Get ready because this is a powerful book with a lot packed in! We meet, Samuel, a faithful guide for Israel, Saul, Israel’s first king, and David, who we’ve already read a lot about in the Psalms. The Israelites reject God as king, Saul rises and falls, and David, though extremely unlikely, becomes a man after God’s own heart.
Like in today’s reading from John, Jesus and the religious authorities were in a continual battle and a great deal of it revolved around priorities. The Pharisees and Sadducees knew God’s word and it said you could not work on the Sabbath. Jesus, on the other hand, believed the law’s importance and authority had limits, particularly in light of the suffering of another human. Today, Jesus prioritized a crippled man’s healing over the law. The religious authorities did not approve.
1 Samuel 1:1-2:21:
- 5 – It was not unusual for a man to abandon a barren wife.
- 1-8 – Note the similarities between these two women and Rachel and Leah. The less loved wife is able to bear children. Rivalry ensues. But notice how differently Hannah deals with her situation than Rachel.
- 8 – Elkanah sounds like a wonderful, loving man.
- 11 – Hannah is offering the son she hopes for up as a Nazirite, dedicated to the Lord’s service, like Samson.
- 19-20 – Obviously a huge answer to prayer! Note that in ancient Israelite culture, name’s had deep meaning. We’ve seen this a lot. Name’s were not given frivolously, but with great purpose and thought.
- 24-28 – What an incredibly difficult follow through! Hannah desperately wanted a son, but promised him to God’s service. She follows through with her promise and gives Samuel to the Lord. I’m not sure that I could do the same.
- 1-10 – The deep faith and commitment to God expressed in her prayer makes it a little more clear how she was able to keep her promise.
- 12-17 – The sons of Eli would have been priests as well and were not following the laws of how to sacrifice, but instead, taking the parts of the sacrifice that were meant for God.
- 2-9 – We often read these stories and think they’re neat or nice but fail to feel the weight of it. The man beside the pool had been an invalid for 38 years! 38 years is a long time to be sick or disabled! And then suddenly, with just a word, he is able to walk. That’s incredible!
- 9-17 – The religious leaders were very intent on keeping the law. Note that they did not rejoice that the crippled man was healed, they noticed his infraction of picking up his mat. We can tend to be pretty bad about that too. “Sin no more” is also an interesting statement because you wonder what sin of this man Jesus is referring to. He says the same thing to the woman at the well, but he was addressing a specific sin.
- The continuation of this Psalm tells more of the story of God’s faithfulness to the Israelites through their escape from Egypt and his provision for them in the desert. If you were an Israelite reading or hearing this, it would be a great reminder of the lengths to which God was willing to go to save you.
- Quick reactions, decisions, and emotions continue to be associated with folly.
Who is the most boring character in all of Scripture? Many people would say Samuel even though he is instrumental in the development of Israel and its leaders. If you’re looking for a scandal, deceit, and drama, Samuel is not your guy. He was faithful throughout his service, respected by his people, and followed God’s directions even when they were difficult. But here are a couple of things to watch for in this week of our readings in Samuel:
- Hannah, Samuel’s mother, prayed fervently for a child but promised to dedicate him to God
- Samuel was raised primarily by Eli the priest
- In a time when God didn’t speak much, he chose to speak to Samuel
- When the Israelites begged for a king, God told Samuel they weren’t rejecting Samuel, but God
- Samuel anointed Saul as the first King of Israel
This week in John, we’ll read the first of the 12 times Jesus says, “I am…”. This time he says, “I am the bread of life.” Though some of his “I am” statements are cryptic, he reveals himself, in part, through these statements. If our goal is to know and follow Jesus and to become more like him, these “I am” statements are crucial. Look for these throughout the rest of John’s gospel to try to piece together clues into who Jesus is and what he’s about.
Psalm 106, which we’ll read Monday and Tuesday, recounts God’s faithfulness in getting them out of Egypt and caring for them in the wilderness. It’s important to note that the writer of the psalm was not a slave in Egypt, did not witness the water’s part, and never wandered in the desert with Moses. But someone told him about it and those stories gave the writer faith that he shared with others. This is all the more reason that we must share our experiences with God with others.
We have now started our fifth month of reading! That means we are a third of the way through the Bible! That’s no small feat. Keep up the good work and let us know how your commitment to Scripture has impacted your life.