March 20th

1 Samuel 4-8

  • 4:1-10—Moral of the story: when you want God on your side, you probably shouldn’t spend your entire life deliberately violating literally every law he created. One of the most astonishing things about the Israelites is that even when they completely ignored or abandoned God, they always assumed that God was on their side, because they were God’s people. Stupid? Yes. But, can you honestly say you’ve never done the same thing?
  • 4:21—Can you imagine having such a depressing name? I’m sure this guy grew up wishing his mom had just given him a normal name, like Abednego, Zebedee or Ham. Yes, those are all real names of people in the Bible. There are also three (yes, THREE) men named “Dodo” in there.
  • 5:1-5 – Dagon was a Philistine god and the Ark of the Covenant was placed in Dagon’s temple. The Dagon statue’s demise was clear proof that even though the Philistines defeated the Israelites, the God of Israel was greater.
  • 5:6-12—The Ark of the Covenant is not merely symbolic- the Ark is where God is. Literally, God’s presence on Earth in the Old Testament is in the air right above the Ark, between the angel statues on its top. Being in the presence of the Ark without first being ritually purified according to the instructions laid down in Leviticus is universally fatal, and the Philistines are learning this the hard way. (You have to wonder how the Nazis in Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark read these stories and thought stealing the ark to make their evil armies invincible was a viable plan. It’s kind of a major plot hole.)
  • 6:1-4—It’s never really explained how these pagan priests knew what to offer to God.
  • 6:4—I’ve always wondered what a golden tumor would look like; seems like it would essentially just be a lump of gold.
  • 6:6—For one brief moment, it looks like God’s dealings with Pharoah may have actually taught a lesson to Israel’s enemies. Of course, as we’ll read later, it doesn’t stick.
  • 6:19 – Clearly the sins of these men who were struck down were great. The holiness of God and sinfulness of man cannot mix.
  • 7:3—Here Samuel is filling the role of Judge, like so many others before him.
  • 7:12-13 – An “Ebenezer” is a sign of remembrance. In the song, “Come Thou Fount”, in one of the later verses it says, “Here I raise mine Ebenezer.” When you want to remember a great thing God has done, it’s important to make a specific note or monument to remember his faithfulness.
  • 8:1-3—Just like Eli and his sons, Samuel’s sons don’t live up to their father’s expectations.
  • 8:4-7 – Verse 7 is one of the saddest in all of Scripture. God’s plan was for him to be the king of Israel so they wouldn’t need a human king. God knew that this was the very best plan for them, but the Israelites rejected his plan and wanted to go with their own.
  • 8:8-18—God is going to give them what they want, but this is going to be a classic cautionary tale: “be careful what you wish for” has never been more appropriate than it is here.
  • 8:19-21 – God spent generations and generations trying to set the Israelites apart. The point was to have them be separate and dedicated specifically to God. Here they decide they want to be just like the other nations and operate as they do.

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