Thursday, December 13, 2012

C - I Samuel 25-26 - David and Abigail

Chapter 25 begins with a sad note.  Samuel died.  Not much was written about his death other than all of Israel mourned and he was buried in Ramah, his home town.  This was all written in two-thirds of one verse.  Then the Scripture abruptly moves back to David.

The story of David and Abigail is one of the less known love stories of the Bible.  There is not a whole lot of detail about Abigail, but she shows her loyalty to David early, even against her own husband Nabal, who was quite an unsavory character.  God shows little patience for those who treat His children unkindly.

Vs 2 tells us that when David and his men had moved to the Desert of Paran, they met up with this very wealthy herdsman named Nabal.  Nabal was a descendent of Caleb, although he does not seem to possess many of the qualities of his ancestor.  But his wife Abigail was intelligent and beautiful.  David sent ten men to Nabal to ask for some badly needed provisions.  He had them to remind Nabal that David and his men had been charitable to Nabal and his people (vs 8).  Also, this was a festive time in Israel, being one of the Festivals, when all Israelites were expected to be charitable (I would guess this to be somewhat like Christmas time to us, when people are generally more charitable and gracious).  However, Nabal not only refused them any provender, but insulted David.  These ten men returned to David with their report and David seethed with anger.  So much so, that he had his entire army prepare to strike Nabal and his ranch.

Vss 14-->  Abigail received word that her husband had angered David and that David and his army were coming to take by force that which Nabal should have gladly given them.  Abigail was aware of the fact that David and his army had been somewhat of a wall of protection for Nabal for quite some time.  {Wherever David was, there would be no bandits or raiding parties that would dare enter the area, thus making Nabals men and herds safe.  Nabal didn't have the sense enough to value this, but Abigail did.}   Abigail did the only things she knew to do.  In vss 18-->, she gathered as large a peace offering as she could move with, took it to a ravine that she knew would be necessary for David to pass through where she could intercept him.  When David arrived in that area she threw herself face-down on the ground.  In vss 23-31. Abigail voiced a dramatic, logical, and effective appeal to David.  David must have been very impressed with this lady.  David honors Abigail's request for her sake, not Nabal's.  In the vss following, when Abigail returned home, she found her husband drunk and engaged in an extravagant feast.  She waited until morning when he had sobered up to tell him of the meeting she had with David, and what she did to save Nabal and his entire clan.  When she told him, Nabal was stricken by either a stroke or a heart attack (vs 37).  He died ten days later.  In the remaining verses of this chapter, David hears of Nabal's death and thanks God for dealing with Nabal.  David was also thankful that God spared him of acting in anger and pride.  {David realized that to kill all of Nabal's household would have been wrong, and would have carried with it some negative consequences as David later would establish his throne.}  After hearing of Nabals death, David decided to seek Abigail to be his wife, having spent just that litlle bit of time with her less than two weeks earlier.  Not only did Abigail accept David's proposal, but offered herself to be as one of the lowliest servants.  It says in the last verse that Saul had given his daughter Michal, David's wife, to another man.

Chapter 26 tells of David sparing the life of Saul yet again.  Saul has gone against his own word to David and began hunting him again.  David is still a fugitive.  Saul had three thousand men hunting David and his army of six hundred.  Saul had heard that David was in Ziph (desert area with those many crags and caves, which were excellent to hide in.  Even more so than the hills and caves of the present-day Afghanistan).  David and Abishai sneaked into Saul's camp at night.  Finding Saul among three thousand men was not difficult.  It was customary that the king and his generals would be in the middle of the camp so as to be surrounded by all the troops, providing protection for the king.  When David and Abishai reached Saul, Abishai urged David to kill him in his sleep, but David again refused to do harm to "the Lord's anointed".  However, he took Saul's spear and his jar of water.  {David insisted that killing Saul was up to God, since Saul was God's anointed.  David wanted Saul to die of natural causes or at the hands of an enemy other than David.}  Then next morning David stood on the opposite hill and spoke with Saul, and actually chided Abner for his weak protection of Saul and David had Saul's spear and water jar to prove it.  He then again appealed to Saul's reasoning, asking him why he wants to kill him and reminds Saul that he once again had spared his life.  Saul again vows to do David no further harm and they part ways once again.

To Adam and all other readers:  This is the 100th post of this blog, which I started less than 6 months ago.  There have been more than 3200 page views on this blog, from 23 different countries.  I have decided to take a short break during this holy season, and will publish the next post in early January.  This might give you a chance to "catch up" with your studying of God's Word, as we are about to conclude the Book of I Samuel.  I invite any feedback that might make this a more effective and meaningful study of the Holy Bible.  Please share with me your thoughts.  My email address is  (Note that in my email address, there is an underscore line between merle and yates.  It's easy to miss that.)  May God bless you and I sincerely wish each of you and Merry Christmas and a Happy New year.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

XCIX - Saul Hunts David - I Samuel 21-24

As we saw in the previous chapters, and will continue to see, Saul was a man descending into the depths of jealousy and rage.  Beyond reasoning, he had a consuming drive to eliminate David whom he saw as a hated rival who was bent on replacing him as king of Israel.  David had become well aware that Saul could - and would - kill him if he was given the opportunity.  Still, David ran rather than lift his hand against God's anointed.

