Fellowship is an essential part of the Christian life. It is a joy to come together with other believers who love Jesus as much as we do. Recently, I found one such group on Facebook: Titus Women’s Gathering. It is a lovely group of women devoted to serving God and His people. In an effort to help each other read, understand, and be able to discuss the Bible better, group administrators facilitate the ministry “Revel in His Word.” In it, a few different bloggers talk through chapters of the Bible and then members can discuss in the comments, supporting each other in understanding and application. This is where I will place my contributions and links to other bloggers’ pieces.
Start at the bottom to read blogs starting with 1 Samuel 1. Feel free to comment here, visit other links, and share as you feel led. Thank you for joining us!
Blogging Through the Bible 2 Kings 9-10
2 Kings 9
Have Oil, Will Travel
The chapter begins with Elisha calling for the sons of the prophets and giving one a flask of oil. He is to go to Ramoth Gilead and anoint Jehu king of Israel – and then run away.
When he gets there, he locates the commander and calls him out.
“Thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘I have anointed you king over the people of the Lord, over Israel. You shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel…’”2 Kings 9 6-7
Jehu doesn’t seem impressed. When some servants ask him what the “madman” wanted, Jehu is like, “Oh, you know the guy is always babbling about something.” When pressed, he admits that he was anointed king, and immediately somebody blows a trumpet and shouts, “Jehu is king!” Trumpets were serious business back then.
A Plan to Take the Throne
Nice proclamation and all, but the one little problem standing in his way is the current king, Joram. The poor guy is recovering from wounds from the last battle with Syria when Jehu and his men pull up in Jezreel. A watchman shouts that they are there, and King Joram sends a horseman to gauge the situation.
“Is it peace?” the messenger asks. Jehu replies with a cryptic, “What have you to do with peace? Turn around and follow me.” Now your guess is as good as mine what that actually meant, but the effect is that the messenger doesn’t return. So a second messenger is sent. Same thing happens. Then the watchman notices that one of the guys kind of reminds him of Jehu, so Joram gets in a chariot and rides out to meet him. “Is it peace?” he asks him a third time.
Short answer: no. Jehu reminds Joram of his mother Jezebel’s harlotry (which is another word for idolatry), and Joram tries to run. Jehu shoots him in the back with an arrow that comes out the front, and Jehu tells the captain to throw him onto the plot of land that once belonged to Naboth. (Remember when Ahab had wanted the vineyard and Jezebel had plotted to have Naboth killed? Those two were Joram’s parents) The blood of Naboth and his sons would be avenged that day by the blood of Joram.
Now Ahaziah, king of Judah, had been watching the whole thing from the window. When he sees the scene, he tries to run. Jehu chases him and hits him, but he is able to flee to Megiddo where he dies.
Jezebel’s Death Fulfills Prophecy
Continuing on his spree, Jehu heads for Jezebel next. Jezebel does this weird thing where she gets all gussied up and looks out the window at him. She says, “Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of your master?” Apparently, this is a reference to a time when another guy took power by force and then was punished quickly for it. The difference this time is that Jehu is on a mission from God, and Jezebel will be punished for her actions.
Jehu looks at the eunuchs near Jezebel and asks who is on his side. Now, eunuchs were men who had been castrated and employed as guards to women. Two or three of them give him a look, and he says, “Throw her down.”
And just like God said would happen, the dogs came and ate her. Jehu heads off out for dinner and a drink, but when he was full and happy, he relents a little and orders servants to bury her. After all, she was a king’s daughter. But all the servants could find were the skull, feet, and the palms of her hands.
2 Kings 10
Killing Some More
But Jehu still wasn’t done. Next, he hits Joram’s brothers, the other 70 sons of Ahab. But he doesn’t come at them with an army. He comes instead with a pretty genius plan. He writes letters to the people in charge of the education for all the sons and grandsons of Ahab. He tells them to choose a king from among the heirs to stand against him. Their answer was a knock-kneed “No thanks.” After all, Jehu had taken down two kings already. There was no sense in setting themselves up for failure here. Instead, they vow to be his servants and do what he tells him to do. Now, keep in mind that these guys were all into Baal. They weren’t honorable men.
“Okay,” he says. “If you’re my servants, chop off the heads of all of Ahab’s heirs and meet me tomorrow.” Done. They make two heaps at the entrance of the gate at Jezreel, and Jehu makes a speech.
He basically tells the people, “Yes, I was bad for killing the king – one guy – on purpose and by design. But, look how many the elders of your city have killed simply in obedience to me. But it’s all good because it was God’s plan.” Then he killed everyone else who remained in Ahab’s house, including priests and close acquaintances.
One commentary I read compared the unflinching obedience of those educators to the obedience of servants of God. These guys believed without question that there was no choice but to obey Jehu simply because he was so powerful. How much more should we, as Christians, obey God in whatever He asks? Yes, He is our first love. Yes, His ways are higher, and He knows what’s best. Yes, He is for us and not against us. But, it is also true that it is useless to fight against Him.
So Jehu left Jezreel for Samaria. On the way, he meets some of Ahaziah’s brothers who were coming to meet Jezebel and the sons. They were distantly related to the house of Ahab and obviously had relationships with the house. So, Jehu tells his men to take them alive and then murders all 42 in cold blood at the well of Beth Eked.
Now, on his way from one murder to the next, he happens upon a guy named Jehonadab. Apparently, the man was a pretty good guy who was a servant of God. Jehu asks him how he’s feeling about him at the moment, and when Jehonadab gives the thumbs up, Jehu invites him on the road. When they get to Samaria, he kills everyone else who remained in the house of Ahab.
Jehu’s Super Cool Plan
Now, this next part is really smart. The first time I read this, I was just like, “Woah! SNAP!”
Jehu gets all the people together and says, “Ahab served Baal a little. Jehu will serve him much.” At first, I had to re-read to make sure I wasn’t missing something. But then when he calls all the prophets of Baal together in a solemn assembly and double checks that there are no servants of God among them, I started to get the picture. This was a take-down. Then Jehu sets 80 men outside. Right after a burnt offering is made, Jehu sends his guard in to kill them. If anyone escapes, the guards would kill them or be punished by death if they got away. Then Jehu destroys temple of Baal.
Interesting side note:
“However Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin, that is, from the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan.”2 Kings 10:29
So, Jehu did everything right, except he still kind of liked worshiping those golden calves. This is the weird part. I always thought of those calves as ANOTHER God, but apparently, they were just a physical representation of the one true God. It was still idolatry, but it was apparently a lower level offense because God still rewards Jehu with the honor of having his sons sit on the throne of Israel to the 4th generation. Hazael from Damascus started conquering parts of Israel. Jehu reigned over Israel 28 years.
One Last Note About Jehu
These chapters were filled with bloodshed. God’s ways of handling things in the Old Testament, while very different on the surface from the New Testament, are really just the same at the core. It’s all about blood. God judges nations on earth and individuals in eternity. Then as now, sins required bloodshed for atonement. In the Old Testament, it was the blood of bulls and goats. Now, it’s the blood of Jesus. Nations are still judged on earth, and while we don’t have too many avenging kings running around, there are plenty of nations facing famine, pestilence, war, and demonic attacks in judgement for their actions. God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He will have judgement. We must pray for His mercy in the midst of it.
Dear God, thank you for having our best interest at heart. Help us to be obedient to you in love even as we realize that you are God, and there is no fighting against You. Help us, too, to remember that your prophecies will come to pass. No Word of Yours will fall to the ground. We can trust You when your Word says something will happen; it will. Please have mercy on our nation in Your great judgement. .In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Was Jehu a good guy or a bad guy?
Are you ready for God’s judgement of America?
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 2 Kings 7-8
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 2 Kings 5-6.
Blogging Through the Bible 2 Kings 3-4
2 Kings 3
New Kings in Town
Now Jehoshaphat is king over Judah, and Jehoram is king over Israel. Jehoram is the child of Ahab and Jezebel, and even though he wasn’t quite as bad as his parents, he still wasn’t good.
“Nevertheless he persisted in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin; he did not depart from them.”2 Kings 3:3
We see this phrase a LOT in the Bible. Jeroboam was the guy who had the “brilliant” idea of providing golden calves for the Israelites to worship. It was a political move designed to make sure the people didn’t get anywhere near Jerusalem where the worship of the one true God took place. He didn’t want them getting all nostalgic for the good old days when all the people were one. He thought he could keep his kingdom if he kept them separated by geography and religion. This was bad on a lot of levels, and was the sandy foundation on which many generations would build their houses and eventually fall.
The Enemy of My Enemy Is My Friend
Now, for years, the king of Moab had been bringing a yearly tribute to the king of Israel. He brought 100,000 lambs and 100,000 rams, the modern day equivalent of about four million dollars a year. When King Ahab dies and Jehoram takes over, the king of Moab decides to rebel.
Jehoram isn’t going to take that lying down, so he calls his good buddy Jehoshaphat and asks if he will have his back in the rumble. Phatty tells him “Mi cassa es su casa,” and “Let’s do this.” They decide to take the route that goes through the wilderness of Edom and pick up a third conspirator, the king of Edom.
They didn’t get far, though, before they realize that they are out of water. Everybody is thirsty, including the animals, and Jehoram starts to get all negative:
And the king of Israel said, “Alas! For the Lord has called these three kings together to deliver them into the hand of Moab.”2 Kings 3:10
Let’s Ask a Prophet of God
Phatty keeps a cool head, though, and suggests consulting a prophet of God. They always have great ideas. Just then, one of Jehoram’s servants remembers that the prophet Elisha in town was the one “who poured water on the hands of Elijah.” Maybe he could help with their little water situation as well. Elisha has a pretty solid reputation at this point, so Phatty says, “Let’s go.”
There is just one little problem. Elisha is less than thrilled to see Jehoram. He recognizes him the idolater he is and asks him sarcastically why he doesn’t just go ask the prophets of Baal if he needs some help. Again, Jehoram repeats his doom and gloom prediction that the Lord just wants to kill them all. Hello, Jehoram? Words have meaning!
Elisha takes pity on them for Phatty’s sake, though, and calls for a musician to play some music to get him ready to hear from God. Just like in 1 Samuel when David played the harp for Saul and the evil spirits were soothed, again we see music playing a part in spiritual matters. It actually makes sense when you think about it. Most modern church services start with music as we open our hearts to the Lord in worship.
