Saturday, April 17, 2010

Saul Stinks - David Slinks

You couldn't make this stuff up!

1 "After Saul returned from fighting the Philistines, he was told that David had gone into the wilderness of En-gedi. 2 So Saul chose 3,000 elite troops from all Israel and went to search for David and his men near the rocks of the wild goats."

They are out in the country. When the soldiers need to "go", they just "go." Well, Saul was the king. So when he needed to "go", the whole army has to stop and wait. He gets to go inside a cave with armed gaurds standing outside.

Just happens that this cave has some unusual circumstances!


3 "At the place where the road passes some sheepfolds, Saul went into a cave to relieve himself. But as it happened, David and his men were hiding farther back in that very cave!

4 “Now’s your opportunity!” David’s men whispered to him. “Today the Lord is telling you, ‘I will certainly put your enemy into your power, to do with as you wish.’” So David crept forward and cut off a piece of the hem of Saul’s robe.

5 But then David’s conscience began bothering him because he had cut Saul’s robe. 6 “The Lord knows I shouldn’t have done that to my lord the king,” he said to his men. “The Lord forbid that I should do this to my lord the king and attack the Lord’s anointed one, for the Lord himself has chosen him.” 7 So David restrained his men and did not let them kill Saul."

David has a conscience? How can you be a political leader and have a conscience? We have certainly outgrown that little nuisance now a days!

"After Saul had left the cave and gone on his way, 8 David came out and shouted after him, “My lord the king!” And when Saul looked around, David bowed low before him.

9 Then he shouted to Saul, “Why do you listen to the people who say I am trying to harm you? 10 This very day you can see with your own eyes it isn’t true. For the Lord placed you at my mercy back there in the cave. Some of my men told me to kill you, but I spared you. For I said, ‘I will never harm the king—he is the Lord’s anointed one.’ 11 Look, my father, at what I have in my hand. It is a piece of the hem of your robe! I cut it off, but I didn’t kill you. This proves that I am not trying to harm you and that I have not sinned against you, even though you have been hunting for me to kill me.

12 “May the Lord judge between us. Perhaps the Lord will punish you for what you are trying to do to me, but I will never harm you. 13 As that old proverb says, ‘From evil people come evil deeds.’ So you can be sure I will never harm you. 14 Who is the king of Israel trying to catch anyway? Should he spend his time chasing one who is as worthless as a dead dog or a single flea? 15 May the Lord therefore judge which of us is right and punish the guilty one. He is my advocate, and he will rescue me from your power!”

16 When David had finished speaking, Saul called back, “Is that really you, my son David?” Then he began to cry. 17 And he said to David, “You are a better man than I am, for you have repaid me good for evil. 18 Yes, you have been amazingly kind to me today, for when the Lord put me in a place where you could have killed me, you didn’t do it. 19 Who else would let his enemy get away when he had him in his power? May the Lord reward you well for the kindness you have shown me today. 20 And now I realize that you are surely going to be king, and that the kingdom of Israel will flourish under your rule. 21 Now swear to me by the Lord that when that happens you will not kill my family and destroy my line of descendants!”

22 So David promised this to Saul with an oath. Then Saul went home, but David and his men went back to their stronghold."

David had real character.

Saul was a true polititian. His word meant nothing at all.

But God is watching all...

Jealous Rage Leads to Outrageous Behavior

In today's story the king sinks to a new low.

David is a hunted man. He is told by a prophet to go back to his country. At this point the king is consumed by his quest to murder David, by any and all means.

6 "The news of his arrival in Judah soon reached Saul. At the time, the king was sitting beneath the tamarisk tree on the hill at Gibeah, holding his spear and surrounded by his officers.


7 “Listen here, you men of Benjamin!” Saul shouted to his officers when he heard the news. “Has that son of Jesse promised every one of you fields and vineyards? Has he promised to make you all generals and captains in his army?[c] 8 Is that why you have conspired against me? For not one of you told me when my own son made a solemn pact with the son of Jesse. You’re not even sorry for me. Think of it! My own son—encouraging him to kill me, as he is trying to do this very day!”

Saul's jealosy and paranoia have led him to lie. David is not out to kill Saul the king. Saul is out to murder David - for no other reason than the fact that David is brave and outstanding.

9 "Then Doeg the Edomite, who was standing there with Saul’s men, spoke up. “When I was at Nob,” he said, “I saw the son of Jesse talking to the priest, Ahimelech son of Ahitub. 10 Ahimelech consulted the Lord for him. Then he gave him food and the sword of Goliath the Philistine.”

11 King Saul immediately sent for Ahimelech and all his family, who served as priests at Nob. 12 When they arrived, Saul shouted at him, “Listen to me, you son of Ahitub!”

“What is it, my king?” Ahimelech asked.

13 “Why have you and the son of Jesse conspired against me?” Saul demanded. “Why did you give him food and a sword? Why have you consulted God for him? Why have you encouraged him to kill me, as he is trying to do this very day?”

The lie is repeated. Saul knows it is not true. But he is the king. No one will tell him he is wrong.

Ahimelech is truly innocent. He is accidentally drawn into a nasty political conflict.

14 “But sir,” Ahimelech replied, “is anyone among all your servants as faithful as David, your son-in-law? Why, he is the captain of your bodyguard and a highly honored member of your household! 15 This was certainly not the first time I had consulted God for him! May the king not accuse me and my family in this matter, for I knew nothing at all of any plot against you.”

Saul is simply blind with rage. He sinks to a new low...

16 “You will surely die, Ahimelech, along with your entire family!” the king shouted. 17 And he ordered his bodyguards, “Kill these priests of the Lord, for they are allies and conspirators with David! They knew he was running away from me, but they didn’t tell me!”

"But Saul’s men refused to kill the Lord’s priests."

Apparently Saul had crossed the line in his own soul. He no longer feared or respected God. He was willing to kill God's men - the priests. Saul's men still respected and feared God more than they respected and feared their crazy enraged king!

18 "Then the king said to Doeg, “You do it.” So Doeg the Edomite turned on them and killed them that day, eighty-five priests in all, still wearing their priestly garments. 19 Then he went to Nob, the town of the priests, and killed the priests’ families—men and women, children and babies—and all the cattle, donkeys, sheep, and goats.

20 Only Abiathar, one of the sons of Ahimelech, escaped and fled to David. 21 When he told David that Saul had killed the priests of the Lord, 22 David exclaimed, “I knew it! When I saw Doeg the Edomite there that day, I knew he was sure to tell Saul. Now I have caused the death of all your father’s family. 23 Stay here with me, and don’t be afraid. I will protect you with my own life, for the same person wants to kill us both.”

Saul is now massacring innocent people. He is willing to kill God's chosen workers - the priests. He is willing to kill their innocent wives, their innocent children.
 
I have a feeling God is not particularly happy with this raging maniac!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

No Where Left to Hide

David is running for his life.

There was no where in the land left for him to hide.

He goes - alone - to the priest, to get some food.

6 "Since there was no other food available, the priest gave him the holy bread—the Bread of the Presence that was placed before the Lord in the Tabernacle. It had just been replaced that day with fresh bread.

7 Now Doeg the Edomite, Saul’s chief herdsman, was there that day, having been detained before the Lord.[b]

8 David asked Ahimelech, “Do you have a spear or sword? The king’s business was so urgent that I didn’t even have time to grab a weapon!”

9 “I only have the sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the valley of Elah,” the priest replied. “It is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. Take that if you want it, for there is nothing else here.”

“There is nothing like it!” David replied. “Give it to me!”

So David decides to cross over to the enemy side to hide from Saul. Get this - he goes to the Gathites with the sword he took from Goliath (of Gath)!

10 "So David escaped from Saul and went to King Achish of Gath. 11 But the officers of Achish were unhappy about his being there. “Isn’t this David, the king of the land?” they asked. “Isn’t he the one the people honor with dances, singing,

‘Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands’?”

12 David heard these comments and was very afraid of what King Achish of Gath might do to him. 13 So he pretended to be insane, scratching on doors and drooling down his beard.

14 Finally, King Achish said to his men, “Must you bring me a madman? 15 We already have enough of them around here! Why should I let someone like this be my guest?”

I think we call that - "crazy like a fox!"

David's Secret Weapon

How would you cope if your father in law, the king, was utilizing all the power of the state to assassinate you?

Besides being a light sleeper and not staying in the same place every night, how would you internalize it?

Bitterness against God? Anger? Poor little me, attitude? Hard hearted contempt for life, and people and friends?

David had a secret weapon.

Music!
Poetry!
Prayer!
And an intimate relationship with God.

Read the words to this amazing song/prayer/poem...

Psalm 59


For the choir director:
A psalm of David, regarding the time Saul sent soldiers to watch David’s house in order to kill him.
To be sung to the tune “Do Not Destroy!”

1 "Rescue me from my enemies, O God.
Protect me from those who have come to destroy me.
2 Rescue me from these criminals;
save me from these murderers.
3 They have set an ambush for me.
Fierce enemies are out there waiting, Lord,
though I have not sinned or offended them.
4 I have done nothing wrong,
yet they prepare to attack me.
Wake up! See what is happening and help me!
5 O Lord God of Heaven’s Armies, the God of Israel,
wake up and punish those hostile nations.
Show no mercy to wicked traitors.

Interlude (you could do a hot harp riff in here)

6 They come out at night,
snarling like vicious dogs
as they prowl the streets.
7 Listen to the filth that comes from their mouths;
their words cut like swords.
“After all, who can hear us?” they sneer.
8 But Lord, you laugh at them.
You scoff at all the hostile nations.
9 You are my strength; I wait for you to rescue me,
for you, O God, are my fortress.
10 In his unfailing love, my God will stand with me.
He will let me look down in triumph on all my enemies.

11 Don’t kill them, for my people soon forget such lessons;
stagger them with your power, and bring them to their knees,
O Lord our shield.
12 Because of the sinful things they say,
because of the evil that is on their lips,
let them be captured by their pride,
their curses, and their lies.
13 Destroy them in your anger!
Wipe them out completely!
Then the whole world will know
that God reigns in Israel.

Interlude (let the sax wail right here)

14 My enemies come out at night,
snarling like vicious dogs
as they prowl the streets.
15 They scavenge for food
but go to sleep unsatisfied.

16 But as for me, I will sing about your power.
Each morning I will sing with joy about your unfailing love.
For you have been my refuge,
a place of safety when I am in distress.
17 O my Strength, to you I sing praises,
for you, O God, are my refuge,
the God who shows me unfailing love."

When you sing it, remember, the tune is the same as "Do Not Destroy".
Don't be mixing melodies!

Assassination!

Saul is trying to kill David.
He asks his family and household servants to kill David.
He tries to kill David by impaling him to the wall when he is playing his harp (FOR Saul).
He sends his TROOPS to kill David.

Sound obssessed? "If only I could kill David. My troubles would all be over... I MUST kill David..."

1 Samuel 19:1 "Saul now urged his servants and his son Jonathan to assassinate David. But Jonathan, because of his strong affection for David, 2 told him what his father was planning. “Tomorrow morning,” he warned him, “you must find a hiding place out in the fields. 3 I’ll ask my father to go out there with me, and I’ll talk to him about you. Then I’ll tell you everything I can find out.”

4 The next morning Jonathan spoke with his father about David, saying many good things about him. “The king must not sin against his servant David,” Jonathan said. “He’s never done anything to harm you. He has always helped you in any way he could. 5 Have you forgotten about the time he risked his life to kill the Philistine giant and how the Lord brought a great victory to all Israel as a result? You were certainly happy about it then. Why should you murder an innocent man like David? There is no reason for it at all!”

6 So Saul listened to Jonathan and vowed, “As surely as the Lord lives, David will not be killed.”

7 Afterward Jonathan called David and told him what had happened. Then he brought David to Saul, and David served in the court as before.

8 War broke out again after that, and David led his troops against the Philistines. He attacked them with such fury that they all ran away.

9 But one day when Saul was sitting at home, with spear in hand, the tormenting spirit[d] from the Lord suddenly came upon him again. As David played his harp, 10 Saul hurled his spear at David. But David dodged out of the way, and leaving the spear stuck in the wall, he fled and escaped into the night.

11 Then Saul sent troops to watch David’s house. They were told to kill David when he came out the next morning. But Michal, David’s wife, warned him, “If you don’t escape tonight, you will be dead by morning.” 12 So she helped him climb out through a window, and he fled and escaped. 13 Then she took an idol[e] and put it in his bed, covered it with blankets, and put a cushion of goat’s hair at its head.

14 When the troops came to arrest David, she told them he was sick and couldn’t get out of bed.

15 But Saul sent the troops back to get David. He ordered, “Bring him to me in his bed so I can kill him!” 16 But when they came to carry David out, they discovered that it was only an idol in the bed with a cushion of goat’s hair at its head.

17 “Why have you betrayed me like this and let my enemy escape?” Saul demanded of Michal.

“I had to,” Michal replied. “He threatened to kill me if I didn’t help him.”

18 So David escaped and went to Ramah to see Samuel, and he told him all that Saul had done to him. Then Samuel took David with him to live at Naioth. 19 When the report reached Saul that David was at Naioth in Ramah, 20 he sent troops to capture him. But when they arrived and saw Samuel leading a group of prophets who were prophesying, the Spirit of God came upon Saul’s men, and they also began to prophesy. 21 When Saul heard what had happened, he sent other troops, but they, too, prophesied! The same thing happened a third time. 22 Finally, Saul himself went to Ramah and arrived at the great well in Secu. “Where are Samuel and David?” he demanded.

“They are at Naioth in Ramah,” someone told him.

23 But on the way to Naioth in Ramah the Spirit of God came even upon Saul, and he, too, began to prophesy all the way to Naioth! 24 He tore off his clothes and lay naked on the ground all day and all night, prophesying in the presence of Samuel. The people who were watching exclaimed, “What? Is even Saul a prophet?”

David be nimble,
David be quick
David duck fast
Or a spear will stick!

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

My Father-in-law Hates Me!

How do you spell
"d-y-s-f-u-n-c-t-i-o-n-a-l  f-a-m-i-l-y?"

David does not appear to be politically ambitious.

David Earns Saul’s Daughter (the first time)

He comes off the fields to bring food to his older brothers - who are soldiers on the front lines. A challenge is being passed down the lines. "Anyone who will kill this monster giant can have the king's daughter as wife."

David killed Goliath, not because of the marriage opportunity, but because it rankled him that the Lord's army was stuck in front of a mere man!

David killed Goliath. He didn't claim the daughter, and Saul never made good his promise.

David Earns Saul’s Daughter (the second time)

17 "One day Saul said to David, “I am ready to give you my older daughter, Merab, as your wife. But first you must prove yourself to be a real warrior by fighting the Lord’s battles.” For Saul thought, “I’ll send him out against the Philistines and let them kill him rather than doing it myself.”

So to Saul, his daughter is mere "bait". He does not seem to care about her or her feelings at all. In this case, the lure of marrying her would send a growing political threat to his death!

18 “Who am I, and what is my family in Israel that I should be the king’s son-in-law?” David exclaimed. “My father’s family is nothing!” 19 So when the time came for Saul to give his daughter Merab in marriage to David, he gave her instead to Adriel, a man from Meholah."

Promise two - broken.

20 "In the meantime, Saul’s daughter Michal had fallen in love with David, and Saul was delighted when he heard about it. 21 “Here’s another chance to see him killed by the Philistines!” Saul said to himself. But to David he said, “Today you have a second chance to become my son-in-law!”

This time Saul DOES consider his daughter's feelings. However, he wants to use her real infatuation to cause the death of the object of her affections. Nice Dad!!

22 "Then Saul told his men to say to David, “The king really likes you, and so do we. Why don’t you accept the king’s offer and become his son-in-law?”

23 When Saul’s men said these things to David, he replied, “How can a poor man from a humble family afford the bride price for the daughter of a king?”

24 When Saul’s men reported this back to the king, 25 he told them, “Tell David that all I want for the bride price is 100 Philistine foreskins! Vengeance on my enemies is all I really want.” But what Saul had in mind was that David would be killed in the fight."

David Earns Saul’s Daughter (the third time)

26 "David was delighted to accept the offer. Before the time limit expired, 27 he and his men went out and killed 200 Philistines. Then David fulfilled the king’s requirement by presenting all their foreskins to him."

Saul's goal - lure David to his death.

David's problem - he was not worthy to be the king's son-in-law. And there was no way he could afford the dowry that a daughter of the king would command!

Saul's solution? - Ask David to kill 100 enemy soldiers, thus ensuring his death!

David's solution? - Well, If THAT'S ALL YOU WANT! - So he went out and killed 200 enemy soldiers.

Promise number 3? - Kept!

 "So Saul gave his daughter Michal to David to be his wife.

28 When Saul realized that the Lord was with David and how much his daughter Michal loved him, 29 Saul became even more afraid of him, and he remained David’s enemy for the rest of his life."

From David's perspective? "The good news is that I married into the king's family and my wife is crazy about me!"

From David's perspective? "The BAD news is that I married into the king's family and my father-in-law (the king) HATES me!"

30 "Every time the commanders of the Philistines attacked, David was more successful against them than all the rest of Saul’s officers. So David’s name became very famous."

The first king of Israel was already pioneering what it was like to be rich and miserable. His son was David's best friend. His second daughter was married to David and was madly in love with him. And Saul was jealous of him, afraid of him, and hated him!

The Celebration

David moves up the ranks

1 Samuel 18:5 "Whatever Saul asked David to do, David did it successfully. So Saul made him a commander over the men of war, an appointment that was welcomed by the people and Saul’s officers alike."

The People celebrate the victory - and their new hero!

6 "When the victorious Israelite army was returning home after David had killed the Philistine, women from all the towns of Israel came out to meet King Saul. They sang and danced for joy with tambourines and cymbals.[a] 7 This was their song:

“Saul has killed his thousands,
and David his ten thousands!”

The Victory was a Personal Defeat for Saul. He is Fuming!

8 "This made Saul very angry. “What’s this?” he said. “They credit David with ten thousands and me with only thousands. Next they’ll be making him their king!” 9 So from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David."

Saul tries to kill the Hero of Israel

10 "The very next day a tormenting spirit[b] from God overwhelmed Saul, and he began to rave in his house like a madman. David was playing the harp, as he did each day. But Saul had a spear in his hand, 11 and he suddenly hurled it at David, intending to pin him to the wall. But David escaped him twice."

Saul, who has all the power, all the army - is afraid of David!

12 "Saul was then afraid of David, for the Lord was with David and had turned away from Saul. 13 Finally, Saul sent him away and appointed him commander over 1,000 men, and David faithfully led his troops into battle.

14 David continued to succeed in everything he did, for the Lord was with him. 15 When Saul recognized this, he became even more afraid of him. 16 But all Israel and Judah loved David because he was so successful at leading his troops into battle."

One of the oddest segments of history ensues.

Saul is truly bipolar at this point in his life.

He loves David/ He tries to kill David.

He promotes David/ He hates David.

He gives David his daughter as wife to reward David/ He later takes her away.

The Love Hate Relationship

Israel and the Philistines were at war.

Philistines put out their biggest guy.

Saul was Israel's biggest guy.

So the taunts were very personal. Send your best guy. Whoever wins, gets everything. Saul was frozen with fear!

David sees the impasse and is disturbed. God's name is being tarnished. And that is not OK. David goes out to meet the giant.

45 "David replied to the Philistine, “You come to me with sword, spear, and javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies—the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. 46 Today the Lord will conquer you, and I will kill you and cut off your head. And then I will give the dead bodies of your men to the birds and wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel! 47 And everyone assembled here will know that the Lord rescues his people, but not with sword and spear. This is the Lord’s battle, and he will give you to us!”

Big words from a little boy!

48 "As Goliath moved closer to attack, David quickly ran out to meet him. 49 Reaching into his shepherd’s bag and taking out a stone, he hurled it with his sling and hit the Philistine in the forehead. The stone sank in, and Goliath stumbled and fell face down on the ground.

50 "So David triumphed over the Philistine with only a sling and a stone, for he had no sword. 51 Then David ran over and pulled Goliath’s sword from its sheath. David used it to kill him and cut off his head.

"When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they turned and ran. 52 Then the men of Israel and Judah gave a great shout of triumph and rushed after the Philistines, chasing them as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron. The bodies of the dead and wounded Philistines were strewn all along the road from Shaaraim, as far as Gath and Ekron. 53 Then the Israelite army returned and plundered the deserted Philistine camp. 54 (David took the Philistine’s head to Jerusalem, but he stored the man’s armor in his own tent.)

55 As Saul watched David go out to fight the Philistine, he asked Abner, the commander of his army, “Abner, whose son is this young man?”

“I really don’t know,” Abner declared.

56 “Well, find out who he is!” the king told him.

57 As soon as David returned from killing Goliath, Abner brought him to Saul with the Philistine’s head still in his hand. 58 “Tell me about your father, young man,” Saul said.

And David replied, “His name is Jesse, and we live in Bethlehem.”

David won the battle for God, for Israel and for himself . Saul would live to see another day. But the victory for Israel was clearly a personal defeat for Saul.

Thus the love/hate relationship lurches one more step forward.

Music and the Tormented Soul

God needs to train David to be king.

How better to do it, then to take him from the fields with the sheep, and put him in the middle of the king's court!

One of David's talents was music. The tunes he developed out in the fields at night ended up being played for the highest person in the land.

14 "Now the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul, and the Lord sent a tormenting spirit[d] that filled him with depression and fear.

15 Some of Saul’s servants said to him, “A tormenting spirit from God is troubling you. 16 Let us find a good musician to play the harp whenever the tormenting spirit troubles you. He will play soothing music, and you will soon be well again.”

17 “All right,” Saul said. “Find me someone who plays well, and bring him here.”

18 One of the servants said to Saul, “One of Jesse’s sons from Bethlehem is a talented harp player. Not only that—he is a brave warrior, a man of war, and has good judgment. He is also a fine-looking young man, and the Lord is with him.”

9 So Saul sent messengers to Jesse to say, “Send me your son David, the shepherd.” 20 Jesse responded by sending David to Saul, along with a young goat, a donkey loaded with bread, and a wineskin full of wine.

21 So David went to Saul and began serving him. Saul loved David very much, and David became his armor bearer.

22 Then Saul sent word to Jesse asking, “Please let David remain in my service, for I am very pleased with him.”

23 And whenever the tormenting spirit from God troubled Saul, David would play the harp. Then Saul would feel better, and the tormenting spirit would go away."

Saul thought it was the music.

But his problem was spiritual, not psychological.

And the spirit of the Lord was with David...

For David's Harp music click here
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZDgx2EFMq4

Next!

To God, Saul is history.

Doesn't appear that way. Saul has all the trappings of power, wealth, prestige, position, and authority. He is the king. His word goes.

Meanwhile God sends His servant Samuel to anoint a new king.

A dangerous mission this! If discovered, it would be declared treason. Samuel could lose his head!


1 Samuel 16:1 "Now the Lord said to Samuel, “You have mourned long enough for Saul. I have rejected him as king of Israel, so fill your flask with olive oil and go to Bethlehem. Find a man named Jesse who lives there, for I have selected one of his sons to be my king.”

2 "But Samuel asked, “How can I do that? If Saul hears about it, he will kill me.”

“Take a heifer with you,” the Lord replied, “and say that you have come to make a sacrifice to the Lord. 3 Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you which of his sons to anoint for me.”

4 "So Samuel did as the Lord instructed. When he arrived at Bethlehem, the elders of the town came trembling to meet him. “What’s wrong?” they asked. “Do you come in peace?”

5 “Yes,” Samuel replied. “I have come to sacrifice to the Lord. Purify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” Then Samuel performed the purification rite for Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice, too.

6 "When they arrived, Samuel took one look at Eliab and thought, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed!”

7 "But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

8 "Then Jesse told his son Abinadab to step forward and walk in front of Samuel. But Samuel said, “This is not the one the Lord has chosen.” 9 Next Jesse summoned Shimea,[c] but Samuel said, “Neither is this the one the Lord has chosen.” 10 In the same way all seven of Jesse’s sons were presented to Samuel. But Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11 Then Samuel asked, “Are these all the sons you have?”

“There is still the youngest,” Jesse replied. “But he’s out in the fields watching the sheep and goats.”

“Send for him at once,” Samuel said. “We will not sit down to eat until he arrives.”

12 "So Jesse sent for him. He was dark and handsome, with beautiful eyes.

"And the Lord said, “This is the one; anoint him.”

13 "So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah."

There is a new king in the land.

And Saul does not even know...

Oops!

The Command.

1 Samuel 15:1 "One day Samuel said to Saul, “It was the Lord who told me to anoint you as king of his people, Israel. Now listen to this message from the Lord! 2 This is what the Lord of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for opposing Israel when they came from Egypt. 3 Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.”

Pretty simple, right?

Brutal, but simple. Go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation.

Seems gory now, but then, the victor got everything. And the loser lost everything. And yes, everything was EVERYTHING including their house their wife and kids and their life.

Saul goes into battle and God upholds His end of the deal...

The Victory

4 "So Saul mobilized his army at Telaim. There were 200,000 soldiers from Israel and 10,000 men from Judah. 5 Then Saul and his army went to a town of the Amalekites and lay in wait in the valley.
7 Then Saul slaughtered the Amalekites from Havilah all the way to Shur, east of Egypt.

The Incomplete Obedience

 8 He captured Agag, the Amalekite king, but completely destroyed everyone else. 9 Saul and his men spared Agag’s life and kept the best of the sheep and goats, the cattle, the fat calves, and the lambs—everything, in fact, that appealed to them. They destroyed only what was worthless or of poor quality."

Oops!

It seemed like such a waste to destroy all that great booty.

After all, that was the normal spoils of war, right? Winner takes all!

10 "Then the Lord said to Samuel, 11 “I am sorry that I ever made Saul king, for he has not been loyal to me and has refused to obey my command.” Samuel was so deeply moved when he heard this that he cried out to the Lord all night.

The Chance to Come Clean

12 "Early the next morning Samuel went to find Saul. Someone told him, “Saul went to the town of Carmel to set up a monument to himself; then he went on to Gilgal.”

13 When Samuel finally found him, Saul greeted him cheerfully. “May the Lord bless you,” he said. “I have carried out the Lord’s command!”

14 “Then what is all the bleating of sheep and goats and the lowing of cattle I hear?” Samuel demanded.

15 “It’s true that the army spared the best of the sheep, goats, and cattle,” Saul admitted. “But they are going to sacrifice them to the Lord your God. We have destroyed everything else.”

The Judgement

16 "Then Samuel said to Saul, “Stop! Listen to what the Lord told me last night!”

“What did he tell you?” Saul asked.

17 "And Samuel told him, “Although you may think little of yourself, are you not the leader of the tribes of Israel? The Lord has anointed you king of Israel. 18 And the Lord sent you on a mission and told you, ‘Go and completely destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, until they are all dead.’ 19 Why haven’t you obeyed the Lord? Why did you rush for the plunder and do what was evil in the Lord’s sight?”

20 “But I did obey the Lord,” Saul insisted. “I carried out the mission he gave me. I brought back King Agag, but I destroyed everyone else. 21 Then my troops brought in the best of the sheep, goats, cattle, and plunder to sacrifice to the Lord your God in Gilgal.”

22 "But Samuel replied,

“What is more pleasing to the Lord:
your burnt offerings and sacrifices
or your obedience to his voice?
Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice,
and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.
23 Rebellion is as sinful as witchcraft,
and stubbornness as bad as worshiping idols.
So because you have rejected the command of the Lord,
he has rejected you as king.”

Incomplete obedience!
Taking credit for what God did!
A healthy dose of self deception!
And Saul is "history"

He was given the opportunity to come clean.
Instead, he lost everything he had been so generously given.

Oh, it took a few years. But the axe had been laid to the root of the tree.

Saul's reign is over...

 Oops!

Military Success

Saul was now king, and fought a number of battles to establish the kingdom and defeat the enemies around.

47 "Now when Saul had secured his grasp on Israel’s throne, he fought against his enemies in every direction—against Moab, Ammon, Edom, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines. And wherever he turned, he was victorious. 48 He performed great deeds and conquered the Amalekites, saving Israel from all those who had plundered them.

49 Saul’s sons included Jonathan, Ishbosheth, and Malkishua. He also had two daughters: Merab, who was older, and Michal. 50 Saul’s wife was Ahinoam, the daughter of Ahimaaz. The commander of Saul’s army was Abner, the son of Saul’s uncle Ner. 51 Saul’s father, Kish, and Abner’s father, Ner, were both sons of Abiel.

52 The Israelites fought constantly with the Philistines throughout Saul’s lifetime. So whenever Saul observed a young man who was brave and strong, he drafted him into his army."

A prosperous nation.

A wife and 5 kids.

What more could a man want?

Saul didn't seem to have a problem with money.

Didn't seem to have a problem with women.

Yet what happens next would define his life, his kingdom and his legacy...

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Chosen!

Saul is chosen.

He didn't seek to be king. God selected him and Samuel anointed him.

He was to be the first king of Israel.

1 Samuel 10:1 "Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it over Saul’s head. He kissed Saul and said, “I am doing this because the Lord has appointed you to be the ruler over Israel, his special possession. 2 When you leave me today, you will see two men beside Rachel’s tomb at Zelzah, on the border of Benjamin. They will tell you that the donkeys have been found and that your father has stopped worrying about them and is now worried about you. He is asking, ‘Have you seen my son?’

3 “When you get to the oak of Tabor, you will see three men coming toward you who are on their way to worship God at Bethel. One will be bringing three young goats, another will have three loaves of bread, and the third will be carrying a wineskin full of wine. 4 They will greet you and offer you two of the loaves, which you are to accept.

5 “When you arrive at Gibeah of God, where the garrison of the Philistines is located, you will meet a band of prophets coming down from the place of worship. They will be playing a harp, a tambourine, a flute, and a lyre, and they will be prophesying. 6 At that time the Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them. You will be changed into a different person. 7 After these signs take place, do what must be done, for God is with you. 8 Then go down to Gilgal ahead of me. I will join you there to sacrifice burnt offerings and peace offerings. You must wait for seven days until I arrive and give you further instructions.”

9 As Saul turned and started to leave, God gave him a new heart, and all Samuel’s signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When Saul and his servant arrived at Gibeah, they saw a group of prophets coming toward them. Then the Spirit of God came powerfully upon Saul, and he, too, began to prophesy. 11 When those who knew Saul heard about it, they exclaimed, “What? Is even Saul a prophet? How did the son of Kish become a prophet?”

12 And one of those standing there said, “Can anyone become a prophet, no matter who his father is?” So that is the origin of the saying “Is even Saul a prophet?”

13 When Saul had finished prophesying, he went up to the place of worship. 14 “Where have you been?” Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant.

“We were looking for the donkeys,” Saul replied, “but we couldn’t find them. So we went to Samuel to ask him where they were.”

15 “Oh? And what did he say?” his uncle asked.

16 “He told us that the donkeys had already been found,” Saul replied. But Saul didn’t tell his uncle what Samuel said about the kingdom.

17 Later Samuel called all the people of Israel to meet before the Lord at Mizpah. 18 And he said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, has declared: I brought you from Egypt and rescued you from the Egyptians and from all of the nations that were oppressing you. 19 But though I have rescued you from your misery and distress, you have rejected your God today and have said, ‘No, we want a king instead!’ Now, therefore, present yourselves before the Lord by tribes and clans.”

20 So Samuel brought all the tribes of Israel before the Lord, and the tribe of Benjamin was chosen by lot. 21 Then he brought each family of the tribe of Benjamin before the Lord, and the family of the Matrites was chosen. And finally Saul son of Kish was chosen from among them. But when they looked for him, he had disappeared! 22 So they asked the Lord, “Where is he?”

And the Lord replied, “He is hiding among the baggage.” 23 So they found him and brought him out, and he stood head and shoulders above anyone else.

24 Then Samuel said to all the people, “This is the man the Lord has chosen as your king. No one in all Israel is like him!”

And all the people shouted, “Long live the king!”

