My daily exploration of the Bible, taking it one chapter at a time. If I do it everyday, it'll take 1189 days.



Sunday, July 31, 2005

1 Samuel 21

David get bread and a sword, and decides to go nuts

Summary:
David went to Ahimelech the priest at Nob, and got the only bread available to him, which was the consecrated bread. He also took Goliath's sword, which was there. David told Ahimelech that he was on a secret mission from Saul.

He then went to Gath, where he was recognising. Fearing that their king might see him as a threat, he pretended he was nuts, and the king told his servant to take him away.

Key verse:
13. So he pretended to be insane in their presence

My thoughts:
Well, we now know that asking insane is divinely approved. That's always good to know.

I believe this is the occasion that Jesus refered to, when David broke the law by eating the bread which was only for the priests. On this Jesus grounded his views of Sabbatical laws.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

1 Samuel 20

Jonathan finds out Saul's intentions

Summary:
David fled and met with Jonathan. David asked what he had done to deserve to be killed, and Jonathan said he won't be killed. David then told Jonathan to tell Saul that he is absent because he is at a family sacrifice, and that he should ask to go down to join him. If Saul gets angry, then they will know that he plans to kill him.

When Jonathan did this, Saul did get angry, and tried to kill Jonathan with a spear. So, as planned, Jonathan went out to a field where David was hiding behind a rock, and fired three arrows beyond his servant boy. This was the sign to David that Saul planned to kill him. David and Jonathan said goodbye to one anyone. Jonathan went home, and David fled.

Key verse:
23. the Lord is witness between you and me forever.

My thoughts:
Saul does seem to like throwing spears at people...

David and Jonathan's friendship is seen as the model of friendship throughout the Bible and throughout Christian tradition. They had a great amount of trust for one another.

David is now on the run.

Friday, July 29, 2005

1 Samuel 19

Saul begins to persue David

Summary:
Saul told Jonathan that he wanted David dead, and told Jonathan to do it. But Jonathan, David's friend, warned David about Saul's intentions, and told him to hide. Meanwhile, Jonathan convince Saul not to have David killed, and David returned to Saul. David then led a successful campaign against the Philistines.

But when David was playing his harp to Saul, Saul became disturbed, and again tried to throw a spear at David, missing. David fled home, only to be told by Michal that he had to flee, because Saul's men were coming that night. David fled to Samuel at Ramah. whilst Saul's men were tricked into thinking that David was sick in bed, delaying them a bit. Saul sent three groups of men to kill David at Ramah, but each time they met some prophets, and started prophesying themselves. When Saul came, the same happened to him.

Key verse:
5. Why then would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?

My thoughts:
Saul is filled with irrational jealousy. He is exploiting his power as king to fuel his jealousy. David pretty much stays on the run from now until the end of the book.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

1 Samuel 18

Saul becomes David's enemy

Summary:
Saul kept David within his courts. Saul's son Jonathan and David got on very well, and they made a covenant together.

David was very successful in battle, and the people praised David above Saul. Saul became jealous, and tried to kill David with a spear a couple of times whilst he was playing harp for him, but David got away both times.

Saul tried to buy David by offering his daughter in marriage, in return for David's continued service, but David refused to become the king's son-in-law. Saul later offered another daughter, hoping that she would be a burden to him, and that the Philistines would kill David. David was initially hesitant, but when he found out that he had to kill 100 Philistines to get the wife, David took his men and did so, and therefore married Michal, Saul's daughter.

Saul knew that God was with David, and he remained his enemy.

Key verse:
7. Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands.

My thoughts:
David is still very humble. He doesn't see himself worthy of becoming the king's son-in-law. This is despite his rapidly growing fame. To be honest, however, Saul too was humble in his beginnings, but we see here how he has changed. It is interesting to note the differences between Saul and David.

Wednesday, July 27, 2005

1 Samuel 17

Davie and Goliath

Summary:
The Philistines and the Israelites were encamped on opposite ridges, and Goliath, a nine-foot tall giant of the Philistines, came forward challenging Israel to send forth one man to fight him. The loser of that battle's nation would be in servitude to the other. Saul offered a great reward to whoever could defeat him.

