they really here now?  This reminds me of my questions when the Egyptian “magicians” replicated the staff-to-snake trick of Aaron and Moses (Exodus 7:8-13).  I have never believed that magic or possessions exist today.  Maybe they do?  But, in the staff-to-snake miracle, could God have made the magicians able to do this trick just so he could finish it off with his snake eating their snakes?  I was shocked to read Samuel talking again!

A. First, let’s clear something up: it does not appear that Samuel is in “heaven” in the sense that we would understand it.  Samuel is in the realm of the dead, Sheol, which is NEITHER heaven nor hell.  Much of the OT refers to it as a place of rest for the dead (akin to the Greek concept of Hades), while awaiting judgment at a future date — we will see this referred to as the Day of the Lord in future volumes, so watch for that term.  This is why Samuel tells Saul that he will be “with me” in 28:19.  Samuel is certainly NOT telling Saul that he is going to heaven when he dies “tomorrow.”  So, to get a clear picture of what is going on, you’ve got to remove the simple notion of heaven and hell: eternal judgment in the Bible is not cut and dry at this point in the story (though it will be later!)

In addition to your questions about Egyptian magic, back on Day 76 (when reading Deuteronomy 18), we discussed the issue of communication with the dead, and I mentioned then this story as a forthcoming example, so here’s your pay off.  The implication of the story, to me, is that in this era — I couldn’t tell you whether or not you can still do so today — it was possible for certain people to communicate with the dead.  They did so using what we would call occult practices today — and they surely still exist. We usually call them Wicca or similar names today.  The issue here is not whether or not one can communicate with the dead.  This story surely tells us that we COULD, if not can, but rather that God strictly forbids such an act.  The reason: consulting the dead, called necromancy, always involves an attempt to learn about or control the future, as Saul is doing here.  When we do that, we are no longer trusting God to provide for our future.  Now in Saul’s case you can understand his desperation: his prophet is dead, the priesthood has allied itself with David, or been killed by Saul himself, and he appears to have no way to communicate with God.  He has painted himself into this corner, but we can certainly sympathize with his plight.  It’s going to get bad for Saul and his family.

Q. (29:6): So, Achish acknowledges the Lord here.  Are the Philistines just fickle and go back and forth between following the true Lord and idols?  Or, was he just simply acknowledging the Lord’s power, even though the Lord is not his God?  Another question this brings up is swearing.  We may have talked about it before, but it’s worth exploring again.  We have read about many of God’s followers — most recently, Jonathan and David and Abigail — swear by God.  One of the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:7 says, “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.”  I certainly don’t think any of the three I mentioned are misusing God’s name.  But, I thought it was a great time to bring the subject up.  I have the feeling that whenever I mention the Lord, I have to make sure he would approve of it.  I don’t say He said something He didn’t, nor do I use his name casually in blame or whatever.  It jabs me when I hear someone say, “God this” or “Jesus that” or “Oh my God,” especially Christians.  As I pull the knife out of me, I would like to call the person on it, but never do.  What do you say about this, Rob?  I found a great paper on this subject.  See if you think it’s worth mentioning. http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2007/06/what-does-it-really-mean-to-take-the-lords-name-in-vein/

A. Okay, you went a bit stream of consciousness on me, but let’s see if we can untangle this.  I think the Philistines recognized David’s God, but they would not have acknowledged Him as the God of the whole world, merely Israel.  In this era, it was common thinking that the gods had what we might call territories: so the Philistine god watched over his kingdom, the God of Israel watched over Israel, etc.  They would have seen the battles between human kings and soldiers as acting out struggles between the various gods.  If your army won, it was because your nation’s god was more powerful than your enemies.  The Israelites speak of a radical departure for this: only their God exists, and He rules the whole world.  This concept would surely have been lost on the Philistine king, and he likely was speaking of the Lord out of his own understanding of gods.

I agree with you that David and the others are not misusing God’s name in the stories you mentioned, and it does come down to casual use of God’s name when His name ALWAYS deserves to be revered.  I read on someone’s blog where the writer warned that real danger of violating this commandment is not lightning, i.e. being struck dead, but lightening.  When we misuse a name — any name — we cause that name to lose significance: we take it lightly.  That might be okay with people, but if we begin to take God lightly — and surely we do that in our society today! — the entire fabric of our relationship with God begins to fall apart.  In the end, that only costs us — God does not need us, but we NEED Him.  Much that takes place in our world today — the glorification of sin, the loss of morality, etc. — can be traced to the fact that, ultimately, we take God lightly.  What better example can there be then in how we show a lack of reverence for the name of God!  It can be tricky to get people to see this point of view, but I think with people that we have relationship with; it would be a worthwhile endeavor.  Respect for God is surely worth our time.

O. (Psalm 56) This Psalm reminds me of when Jesus feels the doom of his enemies creeping up on Him.  David says God is protecting him.  He is his shield.  Yet, in verse 11, he says “I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?”  I know the feeling.  I know God is real — I have always felt it, but after seeing how undeniably true the Bible is — I have real proof of God’s existence.  Yet, there is always the doubt that if I ask God for something, I won’t get it … that it’s just an empty wish.  I’m working on it.  David admitting his fear and doubts helps me personalize this story.  Verses 12-13 give David’s reason for his faith.  This feels like when David ever has his fear, he can refer to this verse to bolster his faith.

For further study: Samuel’s place in God’s plan, https://www.pray.com/articles/who-was-samuel-in-the-bible

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Tomorrow’s reading
— 1 Samuel 30
— 1 Chronicles 12:20-22
— 1 Samuel 31
— 1 Chronicles 10
— 1 Chronicles 9:40-44
— 2 Samuel 4:4
— 2 Samuel 1

David v. Saul Instead of killing Saul, David cut off the edge of his robe without his noticing it. ‘The Lord forbid that I lay my hands on the King He has anointed,’ he told his men. And he stopped them attempting to kill Saul.

Day 107 (April 17): Saul hunts for David, David praises God, David spares Saul, Samuel dies, Nabal’s stubborness, Abigail intercedes, David marries Abigail

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
1 Samuel 23:13-29
Psalm 54
1 Samuel 24-25
(1011 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Samuel 23:16): We can obviously see that Jonathan and David had a super-close relationship and that it’s base was a love of God.  It’s so nice to have close friends encourage one another to stay strong in their faith.  If there is faith, there is love and that love is binding.  Since I have become a stronger Christian, it is definitely easier to talk about God, especially with those who know me.  But, I have to admit, that if someone I don’t know at all or a little talks to me about my faith or encourages me, I can be offended.  I feel like they are saying that my faith isn’t strong, when they don’t even know me.  But now, maybe that I’m wearing my faith more, they will notice and I won’t get those questions.  So, here’s the question.  We all want to proclaim God and tell others, but when is it the right time?  Do we wait for the Spirit?  There are many times when I want to bring up my love for God/Jesus/Spirit, but I feel that if I do, I would turn that person away from me and thus, lose the opportunity to eventually bring up God.  So, do we wait for the Spirit to show us the right time, or open our mouths as soon as our brain says we want to share or proclaim?

A. 1 Peter 3:15 talks about being “ready” to give an answer for the hope that we have in Christ.  That, I think, is a good summary of what is expected of us.  When asked, we must be willing to boldly defend the faith that we have.  But to me, that is as far as the ABSOLUTE requirement goes.  Stay with me: I’m not saying that we are not commanded to share the Gospel — we are! — but rather what I’m saying is that beyond our requirement to answer those who would question our faith, we are NOT required to share the Gospel 24/7.  We can discern, with the Spirit’s help, when is a good time to share, and when to keep silent.  Ideally for me, I like for the other person to broach the subject — and yes, I realize that life is not always ideal — and bring up the conversation.  That, in my mind, goes a long way toward preventing us being a burden on others, especially if they do not react well to our message.  No one wants to be that person who drives people further away from the Gospel (even the ones who actually DO drive people away think they are bringing people to Christ).  I wouldn’t make sharing your faith the first part of every conversation with a stranger — you’ll surely turn some people off that way — but I would also say that if you are presented a good opportunity, it is your responsibly to God to be His ambassador (2 Corinthians 5:20).  Being in relationship with non-Christians will go a long way toward affording you opportunities to share your message, and believe me, if you take the Gospel seriously, you will get some funny looks and be asked by others.  Besides all of this, Jesus tells us in the Sermon on the Mount that our good deeds are to be done for the glory of God, that others will see this and realize the truth about God as well (Matthew 5:16).

So to sum up: get to know people before you share, if you can; wait for them to ask you; be discerning about when is a good time to share; be sure you are doing good works (and you are crediting God for inspiring them), and be willing to answer challenges that are put to you.  I hope that’s helpful.

Q. (24:3): I take it that “relieve himself” means sleep and not needing to urinate?  As I recall, Saul falls asleep, and that’s how David cuts his robe.

A. Nope.  The Hebrew translates as “cover his feet” (which is actually what the say in the King James), but it’s a euphemism for using the bathroom (the same phrase is used in Judges 3:24 if you’re interested, and I know you are…).  I’m going to just stop there.

Q. (24:16-21): Saul does a nice 180° turn of attitude.  Any comments, Rob?

A. Sure.  Saul is given a moment of humanity here, and he becomes aware of how faithful David has been to him, even in the midst of Saul’s attempts to kill him.  It is obviously a very emotional scene.  Pay close attention to that request in verse 21, it will be very important to the subsequent story of David’s rule, and it leads to one of my favorite stories in all of Scripture.

Q. (25:1b-22): Isn’t David using God here?  I didn’t read that God commanded him to approach Nabal.  Obviously, David and his men are very hungry.

A. I wouldn’t say David is using God; he is trying to gain provisions for his men, but reacts quite poorly to Nabal’s rebuke.  I actually think that lack of reference to God in this story is quite telling.  Unlike the last chapter, he certainly did not consult with God before moving to slaughter Nabal and his family.  Good thing Abigail smooths things over.

O. (25:23-38): This is a WOW story for me.  There are so many interesting things here.

No. 1 is how God tactfully uses women in a man’s world to do His work.  We see here the differences in men’s and women’s temperament.  When David is rejected, his response is vengeance.  The wife, Abigail, knows that men can be foolish, especially her husband, and make rash decisions without thinking of the consequences (I’m not knocking men, more underscoring women’s intuition).  She thinks of an alternate, peaceful plan to this hostility.  In my experience, a woman’s instinct, sixth sense, empathy — whatever you want to call it — is super strong.  But, in the same frame, women can overthink and never act.  Thus, comes a man.  They make a great pair … if they work together.

No. 2: What a difference one person can make.  Here, Abigail made a huge save.  But also, the servant who told Abigail of the fiasco was a hero.  If he didn’t have the courage to counter the king, he and all of his friends would be dead.

No. 3.  I love how Nabal’s name means “fool.”  Who would name their kid that?

No. 4. Abigail says that David’s “enemies will disappear like stones shot from a sling!”  And, ta-da, Nabal was paralyzed like a stone and died.

This is my favorite story thus far.

Q. (25:39-44): Yeah!  We have a love story.  What a great ending.  But, then, David has left behind his first wife, Saul’s daughter Michal, and lost her to someone else.  I guess this is just something that goes with the territory of being on the run.  And, I would guess that it would be awkward to be married to a daughter of someone who wanted to kill you, even if they vowed not to be a threat any longer.  But, why does David marry again?  God has established that a marriage should be between one man and one woman.  And, David is the anointed one.  I do believe that we will learn that David has a weakness for women.  This was the flaw that ruined Samson.  As a woman, I don’t understand this strong desire and wild instinct men have toward women.  I do understand that for those who strive to be righteous, that lusting after women is a huge struggle.  Do you believe that this is a way God tests the strength of a man’s will?

A. David certainly does have a way with the ladies, doesn’t he?  Just kidding.  Okay, so here’s the deal, even though God created man and woman to be in relationship together — one at a time in other words — the reality of this society at this time did not live up to God’s standard, and this includes David.  Marriage, at this point, was not selected out of love, but rather political expediency: Saul gave Michal to David in marriage to unite the families and gain David’s political alliance.  Society, especially royalty, continued to operate in this way until the middle of the last century.  Women were, and frankly, used by men to create political alliances, strengthen old ones, etc.  So we must be very careful about applying 21st Century cultural norms — whatever those are these days — to an ancient passage.  David saw a valuable resource in Abigail, so while he may have been attracted to her, at least part of the reason he married her was to benefit himself.  Abigail didn’t exactly lose out on the bargain either — she was very unlikely to have good protection without her foolish husband, so she definitely moved up in the world as well.

