Monthly Archives: June 2015

June 30, 2015 I Samuel 11-12 (19)

Tis was the first action of Saul that cemented his rule in place. In Ch. 12, we have Samuel recounting his history and still says it is evil that the people wanted a king. John raised the issue of the SCOTUS decision to legislate morality. This is a free country Mark said. Mark doesn’t think they are doing thus. This led to various so called religious freedom laws that says companies can discriminate on the basis of the religious views of the owner. We discussed the separation of church and state.

June 23, 2015 Samuel 10:09-37 (15)

Samuel anointed Saul as king. Saul was reluctant to be king and tried to hide from Samuel, but it is hard to hide when you are as big as he was. Gene asked why the Benjamites were chosen as the source of king. Saul prophesized and it would be interesting to know what he said. John said the woman who identified the killer from Charleston said God was absent during the killing. We talked quite a bit about the killing in S.C. And the discrimination that is still very prevalent there. Steve asked if Saul had a flag since we talked a lot about the confederate flag. Where was god? Is he just there when it agrees with our belief. It is difficult to attribute certain actions that god does or doesn’t do or is responsible for accomplishing. The bible encourages us to gain wisdom and that may be what we should be seeking. There are consequences of our actions but where does forgiveness fall in what happens to someone like the shooter in SC. Does it help our own mental health. Was god present or was it evil or the devil in South Carolina. Is God available to be with us in times of need, and not in control of things that happen. Gene talked about God being ever present, but sometimes we don’t recognize his presence and we can’t always understand his actions. Does God actually control our lives, or does God provide a means of dealing with the circumstances that come our way. An important aspect of the shooting in South Carolina was the way survivors and family and close friends feel about the shooter. One said that he had taken so much from her but she forgave him. Mark says there are consequences of our actions and that might be the death penalty for the Mr. Roof. But then how should we feel about him? Can we ever forgive him or is that what God wants us to do. Is it only the downtrodden that do this, like deeply religious African-Americans or the Amish, or should we all feel that way?

June 16, 2015, Samuel 9-10:8 (16)

Samuel met Saul and named him the new king. You could see the hand of God in this story. Saul was seeking to find his father’s donkeys and had traveled along way from home. His servant said he should consult the seer to aid him in his search. Samuel was the seer and invited Saul to his special dinner that he held when he was in the town. Samuel went from town to town as the judge for the people. He instructed his servant to give Saul the best piece of meat and then anointed Saul with olive oil to make him the leader of the people. Samuel met Saul and named him the new king. Talking about the stature of Saul, Mark asked how tall we were when we were younger. He mentioned that Samuel was the seer. John said that the donkeys led Saul to Samuel according to a commentary from the Bible Hub. Saul was tall and commanding among his peers. If you are doing relational work you need to have a magnetic personality. What other leadership characteristics did Saul have. Samuel as the seer went from town to town the people would know when he was coming. Saul was initially reluctant to take on the job. How do we deal with the challenges of job change. You wonder how Saul dealt with the challenge of taking over the leadership of the nation of Israel. We got into a discussion of why we join a church and how we then fit into that community. How did Saul then begin to fit in with the people and assume the leadership of the people and was anointed to lead the people.

June 9, 2015 Samuel 7:3-8 (17)

The Israelites got the ark back and then they vanquished the Philistines with the help of God. They are still are going after foreign gods during the lifetime of Samuel. The judges made up rules and laws as they went, even though laws like the ten commandments and codes like that of Hammurabi had existed since 1750 BCE. They wanted a king maybe because Samuels sons were corrupt and the people were not willing to continue under the judges. The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence and they observed how the Philistines and others prospered under their kings. They didn’t observe the problems kings caused. The judges were closely associated with the religious aspect of the people.
Source theory tracks Samuel from his mothers prayer thru Eli from one source, then another source describes Samuel as a judge, then yet another  source describes the beginning of the kings, Saul and then David. God seems to be woven in and out of their history at this time. God told Samuel to warn the people about the bad things kings can do to a people. Despite Samuel’s warnings the people wanted the king. They felt they were a bunch of unstructured tribes and needed unity to deal with their neighbors, and since all of the neighbors had kings they wanted one too.  God told Samuel to warn the people about kings but then at the end of chapter 8 he says give the people what they want. Ch 8 is sort of praying thru a problem. Mark raised the question of “Who is the authority in my life?” It prompts me to think about that. In that regard, I responded to a survey on global warming yesterday and it prompted me to ask myself if I am doing things that really reflect my views about global warming. The question about who is the authority in my life prompts me to think the same way about God in my life.  And at the time of Samuel, the people see and did what is right in their own eyes, but when people get their way maybe the choices are not always right. Many people today think that they should be able to do, say, and act as if their’s is the only opinion that matters, no matter what this may do to others. This is a very self centered approach. We questioned the number of men in the army, as 400,000. It seems like a huge number to raised by a bunch of nomadic tribes.  We got into a discussion about anger. Be angry., but do not sin. Anger is the luxury of normal people, is a  principle of AA. Several people in our group are angry at one thing or another at this point and it is important that we help them deal with the issues with our prayers and our support in other ways as well.
We briefly go into a discussion about the issues between Islam and Christianity. Living in an essentially Old Testament world as the Muslims and Jews do puts them into an environment of hearing God telling them to vanquish their enemies and slaughtering them all as ISIS is doing. Jesus turned that around with his revolutionary teachings. As Gene says, Jesus is the important God in his life. Christianity is a strange amalgam of the OT and its stories contrasted with  Jesus’ teachings.

June 2, 2015 Samuel 4-7:2 (15)

This is a story about a failure of the Israelites to overcome the Philistines. It is an important story about death and birth, with Eli, and both of his sons dying and Phineas’ wife gave birth after she found out that both Phineas and his brother Hophni had died at the hands of the Philistines. The Israelites set out under the leadership of Hophni and Phineas to defeat the Philistines. They thought that if they had the ark of the covenant with them they would be certain to win the battle. So they directed it to be brought, and the Philistines were very afraid and said we will have to fight our best to overcome the Israelites with the ark. It worked like a motivational speech to a football or basketball team and the Philistines defeated the Israelites and killed 30,000 men that day including Phineas and Hophni. Their evilness in the holy places and their presumption that the ark would bring them victory were probably behind God not supporting them.

The Philistines then found the arc was not a good thing for them as it caused tumors in the people of Ashdod so they passed it to the other cities and the same thing happened so they said the gods of Israel are too powerful and we need to give it back, so they made 5 golden mice and 5 golden tumors and put it on a cart to go back to Beth-Shemish. Hal said that some scholars think that the disease was the Bubonic plague, hence the mouse or rats and the tumors. The Levites took charge of the Ark at that point when it got to Beth-shemish. It is interesting that although the Philistines thought the god of the Israelites was super powerful, they did not convert or begin to worship God. God seemed to abandon them in battle, but then came to bring disease to their enemies.