David's three older brothers were on the front line, and David was sent by Jesse to give food to them. When David found out the situation, he was angry that Goliath could defy the armies of God. David's brothers were angry that he had left the sheep to watch the battle.

David then told Saul that he would fight Goliath, and he qualified that with his experience of defending sheep against lions and bears. So Saul gave David armour, but David refused to use it, because he wasn't used to it.

So David went before Goliath with stick and stone. They taunted one another, then David struck Goliath in the head with a stone in his sling, and killed him. David cut off his head with his own sword, and Israel chased the Philistines and plundered their camp. David took Goliath's head and sword, and Saul asked his attendant whose son David was. David said he was Jesse's son.

Key verse:
45. You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.

My thoughts:
This is, of course, a well known story, and the key verse contains the point of the entire story. This is that the living God is more powerful than any weapon or obstacle. This obviously took a lot of faith on David's behalf.

Goliath's sword is kept by later generations, and there are later stories about it in the Bible.

I suspect that this chapter is not quite in its right place chronologically, because Saull asks who David is, but the last chapter would assume that Saul at least had some knowledge of David. I suspect that this event happened somewhere between verses 13 and 14 of chapter 16.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

1 Samuel 16

David is chosen

Summary:
God, quick to move past Saul, told Samuel to go to Jesse of Bethlehem's house and anoint the new king from one of his sons. When Samuel saw Jesse's oldest son he was sure that he would be the new king, but God had rejected him. In fact, God had rejected all of Jesse's sons who were present. But the youngest son was tending the flock. He was called into the house, and God told Samuel that this boy, David, was to be king. Samuel anointed him, and God's Spirit came upon him.

Now Saul was being tormented by a tormenting spirit, and he called for someone to play music for him, to sooth him. David, who could play the harp was chosen, and he please Saul.

Key verse:
7. The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

My thoughts:
Ah David. Probably the second most important figure of the old testament, second to Moses. He is the model of the saving Messiah to which the Messiah will be compared. That is why it is important that Jesus was in the line of David, and also came from Bethlehem.

Of course, so far David is simply a boy who was chosen to be king, not by any human tests, but by God's decision. It will be some time before David actually becomes king. He has many giants to conquer before then. And for David this is, of course, quite literal. Saul never really comes back to God in any real way.

The key verse here is well quoted in church, and it is very important. God's standard are different, and better than ours, and this is shown constantly throughout the Bible so far.

Monday, July 25, 2005

1 Samuel 15

God rejects Saul

Summary:
Samuel told Saul that God wanted him to completely destroy the Amalekites. So Saul attacked them and beat them, but they took the choice of their produce for themselves and kept their king, Agag, alive.

God was unhappy with Saul's disobedience, and told Samuel about it, and Samuel in turn went to Saul, and saw that he was full of pride and had not destroyed everything. Saul said that they had done well, and had only taken animals to make sacrifices to God. Samuel told Saul that God prefers obedience over sacrifice.

Samuel shrunk Saul down to size, reminding him what God had done for him. He told him that God had now taken the kingdom away from him, and that he had been rejected. Samuel then went and killed Agag.

Key verse:
22. To obey is better than sacrifice,
and to heed is better than the fat of rams.

My thoughts:
Saul's downfall is in his arrogance. His relationship with God was almost non-existent, and he relied on Samuel to hear from God. But even then, he was more interested in his own ambitions, and he pays the price for that.

I've always struggled with verse 10 of this chapter, because it implies that God made a clean-cut mistake in anointing Saul, and that he would've done it differently had he had a second chance.

I blame the fall. That's usually the answer.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

1 Samuel 14

Attacks on the Philistines

Summary:
Jonathan and his armor-bearer went up to the Philistine camp by themselves and attacked it alone, killing twenty people. The Philistines went into panic, and in this panic, Saul led his army against the Philistines.

The Israelites beat the Philistines and fought them back. But Saul had ordered the people not to eat until they got vengence, on the curse of death, but Jonathan, not hearing Saul's command, ate some honey, and when he heard Saul's command, he thought it was stupid. Once nightfall came, the men could eat, but they were so desperate they just killed some sheep and ate them blood and all. Saul made them stop eating the blood.

Then Saul asked God whether he should continue against the Philistines, but when he didn't get an answer, he tried to find who amongst the Israelites had sinned. When it turned out that Jonathan had eaten the honey, Saul felt he had to kill him as he had threatened, but the people protested. Saul stopped his campaign against the Philistines.

Saul continued to fight great battles during his reign, particularly against the Philistines.

Key verse:
45. Should Jonathan die—he who has brought about this great deliverance in Israel? Never!

My thoughts:
Despite Saul's absolute statement in his cursing, the right thing to do in this situation was to spare Jonathan. Often we get caught up with things that seem like absolutes, and fail to see that what we're doing is actually idiotic.

Saturday, July 23, 2005

1 Samuel 13

Saul screws up

Summary:
Saul and his son, Jonathan, had armies, and Jonathan attacked the Philistines, and Saul rallied Israel, and Israel came to support Saul.

The Philistines came to meet Israel with a massive army. Saul waited for Samuel to come, but in his impatience, Saul made a burnt offering. As he was doing this, Samuel turned up, and told him off for making the offering, because it was disobedient to God. Saul's line would not remain king of Israel as punishment.

Saul's army had no swords, but only sharpened farming tools. The Philistines had cut off Israel's ability to make swords.

Key verse:
14. But now your kingdom will not endure; the Lord has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him leader of his people, because you have not kept the Lord's command.

My thoughts:
Here is Saul's first screw up. We may think that there is nothing wrong with making such an offering to God, but the sacrificial worship of God had strict guidelines in Judaism, and it couldn't just be practised willy-nilly. Saul had directly disobeyed God.

Friday, July 22, 2005

1 Samuel 12

Samuel sums up the events and says goodbye

Summary:
Samuel said to Israel that he had given them a king, and that he had not abused his leadership, and all of Israel affirmed his in this.

Samuel told the story of how Moses and Aaron had led them out of Egypt, and how Israel had later fallen into the hands of other nations until God raised up judges to protect Israel. He told them how they had asked for a king when the Ammonites attacked, rejecting God as king.

For asking for a king, God sent thunder and rain on Israel's wheat harvest. The people called out to Samuel, who told them not to worry, but just to serve God faithfully after committing this sin.

Key verse:
20. You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.

My thoughts:
Often we do something we know we shouldn't have, and we are then tempted to dwell on our sin, which often results in us rejecting God further. But Samuel here shows that we need to move on. As the great
Maury Ballstein from Zoolander said - "What do we do when we fall off the horse?... We get back on!!"
.
.
"Sorry Maury... I'm not a gymnast"

Thursday, July 21, 2005

1 Samuel 11

Saul defeats the Ammonites

Summary:
The Ammonites attacked Jabesh Gilead. The people of Jabesh asked to make a treaty, and the Ammonites said they would have peace if they cut out the right eye of all the people of Jabesh. Jabesh asked for seven days to decide, in which they sent a message to the rest of Israel asking for support.

When Saul heard what was happening in Jabesh, he was filled with anger and with God's Spirit. He cut up two oxen, and told all Israel that if they didn't come and fight with him, then he would cut up their oxen. So Saul came to Jabesh with 330,000 men, and defeated the Ammonites.

The people called on Samuel to kill those who had doubted Saul, but Saul ordered there to be no killing, because it had been a day of victory.

Key verse:
6. When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came upon him in power, and he burned with anger.

My thoughts:
It is quite characteristic of the early Saul to be very influenced by the Holy Spirit and it's power. The army that he pulls together is one of the largest Israel has ever pulled together. For now, Israel is unified in a much more formal way than ever before under one king.

Saul is not quick to kill those who disagree with him, and that is to his credit.

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

1 Samuel 10

Saul's anointing

Summary:
Samuel then anointed Saul with oil, and told him that he would lead Israel. Samuel told Saul that he would find two men, who will tell him that the donkeys are okay, and that he should go home. From there he will meet three men carrying produce, and they will offer him bread, which he is to accept. Then at Gibeah he will see a procession of prophets, and God's Spirit will come upon him and he will prophesy. Samuel would then later come and visit Saul.

All these things were fulfilled that day, and Saul was seen prophesying amongst the prophets. Saul did not tell his family about his kingship.

Samuel brought together all Israel again at Mizpah, and he summoned Saul, but they could not find him, because he had hidden himself. But they found him and brought him out. Most of Israel supported Saul, and Samuel wrote the rules of being a king on a scroll. Saul stayed quiet.

Key verse:
6. The Spirit of the Lord will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.

My thoughts:
I think it's cool that Samuel describes Saul's coming day with full confidence, and ultimately with accuracy. That takes faith. This day seems to be almost a ritual in making Saul king, with its climax being God's Spirit coming of Saul, and him prophesying. God is truly with Saul at this stage. He is a holy man by all current accounts.

We see here an interesting early character trait of Saul her. He seems shy. He doesn't tell his family that he has been anointed as king, he hides when he is summoned to be presented before Israel, and when Israel is shouting "Long live the king!" he remains silent. This shyness, or even humility, contrasts with the angry and irrational Saul of later chapters. But for the moment, Israel has her king, and he has God's anointing.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

1 Samuel 9

Samuel meets Saul

Summary:
There was Benjamite of a respectable father, Saul, who was taller than everyone else in his villiage.

Saul went out looking for his father's lost donkeys. After looking for many days, he decided to go back, so that his father wouldn't worry about him, but his servant convinced him to go see a seer in the nearby town. When they go there, they were told to find the seer up the hill, where he was to bless a sacrifice.

God had told Samuel that he would show him the man who would be king, and that he would be a Benjamite, and that he would deliver Israel from the Philistines. When Samuel, the seer Saul was seeking, saw Saul, God told him that he was the man. Samuel invited Saul to the meal of the sacrifice, where he set food aside for him.

When Saul was about to leave the next morning, Samuel told him that he has a message from God for him.

Key verse:
16. I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him leader over my people Israel; he will deliver my people from the hand of the Philistines.

My thoughts:
So far so good with Saul. Anyone who has read the Bible will know that it doesn't take too long for it to go downhill from here. But for the moment, Israel has its leader, though only Samuel knows who it is.

Notice that Saul declares that he is from the least tribe, and the least clan etc. This continues what is becoming a theme of the Bible of God using was is rejected by the world. It also shows the acceptance of the tribe of Benjamin after their sin at the end of the book of judges.

Monday, July 18, 2005

1 Samuel 8

Israel rejects God as king

Summary:
When Samuel was old, he made his sons judges, but they were corrupt. The people complained, asking Samuel to anoint a king for Israel, so that Israel could be like the other nations. Samuel didn't like the sound of that, and he talked to God. God told Samuel that they had rejected him as king, and told Samuel to tell the people what a king would do to them.

So Samuel told the people how a king would exploit them and take their wealth and possessions. But the people still said they wanted a king, so God allowed Samuel to appoint a king.

Key verse:
7. it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.

My thoughts:
Israel was truly unique in the way it operated. It operated as a true (but flawed) theocracy, and their king - God - would go before them in battle. However, here Israel is rejecting its uniqueness and is wanting to conform to the surrounding nations. Israel will never be the same.

Sunday, July 17, 2005

1 Samuel 7

God hand is against the Philistines

Summary:
The ark stayed with a man called Abinadab, and his son was the guard. It stayed there twenty years.

Samuel called all of Israel to turn to God, and turn away from all other gods. And they did this.

Samuel them called an assembly of all people as Mizpah, where they prayed to God so that they could be delivered from the Philistines. The Philistines heard that Israel had assembled in Mizpah, and they went up to attack them. Samuel kept praying, and God sent terrible thunder through the Philistines, and freaked them out, and the Israelites beat them.

So Israel took back from cities the Philistines had stolen, and became more powerful with Samuel as their judge.

Key verse:
3. If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.

My thoughts:
Sometimes doing God's thing doesn't seem like doing the obvious, or practical thing. The smart thing for Samuel to have done would have been to led his people in war, to help them win the battle. But he knew that all human efforts were useless if God wasn't with them, so he focussed his priorities on God, rather than on human intelligence.

Saturday, July 16, 2005

1 Samuel 6

The Philistines return the ark

Summary:
The Philistines, wanting to return to ark, asked their priests how they should do it. They said to send it back on a cart with two cows, and to send gold tumours and rats with it as an offering. If the cows take the ark up to Beth Shemesh by themselves, then they will know that God had been punishing them.

