Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Daily reading assignment: 1 Samuel 6-10

Now Israel had lost the Ark of the Covenant, the symbol of God’s presence in Israel, in battle with the Philistines.  The people had gone to war without seeking God’s blessing and the wicked sons of Eli had been slain (1 Samuel 4:1-11).  In the hour Eli the high priest received word that his sons were dead and the Ark of the Covenant was taken by the Philistines, he died (1 Samuel 4:12-18).

The victorious Philistines demoted the Ark from the symbol of God’s presence in Israel to nothing more than a trophy of war displayed and mocked in the temple of Dagon, their pagan god (1 Samuel 5).  Chapters 5-6 record not only a humorous, but for the Philistines, a tragic unfolding of events that proved Dagon was nothing more than a powerless, lifeless idol.  The Philistines soon learned the presence of the Ark in their nation invited God’s judgment and proved a curse to the people leading them to devise a means of sending the Ark away and back to Israel (1 Samuel 6).

God guided the ox that pulled the cart upon which the Ark was carried (6:10-18).  When the Ark arrived in Israel, the people of Bethshemesh violated the holiness of the Ark; rather than covering it, the curious Jews opened it and were slain (6:19-20).  The slain of Bethshemesh served as a testimony of God’s holy presence and wrath.

Remembering the high priest Eli and his sons were dead; the people placed the Ark in the home of Abinadab (most likely a Levite) and charged his son Eleazar with the care of the Ark (7:1).  Twenty years passed before Samuel called the people to put away their idols and turn to the LORD (7:1-3).  Nearly a century would pass before the Ark was brought to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6).

God honored Samuel’s rule as judge of Israel and gave the nation peace from war with the Philistines throughout his reign (7:3-17).   Sadly, the closing years of Samuel’s life were filled with sorrow when his sons, rather than walk in the righteous ways of their father, abused their place and gave cause for the people to not only reject them, but also reject God’s rule and reign over them (1 Samuel 8:1-6).  God assured Samuel the people’s demand for a king was not only their rejection of him as judge, but a rejection of the LORD’s reign over them (8:7-9).  Rejecting God’s benevolent rule over them, the LORD directed Samuel to warn the people of the consequences of choosing a king (8:10-18); nevertheless, the people demanded a king who would raise up an army and lead them into battle (8:19-22).

1 Samuel 9 introduces us to Saul, a physically imposing man (10:23-24) and the one the LORD directed Samuel to anoint as Israel’s king (10:1).  Samuel introduced Saul to the people as their king, once again warning them in choosing a king they were rejecting the LORD (10:17-19). In spite of Samuel’s warning, the people answered, “set a king over us” (10:19).

1 Samuel 10 closes with a warning that all was not well in Israel (10:27).  The people have the king they demanded, but we read “the children of Belial” (the wicked, ungodly people living in their midst) “despised” Saul and refused to honor him.

Israel was to learn their rejection of the LORD and His capitulation to their demand to have a king, would reap sorrow in the years to come.

Be Careful What You Wish For…You May Get It!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith