Wednesday, May 10, 2017

May 10: 1 Samuel 8 – 9; Psalm 106:32-48; Proverbs 14:34-35; John 6:22-42



Overview

            1 Samuel: Samuel became old and the people wanted him to appoint a king over them because his sons were accepting bribes. He didn’t want to but the Lord told him to go ahead because they were rejecting the Lord and not Samuel.
            Samuel then warned the people what a king would do. The king would essentially make them slaves by taxing them and taking their best to be his servants. The people insisted to have a king so they would be like the nations around them with someone to lead them in their battles. The Lord again told Samuel to listen to the people.
            Saul, a Benjamite was a handsome man who stood out in Israel, he was taller than others. His father lost some donkeys so Saul and a servant went to find them. They went through the land and didn’t find the donkeys. When they came to the land of Zuph, they decided to ask the prophet who was in a city there. They asked for the seer and a woman said he was just ahead of them. He was going to a sacrifice on the high place. The saw Samuel coming out of the city.
             The day before the Lord said he was sending Samuel a man from Benjamin who he would anoint as prince over Israel and save the people from the Philistines. Samuel saw Saul and the Lord told him he was the one. They met and Samuel told Saul to go up to the high place because he had to eat with him. He also told him his donkeys were found. He also gave Saul a clue to the future saying he was the desire of Israel. Saul didn’t think much of his status and asked why Samuel said this.
            They ate at the sacrifice and Saul was seated at the head and given a leg that had been set aside for him. This was to let him know they were waiting for him. He stayed overnight and in the morning, Saul talked to him alone as they were leaving.
            Psalm: The Psalmist continues his indictment against Israel. They didn’t destroy the nations in the Promised Land. They mingled with them instead. They worshiped their gods and sacrificed their children to them. They killed innocent people and polluted the land with their evil. Many times, God gave them in subjection to other nations. Many times, he delivered them. God remembered his covenant and their captors had pity on them.
            The Psalmist calls on God to bring them back from their captivity so they can thank and praise him. He affirms that the Lord is to be praised forever and all people should agree.
            Proverbs: A righteous nation is elevated but sin messes up all the people. A wise person finds favor with rulers but people who mess up will be punished.
            John: When the people discovered Jesus had left, they went to Capernaum to find him. When they did, Jesus told them they only sought him so they could have plenty to eat. He told them to work for eternal life, not perishable food. He would give it to them. They asked what works they needed to do. Jesus said their work was to believe in him. Then they wanted a sign, like manna from heaven. Jesus told them he is the bread from heaven that gives life to the world. They asked for some of this bread.
            Jesus said he is the bread of life and whoever comes to him will not hunger or thirst. They don’t believe because only those the Father gives Jesus come to him and he will keep them safe. He came to do the Father’s will and that is to keep all that come to him and raise them on the last day. The Father’s will is that everyone who believes in Jesus will have eternal life and be raised on the last day.
            The Jews grumbled because Jesus said he came from heaven. They knew this mother and brothers, so how could he say he came from heaven.

What Stood Out

            1 Samuel: “For they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them” (1 Sam 8:7).
            Psalm: “Save us, O Lord our God, and gather us from among the nations, that we may give thanks to your holy name and glory in your praise” (Ps 106:47).
            Proverbs: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Prov 14:34).
            John: “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out” (John 6:37).

Insight

            1 Samuel: Israel had two reasons when they asked for a king. The first one was to have a leader that would not be subject to bribes like Samuel’s sons. That sounds like a good reason to have a king, but if they really thought about it, they would have realized that a king was no guarantee that here would be fairness in the justice system. If we look ahead to the kings of Israel and Judah, very few of them could be considered just.
            God had to convince Samuel to go along with their request. It was personal for Samuel because he had led Israel. It must have stung to hear this from the people. It probably was a double sting because he knew his sons were not walking with the Lord. But the Lord assured him it wasn’t his fault and that they were rejecting God and not Samuel. When we are sharing the Gospel or some important theological truth and it isn’t accepted, we need to remember we aren’t being rejected but God’s word is. We need to lighten up and let God’s word do its work.
            The second reason that they wanted a king was to win military battles. This was more important to them but they didn’t want to say it at first. It was more important than the potential abuse that a king would inflict on them. Even after Samuel warned them of taxation and being drafted into the king’s service, they still wanted a king. I’ve heard it said that people will give up their freedoms for security and polls support this.[1] This goes to show that the polls don’t reveal anything new about human nature. The sad part is that we are turning to the wrong places for our security. Our security should not come from our government, our jobs, our spouse, or anyone or thing other than our relationship with God. Jesus told us in Matthew 10:28-33 that we shouldn’t fear what happens to our bodies but what happens to our souls. God cares for us and he is aware of everything that happens to us. Israel’s troubles and ours begin when we don’t put our trust in the Lord.
            Psalm: After confessing the sins of Israel, the Psalmist ends with a request to be saved from captivity. There is a bit of bargaining going on. They will give him thanks and praise when they are returned. Do I do the same thing? Do I only praise God when things are going the way I think they should. Do I only thank him when my day went well? Why wait to until God delivers before giving him praise? Paul tells us to rejoice in the Lord always and he says this even before he tells us to come to the Lord with prayers and thanksgiving (Phil 4:4; 1 Thess 5:16). He also tells us to give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thess 5:18).
            Proverbs: A nation with people and leaders that are righteous will do better than one that doesn’t. However, they must be putting the Lord first. A single ruler or political party isn’t the answer to the country’s problems, rather it takes the whole people. Looking to just one person as savior of a nation is simply idolatry. While righteous people often improve things, it is usually temporary unless the nation serves the Lord. That can be seen in the example we have from Israel. The solution to a sinful country is to change the hearts of the people, including the leaders. Jesus is the answer.
            John: Jesus clearly tells us that eternal life is found in him. We must believe in Jesus and when we do, we can be assured that we have eternal life. When they asked Jesus about works for eternal life, he said the only work is to believe in Jesus. Some of the things that we must believe is that he came from heaven (John 6:38), the Father gives people to Jesus and he will not lose them (John 6:39). They need to believe Jesus will raise them on the last day (John 6:39-40).
            You might argue that you don’t really need to believe all those things about Jesus, but these are Jesus’ words. If we pick and choose which ones we want to believe and which ones we can skip over, then we really don’t have faith in Jesus. Then the question is, are you saved?

Application

            When I have disappointments or other difficulties, I still want to be thankful and praise God. I don’t want to trust in the frail men or institutions of this world for joy. Rather I want to seek his kingdom and rule over my life.


[1] The Associated Press, "Poll Shows Most Americans Are Willing to Give up Some Privacy and Freedom to Fight Terrorist," NJ.com. September 7, 2011 accessed May 10, 2017, http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/09/privacy_freedom_poll_shows_ame.html.

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