The cows went up to Beth Shemesh, and the people there took the ark, and sacrificed the cows, and ultimately sent the ark off to the people in Kiriath Jearim. Seventy people from Beth Shemesh died because they looked inside the ark.

Key verse:
20. Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God?

My thoughts:
In a way, the ark is almost like the ring in Lord of the Rings, except it's not evil. The ring controls where it goes, and though people make possess it, it is the ring which controls them, not them who control the ring. In the same way, the ark's destiny is not controlled by those who possess. Ultimately it seems to control it's own destiny, finding itself back in Israel, however we know that it is God who is controlling its destiny.

Friday, July 15, 2005

1 Samuel 5

The Philistines don't know what to do with the ark

Summary:
The Philistines take the ark to the temple of the god Dagon, but in the morning, they find the idol of Dagon face down before the ark of God. The set it upright, but the next day it has fallen down again, and this time its hands and head had broken off. This was in the town of Ashdod.

The people of Ashdod started being diseased with tumours, so they moved the ark to Gath, where they also got diseased, so they moved it to Ekron. The people of Ekron complained, any many of them became sick and died, and they cried out to God.

Key verse:
3. there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord!

My thoughts:
The ark is of extreme symbolic importance to the worship of Yahweh, and the God is not slow to let the Philistines know that they have bitten off more than they can chew. God is showing his supremacy over all gods and people in this chapter
.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

1 Samuel 4

Eli's death

Summary:
Israel and the Philistine's fought, and Israel got badly beaten. So they decided to take the ark of the covenant with them next time, so that God would be with them. However, they got beaten again - worse this time. The Philistine's stole the ark. Eli's two sons died in the battle

A man ran back to Shiloh and told the town and Eli what had happened. Eli was grieved when he heard about the ark, and he fell back on his chair, and his neck broke, killing him.

Eli's daughter-in-law, after her husband had died, had a son. She died in childbirth. But the child was called "Ichabod", meaning "The glory has departed from Israel".

Key verse:
22. The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.

My thoughts:
God is fulfilling the visions he gave to Samuel. God has not gone with Israel into battle, and he has judged Eli's family. It is from this oppressed Israel that Samuel, and ultimately the monarchy arises.

Wednesday, July 13, 2005

1 Samuel 3

Samuel's call

Summary:
Samuel was sleeping in the tabernacle, and he heard a voice saying 'Samuel!'. He went to Eli, and asked why he had called him. But Eli had not called him, God had. Eli told Samuel to go back to bed. This happened again and again, but on the third time, Eli realised that it was God, and told Samuel to listen to God next time he calls.

So Samuel listened to God the next time, and God told him that he was about to do an amazing thing, and Eli's family would be punished during it.

In the morning Eli asked what God had said, and Samuel told him hesitantly. Eli accepted it.

Samuel grew, and kept hearing from God, and became famous throughout Israel.

Key verses:
1. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
10. "Speak, for your servant is listening."
18. He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.

My thoughts:
Lots of key verses today.

I feel sorry for Eli. He seems to be quite aware of when God is speaking, even in a time when God did not speak much, and he accepts his own judgement, because it is from God. He is a humble man, and it is unfortunate that his family did not share his fear of God.

To me, this chapter is about complete openness to what God is doing. Samuel's response to God of "Speak, for your servant is listening" is one of submission to God. Even though the news for him is bad, Eli accepts that God is God, and is open to what he is doing.

Samuel was probably about six at this time. It's never too early for God to use you.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

1 Samuel 2

Eli's family displease God

Summary:
Hannah sang a song to God about how God lifts up the weak, but suppresses the proud.

Eli's sons, the priests, were neglecting the normal traditions and were demanding more than they were allowed to of people's sacrifices, for their own gain. They were also sleeping with the women outside of the tent. Eli rebuked them for this, but they would not listen.

A man of God came to Eli, and said that God had rejected Eli's family as priests, because of the his sons, and that God had cursed them. As a sign of this, both of Eli's sons would die on the same day.

All the while, Samuel grew up in the tent, in the presence of God, and grew stronger. Hannah bought him a robe each each, and God and Eli blessed Hannah and Elkanah, and they had many more children.

