Give us a King

1 Sam 8:1-22

The irony of life, just as we read about how Eli’s sons could not be managed by their father, Samuel sons also did not take after him. We read that as he grew old, he put his two sons Joel and Abiah in positions to judge Israel. However, these two sons turned to lucre, took bribes and perverted judgement. This raises the question again of why ‘ministers’ wards tend to be wayward? As people of faith in God or leaders, we have to be very careful to lead and guide our family in the same faith we have because there is always tendency for rebelion.

The incompetence of Joel and Abiah led the elders and people of Israel to approach Samuel and demand that he gave them a king as other nations had. This was the first time such a question was being raised. Israel had always had leaders, prophets, judges appointed by God to guide and judge them, but not a king. God had always been their king, it was a theocracy. So when Samuel heard of their demand for a king like other nations, he was very sad and went to pray about this.

God told Samuel that it was not him that the people are rejecting but God, and that this had always been their nature since he delivered them from Egypt. He told Samuel to hearken to their demand but to let them know the price they would pay for having a king. Samuel told the people the kind of exclusive rights and privileges a king had – making their sons servants, daughters maidens, choosing captains, taking tenth of their harvests and so on, but none of these dissuaded the people, they insisted they wanted a king.Samuel told God about the reaction of the people, and God told him to go ahead and appoint them a king. Samuel then told the people to go back to their cities.

Who would be the king? How would he be appointed? Where will all these lead. We will continue to study to see what happens next.

Some verses to remember

Vs 7:  And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should not reign over them.

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Ebenezer

1 Sam 7:1- 17

After the experiences with the ark of God at Bethshemesh, the ark was moved by the men of Kirjathjearim to the house of Abinadab, whose son Eleazar was sanctified to keep the ark. The ark stayed there for twenty years, and Israel cried before God because the Philistines continued to oppress them.

Samuel then charged the people to shun the gods they’ve been worshiping and serve God alone. A day was appointed for gathering together, fasting and praying at Mizpeh by Samuel. When the Philistines heard Israel was gathered at Mizpeh, they went up against them. However when Samuel prayed, God thundered against the Philistines, disccomfiting them, and gave Israel victory over them.Samuel then took a stone and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, saying Ebenezer – hitherto the Lord helped us.

Afterwards, Israel was able to take back the cities possesed by the Philistines, and they were subdued all the days of Samuel as he continued to judge Israel. The land continued to enjoy peace under him.

Some verses to remember

Vs 12: Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

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Return of The Ark

1 Sam 6:1-21

After all the ills that befell the Philistines because of their capture of the ark of God, their chiefs and lords gathered today to decide what to do. It was concluded that the ark of God must be returned to stem the tide of the plagues in their cities and prevent them going the way of Pharaoh and Egypt.

They then decided to return the ark on a cart with offerings of gold. They pointed out that if the cart faced Bethshemesh then they would know their plague was really because of the ark and not a chance event. The animals pulling the cart faced Bethshemesh as the lords of the Philistines followed from nearby. It eventually came to Bethshemesh where the people were harvesting their wheat. They greatly rejoiced to see the ark return, and they used the wood and the cow to offer sacrifice unto God.

One last fearful event however still happened in Bethshemesh, we learnt some men opened the ark to see what was inside, and because of this up to fifty thousand people in Bethshemesh were smitten by God. The people were afraid and sorrowful, saying who could stand before this God. They therefore sent to the people of Kirjathjearim to come and fethc the ark.

How would the people of Kirjathjearim receive the ark and its return? We would continue tomorrow.

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CLASH OF THE “titan”!

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Ichabod – “Departed Glory”

I Sam 4:1-22

Today, the warnings God has been giving to Eli came to pass. Israel was at war with the Philistines, and very surprisingly Israel was losing. Eli’s two sons were part of the army in this battle.

It was then decided that the ark of the covenant should be brought into the battle camp of the Israelites. When the ark arrived, there was a roar in the camp which intially terrified the Philistines. However, they made up their mind and strenghten themselves and still went into battle against Israel.