So Elisha gets a Word: they are to fill the valley full of ditches. Without either wind or rain, water will come into the ditches so everybody gets a drink. Not only that, this is going to cause a great distraction so that their forces can vanquish the Moabite armies. Then they are to attack every Moabite city, cut down all the trees, stop up the wells, and ruin their land with stones.
The Plan Succeeds
The next day after the morning offering to the Lord, the ditches filled up with water. When the Moabites saw the sun shining on the puddles, they saw it not as water but as blood. They assumed that the three kings had turned on each other and left all their goods behind for the Moabites to plunder. As soon as they got close, though, the forces came out, and the rest was history…well, prophecy.
When the Moabite king saw that he was losing the battle, he took seven hundred men with him and tried to break through to the king of Edom. When he couldn’t, he offered his first born son, who would have reigned after him, as an offering to his god on the wall. Then everybody was mad at Israel, and they all went home.
2 Kings 4
Elisha Helps A Widow
Leaving the political scene for a bit, we follow Elisha back to his house where he is putting out fires. It seems that a prophet has passed away leaving his widow with a mountain of debt. Since she can’t pay, the creditors were about to take her two sons as slaves in payment. That was a thing back then. If you couldn’t pay, you could be indentured as a slave or sell someone else to pay off a debt. The people would be freed at the next Jubilee, but those were only every 50 years, so depending on where they were in the timeline, this might be a very bad deal. So the widow begs Elisha to help.
Elisha asks her what she DOES have to her name. She says she has a jar of oil. Elisha tells her to get all the empty containers she possibly can together, even borrowing from all her neighbors. Then she is to shut the door to her house and start pouring oil. She does that and fills all the containers she has from the oil that has been multiplied. He then tells her to sell the oil to pay her debts and expenses.
Elisha and the Rich Shunammite Woman
Elisha makes a new friend. A woman of some means invites him to dinner whenever he’s around her area. Pretty soon, she makes up kind of a spare bedroom for him for when he is in town. The Bible describes it as an “upper room,” the same kind of set up where Jesus and His disciples ate the Passover meal.
So they do this and invite Elisha and his servant Gehazi over. The prophet is grateful for her hospitality and wants to do something for her, but she says “no, thanks.” She keeps declining all his offers, so he gets with Gehazi to brainstorm what they could do for her. Then Gehazi says, “Hey, she doesn’t have a son, and her husband is old.” Bingo!
After a minute or two of convincing her that they were quite serious and not just lying to have a little joke, she accepts the gift of a pregnancy gratefully. When the baby becomes a child, he goes with his dad out to the fields. He then gets sunstroke, and his mom holds him until he dies. Then she takes him straight up to that spare room and lays him on the prophet’s bed. (Wasn’t there another prophet with a dead boy on his bed?)
“Saddle my donkey,” she tells her husband. “I’m going for help.” She books it to Mount Carmel.
When she gets there, Elisha and Gehazi see her coming. Elisha tells Gehazi to run to meet her and ask her if everything is okay, but she is not about to talk to anybody but the prophet himself. As soon as she gets near, she falls at his feet. Gehazi is about to admonish her, but Elisha senses her distress and asks her what’s up.
She’s all like, “Did I ask you to give me a son? Didn’t you say you weren’t lying to me that I could have one?”
Elisha sends Gehazi back to her house with his staff to resurrect the child, but the Shunnamite isn’t leaving Elisha’s side. Long story short, Elisha ends up going back to the woman’s house and up to the spare room. Now, here’s where we more flashbacks. In a similar move to when Elijah resurrected the widow’s son, Elisha shuts the door and prays and then lays over top of the child. He put his own mouth on the child’s mouth, his eyes on his eyes, and his hands on his hands. The kid gets warm, but he’s still not awake, so Elisha goes for a walk across the house and back to lay across him again.
Then the child sneezes seven times and opens his eyes. He calls the child’s mom, and she picks up her child and bows and leave.
Out of Their Gourds
Miracles are fun, and Elisha is getting good at them. The next story in this section is of a time when there was a famine in Gilgal. All the prophets and their sons were sitting around, and Elisha tells them to boil some water for stew. They do a search and come up with some herbs and a vine along with a big bunch of wild gourds, or squash. They slice them up, toss them in, and they are in business.
There is just one itty bitty problem, however. As they go to serve the stew, somebody with a good eye notices that the gourds used were actually poisonous. Now they are all hungry and looking into a pot filled with death. But just like the time Elisha used a little salt and a prayer to make the water good in 2 Kings 2, he tosses a handful of meal/flour into the pot, and the stew is perfectly safe to eat.
Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better
In the last story in 2 Kings 4, a guy brings a first fruit offering of 20 loaves of bread. Elisha multiplies those 20 loaves to feed 100 men Cool story, Elijah. It sounds a lot like another story we know. Jesus multiplied 7 loaves to feed 4,000 men plus women and children and 5 loaves to feed 5,000 men plus women and children. Don’t feel bad, though, Elisha. He is God, after all.
Dear God, please help us to make sure that there is nothing in our lives that we place as more important than You. Thank you for going before us and fighting for us. Thank you for providing for us.In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Why do you think God helped Jehoram even though he was not following God?
Both Elijah and Elisha resurrected the son of a woman who desperately wanted her child alive. What are the similarities and differences with the story of Jesus resurrecting the widow’s son in Luke 7:11-25?
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 2 Kings 1-2.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Kings 21-22.
Blogging Through the Bible 1 Kings 19-20
1 Kings 19
When Mama Ain’t Happy, Ain’t Nobody Happy
Jezebel is not happy. Ahab came back from the showdown with Elijah and the prophets of Baal complaining to his wife about all Elijah had done. Of course, we know that it wasn’t Elijah at all. It was God who ordered Elijah to do it, God who made the fire come down, and God who commanded Elijah to dispose of Baal’s prophets. God was in charge, but Jezebel couldn’t exactly punish God. Elijah was the next best thing, so she sent him a message: “Dear Elijah. I will kill you by tomorrow. Love Jezebel.”
So Elijah went on the run. You wouldn’t think that a man who just did so many amazing feats for God would run like a scared chicken, but that is exactly what he did. He didn’t have faith in God to protect him. In fact, he even asked God to kill him so he wouldn’t have to be subjected to whatever torture Jezebel might think up for him. God did not kill him. In fact, if you know your Bible, you know that God never did. Instead, He “took him” to heaven as one of only two people in the Bible who have never died (Enoch being the other one).
But God wasn’t mad. Twice, He sent an angel with a snack and a drink to wake him from his nap. Those meals would sustain him on his 40 day journey to Mt. Horeb, the mountain of God. When he gets there, God asks him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” To me, this smacks of a teaching technique many of us use in our classrooms: the 3 questions.
“What are you doing?”
The first question is really meant to focus the student on the activity that he/she might not even be thinking about as something that is wrong. Elijah complains, “I have been doing what I was supposed to do. Jezebel has killed all Your prophets and torn down Your altars. Now she wants to kill me – I’m running for my life, hello?”
“What are you supposed to be doing?”
The second question is meant to remind the student about his/her responsibility and/or the rules of the classroom. God doesn’t ask him what he is supposed to be doing. Instead, He does a little “show and tell” with him. He asks him to go and stand on the mountain before the Lord. Then the Lord passed by.
- A great wind tore into the mountains and broke rocks in pieces
- An earthquake hit
- Then fire comes
- Then a still small voice.
The first three were mighty and amazing, but they were not the Lord Himself. When Elijah hears the still small voice, he covers his face (for fear of the Lord) and goes to the mouth of the cave to hear from God. God asks him again what he is doing there, and he answers the same thing. Elijah is SUPPOSED TO BE going about His Father’s business. God tells him what to do.
“What are you going to do about it?”
God gives Elijah new instructions. There will be a huge shake-up in leadership . He is to anoint Hazael as king over Syria, anoint Jehu the king over Israel, and anoint Elisha as a prophet in his own place. These guys are going the bring the justice for all the injustice that he has been complaining about since he arrived. But, know this, says God.
“Yet I have reserved seven thousand in Israel, all hose knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”1 Kings 19:18
That’s a comforting thing for us, even in our time. God always has a remnant.
1 Kings 20
God Helps Ahab Win the Day
Even though Ahab wasn’t a fraction of the evil person Jezebel was, he still wasn’t a super likeable guy. He wasn’t brave enough to come against God’s prophet Elijah himself, so he sicked his wife on him. But he was still in charge of God’s people, and as such, God was willing to stand up for him against other wicked rulers who might attack.
At the beginning of the chapter, Ben-Hadad, the king of Syria sent a message that he wanted Ahab to send all his silver, gold, wives and children to him because he is taking them. Ahab agrees – what?? Man! I would not like to be a wife back then! But after Ahab agrees to the first demand, Ben-Hadad sends a second, “Oh, yeah, and I want to search all your houses to make sure you aren’t holding anything back. We will take anything we want from you and your servants.”
Ahab checks with the elders before making any hasty decisions but then sends back his response, “Um…no.” A few more back and forths, and it’s on. Ben-Hadad and his men have a little drink to commemorate the occasion, and meanwhile, God is on the move.
God sends a prophet to Ahab and fills him in. He just needs to get the leaders of the provinces together, and God will deliver the Syrians into their hands in battle. A few went to the city where Ben-Hadad and 32 kings were getting drunk. Arrogantly, when Ben-Hadad sees that the first few men are coming to attack, he tells his men to take them alive. But then the rest of the 7,000 men show up and slaughter the Syrians. Ben-Hadad escapes, and the prophet comes again to Ahab and tells him this is only round one. Ben-Hadad will be back in the spring of the next year. Ahab better get ready.
God of the Hills and Valleys
I love the song by Tauren Wells, “Hills and Valleys.” The lyrics remind us that God is with us whether we are in good times or bad. But the song is true on a literal level, too. God is in control everywhere. Unfortunately, the Syrians missed that little memo.
They theorize that the reason the Israelites won the first time was because they had gods of the hills. If they can just get them into a battle on the plains, they can win, no problem. So they attack. The children of Israel were super outnumbered. The prophet came to Ahab again, assuring him that his army will win to show those silly Syrians just who is God of all. On the seventh day, the few Israelites kill 100,000 foot soldiers in one day, causing the rest to flee…then a wall falls on all 27,000 of the rest of them!!
Wow! I was just reading in Isaiah 24 last night, and this sounds just like what happened to the wicked there: Isaiah 24:18 “And it shall be that he who flees from the noise of the fear shall fall into the pit, and he who comes up from the midst of the pit shall be caught in the snare: for the windows from on high are open, and the foundations of the earth are shaken.” Bottom line: you ain’t getting away.
Ahab Pulls a Saul
You would think after everything God did both to and for Ahab, he would get the message by now that God is God and should be feared. Not so much.
Ben-Hadad is alive. He sends the last of his servants to Ahab with sackcloth on their waists and ropes around their heads to plead for Ben-Hadad’s life. Imagine their surprise when Ahab calls him his brother. Not only will he let him live, but he will make a sweet deal with him. Ahab gets all the lands back that were taken from him by Ben-Hadad’s father, and he has total access to set up a marketplace in Damascas. Cha-ching! Ben-Hadad gets to live to fight another day.
Uh oh. Here Comes the Prophet of God Again
But before the prophet visits Ahab, he asks his neighbor to smite him. The man declines, so the prophet says, “Okay, then a lion will eat you.” It does. He tries another guy. This guy does the deed. The prophet takes his wound to Ahab, puts dirt and a bandage on his face, and cries to him.
Side not: remember the story with the prophet Nathan and king David when he told the whole little lamb story to represent Uriah the Hittite? Well, this is that again.
The prophet says basically, “One of your guys told me to guard somebody in battle; otherwise, I would pay my life for his. While I was busy, he got away.” Ahab says, okay, you just pronounced your own fate. Then the prophet takes of the disguise and says, “No. It’s your fate. “Thus says the Lord…(That is rarely a good start for any OT conversation.) ‘Because you have let slip out of your hand a man whom I appointed to utter destruction, therefore your life shall go for his and your people for his people.’”
So the king when home sullen and displeased. Ya think?
Dear God, thank you so much for taking care of us when we get discouraged. Thank you that you don’t give up on us or answer destructive prayers we make in haste. Please help us to always remember that you are with us in good times and bad and wherever we go. Help us to obey you instead just doing what we want to do. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Have there been times that you have made prayers to God that you are glad that He did not answer?
Do you notice the premium that God places on obedience in the Bible? What does that mean for us in our day to day lives?
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 1 Kings 17-18.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Kings 15-16.
Blogging Through the Bible 1 Kings 13-14
1 Kings 13
Signs and Wonders
So a man of God from Judah comes to have a little chat about the new altar at Bethel where Jeroboam was in the process of burning incense to another god. The unnamed prophet prophesies the birth of King Josiah and a time when idolatrous priests would be sacrificed at that altar and their bones burned on it. That prophecy was fulfilled 348 years later, but that exact day just a few minutes later, the sign that the prophecy was from God comes to pass: the altar splits into two and the ashes pour out on the ground. Jeroboam, upon hearing the prophet’s words, points his hand, as in “Seize him!” Immediately, his hand withers in place. He begs the prophet to pray for healing, so he does. God heals him, and he invites the prophet for lunch.
Now, let’s get this straight. God tells Jeroboam that he will be king and everything will go well with him if he would just obey God. Immediately, he turns all of Israel against God by building fake gods and altars for them to worship. When God’s prophet shows up to give him a message, the altar spontaneously splits in two, and he is maimed and healed by God all in one sitting. But he still chooses to disobey God. In fact, he gets WORSE from there, making anyone and everyone a priest for the high places and doubling down on idol worship in Israel. Wrong and wrong again.
This totally makes me think of the parable in Luke about rich man who went to hell while Lazarus, a pauper, got to go to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man begs that Lazarus be sent to warn his brothers to mend their ways before they are sent to hell too. Abraham says that if they didn’t believe Moses and the prophets, they won’t believe even one who rises from the dead. Some people believe truth and fear God. Others are so concerned with the things of this earth that even when signs and miracles occur, they won’t believe. They do not have the fear of God that is the beginning of wisdom.
Weird Little Subplot
So after Jeroboam is healed, he invites the prophet to his house for food and a reward. The prophet says that he can’t do it because God has specifically told him not to eat or drink anything on his trip and to go back to Jerusalem a different way than he came. Meanwhile, an older prophet hears of the morning’s excitement and wants to talk to the young prophet. He chases after him and catches him taking a little siesta under a tree.
Here’s where it gets weird. After hearing that the young prophet is told by God NOT to eat or drink, the older prophet lies to him and tells him that an angel told him it was perfectly fine for him to nosh away. What?? Now, on one hand, I want to smack the guy in the head for believing that God would just change His mind like that and not even tell him to his face. On the other, I sort of get it. The guy had a rough morning. He was obviously tired. Maybe he did just want to have a little snack and rehash the excitement of the day. He let his flesh get in the way instead of sticking to what God told him to do…and he paid for it with his life.
Here’s another weird thing. Right after the young prophet starts eating, a Word from the Lord comes through – to the old prophet!! This guy just lied, but he is the one God talks to instead of the disobedient one. That really makes you think about the premium that God places on obedience for His people.
Anyway, the old guy prophesies that the young prophet will die, and he won’t be buried in the place of honor at his father’s grave. The young prophet leaves there, a lion kills him and just sort of sits there over his body. He doesn’t eat him or even tear him up, and he leaves his donkey alone too. That is how the old prophet and his sons find the corpse. They bury him in the old prophet’s own tomb, and the guy cries over him. Oh, now you’re upset? Yeesh.
1 Kings 13
Even though Jeroboam is encouraging all of Israel to worship false gods, when his own son is sick, he sends his wife to a prophet of the one true God to get a prophecy about his child’s condition. He KNEW God was God, but he still cared more about keeping power than about submitting to God and doing what was right. I think that is the case with many people today. They live life any kind of way, but when they are in trouble, they call on God to help. In this case, it doesn’t work out well for Jeroboam.
His wife puts on a disguise and plans to talk to Abijah, the man who prophesied that Jeroboam would be king, without admitting her identity. Abijah is blind at this point, so it was a good gamble, but God got there first. He had a message for Jeroboam, and it wasn’t pretty. Basically, He said, “Jeroboam, I lifted you up as king, and I will smack you back down. From now on, if anyone from your house dies in the city, the dogs will eat their corpses. If they die in the country, the birds will eat them. Also, Mrs. Jeroboam, as soon as your foot gets back to town, your child will die. You will bury him, and he will be the very last one to be buried in your family.”
All that happened, and when Jeroboam died, his son Nadab was made king.
Meanwhile in Judah
Rehoboam reigned in Judah. “He did evil in the sight of the Lord.” Have you ever stopped to think about that phrase? It’s almost like a bad chorus. Every time a new king in either Israel or Judah takes his place, we get a glimpse about the state of that person’s kingdom by hearing if the person did right or did evil. Unfortunately, the number of those who did evil far outweighed those who did right. As for Rehoboam, he kept the high places where people worshiped idols, and in his fifth year, Judah was attacked by Egypt. They took away treasures from the king, including the golden shields Solomon had made. They made bronze shields instead.
There was war between Rehoboam and Jeroboam all their days. Abijam, his son, took over when Rehoboam died.
Dear God, thank you for giving me the ability to see your truth and know you are God. Your ways are higher than mine. Without you, I don’t know how to go out or come in. Please help me to be obedient to you above all else. Help me to live a life in which You can say about me, “He/she did what was right in the sight of the Lord.” In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
What miracles have you witnessed in your lifetime that you just knew could only have been accomplished by God’s hand?
Would people say about you that you do what is right in the sight of the Lord? Are there any areas in which you could do better?
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 1 Kings 11-12.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Kings 9-10.
Blogging Through the Bible 1 Kings 7-8
1 Kings 7
The Building Bug
So once you get going at Home Depot, it’s hard to stop, apparently. Solomon finishes the temple for God but keeps on building. He finishes his own house (which took 13 years), the House of the Forest of Lebanon, the Hall of Pillars, the Hall of Judgement, and a separate house for his wife (the Pharaoh’s daughter). They were all big with lots of cedar paneling and expensive stone work.
Solomon also hires a guy named Hiram the Craftsman from the city of Tyre. He was in charge of all the bronze work for Solomon. He made two pillars for the temple with tall tops (called capitals) shaped like lilies. They had a lattice with 7 chains on each and two rows of pomegranates (numbering two hundred) for each. There was also a bronze statue of twelve oxen, all facing out in a circle with ornamental buds on them. The Sea was set upon them containing 2,000 baths. Imagine the magnitude and the exquisite detail!
He also made ten carts with panels covered in lions, oxen, and cherubim (a kind of angel) with wreath work. All the descriptions are so detailed and specific. It really makes you wonder why God included all of it. Then again, I teach English. It’s one thing to say, “The temple was highly decorated” and it’s another to spend page after page outlining every detail. Here is just one example of the extreme specifics. The whole sentence is just about the wheels of the carts!
The workmanship of the wheels was like the workmanship of a chariot wheel; their axle pins, their rims, their spokes, and their hubs were all of cast bronze.1 Kings 7:33
There were also 10 huge lavers (read that like basins or fonts for ceremonial washing), each one containing 40 baths and placed atop a cart. Five carts went on one side, and five on the other. Hiram also made pots, shovels, and bowls. Everything was bronze, made by pouring it into clay molds. There were so many items that Solomon didn’t even bother to weigh them all.
The last part of the chapter revisits all the gold work from previous chapters: the altar, table for showbread, lampstands, basins, trimmers, bowls, ladles, censers, and door hinges. The only thing Solomon had left to do was to bring in all of the silver and gold and furnishings that King David had personally dedicated to the temple. They were placed into the treasury.
1 Kings 8
Oh, wait. There was one more item that the temple still lacked: the ark of the covenant. Solomon called a meeting of all the big wigs: elders and chiefs of tribes. They had a big feast and then prepared to move the ark and the tabernacle of meeting, along with all of its furnishings. They sacrificed so many sheep and oxen that people lost count. The priests brought the ark into the inner sanctuary of the temple: the Most Holy Place. Inside the ark were the two tablets of stone that Moses used to receive the ten commandments from God. Now, as soon as the priests got done moving everything and left the area, a cloud that was the glory of God filled the house of the Lord, so much so that the priests couldn’t even stand it and had to leave.
Solomon’s Speech at the End
“Then Solomon spoke: ‘The Lord said He would dwell in the dark cloud.I have surely built You an exalted house, and a place for You to dwell in forever.’”1 Kings 8:12-13
Then Solomon blesses all of Israel. He reminds them that while his father David had wanted to build the temple, God had reserved that task for Solomon himself. He notes that God’s words have been fulfilled and that the ark now has a permanent place to reside.
Then he prays. He exalts the Lord and thanks Him for keeping His promises. He also reminds God that He promised that the family of David would always have a man on the throne of Israel if they walk with God. He praises God for His mercy and begs Him that His eyes be upon the temple day and night to hear the prayers made there and forgive the people when they ask. He gives a few examples of sins and consequences such as defeat in war, drought, famine, plagues, and pestilence, and then he asks that God restore them after they repent for their sins. He asks for the gift of fear for the people of Israel that they will keep their eyes on God all the days they live in the land and that even foreigners will come to pray when they hear of God’s majesty. Solomon reminds God that these are His people whom He saved from Egypt, and again and again, Solomon prays for mercy in the face of sin.
Then Solomon blesses all of Israel, blesses God, and reminds the people to stay loyal to their great God.
“ Let your heart therefore be loyal to the Lord our God, to walk in His statutes and keep His commandments, as at this day.”1 Kings 8:91
Then there is one more gigantic sacrifice to God for the temple dedication: 22,000 bulls and 120,000 sheep. Solomon consecrates the middle of the court in front of the house of the Lord where he offers burnt offerings, grain offerings, and the fat of the peace offerings (because the bronze altar before the Lord was too small for everything all at once!).
Then they partied. All of Israel had a feast for 2 weeks! Solomon sent everybody home, and they left super happy at God for all He had done for them.
Dear God, please never let us forget the great majesty of your house from the past so we may remember to keep the temple of our bodies as sacred and pristine for you. Please, also, give us the gift of the fear of the Lord which is the beginning of wisdom. Let us remember your great power and mercy and keep our eyes on you. When we fail and repent, forgive us and restore us to Yourself. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
What kinds of things can we do to keep the temple of our bodies holy before the Lord?
What is the benefit of having the gift of fear of the Lord? Why does the Bible say that it is the beginning of wisdom?
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 1 Kings 5-6.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Kings 3-4.
Blogging Through the Bible 1 Kings 1-2
1 Kings 1
David Is Old Now
David is much older now, maybe 70 or 80 years old depending on which commentary you read. In any case, he seems to have some health problems that keep him bedridden. He can’t quite get warm, no matter how many clothes he puts on, so the solution (as weird as it might seem to the modern reader) is to find a beautiful young woman to be his bed warmer. The Bible is clear that there were no sexual relations, but she was probably a wife or at least a concubine since she served him exclusively.
Here We Go Again (Again)
So while David is busy in bed, Adonijah, his fourth son, decides that he might as well go ahead and be the king since he was the oldest living son. He was good looking like his older brother Absolom, and possibly a little spoiled by David to this point. Adonijah grabs Joab, David’s nephew and captain of the guard, and Abiathar, the priest and makes a huge sacrifice of sheep, oxen, and fatted cattle. There’s going to be a big party with all the men of Judah, the king’s servants, and all the king’s sons – well, almost all of them. Adonijah conveniently forgets to invite his brother Solomon, the priest Zadok, and Benaiah, a brave fighter. We will call them “Team Solomon.” His actions here show clearly that he knew that Solomon had already been named as king by David and by God. This isn’t going to end well for old ‘Doni.
Nathan meets with Solomon’s mother, Bathseheba. He tells her to speak to the king about what Adonijah is doing and plans to come in right after her to confirm things to the king. Bathsheba is cool when she sees Abishag with David. She bows low in homage to the king showing she is a very classy lady. She reminds David that he promised that her son Solomon would be king. After everything he put her through with ripping her from her husband Uriah and basically murdering him (by sending him out on the front lines of battle and ordering his other soldiers to retreat) – not to mention the death of their first son as a punishment from God for David’s actions – she deserves this!
So David calls Bathsheba and “Team Solomon” together and makes the proclamation. He had sworn by God that Solomon would be king, and as of today, he was making good on his words. The plan is to put Solomon on David’s own mule and get everybody from the team together to walk him over to Gihon and anoint him king. They are to blow the horn (again with the horn!) and say, “Long live King Solomon!” At that time, Solomon will sit on the throne and be the king in his place.
Now THIS is a party!
After doing all that David commanded, the people “played the flutes and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth seemed to split with the sound.” Adonijah and his party hear the ruckus and ask what is going on. Somebody tells them, and all of a sudden, Adonijah’s guests can’t get home fast enough. Adonijah, totally freaked out that his bluff was called, goes straight to the temple and grabs hold of the altar. Now, in olden times, this was the equivalent of running to a sanctuary city. Unless the person was a murderer, he would be protected there. He begs that his brother Solomon won’t put him to death, and Solomon says basically “As long as you are a good guy, you’ll be fine. If you show yourself to be wicked, you will die.” Adonijah leaves the altar and bows low before his brother the new king. Solomon lets him go for now, but I think there is some foreshadowing here that really can’t be ignored.
1 Kings 2
Last Minute Instructions
So now that Solomon is the rightful king, David has a few words of advice for him:
“And keep the charge of the Lord your God: to walk in His ways, to keep His statutes, His commandments, His judgements, and His testimonies, as is written in the Law of Moses, that you may prosper in all that you do and wherever you turn, that the Lord may fulfill His word which He spoke concerning me, saying, ‘If your sons take heed to their way, to walk before Me in truth with all their heart and with all their soul,’ He said, ‘you shall not lack a man on the throne of Israel.’”1 Kings 2:3-4
Tying Up Loose Ends
David also asks Solomon to take care of a few things as his first order of business as the new king – a kind of cleaning of the slate, if you will.
- He wants Joab dead for killing Abner and Amasa, his rivals, in cold blood and for helping David by putting Uriah at the front of the battle for him (Wow, David! You ordered him to do it!)
- He wants Shimei, a Benjamite who cursed him, dead too. It seems that David had sworn to God that he, himself, would not kill him – so he wants Solomon to do it instead. (Wow again. You’re going with semantics?)
- He wants Barzillai rewarded for helping him during the days he ran from Absolom. (Better late than never!)
So David dies after a forty year reign and is buried in the City of David.
Apparently, Adonijah couldn’t leave well enough alone. Still mad about the whole – I’m next in line but Solomon my little brother gets to be king instead — thing, he asks for a meeting with Bathsheba. He says that the throne is rightly his, but since she was the one who got her son moved up to the front of the line, maybe she could help him by asking her son for a teensy weensy little favor to make up for it. He wants to marry David’s former wife/concubine Abishag the Shunammite. Weird, but okay.
So Bathsheba goes to talk to Solomon in the throne room, and he pulls her up her own throne beside him at his right hand. She asks for a favor, and he says, “Shoot.”
But when Solomon hears her request for Adonijah, he flips out. He realizes that his brother had put her up to it and takes it as a HUGE insult. Adonijah has just moved from the “good” category to the “wicked” category and will, in fact, be executed for his impertinence. Solomon sends Benaiah to kill him, but he doesn’t stop there. He remembers Abiathar’s treachery in following Adonijah. He doesn’t kill him because of his former loyalty to David, but he removes him from being a priest (which fulfills a prophecy over the house of Eli that God had spoken at Shiloh). Zadock gets his old job.
And the Rest of the Ends Are Tied
When Joab hears that Solomon is on a rampage, he, too grabs horns of the altar for safety. Unfortunately for him, his sins include murder, so there is no safety for him there. He is struck and killed by Benaiah as well.
As for Shimei, the man who had cursed David, Solomon does try to give him a little break. He puts him on something like house arrest. He says if he ever leaves Jerusalem for any reason, he will be executed. Shimei agrees but then forgets three years later when a couple of slaves escape and he hunts them down. Word gets back he left Jerusalem, and Bam! Here comes Benaiah to do the dirty deed.
Thus, the kingdom was established in the hand of Solomon.
Dear God, thank you for the Holy Spirit who is is our comfort. Thank you for keeping your Word to us, and thank you that we don’t have to worry about vengeance. We just love our enemies and you will take care of them for us. We don’t always understand the things you allowed to happen during Old Testament times, but we appreciate the New Covenant that we can understand and do our best to follow. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen!
Adonijah wasn’t chastened by David earlier, so he thought he could get away with his actions. What does this mean for us as parents today?
David’s words to Solomon about following the Lord offer rewards to generations. How do our actions affect our children in the Lord?
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 2 Samuel 24.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 2 Samuel 22-23.
Blogging Through the Bible 2 Samuel 20-21
2 Samuel 20
Here We Go Again
Right after Absolom’s death, David is declared the king of all Israel, but that doesn’t last long. Sheba, son of Bichri, a Benjamite of Saul’s old tribe, blows a trumpet and declares himself king. Amazingly enough, everybody but Judah bails on David once again.
A Small Aside
David takes a little moment from war and intrigue to deal with some old business: the ten concubines he had left in charge of his house who were subsequently defiled by Absolom. He puts them in “seclusion.” That means that he will continue to support them financially but will have nothing more to do with them. The Bible calls it “living in widowhood.” He was dead to them. This is another one of those things that is hard to understand about David. It wasn’t THEIR fault that they were pawns in war. He was such a man!
More Politics and Treachery
Back to politics, we see the king giving orders to Amasa. Now, Amasa is David’s nephew. He had been a general in charge of Absolom’s army, and when Absolom died, David had sworn to give him a new job as his own general – in preference over Joab. You can imagine how well this went over with Joab, a man who had been loyal to David for a very long time. Amasa’s orders were to assemble the men of Judah in three days. When he takes a little longer than that, David gets nervous that he is running out of time to do damage to Sheba. So, Joab takes over, gathers his men as well as the Cherethites and Pelethites and goes out after Sheba.
While they are out, they happen upon Amasa. Joab does a little play acting and pretends to drop his sword. He asks Amasa how he’s doing, grabs his beard to kiss him, and stabs him in the stomach. So much for that little rivalry. Joab and Abishai, his brother, pursue Sheba. One of David’s men is left behind to garner support from Amasa’s men and anyone else who happens by, but Amasa’s body proves too much of a distraction. People keep stopping to stare. So somebody puts the body in a field with a garment over it, and everybody is now focused on the task at hand: following Joab to get Sheba.