Key verse:
25.
If a man sins against another man, God may mediate for him; but if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him?

My thoughts:
If there was one place where you do not want to displease God, it's in his sanctuary. The importance of God's unique sanctuary in ancient Israel is huge - it was Yahweh's dwelling place. Therefore, even though there would have been more sinful people in Israel than Eli's sons, it is them who God is most angry about. God's sanctuary had to be restored by a move away from Eli's family.

Monday, July 11, 2005

1 Samuel 1

God blesses Hannah

Summary:
A man, Elkanah, had two wives. One wife had many children, but the other wife, Hannah, had none. Every year Elkanah went up to make sacrifices to God, and he would give Hannah a double portion of meat to sacrifice, because he loved her.

Hannah was provoked by the other wife, and she became sad. One year, Eli, whose sons were the priests, overheard Hannah praying in her heart to God, asking for a son, and saying that she would give that son to God's service. Eli thought she was drunk, but Hannah said she was just pouring herself out to God. Eli blessed her, wishing God to do whatever Hannah had asked of him.

Hannah gave birth to a son, called Samuel. After he had been weaned, Hannah offered Samuel into the service of God under Eli, and Eli saw that God had been faithful to Hannah.

Key verse:
15. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord.

My thoughts:
The temple had not yet been built, and so Eli probably would have worked in a tent, at Shiloh.

Here we have an almost perfect example of prayer. The practice of prayer has generally changed hugely since ancient times. They would often be great proclamations in ceremonies. However we can relate very easily to Hannah praying to God in her heart earnestly. She is talking to God under her breath. It is a personal message to God. A prayer. God appreciated the initimacy Hannah sought with him. The way modern Christians often pray is generally consistent with biblical examples.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Ruth 4

Boaz marries Ruth

Summary:
Boaz encouraged the closer relative to buy the land of Naomi's dead husband, and therefore take Ruth as his wife, but he eventually refused, and told Boaz to do it.

So Boaz bought the land, and therefore took Ruth as his wife. They had a son called Obed, who Naomi looked after. He was the father of Jesse, who was the father of David. They were descendants of Perez, son of Judah.

Key verse:
10. I have also acquired Ruth the Moabitess, Mahlon's widow, as my wife, in order to maintain the name of the dead with his property, so that his name will not disappear from among his family or from the town records.

My thoughts:
So the story has a happy ending. We may think that it is wrong to get a wife as you buy land, but Boaz is doing a good deed here, because he is giving a widow, Ruth, a livelihood which she could not have obtained by herself as a woman in ancient Israel.

The book of Ruth is also an example of the Law working. By following the law in buying a dead brother's land, and by marrying a dead brother's wife, the woman, who would not have had much power by herself, is protected.

Saturday, July 09, 2005

Ruth 3

Ruth persues Boaz

Summary:
Naomi, keen to get her daughter-in-law Ruth married, told Ruth to make herself beautiful and go lie at the feet of Boaz.

When Boaz discovered Ruth at his feet, he blessed her for being obedient to God and to her mother-in-law. He told her that there was a closer relative for Ruth to marry, and that he would see if that relative was willing in the morning, but if he wasn't, Boaz himself would marry her. In the morning Boaz gave Ruth some food to take back to Naomi.

Naomi told Ruth to just wait to see what Boaz would do.

Key verse:
10. You have not run after the younger men, whether rich or poor.

My thoughts:
This passage can be quite hard to understand because it used many ancient Hebrew concepts of marriage to explain what is happening. It doesn't actually mention marriage in the NIV, but speaks of Ruth being redeemed, and it is related to the idea that if a woman's husband dies, then a close relative of her husband is to take the woman as a wife.

This would be a particularly bold action in ancient Israel for a woman to do. However, Boaz knew his responsibility to care for his relatives, and responsed well to Ruth's faithfulness.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Ruth 2

Boaz shows kindness to Ruth

Summary:
Ruth went to gather leftover grain behind the harvesters in a field. It turned out to be Boaz's field. Boaz was a close relative of Naomi's. When Boaz came to inspect his field, one of the harvesters told Boaz who the young woman was.

