Friday, May 12, 2017

May 12: 1 Samuel 12 – 13; Psalm 108; Proverbs 15:4; John 7:1-29


            1 Samuel: Samuel comes before Israel and says that he is old and gray. He asks for anyone he has defrauded in his lifetime to say so. They say he hasn’t. He then tells them to stand still while he pleads with them about the righteous deeds the Lord has done for them. He recounts Moses and Aaron bringing them out of Egypt and the judges who rescued them when they called on the Lord despite their serving other gods. And now, they have asked for a king, which the Lord has set over them. So, they and the king must fear the Lord and follow his commandments then it will be well with them. If they don’t, the Lord will be against them and their king. He then called on the Lord to bring about thunder and rain to prove that they have acted wickedly. The Lord sent it so the people feared the Lord and Samuel.
            The people asked Samuel to pray for them because they realized they acted wickedly in asking for a king. He told them not to be afraid but to serve the Lord and not go after worthless things. The Lord will keep his promise for his name’s sake. Samuel would not sin by ceasing to pray for them. He will also continue to teach them. However, if they do wickedly, the Lord will sweep them and their king away.
            Saul was about thirty years old when he started to reign over Israel and he reigned forty-two years.[1] Saul sent the army home but kept 3,00 select troops. He divided these between himself and Jonathan, his son. Jonathan defeated a Philistine outpost at Geba so Saul rallied all the army again to fight the Philistines. The Philistines mustered a vast army and Israel was afraid so they hid in caves. Others deserted across the Jordan.
            The people with Saul were afraid. He waited seven days for Samuel at Gilgal and the people were leaving him. So, he took the burnt and peace offerings and sacrificed them himself. Samuel came as he finished and asked him to explain. Saul said he was afraid that the Philistines would wipe them out because people were leaving and he hadn’t sought the Lord’s favor. Samuel said this violated the Lord’s command and therefore his kingdom would not endure. The Lord was seeking someone after his own heart.
            Saul only had 600 men with him including Jonathan. The Philistines sent out three raiding parties against Israel. The Philistines were ruling over Israel and didn’t let them have blacksmiths. They had to pay the Philistines to get farming equipment sharpened. There were no swords or spears in Israel except for Saul’s and Jonathan’s.
            Psalm: David proclaims that he will steadfastly praise and thank God for his love and faithfulness with song from the time he wakes in the morning. He asks for God to be exalted and his glory cover the earth along with deliverance for his people. He recounts God’s promise to exalt Israel’s tribes and have triumph over Moab, Edom, and Philistia. David wants to know who will help him fight Edom because God has rejected them and hasn’t gone out with David’s armies. He asks for help from the Lord because man can’t help him but only with God can they have victory.
            Proverbs: Speaking kindly encourages but abusive language harms.
            John: Jesus stayed in Galilee because the Jews were trying to kill him. His brothers taunted him to go to the Festival of Booths in Jerusalem and make himself famous. They didn’t believe in him. Jesus told them to go to the feast because this wasn’t his time. The world hates him because he tells the truth. He remained in Galilee.
            Later, Jesus went to the feast privately. The Jews were looking for him. People were undecided about Jesus. Some said he was good and others said he led people astray. But no one spoke openly because of the Jews.
            In the middle of the feast he taught openly in the temple. The Jews were surprised because they didn’t know where he learned what he taught. Jesus told them his teaching came from the one who sent him. Anyone who wants to do God’s will is able to know that Jesus teaching is from God and not his own. He told them that Moses gave them the law, yet they want to kill him. The crowd thought Jesus was demon-possessed for thinking someone wanted to kill him. Jesus explained that they wanted him dead because he healed on the Sabbath, yet they circumcise on the Sabbath to fulfill the Law. They are angry because he made the whole person whole. Don’t judge by appearance.
            Some people wondered why Jesus was openly teaching if the authorities wanted him dead. Did the authorities really know Jesus is the Messiah? But they also said that no one would know where the Christ comes from but they know where Jesus came from. Jesus answered them by saying he who sent him is true but they don’t know him. Jesus said he knows him because he sent him.