Sheba is Found
When they catch up with Sheba, he has found refuge in a walled city called Abel of Beth Maachah. David casts up a siege mound so soldiers could batter down the city’s walls. Thank goodness somebody had a little sense here. A wise woman asks to speak with Joab. She enquires if he is really about to destroy his own people. He assures her that he doesn’t want to do anything of the kind, but a rebel is hiding in the city. If she can just deliver him up, they will leave the rest of the city about their business.
The woman says, “No problem. We’ll throw you his head.” And she is good on her word. The people, not willing to be attacked for the Sheba’s sake, deliver his head over the wall. Joab blows a trumpet, and the troops go back to Jerusalem.
The end of this chapter gives a list of all David’s key people.
2 Samuel 21
Famine in the Land
So David is now king of all Israel, but there is trouble of another kind in the land. It seems that they were three years into a seven year famine before David gets the idea to ask God what the problem is. God answers that His judgement is on the land because of an old injustice from the days of Saul. Saul killed the Gibeonites even though Israel had sworn to protect them. The innocent blood must be avenged. So David asked the Gibeonites what they want done in order that justice should prevail.
Justice is Done
They wanted seven of Saul’s descendants to be hanged before the Lord in Gibeah. David protects Mephibosheth, Jonathan’s son, because of his own oath to Jonathan. He picks seven others: two sons of Saul’s concubine Rizpah and five grandsons by his daughter Merab that had been raised by Michal. All seven are hung in the days of harvest. Rizpah, understandably upset, makes a public display of mourning in sackcloth. David gathers the bones of Saul, Jonathan, and those who had been hanged. He buries them in the tomb of Kish their father. God sees this as justice and heeds the prayers for the healing of their land.
David Still Tries to Fight
At the end of this chapter, David, much older now, is again at war with the Philistines. His heart is brave to fight, but his body just can’t keep up. One of the giants with a big old spear and sword thinks he’s going to kill David and attacks, but Joab’s brother Abishai protects him by killing the giant. After that, his men tell him he had better stay home and protect himself. He was needed much more as king than as warrior.
Thou shalt go no more out with us to battle, that thou quench not the light of Israel.”2 Samuel 21:17
The rest of this section just talks about four Philistine giants. They were big, had six fingers on each hand, and six toes on each foot. And they all fell by the hands of David’s men. They still got it!
Here’s the weird thing I just noticed. David’s story is very much like the ancient story of Beowulf. Beowulf fights a monster no one can beat with his bare hands/David fights Goliath no one will fight with a sling. Years later, David becomes king of the Israelites/Years later, Beowulf becomes king of the Geats. Still brave, David tries to fight more giants, but his buddy/nephew Abaishi has to come to his rescue to slay the giant/Still brave, Beowulf tries to fight the dragon, but his buddy/cousin Wiglaf has to save him to kill the dragon. I’m definitely going to mention that to my English IV classes this fall!
Dear God, please help us to find loyal friends and be loyal to them. Let us always remember that you are in control of every situation, and there are more ways of getting things done than what might be readily apparent. Help us to remember that you go before us to fight our battles, and that we are best used by you when we are a light to others.
Do you wish you had a trumpet to blow when you want big changes in your life?
Are there times when we need to leave the fighting to others and just be alight for Jesus?
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 2 Samuel 18-19.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 2 Samuel 16-17.
Blogging Through the Bible 2 Samuel 14-15
In Our Last Episode…
Who needs a soap opera when you have the Bible? When last we left off, Absolom, David’s son, had fled the kingdom after murdering his own brother, Amnon. It seems that Amnon had raped Absolom’s sister Tamar (his own half-sister) two years before. Since revenge is a dish best served cold, he had waited all that time before inviting all of the king’s sons together and having his servants murder Amnon in cold blood. Absolom knew that the law requires blood for blood, so he quickly fled to Geshur where his mother’s father was king.
2 Samuel 14
Conniving and Colluding
But David still missed his son, and his servant Joab knew it. Absolom was described as handsome and charismatic. Whether Joab thought he had potential to be the king someday and hoped to ingratiate himself with him or whether he just had a soft spot for someone who takes revenge, we may never know. (Remember that Joab and his brother Abishai had murdered Abner because he had killed their other brother Asahel.) In any case, Joab comes up with a scheme to get David to allow Absolom back into his kingdom.
He somehow convinces a wise woman from Tekoa to dress up like she was in deep mourning and petition the king. He tells her what to say, and when she sees King David, she falls on her face and sobs out the whole story. She says that she had two sons. One brother, in a fit of rage, killed the other one. Her family members, hoping to use the policy of blood for blood to wipe out both heirs to the woman’s property, are seeking to kill her now-only living son. She begs King David to protect her son, the murderer. He basically says he will look into it, but she won’t let him off the hook. She keeps at him until he finally promises to provide his protection.
Then she gets to the real reason why she’s there. Okay, King David, if you are so willing to protect my murderous son, says she, why aren’t you willing to protect your own? Boom. I don’t know about you, but I just got flashbacks of the whole “little lamb” story the prophet Nathan told him when he chose to bed Bathsheba and murder Uriah. In this situation, it’s not quite the same story, but the implications for David are the same as last time: change the name, and the story is yours.
She continues with her reasoning: we all have to die sometime, she says. Punishing Absolom won’t bring Amnon back, plus – and here’s where she really digs in – the whole rest of the kingdom is pretty upset with the way the Absolom thing was handled. They just might mutiny if you don’t bring him back. She ends with “So, that’s why I’m here today. I know you’ll do the right thing. God be with you. Bye.”
David Grants the Return of Absolom
Wait just a minute, lady. By that time, David had already figured out the true source of her little story-telling hour and asks her point blank if Joab put her up to it. Amazingly enough, she is honest with him. Even more surprising, David isn’t even mad, probably because at some level, he wanted the same thing. He calls for Joab and tells him to go get Absalom from Geshur, but he has a couple of conditions: Absolom is not allowed back in the courts, and he will not see David’s face.
But Absolom was not contented with being back in the land. Never mind that God’s law was circumvented by even allowing him to live after what he had done. He wanted a full pardon and to be back to the business of becoming the next king. As for Absolom, the Bible says no one was as praised as he was. He had smooth skin and a great head of hair that he let grow long until he cut (and weighed!) it every year. As often happens with beautiful, charismatic people, he became self-centered and proud. After two years stuck at his house, he called for Joab to come see him. He wanted an audience with the king and now. Joab ignored him. Absolom sent again. Joab ignored him again. Now, instead of realizing that he had made his own bed and now must lie in it, instead of admitting that he was there only by the grace of Joab to begin with, all he could think about was getting his own way.
Absolom Gets Darker and Darker
So he sends his servants to burn down Joab’s barley field. Wait, what? How’s that for thanks? When Joab gets there, Absolom basically says he would have been better off if Joab had left him in Geshur for all the good he was doing here now. He wants an audience with the king. If David wants to kill him when he gets there, so be it. Now, Absolom knew of David’s love for him and planned to take full advantage of it. What could Joab do at this point now that Absolom was full off the rails? He set up the meeting. When Absolom sees David, he bows his face to the ground, greeting to the king in feigned humility. The king then kisses him.
2 Samuel 15
Drumming Support For an Insurrection
Back at court, Absolom wastes no time in trying to win the people. In order to look the part of a king, he outfits himself with chariots and horses and men. One commentary said that while the law in Israel forbade breeding horses, he had acquired the skill from his Pagan grandfather while in Geshur. So each day, Absolom would get up and stand at the gate where people would pass on their way to David with their lawsuits. He flattered the people, put down David’s administration, and told them that if he were king, they would get everything their hearts’ desired. Then, just as now, political campaigning works.
Lies and More Lies
So after a while, about 13 years into David’s reign, Absolom begs to go to Hebron. He uses the excuse that he had made a vow to God, saying “If the Lord indeed brings me back to Jerusalem, then I will serve the Lord.” Hebron is where the sacrifices took place, so David assumes Absolom was finally getting with the program and allows him to go. But Hebron is also the capital where the seat of power was. When he gets there, Absolom sends spies through all the nation, ready to declare him king at the signal: a trumpet sound and the words “Absalom reigns in Hebron.” He was banking on his own popularity plus the confusion of the people. Many would not know if David were still alive or had just ceded his throne to his son.
To add insult to injury, Absolom calls for David’s old counselor Ahithophel to come to him. This guy had been a loyal advisor in his day but was currently in a retirement of sorts, on the outs with David’s regime. Absolom’s kingdom was becoming stronger by the moment.
Now, here’s where we get a BIG lesson about carnal versus spiritual. Everything Absolom did was carnal. He murdered, he fled, he lied, he destroyed, he flattered, he backstabbed, and colluded. David, on the other hand, reacts in a way that is merciful to the people and in subjection to God. When David finds out what Absolom had done in turning the hearts of Israel toward Absolom, could have stood to fight. Instead, he decides to flee the city instead of subjecting the people of the city to war and death. He believes it is the chastening of God and sees the whole thing of a fulfillment of the prophecy given to him after the whole Bathsheba/Uriah incident:
“Thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.”2 Samuel 12:11
As his servants prepare to flee with David, David decides to leave ten women, concubines, to keep the house (uh oh. Did you SEE the end of the prophecy, there, Dave?). He also stops a guy named Ittai, leader of 600 Gittites and tells them to go back to serve Absolom as king. Apparently, these Gittites came out of the land of the Phillistines to convert to Judaism because of their love for David. They had just arrived, and David can’t bring himself to ask them to go on the run for him right after they just got there. Ittai pulls a Ruth and tells him that where David is going, they are going. They will be loyal to the end. So they all cry as they cross over the Brook Kidron.
David is on the run yet again, but this time, David has everybody PLUS the ark of God. Again showing that David is more concerned about God than himself, he tells the priest Zadok to take the ark back to the city. He says if God gives him favor, He will bring him back to it again. Oh, and by the way, Zadok, could you and your sons spy for me while you’re there? Thanks.
David is in deep mourning at this time, and when he finds out his old advisor Ahithophel is conspiring with Absolom, David utters quite the prayer to God:
“O Lord, I pray, turn the counsel of Ahithophel into foolishness.”2 Samuel 15:31
Nicely done, David. He doesn’t ask for the man’s harm, but that his plans will harm Absolom’s cause. God, apparently willing to answer David’s prayer, wastes no time. Just then David’s servant Hushai the Archite comes over in mourning too. David tells him to return to the city and pretend to serve Absolom. It is through him that Ahithophel’s advice will be thwarted. So now David has two priests, Zadok and Abiathar, their sons, and Hushai as double agents for David. And the plot thickens again.