We see that chapter 21 opens with David having become a fugitive, hiding in caves for fear of his life.  But David becoming a refugee was not enough for Saul.  {In somewhat of a defense of Saul, he was smart enough to know that as long as David was alive, Saul's kingship was destined to end.  But Saul's obsession with killing David placed Saul on a bad track.  Instead of spending all of his efforts on killing David, he should have been dealing with the Philistines and making Israel a safer place for his subjects.}  In the beginning verses of this chapter we see that wherever David went, people followed him.  In no time at all, he had gathered a following of about four hundred soldiers.  {Not only was David a great and natural-born leader, but Saul wasn't exactly "shoring up" his base and exuding confidence in his own ability to rule the nation.}  David fled to a town named Nob, where he approached Ahimelek the priest and asked him for food for his soldiers.  Ahimelek had only the sacremental bread, which he offered to David as long as his soldiers were ceremonially clean.  Ahimelek was not comfortable about giving this bread to David, but David was a very persuasive man.  Not only did David ask for food, but also any weapons that Ahimelek might have.  It turns out that the only weapon Ahimelek had was the sword of Goliath, which he gave to David.  The problem that would result from this transaction was that a man named Doeg witnessed this.  {Doeg, an Edomite, was Saul's herdsman.  What is an Edomite doing being selected as a close servant to Israel's king anyway?}  Well, needless to say (vss 6-->) that Doeg tells Saul about all of this.  Saul goes into another fit of rage.  He sends for Ahimelek and his entire family to inquire about David.  But Ahimelek defended David, which threw Saul into an even bigger fit of rage.  Saul orders Ahimelek and his entire family to be killed.  All of Saul's servants realized that killing a priest and his family was going too far, and none would obey Saul's order to kill them.  So Doeg the Edomite stepped forward and killed them all.  {We discussed earlier the the type of people the Edomites had become.  They were descendants of Esau and were mighty warriors.  But through the generations, they had become as the other Canaanite tribes.}  One of Ahimelek's sons, Ahitub, escaped and reported this to David.  This reminded David of just how determined Saul was to kill him.

Chapter 22 and 23 tell of David running as a fugitive and Saul's obsession to kill him.  But David, although a fugitive on the run, is still a man of God and a loyal Israelite.  He continues to defend Israel against the oppressive Philistines, as evidenced in 23:1-13 when he and his soldiers (about six hundred) saved the Israelite city of Keilah from a Philistine attack.  But even as David was protecting Israel from the Philistines, Saul heard of this and started off to Keilah to kill David.  {Saul should have been the one protecting Keilah.  Israel is a mess right now.  Imagine what the citizenry must be thinking.  The elders should have listened to Samuel in the first place.}  Having heard about Saul coming after him in Keilah, David was advised to escape to the wilderness area of Judah, in the area close to the Dead Sea.  Saul continued to act on his only objective as king:  Capture and kill David.  Saul did everything he could, but God provided David an escaped each time Saul got close.  {In this wilderness, the hillsides were a complex maze of caves, perfect for eluding someone.  This type of terrain was excellent for hiding from Saul, but a miserable place to have to spend your life.}  Note that in the middle of chapter 23 that Saul's son Jonathan caught up with his best friend David.  It says in vs 15-18 that Jonathan encouraged David and strengthened his faith in God.  Also, Jonathan told David that he knew that David would be king and Jonathan was offering his service to David's reign.  {Jonathan is one of the Biblical characters I always wanted to know more about.  This man showed widsom and Godliness beyond his years.  And bravery that few had matched.}

Continueing on the chapter 24,  Saul heard that David is in the Desert of En Gedi, which contains the "Crags of the Wild Goats".  This name gives a clue as to the type of terrain David has been relegated to.  These crags and caves were perfect for mountain gaots, but barely inhabitable for humans.  Saul heard that David was in this area, so he gathered three thousand soldiers and went there to capture David and his band of about six hundred.  While in pursuit, Saul had slipped into a cave by himself.  It was in that cave that David and some of his men were hiding.  David's soldiers saw this as a chance for David to kill Saul, but David would not lift his hand against "the Lord's anointed", but he did cut off the corner of Saul's robe and took it with him.  Then in vss 8-->, David approaches Saul and address him as "My lord the king".  When Saul looked back at David, "David bowed down and prostrated himself with his face to the ground".  David asked Saul why he continues to treat David as his enemy.  David tells Saul that he could have killed him and shows him the piece of his robe to prove it.  He tells Saul that his men wanted him to kill Saul, but David refused because David still considered Saul to be God's anointed king of Israel.  {This dialogue is good to read as David makes his appeal to Saul for peace.}  In vs 17 Saul confesses that "You are more righteous than I".  Saul is totaly repentant.  Note how interesting is vss 20-22:  Saul acknowledges that David will soon be king of Israel.  Saul asks David to swear to him that when he becomes king, that he will not kill off all of Saul's family, thus destroy his name from the earth.  David gave his oath to Saul that he would honor that request.  Saul departed.

Our next post:  David and Abigail  

Sunday, December 9, 2012

XCVIII - Saul's Love for David Turns to Jealousy, Then Hate

I Samuel - Chapter 18 - 20

After David's defeat of Goliath, everything changed.  The first verse of this chapter tells of David and Jonathan becoming best of friends "one in spirit".  Jonathan and David made many oaths to each other.  This would become a very important bond as we continue our study of David.

In verses 6 and 7, it tells how the women sang a song:

"Saul has slain his thousands,
   and David his tens of thousands."

As we've seen in earlier books, this was a common practice for women to write and sing songs as a way of celebrating.  Of course they wanted to give David tribute, but they made a big mistake when they mentioned Saul in the same song.  In vs 8 it says Saul was very angry about the song because he thought it belittled him.  This turned Saul's thoughts of David towards the negative, and it would only get worse.  Saul always did have a probem controling his emotions, but he got increasingly uncontrollable.  The Scripture tells us that one day when David was playing music for Saul that Saul grabbed a spear and tried to kill David with it.  All involved, including David, attributed this action to Saul's affliction.  But Saul knew exactly what he was doing.  He then decided to plot against David by actually promoting him to a high rank in the military.  Saul even commented to himself to "let the Philistines take care of him".  The Scripture tells of Saul offering his daughters in marriage to David, but David refused two of the daughters saying he was too poor to provide a dowry.  Saul solved that problem by pronouncing that he would give his second daughter Michal to David if he would bring evidence of killing a hundred Philistines.  This would take the place of a traditional dowry.  Saul did this to further the chances of David being killed by the Philistines, but David went out and killed two hundred.  Each time David had success, Saul would not only become more jealouse, but more frightened of David because these successes proved that God was with David in everything he did.  In verse 28 it tells us that Saul would consider David his enemy for the rest of his days.

Chapter 19 begins with Saul ordering Jonathan and all of his attendants to kill David.  But remember from the last chapter that Jonathan and David had become best of friends, having made a number of oaths to each other.  So Jonathan contacted David and told him what was happening.  Jonathan told David that he would reason with his father away from such an order.  Jonathan was able to do just that, and David returned to the king's service as before.

