July 7-13

 This week’s memory verses:

1 Samuel 2:2
There is none holy like the Lord; for there is none beside you; there is no rock like our God.

This week’s Scripture Readings:

1 Samuel 1:1-3:21 – Samuel Listens to God
1 Samuel 8:1-10:27 – King Saul
1 Samuel 16:1-18:16 – David and Goliath
1 Samuel 23:7-24:22 – David and Saul
2 Samuel 5:1-7:29 – King David

Day 1

Samuel listens to God – 1 Samuel 1 -3 

Here, we have the story of Hannah, her sorrow, and God’s plan. Hannah and her husband, Elkanah, have been unable to conceive because Hannah is barren. Also, we find that Hannah is not Elkanah’s only wife (he is also married to Peninnah). There is great tension between the two wives because Peninnah has children with Elkanah and constantly points it out to Hannah. Like most polygamous relationships in the Bible, there is great tension and trouble within this relationship. When the family goes to the tabernacle to make their sacrifices, Elkanah honors Hannah, yet she is so distraught over Peninnah, she cannot enjoy the gesture. She goes off to pray, to pour out her anguish and bitterness honestly before the Lord (we can do this – we can be honest with God in prayer and place our hurt and worry upon him). She calls on God to fight her battles and promises a future son to his service. While she prays, we see that the priest, Eli, sees her and thinks she is drunk. In Eli’s defense, this was such a corrupt and dark time for Israel at the tabernacle that we can’t blame him for thinking the worst. Hannah, with grace and dignity, explains herself to Eli, and he gives her a blessing when he realizes his mistake. Soon, we find that Hannah conceives, and the child is given over to the temple service as promised. This child is named Samuel and is the main character throughout the rest of the work. The truth for Hannah is still a truth that applies for us. We may not understand why God does something, his timing, or his intent. Yet, if we are his children, seeking him in obedience and faith, we can trust he has a plan for all those things we do not understand. If we ever get frustrated, or feel like we cannot go on, we can do exactly what Hannah did. We can go to the Lord in prayer, leave our hurt with him, and trust that we will see him move.

There are two main parts to chapter 2. First, we find Hannah singing praises to God. In the previous chapter, in verse 28, we were told that Hannah worshipped when she took Samuel to the temple to begin his service. This first section of chapter 2 tells us exactly how she praised God. This may seem odd. How can she praise God in such a circumstance? How can she find joy in giving her son that she wanted so badly? We see from what Hannah said that she has complete trust and faith in God. So much so, that even in difficult circumstances she can rejoice knowing that God is at work in her circumstances. The next part of this particular chapter discusses the bad behavior of high priest’s sons. The two are so corrupt and immoral in their temple duties that they make the people not want to come to the tabernacle. Eli, their father, tried to warn them but they will not listen. However, while we are told of the immorality of Eli’s sons, it is also revealed that Samuel is thriving in his priestly duties. Not only is he thriving, but he is doing so in a right and God-glorifying manner. We must realize that even though these sons of Eli were corrupt, God was raising up for himself a faithful priest in Samuel. However, this chapter points us forward as well. We know God was raising up the perfect faithful priest, Jesus. Jesus submitted himself to service in faith and obedience. Jesus was our perfect representative before God. Unlike Samuel, Christ’s service as priest did not end when he died. Jesus was resurrected from the dead and still lives and pleads for us before the Father.

Finally, in chapter 3, we have the account of God speaking to Samuel. God calls to Samuel while he is sleeping, and he mistakes the call for a summoning from Eli. The chapter makes it clear that the word of God, literally his voice and his direction through scripture, was rarely heard. That doesn’t mean God was not speaking or that the people could not read his word. It means that they chose not to heed those things. When Eli finally understands what is going on, he instructs Samuel to return, make himself ready to hear from God, respond to the Lord, and humble himself before God as a servant. The Lord speaks, Samuel does as instructed, and he is given a task. Samuel is told to tell Eli that the time has come for the wickedness of the priestly family to be dealt with (remember those two sinful sons who have taken advantage of their role in the tabernacle?). Samuel boldly relays everything to Eli. Imagine how hard it must have been to be the one to relay that information to Eli. Samuel told him how God said there was no hope for repentance or atonement. This judgement on the family will come to pass. That is truly a sad statement. Is that statement true for us? Is there ever a place when our sin cannot be atoned for? NO. Thank God for the work of Jesus that paid our sin debt completely, fully, and once and for all. The only way our sins can’t be atoned for is if we refuse the gift of Christ. If we reject him and his work, then we face judgement alone. However, that does not have to be the case. We can come to him in obedience and faith, and he will act as our great high priest, atoning for our sins by the blood of his sacrifice.

