Category Archives: Samuel I

September 1, 2015 I Samuel 28-31 (19)

This was the story of David taking over from Saul and Saul’s death. Discussion about mediums and the witch of Endor. By divine law, mediums and spirituals were banned from Israel in Deuteronomy 18:11 and were not to be defiled by them (Leviticus 19:31). So when Saul brings this to a medium, he indicated he was very distressed to go against this long established principle of God, one more indication of how far Saul had departed from God. The story surprisingly the power of the witch of Endor as when Saul asks her to find Samuel and bring him back from the dead, she does just that. And Samuel then tells Saul there is no hope for him and that he is doomed to die either by the Philistines or himself the next day.  I guess this is an indication of the writers’ belief in mediums or spirituals.  The web site Samuel, Saul and the Witch of Endor states essentially that the author says that “Satan would like nothing more than for people to dabble in the occult world of spiritism and necromancy. God’s commandments regarding these things are designed to protect us from the schemes of our enemy, the devil, who “prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).”

What validates God’s presence in our lives. It brings up the discussion of where Is God. Maybe we aren’t pleased with the response. What is the covenant? It is not a contract like we may want it to be. Can we think about how good and bad both happen as part of our lives. God works in mysterious ways. Did Luther say there is no free will, we are bound by sin. The spirit comes to us to strive towards God. We don’t find God, He finds us. It isn’t an absent God but a god we keep striving after. No matter what happens it is what God is willing for us. Saul’s death is one of 4 suicides in the Bible.  What is God’s plan as presented in this story.

Here are some Bible dictionaries’ definitions of Ziklag. Ziklag Definitions There is an interesting reference at the following website:   The author, Chip Brogden, makes the point that David makes the point that this story in I Samuel 30 is one of the most severe tests thus far  in David’s life. The Amalekites had invaded the south and burned Ziklag and taken all the women captives including David’s wives  Abigall and Ahinoam. David and all his 600 men were extremely distressed at this disastrous turn of events. The men were so angry that they threatened to take it out on David and stone him. but how did David respond? David asked Abiathar the priest to bring him the ephod and David inquired of the Lord as to whether he should pursue the Amalekites. The Lord answered that he would surely overtake them. David immediately set off and with the help of a defector from the Amalekites found them and destroyed them all slave 400 young men who escaped on camels. David rescued all the women and children who had been  taken.  We had a little discussion about the fact that there had been 200 of the 600 men who were not able to go with to kill the Amalekites and yet David gave them of the spoils of the battle as well. The men were grumbling about it, and David said “What the Lord has given us, we will share with those who stayed behind with the baggage. And furthermore, he made it a rule of Israel from that day on to share the spoils of war with the support folks. Maybe this is like Jesus and his story of the 3 laborers who showed up at different times of the day at the vineyard and nevertheless received the same pay.  Would it be inconvenient if Jesus walked into the room and talked with us. Don’t diminish the spirit that appears to us.

We will do Colossians next with a reading from Psalms as our beginning.

August 25, 2015 I Samuel 26-27

It is interesting to follow this story, because some Ziphites came to Saul at Gibeah and told him where David was hiding and Saul immediately set out to find him but didn’t succeed. Yet a little later, Jonathan easily found David in the area. Maybe they communicated by cell phones, but Saul didn’t have the latest technology. Then later, David goes to Saul’s camp and finds him unguarded but says he will not kill Saul, because Saul is anointed of God to be king. Then later on, David announces to Saul that he has been in his camp and had the opportunity but didn’t kill him. Saul says he will not kill David. Then David moves to the area ruled by the Philistines and settles in but proceeds to act as if he is a terrorist. Achish who allowed him to be in Ziklag  would ask who he had raided. David replied, “Oh, the Negev of Judah, or the Negev of Jerahmeel, or the Negev of the Kenites. These were all towns in Israel, and sow Ashish thought he was creating a problem for himself and would never be able to go back to Israel.He never left a single person alive lest one show up in Gath and tell Achish what David was really doing. Achish wasn’t aware he was raiding the Canaanite people of the area such as the Geshurites, the Girzites, and the Amalekites.  This would strengthen the appeal to the Isrealites. Here is an interesting reference site that describes what is going on with David and Saul at that time. David, Achish, and Saul

August 11, 2015, I Samuel 22-23 (16)