What Stood Out

            1 Samuel: “Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way” (1 Sam 12:23).
            Psalm: “With God we shall do valiantly; it is he who will tread down our foes” (Ps 108:13).
            Proverbs: “A gentle tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Prov 15:4).
            John: “But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from” (John 7:27).


            1 Samuel: God’s will is complicated. This is shown in today’s reading. He made it clear that the people should be allowed to have a king over them, but he also made it clear this wasn’t his first choice. His perfect will was to be king over Israel but in their stubbornness, he allowed them to have a king. The king he wanted was supposed to be a man after his own heart. Saul failed that test when he performed the sacrifices that only a priest was allowed to do. Therefore, Saul’s kingdom would not endure.
            When you look at all this, it seems God’s will is constantly changing because of our sins and rebellion against him. That makes it look like his will is complicated or he really isn’t sovereign. The problem isn’t with God’s will, it is with our understanding of his will. God is omniscient and knows everything from the beginning of time until the end. There aren’t any surprises for God. He wasn’t surprised when Saul offered the sacrifice and he knew Saul would do it before he sent Saul to Samuel to be anointed as king.
            Before time began, God; Father, Son, and Holy Spirit knew Lucifer would rebel and become Satan. They decided just how things would play out on this earth and in the universe they were about to create. The Son would be crucified for our sins and pay the penalty. Those God draws to himself would believe in Jesus and be saved. The end of the world would come at the appointed time, Satan would be eternally punished along with those who follow him while followers of Jesus will have eternal life.
            While we can’t get our minds around the details of Saul’s life and Israel’s rebellion, we can trust God to have it all under control. We should respond with gratefulness in our salvation and obey him.
            Psalm: David didn’t always have success in all of his battles. After a defeat, he still looks to the Lord in praise and worship. He didn’t lose his faith in God and his promises even though he doesn’t know at this time why it appears God wasn’t with him. The one thing he does know is that depending on man is vain.
            We can turn to this Psalm when life seems to be overwhelming and learn that trusting the Lord even in hard times is the only way to get through them with our sanity intact. When we make it a point to praise and give thanks to God from the beginning of the day to the end, we will have the steadfastness of God’s strength to continue. Trust that God’s great plan is always going in the direction he wants.
            Proverbs: We hear a lot from pop psychologists about how to speak to children and others and be encouragers. This proverb would seem to substantiate that. However, they often go beyond what this is proverb is saying and actually cause harm because not telling someone the truth is perversion. Telling someone they have done well when they haven’t doesn’t help them. The point is to be gentle when applauding or correcting someone instead of being nasty while doing it.
            John: In various places in Scripture, we see people making comments about the Messiah. Some are very accurate and others are off the wall. The blind man who was healed at Jericho knew Jesus was the son of David and many knew the Messiah had to be from the line of David. The people in today’s reading thought the Messiah would magically appear but didn’t think how that could happen if he was to be the son of David. They thought Jesus came from Nazareth and few knew he was born in Bethlehem. The scholars knew that the Messiah had to be born there.
            Up to this point, Jesus told his disciples that they must believe in Jesus to have eternal life. When people said that they didn’t know where the Messiah would come from, it revealed they didn’t believe in Jesus. People who claim easy-believism could be just like these people. They really aren’t saved because they are believing in a Jesus that fits their own concepts of being a nice guy or teacher. They don’t believe Jesus is God and that true belief means putting faith into action by repentance and obedience.
            Saving faith is based on the knowledge of who Jesus is. It isn’t based on wishful or deceived thinking.


            When things are frustrating, like getting to the store and discovering your shopping list is still at home, it is a comfort to know that God is in control of it all. So, I went back home to get the list. I usually leave Gospel tracts with people at the gas station, so I figure the guy in the shiny corvette with whom I chatted could have been the reason I was there much later than I planned. Or maybe it was the people who got a tract when I offered to take their shopping carts. Who knows why my delay occurred, except for God. Maybe it was just so I could write this application when I got home.

[1] Some Greek manuscripts say he was thirty but Hebrew omitted it. Hebrew omits the years of his reign but Acts 13:21 says forty years. NLT notes 1 Samuel 13:1.

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