Day 2

King Saul – 1 Samuel 8-10 

After such a change of heart from the Israelite people in the last chapter (in chapter 7, we see a people who set aside idols, confess their sins, and return to the Lord), one might expect to see more details about it here. Sadly, it seems they revert to old behavior. Samuel acts as a prophet and judge for many years. As he grows older, Samuel appoints his sons to act as judges. However, the sons “do not walk in the way of their father.” Thus, the Israelite people do not recognize the sons as leaders and demand a king like the other nations have. The people want a leader they can physically look toward, one who will solve all of their problems. The people do not realize they have something greater than those other nations. The Israelite people have God on their side, if they will simply embrace him and turn to him. God reveals to Samuel that he will take this opportunity to teach the people. God informs Samuel to find the people a king, but Samuel must first warn them of certain things. While some good might come from having a king, ultimately, he will be a taker and not a giver. Even after hearing the warning, the Israelite people still want a king. The people put their faith in something else, someone else, other than God. Instead of being different than those around them, the Israelite people want to be the same. If we are honest, we have done the same. A specific job, or a certain amount of money, or family, or even a new president will be the thing that sets things right in our lives. Or so we believe. However, the only one who can truly satisfy, who can truly lead us, and who can truly save us is Jesus. We can have all these other things, but if we do not have him then there is no hope.

Next, we have a description of the meeting between Samuel, the prophet and judge, and Saul, the man who was to become king. The first thing you notice in this chapter is the time spent on describing Saul. He comes from a rich, well-known family from the smallest tribe (at that time), Benjamin. He is also described as very tall and good-looking. Why is so much attention given to his appearance and family influence? It is because the people want the appearance, an image, of a king and not the heart or character of a king. If they wanted the heart and character of a king, then they would have looked no further than God. No one will ever surpass him as king. Yet, this did not interest the people. They just wanted the appearance. It can be said that Saul reflects the spiritual condition of Israel: maybe a nice outward appearance but no concern or focus on the inward. There is no mention that Saul had any relationship with God either. In fact, you can tell this from the way he and his servant consult Samuel. They do not seem to consider consulting Samuel about real spiritual matters but only for help finding missing donkeys. Instead of following a leader that actually knew God and could lead the people in his ways, they chose a leader who looked good. Sometimes, we only want the appearance of a king in our lives. We only want God to bless us (outward focus) instead of developing us (inward focus). We are ok interacting with faith and God when it makes the outside look good, but when it challenges the inside, we are no longer interested. Let us be focused not on outward appearances but true inward change.

Finally, chapter 10 discusses the anointing and installation of Saul as king. First, the chapter describes Samuel anointing Saul with oil and praying over him. However, it is not the anointing with oil or even Samuel’s prayers (although those things are important) that prepares Saul for his upcoming task. It is the anointing of the Holy Spirit that prepares Saul. It is only the Spirit’s transforming work that changes the heart of Saul and readies him for his position (vs. 5-7). The same is true for us. The Holy Spirit is what changes our hearts, reveals the truth of the gospel to us, and causes us to turn to God in faith. From this transformation of Saul, we see that this new king started out with so much promise. Saul was chosen and anointed by God, he was filled with the Holy Spirit, and he had the support of a man of God like Samuel. Furthermore, Saul has the support of most of the nation, the protection of brave men, and wisdom in dealing with his opponents. Despite all these advantages, Saul can still fail as a king. He will fail if he does not walk with God. Does he fail? The rest of 1 Samuel will answer that question for us.