In verse 8 war with the Philistines had broken out again.  David was sent out against them and defeated their army as he had done before.  David's success made Saul all the more jealous of him.  He again tried to kill David with a spear, but David, being young and quick, eluded him.  So Saul sent a garrison of soldiers to David's residence to kill him.  But David's wife Michal heard of it and helped David escape before the soldiers arrived.  Saul was upset with Michal for helping David but he did not take any punitive action against her yet.  When David made his escape, he ran to Ramah to see Samuel.  Saul found out where David was hiding and sent soldiers there to kill him.  But when the soldiers saw David with Samuel, the Spitit of God came upon them and the soldies stopped their pursuit and prophesied with Samuel.  Saul sent more soldiers and the same thing happened.  So Saul decided to go himself.  But God was so powerfully with Samuel that even Saul was overtaken by the Spirit.

Chapter 20  -  David and Jonathan  -  This chapter picks up with David returning to king's city and of course he sought out Jonathan, his best friend.  Not only was Jonathan his best friend, but he was the best source of accurate infomratin concerning his father, the king.  Jonathan assured David that Saul meant no harm to him, but David was skeptical and fearful for his life.  So David devised a test of Sual's attitude toward him.  There was supposed to be a feast the next day.  David would not attend.  When Saul discovered David's seat was empty, he would inquire of David's whereabouts.  Jonathan was to tell his father that David chose to go to Bethlehem to participate in an annual sacrifice.  If Saul said OK, then everything was right with David.  But if Saul lost his temper when hearing of David going to Bethlehem, then David would know that Saul still wanted to kill him.  Jonathan agreed to this.  Then they made yet another covenant with each other.  This time Jonathan wanted David to promise that he would always show kindness to Jonathan's family, no matter what the circumstances.  {I think Jonathan knew that David would become king of Israel and would have the power to destroy Saul's entire family.  It was customary in that day to destroy all known enemies of a new king.}  In vss 18-->  is the familiar story of Jonathan shooting three arrows as a signal as to whether or not is will be safe for David to return into Saul's service.
The next day during the feast, Saul indeed noticed David being missing and asked Jonathan about it.  Jonathan told him about David going to his family in Bethlehem to participate in a worship ceremony.  Saul then turned very angry.  Jonathan tried to convince his father that David should not be harmed.  Then Saul revealed to all that he knew God's plan for David when he told all that Jonathan would never become king as long as David was alive.  So Saul had the sanity enough to realize this as obvious, based upon all that had happened.  So as to their agreement, Jonathan (vs 35) shot the three arrows and instructed his servant to go beyond the arrows.  This signaled David that he was never to return to Saul's service.  Vs 41 describes the mournful good-bye between Jonathan and David, knowing they would probably never get to spend time with one another ever again.  Then in vs 42 they separated for what they knew would be the last time.

This marks the time when David and Saul would become forever enemies.

Friday, December 7, 2012

XCVII - I Samuel 17 - David and Goliath

In the last chapter, David had been anointed by Samuel to replace Saul as the king of Israel.  God had rejected Saul as king, and David was God's chosen successor.  We also saw where David was brought into king Saul's service as a musician in hopes to soothe the tormented Saul in his times of uncontrollable rage.  David pleased Saul so much that Saul made David an armor-bearer and kept him as his servant full time.  Over time, David had proven himslf trustworthy and was granted freedom to "come and go" as he pleased, which gave him time to stay in close contact with his father Jesse and his seven brothers.

Chapter 17 abruptly returns focus to the Philistines.  I'm not certain how much time has passed since the events of chapter 16, but evidently there has been a battle brewing between Israel and the Philistines yet again.  As told in the first verse, the battle lines had been established between Saul's forces and the Philistines.  While Israel was sizing up the situation, a giant Philistine soldier named Goliath strolled into the valley which separated the armies.  He was 9 feet and 9 inches tall.  He was an experience warrior and had the finest armor and weapons.  His helmet and coat of scale armor were made of bronze and together weighed 125 pounds.  Vs 7 says his spear shaft was like a weaver's rod, and its iron point weighed 15 pounds.  {There were giants back then as mentioned in the book of Deuteronomy.  But this particular giant was the ultimate.  None were ever described as compared with Goliath in size or strength.}  In vss 8-->, Goliath presented himself in the valley between the two armies.  He shouted to the Israelites, challenging them to present their best warrior.  This Israelite soldier and Goliath would fight to the finish, and if Goliath won, Israel would become servants to the Philistines.  And if the Israelite soldier would have won, the Philistines would become Israel's servants.  This giant was so powerful that Saul and the Israelites trembled with fear each time he spoke.  {This deal offered by Goliath has not been unheard of.  Even Greek mythology, during the Trojan war, Hector fought Achilles.  I want to mention before I forget that it was customary for the king or his prince to represent the nation in this type of battle.  Although Saul was a mighty warrior, he knew he was no match for Goliath.}  Vss 12-->  David was the youngest son of Jesse.  The three oldest sons, Eliab, Abinadab, and Shammah were members of Saul's army.  {They were probably drafted into the army as the Philistines were marching toward Saul's kingdom.}  Jesse sent David to the front to take his brothers some food and to report back to Jesse the state of the battle.  When David got to the battle line, he seems to have "hung around" rather than going right back home.  While David was still at the line, Goliath came out again to make his challenge and further taunt the fearful Israelites.  We see two things that happened with David.  Firstly, he was made aware that the king (Saul) offered his daughter and great wealth to any man who faught and defeated Goliath.  It appears as though David was somewhat intrigued with such an offer by the king.  But more importantly to David's character, he was appauled by this "uncircumsized Philistine" speaking so disrespectfully to God's people.  {This is important:  David was offended for God's sake.  Think on this.  I think God's love and devotion to David started right here.  That's what God has been longing for.  God created man after He created the heavens, the earth and the universe, and everything therein.  Man was God's finest achievement in all that He created.  And He wants us to love Him and fellowship with him.  David's heart was right.  David's heart could not have ached for Someone he did not care deeply about.}  After David heard Goliath insult God's army, Goliath's size meant nothing to him.  David knew this godless heathen must be dealt with before he could humiliate God's people any further.  In verse 28, Eliab scolded David for still being at the front line and told him to go home.  David continued to voice disgust with what was going on with Goliath and wanted to fight the giant himself.  In verse 31 Saul heard about David making those comments and sent for him.  The reason Saul heard abut it was that there was nothing but complete silence in response to Saul's offer of his daughter and much wealth.  So, no wonder David's words reached Saul so quickly.

Saul was a bit disappointed to see that it was such a young boy who had stepped forward.  Saul wanted a mighty warrior who stood a good chance against the giant.  But David made his case in vss  34-->,  telling of his conquests of bears and lions.  Look at verse 37  "The Lord who rescued me from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear will rescue me from the hand of this Philistine".  Finally Saul said, "Go".  Saul had David dressed in the finest attire for battle, but David was not comfortable.  He was not accustomed to such armor weighing him down, so he took it all off.  Then he gathered five smooth stones from a stream, put them in his shepherd's bag, and with his sling in his hand he approached Goliath.  The stream from which David gathered those choice stones would of course be in the valley which separated the two armies.  So when David gathered these stones, he was in plain sight.  In vs 42 Goliath and his armor-bearer began approaching David.  As Goliath got close enough to see that David was just a boy, he taunted then cursed David.  (Big mistake)
David speaks in response:  Verse 45  David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.  (46) This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands, and I'll strike you down and cut off your head.  This very day I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds and the wild animals, and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel.  (47) All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves: for the battle is the Lord's, and He will give all of you into our hands."

WOW!  What a speech!  I wonder what went through Goliath's mind, hearing this from a boy.  I would think he was both amazed and angry to hear a boy talk to him like that.  Goliath was accustomed to only fear in his enemies.

Vs 48 -->  David didn't wait for Goliath.  David ran toward him.  When he got close enough, he put a stone into the sling, whirled it around and let it go so that the stone hit Goliath in the forehead.  It actually sank into his forehead, killing him instantly.  David then ran over to the dead body, took Goliath's sword, and cut off his head.  Just like he said he was going to do.  When the Philistine army saw this, the were struck with terror.  They knew they were no match for the power of Israel's God, Who could make such a thing happen.  The Israelite soldiers chase after the Phlistines and killed many of them and plundered their camp.

Then (I'm a little confused) Saul asked his captain Abner who it was that did this and Abner said "I don't know".  I'm not confused that Saul didn't know because Saul had huge mental problems.  But I would surely have thought that Abner and other servants would have known David very well.  Anyway, in the last verse of this chapter David identifies himself.

Next post - Chapter 18  -  Saul gets jealous of David

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

XCVI - I Samuel 16 - David is Introduced

First Samuel chapter 15 contains the account of Saul's being rejected as king of Israel because of his disobedience to God.  The chapter ended abruptly as it said that Samuel did not go to see Saul ever again.  This brings us to chapter 16, verse 1.  We see somewhat into the mind of Samuel as to his relationshi[p with Saul as God asks Samuel, "How long will you mourn for Saul. since I have rejected him as king over Israel?"  This tells me that in the short time that Samuel knew Saul personally, he had become fond of him.  Also, it might have saddened Samuel that so much hope and so much work had gone into Saul's kingship, but now it was all for naught.   At any rate, God was telling Samuel that he had mourned long enough and it was time to tend to the next order of business, which was to anoint Saul's replacement, whom God had already chosen.  God was sending Samuel to Bethlehem.  Samuel was afraid and told God that if Saul hears about him going to anoint another king, that Saul would kill him.  {It's easy to understand Samuel's reluctance to become involved in rejecting Saul.  He knew Saul.  He must have reasoned that if Saul was cruel enough to condemn his own son to death, he easily could be provoked to condemn other people, particularly the prophet who had declared him unworthy to be king.}  God told Samuel in vs 3 to take a sacrificial animal with him as he went to Bethlehem for a worship service.  As mentioned earlier, Samuel was a revered leader in Israel, so when the elders of the city saw Samuel coming they feared that he was to pronounce judgement on them for something.  But Samuel assured them he had come in peace.  God had instructed him to hold a worship service and be sure to invite the house of Jesse, one of Bethelem's prominent citizens.  Jesse was the grandson of Ruth the Moabitess.  He lived in Bethlehem, in the territory of Judah, just a few miles south of Jerusalem.

When the house of Jesse presented themselves to Samuel, he looked upon the eldest son Eliab, whose height and countenance was impressive.  But a familiar verse 7 has God correcting Samuel's measuring standards.  He told Samuel that He does not look at what people look at, but rather He looks at the heart.  I could go on and on about this verse.  This is still true today.  Not only does God look at the heart of a person, but He has been trying to teach us this for centuries.  But we continue to be fooled by outward appearances.  After God had told Samuel this, Jesse presented his second son Abinadab, then Shammah, then the next and the next, totaling seven sons, all of whom God told Samuel to reject.  Frustrated, Samuel asked Jesse (vs 11) if he had any more sons.  "There is still the youngest," Jesse answered.  "He is tending the sheep."  Jesse sent for his youngest, David.  When David arrived, God told Samuel, "Rise and anoint him; this is the one."  Look at the 13th verse.  ....and from that day on, the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.  {This is just the beginning of our study of this boy who would grow up to be one of the most beloved characters in the Bible.  Even to this day in Israel, David's name is held in equal esteem to even Moses, Abraham, and the other great patriarchs.}

Imediately after the Scripture says the Spirit of the Lord came upon David, it says in verse 14 that the Spirit of the Lord depared from Saul, and an evil spirit from the Lord tormented him. {Let's take moment to address this language that seems strange to us.  The phrase "an evil spirit from the Lord" can be troubling.  Allow me to explain it as it has been explained to me:  At this juncture in Israel's History, the Israelites had no formalized theology of evil as reflected later in their development.  At this point, everything - good and evil - was attributed to the Lord, especially if it was something they could not understand.  In time, the nation came to undersand that there was indeed an adversary (the devil and his demons), distinct from God, that  affected people adversely and powerfully.  Nowhere in the Scripture addresses this up to this point.  But it will as we continue our study.}  Back to Saul:  Saul became so despondent that when something displeased him, he was thrown into an uncontrollable rage.  Saul's servants were desparate to help their king, who was so obviously tormented.  Evidently, they had seen individuals who were troubled like Saul become tranquil when they heard music, so they recommended that a musician be brought in Saul agreed to it.  {Saul was as desparate as his servants.  He was willing to try anything that might help with this affliction that neither he nor anyone else understood.}  In verse 18 one of the servants tells of the young son of Jesse.  He spoke highly of David in every way, even saying that "And the Lord is with him".  Vss 21--> tells how David entered the king's service (As far as God is concerned, David is actually the king now, but nobody besides Samuel is aware of this yet.)  The Scripture goes on to say that Saul became very fond of David, and actually made him an "armor-bearer", which was a very highly trusted position, especially for someone so young as David.  So much did Saul like David that he sent word to Jesse that David was to remain in the king's service, and was no longer to go home to help with the sheep.  {Remember what Samuel warned that a king would do with Israel's sons?}  This chapter 16 ends with telling how David's music did in fact help soothe Saul in his times of rage and torment.

Next post - Chapter 17  -  David and Goliath

Monday, December 3, 2012

XCV - I Samuel 14:24 - 15:35 - Saul's Hasty Decisions

Saul and Israel have just won a great victory against a huge Philistine army.  This should have been a time of celebration and thanksgiving.  But we're going to see Saul make some very costly mistakes in this post.
Chapter 14:24  -  Saul sensed an opportunity to perhaps wipe out the Philistine army once and for all.  But he became thoughtless toward his army of brave men.  Saul urged his army forward toward the fleeing Philistines.  So anxious was he that he commanded his soldiers to not even stop to eat.  {A leader who becomes so obsessed with an objective that he disregards the welfare of his followers is doomed to failure.}  He even went so far as to pronounce a curse on anyone who ate.  {Please note what was said in the last post about poor communication within an army in those days.}  Saul's son
Jonathan did not hear the command and ate some honey (vs 26).  Jonathan was immediately revived by the honey.  Then someone told Jonathan about his father's command and the curse that was carried with it.  Jonathan said it would have been better to let the soldiers eat to gain strength, making them more fit for a more decisive victory.  That same day, after furthering their victory over groups of Philistines, the Israelite soldiers were so hungry that they captured the livestock of the Philistines,
killed and ate the raw meat (vss 31-33).  When Saul heard of this he commanded them to bring the livestock to the camp and cook it properly.  (It was unlawful for an Israelite to eat meat with the blood still in it.)  {We see here an evolving Saul.  Saul was very knowledgable of the Law.  He had everthing it took to be a GREAT leader, but he begins to make a lot of mistakes.  He had already be rebuked by Samuel for taking liberties going ahead of the Lord.  Perhaps he was afflicted with the
proverbial "drunk with power" syndrome.}

Saul wanted to continue the battle into the night, but the priests could not get an immediate answer from the Lord as to the direction Saul was to take.  Saul was again anxious to continue his attack on the Philistines, and his men were in agreement.  Saul came to the conclusion that God was witholding His answer because someone had sinned.  So he called for an assembly of the leaders in order to find out who was at guilt.  He did it properly, using the Urim and Thummim.  So zealous was Saul that he vowed to punish the offender, even if it was his own son.  The casting of the lots pointed directly to
Jonathan as the one who disobeyed Saul's commandment not to eat.  When Saul saw this he was furious (maybe at himself), and asked Jonathan what he did.  Jonathan confessed to eating the honey, and offered himself to be put to death.  But the men of Israel (they considered Jonathan a brave and mighty warrior) insisted that Jonathan be spared.  Saul honored their intervention (vs 45).

Chapter 14 turns to a brief summary.  {In the writing of History among Israel and other nations, "updates" summarizing a king's life to date was a very common practice.}  It states clearly that after this incident with Jonathan that Saul and his army retreated to their homes.  But goes on to tell that Saul and Israel continued to fight against the Moabites, the Ammonites, the Edomites, the kings of Zobah, and the Philistines.  It states that he defeated the Amalekites in particular, which probably
meant that he was able to wipe them out completely.

The following verses tell of Saul's family:  His wife Ahinoam.  His three sons, Jonathan, Ishvi, and Malki-Shua.  His two daughters, Merab and Michal.  It also names the commander of his army, Abner, who was a close cousin to Saul.

In the final verse of this chapter it says that although Saul defeated many of Israel's enemies, he was unable to defeat the Philistines totaly.  {I wonder what the world would be like today if he had defeated the Philistines as he did the Amalekites.}

Chapter 15 - God Rejects Saul

A few years after Saul's defeat of the Philistines, Samual appeared to Saul with some specific insructions from the Lord (vs 1).  Vss 2 and 3 says that it is time to avenge Israel against the Amalekites.  {Reminder:  When Moses wanted to go through the land of Amalek on his way from the Sinai Peninsula to the Promised Land, the Amalekites made Moses and the Israelites to go hundreds of miles out of their way southward, eastward, then finaly northward, having to enter the Promised Land from the east side of the Jordan River.  I mentioned many months ago that God was going to make them pay for this cruelty.  Now the time has come.}  Saul was to muster his forces and march on Amalek and utterly destroy them.  Samual specificly mentions all men, women, children, infants, cattle, sheep, camels, and donkeys.  The term "utterly destroy" always meant that no spoils were to be taken, as in normal warfare.  {This of course seems harsh, but that was God's judgement on the people who had made themselves a stumbling block to Moses and God's people.}  Note that here again in verse 4 that Judah is mentioned separately from the rest of Israel.  One must read a few Books ahead to understand the significance of this.  Look at vss 7-9.  Saul spared Agag the king and allowed his men to take the "best" of the livestock as spoils of war.  This was direct disobedience to God.  Samuel heard of this and he was angry.  {Not only did Samuel realize that Saul was
disrespecting God, but was also disrespecting Samuel himself as God's messenger.  Samuel warned of this being a constant threat of having a king.  The king was never to assume authority over God or the Priesthood.}  Saul tried to defend himself to Samuel, but his reasoning was lame.  Look closely at verse 22:  "Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the Lord?  To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams.  For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.  Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, He has rejected you as king."  Saul knows that Samuel was correct in everything he ever says.  And Saul knew that God was powerful and absolute.  Saul tried to correct the situation by bringing Agag to Samuel's presense and slay him.  But Samuel did that himself.

