GOOD MORNING SIBLINGS!
Today’s readings are 1 Samuel 4-8
There is a LOT to glean from today’s readings. I love these historical books because there is so much information to dig into. However, like most of the Bible, there is so much that we can’t possibly cover it on one go around so I’ll just pick some highlights.
Israel decided to go to battle with the Philistines and it says nothing of them consulting with YHWH on this, so we can surmise that they went of their own accord. It is made clear that they knew their defeat did not come at the hands of the Philistines themselves but from YHWH directly and so they then decide to bring Him into their plan in hopes of victory by bringing the ark.
How often do we go off on our own accord, fail miserably since we chose to step outside of YHWH’s will, guidance, and wisdom, and only THEN decide that we should bring Him into the picture? YHWH is not content to sit around and be an afterthought or a genie in a lamp.
It is heartbreaking that the Philistines, who were no doubt very aware of the Israelites, believed them to worship multiple gods and therefore even attributed multiple gods as helping them in battle (1 Samuel 4:8). You would think that in a society in which all other cultures worshiped multiple gods the Israelites would stand out and be known for worshiping the one true God – but as we’ve noted before their assimilation and syncretism was so complete that at this point, Israel was indiscernible from the world.
Today we read the Biblical equivalent of “hot potato” in which the power of the almighty is so strong and people are so taken aback by it that all they want to do is get it out of their presence. The hot potato is, of course, the Ark of the Covenant.
1 Samuel 4:4 Look who is bringing the ark into the camp, Eli’s sons Hophni and Phinehas. This is not a good thing as we have already read that these men do not revere YHWH, His temple, or His property.
In 1 Samuel chapter 5:1-5 we see an account of the ark being placed in the house of Dagon. This was one of the primary gods of the Philistines. So mighty was this god considered to be that it was even cited in the famous law code of King Hammurabi when he listed Dagon as his creator. This is such a prominent god that it is cited several other times in the Bible but you may miss it if you aren’t looking for it: Joshua 19.27 & Judges 16:23. Also referenced in 1 Maccabees 10:83, and 1 Maccabees 11:4. You can read more on Dagon on Wikipedia by clicking here. *Maccabees are historical books that used to be in our Bibles and are still in the Bibles of some denominations.
My point is, do not read through and miss the significance of Dagon being found bowing before the ark of YHWH, nor of his hands and head being removed.
1 Samuel 6:4-5 When the Philistines decide to return the ark, they decide to include offerings to the God of the ark in hopes of appeasing Him. They made five golden tumors and five golden mice. The term used for tumors is one to represent a hill, city, or stronghold according to the interlinear (see here) but some people believe they were to represent the tumors and other afflictions that had come upon them, same as with the mice. I can see either one working with the context. Either way, this was a gesture of acknowledgment that the people knew these afflictions were the work of the God of Israel.
I LOVE what they said in 1 Samuel 6:6
Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had dealt severely with them, did they not send the people away, and they departed?
Here we see an example of people knowing what YHWH has done in response to disobedience and heeding that wisdom so as to avoid it happening to them. These were not even worshippers of YHWH and they have more respect for His power than His followers.
Note that all of Samuel’s warnings about a king came true. This is one of the ways in which we are taught to know a prophet is a true prophet of YHWH, ALL of His or her predictions must come true to be of God. All. Not most, not half, not every now and then, but all. YHWH does not make mistakes and He does not change.
Deut 17:14-17 predicted they would ask for a king.
Now Samuel called the people together to the Lord at Mizpah. 18 And he said to the people of Israel, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all the kingdoms that were oppressing you.’ 19 But today you have rejected your God, who saves you from all your calamities and your distresses, and you have said to him, ‘Set a king over us.’ Now therefore present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your thousands.” 1 Samuel 10:17-19
You can read a lot more about this in my Deuteronomy 17-20 notes so I encourage you to check those out for a fuller picture. Just click here .
1 Samuel 6:7-15 is the account of how they sent the ark back. There are a few things not to overlook here.
- The cows had never been under a yoke. These cows were not likely to take to the yoke easily, nor work together pulling a wagon. They had never done either of these things, worked with another cow, or pulled a wagon. Therefore, only YHWH could lead them to do so.
- The cows were still nursing calves and were separated from their calves, with the calves being sent back home. A nursing cow would immediately go right back to her calf. Therefore, if they are to do otherwise, it would only happen by the hand of YHWH.
What happened when they hooked the cart up to the cows? They worked together perfectly and set out straight for Beth Shemesh, without hesitation or without turning to the right or the left. Ironically, the Philistines showed more faith in YHWH than His own people have at many times.
Beth Shemesh was a key Israelite city on the border of Philistia.
1 Samuel 7:3 has one of those pivotal combinations that we need to sit up straight and pay attention to whenever we see it in the Word of the Father. It is an If/Then statement. If you do this, then YHWH will do this. There are many of these statements throughout the Bible but mankind tends to overlook the “if” part, because that requires an action on our part, while still expecting the Father to follow through with the “then” part.
In this case, the statement is, if you are actually returning to YHWH, then show it. Put away your idols. Stop being unfaithful. Stop committing adultery against Him.