Upon hearing this, Boaz, knowing Ruth's previous misfortune, invited herto stay with his servant girls, to eat with them and live with them. Boaz even invited her to eat with him, and he made sure that the other harvesters looked after her.

Ruth told Naomi about Boaz, and Naomi was happy for her, and told her that Boaz was a close relative.

Key verse:
12. May you be richly rewarded by the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to take refuge.

My thoughts:
Boaz has done a good deed here. He was a man of great standing and he is seriously compromising this status by accepting a foreign female begger. I think we need to learn how to care for those who are unfortunate, even when it will hurt our 'status'.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Ruth 1

Ruth stays with Naomi

Summary:
Naomi, her husband, and her two sons moved from Bethlehem to Moab when there was a famine in Israel. In Moab her sons found wives, but her husband died, and later her sons died, leaving her with two daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth.

Naomi heard that Israel had food again, so she went to leave for Bethlehem, and encouraged her daughters-in-law to remain in Moab with their families and hopefully remarry, because there was no hope for them with Naomi. Orpah remained in Moab, but Ruth was persistent, and followed Naomi.

Arriving at Bethlehem, the people recognised her as Naomi, but she asked to be called Mara, which means bitter, because God had made her life bitter.

Key verse:
16. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

My thoughts:
Ruth is a good story of the acceptance of a foreigner, a gentile, not only into Israel, but as a descendant of the royal line. Ruth is a faithful woman, and she ultimately finds blessing in Israel for this faithfulness, whereas Orpah misses out.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Judges 21

Wives for the remaining Benjamites

Summary:
All of Israel who had fought Benjamin made a vow not to give their daughters as wives for the Benjamites, and to kill those who had not come to make the vow. But then they realised that if Benjamin died out, then Israel would be lacking one tribe. They found that the people of Jabesh Gilead had not made the vow, so they went to them and killed them as promised, but they kept the virgins, who they gave to the remaining six hundred Benjamites as a peace offering. But there wasn't enough, so they also took some dancing girls from Shiloh. The fathers of the dancing girls would be innocent of breaking the vow, because they had not willingly given their daughters in marriage to Benjamites.

Key verse:
3. Why should one tribe be missing from Israel today?

My thoughts:
There are obviously some issues of the rights of the women here, but that is not the point of the passage. The passage is not supporting the use of women as possessions, but is rather showing that Israel remained complete, and ultimately unified after the civil war. Israel still recognised Benjamin as their brothers, and did not want them to be completely destroyed. They were, in a way, forgiven, and re-accepted into Israel.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Judges 20

Benjamin attacked

Summary:
All of Israel, except Benjamin, came together, a total of 400,000 fighting men, and asked the Levite what had happened. He described how his concubine had been raped and killed in Gibeah, a Benjamite town. So they decided to attack Gibeah, and sent a tenth of their men to get provisions.

The rest of the Benjamites decided to fight with Gibeah. Israel inquired of God at Bethel (where the ark was), as to who should attack Benjamin first. Judah was chosen, but when they attacked, they were badly beaten, and they retreated. Israel inquired of God again, who told them to attack again, and again they were badly beaten. A third time God told them to attack, this time promising victory.

So Israel set an ambush. They sent men to draw the Benjamites out of Gibeah, and also set people who would invade Gibeah when the fighting men had left. Using this tactic Israel managed to destroy all of Benjamin, except for 600 men who hid in the desert.

Key verse:
46. On that day twenty-five thousand Benjamite swordsmen fell, all of them valiant fighters.

My thoughts:
I think this is the first time since Joshua that all of Israel have come together as one army in battle, and it is against one of their own tribes. They obviously were disgusted at what had happened, and it started a civil war which almost eliminated one of the tribes of Israel.

This chapter states that Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron was high priest at this time. This is either inaccurate (maybe a later incorrect editorial note), or it means that Judges is not chronological.

Monday, July 04, 2005

Judges 19

The sin of Israel

Summary:
A Levite man from Ephraim took a concubine from Bethlehem, but she was unfaithful, and she returned to her father's house. Some months later, the Levite went to Bethlehem to persuade the woman to come back. The woman's father like the man and convinced him to stay longer than he had planned, but eventually he left with his concubine towards Jebus (Jerusalem).