Dear God, please help us to always consider other people over our own interests. Help us to submit to your chastisement and learn from our mistakes. Please let us be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves in all our dealings, seeking only what is right and not another’s harm. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.
David let his feelings for his son cloud his better judgement in allowing a murderer to go free. As parents, how do we balance our love for our children with what is right and just?
David sent several men back to his political enemy to spy for him. Are there times when it is okay for people to be less than honest in order to advance God’s kingdom?
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 2 Samuel 12-13.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 2 Samuel 10-11.
Blogging Through 2 Samuel 8-9
2 Samuel 8
Sometimes our desires do not match our talents. We want to do certain things for God, but He has simply not equipped us in that way. We may want to be the church worship leader but can’t carry a tune. We may want to be missionaries but don’t possess the physical ability to live the lifestyle of hardship required. So what do we do? We use the talents God has given us to serve Him to the best of our ability.
We see this exact scenario in 2 Samuel 8. In the previous chapter, David had told the prophet Nathan that he wanted to build God a temple, a permanent structure where people could come to worship. But God said no. David’s son would be the one who would build the temple. (We find out later in 1 Chronicle 22 that the reason is because David had too much blood on his hands.) So what does David, the bloody man of war, decide to do? He uses his talents to conquer the peoples still living in the land God gave to Israel. He collects the spoils that would be used to finance the future temple. He serves God to the best of his ability in the capacity and talent God had given him.
David Serves God His Way: With War
He conquered the Philistines, taking the town Metheg Ammah. He conquered the Moabites, measuring them with a cord and allowing only one out of every three to live to serve David and bring him tribute. (Some Jewish scholars say that he was so tough on the Moabites because he had placed his parents in Moab for protection when he was on the run, and they were slain there.)
He conquered the king of Zobah to recover the border of the river Euphrates. He captured a thousand chariots, seven thousand charioteers, and twenty thousand foot soldiers. He hamstrung, or made lame, all but 100 horses so they could not be used in war. This is another one of those things that is hard to understand. Why would he purposely hurt horses? Where was PETA?
David took out twenty-two thousand Syrians from Damascas when they showed up to help Zobah. He went back to Damascas and put a garrison there to make all of Syria his subjects. He took the gold shields from the officers of those armies and brought them to Jerusalem. He also got a bunch of brass from towns called Betah and Berothai.
“And the Lord preserved David whithersoever he went.”2 Samuel 8:14
David’s reputation grew. He didn’t even have to go to war with some places for them to offer him gifts. He got a whole bunch of silver, gold, and brass from a neighboring king named Toi who was just so very thrilled that David had conquered his enemy at Zobah. David dedicated all the precious metals to God.
He conquered the Edomites, and they became subject to him. He reigned over all Israel and did right by his people. He had good, solid guys around him, and his sons were rulers beneath him.
2 Samuel 9
Now, having read the previous chapter, you might get the idea that David was simply a lean, mean conquering machine – and he was. But that wasn’t all he was. He was also a man after God’s own heart who tried to find ways to do good.
David Finds a Way to Do Good
So David asks around. Is there anyone left alive in Saul’s house that I can help? He finds a servant named Ziba who had 15 sons and 20 servants. Ziba tells him there is one guy left from Saul’s household. His name was Mephibosheth. He was the son of David’s former best friend Jonathan. Mephibosheth had been five years old when his father and grandfather were killed in battle. When his nurse had heard that news, she tried to flee the area. In her haste, Mephibosheth fell or was dropped and became lame in both feet. This handicap is probably why he wasn’t already ruling over Saul’s house at that time.
So David calls Mephibosheth to him. He is very humble in the king’s sight and even falls down at his feet in reverence. David tells him not to be afraid and restores all the lands to him that used to be his father Saul’s. Not only that, but from now on, Mephibosheth was to be the personal guest of David at his table just like his own sons. Mephibosheth is grateful, and David hooks everything up with Ziba.
From now on, Ziba and his sons and servants shall serve Mephibosheth and his young son Micha. They will till his land for him, bring in his harvests, and basically do anything Mephibosheth asks them to do. Now, Ziba had been pretty much sitting as “king” in Saul’s house up to that moment. When David elevates Mephibosheth over him and commands Ziba and his household to serve him, you can imagine that this might cause some hard feelings. He doesn’t show it at that moment, but the reader is left to wonder if he might not show up later with a plan to get “his” house back.
The chapter ends with mentioning for a second time that Mephibosheth ate at the king’s table and was lame in both feet. Both of those items are foreshadowing as well.
Dear God, please help us to be content with what we have and always use our talents for your glory. Show us ways that we can do good for the people you have put into our lives. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
What are some ways you are using your talents to serve God?
What is one thing you could do for someone today to show God’s love?
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 2 Samuel 6-7.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 2 Samuel 4-5.
Blogging Through 2 Samuel 2-3
2 Samuel 2
In stark contrast to Saul who wanted to do things his own way, 2 Samuel 2 opens with David checking in with God. “Do you want me to go? Where do you want me to go?” He wasn’t willing to make a move without ensuring that he was doing it God’s way. We can learn a lot from just these few lines. David wasn’t in distress. His back wasn’t against the wall. God wasn’t his last option. He asked God FIRST how he should proceed. We should do that too.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”Proverbs 3:5-6
Judah Anoints David As King
God sends him to Hebron. It was a city of the tribe of Judah that was larger than his hometown of Bethlehem and well able to accommodate David’s two wives and all of his entourage he had collected to this point. This would be his base for the next seven and a half years until the kingdom would be united. When he gets there, the men of Judah let him know that Saul and his sons were buried by men from Jabesh Gilead. Ever the classy guy, David sends a note of thanks and promises to repay their kindness. He ends his message by informing them that the men of Judah have officially anointed him king over them.
Abner Makes Ishbosheth King Over The Rest of the Tribes
Now, Saul and several of his sons had died on the battlefield against the Philistines, but not all of Saul’s sons had gone to war. His son Ishbosheth had, for whatever reason, stayed home. So Saul’s former army commander Abner made him the king over the rest of Israel. Abner knew that God had anointed David, but whether it was his loyalty to his nephew Saul’s family or his own personal ambition to remain the commander of the king’s army, he decided to keep Saul’s family line going. They went to Mahanaim to anoint him king over the other ten tribes of Israel. This was a city that was just close enough to cause trouble in Hebron after Abner could strengthen his army.
The Two Armies Tangle
It wasn’t long before Abner, the commander of Ishbosheth’s army, invited Joab, the commander of David’s army into a peeing contest. In what was supposed to be a “game,” 12 warriors from each side were lined up to fight gladiator-style for superiority. As anyone with a lick of sense could figure out beforehand, the contest ended with all 24 men dead and both armies going at it. Joab’s army prevailed, killing 360 of Abner’s men to the 19 men killed on his side.
Now, Joab’s brother Asahel was known for being really fast. Maybe he thought it would be a great feather in his cap to defeat the great warrior Abner (and unite the kingdoms?). Maybe he was just excited from winning in battle and got a little over confident. Whatever the reason, Asahel chased Abner and engaged him. For his part, Abner tried to be the bigger guy. He asked him several times to leave him alone or he would have to kill him. Asahel, young and green, was stubborn and refused. Abner showed his experience when he used the blunt end of his spear to kill him. Asahel never even saw it coming.
When Joab sees his brother is dead, number 20 for his side, he and the other guys stop to mourn only for a moment before heading off to chase Abner themselves. When they catch him, Abner basically cries “Uncle!” and asks Joab to back off. Joab makes the comment, “Hello? You started it!” But then he relents and sounds the trumpet for retreat. Maybe he realized that he, himself, bore some of the responsibility for the day having consented to the “game” in the first place. In any case, a civil war would surely be the only response if Joab decimated Abner’s forces at that moment, and he might want to check with his king before that happened. Joab and his forces stop by Bethlehem to bury his brother Asahel in their father’s tomb then head back to Hebron.
2 Samuel 3
David is one patient guy. Instead of trying to take matters into his own hands to get the kingdom God promised him, he waits on the Lord. (This is another area in which I, personally, could use some work.) In the next years, David’s forces get stronger and stronger, and the house of Saul weakens considerably.
Instead of war, David is busy with love. While in Hebron, he has at very least six sons from six different women, both wives and concubines. Okay, then.
Abner Tries to Switch Sides
Switching focus to the kingdom of Saul, we see that not all is so happy over there. Abner, who had been the driving force behind Ishbosheth’s becoming king, has an incident that seems like the straw that broke the camel’s back. He had been having an affair with one of Saul’s former concubines, and Ishbosheth questioned him about it. Abner basically tells him that he’s the reason Ishbosheth is king at all, and he has no right to question him. In fact, if Ishbosheth doesn’t appreciate everything he has done for him, maybe David will. He tells him straight out that he will be changing his alliance to King David, and Ishbosheth doesn’t have a lot to say about that. Maybe this lack of spunk was what kept old Ishy off the battlefield to begin with that day.
David Agrees With One Condition
The next scene is very sad and weird. After Abner sends a message telling David that he is switching his allegiance, David agrees to talk to him on one condition: he is going to need his first wife Michal back, please, and thank you. If you will remember, back when Saul was playing mind games with David, he had told him that he would give him is daughter the princess as a prize if David would bring him the foreskins of 100 Philistines (icky). David had done it and had received her. After he had gone on the run, Saul had given his daughter to someone else (which is very weird), a guy named Paltiel.
Politics being what they are, Ishbosheth sends word, and Michal is ripped from her husband’s arms. Paltiel chases after her, crying, for some ways before Abner tells him to go home. Why did David do it? Why did he take the poor woman away from her husband after all that time? Some scholars believe that he still had feelings for her. Others believe that he was making sure that no one took her as wife and claimed Saul’s kingdom. Either way, it’s a sad story that we really can’t understand from our perspective in history.
So Abner sets a meeting with David and brings 20 men to a feast. The deal is sealed, and for a second it seems like things will finally be ironed out with Israel. But only for a second.
