Monday, December 11th, 2017

Samuel the judge

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Sunday, Mar 23, 2014

Mar 17 — Day 11 — 1 Sam 6:1-7:2 — The Ark Returns to Israel

What a story this is! The ark of God was like a hot potato. The Philistines captured it and now didn’t quite know what to do with it. The ark brought tumors and plagues to whichever city it was sent.

The Philistine priests and diviners advised that an attempt should be made to return the ark, along with a guilt offering. Just get it out of here! There is perhaps symbology in the manner in which it was returned, but remembering this is a devotional reading and not an in-depth study, I’ll try to focus on the big picture.

When the ark was safely back in Israelite hands at Beth-shemesh, all was not peaches and cream, for the ark was still not at home in Kiriath-jearim. When it finally came to rest there, “all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.”

I take from this the idea that relating properly to almighty God is not a trivial exercise, and it starts with a healthy fear of the Lord.

Mar 18 — Day 12 — 1 Sam 7:3-17 –Samuel Judges Israel

Samuel was the last judge of Israel before they were given a king of their own (Saul). What was Samuel’s judgeship like? How did Samuel go about being a good judge to his people?

He preached to them and urged them to put away their idols and serve the Lord only. He led them in worship of the one God. He met with them often, making an annual circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, Mispah, and back home to Ramah.

In short, Samuel was a pastor to his flock, as well as being the judge of their disputes. The Lord clearly blessed him and they accepted his leadership. This seems to be a pretty good model for our congregation today.

Mar 19 — Day 13 — 1 Sam 8:1-9 — Israel Demands a King

God is very patient with his people. Samuel’s mentor Eli grew old and was plagued by a couple of bad sons. Now, Samuel himself was growing old, and he too had sons who “took bribes and perverted justice.”

The people demanded that they have a king over them like other countries. God told Samuel to listen to the people and give them what they asked for, warning them, however, what they are in for.

I wonder how God can be so very patient with his wayward people. I wonder how God can be so very patient with the likes of me, even to the point of sending his Son to be the “radiance of his glory and exact image of his nature.”

Mar 20 — Day 14 — 1 Sam 8:10-18 — Samuel’s Warning Against Kings

The people looked to Samuel, their Judge and go-to guy to give them a king to be over them. In response, Samuel told them the words of the Lord about being subject to a king.

Were they prepared to give up liberty in return for having a king over them? In those times, kings were pretty demanding and expensive to maintain. The day will certainly come when they will wish they were not under a king.

I think about my life under a temporal king (for the moment President Obama), and my future life under the King of Kings. Can I be certain that the latter will be far better than the former?

Wrong question. More to the point is where do I place my trust, which is tricky because my present king has not earned much trust. Trust in my future king requires a step in faith. What a wimp I can be when push comes to shove!

Mar 21 — Lent Day 15 — 1 Sam 8:19-22 — Samuel’s Warning Against Kings

The people of God were no longer satisfied to live under the judges. They wanted a king. Period. They ignored Samuel’s cautions that they might get more than they wished for. He asked the Lord how he should respond to their continued demand for a king.

God, who knew how all this would play out, simply told Samuel to give the people what they asked for. Samuel broke up the town hall meeting and asked all to return to their homes.

Which raises the question for me, why does God so often give me what I ask for when it is not good for me? One answer, I suppose, is that I need to learn some things the hard way. After all, my life on this earth is largely basic training for the life to come, is it not? I sure hope so!

Mar 22 — Lent Day 16 — 1 Sam 9:1-27 — Saul Chosen to be King

The intricate process by which Saul was chosen to be Israel’s new king could only be orchestrated by a sovereign God. The process involved some donkeys, a young servant of Saul’s, the prophet Samuel, sacrificial worship, and a train of circumstances that begs disbelief.

The reason for such a process appears to be so that the people will accept Saul as their king. The fact that he looked like a king no doubt helped.

What does it take to convince me of the will of God? On this side of the cross, I have the tremendous advantage of the Holy Spirit teaching and guiding me, but I still have to listen carefully and observe what is going on around me.

Key Passage

[3] 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.” [4] So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the LORD only.
(1 Samuel 7:3-4 ESV)

What would happen if all Americans, starting with me, returned to the Lord with all our hearts? I don’t know, of course, because it has not happened. We have not put away our false gods. I’m not completely sure I even know what my false gods are. This may be a clue for me to spend more time in prayer about this matter.

Dave

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