25 Then Samuel told the people what the rights and duties of a king were. He wrote them down on a scroll and placed it before the Lord. Then Samuel sent the people home again."

From lost son to king of Israel!

Quite a big couple of days for Saul, son of Kish!

Asses, Passes and the Big Beef


1 "There was a wealthy, influential man named Kish from the tribe of Benjamin. He was the son of Abiel, son of Zeror, son of Becorath, son of Aphiah, of the tribe of Benjamin. 2 His son Saul was the most handsome man in Israel—head and shoulders taller than anyone else in the land.

Asses

3 "One day Kish’s donkeys strayed away, and he told Saul, “Take a servant with you, and go look for the donkeys.” 4 So Saul took one of the servants and traveled through the hill country of Ephraim, the land of Shalishah, the Shaalim area, and the entire land of Benjamin, but they couldn’t find the donkeys anywhere.

5 Finally, they entered the region of Zuph, and Saul said to his servant, “Let’s go home. By now my father will be more worried about us than about the donkeys!”



Passes

6 "But the servant said, “I’ve just thought of something! There is a man of God who lives here in this town. He is held in high honor by all the people because everything he says comes true. Let’s go find him. Perhaps he can tell us which way to go.”

15 Now the Lord had told Samuel the previous day, 16 “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him to be the leader of my people, Israel. He will rescue them from the Philistines, for I have looked down on my people in mercy and have heard their cry.”

17 When Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said, “That’s the man I told you about! He will rule my people.”

18 Just then Saul approached Samuel at the gateway and asked, “Can you please tell me where the seer’s house is?”

19 “I am the seer!” Samuel replied. “Go up to the place of worship ahead of me. We will eat there together, and in the morning I’ll tell you what you want to know and send you on your way. 20 And don’t worry about those donkeys that were lost three days ago, for they have been found. And I am here to tell you that you and your family are the focus of all Israel’s hopes.”
21 Saul replied, “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe! Why are you talking like this to me?”

22 Then Samuel brought Saul and his servant into the hall and placed them at the head of the table, honoring them above the thirty special guests.

The Big Beef

23 "Samuel then instructed the cook to bring Saul the finest cut of meat, the piece that had been set aside for the guest of honor. 24 So the cook brought in the meat and placed it before Saul. “Go ahead and eat it,” Samuel said. “I was saving it for you even before I invited these others!” So Saul ate with Samuel that day.

25 When they came down from the place of worship and returned to town, Samuel took Saul up to the roof of the house and prepared a bed for him there. 26 At daybreak the next morning, Samuel called to Saul, “Get up! It’s time you were on your way.” So Saul got ready, and he and Samuel left the house together. 27 When they reached the edge of town, Samuel told Saul to send his servant on ahead. After the servant was gone, Samuel said, “Stay here, for I have received a special message for you from God.”

Good Person. Bad Father

Samuel was a good man.

He served faithfully all his life.

There is no story of a moral lapse, or deviation from his love of God and devotion to Him.

Yet here is a very sad little story.

1 Samuel 8:1 "As Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons to be judges over Israel. 2 Joel and Abijah, his oldest sons, held court in Beersheba. 3 But they were not like their father, for they were greedy for money. They accepted bribes and perverted justice."

Samuel's kids turned out to be the same as Eli's kids.

Was Eli the only famliy role model he had? Remember his family was very disfunctional. And he was not really raised by his parents. He was raised by Eli.

It was so bad the elders of the land have a meeting with the respected leader - Samuel.

4 "Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. 5 “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.”

There were two problems with this request. First, it was a clear blow against Samuel because of his failure with his kids.

Second, it was a blow against God, because He had said He would be their king.

6 "Samuel was displeased with their request and went to the Lord for guidance. 7 “Do everything they say to you,” the Lord replied, “for it is me they are rejecting, not you. They don’t want me to be their king any longer. 8 Ever since I brought them from Egypt they have continually abandoned me and followed other gods. And now they are giving you the same treatment. 9 Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will reign over them.”

God's answer is - let them go their self destructive way.

It will be the source of disaster and ruin, but they are determined. Let them go...

Samuel becomes Judge - Israel becomes Victorious

Samuel leads the people in obedience and repentance.

3 Then Samuel said to all the people of Israel, “If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the Lord; then he will rescue you from the Philistines.” 4 So the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth and worshiped only the Lord.

5 Then Samuel told them, “Gather all of Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 6 So they gathered at Mizpah and, in a great ceremony, drew water from a well and poured it out before the Lord. They also went without food all day and confessed that they had sinned against the Lord. (It was at Mizpah that Samuel became Israel’s judge.)

7 When the Philistine rulers heard that Israel had gathered at Mizpah, they mobilized their army and advanced. The Israelites were badly frightened when they learned that the Philistines were approaching. 8 “Don’t stop pleading with the Lord our God to save us from the Philistines!” they begged Samuel. 9 So Samuel took a young lamb and offered it to the Lord as a whole burnt offering. He pleaded with the Lord to help Israel, and the Lord answered him.

10 Just as Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines arrived to attack Israel. But the Lord spoke with a mighty voice of thunder from heaven that day, and the Philistines were thrown into such confusion that the Israelites defeated them. 11 The men of Israel chased them from Mizpah to a place below Beth-car, slaughtering them all along the way.

12 Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah.[f] He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!”

13 So the Philistines were subdued and didn’t invade Israel again for some time. And throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the Lord’s powerful hand was raised against the Philistines. 14 The Israelite villages near Ekron and Gath that the Philistines had captured were restored to Israel, along with the rest of the territory that the Philistines had taken. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites in those days.

15 Samuel continued as Israel’s judge for the rest of his life. 16 Each year he traveled around, setting up his court first at Bethel, then at Gilgal, and then at Mizpah. He judged the people of Israel at each of these places. 17 Then he would return to his home at Ramah, and he would hear cases there, too. And Samuel built an altar to the Lord at Ramah."

Samuel was teaching true heart repentance.

Not just the keeping of religious rituals and artefacts.

And God blessed the nation with victory and peace.
Restored relationship and wisdom.

Samuel becomes Judge - Israel becomes Victorious

Where is the Glory?


The Bible takes the time to tell of the demise of the old priest Eli.

The story ends with the birth of a baby boy. But he is named Ichabod - Where is the Glory?

12 "A man from the tribe of Benjamin ran from the battlefield and arrived at Shiloh later that same day. He had torn his clothes and put dust on his head to show his grief. 13 Eli was waiting beside the road to hear the news of the battle, for his heart trembled for the safety of the Ark of God. When the messenger arrived and told what had happened, an outcry resounded throughout the town.

14 “What is all the noise about?” Eli asked.

The messenger rushed over to Eli, 15 who was ninety-eight years old and blind. 16 He said to Eli, “I have just come from the battlefield—I was there this very day.”

“What happened, my son?” Eli demanded.

17 “Israel has been defeated by the Philistines,” the messenger replied. “The people have been slaughtered, and your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were also killed. And the Ark of God has been captured.”

18 When the messenger mentioned what had happened to the Ark of God, Eli fell backward from his seat beside the gate. He broke his neck and died, for he was old and overweight. He had been Israel’s judge for forty years.

19 Eli’s daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near her time of delivery. When she heard that the Ark of God had been captured and that her father-in-law and husband were dead, she went into labor and gave birth. 20 She died in childbirth, but before she passed away the midwives tried to encourage her. “Don’t be afraid,” they said. “You have a baby boy!” But she did not answer or pay attention to them.

21 She named the child Ichabod (which means “Where is the glory?”), for she said, “Israel’s glory is gone.” She named him this because the Ark of God had been captured and because her father-in-law and husband were dead. 22 Then she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the Ark of God has been captured.”

Ichabod - where is the glory?

“The glory has departed from Israel, for the Ark of God has been captured.”

Side Story - God Extinguishes the Hypocrites!

The main story is that the people of Israel were in a life and death battle with the Philistines.

The Ark of the Covenant was seen as a charm, a talisman, a protection to the Israelites. Not the meaning of the ark, not the teaching about God. No, the physical ark was now a good luck charm...