Joab Seeks Revenge
Joab, David’s commander, gets wind that Abner wants to join the winning team. He tells David that it is all a ruse to get close to David to learn his ways to strike him. David won’t believe him, so he decides to take matters into his own hands. Whether it was jealousy or purely revenge for his brother Asahel’s death, Joab sends a message to Abner pretending it is from the king and meets with him at the well of Sirah. They get close enough for conversation, and Joab stabs him in the stomach.
David, facing a huge PR problem with the people of Israel, publicly decries the murder as a personal vendetta from Joab and pronounces a curse on Joab’s family for the innocent blood. From now on, there won’t be anyone in Joab’s family who won’t be a leper, lame, or hungry. Abner’s blood is on their heads, not David’s and not Israel’s.
He cries for Abner, refusing to eat until night time, and the people cry with him. David buries Abner in Hebron, and the people believe him that it was not his his plan to murder the guy. In a public speech, David points out what a great guy Abner was and how sad it was that he died in such an underhanded way. The chapter ends as David again proclaims that God will take vengeance on Joab and his family for what he has done.
Dear God, please help us to always seek You first. We know Your ways are higher than ours, and we want You to guide our steps so we can do Your will. Help us to wait on You in Your timing and not try to do thing in our own way or by our own hands. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 1 Samuel 31 & 2 Samuel 1.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Samuel 29-30.
Blogging Through 1 Samuel 27-28
1 Samuel 27
Lack of Faith Hits Hard
The devil is a liar. At the end of Chapter 26, after everything David had been through with Saul, he actually appears to get through to him. Saul admits he was wrong to seek David’s life and acknowledges the great love in David’s heart for sparing his own life yet again. He even promises not to attack him again. But Saul has said that before, so despite what looks to be a breakthrough, David is all of a sudden hit with an amazing amount of frustration and lack of faith. He basically says, “I guess Saul is going to kill me someday if I can’t get away. I better run to the land of the Philistines again. There’s no way he can get me there.”
Now, I don’t know about you, but I totally relate here. How many times does the devil come and weary us again and again. Instead of having faith and standing on God’s promises, we just throw our hands up, “I guess this is it for me!” Never mind that David was anointed king. Never mind that God is faithful and doesn’t make idle promises. David decides to take matters into his own hands like we ourselves can do.
So David hits the road again. By this time, he has around 600 followers including his two wives. He visits King Achish again and asks for a nice little place in the country out of the king’s hair. The king obliges, and David is there over a year with his people.
You Have Time to Lean, You Have Time to Clean
During that time, David runs several operations for the king. He is attacking people groups in between Israel and the Philistines, looting them and bringing back goods for the king. Now, David is wiping out indigenous groups that were left over from when the Israelites took over the lands. He’s cleaning up loose ends for Israel while simultaneously lying to King Achish that he is attacking the Israelites themselves. Oh, and he isn’t leaving anyone alive to say any different. Achish thinks David is making himself an enemy of Israel and will be his personal servant forever, but David is just biding his time.
1 Samuel 28
Lies of Commission and Omission
Chapter 28 opens with the Philistines preparing to attack Israel. King Achish calls his top warrior to his side and basically says to David, “You and me, buddy. We got this!” David is all vague, “Well, you know what I can do!” The king promises to make him his top guy forever, and the scene cuts abruptly over to Saul.
Desperate Times and Demonic Measures.
Saul is watching the Philistine army stack up and is getting nervous. His own troops don’t look like they could match them, and his calls to God keep rolling over to voice mail. God isn’t answering with dreams or through the prophets, so Saul decides to try Plan B. If God isn’t answering, let’s try the devil.
So Saul searches the land for a witch, and he finds one in the town of En Dor. She already has a familiar spirit, so he asks her to do a seance to call up another spirit from the land of the dead. She’s a little nervous, though, because the OLD Saul had outlawed divination. She could get in big trouble if she were caught. In a huge double shot of both dramatic and situational irony, Saul swears to God that she won’t get in trouble for doing it. Really, Saul?
Now, here is where scholars disagree. Did God allow the real Samuel to come up out of the earth in a one-time deal just to deliver the news of Saul’s death? Or, was the witch just seeing a demonic apparition? In any case, the figure wears the mantle of a prophet and lets Saul know that he’s not too happy with being bothered just now. Saul says he’s desperate. God isn’t answering, the Philistines are about to attack, and he needs some advice. Here Saul is in a great deal of denial. Instead of realizing the seriousness of what he has done in turning to the occult, he is still trying to go back to the good old days when God was with him and Samuel was always right there to help him out.
Then “Samuel” delivers a triple punch to the gut. He reminds Saul that his kingdom has been removed from him and given to David for Saul’s own disobedience. He informs him that the Philistines will indeed attack and prevail over Israel, and he tells him that Saul and his sons will die the next day. All of this is too much for Saul. He is weak from having fasted all day and night, and he falls down.
The witch and Saul’s servants convince him to eat something before he leaves to face his last day on earth. The thing that strikes me here is that the witch seems to have a heart for Saul. She kills her own calf and cooks up a good meal for the guy before he leaves. This goes to show that even people who are into the occult can do good things in the natural. It’s really sad when you think of the futility of these two characters’ lives as they share this last meal. What is a comfort to them is a poignant reminder to the reader of how pointless it all is in the face of an eternity without God.
Dear God, please forgive us when we allow frustration to get to us. We know the devil’s attacks are nothing in the face of the promises you have given us in your Word. Help us to wait on your timing instead of trying to take matters into our own hands Help us to do things your way and remain in submission to you. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 1 Samuel 25-26.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Samuel 23-24.
Blogging Through 1 Samuel 21-22
1 Samuel 21
Lies and Supplies
On the run and out of options, David turns to the priest Ahimelech at Nob for help. Samuel the prophet couldn’t protect David from the murderous king Saul, nor could his best friend Jonathan, the prince. Escape seemed his only choice, but for that he would need supplies. The priest is surprised to see him there by himself, but David quickly makes up a story about a secret mission for the king. Now the reader knows this is a lie, but Ahimelech totally believes it. David then tells him that he needs bread and weapons for his trip, stat.
The priest would love to help, but there is only one problem. The only available bread was the showbread that was holy. Ahimelech had just that day pulled the old bread from the table before Lord and replaced it with fresh, so the older bread was free to be used for the priests and their families. David assures the priest that he and his men have kept themselves from women and are holy vessels. He had a real need for bread at that moment, and the priest gave it to him. Later, in Mark 2:23-28, we see Jesus telling this exact story to the Pharisees who were complaining about His disciples gleaning grain on the Sabbath. In both cases, hungry people trumped ritual observance. By telling that story, Jesus basically affirmed that Ahimelech did the right thing, and the Pharisees should just simmer down.
As for weapons, the priest says there is only one in the house. It is the very weapon that David took from Goliath the giant. It is quite the mighty sword, and David is pumped. It is interesting here to note that the whole reason that the priest had it was because David must have donated it after his battle. He gave the prize to the Lord for His glory, and in his time of need, God gave it back to him. That must have been some encouragement for David at that moment, and isn’t that just what God does for us? When we need a little reminder that He is there, He always finds a way to show us.
Foreshadowing and Something Weird
One bit of foreshadowing here before David leaves is a seemingly random mention of Doeg the Edomite. He is a chief herdsman who “belonged to Saul” who happened to be there that day and saw the whole thing. Not good.
The next section is kind of weird. David and his small band of men flee to Gath for safety. Now, Gath is the city where the Philistine Goliath came from. After all, the enemy of my enemy is my friend, right? But before he even gets a chance to ask for protection, the king’s men recognize him, saying,
Is this not David the king of the land? Did they not sing of him to one another in dances, saying: ‘Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands’?”1 Samuel 21:11
David gets all freaked out that they might take him for an enemy. He pretends to be crazy, scratching on doors and drooling. The king, possibly to protect David from his own people, goes along with the act and disgustedly sends him away. David is then able to flee again, this time to the cave of Adullam.
1 Samuel 22
An Army Builds
While David and his men are in the cave, his brothers hear that he is there and go to join him. But they aren’t alone. In all, David picks up about four hundred men. Men who were in distress, in debt, or discontented came to him, and he became their captain. They may not have been the strongest or the best, but God would use them for His glory just like He does today.
The next order of business was for David to get his parents safely tucked away in Mizpah with the King of Moab for protection. There, the prophet Gad gives him advice to head on over to Judah.
Flip to Saul
Narration then switches to Saul, and we find him under a tamarisk tree in Ramah. He has his spear in his hand, and he appears to be trying to drum up some support. “Hear now, you Benjamites! Will the son of Jesse give every one of you fields and vineyards, and make you all captains of thousands and captains of hundreds? (like I will, he seems to say)” How come nobody told me that my son was in league with him? Is everybody against me?
Here’s where that earlier foreshadowing pops up. Doeg the Edomite who was there the day David got the bread and sword of Goliath tattles on Ahimelech the priest. He tells Saul that the priest gave David the provisions and even “inquired of the Lord for him.” So Saul calls Ahimelech and all the other priests of Nob to him and asks about it. Ahimelech tells the truth but also mentions that he really had no idea anything was amiss since David had always been such a faithful servant to Saul in the past (knife to the heart for Saul here).
A Grisly Murder and Another Escape
The king tells his servants to murder the priests because they sided with David and didn’t even tell Saul he was there, but the servants were like, “Kill priests? No thanks.” Their refusal should have clued Saul into the idea that this was NOT the right thing to do, but Saul was too far gone at this point. He turns to Doeg the Edomite and orders the hit. Doeg swivels and kills 85 priests plus men, women, children, nursing infants, oxen, donkeys, and sheep in Nob. Rage much?
One of Ahimelech’s sons named Abiathar escapes and runs to tell David. It was David’s lie that put the priests in danger, and David realizes it and regrets it. Sin has consequences now, and it did back then too. If he had just been honest with the priest, they might have been protected from Saul’s wrath. Too late to save the rest, David adopts Abiathar into his group and vows to watch out for him.
Dear God, we come to you in our weakness but with willing hearts. Please use us for your glory. Keep us from sin that has consequences for ourselves and others even when we are sorry. Please watch out for us as our loving Father and encourage our hearts. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 1 Samuel 19-20.
Blogging Through 1 Samuel 15-16
1 Samuel 15
Have you ever found yourself in a position of being unsure of what the Lord would have you to do in a certain situation? Nothing is black and white, just lots of shades of grey? Well, as we enter Chapter 15, we see that Saul is NOT in this position. God, through Samuel, tells him exactly what to do without leaving even a hint of doubt:
“Now go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass.”1 Samuel 15:3
Sounds clear, right? The Amalekites have a nasty, violent history with Israel, but what’s even more, their doom had already been prophesied in Deuteronomy 25:18. They are slated to be destroyed, their remembrance “blotted out.” Saul was supposed to kill everything.
