Saul Jonathan die Just as Samuel said, the Philistines defeated the Israelites the next day. Many Israelites were killed and the rest fled. The enemy captured Saul’s sons, including Jonathan, and killed them.

Day 109 (April 19): David takes revenge on Amalekites, Saul and sons die, David wrote a funeral song for Saul and Jonathan

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 30
1 Chronicles 12:20-22
1 Samuel 31
1 Chronicles 10
1 Chronicles 9:40-44
2 Samuel 4:4
2 Samuel 1
(1010-1002 BC) Click here for a timeline of the entire Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Samuel 30:1,7): I am surprised that David and his men had left their town without protection.  The area is full of war, volatility and uncertainty.  Why would they leave their town unprotected?  I do understand that David had to leave or Saul would have captured him.

A.  Most likely because the king David was “working for” compelled him to take all of his men into battle.  I’m not saying it was a wise decision, just most likely the reason.

Q. (30:7) What ephod are we talking about here?  Is it the one way back from Moses’ days?

A. Yep.  That’s the one.  It is actually part of the reason Saul couldn’t consult God, because after he killed the priests, the one remaining priest escaped with the ephod.  Just one more way that God favored David over Saul in the midst of this story.

Q. (30:21-25): Giving handouts to those who don’t bother working is always something I have had trouble with.  I don’t believe in the welfare program because of the stories like comedian Adam Carolla tells where his mom didn’t get a job so she could keep getting food stamps.  I do believe in helping those in need, but not sure if that should be a government function or just a service of churches and charities.  In this story, 200 men were fatigued.  We don’t know if that means they really were or just whining.  Regardless, what does the Bible say about giving to everyone, including those who live off the “system”?  Here, I do see that David recognized the victory and wanted to give the glory to God.  By following the suggestions of the sour-grape soldiers, he would have put a blemish on the celebration, and thus disrespected God.

A. We’re blurring some lines when we consider government assistance in a modern sense to making provision for soldiers who lived thousands of years ago.  I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions from this story and our modern welfare system.  In fact, one of the problems we run into as Christians is when we attempt to pigeonhole biblical concepts in a modern setting.  It just doesn’t work, and makes us look petty or foolish.  Be careful about that!  Now having said that, there’s two things I think the Bible has to say about laziness (we will see this described in Proverbs).  First, DON’T BE LAZY!  Second, be generous to all who have need — and don’t make consideration of motive, like someone mooching off of you.  When those two things are put together, you have yourself and your neighbor pretty much taken care of.

O. (1 Chronicles 12:20-22): This David-and-Saul story is a quite unusual.  Here you have Israel, God’s chosen people, led by King Saul, who was anointed but fell from God’s grace, yet still rules over his people.  Then, you have David, also anointed and in God’s favor, who now leads soldiers, referred to in verse 22 as “the army of God.”

Q. (1 Samuel 31:6): So, David promised to not kill Saul’s family (1 Samuel 24:21-22), a promise that he easily kept as we see here.  However, I am sad that Jonathan was killed.

A. Saul’s poor decisions got his heir (Jonathan) killed and his family line cut off.  It is tragic all around.

Q. (1 Chronicles 10:13-14): These two verses say that Saul disobeyed God by consulting a medium.  1 Samuel 28:6 says that Saul did ask God, but because he didn’t answer, Saul consulted a medium.

A. That’s not so hard to reconcile: rather than seeking to, for example, make peace with David and get the ephod back so that he could seek God’s will via the priest, or continue asking God for direction — just because God didn’t answer for a period of time doesn’t mean God would NEVER answer him again — Saul takes the easy and forbidden road of seeking a medium.  That would be my guess on how to reconcile these two versions.

Q. (2 Samuel 1:1-16): Rob, you’ve got this one. I’m not sure who’s right and who’s wrong here.  David has feared Saul, but also loves and respects him.  This dichotomy is hard to accept.  David seems to empathize with Saul and honors him with full respect.

A. I don’t think that David ever lost respect for Saul, and he greatly mourned his passing, especially since, though corrupt, he was God’s anointed king of Israel (as David alludes to).  David desired to make peace, but he would have been a fool to trust Saul very far.  I think a lot of the problems the two of them had were because of the evil spirit that tormented Saul: it appears that the king was never the same after this spirit began to torment him.

Q. (2 Sam 1:19-27): This song sounds like David is putting shame on the Israelites.

A. It certainly does.  David will begin working on turning that shame around in our next reading.

For further study: As Jonathan showed us, life is full of tough decisions, https://www.learnreligions.com/jonathan-in-the-bible-701186

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

Tomorrow’s reading
— 2 Samuel 2-3:5
— 1 Chronicles 3:1-4a
— 2 Samuel 23:8-17
— 1 Chronicles 11:10-19
— 2 Samuel 23:18-39
— 1 Chronicles 11:20-47

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

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

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 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

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

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

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/

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

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

Samson and Delilah Samson asks for God to regain his strength one last time. He pushed the pillars down killing all the Philistines, including rulers when he caused it to crumble.

Day 95 (April 5): Samson takes off Gaza’s gates, deceptive Delilah, Samson asks God for help one last time, Micah’s twisted religion, Dan attacks Micah

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
Judges 16-18
(1375, 1075 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Judges 16:1): Samson seems to have a thing for Philistine women.  The Philistines were ruling, so maybe they wore beautiful clothes and nice perfume?  They may have been more attractive than Israelite women?  But, this was part of God’s plan for Samson?

A. I do not think that Samson’s lusting after Philistine women (for whatever reason) is something that God desired, but he did use it to bring down the rulers of the Philistines.

Q. (16:4-19): So, up until 16:21, Samson thought that Delilah was just playing a lover’s game?  Surely, he didn’t realize that she was trying to trap him or he wouldn’t have played along.  Samson really didn’t take heed to his parents warning about getting involved with a Philistine woman when he was courting his first wife.  But, like it says, in 13:5, Samson will begin to deliver Israelites from Philistine rule.  So, how do we know when to break societal rules — like not marrying the enemy — and know that it is God’s plan?   Maybe they didn’t know it then and didn’t need to know it, but it’s important for readers now?

A. I think the implication of the story is that Samson got by for a long time on his immense strength, but he abused the privilege and violated his Nazirite vows.  If you note the sequence of the story, he has touched the lion corpse, consumed alcohol at his wedding, and now in this story has his hair cut, which wouldn’t have happened if he didn’t reveal it — making it ultimately his fault.  These were the exact things that the Nazirite vows said he couldn’t do (Numbers 6:1-8).  Samson was clearly aware of what he was doing; he refers to himself as a Nazirite in 16:17, so he is taking for granted that the blessing of his strength will always be there.  But, oops, he pays dearly for his pride and is forced into slave labor for the amusement of the Philistines.  That doesn’t exactly ring true for me as a message of “sometimes it’s ok to violate what God has made perfectly clear.”  It seems more like, “you reap what you sow,” which comes for scripture as well (Galatians 6:7).

I knew a minister in college that memorably told me that you never grow closer to God by sinning, and I think that it is good advice.  This is not to say, as we see in this story, that God cannot redeem a man even as prideful as Samson, but who knows how God might have better used Samson if he had been more faithful and less self-serving.

O. (16:22): So we can see here that God is not done with Samson yet.  His hair is growing back.

Q. (16:30): Why did Samson want to die with the Philistines?  He did cross the Philistine/Israel line a lot.  Did he feel like he just needed to go down with them?  I wish we could known more about Samson.  We don’t know much about his heart.  We just know that he liked Philistine women and that got him into trouble.  But in the end, God was victorious via Samson.  Something great can come from suffering.  This copies Christ’s death to some degree.

A. Samson’s death was redemptive to a degree.  It certainly points to the idea that Samson turned to God when he had LITERALLY nothing left, but he did turn to Him.  I don’t really know why Samson wanted to die with the Philistines.  He certainly hated them, and I don’t think he, in any way, thought of himself as “like them,” he just was attracted to their women for some reason.  I think it ultimately was his understanding that he was never going to get such an opportunity again to take out so many important Philistines at once, so he acted on it even though he understood it would cost him his life.

Q. (Judges 17-18): Is this a “stay-tuned” passage?  Micah and his mother sound like they have heard parts of how to properly worship God, but they have obviously missed the bulk of God’s guidance.  Micah steals, his mother says it’s OK sense he admitted it, and from that point on, the story is lacking God.  I need some closure here.

A. Nope.  No “stay tuned,” no other resolution, just some powerful irony, and a whole lot of no God.  This passage — and the one for our reading tomorrow — is an epilogue on the story of Judges that is basically a late way of saying, “how did the Israelites reject God in the Promised Land?”  This story is a powerful indictment of the way that some of the people strayed, and traded in God for false idols.

But for the sake of some closure, let’s do a little summary shall we?  This silver idol that Micah sets up has its origins in his STEALING FROM HIS MOTHER.  From here, rather than using this ill-gotten gain to provide for the poor or donate it to God, he MAKES a god of his own, and SETS UP A HOUSE OF WORSHIP for his idol.  Then, he “ordains” his own son to be the priest of this idol.  If you’re following, what Micah has done is setup a rival religion against God, right in the Promised Land.  Then, he gets a corrupt Levite to run his little house of worship, and he thinks he is all set — that God will actually bless him for what he has done (17:12).