1 Samuel 4:1 "And Samuel’s words went out to all the people of Israel.

"At that time Israel was at war with the Philistines. The Israelite army was camped near Ebenezer, and the Philistines were at Aphek. 2 The Philistines attacked and defeated the army of Israel, killing 4,000 men. 3 After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?” Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it[a] will save us from our enemies.”

4 So they sent men to Shiloh to bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, who is enthroned between the cherubim. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, were also there with the Ark of the Covenant of God. 5 When all the Israelites saw the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord coming into the camp, their shout of joy was so loud it made the ground shake!

6 “What’s going on?” the Philistines asked. “What’s all the shouting about in the Hebrew camp?” When they were told it was because the Ark of the Lord had arrived, 7 they panicked. “The gods have[b] come into their camp!” they cried. “This is a disaster! We have never had to face anything like this before! 8 Help! Who can save us from these mighty gods of Israel? They are the same gods who destroyed the Egyptians with plagues when Israel was in the wilderness. 9 Fight as never before, Philistines! If you don’t, we will become the Hebrews’ slaves just as they have been ours! Stand up like men and fight!”

10 So the Philistines fought desperately, and Israel was defeated again. The slaughter was great; 30,000 Israelite soldiers died that day. The survivors turned and fled to their tents. 11 The Ark of God was captured, and Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were killed."

The side story was - God extinguished the two sons of Eli. They were openly bringing shame and contempt on the name and teaching of God.

He had had enough.

Poof!

They were gone...

Samuel Hears From God

God wasn't talking to old Eli the priest.

God CERTAINLY wasn't talking to the sons of Eli!

In the temple was this sweet young boy Samuel. He was innocent and eager, open to God's voice and will.

1 Samuel 3:1 "Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.

2 One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, had gone to bed. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. 4 Suddenly the Lord called out, “Samuel!”

“Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?” 5 He got up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”

“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So he did.

6 Then the Lord called out again, “Samuel!”

Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”

“I didn’t call you, my son,” Eli said. “Go back to bed.”

7 Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before. 8 So the Lord called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?”

Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. 9 So he said to Samuel, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went back to bed.

10 And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!”

And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”

11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “I am about to do a shocking thing in Israel. 12 I am going to carry out all my threats against Eli and his family, from beginning to end. 13 I have warned him that judgment is coming upon his family forever, because his sons are blaspheming God and he hasn’t disciplined them. 14 So I have vowed that the sins of Eli and his sons will never be forgiven by sacrifices or offerings.”

15 Samuel stayed in bed until morning, then got up and opened the doors of the Tabernacle[y] as usual. He was afraid to tell Eli what the Lord had said to him. 16 But Eli called out to him, “Samuel, my son.”

“Here I am,” Samuel replied.

17 “What did the Lord say to you? Tell me everything. And may God strike you and even kill you if you hide anything from me!” 18 So Samuel told Eli everything; he didn’t hold anything back. “It is the Lord’s will,” Eli replied. “Let him do what he thinks best.”

19 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable. 20 And all Israel, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh and gave messages to Samuel there at the Tabernacle."

Samuel heard from God.

The very first message was a tough one!

Samuel delivered God's message throughout his life, with accuracy and faithfullness...

Sex Scandals and Religious Hypocrisy!


12 "Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels who had no respect for the Lord 13 or for their duties as priests.

22 "Now Eli was very old, but he was aware of what his sons were doing to the people of Israel. He knew, for instance, that his sons were seducing the young women who assisted at the entrance of the Tabernacle.[p] 23 Eli said to them, “I have been hearing reports from all the people about the wicked things you are doing. Why do you keep sinning? 24 You must stop, my sons! The reports I hear among the Lord’s people are not good. 25 If someone sins against another person, God can mediate for the guilty party. But if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede?” But Eli’s sons wouldn’t listen to their father, for the Lord was already planning to put them to death."

"Whenever anyone offered a sacrifice, Eli’s sons would send over a servant with a three-pronged fork. While the meat of the sacrificed animal was still boiling, 14 the servant would stick the fork into the pot and demand that whatever it brought up be given to Eli’s sons. All the Israelites who came to worship at Shiloh were treated this way. 15 Sometimes the servant would come even before the animal’s fat had been burned on the altar. He would demand raw meat before it had been boiled so that it could be used for roasting."

16 The man offering the sacrifice might reply, “Take as much as you want, but the fat must be burned first.” Then the servant would demand, “No, give it to me now, or I’ll take it by force.” 17 So the sin of these young men was very serious in the Lord’s sight, for they treated the Lord’s offerings with contempt."

In the middle of this cynical contempt for all things holy, was this sweet little boy, growing up in the middle of religious corruption.

18 "But Samuel, though he was only a boy, served the Lord. He wore a linen garment like that of a priest.[n] 19 Each year his mother made a small coat for him and brought it to him when she came with her husband for the sacrifice. 20 Before they returned home, Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife and say, “May the Lord give you other children to take the place of this one she gave to the Lord.[o]” 21 And the Lord gave Hannah three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

26 Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew taller and grew in favor with the Lord and with the people."

How did Samuel not get corrupted?

Godly mom. An old priest who had walked with God, at least at one time.

God's grace.

An oasis of innocence in a sea of impurity...

A baby boy - and a song of joy

Hannah's prayer was answered.

19 The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the Lord once more. Then they returned home to Ramah. When Elkanah slept with Hannah, the Lord remembered her plea, 20 and in due time she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel,[f] for she said, “I asked the Lord for him.”

21 The next year Elkanah and his family went on their annual trip to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. 22 But Hannah did not go. She told her husband, “Wait until the boy is weaned. Then I will take him to the Tabernacle and leave him there with the Lord permanently.[g]”

23 “Whatever you think is best,” Elkanah agreed. “Stay here for now, and may the Lord help you keep your promise.” So she stayed home and nursed the boy until he was weaned."

Hannah kept her promise to God.

24 "When the child was weaned, Hannah took him to the Tabernacle in Shiloh. They brought along a three-year-old bull[h] for the sacrifice and a basket[i] of flour and some wine. 25 After sacrificing the bull, they brought the boy to Eli. 26 “Sir, do you remember me?” Hannah asked. “I am the woman who stood here several years ago praying to the Lord. 27 I asked the Lord to give me this boy, and he has granted my request. 28 Now I am giving him to the Lord, and he will belong to the Lord his whole life.” And they[j] worshiped the Lord there."

1 Samuel 2:1 "Then Hannah prayed:

“My heart rejoices in the Lord!
The Lord has made me strong.[k]
Now I have an answer for my enemies;
I rejoice because you rescued me.

2 No one is holy like the Lord!
There is no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.

3 “Stop acting so proud and haughty!
Don’t speak with such arrogance!
For the Lord is a God who knows what you have done;
he will judge your actions.

4 The bow of the mighty is now broken,
and those who stumbled are now strong.
5 Those who were well fed are now starving,
and those who were starving are now full.
The childless woman now has seven children,
and the woman with many children wastes away.

6 The Lord gives both death and life;
he brings some down to the grave[l] but raises others up.
7 The Lord makes some poor and others rich;
he brings some down and lifts others up.

8 He lifts the poor from the dust
and the needy from the garbage dump.
He sets them among princes,
placing them in seats of honor.
For all the earth is the Lord’s,
and he has set the world in order.

9 “He will protect his faithful ones,
but the wicked will disappear in darkness.
No one will succeed by strength alone.

10 Those who fight against the Lord will be shattered.
He thunders against them from heaven;
the Lord judges throughout the earth.
He gives power to his king;
he increases the strength[m] of his anointed one.”

11 Then Elkanah returned home to Ramah without Samuel. And the boy served the Lord by assisting Eli the priest."

From deep anguish of spirit - to great joy!

A Weeping Woman


The religious life of this family continued unabated.

They continued to go to the temple for their sacrifices. Hannah is in bitterness of spirit, and pours our her soul to God.

9 "Once after a sacrificial meal at Shiloh, Hannah got up and went to pray. Eli the priest was sitting at his customary place beside the entrance of the Tabernacle.[d] 10 Hannah was in deep anguish, crying bitterly as she prayed to the Lord. 11 And she made this vow: “O Lord of Heaven’s Armies, if you will look upon my sorrow and answer my prayer and give me a son, then I will give him back to you. He will be yours for his entire lifetime, and as a sign that he has been dedicated to the Lord, his hair will never be cut.”