David will take several other wives — we will even see Michal again — so don’t let that be a surprise to you.  I’m not going to excuse their actions, especially since God is clear that this “big love” idea is not His desire.  Regardless of God’s ideal, and even the warnings He issues about having multiple wives (Deuteronomy 17:17 SPECIFICALLY says for kings not to!), David and Solomon will not listen to this order.  And please note that the law is there for a reason: we will see how polygamy will be extremely costly in both the lives and rules of David and Solomon, David’s son and successor.  This sin — that is what it is — will truly haunt both of these men.  In David’s case, the children of these wives, and the wives themselves, will become petty and jealous of each other.  It will lead to terrible consequences: rape and incest, murder, and the rebellion of one of David’s sons.  It sounds like a soap opera to me, something to watch for in 2 Samuel.  In Solomon’s case, his many (many many many…) wives will undercut his walk with God, and bring about not only his downfall, but the downfall of the united nation.  So don’t make the mistake of thinking that God is just going to “allow” these men to do whatever they want when it comes to wives.  There will be a severe penalty for each of them.  Polygamy is not God’s ideal for a reason.  It has dire consequences for both genders, and ultimately leads people away from God, not closer to Him.

Tomorrow, the David and Saul story continues.

For further interest: The roots of coronating kings are in this Old Testament account of Samuel, Saul and David. https://www.ox.ac.uk/news-and-events/oxford-people/George-Garnett

Shop: Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading
— 1 Samuel 26-27:7
— 1 Chronicles 12:1-7
— 1 Samuel 27:8-29:11
— 1 Chronicles 12:19
— Psalm 56

God instructs Davd to save the people of Keilah from the Philistines.

Day 106 (April 16): David hides in cave, pleads to God for protection, Gad joins David, Saul orders priests killed, David loyal to God, David protects Keilah

Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
1 Samuel 22:1-2
Psalm 57
Psalm 142
1 Chronicles 12:8-18
1 Samuel 22:3-23
Psalm 52
1 Samuel 23:1-12
(1012-1002 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Psalm 57:1-11): David is crying out for protection from the evil that lurks around him.  I like the chronological Bible in that it puts each of the Psalms with the story that it’s talking about.  Why don’t most versions of the Bible group them together?

A. Because of the way that the different books are classified if you will in the OT.  The Psalms were compiled into one volume (150 in all) and commemorate various important points in the life of its writers (some are from David, but others from other sources as we will see as they come up).  Since 1 Samuel is a history volume, and Psalms is a poetic volume (in Jewish literature, Psalms is classified as a “writing”), they are not found together.  They were written to serve different purposes.  Psalms has its own ebbs and flows as the reader moves through the various poems, which surely was the intent of the editor/editors that compiled them.  The Psalms were put together in a way that would only be recognized if you read them straight through (there are five volumes or “books” of the poems within the book of Psalms itself).  So there are pros and cons to reading the Psalms in this way: we gain an emotional connection to the story, but we also miss out on being able to see the way that the creator of the book, not the individual writers, desired to move his audience through the various emotions and highs and lows of the nation’s walk with God.

Q. (1 Samuel 22:3-4): I guess Israel and Moab are on good terms now?

A. Not necessarily.  Don’t forget that David, and therefore his father, are related to the Moabite Ruth.  The king might be allowing David’s family to stay only because of their family connection.  It may have nothing to do with how the king feels about Saul and Israel at the moment.

Q. (22:16-19): So, the priesthood can be a dangerous choice of careers.  I am surprised that God didn’t provide some protection for the priests.  Is this a coincidence that Saul asked an Edomite to kill the priests and he did it?  Rob, you told us at the reunion of Jacob and Esau and then the parting that their descendants would be enemies.

A. This is certainly an example of the animosity between Israel and Edom, and this will be an event that David remembers.  We don’t really have any information on why God chose not to spare His priests.  But no doubt that those who died in faithful service to Him were surely welcomed into His Kingdom.  This certainly seems unjust, but don’t forget that life is not always just on this side of death.  God never promises to prevent all hardship — quite the opposite, John 16:33 — but rather that we can trust in Him to make things right in the end.  This is a big reason that belief in an afterlife is such a huge part of the writings of Scripture: without an afterlife, there is too often injustice.

Q. (23:10-12): So God’s protection of David in this story isn’t a miraculous one, but instead, is just foresight of what Saul and the people of Keilah will do.  And thus, David and his men will leave, as we see in the next day’s reading?

A. Yep.  Don’t forget that it specifically says that David sought the Lord on the matter, and God was free to respond how He pleased.  In this case, we will see that God will continue to delay a battle between Saul and David, for reasons that, I promise, are coming.

Video: See the cave where David hid from Saul! https://www.google.com/search?q=hiding+in+caves+bible&oq=caves+in+Bible&gs_lcrp=EgZjaHJvbWUqCAgBEAAYFhgeMgcIABAAGIAEMggIARAAGBYYHjIICAIQABgWGB4yDQgDEAAYhgMYgAQYigUyDQgEEAAYhgMYgAQYigUyDQgFEAAYhgMYgAQYigUyDQgGEAAYhgMYgAQYigUyDQgHEAAYhgMYgAQYigXSAQkxOTE1MWowajeoAgCwAgA&sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8#fpstate=ive&vld=cid:20875975,vid:OYQ-AeHCdgQ,st:0 

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Tomorrow’s reading
— 1 Samuel 23:13-29
— Psalm 54
— 1 Samuel 24:1-25:44

 

David and King Saul's son, Jonathan, are best friends. Jonathan helps protect David from being killed by his father.

Day 105 (April 15): Jonathan helps David escape, David seeks shelter with Ahimelech in Nob, David’s psalm boasts of God

Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
1 Samuel 20-21
Psalm 34
(1013-1012 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Samuel 20:3): God was with David when he faced Goliath.  He showed no fear.  But, now, in the face of Saul, he is scared and wants to run.  Why is he not confident like he was with Goliath?

A. David did not fear Goliath because he knew that God was displeased by Goliath’s blaspheming, and desired a brave warrior to conquer in His name.  My suspicion is that God told David to run from Saul in this case because the time was not right for David to challenge the king.  He will get his chance.

Q. (20:5-23) This whole scheme on both parts, Saul’s and David’s, sounds deceptive.  Is David’s deception of Saul OK in God’s eyes: he’s breaking the “Do not lie” Commandment.  At first, it seems that David and Jonathan are leaving God out of their plan.  In verses 11-17, Jonathan refers to God several times, but it sounds like he’s assuming he can command God.

