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Category Archives: 1 Samuel

Solomon — 1 Kings 11:41-12:4

The rest of the events in Solomon’s reign, including all his deeds and his wisdom, are recorded in The Book of the Acts of Solomon. Solomon ruled in Jerusalem over all Israel for forty years. When he died, he was buried in the City of David, named for his father. Then his son Rehoboam became the next king. Rehoboam went to Shechem, where all Israel had gathered to make him king. When Jeroboam son of Nebat heard of this, he returned from Egypt, for he had fled to Egypt to escape from King Solomon. The leaders of Israel summoned him, and Jeroboam and the whole assembly of Israel went to speak with Rehoboam. “Your father was a hard master,” they said. “Lighten the harsh labor demands and heavy taxes that your father imposed on us. Then we will be your loyal subjects.”
1 Kings 11:41-12:4

Dear God, I’m going to wrap up the 1 Kings telling of Solomon’s story by looking again at this initial exchange between Israel’s leaders and Rehoboam. Apparently, by the end of Solomon’s reign we know there were two pretty distinctly negative things about him:

  1. He worshiped other gods because of his many, many wives.
    He was a harsh king that gave people harsh labor and high taxes.

It takes me back to 1 Samuel 8 when Samuel warned the people who were then the leaders of Israel:

“This is how a king will reign over you,” Samuel said. “The king will draft your sons and assign them to his chariots and his charioteers, making them run before his chariots. Some will be generals and captains in his army, some will be forced to plow in his fields and harvest his crops, and some will make his weapons and chariot equipment. The king will take your daughters from you and force them to cook and bake and make perfumes for him. He will take away the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his own officials. He will take a tenth of your grain and your grape harvest and distribute it among his officers and attendants. He will take your male and female slaves and demand the finest of your cattle and donkeys for his own use. He will demand a tenth of your flocks, and you will be his slaves. When that day comes, you will beg for relief from this king you are demanding, but then the Lord will not help you.”
1 Samuel 8:11-18

I’ve mused in these journals what Israel (and David) would have looked like if David had been a judge and not a king. I think David’s life would have played out completely differently. Even if he had been more of a warrior judge like Joshua instead of a spiritual leader judge, he still would have lived a much different life. But I suppose that any of us that make ourselves king, whether it be in reality or figuratively in our own minds or families, will end up needing people to rule over. That can include a spouse or children. But if we can keep thinking of ourselves as your servants and the servants of those whom you called us to love, them we have a chance at being more useful to you and getting more done in the long run.

Father, help me to be exactly who you need me to be for those around me. Use my life to draw others’ hearts to you. Increase through me and help me to decrease. Do it all for your glory and so that you are worshipped.

In Jesus’s name I pray,

Amen

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Posted by on August 22, 2019 in 1 Kings, 1 Samuel, Solomon

 

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Hannah and Peninnah (and Elkanah) – 1 Samuel 1:1-8

[Photo from Revealed: A Storybook Bible for Grown-Ups By Ned Bustard. The artist is Erin Cross]

1 Samuel 1:1-8 NIV
[1] There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. [2] He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. [3] Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. [4] Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. [5] But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb. [6] Because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb, her rival kept provoking her in order to irritate her. [7] This went on year after year. Whenever Hannah went up to the house of the Lord, her rival provoked her till she wept and would not eat. [8] Her husband Elkanah would say to her, “Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don’t you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?”

Dear God, the first time I journaled on this story, I remember journaling about Elkanah’s ignorance of how women feel and how important things like this are. His question, “Don’t I mean more to you than ten sons?” is absolutely foolish, but he really just didn’t know any better.

But the artist for this story is giving me something else. There is a focus on the meanness and vindictiveness of Peninnah that I’ve never spent much time with. And it’s interesting that I just used the word “vindictiveness.” Why did I use that word? Why does that word fit this story?

It is easy to make Peninnah the villain in this story, but in a lot of ways, as I sit here and think about it, she was really set up for failure. Was her attitude towards Hannah really that different than Sarah’s towards Hagar? Or probably Hagar towards Sarah for that matter. Marriage to multiple wives must have created some terrible dynamics. In this case:

  • Elkanah felt bad for Hannah so he gave her extra portions. Hannah was also probably more available to him because she didn’t have any kids impeding her life, so that might have helped her to be a favorite to Elkanah as well. Then there is Elkanah’s obvious need to be appreciated, as is evidenced by his last question.
  • Peninnah had the children, but she didn’t have Elkanah’s favor. And he apparently made that clear. The artist shows this with Peninnah holding the children while Elkanah holds a despondent Hannah.
  • Then there is Hannah. In a time when worth for women was measured by an ability to have children, she had no worth in society’s eyes (but she still had at least one thing in Peninnah’s eyes that Peninnah didn’t have), and Peninnah used Hannah’s weakness to get a little revenge for the pain she felt. Elkanah could not be everything Hannah needed.
  • In my own life, I see rivalries among coworkers, children, siblings…in fact, they are all around me. We all look for some sort of validation that affirms our place in the world, but rarely do we just look to you for that.
  • I used to think I could be everything my wife needed and I thought that she could be everything that I needed. I entered marriage in a very needy way, and it was oppressive to my wife. She could never meet all of my insecure needs. Then I started to figure out (I’m still learning) how to tap into you and derive my peace and joy from you. What would it have looked like if Peninnah and Hannah had been able to do the same? How much better will I be when I have completely learned to dive into you?
  • Father, help me to be sensitive to the motivations of others. When I see someone acting like Peninnah, help be to see the reason for their vindictiveness and not just assume they are evil and mean. Show me how I might take that knowledge and use it to be your minister to them and heal the hurts that are down deep. And help me to also examine my own heart when I find myself wanting to lash out. Show me the hurt that needs addressed and then help me to take that hurt, give it to you for your complete healing, and then strike back in love.
  • In Jesus’ name I pray,
  • Amen
  •  

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    Psalm 119:1-8

    Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord. Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths. You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully. Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees! Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands. As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should! I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!

    Psalm 119:1-8

    Dear God, when I read this passage this morning it made me think of the verse that says to obey is better than to sacrifice. I looked it up and it turns out that those words are the ones Samuel spoke to Saul when God rejected Saul as king for doing a sacrifice at the wrong time without Samuel. All of these things are said under the “old covenant,” before Jesus earthly life, but it doesn’t make their words and message any less true now.

    I just did a little search because it seems like Jesus references this passage somewhere in the Gospels, but I didn’t find it. I did find Proverbs 21:3. It’s a pretty common message, and it makes sense.

    Father, thank you for Jesus’ sacrifice. It makes it possible for me to even be here this morning, talking to you. But help me to simply obey. It is for my own good anyway. Help me to obey you. Help me to glorify you. Help me to decrease as you increase through me. I love you and need you.

    In Jesus’ name I pray,

    Amen

     
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    Posted by on July 18, 2018 in 1 Samuel, Proverbs, Psalms

     

    Psalm 19:1-4 & 1 Samuel 8

    The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world. God has made a home in the heavens for the sun.

    Psalm 19:1-4

    Dear God, if the Israelites has done it right back in 1 Samuel 8, who would David have become? I know it doesn’t matter because that’s not what happened, but I’ve recently wondered if he might have been the next Judge after Samuel. Everything about his relationship with you, his prophetic ability, and his concern for others suggests he might have been.

    And if he had been Judge instead of King, what would his life have been like? He would probably have had a different married life and different children. His life would have been simpler and probably better in a lot of ways. To some extent, I think the power did corrupt David. It certainly corrupted his lineage.

    The thing we all strive for—power and wealth—really is a false idol. Instead of peace it offers paranoia. It’s like giving a cola to a thirsty person at first or tastes great, but it only leaves you thirstier. What percentage of Americans are on antidepressants as opposed to those who live in South America? Shouldn’t one of the wealthiest countries in the world have the happiest people?

    Father, I think of David writing the worshipful psalm and I can’t help but wonder what might have been. I’ve never wondered that before the last few days, but the more I think about it the more I’d love to know. You warned the Israelites about what a king would do to them, but you left out the part about what being king would do to the person. Help me to take my eyes off of worldly idols and simply embrace the beauty of the sky and all that you have made above and below it.

    In Jesus’ name I pray,

    Amen

     
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    Posted by on June 12, 2018 in 1 Samuel, Psalms

     

    1 Samuel 3:10

    And the Lord came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”

    1 Samuel 3:10

    Dear God, sometimes it can be hard to hear your voice. Or better said, it can be easy to miss your voice. All I know to say is that I hope your plan for my life is foolproof because there are times when I feel very foolish and like I am just barreling through situations without remembering to slow down and seek your counsel.

    I remember reading something years ago when I was in a particular phase of stepping out in faith to do something that seemed foolish on its surface. It was a guy who talked about quitting his job because he knew he had heard from you that it was time. His comment was, “When you have that certainty you are in the middle of God’s will for your life, you get to a point where you don’t even want to cross the street unless you’re sure that’s what God wants you to do.”

    Father, it can be hard to REALLY know what your will is, but when I find it I am so grateful to be there. Help me to hear your voice at any given time and to have the wherewithal to respond. Do it for your glory’s sake. Help me to decrease as you increase. Help me to find the peace and joy you have for me.

    In Jesus’ name I pray,

    Amen

     
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    Posted by on February 13, 2018 in 1 Samuel