Monthly Archives: April 2014

04/29/2014 Samuel 1-2:10 (21)

Mark suggested that we use the confirmands’ study Bible’s plan of study and read and study the important parts of Samuel in 4 weeks. We started this morning by reading the beginning which recounted Hannah’s struggle to get pregnant and then fulfilling her promise to the Lord to give her son to the service of God. The passage detailed her frustration with getting pregnant, her visit to Eli at the temple and her prayers that she might be allowed a child who she would promise to bring back to Eli for training. There are some inconsistencies in the text, but it appears that Samuel lived in about 1100 BC, this book was written at a somewhat later time. It is suggested that the book was compiled by someone from the prophetic school using documents from Samuel, Nathan, and Gad. In I Samuel 27:6, it describes the divided monarchy when the ten tribes rebelled against the two tribes of Judah, which occurred after Solomon’s reign. This suggests that the book came together sometime after the death of David (971 BC) through the death of Saul (1011 BC). This book is important because it was a time when the people of God transformed from a loosely affiliated group of tribes into a unified nation under a form of government headed by a king. They traded the turmoil of life under the judges for the stability of a strong central monarchy.

Al suggested that verse 2:6 is a prophecy of Christ dying and being raised from the dead. The Message version of this verse is “God brings down death and God brings life, brings down the grave and raises up.” This is part of Hannah’s song. This song brings to mind Mary’s Magnificat. This poem or song is very similar to Psalm 112. There is a discussion of it in the following link: (copy to your browser to see this page, or do a search on Song of Hannah. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Song_of_Hannah It is suggested that this song paves the way for a major theme of the book of Samuel, the Power and willingness of Yahweh to intrude, intervene and invert. Some people also believe that this song was actually the song of praise directed at a king rather than a prayer referring to the birth of a prophet. They think that this might have been the song dedicated to the kingship of Saul.

Al suggests again that Hannah might be presumed to represent Israel and wonders about the meaning of Israel being barren, while others are being very fertile. Maybe this was the barrenness of not being a cohesive and being ruled by the Philistines at that time. Maybe God needed them to come together to fulfill the plans he had for their future.

4/22/2014 I Samuel 30 (19)

Today, we read I Samuel 30 which described the early life of David and his time at Ziklag. The reading described how David was anointed by God to be the next king of Israel at the age of 15. However, Saul was not ready to give up as king so he followed David and tried to kill him. David went for refuge at Ziklag, the home of the Philistines and acquiesced to Saul’s demands there for 16 months. Then he obeyed God’s commands to  defeat the Amelekites who had invaded Ziklag and burned it and taken all of the women captive. When David pursued them, he fought from daylight one day to nightfall the next and destroyed them and released the captives including his two wives.

Then we listened to an evangelist, Rod Hairston from Baltimore, talking about the need to take charge of our lives by praising the lord. We had a number of questions at the end about whether it is the right thing to take charge by our selves, but his admonition, was to take charge by praying to God, and by praising God. He said that the problems occur in our lives when we attempt to do things on our own without God’s help. But many aspects of the talk were like a pep talk to help people in a lot of trouble. We will discuss our reactions to this next week.

We welcomed Hal to our group today.

4/15/2014 Galatians 6 (18)

We finished our discussion of Galatians today. Paul started off by addressing his Brothers, but in newer versions, it suggests Brothers and Sisters. Women were significant in the Bible, but were often nameless. There is a conflict between verse 2 to help others,  and in verse 5 to be responsible for yourself. Chuck says the word that comes to us is humility. Humility is acknowledging our role in life whereas self degradation sometimes is just done to gain attention. We discussed this quite about. We need to be honest about our role in life and our purpose in life. That led us to the question of what it means to be spiritual. It was suggested that being spiritual mean being faithful to your beliefs in Christ. Going to the Abbey helps Tom and Mark recharge their spiritual batteries. Is Paul saying that we should think about what you are doing in your life and faith? Verse 2 refers to the law of Christ, does this negate the role of the spirit? The law of Christ is to love your neighbor. If we define love as knowing how to treat people and not trying to slot them into categories or stereotypes. To return to the admonition in verse 2, how do we help the people who are in need through no fault of their own. Do we abandon our help to those in need because there are some misuses of what is provided to them? How can we follow the law of Christ. I was reminded of the Buddhist Ten Commandments that were very interesting. I saw them on our recent trip to Viet Nam in a Buddhist temple. The commandments below came from http://wisdomquarterly.blogspot.com/2010/10/buddhisms-ten-commandments.html.  Buddhists really don’t have commandments, but these are precepts that people are encouraged to follow in their lives.

  1. Thou art well advised not to take the lives of living beings.
  2. Thou art well advised not to take what is not given.
  3. Thou art well advised not to engage in sexual misconduct.
  4. Thou art well advised not to commit perjury (speak falsely when questioned as a witness).
  5. Thou art well advised not to speak divisively (separating those who are united).
  6. Thou art well advised not to speak harshly (offensively).
  7. Thou art well advised not to speak frivolously.**
  8. Thou art well advised not to covet.
  9. Thou art well advised not to harbor ill-will.
  10. Thou art well advised not to hold wrong-views.***