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.

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