To everyone’s surprise, the Philistines defeated Israel despite the presence of the ark of God in camp. Both Hophni and Phinehas were killed in battle, and the ark of the covenant was taken by the Philistines. This was a very serious issue because the ark is the symbol of God’s presence and glory in Israel. It seemingly looked as if the glory has departed form Israel.

When Eli heard the message of the defeat of Israel, his sons, and the capture of the ark, he fell over from his seat, broke his neck and died.His daughter in-law (Phinehas’ wife) who was pregnant, also went immediately into labourwhen she heard all the tragic news. She gave birth in death and her son was named Ichabod – The glory has departed from Israel.

God’s judgment came upon Eli and his family, it was terrible to fall into the hands of God. It is dreary to have his presence and glory depart, if God is against us, the enemies will defeat us. May we abide under his glory always.

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God Calls Samuel

I Sam 3:1-21

Today’s passage is one of the ones i grew up reading and very fond of. It stuck from the very first time I read it. This was a time when the word of God was very scarce, people hardly see any vision, but it was the same time God decided to reveal himself to the little boy Samuel.

When Samuel initially heard the voice of God, he thought it was Eli calling him. This went on three times until Eli told him, when next he heard the voice, he should say, “speak for thy servant heareth”. Eli himself was aged and already dim of sight, not only physically but spiritually too.

God revealed to Samuel that he would bring to pass the judgment he declared concerning Eli’s ffamily, because despite the sins of his sons and His warnings, Eli did not restrain them. God said their sins would not be purged by any amount of sacrifice.

Samuel found it difficult to relay this to Eli, but on his insistence he told him. Eli’s response that God should do whatever he pleased is a final reflection of his relinquished authority over his sons, he made no further attempt whatsoever.

However, Samuel waxed stronger, the Lord continued to reveal Himself to him, and made sure that none of the words he said came unfulfiled to the extent that everyone in Israel knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord.

Some verses to remember

Vs 20: And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.

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A beautiful song, a dysfunctional priesthood!

I Sam 2:1-36

We probably would not have had this beautiful prayer and song from Hannah today if not that she was barren before giving birth to Samuel. Now the song is a blessing many generations down the line, her barreness had brought glory to God and good to men – oh, how this our God works in all things!

A whole song is devoted to verse 2, ” There is none holy as the Lord, there is none besides him, neither is their any rock like our God, There is none holy as the Lord”. I could see my own name was derived from vs 7 – “the Lord maketh rich”. The song is a total beauty that tells of God, his presence with the humble, and his hatred of pride and arrogance.

After the song, we learnt that Samuel began to  minister unto the Lord before Eli the priest, however Eli’s own sons (Hophni and Phinehas) were sons of Belial for they knew not the Lord. These guys messed with the sacrificed people brought unto God, by demanding greedily for the meat and taking the best parts, and this made men to abhor the offering of the Lord.

Meanwhile Samuel continued to grow and serve before the Lord. His mother made him coats yearly when the come to offer the yearly sacrifice. On one ocassion, Eli blessed her and her husband for Samuel whom they have ‘loaned’ unto the Lord, and we learnt God visted Hannah and she had three more sons and two daughters. The Lord indeed more than repaid the loan.

Back to Eli and his family, despite hearing all the evils his sons did (they also lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation), Eli did not take a stern stand against them, he only talked about it but enforced nothing. It could be difficult at times to be loving and strict at the same time, but when it comes to the things of God, parents need to take a clear, strict stand with their children before they are destroyed without remedy.

The failure of Eli to rule over his sons evil brought curse on his house. As a man sent from God told him, “there shall not be an old man in his house forever”. THE lord would raise a faithful priest who would do according God’s heart, and would walk before Him forever.

God expects faithfulness of his servants or esle we risk being replaced.

Some verses to remember

Vs 2: There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.

Vs 8: He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD’S, and he hath set the world upon them.

Vs 35: And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.

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The Birth of Samuel

                                                                                   

I Samuel 1:1-28.

Today, we move on to the first Book of Samuel. The book began with the background to the birth of Samuel. His mother was Hannah, one of the two wives of Elkanah. Peninnah, the other wife had many children, but Hannah was barren. This situation brought her a lot of provocation from Peninnah, although her husband loved her so much and tried as much as he could to make her happy.