The last two verses of this chapter 15 is very telling of the near future for Israel and Saul.  Samuel and Saul went their separate ways after this episode and they never met again, although Samuel mourned for Saul. And it says again that "the Lord regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel".

In the next post we are introduced to the man I always thought of as one of God's favorites:  David

Saturday, December 1, 2012

XCIV - Think on These Things

As I mentioned before, on the first of each month I will send a list of things for you to think on as a review of what we've covered thus far.  If you are unable to bring to mind significant thoughts concerning each of these, you might want to scan the pertinent blog posting.  This list will get lengthy as we proceed through our study.
The Creation
Adam and Eve
The Fall
Cain Kills Abel
Noah and the Ark
Noah's Son:  Shem, Ham, and Japheth
Tower of Babel
Sodom and Gomorrah
Isaac Is Born
Hagar and Ishmael
Abraham Tested
Isaac and Rebekah
Jacob and Esau
Stolen Birthright
Laban, Rachel, Leah
Jacob's Ladder
The twelve sons of Jacob = Israel
Joseph the Dreamer
Joseph and Potifer's Wife  =  Prison
Cupbearer and Baker
Joseph and Pharaoh
Jacob's Son's Reunite
Israel Goes to Egypt
400 Years of Slavery in Egypt
Moses is Born
Moses Kills Egyptian - Becomes Fugitive
God Commissions Moses
Ten Plagues of Egypt
The Exodus
Israel Through the Wilderness
The Ten Commandments
The Tabernacle
The Ark of the Covenant
The Golden Calf
Cloud by Day, Pillar of Fire by Night
Levitican Law
Forty Years in the Wilderness
Twelve Spies sent to Canaan
Moses Gives Final Sermons
Joshua Replaces Moses as Leader of Israel
Rahab the Canaanite Prostitute
Crossing the Jordan; 12 Stones
Battle of Jericho
Land Allotments for the 12 Tribes
Baal and Ashteroth
Gideon Lays Out the Fleece
Samson and Delilah
Ruth and Boaz
Hannah Dedicates Samuel
Saul - Israel's First King
Saul's Successes and Failures

Thursday, November 29, 2012

XCIII - Saul's Success and Failure - Chapter 13:1 - 14:23

Chapter 13  -   The previous chapter told about Samuel's farewell address, which was discussed in the last post.  This chapter skips to Saul and his son Jonathan having become warriors and military leaders.  Together they have adopted the task of dealing with the dreaded Philistines militarily.  As discussed in recent posts, the Philistines are always ready for war and have the most sophisticated weapons in the region.   {Having studied the Philistines, I believed if it were not for the Israelites, the Philistines would have taken over this entire region and beyond, as southerly as Egypt.  I think they would have been genocidal in doing so, which would have been violent and bloody.  They were smart when it came to war and they had troop strength to occupy whatever territory they might have conquered.  I submit that only the Edomites and the Egyptians could have withstood Philistine aggression.  Even the Persians (Northwest) would have eventually fallen to these people.}   Chapter 13 seems to abruptly change narrative, as it opens up with telling that Saul was 30 years old when he began his reign and was king of Israel for 42 years.  Then (I'm a little confused with Saul's reasoning) it goes on to tell how Saul reduces his massive army of 330,000 men down to 3000.  2000 stayed with Saul and 1000 went with his son Jonathan.  He sent the rest of his army home.  Although I think this was rather short-sighted, this was not Saul's biggest mistake.  The Scripture goes on to tell us that Jonathan and Saul both attacked Philistine outposts successfully.  But in doing that they brought the wrath of the entire Philistine military down on themselves.  The Philistines immediately assembled 3000 chariots, 6000 charioteers, and foot soldiers that were numbered as sand on the seashore.  (That means too many to count, which tells me it was in the hundreds of thousands.)  So fearful did the Israelites become, that Sauls 3000-man army scattered and all he and Jonathan had left was 600 men.  All of a sudden, Saul went from a mighty slaughterer of the Philistines to a king who could not keep his army from abandoning him.

Then Saul makes the big mistake in vss 8-15.  Granted, Saul had reason to be worried.  He was to wait for Samuel to give Saul directions from God.  Saul got impatient an acted as High Priest and performed the sacrificial ritual himself.  Samuel arrived and when he saw what was happening, he scolded Saul severely and prophesied a failed kingship for Saul.  {Although Saul was king, his authority was limited.  The Law concerning sacrifice was not within the boundries of the king, or anyone else who was not ordained into the priesthood.  The Law was clear on this and Saul knew better.  But Saul sincerely thought his decision was a good one.  His defending that decision only made Samuel realize Saul's weaknesses all the more.  Vss 16-22 seem like a parenthetical passage.  Remember when I commented on the Philistines being smart militarily.  This passage tells how the Philistines had captured not only all the weapons that could be at Israel's disposal, but also captured all the blacksmiths who could be commissioned to make weapons.  Pretty smart.  In the last few verses of this chapter it says that Saul and Jonathan were the only two with weapons.  The rest of Israel's soldiers had plow points, mattocks, and axes for weapons.  All of a sudden, things aren't looking very good for Saul.

Chapter 14 continues the with the Philistine army surrounding Saul and his shrunken army.  While the Philistines leaders were busy making their attack plans they posted a small garrison of twenty soldiers to keep an eye on Saul.  This was at the passage of Mikmash, which was a passage necessary for access to the rest of the region.  Militarily, it was a must possession.  Jonathan, being young and impatient, decided to take his armor-bearer and spy on the Philistine garrison.  When they were spotted by the enemy soldiers, they were taunted into a fight.  Jonathan and his young armor-bearer killed all twenty soldiers in that brief skirmish.  Upon hearing of this, the entire Philistine army paniced and was thrown into chaos (with the help of an earthquake God had made).  All of this emboldenened Saul and the Israelite soldiers.  So Saul gathered as many soldiers as were available to him and took the liberty of calling for the Ark of the Covenent to be brought into battle with them.  The Israelites enjoyed victory that day and scattered the Philistine army.  {Bear in mind that although there were hundreds of thousands of Philistine soldiers, they fled.  They were not all killed by the Israelites.  Therefore these soldiers still existed and would be gathered to fight another day.  We must keep in mid how clumsy and inefficient communication within an army must have been back then.  It's not difficult to imagine the exagerations that must have taken place when as reports were handed from one person to the next.}  Note in verse 20 that the Philistines went into total panic and confusion, to the point that they were killing each other.  {We've seen this happen a number of times thus far in our study, (ie Gideon).  It's not hard to picture how this could happen.  There were no military uniforms that outwardly showed what side you were on.  At the most, there were flags or banners, but that only marked large groups in transit.  Try to imagine being a foot soldier among two hundred thousand others, camped in one large, but strange area.  Then panic breaks out, and you sense that you are under attack by the enemy.  Again, communication is clumsy and inaccurate.  Also, Saul attacked them in the dark, adding to the panic and confusion.  A soldier would be inclined to defend himself from anyone close to him.  This had to be a terrible time to live.}
This defeat of the Philistine army was a great victory for Saul and Israel.  Unformtunately, it will be marred by some foolish decisions by Saul, which we'll look at in the next post.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