But then, oh irony.  He has his idols, wealth, and his Levite stolen from him by a corrupt group from the tribe of Dan.  Don’t miss this: Micah attempts to chase down and rescue his idols — these same “gods” that he likely turned to for protection.  So not only do we have the almost karmic punishment of Micah having stolen from him what he stole from his mother, but now his own gods need “rescuing,” and in the end, he has nothing.  On top of all of this, the religion and priest that he set up are now leading the entire tribe of Dan away from God.  Frankly, I think that this is exactly what the storyteller intended for us to understand about Micah and this corrupt tribe.  The people were lawless: rejecting God and setting up gods for themselves, and living not by the Law of Moses, but rather by “might makes right.”  And that, I think, is all the closure this story needs.

For more reading: A comprehensive look into the whole Samson and Delilah story, https://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-stories/samson-and-delilah.html

Shop: These fun shirts capture the attention of everyone around you.  Forgive 490?  What does that mean? https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading: Judges 19-21

Samson became upset after being tricked and killed many Philistines in retaliation.

Day 94 (April 4): Jepthah’s vow, Ephraim fights with Jepthah, Ibzan, Elon and Abdon are judges, Samson is born, his riddle, fury at Philistines

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
Judges 11:29-15:20
(1405-1399 BC) Click here for a timeline of the whole Bible.

Questions & Observations

Q. (Judges 11:29): I’m trying to figure out where Jephthah came from — the son of Gilead — but now that I’m looking at it I don’t know who Gilead is.  The new characters are coming and going so fast that it’s hard to remember the Gilead from Gideon and Jotham from Jephthah.  I’m just wondering where Gilead came from.  It seems that the lines between the different tribes are not as noteworthy now?

A. Gilead refers to a mountainous region in the east side of the Jordan where the three tribes settled.  It is not entirely clear whose territory it was in, so it was probably near a border area between Gad and Manasseh.  I suppose once the lines have been drawn as it were, then the territorial themselves would matter less.  The narrator is attempting to have his readers understand where this is all taking place.

Q. (Judges 11:30-31, 11:34-35): Times were so different then than now.  I don’t know if anyone would say, “If you give me victory, I will give you whatever — or whomever — comes out of my house first when I come home from a battle.”  We don’t need to do things like this since Jesus was crucified.  But, it’s hard to even read this.  And, the daughter is OK with it.  Was this a little punishment for Jephthah?  Maybe he was egotistical when he assumed he would come home victorious?  The picture I have in my head of this scripture is with Jephthah coming home taking in all the glory for himself and not giving it to God.

A. What I would take away from this story is the idea that God will not be used.  Even if Jephthah was a righteous man in his walk with God, this vow is very rash and costs him dearly.  One thing to note: it appears part of what he was trying to do was establish a name for himself in order to gain wealth and power, but in making this vow, the wealth and power he established died with him — the vow cost him his only heir.  I suspect this is what Jephthah realized that caused him to tear his clothes (11:35) in anguish.

Q. Maybe the previous question was foreshadowing this next passage: family (Israelites) killing one another.  The Israelites used to be united, but now it seems like they are becoming jealous, warring neighbors.

A. The book covers a significant period of time, and I suspect that this is just part of the nature of people: put them in close proximity long enough, and tensions will rise.  Someone will take offense to something foolish, as in this story, and blood will be shed to resolve it.  While they are defined by their relationship with their God, the people are still plainly very human.

Q. (11:7): One more question about Jephthah: He was the son of Gilead and a prostitute.  When Joshua and the Israelites defeated Jericho, with God’s leadership, a prostitute was saved.  Here we are seeing God welcoming those who have made undesirable choices, showing them there is salvation through Him.  I almost feel like this is a story more for readers now than then, because then, the people probably did not realize God’s grace toward those kind of sinners.  If you have been reading along, you would remember that when the Israelites were camping in the desert/wilderness for 40 years, anyone with an ailment or who had touched someone or something dead, would be deemed ceremonially unclean and most of the time would have to live outside the camp until they were healed.  This seemed to me to be harsh treatment, but as Rob said, it was to keep the camp from being riddled with disease.  That made sense.  And now, that we have seen God choose those who would normally not be chosen to do heroic deeds, we see that God cares for all of his people.  I know we will see much more of this the closer we get to the NT and lots of it in the NT.  Right?

A. I think that’s a very keen observation.  Judges is full of all sorts of the “not chosen,” and this trend will continue — through King David, the prophets, and into the NT.