Day 3

David and Goliath – 1 Samuel 16-18

The story of Saul begins to shift here. God calls Samuel to go see Jesse, the grandson of Ruth and Boaz. This man has 8 sons and God reveals to Samuel that one of these sons has been chosen to be the new king over Israel. Samuel arrives and asks Jesse about his sons. Samuel begins to look at the sons and the first few look like kings. Their outward appearance is kingly. God does not want the people to choose another king based off of outward appearance. He wants a man after his own heart. After going through what seems to be all of the sons, Samuel questions if there is another. Jesse says “his youngest” is out in the field tending sheep. Surely the youngest son, who is out doing the work of a lowly servant, would not be king! The boy, David, is exactly who Saul is supposed to anoint. Now, it will be a long time from this point where David is chosen to when he is made king. However, the spirit of the Lord is now with David and preparing him for all that will come. The Spirit of the Lord has now left Saul, and because of this, he is open to attack. A “distressing spirit” comes upon him, and Saul cannot find rest. When Samuel returns, and finds Saul in this condition, it is suggested that a skilled harp player comes in to sooth him. David comes and he soothes Saul with his presence and playing. Saul grows to love David and even makes him his armor bearer. I think there are two things that we can learn from this passage. First, God is concerned with the heart and not the outward appearance. We do things that make the outside look good, but he can see through that to the heart. The state of our heart is what we should be concerned most with. Second, God uses times of preparation in our lives. He anoints David, and chooses him, but there are many things that must happen or change before he is on the throne. Does God have you in a place of service or growth? Do you think you should be moving on to the next thing? Trust God. Trust that you need to be in service or preparation. Trust that his timing is right. Trust that he knows your heart.

Next, we have a well-known, yet often misapplied biblical account. Here, Goliath, a Philistine, challenges the nation of Israel. This “giant” (who could have been anywhere from 8 and 1/2 to 9 feet tall) told the Israelite people to select a champion. He, and the champion of their choice, would do battle. Whoever won the showdown would effectively win the war for their nation. No one wanted to fight Goliath even though he openly mocked the people and their God. Saul had to offer money, a marriage to his daughter, and a tax break just so someone might consider it. No one will fight Goliath. Saul himself is afraid because the spirit of the Lord has left him. It just so happens, David is in the camp. He came to visit his brothers and drop off some provisions his father sent with him. However, when he hears the things Goliath is saying, he questions the men around him. How can we let this guy, no matter his size, talk about our God in this way? Let us fight! This confronting of his brothers, and the other men around them, lead to them being angry and scorning David. David’s response: Let me fight! Saul does just that. While no one probably thought David would win, he was confident in God. That is what gave him the courage to step out in faith – his God. David has been prepared for such moments as this. He is used to fighting off lions, wolves, and bears who threaten his father’s sheep. David defeats the giant and the Israelite people are given victory over their enemies. So, how exactly has this passage been misapplied? We are not David in this picture. David is a picture of Christ. We would be the soldiers, standing on the sidelines, trembling in our armor and hoping for a savior to fight an opponent that we think will overwhelm us. Both David and Jesus fought a battle on behalf of their people. Both David and Jesus were treated horribly by the ones they would save. Both David and Jesus conquered an opponent that, through fear, had conquered others (think sin here, not Goliath!). Both David and Jesus were doing the will of their father. Both David and Jesus were completely obedient and fought a battle where success was assured. David, through his willingness and faithfulness, is pointing us forward to the perfect savior – Jesus!

After his great victory over Goliath, David grew famous. Girls all across Israel would sing songs that essentially said David was even greater than King Saul. This caused Saul to become distraught, jealous, and fearful of David. We see Saul try to kill or trick David into being killed about 3 times in this one chapter alone. Everything from throwing a spear directly at David to trying to make David kill 100 Philistines (in hopes of the Philistines killing David) in order to marry the princess were used by Saul. Yet, at every turn, David acts with humility, grace, and wisdom. Saul intended to destroy David, but he really only made David more popular and closer to the Lord. We see this humility and grace acted out in the life of Jesus Christ more perfectly than David ever did it. Satan thought to destroy Jesus with his death on the cross. What he never saw coming was that death was exactly what would save mankind. Jesus’s sacrifice and humility, his willingness to step out of heaven and step into our lives, has made his name great. Countless people around the world know, love, and follow Jesus. His humility, grace, and wisdom are exactly what God used for his purpose, just the same as he did with David here.


Day 4

David and Saul – 1 Samuel 23-24 

This chapter demonstrates further the difference between Saul and David spiritually, as well as God’s favor upon David. When the Philistines attack Keilah, David asks God if he and his 400 should attack the Philistines. Once God promises victory, David obediently wages war. David rescues Keilah. Saul, of course, gets news of David’s whereabouts and pursues him. Saul calls his army together. For what? To defend the people? To serve his own self-interest? Saul is willing to destroy Keilah if it means destroying David. Saul thinks God has given him victory over David, yet Saul never inquired of God or what actions he should take. David, on the other hand, gets Abiathar (the priest who is with him) to help him seek the will of God. He inquired of God if Saul is coming and what his intentions are. When that is revealed, David leaves Keilah and spares those people from Saul’s wrath. David, in humility and obedience acted in such a way as to spare the people. He drew Saul away and took the punishment. In a similar way, Christ acted in humility and obedience so that the punishment of our sins fell on him and not the people. David was able to act this way, throughout these events, by constantly seeking the Lord and his will while Saul did as he chose to further his own agenda (even if that meant blessing people in the Lord when they betrayed David). However, no scheme of Saul’s will be victorious. Even when David is surrounded and Saul is closing in, God supernaturally delivers David. He is an awesome God.

The story of Saul and David takes a rather dramatic shift in this chapter. Recall that, at the end of the last chapter, God supernaturally distracted Saul so that David could escape. Once David fled, Saul is informed that David escaped to the caves of En Gedi. Saul takes 3,000 soldiers and sets out in pursuit of David again. I’m sure David wished for a more complete, more long-term relief from these attacks. We can relate. When we overcome one obstacle or sin, it seems like a new one (or the return of a previous one) is just around the corner. This is why we need Jesus every day. Things will be this way until we are finally face to face with him. Nevertheless, while Saul is tracking David, Saul has to tend to some personal needs. Essentially, this is a nice way for the Bible to say that Saul needs to use the bathroom (or in this case, the closest cave). Saul did not know the cave he had chosen was the very cave David was hiding in. David was able to creep up on Saul. David had the opportunity to kill Saul. However, he cuts a piece of his robe off and tells his men to stand down instead. When Saul leaves the cave, David comes out, calls Saul his king, and bows before him. He makes himself vulnerable before Saul. He explains to Saul that if he was as wicked as everyone says, then he would have taken his opportunity and killed Saul in the cave. He shows Saul the piece of his robe to prove what he says. Saul is taken aback. Saul says that David is clearly merciful and has dealt with him in a way he does not deserve. Saul confesses that he now knows David will rightfully be king. Why did David handle things this way? Why didn’t he kill Saul and take his place as king? David had a promise from God that he trusted in. He knew that God would orchestrate events to fulfill that promise and he did not need to contribute his own sinful action to make that happen. He had great faith. This is the same obedience we see in Christ when tempted by Satan in Luke 4. Jesus would not take the whole world in exchange for obedience. David would not take the throne if it meant disobeying God and not trusting in his promise. Are we willing to have this faith and obedience? Are we willing to trust God’s actions, his timing, and his means? Or do we want to gain the things we want through our own actions and timing?


Day 5

King David – 2 Samuel 5-7

We finally see David made king over a united Israel. We find out that David is about 30 years old when this finally takes place. We also find out that David will rule for 40 years. As king over a united Israel, David first conquers the Jebusite people and captures Jerusalem. Before this point, Jerusalem was a Canaanite land. Why did David capture the city instead of staying at Hebron in Judah? David chose Jerusalem because it had no prior tribal ties so it would be a perfect place for a united Israel. Also, it was easy to defend. David also continues battling the Philistines as king over all of Israel (I guess some things just don’t change). While I am sure we are all happy to see David finally made king over a united Israel, what exactly do we do with this passage in our lives. I think there are two important truths here. First, God may prepare you for a long time when the thing you’re being prepared for is great. David was initially anointed around the age of 15. We know he becomes king at 30. For 15 years, God lead, protected, tested, and continued to grow David into the man he needed him to be. God needed David to be strong and obedient for his 40-year reign. What are you being prepared for? How can you submit more to that process of preparation now instead of worrying about the future? Second, we see all of Israel accepts David as king only when the other option, Ishboleth, is removed. What would it be like if we submitted to Jesus in obedience outright and not when our other choices crumbled? Let our prayer be submission to Jesus outright and not when our own efforts fail. Let our prayer also be obedience in the seasons of preparation that we may find ourselves in.