XCII - I Samuel 12 - Samuel's Farewell Address

In the last post Saul had been officially proclaimed king and had assumed the office.  Therefore, a new era was rapidly ushered in and began a new chapter in Israel's History.  Some of the older customs would yield to the new order.  One of these customs affected Samuel's role as judge.  When a king began to rule, the office of judge no longer would be needed, and therefore would be "phased out".  For the most part the authority that a judge had would be turned over to the king.  As a result of this, Samuel felt that the transition would directly effect his every-day duties, plus the people's perception of him.  Remember that Samuel was the first prophet in generations, and many people would have been reluctant to give him up as their leader.  Therefore, he spoke to the issue, which brings us to chapter 12.

Samuel opened his address to the nation by recounting recent developments.  (This was a common practice, as seen in many addresses in the Scripture.)  Notice the tone in verse 1.  Samuel reminds them that having a king was their idea and he yielded to their wishes, even though he knew it was not the right thing to do.  In vss 2-5 Samuel wants them to affirm their thoughts toward him as a man.  He openly asks them if they had any occasion against him.  An occasion being any reason to question his character:  Have I stolen anything from any of you?  Have I cheated anyone?  Have I ever accepted a bribe.  If anyone thinks I have, please say so now and I will make it right.  {I'm not certain what brought on this rather strange line of questioning.  There must have been some murmuring against Samuel, and he wanted to place his character out in the open so as to put any question to rest.  Also, I know that as one gets older and reflects on his life, these things become more important, especially when integrity has been a priority that has carried cost with it.}  He, as was custom to those times, had the people state aloud that they did not have any of those issues with Samuel.  Then in verse 5 he affirms it to make it official.

Then starting in vs 6 Samuel shifts to giving an overview of Israel's History, which we've seen countless times.  {The people of Israel were in constant need of this, but it seems it hardly ever did much good.}  Notice in vs 7 that he says he is going to confront them with evidence.  Samuel then proceeds with recounting Jacob entering Egypt, them turned into slaves and God rescues them.  Samuel goes on to remind them of the cruel Sisera and the Philistines.  Again the oppressed Israelites cried out to the Lord and He rescued them again with the likes of Gideon, Barak, Jephthah, and finaly Samuel himself.  Then in verse 12 Samuel again reminds them that they are the ones who wanted a king.  He also reminds them that God should have been considered their King and they needed no more than Him.  He goes on to tell them that if they and the king will follow and obey God that everything will be alright.  He again emphasizes the dire consequences of foresaking God and the Law.  He even called on them to be obedient to their new king.  As we've seen so many times before, the Israelites are reminded of the stark difference between obeying and disobeying God.  Briefly, to obey God means peace and prosperity, and ultimately, happiness.  In contrast, to disobey means they will suffer failing crops, invasion, captivity, and slavery to other nations, war which they will lose, death, and ultimately misery.  So simple.  And then of course Samuel emphasizes that the worst thing they can do is worship other gods.  How many times have we seen this.

In vs 16 Samuel tells them that he will ask God to send a miracle for them to witness.  To demonstrate the power of God, Samuel reminded them that this was not the rainy season.  {Israel normally had early rains and late rains followed by a long dry season, which worked well because rain during harvest hinders the harvest to the point that the crops' quality is harmed and the harvest is never quite complete, as the rains forces much of the harvest to remain in the field.}  The late rains had already passed.  But Samuel said he would call on God as evidence that his message was true.  In response to his prayer there was a violent thunderstorm, and the people were struck with terror.  (I'm sure this was no normal thunderstorm.  Try to imagine.)  The thunderstorm in answer to Samuel's prayer proved to the people that God approved of what Samuael was saying and that they had indeed sinned.  The crowd's response in verse 19 was loud and clear.  The people finally realized that asking for a king was an act of rejecting God.

Be sure to read this short chapter.  This final address by Samuel was forceful, pointed, and yet filled with compassion and concern for his audience.  Samuel was an extraordinary man.  Note the very last verse (25), "Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish."

Next post  -  Saul's Success and Failure

Sunday, November 25, 2012

XCI - l Samuel 11 - Saul and the Ammonites

In the last post we saw where Saul kept silent when he could have taken to task his critics.  He decided to wait on a situation more solidifying to both his kingship and the nation Israel.  In this chapter 11, he gets just the right opportunity.

