Thursday, March 26, 2015

Bible Challenge: First Samuel part 2

We pick up First Samuel with the stories of the reign of King Saul.

It starts badly almost right from the beginning.  Saul offers sacrifice to God in a way that is contrary to the laws of God.  God then turns his back on Saul, but his son Jonathan manages to defeat them.

Saul makes rash oaths and catches his son in them and disobeys God and finally God rejects Saul as king and sends Samuel to Jesse's house to anoint a king from among Jesse's sons.

Samuel assumes that it must be the first son - or at least the second, but God picks the youngest who seems the least likely.  Again God shows us that it is not human qualifications that he is interested in.  He has his own ideas of who can serve him.

We get the well known story of David and Goliath and then the friendship between Jonathan and David and the strife between David and Saul.

The book ends with the death of Saul and Saul's sons and with that the way is set for the reign of King David.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Bible Challenge: First Samuel

The book of First Samuel is the first of a four part story of the nation of Israel during the period of monarchy.

First Samuel is in two parts, the first part, which we are reading this week is the story of Samuel.  The book as a whole is the origin of the monarchy of Israel.

The book starts with the birth of Samuel - his mother, Hannah is one of the many women in the Old Testament who struggle with infertility.

We then see the boy Samuel and the priest Eli and the call narrative where God calls Samuel.

Then the Philistines come and cause chaos and the people call for a king.  The story of King Saul is a perfect illustration of the adage, "Be careful what you pray for - God might answer you"  The people of Israel called for a king and Samuel tried to talk them out of it - but they insisted, so God gave them Saul.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Bible Challenge: Judges part 2

This week we are finishing the book of Judges.

The second half of the book starts with the story of Samson.  This is one of the most engaging stories in the history books.  Samson is marked from birth as someone set apart for the service of God.  He is something of a smart alec, his wife betrays him to his friends, he defeats Philistines with the jaw-bone of a donkey.  He is ensnared by Deliah and hits rock bottom, but he is able with his last ounce of strength to defeat his enemies.  Along with other lessons, this story is one of many that show that God does not need someone to be perfect in order to use them.

The book ends with the stories of some internal strife within the tribes of Israel.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Bible Challenge: Judges Part 1

This week we are starting the book of Judges.  This book talks about the period between the coming to the promised land and the reigns of the kings of Israel.

During this period Israel is ruled by a series of leaders who judge what is right and wrong, the judges of the title.

It is also the story of Israel becoming a nation rather than a group of wandering tribes.   It is really a series of stories about leaders and heroes.  The stories told range over the period of about 200 years.

Chapters 1 through 12 that we read this week include stories of Israels disobedience to the commandments of God the story of Deborah (in chapter 4 & 5) and the story of Gideon.  There is also the story of the first attempt to set up a monarchy in Israel and the failure of that attempt.

These are some of the less familiar stories of the Bible, but they set the stage for the later reigns of King Saul and King David and the book of Judges explains in part why the people of Israel wanted a king.