Despite the division in the home, the whole family did not neglect devotion together, as they regularly visit Shiloh yearly to worship God. It was on one of such visits that Hannah bare her heart out to the Lord and prayed as though she was “drunk”. She promised God if she had a son, he would be dedicated to God and no razor would touch his head. When Eli the priest as at then saw her and asked about her  “drunkeness”, she explained she was only pouring out her heart to God. She received a blessing and confirmation of answered prayers from Eli, and went bak home happier.

The Lord remembered Hanah, and she became pregnant and gave birth to a boy, naming him Samuel (for I asked him of the Lord). After weaning the child, he took him to Eli the priest to dedicate him unto the Lord as she promised.

SO was the birth of Samuel, and the path he automatically took in life due to the promise his mother made to God. He was dedictaed unto the Lord’s service very early in life. We will continue with the story of this famous prophet tomorrow.

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Redemption & Restoration!

Ruth 4:1-22

We come to the end of the book of Ruth today as we see God dynamically restoring Naomi’s life and causing all the past events to work out for good into in a glorious end. Not only was Naomi’s joy restored, but the seed was sown for the restoration of the whole of mankind, as Ruth and Boaz became man and wife.

As earlier noted, Boaz was a man of integrity and valour. He called on the closest kinsman and also invited the elders of the city. He then made him aware that Naomi was selling the land belonging to Elimelech, and asked if the kinsman would purchase it. The kinsman first responded in the affirmative, but when he learnt he would have to also take unto him Ruth and allow the generations of Elimelech to continue to have an inheritance through her, he declined the offer.

As a sign of fully passing out his rights to Boaz, he took of his shoe and gave it to Boaz. This was a gesture in Israel that showed that a man transferred his redeeming rights, and also served as a witness and testimony for all to see. So Boaz got the land, and had Ruth as his wife with everyone clearly witnessing this.

The Lord blessed the union of Boaz and Ruth with a boy, and they named him Obed, he was the father of Jesse, the father of David, all in the lineage of Christ – the one who redeems us all to himself. The ending was a happy one for Naomi, she had hope and she had a future to look up to.

In the darkest moments, god is still working all things, and the most tragic of events have the potential to become the most joyous of all in the long run. He is an awesome God.

Some verses to remember

Vs 14 & 15: And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the Lord which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him.

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My near Kinsman

 

Ruth 3: 1-18

In the ancient culture in which Ruth and Boaz lived, kinship is a very strong word. When the husband of a woman dies, the widow becomes the responsibility of the man’s family. She could marry the next brother who continues to take care of her or a very close kinsman.

Today, Naomi told Ruth that Boaz was a kinsman, and she gave her a plan to bring this to his awareness. Ruth was to go to Boaz field in the evening, and once he had slept, remove his covering and lay at his feet. The using of the blanket to cover the woman means protection, care and ownership, this was the symbolism this passage implied. It is quite different from seduction as some people would think this passage implies, it is protection.

So after Boaz had eaten and drunk, he went to sleep, and Ruth did as was planned. When Boaz woke up in the mid of the night, he was afraid to see a woman at his feet. Ruth told him why she was there, and Boaz did a very impressive thing. First, he did not take advantage of Ruth because of the situation, secondly despite his liking for Ruth, he noted that there was another closer kinsman, and until the man was aware of this responsibility, he could not take over. Boaz is clearly a man of very strong principles, a man of order, a man of integrity.

Finally, he sent Ruth off very early in the morning, giving her more wheat for her and Naomi. As Boaz noted Ruth was a very virtous woman, she did not go awhoring after young men, she also respected her mother in law so much and was willing to walk by the rules she gave her, the customs of the land. She indeed stayed through with her vow – ‘your people shall be my peole, your God my God’. Naomi’s people and their customs today practically became Ruth’s.

We will soon see the conclusion of the book tomorrow, but the story has been so insightful, could be related to, as it mostly involved common people and their everyday living, not priests, heroes, leaders but people just like us, trying to live everyday under God’s rule.

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