Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I Samuel 1-8

The further back you go in the bible, the more humorous the language some of the earliest books in the bible (and have a dictionary handy!) and you'll see what we mean :)

We began the first book of Samuel tonight.  Our oldest son has been having us read the David stories out of his children's bible, so we thought Samuel (aka First book of Kings) would be a good place to start.

Samuel begins with talk of a man named Elkanah and his two wives, Hannah and Peninnah.  Penninah had children, but Hannah did not.  She wanted children and went to the priest at Shiloh (where the ark was kept) to ask God for a child.  Eli, the priest, heard her crying and told her to go home and wait for God to answer her prayers.  God answers her prayers and gives her Samuel.  When Samuel is old enough to be apart from Hannah, she brings him to Shiloh to offer him to God and he lives there with the priest Eli (whose sons we learn are corrupt).  Because Hannah offers Samuel to God and because she sings his praises after he goes to serve God, Hannah has 5 more children.  We then read about God calling Samuel--literally, calling his name.  Samuel thinks that Eli is calling him during the night but when he goes to him, Eli says, "I didn't call you, go back to sleep."  This happens three times and finally Eli says, "God is calling time tell him you are listening."  So Samuel responds the next time God calls his name and God tells him that because Eli's sons are sinners and Eli doesn't do much to set them straight, his sons will die young.  Therefore Samuel is to become Eli's successor.  Time passes and everyone acknowledges Samuel as prophet of the Lord.

Then we turn our attention to the Philistines.  The Philistines come into Israel and take some of their land, but more importantly, they take the ark of the covenant.  It would seem that they take it because they are afraid of it...when it arrived in the Israelites camp, there were great shouts and the Philistines recognized that this was the power of the same God that smote the Egyptians.  When the ark was taken, Eli's sons were slain (they had been with the ark).  When Eli heard news that his sons her dead and the ark had been taken, he fell over backwards and died.  When his daughter-in-law (who was pregnant) got all of the previous news, she went into labor, had a son, and died, but not until she says, "The glory is departed from Israel: for the ark of God is taken."

So the Philistines brought the ark into the house of one of their gods, Dagon.  In the morning, Dagon was destroyed by God's hand and the people of the land were smote with what we deciphered to mean hemorrhoids.  Now the Philistines want nothing to do with the ark.  So they bring it to Bethshemesh, where apparently the look into the ark and get smitten.  And the ark moves on to Kirjathjearim were it rested for 20 years.  The Israelites finally come to Samuel and say, "Okay, we repent.  We'll stop serving other Gods.  Just please help deliver us from the Philistines."  So God delivers them from the Philistines.

As Samuel got old, he made his sons judges over Israel.  But evidently, much like Eli, his sons were corrupt.  So the people ask Samuel to bring them a king.  God tells Samuel, "They are not turning on you, they are turning on me.  Warn them of all the problems a king will bring  them."  Samuel warns them that a king will take everything from you (basically taxes), but they still beg for a king.  God tells Samuel that when the people complain about the problems a king will cause, he will do nothing about it because they were warned of the dangers of a king. God finally tells Samuel, if they really want a king, then give them a king.

On a side note for those who might be reading our posts but not reading along in the bible, this book is written much more in a narative format. It isn't based around visions, parables and difficult language, but rather is a historical narrative about what was going on when Samuel was the priest of the Irsaelites.

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