Saul appears to be acting in a bipolar manner in that at times, David is a trusted person in his court and at other times, Saul is intent on killing him. Interesting that Saul couldn’t find David, but Jonathan found him quite easily. Doeg killed all the priests and other people at Nob at Saul’s command.  Why did Saul kill all these people. It doesn’t make sense, but then Saul frequently acted out of paranoia and was out of control.  How could God allow this to happen. See I Samuel 2:27-32. There is a big contrast between god talking to David and not intervening to save the priests. Saul started as a good guy but was corrupted over time. Saul is jealous. Is he an archetype of a jealous God. We got into a discussion of a benevolent dictator and the ways in which that works. That appears to be a reason that Donald Trump is so popular today, because he says he will do things immediately. Some people want action and that seems to be lacking in our government today. Why do we take the Old Testament stories more seriously than most of the Jews. Our faith is based on the NT and not the Old Testament today.

August 4, 2015 I Samuel 20-21 (18)

We discussed 21. The first part was about the consecrated bread and lead to the holiness of the bread and communion. Everything is holy? It may be about matters of respect. How do you treat the holiness of the bible. People were concerned about throwing away lesson inserts as they were part of the bible. Man can’t make something holy. Vs 10-11 he fled from Saul and others thought he was king. And David was afraid of king achish. This a bunch of disconnected stories.

David was going to act on whim but Abigail stopped him. Then Nabal died and David married Abigail. She saved Nabal’s life but god killed him later. Abigail was a woman of wisdom. They didn’t seem to have a concept of the value of life. David wanted some hospitality from Nabal.

Abigail didn’t tell Nabal until the morning of the feast and  Nabal had a heart attack and died ten days later. David’s instinct was to wipe out naval because of the disrespect. What about the hospitality of the Arab people.

July 28, 2015 I Samuel 18-19 (16)

This begans as a story of the love and friendship between Jonathan and David. The Lutheran Study Bible makes sure that this does not refer to homosexual love. They say that this is the love like that between Jacob and Benjamin and even between Saul and David. They also indicate that the Hebrew verb means the friendship version of love, not the sexual version. It is interesting that Jonathan pledges allegiance to Israel’s future king despite the fact that Jonathan should himself be in line to the throne after his father Saul. It is also rather amazing that despite all of the intrigue between Saul and David, that throughout the next few chapters Jonathan stands by David.

This begins the issue of David’s jealousy when the women praise David for his victories over the Philistines and sing of Saul killing thousands while David kills his 10 thousands.  So obviously, David will have the kingdom because that is the only thing left for him to pursue. Again we hear mention of the Spirit departing from Saul but being with David.  And again, the Lord was with David and therefore David had success in all his undertakings. This is the underpinning of a lot of the religious right that they will be successful if they only court God’s favor. This is the message of the Crystal Cathedral and the preaching of Pastor Schuler.

July 21, 2015 I Samuel 16-17 (18)

Here right away in chapter 16, God tells Samuel that he has rejected Saul as king and points him to David, Jesse’s son. Yet we go on for several chapters continuinuing to hear the travails of the problems between Saul and David. It appears that God doesn’t have a good way to deal with getting rid of Saul. It is interesting when Samuel comes to Bethlehem the elders come to him trembling and asked if he had come peaceably? Then when Samuel views Jesse’s sons, he chooses the youngest one who has a ruddy appearance and David will follow the principal that there is one God rather than Saul pursuing many gods. It is noted in verse 16:13 that the spirit stays with David. The Lutheran Study Bible notes however that the Spirit comes and goes three times for Samson and twice for Saul. It also says that Samuel’s focus is directed away from Saul’s ruined potential to what God will do through Jesse’s youngest son. Now David was employed in Saul’s service to become his armor-bearer. One of the many twists in the relationship between Saul and David.

Then we get to chapter 17 and the battle between David and Goliath. It must have been interesting to see the armies lined up on separate parts of the valley facing each other and this huge giant of a man challenging to have someone come and fight him rather than the armies fighting each other. It sounds like a western shoot-out!! Goliath’s army weighed over 125 lbs. At that time, duels between representative strongmen were a common way to avoid more widespread bloodshed.  Here again, Saul lost his faith in God’s ability to help Saul win the battle. David compares his ability to fight agains lions and bears who were threatening sheep with his ability to fight Goliath. Here again, even though David had been Saul’s armor bearer, Saul in verse 17:55-56, that he didn’t know who he was. He asked Abner and Abner too and he didn’t know either.

