After a restless night with many thoughts chasing each other through my head, I wake up to analyzing symptoms, trying to make plans etc – then a little later, as I sit down at my desk I start singing, “my Redeemer lives!” and the whole day starts taking on a new colour.
“ Yes I do indeed live – not in a far away abstract way – but in a very intimate, personal way. I live to complete the work I have been doing from the beginning. But remember by calling Me your Redeemer you are acknowledging that I have bought you with My blood – you belong to Me and as My treasured possession these things you fret about should be brought to My feet so that I can take up the battle on your behalf. ‘Not by might nor by power – but by my Spirit says the Lord’. So focus your mind and thoughts away from yourself and fill your mind and heart with Me instead.”
Last week I said I was going to start reading through 1 Samuel. Before we plunge into the detail of the book, let us stand back and just get everything in perspective. This book comes after the book of Judges and Ruth. Israel had entered the Promised land, described in Joshua. Unfortunately he had not completely removed all the pagan tribes, as God had intended. There followed a period, reported in Judges where there was no over-all ruler and various figures, often only local, were active as ‘judges’. The book ends with a sad statement which prepares us for Samuel: Judges 21:5. “In those days Israel had no king, everyone did as he saw fit”. The book of Ruth is strategically placed next and ends with a genealogy which in turn ends with the words: “Obed the father of Jesse and Jesse the father of David”.
This prepares us for the next great step in God’s plan. The coming and anointing of David, the king after God’s own heart who would prefigure Jesus. But the transition and appearance of David is accomplished only through a series of very human struggles. The two other figures which feature prominently are Samuel, the prophet, priest and last judge. and Saul, the one that the people choose initially as their king. The book ends with Saul’s death, setting up the story of David in 2 Samuel.
This process of moving from Judges and prophets leading Israel to a king must be seen against the background that God had intended there to be a king, but one of His choosing (Deut 17:14,15). The people however wanted a king, “like all the other peoples around“. So God gave them Saul who caused a lot of pain. Like Romans 1 where Paul writes that God gives people over to their sin as a way of judgement if the persist in it.
The great theme in the background of this book is the same as through the whole bible. God uses the small, weak, unlikely, to accomplish His purposes. This is to show that it is He who is doing it, not the the strength and wisdom of the people. There are places in this book where the Lord acts on His own without even using anyone, like when the ark is stolen and put in Dagon’s temple.
Remember also as you start reading this magnificent book that the whole OT prefigures and points forward to Jesus, As we progress we can continue to learn how to listen to His voice and apply this Old Testament text to ourselves correctly. Hold the text lightly, like you would a bird and let God lead you to understand what His message is for you.
In pondering the overall picture of the book there were several thoughts that came to my mind that are powerful lessons for us.
Firstly we are reminded of the magnificent plan of God. He is going to see His plan accomplished. However because of the disobedience of many folk the plan often seems to be derailing. However God always brings it back on line to accomplish His purposes. This is a powerful lesson for each one of us. As much as God has a greater plan, He also has a plan for each one of us eg Ephesians 1:11. That plan can be taken in various directions due to circumstances and sin but ultimately He will achieve what He intended.
Secondly there is this theme of God using the small and insignificant to accomplish His purposes. It is not the tall handsome apparently powerful Saul which is the hero, but small, youngest sibling, not particularly attractive David that is ultimately the forerunner of Jesus. We need to learn this lesson. I need to learn this lesson. It is God through His Spirit that accomplishes. What a relief!
There are other lessons, but let us stop here. They will come out as we proceed. So, unless I say otherwise, let us take a chapter a week. Read it and consider it carefully within its context and allow Jesus to speak to you from it. God bless.