But that’s not what Saul did. Saul killed everything – except their King Agag, and the very best of the sheep, and the very best of the oxen, and the very best of the fatlings, and the very best of the lambs…oh, and anything else that was good. He kept all that.
Now, his reasoning seemed sound enough in his own mind. He kept them as a sacrifice unto the Lord. See, Saul didn’t take God at His word. Killing the commoners and the second-rate livestock was no problem, but he refused to destroy the things that he perceived as having value. (Why throw all this great stuff away when we can use it as a sacrifice to God?) He thought he knew best in the situation, just like in Chapter 13 when he refused to wait for Samuel to make the sacrifices. Saul refused to submit to the Lord his God.
That makes me think of another verse…”There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death” (Proverbs 14:12).
But the worst part here is that Saul didn’t even realize what he had done. Samuel greeted him the next day, and Saul was all like, “I have performed the commandment of the Lord.” Wow. And the rest of that conversation is just as cringeworthy for anyone with a hint of the fear of God. Saul THOUGHT he was doing the right thing even in his disobedience. It took several, several paragraphs for Samuel to drill down into the situation deep enough for Saul to realize that he had really messed things up again.
Then Samuel gives the theme of the chapter for you and me: “Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice and to hearken than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” When we know what the Lord wants from us, we have to give it to Him. We can’t hold things back, using even “good things” as an excuse. We must obey God in all situations where we know or even think we know what He wants us to do. If we don’t, we are in sin which erases anything good that could have possibly come out of it.
Saul Loses His Crown
Then Samuel delivers the kill shot to Saul, “Because thou has rejected the word of the Lord, he hath also rejected thee from being king.” (See picture above.)
NOW Saul is sorry. As soon as he realized that God was not playing, he apologizes and tries to get Samuel to act all natural. Samuel turns from him, Saul grabs on, and his mantle is torn in two. Now, as we all know, things that happen in the natural are often symbolic for the spiritual realm. When the mantle, a symbol of the power of Samuel’s office as prophet, is “rent” or torn, Samuel says “The Lord hath rent the kingdom of Israel from thee this day, and hath given it to a neighbor of thine, that is better than thou.” Oh, snap.
In the last scene, we see Samuel, zealous for the Lord, makes sushi of King Agag before returning to his house, never to see Saul again until the day of his death. Samuel feels bad for Saul, and the Lord repents that he had ever chosen Saul as King.
1 Samuel 16
There is a small break in time, and Chapter 16 opens with the Lord asking Samuel just how long he is planning to mourn for Saul. God wasn’t going to change His mind about this. In fact, He had already chosen the next king of Israel. Samuel needed to get up, splash some water on his face, and get moving. Oh, and just so Saul doesn’t get suspicious, Samuel was to take a heifer with him and say he was going to make a sacrifice to the Lord.
Samuel is sent to Bethlehem to see a man named Jesse. Everybody there is kind of freaking out that a man of Samuel’s power would show up on their doorstep, but he tells them to relax. He just want to make a sacrifice to God there, and oh, by the way, could you send Jesse and his eight sons on over to the sacrifice too?
Now, if you will remember the last time Samuel was sent to anoint a king, he was looking for the tallest hunk of a guy around. This time, God doesn’t want the ideal candidate by man’s standards. Instead, God wants a man after His own heart. So God tells Samuel to ask Jesse’s eight sons to pass by him, and He would let him know which one He had chosen. Well, seven sons go by with a firm “no” from God despite how perfect some of them seem to be in the natural. Finally, Samuel has to ask if there are any more sons because Jesse didn’t even think to call David in from the field.
David is Anointed King
Youngest of the sons, healthy and good looking, David is a keeper of the sheep. As soon as he comes near Samuel, God gives the green light. Again, Samuel anoints a king, pouring oil on his head right in front of everybody. David receives the Holy Spirit, and Samuel goes back home.
Saul, for his part is in bad shape now. The Spirit of the Lord has gone out from him, and an evil spirit comes to give him grief. Some of Saul’s servants suggest that he get someone to play some soothing music for him, and they know just the guy: David. We see God’s hand here in a big way as this little shepherd is called out of the fields and into the house of the king. Jesse sends David with some gifts for the king, and David gets a trial run. He works out great. Every time the evil spirits come, David plays some harp music, the evil spirits flee, and Saul is refreshed.
What is amazing to me about this last part here is how David the shepherd just happens to play the harp really well. Not only that, he just happened to have played that harp for some people who are in position to recommend a good harpist to a king in need. When we think about our own lives and the skills we pick up over the years, often times if we look closely, God has used or is using some of those skills we have picked up along the way to get us right into position to be used for His glory.
Dear God, please help us to always obey you and never think to ourselves that we know better than You do. You are God, and we are not. Let us submit to you with an open heart and seek to do your will rather than our own. We know that all things work to the good for those who love the Lord and are the called according to His purpose. Use our skills and talents to put us in the position to be used by you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 1 Samuel 13-14.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Samuel 11-12.
Blogging Through 1 Samuel 9-10
1 Samuel 9
Sometimes we ask for things that are bad for us, and God gives them to us. That seems to be a big theme of 1 Samuel 9-10. If you will remember, in in the previous chapter, despite everything God had done for them as their leader in the past, the people of Israel were not happy with God’s system of judges. Instead, they wanted an earthly king just like the neighboring cities. So God gave them exactly what they asked for.
The king God had all picked out was a tall, dark, and handsome man name Saul. He LOOKED like the perfect king. He came from a good family, and he was physically imposing. He was just what Israel ordered. Since he was from the tribe of Benjamin, though, it took some doing to get him from the city where he lived to the city where Samuel the prophet was in order to anoint him as king.
That leads us to another theme in these chapters: God is in control even when we don’t realize it. In this case, it took some lost donkeys to get Saul out of his house and onto the road for a search…right up to Samuel’s door. Saul and his servant looked for a long time for those donkeys before just about giving up. Then the servant realized that they had just entered a city where Samuel the prophet “just happened” to be visiting at the time. Prophets know things, right? They should ask the prophet for help.
Long story short, a very “fortuitous” meeting on the road got them right into the presence of Samuel himself. He invited them to dinner, gave Saul the best seat in the house with the best dinner portion, and told him he was about be the new king.
1 Samuel 10
If Saul was the star of 1 Samuel 9, Samuel shines in 1 Samuel 10. First, Samuel tells Saul’s servant to get lost and privately anoints Saul with oil and kisses him. The oil is the physical representation of the Holy Spirit that was soon to follow, and the kiss meant that Saul had Samuel’s blessing. Samuel then gives Saul a stern reminder: “The Lord has anointed you commander over his inheritance.” Basically, you may wear the headgear, but God is still on His throne. Saul is merely a steward over the people and things that belong to God. (Just like you and I are stewards over the people and things He places in our lives.)
Now, lest Saul was to head home thinking this was all Samuel’s idea, Samuel prophesies three signs that will come to pass to confirm that he is really hearing from God.
- The first sign is that when Saul gets to Rachel’s tomb, he will hear news about the donkeys. Check.
- The second one is that men with goats by the terebinth tree of Tabor will be carrying bread and wine and will, for no apparent reason, give Saul two loaves of bread. Check again.
- Third, a group of prophets with various musical instruments will come by prophesying, and Saul himself will be “turned into another man” (similar to being born again) and prophesy too. Now, Saul is by no means a prophet; he was just touched by the Holy Spirit and prophesies at that moment. Triple check and mate.
These signs are called “confirmations,” and God still works that way today, making sure we have plenty of indications exactly what the will of God is for us in our lives.
This leads us to another theme: God communicates with His people. He talked to Samuel directly, and He talked to Saul through lost donkeys, signs, and words prophesied out of his very own mouth.
Now, here’s the foreshadowing part: through Samuel, God tells Saul to wait seven days until he is publicly announced to be the king of Israel. He has to submit to God and wait on His timing because He is still very much in control of the show. We will see later on how waiting is the very issue that gets Saul in trouble with God.
Fast forward a week. God is giving Israel what it wants, and He is going to make sure they understand exactly what they are getting. Samuel says,
“Thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all kingdoms and from those who oppressed you. But you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, ‘No, set a king over us!’ Now therefore, present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your clans.’”
Through an elaborate lottery system, Samuel “chooses” the new king. He lines up all the tribes and picks the tribe of Benjamin. Then he lines up all the families and picks the family of Matri. Finally, he lines up that family and chooses Saul. Of course, we already knew that, but this is just one more way God confirms to Israel and us that God is still in control. Now, as soon as Saul’s name is called, everybody has sort of a moment of concern when Saul is nowhere to be found. We find him hiding among the equipment in humility, and when people finally catch a glimpse of their new, tall hunk of a king, they shout “Long live the king!” (They have always wanted to say that!)
Last scene. Samuel lays down some rules about what exactly it’s going to mean to have a king, and Saul goes home, accompanied by some new brave, godly friends. A few people seem to grumble about the new arrangement, but Saul isn’t too worried.
When we end the chapter of 1 Samuel 10, we find Saul in a very good place. He has been chosen and anointed by God, filled with the Holy Spirit, and enthusiastically supported by most of Israel. He has received gifts, has been surrounded by brave men touched by God, and has wisdom enough not to take every critic as an enemy. It’s hard to believe that with this kind of start, everything could end so very badly for poor King Saul.
Dear God, thank you so much for being in control of our lives even when things feel out of control. Please help us to listen for your communication to us and be open when You speak your will for our lives. If sometimes we pray for things that are not good for us, be merciful to us and guide us in the direction you will have us to go. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.
Interested in another story about one of God’s kings? Try Hope For Lost Loved Ones: God’s Mercy in Trials. In it, you will see how an idolatrous king of Judah seeks repentance and finds it, teaching us how to pray for our lost loved ones.
Join Stacey Lynn Wells at Scribbles & Sustenance as she blogs through 1 Samuel 7-8.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Samuel 5-6.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Samuel 4.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Samuel 3.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Samuel 2.
Join Tammy SD at Telling Hearts and Grandma Mary Martha as she blogs through 1 Samuel 1.