They decided not to stay in Jebus, because it wasn't an Israelite city, so they went on to Gibeah to stay that night. They went to the town square, but no-one offered them a place to stay until later on an old man offered them his house.

Whilst they were enjoying their evening, some men came demanding to have sex with the Levite. The old man refused, disgusted, but offered the women instead. So the Levite's concubine was sent outside, and she was raped and abused all night. In the morning, when they were going to leave, they found that she was dead. When the Levite got home, she cut the woman up into twelve pieces, and sent the pieces throughout Israel, and everyone who saw it said... (ie. the Key verse)

Key verse:
30. "Such a thing has never been seen or done, not since the day the Israelites came up out of Egypt. Think about it! Consider it! Tell us what to do!"

My thoughts:
The moral of the story (and the last few stories too) is that Israel is in a really bad place. The fact that this event would happen is disgusting, and this Levite is letting Israel know what is going on within its own nation. It is ironic that they passed by Jebus because they didn't trusted strangers, but they would have been safer there than amongst their own people.

Sunday, July 03, 2005

Judges 18

Dan looks for land

Summary:
The tribe of Dan had not really received their inheritance, so they sent men to spy out the land and find a place. On the way, these men stayed the night at Micah's house, and received a blessing from his Levite priest. They went on to Laish, and saw that they were prosperous, peaceful and unsuspecting.

The men returned to their people, and encouraged them to go and take Laish, so six hundred men went. On the way, they decided to steal Micah's sacred items, and they also convinced his priest to become the priest of the Danites. When Micah realised this he got some men together and persued the Danites and caught up with them. However, when he saw he was outnumbered, he went home.

The Danites destroyed the city of Laish, and rebuilt it as Dan, and they set up the idols for themselves.

Key verse:
9. Don't hestitate to go there and take it over.

My thoughts:
This part of Judges shows how Israel was in a state of anarchy, and every did as they pleased.

Despite Dan setting up their own cult, this chapter stated in its last verse that God still dwelt at Shiloh, which is where the priesthood of Aaron worshipped, I assume.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Judges 17

Micah installs a Levite as priest

Summary:
A man Micah told his mother that he had taken the silver she had lost, and he returned it to her. And she, in turn, turned some of it into an idol to God.

Micah made a shrine for the idol, and set his son up as a priest. A Levite was wandering nearby trying to find somewhere to stay, and Micah welcomed him in, and made him priest. He thought God would bless him because he had a Levite as priest.

Key verse:
6. In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.

My thoughts:
Though the idol is to God, it is still a direct disobedience of God's law.

The point of this chapter, and this story, is that people did as they pleased, which was not what God wanted.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Judges 16

Delilah and Samson's downfall

Summary:
Samson went to a prostitute in Gaza, and the people were going to ambush him at dawn, but he left at midnight, taking the city doors with him. Then the Philistines offered Samson's new woman, Delilah, money to find out the secret of his strength.

So Delilah asked Samson, and Samson told her that he would become weak if he was tied by thongs. So Delilah tied him like this in his sleep, and the philistines were ready to ambush him, but he still retained his strength. Embarrassed, Delilah asked again what would stop his strength, Samson first said that he had to be tied to ropes, and then that he had to be tied to the fabric in a loom. Both of these didn't work, but after much nagging, Samson told Delilah the truth, that his hair had to be shaved. So they shaved his hair in his sleep, and took him prisoner in Gaza, and gouged out his eyes.

The Philistines were then praising their god, because they had captured Samson, and Samson was brought to the temple as entertainment. And then Samson called on God to restore his strength, and Samson pushed down the supporting pillars of the temple, bringing down the building, killing thousands of Philistines, and himself.

Key verse:
28. O Sovereign Lord, remember me. O God, please strengthen me just once more,

My thoughts:
Samson, a typical strongman, has a problem with the ladies. They are his weakness, and caused his downfall.

We constantly hear of Samson being filled with the Spirit, but in this chapter when his hair is shaved, is says that God left him, because of his disobedience. Samson lived and acted by God's power, and he was rendered useless when that was gone.

The chapter also states that Samson did more in his death than in his life, which is quite similar to Jesus.