Of course, man always looks at the outward appearances. To the priest, this woman seemed out of control, and derelict. He decides he needs to impose some order here...

12 "As she was praying to the Lord, Eli watched her. 13 Seeing her lips moving but hearing no sound, he thought she had been drinking. 14 “Must you come here drunk?” he demanded. “Throw away your wine!”

15 “Oh no, sir!” she replied. “I haven’t been drinking wine or anything stronger. But I am very discouraged, and I was pouring out my heart to the Lord. 16 Don’t think I am a wicked woman! For I have been praying out of great anguish and sorrow.”

To his credit, Eli does an about face...

17 “In that case,” Eli said, “go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”

18 “Oh, thank you, sir!” she exclaimed. Then she went back and began to eat again, and she was no longer sad."

Out of that deep anguish, her prayer is heard, and her life takes a turn for the better.

The Tortured Life


Some people carry around a burden that is unbearable.

We saw a program the other day of a girl whose mother had forced her to help in the murder of one of the many men who came in and out of their families life. The girl carried the horrible secret into middle age, when she couldn't bear it any more, and it all came out.

Today's story is about a woman with a terrible burden.

She was a second wife.

And the other wife had children, but she did not.

1 Samuel 1:1 "There was a man named Elkanah who lived in Ramah in the region of Zuph[a] in the hill country of Ephraim. He was the son of Jeroham, son of Elihu, son of Tohu, son of Zuph, of Ephraim. 2 Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not."

Year after year she was mistreated and mocked. It was a burden she could not carry.

"3 Each year Elkanah would travel to Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of Heaven’s Armies at the Tabernacle. The priests of the Lord at that time were the two sons of Eli—Hophni and Phinehas. 4 On the days Elkanah presented his sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to Peninnah and each of her children. 5 And though he loved Hannah, he would give her only one choice portion[b] because the Lord had given her no children. 6 So Peninnah would taunt Hannah and make fun of her because the Lord had kept her from having children. 7 Year after year it was the same—Peninnah would taunt Hannah as they went to the Tabernacle.[c] Each time, Hannah would be reduced to tears and would not even eat."

Like men down through the ages, her tears made him very nervous and distraught.
Like men down through the ages, he offered "man logic" and was befuddled when it didn't seem to help...

8 “Why are you crying, Hannah?” Elkanah would ask. “Why aren’t you eating? Why be downhearted just because you have no children? You have me—isn’t that better than having ten sons?”

This was, indeed, a broken family.

Two wives. The wives at each other's throats.

The husband powerless to solve the situation (that he had created)

Hannah was living a tortured life...

Monday, April 12, 2010

And They Lived Happily Ever After!

Ruth says to Boaz, "I've seen how you look at me!"
Then she says, "If you want me, you can have me..."
Boaz says "Yeah"
Then he says "Yay!"
And they lived happily ever after...

Ruth 4:1 "Boaz went to the town gate and took a seat there. Just then the family redeemer he had mentioned came by, so Boaz called out to him, “Come over here and sit down, friend. I want to talk to you.” So they sat down together. 2 Then Boaz called ten leaders from the town and asked them to sit as witnesses. 3 And Boaz said to the family redeemer, “You know Naomi, who came back from Moab. She is selling the land that belonged to our relative Elimelech. 4 I thought I should speak to you about it so that you can redeem it if you wish. If you want the land, then buy it here in the presence of these witnesses. But if you don’t want it, let me know right away, because I am next in line to redeem it after you.”

The man replied, “All right, I’ll redeem it.”

5 Then Boaz told him, “Of course, your purchase of the land from Naomi also requires that you marry Ruth, the Moabite widow. That way she can have children who will carry on her husband’s name and keep the land in the family.”

6 “Then I can’t redeem it,” the family redeemer replied, “because this might endanger my own estate. You redeem the land; I cannot do it.”

7 Now in those days it was the custom in Israel for anyone transferring a right of purchase to remove his sandal and hand it to the other party. This publicly validated the transaction. 8 So the other family redeemer drew off his sandal as he said to Boaz, “You buy the land.”

9 Then Boaz said to the elders and to the crowd standing around, “You are witnesses that today I have bought from Naomi all the property of Elimelech, Kilion, and Mahlon. 10 And with the land I have acquired Ruth, the Moabite widow of Mahlon, to be my wife. This way she can have a son to carry on the family name of her dead husband and to inherit the family property here in his hometown. You are all witnesses today.”

11 Then the elders and all the people standing in the gate replied, “We are witnesses! May the Lord make this woman who is coming into your home like Rachel and Leah, from whom all the nation of Israel descended! May you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. 12 And may the Lord give you descendants by this young woman who will be like those of our ancestor Perez, the son of Tamar and Judah.”

13 So Boaz took Ruth into his home, and she became his wife. When he slept with her, the Lord enabled her to become pregnant, and she gave birth to a son. 14 Then the women of the town said to Naomi, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. 15 May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!”

16 Naomi took the baby and cuddled him to her breast. And she cared for him as if he were her own. 17 The neighbor women said, “Now at last Naomi has a son again!” And they named him Obed. He became the father of Jesse and the grandfather of David."

The point of this beautiful little love story?

Jesus came from the line of Boaz and Ruth...

And They Lived Happily Ever After!

Feminine conniving and charm - Boaz tumbles

The old lady Naomi with her wiles, and the young woman Ruth with her charms.

Quite a formidable combination.

Boaz was no match...

Ruth 3:1 "One day Naomi said to Ruth, “My daughter, it’s time that I found a permanent home for you, so that you will be provided for. 2 Boaz is a close relative of ours, and he’s been very kind by letting you gather grain with his young women. Tonight he will be winnowing barley at the threshing floor. 3 Now do as I tell you—take a bath and put on perfume and dress in your nicest clothes. Then go to the threshing floor, but don’t let Boaz see you until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 Be sure to notice where he lies down; then go and uncover his feet and lie down there. He will tell you what to do.”

Did you notice the instructions? Bath. Perfume. Nicest clothes? Hmmmm... something's up.

5 “I will do everything you say,” Ruth replied. 6 So she went down to the threshing floor that night and followed the instructions of her mother-in-law.

7 After Boaz had finished eating and drinking and was in good spirits, he lay down at the far end of the pile of grain and went to sleep. Then Ruth came quietly, uncovered his feet, and lay down. 8 Around midnight Boaz suddenly woke up and turned over. He was surprised to find a woman lying at his feet! 9 “Who are you?” he asked.

“I am your servant Ruth,” she replied. “Spread the corner of your covering over me, for you are my family redeemer.”

10 “The Lord bless you, my daughter!” Boaz exclaimed. “You are showing even more family loyalty now than you did before, for you have not gone after a younger man, whether rich or poor. 11 Now don’t worry about a thing, my daughter. I will do what is necessary, for everyone in town knows you are a virtuous woman. 12 But while it’s true that I am one of your family redeemers, there is another man who is more closely related to you than I am. 13 Stay here tonight, and in the morning I will talk to him. If he is willing to redeem you, very well. Let him marry you. But if he is not willing, then as surely as the Lord lives, I will redeem you myself! Now lie down here until morning.”

Have you ever heard the expression, "Throwing yourself at someone's feet"? That was certainly the case here.

Was Boaz disturbed?

No-o-o-o-o-o way!

14 So Ruth lay at Boaz’s feet until the morning, but she got up before it was light enough for people to recognize each other. For Boaz had said, “No one must know that a woman was here at the threshing floor.” 15 Then Boaz said to her, “Bring your cloak and spread it out.” He measured six scoops[f] of barley into the cloak and placed it on her back. Then he[g] returned to the town.

16 When Ruth went back to her mother-in-law, Naomi asked, “What happened, my daughter?”

Ruth told Naomi everything Boaz had done for her, 17 and she added, “He gave me these six scoops of barley and said, ‘Don’t go back to your mother-in-law empty-handed.’”

18 Then Naomi said to her, “Just be patient, my daughter, until we hear what happens. The man won’t rest until he has settled things today.”

The tree has been cut. Can you hear the groaning as it starts to topple over?