In this chapter, we see that David decides to bring the Ark of God into the tabernacle at Jerusalem. Remember that the Ark of the Covenant was a wooden box, overlaid with gold, that contained the tablets of the law, a jar of manna, and Aaron’s staff. This box had an ornate top known as the “mercy seat,” the place where God “resided.” Thus, the ark represented the near presence and glory of God. Don’t forget that the last time we saw the ark was when it was returned by the Philistines in 1 Samuel 6 and 7. The ark has been in the house of Abinadab for the last 70 years. It makes sense that David would want his people to have the ark near them in Jerusalem. So, David sets out in a grand procession to bring the ark back. However, David does not consult God on what he should be doing. He loads the ark on a cart and begins the journey to Jerusalem. Remember that God commanded the ark always be carried and not placed on a cart (Exodus 25). When the cart tips because an oxen stumbles, a man reaches out his hand to steady the ark. He is struck dead immediately for touching the ark. David is frustrated. He thought he was doing the right thing for the Lord. David was, but he was going about it in the wrong way. God, in his word, had laid out clear instructions for his people. Too often, we want to do things that we think are right, in ways that we think are right, but oddly enough we do not go about it the way God wants. We do not consult him at all. God clearly lays out in his word what he expects in worship, how he expects us to approach him, and how we can be saved. It is not a mystery, and it is not a matter of personal preference. When David realized this, he was able to move the ark and worship God in a pleasing way. When we realize this, we will be able to worship in spirit and in truth.

The importance of this chapter cannot be overstated as it contains the Davidic covenant. Now that war had ceased, David was no longer on the run, and David was king over a united Israel – there was time for reflection. In his time of reflection, David began to think how his house was made out of the finest and most expensive materials while God’s house (the tabernacle) was a tent. David wanted to build a house for the Lord as a sign of gratitude and worship for all that had been done. Nathan, the King’s prophet, can see no harm in what David wants to do so he instructs him to go for it. This is advice given from a purely human perspective and not from the perspective of what God may want. It would do us well to stop here and note the following truth: we should test all of our thoughts and actions, even the ones we believe to be holy, to see if they be the will of God or our own desires. Thus, God comes to Nathan with a word for David. Tell David that I do not need him to make me a house, nor have I commanded that, but I will make him a house instead. This “house” that God would build David was not a physical house. Instead, it was a promise that David’s house, literally his descendants, would be made great and would rule forever. God also reveals to David that it is his intention that an heir of David would be the one to eventually build God a “house” (literally a temple – there is no longer a need for the tabernacle, the tent, to move about with the people now that Jerusalem is the central city of the kingdom). King Solomon, David’s son and successor, partially fulfills these promises. Solomon ruled on the throne of David, was shown mercy by God even when he sinned, and Solomon built the “house” for God (Solomon’s temple). However, there is a more perfect and permanent fulfillment of these promises found in Jesus. Jesus, as a descendant of David, rules on his throne forever. God’s mercy never departed from Jesus, even when he was made sin for us. In fact, God’s mercy is seen most clearly through Jesus’s sacrifice. Also, Jesus is building a “house” for God in the sense that he dwells in all those who believe in Jesus (1 Cor. 6:19), and in the sense of the church as a spiritual house (1 Peter 2:5). David responds by praying to receive these promises and by testifying that God is trustworthy and faithful. The truths and promises surrounding Jesus can be taken hold of in the same way in our lives (think of promises like Phil. 1:6 or Heb. 4:16 and how those are taken hold of through prayer/ faith in Jesus, who, of course, is faithful).