1 Samuel 4-8
This section begins with Israel going out to battle with the Philistines. They lose the first battle, and then try to use the ark of the Lord to ensure their victory the next time, but they lose again! And worse, the ark is captured! When Eli hears the news about his sons dying and the ark being captured he falls and breaks his neck and dies.
Then God gets to work – he systematically destroys the Philistines from the inside. The Philistines thought they were gaining an asset by stealing the ark, but little did they know it would lead to their demise! First, God makes the Philistine god Dagon bow in worship to him, then he strikes the Philistines with a tumorous disease. The Philistines decide they’ve had enough and desperately try to return the ark by yoking it to two milk cows and sending them in the direction of Israel, along with a guilt offering of five golden tumors and five golden mice.
The cows bring the ark to Beth-shemesh (which means house of the sun, very far from New Orleans though). It is the ruin of many a poor boy, however, as 70 men are struck down just for looking at the ark! What a holy and powerful God.
Israel seems to repent of their idolatry and promises to serve the one true God alone, and set aside their Baals and Ashtaroths, then Israel fights the Philistines again. Third time is the charm, the Lord “thunders with a mighty sound” which causes the Philistines to be thrown into confusion, allowing them to be defeated by Israel.
There follows a time of peace, and Samuel makes his sons judges over Israel. They are terrible though, and shortly afterward the elders of Israel beg Samuel to appoint a king for them. Samuel warns them it won’t turn out well for them, but they insist.
“But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, ‘No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.'”
1 Samuel 8:19-20
This verse struck me because God had just proven to the Israelites that he was more than capable of fighting their battles for them. God had also called Israel to be holy, that is, “set apart” from the nations around them, and now they want a king so they can be just like them!
How does what you read change your vision of God?
This passage shows me how patient God was with Israel and how patient he still is with us today! Even after he proves himself time and time again, we will still fall short, fail to see the bigger picture, and make foolish decisions, but God never abandons us. He even sometimes gives us what we want (in the moment) so that we can realize what we actually need!
How does what you read change your vision of yourself or others?
This passage caused me to reflect on my motivations for things. If I want something, is it because it will glorify God and bring me closer to him, or is it because I want to be like others around me? Or, am I looking for something to provide what God has promised to provide for me?
How will you Go With God because of this reading? (What is an action step?)
I want to think more about my motivation when making decisions, and make a conscious effort to pursue God with my whole heart!
Where did you see Jesus in these chapters? (What made you think about Jesus?)
I saw Jesus in this passage when God defeated the Philistines on behalf of Israel. This reminds me of how Jesus defeated sin on our behalf on the cross!