Now, keep in mind that Samuel has already proven himself to be a true prophet of YHWH as he speaks this, so we know this directive comes from YHWH Himself, plus it passes the Deut 13 test:
And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 1 Samuel 7:3
In Chapter 8 we further see Israel seeking to be like other nations. 1 Samuel 8:4-5
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.”
Why did they want a king? They wanted to fit in and be esteemed by the world. Again, those Deut 17-20 notes go deeper into this.
Do we see ourselves in all that we are reading? I sure do.
1 Samuel 8:7-9 And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. 8 According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. 9 Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”
Wow. They hadn’t rejected Samuel, but YHWH. I doubt they even realized it. But they had not put their faith in the Father, even after all that He had done and shown to the house of Israel. How often do we put our faith in other things? We have faith in our job, in our paycheck, in our ability to pay the mortgage, in our ability to put food on the table, we have faith in our own work, we have faith in our own intellect to advance ourselves and our career, we have faith in our talent, in our skill, in our friends, in our degrees and certifications. We place our faith in our leaders, in our teachers, in our managers. At the end of the day, though, who controls all of that? Who has the ability to cause everything to multiply or disappear? Who has the ability to shower favor or displeasure on us in all things? Who owns all the cattle on the hills? (Psalm 50). Who commands the sun to rise and the moon to set, the trees to bear fruit and the land to lay dormant or bring forth a harvest?
What do we have faith in? Whatever it is, that is our god.
We have seen a cycle develop that keeps repeating itself:
-Sin, Judgement, Repentance.
-Some refer to this as Apostasy, Servitude, Restoration.
-Some break down restoration into Repentance and Deliverance.
I see this as:
Judgement or conviction which brings about awareness of the sin
Decision: at this point we end up at a fork in the road where we have to choose to go the stiff necked route and turn away from reproach or go the repentance route and seek forgiveness.
Outcome: Whether or not we are delivered and reach restoration depends largely on which direction we go in at that fork in the road – and believe me we will find ourselves at that fork countless times in our lives as Believers!
Either way, we can look back over our reading and see this cycle taking place numerous times already and we’ll see it plenty of times in our future reading – but it is interesting to look into our world today and consider where we are in that cycle in both our personal lives, as a country, as a world, etc.
(Note: political comments will have you hung up by your pinky toes on the clothes line out back.)
Let me be totally straight with you: It is not fun being convicted of sin and it is sure not easy when YHWH shows you that He wants you to leave behind the world’s ways (which we tend to favor) and follow Him in His ways. Because by doing this, often, people see you and begin to feel convicted themselves but they tend to blame you rather than YHWH for that conviction. You don’t even have to say a word, all you have to do is live your life differently from how they live theirs and the Father, if it is His leading, will drop the hammer. The reaction is not pleasant.
That is part of why it is so important not to tell people what YHWH says but to get them read it for themselves, because if they attribute YHWH’s words to you they can easily turn away from them, but turning away from YHWH Himself is, hopefully, a more difficult decision to make.
Oh goodness, Christy is still just a talking…
At this point in my walk, I am not a big believer in actively trying to convert others. Firstly, I see this as me trying to convince folks that they should walk out their faith exactly like I do mine – and I understand that YHWH has a specific path for everyone so by trying to get them on my path I am depriving them of their intended journey, purpose, and the opportunity to be in YHWH’s will. Secondly, YHWH plants the seeds and I have no way of knowing where that seed is in its development – only He does.
Therefore, my goal is to behave in a manner in line with the fruits of the spirit so that no matter where someone is in their walk, an interaction with me will leave them stronger, more nourished, and a little better off than they were before. If we go after everyone with the intent of yanking them off the path YHWH has them on and with the ultimate goal of bringing them around to our way of thinking – we will most likely poison the soil that the Father has so lovingly tended.
It is a process and sometimes, in our good intentions, we may not realize that we are impeding someone’s process rather than helping it.
I’m not saying not to answer questions posed with a sincere heart or to have conversations with people about the Father, and certainly we are to always answer as to the source of our hope and joy. But our lives should be the greatest testimony, not our voices as we yell at folks while standing on top of a park bench as they walk by (extreme example here).
You may feel differently and that is okay – you and I are different people – and that is okay, too.But let us encourage one another. Though our walk may look different, we are each seeking to follow in the footsteps of our Messiah and so there is common ground there. Let us meet on that common ground and help build one another up. As for others, not yet on this path, instead of directing them to follow us, let us take them directly to the Father, introduce them to Him through His Word, rather than our retelling of it. People are intelligent, they need to be treated like they are. Rather than us summarizing and cherry picking what we have, in our own wisdom, deemed most important. Lead them to the book and, in doing so, know that you are leading them into direct relationship with the Father.
Whew. I guess I had a lot to talk about today. I apologize for being so long winded but I felt the urging to share these things.
The world is growing increasingly darker but His light is shining brighter each day. That He has us here, deep in the Word, diligently studying to show ourselves approved by Him is a tremendous honor. I mean, WOW!!! Can you believe He is using us? That we get to read words spoken in His own voice and glean from fields He Himself has planted?
HE IS SO GOOD TO US
It’s so exciting I can’t even think too long on it or I’ll have to shout with joy (and that scares the dogs).
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!