A. David is asking Jonathan to lie to his father, and there certainly could have been a way for Jonathan to find out his father’s motives without lying to him.  I’m not going to try and defend the action itself.  But I think that these men were concerned that Saul was getting a little crazy regarding David, and so perhaps they were really convinced that deceiving the king was the best course of action to prevent David’s murder or repercussions to Jonathan.  I don’t think that David is trying to control God, but rather that he is trusting God to tell him when to “move” if you will.  In this case, God appeared to be telling him that it would be best to get out of town for a while.

O. (20:26): This verse tells us that anyone, including someone with the respect of David, can become unclean.  It was nothing uncommon.  When I read the verses about the Israelites traveling with the Tabernacle and all of the rules that went with it, I would think that it would be unfair for someone, for no fault of their own, to be prohibited from taking part in a sacrifice because he or she was ceremonially unclean.  We don’t need to rehash all of that again.  Rob told us that it was a way of respect for God and a way to keep germs at bay, maintaining a healthier camp.

O. (20:30-31): And there’s the king’s answer to David’s question if Saul wants to kill David.

Q. (20:41,42): Is there anything wrong here with David bowing to Jonathan.  This friendship is truly deep.  Maybe too deep, where it takes the place of God?  Verse 42 shows their shared reverence for God.

A. David and Jonathan both appear to have good relationships with God, and it appears there was nothing to fear about their relationship replacing their walk with God.  David is bowing to show his thanks to Jonathan for saving his life and out of respect for him as the prince of the nation.

Q. (21:1-15): I have questions here, but I think they may be answered in subsequent verses.  I would think that the Bread of Presence would not be up for grabs.  I take it was for David to eat?  He obviously wanted a weapon to protect himself.  But, why did he seek King Achish?

A. The bread was for David and his men.  Technically, the bread was not “up for grabs” because the men were not priests, but as the story points out, they didn’t have any other food, so the bread was God’s provision for them.  This story will actually come up again, in the ministry of Jesus (Matthew 12), and Jesus will discuss the ethics of the situation.

We don’t know exactly why David went to Achish specifically, since it appears he was a Philistine king.  It may have been the closest kingdom in proximity to Israel, so it may have been as simple as a distance consideration.  He actually won’t stay there long, and you might recognize were he goes next.

Q. (Psalm 34:7,9): Can you explain having “the fear” of God?

A. Sure.  I would say that the “fear of God” in this context is a proper understanding of the relationship between God and ourselves.  God loves us and cares for our needs, but we must never forget that God is set apart from us, and we must be respectful of Him.

If we would (crudely) compare God to a loving but firm parent, we can get just a glimpse of the concept.  A parent who truly loves a child does not only provide for the needs of the child, but also must dole out discipline when needed, as we have seen God do to this point in the story … and that will continue.  You don’t want your child to live in paralyzing fear of you — that is ultimately unhelpful and will push the child away.  But, you SHOULD desire that your child know who is in charge (you), and in that regard, a reasonable level of respect/fear is important for a good parent-child relationship.  That, I think is at the heart of what God desires us to understand about fearing Him.  If we do not show proper reverence/fear for God, we are more likely to make poor and sinful decisions, such as the ones Saul is making and many others will follow.  But by starting our walk with God in right relationship with Him, He will guide us in right relationship.  Watch for more verses, especially in the Psalms, that continue the thinking on this concept of fearing God.

Q. (Psalm 34:12,13): Since I have become more aware of being judgmental, it has really helped me.  Judging is to be left up to God.  But, so many times it’s hard not to judge.  For instance, I have worked with young children in a school.  We see some of them who are tired or don’t get enough food packed in their lunch among other things.  And, it’s very easy to make judgments of the parents based on the children’s condition.  If we do finally mention something to the parents about their child’s lunch, we either find out the reasons why and are enlightened, the parents are appreciative and make the appropriate changes, or we look like a fool for assuming we know more than they do.  So, when should we make judgments and act on them and when should we leave them to God?

A. I would say one of the hardest things to do in life is discern when to act and when to leave it to God, so there’s not going to be a cut and dry answer to this question.  Sorry!  I would say that generally you should lean in to God and ask for His guidance on when the time is to speak, or to keep silent (Ecclesiastes 3:7).  If you lean in to God and trust His Spirit to guide you, I believe that you will be able to make more informed decisions about judgment verses waiting on God.  That doesn’t mean you’ll never confuse the two, but if you are trusting God with the results, you will generally find that He is able to bring good out of situations even if you mess things up.

Q. (Psalm 34:19-22): I am still confused about God being sorrowful for choosing Saul as a king (1 Samuel 15:35).  Saul pleads for forgiveness, so why didn’t God give him another chance?  Here in Psalms, it says that God will redeem those who serve Him.  Maybe God knew Saul’s heart?  I can think that maybe Saul is being used as an example of what happens to people when they disobey the Lord’s commands.

A. Part of what the writer is doing here with Saul’s story is setting up the inevitable comparisons with David, the king who will follow him.  The writer clearly desires to make David look good, and part of the way he does so is by showing the comparisons with Saul.  Regarding Saul’s seeking forgiveness from God: I think part of the problem is that Saul is very reluctant to take responsibly for his own failings.  In the stories, we read such as the failure to completely destroy the Amalekites’ livestock, Saul takes almost no responsibility for his personal stake as the leader: he attempts to blame his soldiers and also make excuses for the reason God’s specific commands were not carried out.

To me, Saul got several chances to redeem his rule, and the story certainly does not tell us that Saul was completely unsuccessful as king.  He had his moments, but ultimately, he falls short because of his fear, disobedience, and excuses.  The king that God desired was to be an EXAMPLE to the entire nation of a right relationship with God, and Saul did not even come close on this scale.  Even if God had granted Saul forgiveness and gave him more chances, he was still not being a good leader for his people.  That, I think, is ultimately the reason that God rejected him.  He did not have the heart of the king God desired.