July 14, 2015 Samuel 15 (17)

Here again, God required total obedience and Saul disobeyed by saving the prime sheep and goats in his battle with the Amalekites. He also saved King Agag. Despite the fact that Saul made a burnt offering to God with the prime sheep and goats he took, God did not see that as a good thing. Here it seems that Saul has tried to appease God by giving him a burnt offering which God has not accepted. In this case, it appears that God didn’t accept it because it was the result of Saul’s disobedience. When Samuel found out he called for King Agag to be br0ght to him and he hacked him to pieces. There are several different translations of how the king felt about meeting Samuel. The Message says that Agag went by dragging his feet and muttering that he would be better off dead. He didn’t know that Samuel thought that as well. In the ASV it says that Agag came cheerfully and thought everything would be ok. KJV has Agag coming delicately and thought the bitterness of death is past. The Lutheran study Bible says the same as ASV, and adds a note that it may also be translated as he came trembling or in fetters and also expresses false confidence about his fate. It seems very strange to see such different translations. After Samuel had hacked the king to death, he told Saul that God would not let him remain king of Israel because of his disobedience. Is this sour grapes on Samuel’s part? He never wanted a king for Israel in the first place. Mark says this is a story that is intended to be told in order to suggest the important role of God in the lives of this small group of people who are trying to accomplish the promise of God and establish themselves in this land. It is interesting that they say they could mount a force of 200,000 men from Israel and 10,000 men of Judah. Steve says that God is being used as an excuse by Israel to suggest a higher being was directing and guiding all their actions. Mark suggested that this book was written about a century after it happened and that maybe verses 34-35 were added to finish out the chapter and the story by putting Samuel in place as the person who heard from God and carried out his command. Mark talked about living your life by rules. He gave as an example dealing with his discretionary fund where he has a rule of not giving more than $250 per year to non-members. But if he hears a good story of a really troubling problem he breaks his rule. Would the God of this story understand or would he insist that Mark follow the rule no matter what? This is a story that deals with the establishment of a nation, namely Israel who had prophets and judges and then finally a king. They had a vision from God about the nation they would create and they built stories that showed how their nationhood was achieved. All of these stories were built around God’s promises, guidance, and commands.

July 7, 2015 I Samuel 13-14

Today we launched into Saul’s battles with the Philistines. It is an interesting story. In chapter 10 verse 7, Samuel says Saul should go forth and prepare for battle, but to wait for Samuel to give the burnt offering in order to have God’s guidance. But after the initial battle, and while waiting for Samuel, Saul became impatient when Samuel didn’t arrive when he was supposed to, and Saul thought he would lose his people, so he offered the burn offering. When Samuel arrived, he was extremely angry and said that because Saul had not followed his orders, Saul would not serve his whole life as king. Then Saul went into battle, but the other big story is his son Jonathon. Saul told his troops that they should not eat until they had defeated the philistines. Jonathon had not heard this and he saw some honey on the ground and ate it and then he got a great idea to go up to make battle with the Philistines. He made a deal with his armor bearer that depending on what the Philistines said they would either charge or hold back. The word came and they charged and killed 20 men just like that. This led to a rout of the Philistines. When Saul found out that Jonathon had disobeyed, he said Jonathon would have to stand for the punishment which was death. But the troops rose up and said this was a foolish oath because they had been too hungry to fight. Saul can’t win even when he tries to do the right thing. But as Mark kept pointing out, this is Samuel’s book and his writers are going to show him in the best light. There was also the issue of the Hebrews fighting with the Philistines at first against the Israelites. Then when they saw things going against them, they left the Philistines and fought with the Israelites. I guess they were sort of mercenaries. I think this is a story about the fight between two powerful men who wanted to show their power. However, Saul needed a better publicist to get his version across. But in the whole set of events, Saul was always at the edge of God’s will. He hurried the priest in his blessing, and he made rash judgments.

Mark talked about the source document theory. Namely that the J source is full of factual details about the event such as is seen in Genesis 1, while the P source is more poetic and flowing like Genesis 2. Here is a link to a reference about the source theory: JEDP Source Theory

Bill’s question in all this is whether this is to be treated as an interesting story as Rabbi Portman  suggested, or does this provide some lessons for life and how we should live our lives in God. If so this suggests a sort of unbalanced view of the necessity of obedience to God in our lives.

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?