Q. (Judges 12:8-15): Any idea how these judges were chosen?

A. God is choosing them, that’s all we get.

Q. (13:5): These passages are so rich with messages, foreshadowing.  It’s like Christmas in the Bible.  1) Here God is giving someone a sign — long hair — of belonging to God.  2) We talked about Nazirites (or Nazarites) before.  Read Day 60, the first question.  3) The repetition.  I have always noted the repetition of the same story, like Moses retelling again and again, and then Joshua backing him up, about God’s deliverance of the Israelites.  But, I have not noted the foreshadowing of several stories, which does the same thing as repetition.  It pounds in God’s message to the reader.  Here we see, once again, God giving chosen children to those who have been barren — Abraham and Sarah (Genesis 15), Isaac and Rebekah (Genesis 25), Jacob’s wife Rachel (Genesis 30), and now Manoah and his wife, and the coming of John the Baptist to Zechariah and Elizabeth (Luke 1).

A. Not having children was a terrible social stigma in this society, even in NT times, so God delivering these families — the women in particular, who bore the brunt of the shame — is one of His greatest mercies.  We will see more examples of this, including Hannah and her son Samuel, who will lead the nation for many years and crown its first kings (1 Samuel- coming soon!)

Q. (13:11): Notice the angel of the Lord said “I am.”  For me, this is code: “I am” means God or Jesus or the Spirit.  Rob, we always talk about the trinity.  Is the angel of the Lord God himself?  Should there be four: God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit and his angels.

A. No!  While the OT in particular uses names of God to refer to angelic beings, these are messengers who should never be thought of as equal to God.  Remember that in this society and time, a messenger or emissary who came on behalf of a ruler or king was thought of as BEING the king or speaking as though they were king.  This is the image to bear in mind.  Angels are amazing beings — and this passage paints some really cool images — but we are off base at anytime we want to make angels God.  God is God alone, even revealed in His three person — a NT characteristic.

Q. (13:16): I just assumed that Manoah knew whom he was talking to, but it says he doesn’t.  So, are we to read this that Manoah was not a follower of God?

A. Not necessarily.  He may have assumed that this being was actually a human prophet of God, rather than an angelic being.  It is hard to tell exactly who Manoah thought this person was.

Q. (14:1): I just wondered if we have ever noted where the Philistines originated.  Rob, I thought maybe they came from Esau, since you said, way back in Genesis, that his descendants, the Edomites, would become enemies of the Israelites.

A. Nope.  The Edomites are not the Philistines.  The Edomites lived on the southeastern side of Israel (south of the Dead Sea), while the Philistines were probably descended from a seafaring people, and lived southwest of Israel near the Mediterranean.

Q. (14:12-16): Why were riddles so tormenting?  Can you explain it all?  Why would Samson tease them with a riddle?  Then, Samson was mad at his wife for giving up the answer to the young men who were to be Samson’s companions, a gift from his soon-to-be in-laws?  Why would the Spirit of the Lord cause Samson to kill 30 men?  I guess Samson was embarrassed that his wife gave the answer to the riddle away?

A. Samson was surely angry about losing the bet (that line about plowing with his heifer is a classic!), and it appears God used His anger to extract vengeance against the Philistines.  That is the implication of 14:4 — God used this marriage arrangement to confront the Philistines and conquer them.

Q. (15:18): This story confuses me because it seems like God picked a couple who was not necessarily a follower of Him and then gave them a son.  And, until this verse where he cries out for thirst, it doesn’t really say that Samson was doing Godly things.  It says the Spirit would fill him and he would go lashing out.  The puzzle I am putting together in my head is exactly what the angel told Manoah, that Samson would (13:5) “begin to rescue Israel from the Philistines.”  13:24 does say that God blessed Samson.  The blessings are what?  His strength?  Samson faces so much ridicule — embarrassment, his wife is killed, later he is blinded.

A. Samson’s blessing is surely his strength: They don’t call him the Biblical Hercules for nothing.  But Samson is also quite foolish, and he makes very ungodly decisions, ESPECIALLY as it comes to women.  Ironically, as you mention, his punishment for lusting after foreign women, a sin of the eyes, is being blinded by his enemies.  But even here, God will use Samson’s humiliation to bring victory.

That was a heavy reading today.  Join us to see what lessons we can learn tomorrow.

For more reading: Nazarites in the Bible, https://www.biblestudytools.com/dictionary/nazarite/

Shop: Share God’s wisdom with everyone you meet by wearing His Word.  Check out these shirts https://livinlight.org/shop/

Tomorrow’s reading: Judges 16-18