For further study: A collection of Bible verses about friendship, https://www.jesusfilm.org/blog/friendship-bible-verses/ 

Shop: Jesus is the best friend anyone could EVER have! https://livinlight.org/product/my-kings-crown-t-shirt/

Tomorrow’s reading
— 1 Samuel 22:1-2
— Psalm 57
— Psalm 142
— 1 Chronicles 12:8-18
— 1 Samuel 22:3-23
— Psalm 52
— 1 Samuel 23:1-12

David kills Goliath David, the shepherd kills Goliath the Philistine with a slingshot and stone

Day 104 (April 14): David proclaims God, David kills Goliath, marries Saul’s daughter, Saul jealous of David, tries to kill him, wife protects him, trusts God

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
1 Samuel 17:32-58
1 Samuel 18:17-19:17
Psalm 59
1 Samuel 19:18-24
(1024, 1015, 1013, 1014 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Samuel 17:45): I find it so hard to let go of control like David and give it all over to God.  We are surely trying to raise our children like this, but letting God guide me — and most Christians, I would think — was not something I was taught growing up.  I was raised in the church and definitely taught the major Bible stories.  But, I don’t recall talking about asking for God’s guidance in everything I did.  Now, I am doing that more and more, but I feel like I am a long way off from giving up control of my life to God.  Reading the Bible has definitely shown me that I need Him in all realms of life and my life will be more fulfilling if I let Him in.  Rob, any tips on letting God take control of my (and others) life, as David did?

A. Well, I would say you’re off to a good start.  One of the best ways to give control over to God is to KNOW what the Bible teaches about Him and His will.  This can only come by reading the scriptures.  Once you have become more immersed into the will and desires that God has for your life and the lives of those around you — especially your children — you will find it easier to follow these desires, or at least be aware when you are making a mistake.  Giving more of yourself over to God is one of the roles that the Holy Spirit plays in your life, if that makes sense: He is the one who convicts the hearts of believers to do the will of God the Father and follow Him more closely.  Being focused on the words of God in reading and prayer, or even prayerful reading, is a great way to give control over to God.

One other note might be worth mentioning here: many Christians seem willing to put their faith in God and trust Him with their eternal destiny, but somehow think He is wrong when He attempts to instruct us on how to live RIGHT NOW.  I think that’s a pretty foolish notion if you think about it.  Part of our proclamation as Christians is not just that Jesus/God is our savior, but also that He is our LORD.  If we are unwilling to listen to what God desires to teach us as our sovereign Lord, we have little chance of giving God more control over our life.  Let’s touch on this again way down the road, when we look at the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew 5-7.

Q. (18:14-16): Saul was selfish and disobeyed one time.  Is there anything he could have done to redeem himself?  From this passage, he may as well hand David the crown.  Also, Saul’s jealousy of David is obvious.  Can we draw a parallel from David and Saul to Jesus and the Pharisees?

A. Well, he keeps making actions that are selfish and prideful, so stopping that would be a good start. (But, he won’t.  In fact he makes it worse, if you can believe it).  David still has a long way to go, however to get the crown, for reasons that we will continue to see.  While the Pharisees were certainly jealous of Jesus, I think the circumstances are quite different in the two scenarios, so I wouldn’t draw too many parallels from the two.

Q. (18:26): I wish I could read a book — fiction or nonfiction — that would tell about the life and times of the Bible years.  There are so many customs I don’t understand, like this foreskin request.  I’m sure there isn’t any literature describing customs, because it would be just like the Bible, translated from ancient scrolls.

A. The foreskin request is for “trophies,” like the thumb/toe effort we read about earlier.  There are two reasons Saul requests it: first, only the Israelites would have been circumcised, so the Philistines would not have been marked in this way, ensuring that David really did kill the number requested or fake it in some way.  The other thing Saul is requesting David to do is to humiliate the surviving Philistines, by making the bodies “join Israel” in death.  Lovely, isn’t it?

Q. (Psalm 59:4): David is asking God to “wake up?”

A. We will see this referred to sometimes in the Psalms.  The writer is ascribing human qualities (in this case the need for sleep) to God as a way of saying, “if You were paying attention to my circumstances, You would be doing something.”  Since God is not responding in the way that the writer requests, he is accusing God of sleeping on the job.  We will see some very heartfelt pleas in the Psalms that, frankly, I love reading.  It tells me about the cries that these people made to God for the injustices they see in the world, and they really bear raw emotion in the writings: joy, pain, anguish, depression, etc.  So it is little surprise that the Psalmist is accusing God of sleeping on the job, he is pouring out his heart, and God is not, in his mind, responding.

Q. (Psalm 59): David’s song tells about evil lurking around the Israelites and the enemy surrounds them. But, when David — or anyone — trusts in the Lord, He will protect them from the evil.  I am eager to read more of Psalms.  This chapter just brings calm to my heart.  Is there anything else to glean from this passage?

A. I think you’ve got it.  Oppression and being surrounded by enemies are common themes of certain Psalms, so you’ll get some more chances to look at the way the writer expresses his apprehension at the circumstances God has placed them in.

O. (19:18-24): God provides the humor.

For further reading: Ways I can do all things, through Jesus — even confronting the Goliath of problems, https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/explore-the-bible/3-surprising-ways-i-can-do-all-things-through-christ-who-strengthens-me.html

Shop: Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading
— 1 Samuel 20-21
— Psalm 34

David in Saul's court David plays harp in King Saul's court to calm him.

Day 103 (April 13): Saul out of God’s favor, Samuel kills king, Samuel anoints David, David in Saul’s court, Goliath on scene, David inqures about reward

Moody Publishers / FreeBibleimages.org.

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
1 Samuel 15-17:31
(1028 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Samuel 15:2): What does Heaven’s Armies mean?  I know this isn’t important.  The important note here is that God is commanding Saul.  I just always wonder who is all in heaven.  Do we get a glimpse of it later in the Bible?

A. It appears to refer to the angelic warriors that serve God.  We only get glimpses of them, so I’m afraid you’ll just have to wonder.  We are rarely given more than a glimpse at angelic beings.  There’s an important reason why: the Bible desires that God alone should be our focus!

Q. (15:4): Why list Judah separately?

A. Because the city where the armies are mustered is in Judah’s territory.  It is telling us how many “home team” members are serving Saul.

O. (15:7-23): This is such a great lesson for even today.  Go with what you are told, not what your brain tells you would be a better idea.  When you think that the little things don’t matter — sparing some livestock when God told you to destroy everything — they turn into big things.

Q. (15:33): What is this custom of cutting up beings into pieces?  We saw it with the Levite cutting his concubine, Saul cutting up his oxen, and now, Samuel cuts up the king of Agag.