T-I-M-B-E-RRRRRRR!!!!!

Ruth Stands Out

Old woman Naomi and her beautiful daughter in law take up residence in Naomi's village again.

The rules of the land that God has established favor the poor and the widow, so there is no one uncared for in the land. Energetic and vigorous Ruth goes out to harvest the modest amount of grain needed for her and her mom to survive.

She stands out. Of all the poor people following the harvest workers, Boaz, the field owner asks about her. Was she very beautiful? Did she have a bearing that was unusual for poor people? Was she industrious to a degree that she stood out? Was it all of the above? The story doesn't say...

Ruth 2:1 "Now there was a wealthy and influential man in Bethlehem named Boaz, who was a relative of Naomi’s husband, Elimelech.

2 One day Ruth the Moabite said to Naomi, “Let me go out into the harvest fields to pick up the stalks of grain left behind by anyone who is kind enough to let me do it.”

Naomi replied, “All right, my daughter, go ahead.” 3 So Ruth went out to gather grain behind the harvesters. And as it happened, she found herself working in a field that belonged to Boaz, the relative of her father-in-law, Elimelech.

4 While she was there, Boaz arrived from Bethlehem and greeted the harvesters. “The Lord be with you!” he said.

“The Lord bless you!” the harvesters replied.

5 Then Boaz asked his foreman, “Who is that young woman over there? Who does she belong to?”

6 And the foreman replied, “She is the young woman from Moab who came back with Naomi. 7 She asked me this morning if she could gather grain behind the harvesters. She has been hard at work ever since, except for a few minutes’ rest in the shelter.”

8 Boaz went over and said to Ruth, “Listen, my daughter. Stay right here with us when you gather grain; don’t go to any other fields. Stay right behind the young women working in my field. 9 See which part of the field they are harvesting, and then follow them. I have warned the young men not to treat you roughly. And when you are thirsty, help yourself to the water they have drawn from the well.”

10 Ruth fell at his feet and thanked him warmly. “What have I done to deserve such kindness?” she asked. “I am only a foreigner.”

11 “Yes, I know,” Boaz replied. “But I also know about everything you have done for your mother-in-law since the death of your husband. I have heard how you left your father and mother and your own land to live here among complete strangers. 12 May the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge, reward you fully for what you have done.”

13 “I hope I continue to please you, sir,” she replied. “You have comforted me by speaking so kindly to me, even though I am not one of your workers.”

14 At mealtime Boaz called to her, “Come over here, and help yourself to some food. You can dip your bread in the sour wine.” So she sat with his harvesters, and Boaz gave her some roasted grain to eat. She ate all she wanted and still had some left over.

15 When Ruth went back to work again, Boaz ordered his young men, “Let her gather grain right among the sheaves without stopping her. 16 And pull out some heads of barley from the bundles and drop them on purpose for her. Let her pick them up, and don’t give her a hard time!”

17 So Ruth gathered barley there all day, and when she beat out the grain that evening, it filled an entire basket.[c] 18 She carried it back into town and showed it to her mother-in-law. Ruth also gave her the roasted grain that was left over from her meal.

19 “Where did you gather all this grain today?” Naomi asked. “Where did you work? May the Lord bless the one who helped you!”

So Ruth told her mother-in-law about the man in whose field she had worked. She said, “The man I worked with today is named Boaz.”

20 “May the Lord bless him!” Naomi told her daughter-in-law. “He is showing his kindness to us as well as to your dead husband.[d] That man is one of our closest relatives, one of our family redeemers.”

21 Then Ruth[e] said, “What’s more, Boaz even told me to come back and stay with his harvesters until the entire harvest is completed.”

22 “Good!” Naomi exclaimed. “Do as he said, my daughter. Stay with his young women right through the whole harvest. You might be harassed in other fields, but you’ll be safe with him.”

23 So Ruth worked alongside the women in Boaz’s fields and gathered grain with them until the end of the barley harvest. Then she continued working with them through the wheat harvest in early summer. And all the while she lived with her mother-in-law."

Ruth clearly impressed Boaz! His admiration is about to take a turn for the better...

Ruth

In the middle of tragedy, there is a love story.

The book is called Ruth.

The real story is about Ruth.

We don't know about her parents or her family. She married Naomi's boy.

3 "Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. 4 The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband.

6 Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland. 7 With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.

8 But on the way, Naomi said to her two daughters-in-law, “Go back to your mothers’ homes. And may the Lord reward you for your kindness to your husbands and to me. 9 May the Lord bless you with the security of another marriage.” Then she kissed them good-bye, and they all broke down and wept.

10 “No,” they said. “We want to go with you to your people.”

11 But Naomi replied, “Why should you go on with me? Can I still give birth to other sons who could grow up to be your husbands? 12 No, my daughters, return to your parents’ homes, for I am too old to marry again. And even if it were possible, and I were to get married tonight and bear sons, then what? 13 Would you wait for them to grow up and refuse to marry someone else? No, of course not, my daughters! Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the Lord himself has raised his fist against me.”

14 And again they wept together, and Orpah kissed her mother-in-law good-bye. But Ruth clung tightly to Naomi. 15 “Look,” Naomi said to her, “your sister-in-law has gone back to her people and to her gods. You should do the same.”

16 But Ruth replied, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God. 17 Wherever you die, I will die, and there I will be buried. May the Lord punish me severely if I allow anything but death to separate us!” 18 When Naomi saw that Ruth was determined to go with her, she said nothing more.

19 So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival."

Ruth loved her husband.

She loved her mother in law.

She clearly loved the God of the Hebrews, Jehovah God, the creator of the universe who was a God of love and compassion.

In the midst of tragedy - a love story!

Bitter!


Sometimes the bad old days seem like good old days by comparison.


Naomi had left Judah, her homeland, because there was a famine and they were starving. Times were bad. So they left and went to Moab.

Little did they know that times would get better for a while, then even worse than they were before.

3 "Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons. 4 The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion died. This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband."

Ten years go by. Did they flourish? They obviously survived. But then her husband dies and her one son dies and her other son dies. She is not only 10 years older, but her future looks considerably worse.

6 "Then Naomi heard in Moab that the Lord had blessed his people in Judah by giving them good crops again. So Naomi and her daughters-in-law got ready to leave Moab to return to her homeland. 7 With her two daughters-in-law she set out from the place where she had been living, and they took the road that would lead them back to Judah.

19 So the two of them continued on their journey. When they came to Bethlehem, the entire town was excited by their arrival. “Is it really Naomi?” the women asked."
 
She's back with her people. Back to her roots. It feels so good to be in her home town. With old, old friends. But she is not in a mood to celebrate.

20 “Don’t call me Naomi,” she responded. “Instead, call me Mara,[a] for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. 21 I went away full, but the Lord has brought me home empty. Why call me Naomi when the Lord has caused me to suffer[b] and the Almighty has sent such tragedy upon me?”

I am bitter. Call me bitter.

I am old. I am poor. I have no husband. No sons.

Don't call me Naomi.

Call me bitter...

Sunday, April 11, 2010

If it weren’t for bad news, there’d be no news at all.

If it weren’t for bad news, there’d be no news at all.
That is the name of an old Country and Western song.
It could have been written by Naomi...

Ruth 1:1 "In the days when the judges ruled in Israel, a severe famine came upon the land."

The book starts with bad news. Really bad news. Sort of like where we are today in our country...

"So a man from Bethlehem in Judah left his home and went to live in the country of Moab, taking his wife and two sons with him. 2 The man’s name was Elimelech, and his wife was Naomi. Their two sons were Mahlon and Kilion. They were Ephrathites from Bethlehem in the land of Judah. And when they reached Moab, they settled there.

3 Then Elimelech died, and Naomi was left with her two sons"

The bad news gets worse. Where is God in all of this? These folks were sincere believers. Did God not care?

4 "The two sons married Moabite women. One married a woman named Orpah, and the other a woman named Ruth. But about ten years later, 5 both Mahlon and Kilion died."

So the bad news got even worse.

"This left Naomi alone, without her two sons or her husband."

She started the story with bad economic news. Then her husband dies. Then her two sons die.

If it weren’t for bad news, there’d be no news at all.

Do you ever feel that way?