1 Samuel: The Philistines captured the Ark and put it in the temple of Dagon in Ashdod. In the morning, the image of Dagon had fallen over. They put up the image again but the next morning not only had it fallen but its head and hands were cut off. Then tumors broke out on the people of Ashdod. The people were terrified as they knew it was because of the Ark in the city. They called all the lords of the Philistines and they decided to send the Ark to Gath. The tumors then broke out on people there. Then they sent it to Ekron but the people panicked for they knew it was God’s hand that caused the problems.
After seven months, they called their priests and diviners to know what to do with the Ark. They said to send the Ark back to Israel but put five golden tumors and mice (mice had raved the land) with it as a guilt offering. They put the Ark on a cart pulled by two milk cows that had recently calved and had never been yoked. The calves were taken away from them. If the cows went to Israel then they would know it was the Lord that brought the trouble on them and if it didn’t go then they would know it was a coincidence.
The cows contentedly took the Ark directly along the road to Beth-shemesh. The people rejoiced to see it. The Levites took the Ark and the box with the gold off the cart. They used the cart for firewood and sacrificed the cows as a burnt offering. The five lords of the Philistines watched and returned to Ekron.
Seventy of the men of Beth-shemesh looked inside the Ark and the Lord killed them. The people mourned and then asked the people of Kiriath-jearim to come and get the Ark. They came and took the Ark to the house of Abinadab. It remained there twenty years.
Samuel called upon Israel to repent and get rid of all their foreign gods. They did so and he called them to gather at Mizpah. They fasted and confessed their sins. The Philistines came to attack them. Israel asked Samuel to pray. Samuel offered a nursing lamb as the Philistines approached. The Lord thundered against the Philistines and threw them into confusion. Israel pursued them struck them down.
Samuel set up a stone between Mizpah and Shen and called it Ebenezer, “Till now the Lord has helped us.” The Philistines were subdued and Israel regained some of the cities from them. Israel had peace with Amorites also.
Samuel judged Israel all his life traveling to different place and at his home in Ramah.
Psalm: The Psalmist started the Psalm giving reasons to praise the Lord and give him thanks. Previously, he told of Israel being taken through the Red Sea.
In the wilderness, Israel had wanton cravings and tested God. God punished them. They were jealous of Moses and God punished them. At Horeb they made a metal calf and worshiped it. They forgot God who brought them out of Egypt. Moses interceded so that God didn’t destroy them. Then they despised the Promised Land and didn’t go in. God then made them wander in the desert so that they died in the desert. Then they worshiped Baal at Peor and did evil. The Lord punished them with a plague that stopped when Phinehas intervened and was counted as righteous to him.
Proverbs: Wicked people get what they deserve but even in death, righteous people have a refuge. Wisdom dwells with one of understanding and even fools can recognize it.
John: Jesus went to the other side of the Sea of Galilee and a large crowd followed him. Jesus asked Philip where they could buy bread for the crowd. Jesus asked to test him to see what he would do. Philip said two hundred denarii would not be enough to feed them. Andrew said a boy had five loaves and two fish. Jesus had the people sit down in the grass, blessed the food, and gave it to the people to eat. When everyone had enough they gathered the leftovers and it filled twelve baskets.
The people then believed Jesus was the Prophet who was to come because of the miracle. Jesus understood that they would take him by force to be king so he went to the mountain by himself.
The disciples got in a boat and left for Capernaum in the evening. It was dark and the wind was against them. When they were about three miles out, Jesus came walking on the water. They were frightened but Jesus spoke to them and they took him into the boat. The boat immediately arrived at their destination.
What Stood Out
1 Samuel: “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, ‘Till now the Lord has helped us’” (1 Sam 7:12).
Psalm: “They forgot God, their Savior, who had done great things in Egypt” (Ps 106:21).
Proverbs: “The righteous finds refuge in his death” (Prov 14:32).
John: “There is a boy here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are they for so many?” (John 6:9).
1 Samuel: The Lord let the Ark fall into the hands of the Philistines. However, he was not about to let it stay there. He brought problems on the Philistines and they knew that it was because of the Ark being in their midst. They knew all about the Lord hardening Pharaoh’s heart and didn’t want that to happen to them. But their choices for seven months indicated that they had to have God’s discipline before they would act. When they sent the Ark back, they were still waffling, thinking that all the tumors and mice could have just been a coincidence.
That happens to us sometimes. We know we need to repent of a sin but don’t do it immediately. We toy with it some more trying one thing or another to see if the Lord really wants us to stop it. We ask the Lord to reveal to us if it is really a sin or not even when it is clear from God’s Word that it is. Why wait seven moths like the Philistines?
We should do what Samuel did with Israel. We should fast and confess our sins. Then we will know that the attack of sin will be turned back just like the Philistines were turned back by God’s thunder. There is no reason to wait except that we like our sin more than our Lord. We should know that God is our Ebenezer, our stone of help.
Psalm: This Psalm turned quickly. Yesterday, we were seeing all the reasons to thank and praise God. Now we see Israel as rebellious and constantly punished for their sins. What happened? Psalm 106:21 concludes that they forgot about God. They focused on their problems and the “good” life they had back in Egypt. We are so much the same. When we sin, we are looking back at the good old days when we sinned and God didn’t seem to care. We forget that we are saved out of darkness and into God’s wonderful light. Some of the “fun” we had back then is still alluring. If that is happening, then we have forgotten about God and his holiness. We have forgotten that our future with Jesus is much more glorious than any sin could offer. Maybe, if sin is so alluring, we may be like those who fell in the desert and were not saved into the Promised Land. Maybe we need to test ourselves to see if we really are saved (2 Cor 13:5).
Proverbs: When it comes down to the bottom line, people who know Jesus and are saved by his blood do not fear death. We know that the future on the other side of the grave is a refuge. It is where we belong. It is the end of our sin and battle with evil. It is everlasting joy in the presence of our Savior.
John: Philip was stumped when Jesus asked how to feed the crowd. He looked at the circumstances, calculated the cost, and came up so short that he didn’t have a solution. On the other hand, Andrew observed the circumstance, saw the boy’s food, and took it to the one who was able to do miracles.
I think most people underestimate Andrew. He asked how so little could feed so many. I don’t think this was a question of doubt but a question to Jesus in faith that Jesus could use this small amount to do a miracle. When translated literally, it seems like doubt. However, there are other literal translations in the Bible that show this was not meant be taken literally. A good example is Abraham negotiating for a burial place Sarah (Gen 23:10-16). It would seem that Ephron was willing to give the cave and field to Abraham, but he was really naming a price. When the high priest asked Jesus if was the Christ, Jesus replied “You have said so” (Matt 26:64). That doesn’t sound like a yes answer, but the high priest believed it was. I think Andrew knew Jesus would be able to feed the crowd and this was his way of telling Jesus he did.
We can be like Andrew or like Philip. They both looked at the circumstances but came up with different solutions. There was only one difference; Andrew include the presence of Jesus into the equation. That’s what we need to do whether we are facing obstacles or opportunities.
I don’t want to be like the Israelites who looked at the circumstances and sinned by not believing God. I want to be like Andrew and always consider Jesus in all things.
 Ebenezer means stone of help, ESV notes 1 Sam 7:12.