A. It appears to be an act of emphasis, and may have involved a “display” of the parts in some form.  Other than that, I’m not entirely sure.

Q. (15:35): I think we have talked about this before, but why not again?  I have always thought the Lord was sure of everything He did.  But, after reading the Bible a while, it seems that He isn’t always so sure.  Here, He is sorry that he made Saul king.  Moses often talked God out of taking revenge on the Israelites.  But, there are many other things that He has been positive of: Moses, Job, Jacob over Esau, Ephraim over Manasseh, etc.  And, I feel like He already knows the big picture and outcome, so how could He not know the little things like Saul was a bad choice for king?  Looking around, I have no doubt in my mind how amazing our Creator is.  I just think it’s wonderful that we can see some human-like traits in Him.  It makes me feel closer to Him.

A. As a big believer in free will and human choice, my answer to your question is a little complicated, but basically it boils down to this: if we believe that God is ultimately sovereign over all things BUT allows for human choice, then He is certainly capable of being grieved or upset when human beings such as Saul do not follow in the path He desires.  I think this is what the story is attempting to tell us.  Just because God knows the path we will walk in an eternal sense does not mean He regrets any less the poor decisions we make.

If I can be metaphysical for just a moment, let’s examine an idea here.  In our story, we know that 1) God makes Saul king, 2) Saul turns away from God out of fear and a pattern of rash decisions, 3) on this basis, God rejects Saul as king.  But, if God had never made Saul king, He could not have had foreknowledge of what Saul would do.  God’s ability to see our paths is dependent upon the possibilities of our choices, not the other way around, at least in my Biblical worldview.  So, if I am never elected President of the United States (fat chance), God would not have foreknowledge of my administration or mistakes as President, or my re-election strategy, because there would be no administration, and that foreknowledge REQUIRES me to be President in the scenario.  I hope that sort of “big idea” makes sense and can help put passages such as this one and others where God is surprised, disappointed, etc. into proper perspesective.

Q. (16:14-23): So, Saul was no longer king of Israel according to God, but he still was to the people.  Why?  Why wasn’t David automatically king after he was anointed?

A. Well, for one thing, David was a young man when he is chosen, and not yet ready to rule.  For another, well actually, the next few chapters, I think, will make this pretty clear why not (and I don’t want to spoil it).  But if it’s not clear in the next couple of chapters, ask me again.

O. (16:4-7): I don’t recall ever reading this passage except for the children’s versions.  It’s humorous how the description in the “adult” Bible perfectly matches the pictures of Goliath in children’s Bibles.  The description paints a real clear picture of him except how tall he actually was — 9.75 feet or 6.75 feet.

Q. (17:16): Here we have a “40.”  Is it notifying us of a cleansing period, when you mentioned the meaning of “40” in Day 3’s reading?

A. It can also refer to a time of trial, and this certainly is a trying period for Israel.  Daily, Goliath is taunting the people and testing their faith in God, which is revealed to be quite poor.  But all that’s going to change when a certain shepherd shows up.

Q. (17:26): Why does David refer to God as the Living God?

A. Living God is one of the most common titles used to refer to God throughout Scripture.  It refers to the fact that the God it refers to is not an idol, a dead object made of wood, stone, or precious metal.  The God of the Bible is a living being and all things find their life in Him.

O. (13:31): That last paragraph makes me want to read on!

For further insight: What insight does the Bible give us about being a good leader? https://pureflix.com/insider/bible-verses-about-good-leadership

Shop: With Jesus as our leader, we don’t need to worry about His integrity. https://livinlight.org/product/teacher-t-shirt-womens/

Tomorrow’s reading
— 1 Samuel 17:32-19:17
— Psalm 59
—1 Samuel 19:18-24

 

Saul disobeys Samuel talks to Saul

Day 102 (April 12): Saul’s kin, Israelite and Philistine rifts, Saul disobeys God, Jonathan asks God for help in battle, Saul’s oath jeopardizes Jonathan

John Paul Stanley / YoPlace.com

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
1 Chronicles 9:35-39
1 Samuel 13:1-5
1 Samuel 13:19-23
1 Samuel 13:6-18
1 Samuel 14:1-52
(1041 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Chronicles 9:37): I should have asked this a while ago.  Why is Jerusalem an important place?  What is there and why?

A. There’s a lot of answers to this question, and it is quite clear even from Genesis 14 that Salem/Jerusalem was an important religious place.  But, the answer to your question is likely that Jerusalem is the “high ground” in that area of Canaan.  It would have been a very strategic place to control, and it will, of course, become the capital of the entire nation, and then the nation of Judah.

Q. (1 Samuel 13:14): This is confusing to me.  Saul is saying that Samuel should have made a better choice, but God knew he would not be the one to lead Israel forever.  So, why is Samuel surprised?  God had not informed him that Saul was not the one?  Or, because Saul failed, God sought someone else and found him?  This is also reminiscent of Moses’ and Aaron’s missteps when they got water from a rock.

A. What Samuel is saying is that if Saul had been faithful, his DESCENDANTS would have ruled over the Israel forever.  Saul’s failings caused God to reject his line, but not immediately his personal rule — that comes later.  Note the way that Jonathan, Saul’s line, is actually the faithful one of the family, as this will play an important role in the subsequent story.

Q. (14:1-15): What do you say about Jonathan’s sideline battle?

A. Jonathan, unlike his father, sought the Lord’s guidance before acting.  When God gave him the sign he was looking for, he went for it.  As I mentioned, it will become clear that, for many reasons, Jonathan is a more faithful man of God than Saul is, which will make the subsequent events even more tragic.

Q. (14:15): Is it possible that our natural disasters today could be God’s responses to sin?

A. I personally do not think so — regardless of what Pat Robertson says.  Generally, when God uses a natural disaster as a punishment, the ones who will “reap” the disaster are fully aware of what will happen to them, and what they are being punished for.  I would say we would be hard pressed to prove such awareness today.  To me, natural disaster is proof that we live in a fallen world, and it is a regular opportunity for God to call people back to Himself in the aftermath — rather than punish them for sins.  See the difference?

Regardless of our position on such disasters, however, what Christians SHOULD be able to agree upon is that we should be willing to sacrifice and show God’s mercy to those who have suffered from these disasters.  We should see things like hurricanes and earthquakes as opportunities to serve and share the Gospel, not as examples of God’s wrath.

