Monday, 14 May 2018

Road To Revelation: 1 Samuel

The time of the Judges of Israel are almost at the end and a king is on the horizon...

1 Samuel 1-7

Samuel was the last great Judge of Israel.  The first born son to a formerly barren woman who then did NOT redeem him from the Lord and so he became a helper to the priests and learned the law and heard directly from the Lord.  With all the craziness going on at the end of the time of the judges it was amazing that worship at the Tabernacle was even still going on!  But Eli's sons treated the worship of God with contempt and used the sacrifices for their own gain so they were judged by the Lord and died and the ark of the covenant was captured by the Philistines.  They returned it after much suffering and the land of Israel had peace for a time.

1 Samuel 8-10
When Samuel was old his sons became the judges but they were like Eli's sons and the people cried out for a king.  Although Samuel was not happy about it the Lord told him to anoint a king for Israel, to give the people what they wanted.  And He told Samuel to warn the people that a king would not be the solution to their problems, in fact it would add more problems, for a king would add great economic burdens on them.  At the moment the people are free!  Their only obligation is to the Lord and to his sacrificial system, everything else they own is theirs!  But a king will demand more from them... Key verses: 1 Samuel 8:5-18

The people insist so Samuel is sent to find and anoint Saul.  Saul was the king the people wanted; he was tall and handsome.  But he was fearful; and we will see from his actions that his fear was not toward God but toward the people (ch 15:24).  Cool fact: He was also from the tribe of Benjamin, the tribe almost wiped out at the end of Judges!

In chapter 12 Samuel graciously handed over the leadership of Israel to Saul with a speech warning the people to remain faithful to the Lord MORE than to their human ruler.  But all too quickly in chapter 13 Saul disobeyed the Lord and lost the right for his family to rule Israel.  But even though his son Jonathan would never rule, he remained faithful to the Lord, despite his father's unfaithfulness.

By chapter 15 Saul had disobeyed the Lord again and is rejected by the Lord.  But before you judge Saul too harshly, he was a good king toward the people and fought many battles against the Israel's enemies but his heart was more and more hardened toward the Lord and twisted by jealousy.

So Samuel is sent off again to find the next king... a king who would put God first and the people's desires second and he arrives at the house of Jesse.  Remember him from the end of Ruth? (and also from the tribe of Judah!!).  Samuel was drawn to Jesse's handsome, king looking sons but there was another forgotten son; David.  Key Verse: 16:7

1 Samuel 16-18  David was put into Saul's service (as prophesied in ch 8) then defeated Goliath, then married Saul's daughter.

1 Samuel 19-30  The final section of 1 Samuel describes jealous Saul hunting and seeking to kill his successor David, forcing David to shelter with their enemy, the Philistines.  As time went on Saul became more and more deranged even killing priests and visiting a medium (both strictly forbidden in the law) and finally, 1 Samuel ends with Saul ending his own life in battle (31).  The contrast between Saul's increasing unfaithfulness and David's obedience during his extreme trials is stark.

Extra Reading and Takeaway: 
The persecution of David by Saul reminds us of the persecution of another young up and coming king by the current ruler.  Remember Herod's jealous rage when Jesus was born?  The king of kings had to flee to Egypt to escape death also (Matt. 2:13-19) but escape he did and went on to die on his own terms; to set up an eternal kingdom and rule it faithfully forever.

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