O. (14:45): I’m glad this story didn’t end on a gruesome note.  I like seeing the Israelites, as a whole body, support someone.

Q. (1 Samuel 14:49, 1 Chronicles 9:39): We have two different lists of sons of Saul here.  Rob, can you explain that?

A. Saul clearly had four sons, as the Chronicler tells us.  I don’t know why the last son is “left off” the chart, but it may have had to do with the children — male and female — who served in Saul’s court or council of advisors.  Since this fourth son was not part of that council — he may have come from a different mother than the other children — he is not a part of Samuel’s list.  We will see this other son in 2 Samuel, but I don’t want to spoil why.

Videos
Does God punish us for sinning? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mnsumg6piXI
— If God forgives us, then why are there still consequences for our sin? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_6NEI6P2LgQ

Shop: Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading: 1 Samuel 15-17:31

Samuel found Saul to anoint him king of Israel

Day 101 (April 11): Samuel anoints Saul king, Holy Spirit came to Saul, Saul acclaimed king, defeats Ammonites, angered, retells his service

John Paul Stanley / YoPlace.com

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
1 Samuel 9-12:25
(1043 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Samuel 9:21): Again, we have God choosing someone least expected, although he is the tallest in the land, so maybe that helps him get noticed?

A. It appears that the people wanted Saul as king because he was such a man of stature, but we can’t say exactly why God made Saul His king.  Saul passed the “eye test” in a way that David never will (as we will see shortly), but Saul (as we see in 10:22) is actually a fearful man who is not ready to rule the people, even though he will have his moments.  The writer clearly desires us to see the contrast between David and Saul, especially as the become rivals in a few chapters.

O. (9:22-24): So, Samuel had expected Saul all along because God had told him to expect someone to come (1 Samuel 9:15-16).

Q. (10:1): God has obviously told Samuel how to anoint someone.  Why the olive oil?  We may have talked about this before?  And, wouldn’t he go around with a oily head?  I know that’s not important, just a visual that turns on my curiosity.  About the prophets, were they in direct communication with God, or did they just hear what we read in the Bible?  I would think that there are a lot of God’s messages that we don’t know about?  So, in 10:10, we read that the Spirit enters Saul and allows him to prophesy?

A. Olive oil (in addition to serving various cooking purposes as it does today) was used for a variety of health reasons — it is actually still used today as a hair treatment in the Middle East.  One of the things that the oil was used for was to protect animals (sheep in particular) from insects that would get into their ears: the oil was poured on their head to make the wool slick.  So that oil represented protection and also selection (a shepherd would use the oil to protect his sheep), which is where the symbolism comes from.  Oil represents selection or choosing when used in this way, and the most common oil was olive oil.

We obviously have no way of knowing about prophecy that is not included in Scripture, but in this case, Samuel is using his prophetic vision to convince Saul that he has truly received an accurate vision of God of God’s plans for Saul.  The Spirit came UPON Saul, not within him (it is a similar idea to the anointing of oil).  The Spirit does not enter into people until Pentecost in the NT, after the atonement of Jesus.

Q. (10:9): What is meant here by God giving Saul a new heart?

A. God empowered Saul to be the king over all Israel.

Q. (10:27): Why would a king gouge out a right eye?  He is obviously a dictator.  I also don’t understand how anyone could gather that many men and perform this heinous act.  Same with when they gathered thousands of men to be circumcised, how was it possible?  Just watch the news and we see that massive imprisonments go on today by way of military.  I just wondered how they had such enforcement back then.  Military also?

A. The eye gouging would serve two purposes: first, anyone who saw the person would immediately know that they had been disfigured, which would have been a humiliation.  Secondly, there is a military significance as we discussed with the removal of big toes and thumbs: the Israelite army (like all armies of the day) would have used various forms of archery to win battles, and removing an archer’s eye would have rendered them almost useless in battle.

I don’t have a good answer on the logistics of these attacks, but I can tell you that if you have hundreds or thousands of men yourself, you can fairly quickly accomplish some pretty messy work.

Q. (11:7): Obviously, cutting something was a way to express anger in those days as we saw a few days ago with the concubine.  This act elicits a putrid image.  I’m sure Saul got everyone’s attention.  Who would be put to the task of delivering such a message to the tribes?

A. Likely servants of the tribe of Benjamin, Saul’s house.  It is possible that it was even Saul’s family servants.

Q. (12:12-17): Why did God provide a king if He is the king.  Why did he give in to the Israelites wishes?

A. Because they asked Him to.  In His mercy (9:16), He has given them the desires of their hearts, as any good Father will try to do … within reason.  The king will come to be a symbol of the entire kingdom, so it will be able to see the fortunes of the nation in one man.  This is how the narrative will proceed until the destruction of Jerusalem almost 500 years later.

For further study: What does mercy look like? https://www.compassion.com/poverty/mercy-definition.htm

Shop: Christian shirts get noticed.  Check out these conversation starters: https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading
— 1 Chronicles 9:34-39
— 1 Samuel 13:1-5, 19-23, 6-18
— 1 Samuel 14:1-52

Quest for king The Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant

Day 100 (April 10): Eli dies from shock, Philistines cursed, return Ark, God hears Samuel, Israelite victory, Samuel’s greedy sons, Samuel warns quest for king

Sweet Publishing / FreeBibleimages.org.

Day 100!  Can you believe it?  Just three more weeks and will be one-third of the way through the Bible.

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
1 Samuel 4:12-8:22
(1070 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Samuel 4): Just as a scene setter, the Israelites were warring with the Philistines who were in the land of Canaan, which God had given to the Israelites.  When the Israelites were taking over the land conquering cities in the time of Joshua, some of the tribes were not destroyed.  This is because the Israelites were not fully acknowledging God.  And, as you said in earlier readings, this would come back to plague the Israelites.  Since then, the Philistines had grown in strength and worshipped idols and the Israelites had weakened because of straying from God.  The Philistines had enslaved the Israelites (Hebrews) and the Israelites were revolting.  Is this accurate?

A. I don’t think the Israelites were actively being enslaved, but rather the Philistines were taxing them and controlling certain areas of Canaan, and that is what the people were revolting against.  Other then that, I think you’ve told it correctly.

Q. (5:1-12): I remember when the Tabernacle was set up that it was so sacred that only certain ones who had become ceremonially clean could view it.  And, several died trying. Here the Philistines have it.  Has it lost some of its sacredness with the weakening of the Israelites?  How come the Philistines were not struck down as they approached it, let alone touched it?  In the subsequent verses, we learn that they were plagued.  This just seems a weaker curse for mistreating the Ark than in Moses’ time.

A. The curse in some ways represents a form of God’s mercy: the Philistines were not aware of the Israelite requirements to not approach the Ark, so God spared them, but He clearly let them know that He was displeased (the curses are certainly a similar story to the plagues of Egypt).  There is no indication that the Philistines touched the Ark, which would result in their death.  They carried the Ark on a cart to avoid touching it directly.  This was obviously not what God instructed: He wanted the priests to carry it.  So, I would say that the “weaker” curse, as you see it, is God having compassion upon a people who don’t know what they are getting themselves into.  They certainly learned fast that you don’t mess with the Ark.

Q. (6:1-2): The Philistines obviously should have realized the power of God.  I’m just wondering why they didn’t convert to worshipping God.  Were they ever invited?  Or, was it understood that they all had their own idols?  The Philistine priests did a good job of making arrangements for the Ark to be returned.  And, they saw what the Ark did to Dagon.  So, why don’t they turn to God?

A. Hmm, that’s a good question.  I don’t really know.  It was probably because they considered this to be “Israel’s god” which they had offended, and not necessarily that Israel’s god was more “powerful,” simply that they had angered Him.

Q. (8:1-3): Samuel’s sons are falling in the footsteps of Eli’s.  What’s up with these priests parenting skills?

A. We aren’t told, so I don’t really have anything to base an answer off of.  Sorry!

Q. (8:21): Why didn’t God encourage Samuel to keep urging the Israelites that God was their king and that they don’t need to be like their neighbor countries?  Is this a “wait and see” question?

A. Again, this is a good question, but I don’t have a great answer.  We know from the Law that God had already made provision for a human king (see Deuteronomy 17:14-20, from our reading on Day 76).  God was not threatened by the request for a human king — though it appears He was a bit insulted — but He does warn the people that they will regret giving themselves over to a human leader. Boy will they.

For further study
— All about kings and those of today, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/King
— Why did the Israelites want an earthly king when they already had God as their leader? https://www.christianity.com/wiki/bible/why-did-israel-want-an-earthly-king-when-they-had-god.html

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Tomorrow’s reading: 1 Samuel 9-12

Samuel Hannah Hannah and

Day 99 (April 9): Hannah prays for son, Samuel born and dedicated, Hannah’s Prayer, Eli’s disrespectful sons, Samuel hears God, Philistines capture Ark

Moody Publishers / FreeBibleimages.org

Welcome to Livin’ Light’s Bible-In-A-Year challenge of discovering God’s love for us and His purpose for our lives. Here is the format for this great adventure: The daily reading assignment is posted at 5 a.m. After each day’s reading, Leigh An Coplin, the blog host, shares observations and poses questions about difficult passages to Rob Fields, who studied Christian Education at Asbury Seminary and currently teaches Biology in the Orlando area. To start from the beginning, click on 365 Bible Readings and scroll down to Day 1. The reading schedule is taken from The One Year Chronological Bible NLT. 

Today’s Reading
1 Samuel 1:9-4:11
(1100 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

O. (1 Samuel 1:19-28): We haven’t seen a person in the Bible like Hannah, who has the utmost reverence for God, for some time.  It’s refreshing and uplifting to read her words.

Q. (2:1-11): Hannah’s prayer is beautiful.  It has so much praise in it and telling of God’s treatment of others.  This almost sounds like Hannah is a prophet.  I must say that it is strange to hear such eloquence for a prayer.  I’m just used to hearing and saying “Thank you for all of my blessings and here is all of my needs/wants.”

A. Her words are certainly prophetic, in the sense of declaring God’s justice and desires, but I would not go so far as to say Hannah is a prophetess.  If you read Luke 1, you can see clearly the writer Luke records that the women of that story, Mary and Elizabeth, are very influenced by Hannah’s song.  Anyway, as a person who clearly felt that God was against her because she couldn’t have children, she readily sings the praises of God when He turns her fortunes.

Q. (2:27-36): I don’t think we see that Eli does anything wrong except for not raising his sons with enough discipline.  God has shown the Israelites that their actions affect the rest of their line.  In Eli’s case, his sons conducted themselves with complete disrespect for the Lord.  And, his descendants are being severely punished for it.  You would think they would learn!  The running theme to the demise of Israelite leaders seems to be greed and pride.

A. God warns Eli that he should be doing a better job of correcting his sons, and his failure to do so is the reason that HE is just as culpable as they are in what takes place.  While both pride and greed do seem to play a part in this story, the real culprit is a lack of reverence for God — both Eli and his two sons are guilty of being too trivial with things that are sacred.

Q. (3:14): I have heard of the unforgiveable sin.  Is this it, blaspheming God?  Can you describe ways of committing an unforgiveable sin today?

A. You’re talking about Jesus’ reference to the unforgivable/unpardonable sin in Matthew 12 and Mark 3.  It has to do with blasphemy, which at least partly has its origins in a lack of proper respect for God, as is described here.  The situations are different, however, for reasons that, quite honestly, I don’t want to spoil at this time.  So if you don’t mind, let’s file this question away for a later date.  It is an important issue, but I want us to examine it within the Gospel stories for reasons that will become clear at that time.

Q. (4:1b-11): We know that God said Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, would die on the same day.  Is this the main reason that Israel lost the battle?  Many Israelites had to die for the sins of two priests.  The tone I got from reading this was that the Israelites took God for granted, thinking that if they marched in with the Ark, that God was with them.  God did not instruct them on the battle or mention that they should carry the Ark.

A. The sins of Eli’s sons contributed to the loss, but the larger issue was the Israelites believing they could use the Ark — and therefore God — as a weapon at their own convenience.  It is likely that the warriors here were hoping to duplicate the victory at Jericho (from Joshua 6) where the Ark was instrumental in giving Israel victory, but in that case, God TOLD THEM to use the Ark.  In this case, they tried to circumvent God and do what they wanted — rather than consulting Him — and lost not only the battle, but the Ark in the process.  Wait until you see what happens when the Philistines try to do things with the Ark: its actually quite humorous!

For further study: How about you?  Have you ever taken God for granted, maybe even on purpose? https://ymi.today/2017/04/have-i-taken-god-for-granted/

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Tomorrow’s reading: 1 Samuel 4:12-8:22