{I don't often do this, but I will write the words prior to verse 1 that are from the Masoretic Text: Dead Sea Scrolls .....}  "Now Nahash king of the Ammonites oppressed the Gadites and Reubenites severely.  He gouged out all their right eyes and struck terror and dread in Israel.  Not a man remained among the Israelites beyond the Jordan whose right eye was not gouged out by Nahash king of the Ammonites, except that seven thousand men fled from the Ammonites and entered Jabesh Gilead.  About a month later"........ (then verse 1 from NIV begins).....Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh Gilead.  And all the men of Jabesh said to him, "Make a treaty with us, and we will be subject to you."  {Get the picture?  The Gadites and Ruebenites on the east side of the Jordan had come under subjection and servitude to this cruel tyrant.  As Israel weakened itself by rejecting God's statutes, Gad and Reuben were especially vulnerable to outside aggression due to them being isolated on the east side of the Jordan River in an increasingly hostile territory.  Their cousins on the west side of the Jordan at least had the proximity of each other for protection.  Also, the Masoratic Text tells us of the level of cruelty and barbarianism that was not uncommon among the pagans of that day.  The Gadites and Ruebenites must have lived under fear constantly.  No wonder the Philistines took the attitude toward war that they had adopted and perfected.  We must realize that the Canaanites fought with each other mostly for territory or displays of military might.  But remember, the Israelites were considered the invaders, squaters, and occupiers of territories that were settled by the Canaanites generations earlier.   Sound familiar?  This made them the primary targets of aggression.}  In verse 2 it shows how Nahash would not be satisfied with making that city subject to him.  He wanted to totaly humiliate the Israelites by gouging the right eyes out of those eyes out of rest of those in the east part of the Jordan River.  The elders of Jabesh Gilead begged for seven days, saying that they would submit to Nahash on his terms if noone came to their rescue.  Evidently Nahash was so confident of his might that he was certain that no Israelites would dare cross the river to engage battle with him and his well trained and experienced  army.  He even allowed messengers to be sent out to solicit help.  He wasn't worried a bit.

But in verse 4 the word of this reached Saul.  {Bear in mind that Saul had not even established any kind of government or anything else one would expect a king to do.  I believe we must assume that Saul was waiting on God to guide his next move.}  Nahash could not imagine what he was dealing with.  This was Saul's opportunity for several things:  To show his authority as the newly crowned king; to show his ability to gather forces to rally around him; to show that he cares beyond his own family, clan, and tribe; to show that he has the ability to be a military leader, to show that he intends to rid Israel of ALL oppressors.  This situation was perfect for Saul.  Now was his time.

Vss 6-->  When Saul learned of the situation at Jabesh-Gilead, the Spirit of God came upon him and he burned with anger.  {There are times when anger is a good thing.  We should always try to "tame and suppress" our anger, but we need to forgive ourselves when a situation just won't allow us to rid ourselves of anger just because we want to.}  God's Spirit is an energizing force.  It allows one to accomplish extraordinary feats.  In Saul's case, it had the added effect of provoking intense anger.  Saul knew he had very little time, so he immediately came up with and implemented a plan.  He cut up two oxen and sent the pieces all around Israel, with the message that he wanted soldiers to go to battle with him, and if anyone did not respond he would do to their oxen and livestock what he did to these.  The response was overwhelming.  Over three hundred thousand men, ready for war, came from Israel and another thirty thousand from the tribe of Judah.  {Note:  This is the first mention in the Scripture where Judah and the rest of Israel are mentioned separately.  It sounds like they are two different nations.  We'll see later in our study that this will become the norm after the reign of Soloman.}  Then Saul sent the messengers from Jabesh-Gilead back with the message that they would be rescued "by the time the sun is hot tomorrow".  {I think this is the sixth day.  It's not easy moving 330,000 men across the Jordan River to Jabesh-Gilead in such a short time.  That's why he traveled all night.}  He also told the messengers to tell the city elders to tell Nahash that they would surrender to him tomorrow.  Saul wanted Nahash to relax and concern himself no further of the possibility of any help coming.  In verse 11 Saul divided his army into three groups.  It does not tell what the three groups did individually.  They probably attacked from three directions.  Anyway, they attacked the Ammonites during the last watch.  {The last watch was between 2:00 am and sunrise.}  Saul and his army slaughtered the Ammonites on into the heat of the afternoon.  It was a total annihilation, to the point that no two men were left together as they scattered for their lives.

Vss 12-15  -  The word of this spread quickly through all of Israel.  Nothing like this had happened during this generation.  Suddenly there was hope in Israel.  Their loyalty to Saul as their new king was without comprimise.  Remember those men who would not accept Saul as king and made snide remarks?  The Israelites remembered them.  In vs 12 we see that the citizens of Israel wanted to put these men to death, but we see another one of Saul's leadership abilities in verse 13 when he said, "No one will be put to death today, for this day the Lord has rescued Israel".  Saul just keeps getting stronger.

Samuel realized the advantages associated with the victory over the Ammonites.  He saw that the time was right for enlisting the people's total support for Saul.  He instructed the people to gather at Gilgal and "renew the kingdom there".  So all the leaders and other representatives went to Gilgal and unanimously recognized Saul as their new king.  The occassion was celibrated with sacrifices and a great feast.  A new era in the nation of Israel has begun.

Next post  -  Samuel's Farewell

Friday, November 23, 2012

XC - Saul Becomes the First King of Israel - I Samuel 10

In the last post we saw how Saul had gone looking for some lost donkeys and met the prophet Samuel.  Samuel kept him overnight and drew him aside before he left the next day to speak with Saul privately.  This brings us to chapter 10, which in the very first verse, Samuel anoints Saul, using a vial of olive oil, pouring onto Saul's head.  The "vial"(KJV) signifies that it is the same one as used in the tabernacle.  The term "anointing" means that God had chosen a person for a special task, usually meaning a position such as a priest or a king.  {Being an "anointed one" was no small matter.  Later, when David had an opportunity to do harm to Saul, David would "not do harm to the Lord's anointed".}  It also says in verse 1 that Samuel kissed Him.  This was usually meant as an outward show of loyalty.  Samuel was a prophet and knew the future meaning of most significant occurances.  The last phrase of that verse says, "Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance?".  This was Samuel's way of telling Saul that it was not Samuel, but God who has anointed him ruler.  Although the Lord did not prefer Israel to have a king, He insisted on being the One that chose the appropriate king for them in spite of themselves.  In the following verses, Samuel gave Saul four signs of affirmation which he would receive as he returned home.  1) He would meet two men who would tell him that his donkeys were found and his father Kish was worried about him.  2) He would then meet three men who would salute him (salute means to gesture respect for authority or position) and then offer him food. 3) He would meet a group of men playing instruments and prophesying.  And then 4) the Spirit of the Lord would decend upon Saul and he would prophesy with them.
In verse 9, the Scripture begins to focus even more on Saul.  {After all, Saul was the first king of Israel.}  It says quite plainly that God changed Saul's heart.  This phrase is often used today, and I have witnessed this in the lives of many Christians.  This refers to the Lord changing people's will, desires, thoughts, perceptions, feelings, and priorities.  Another way I've heard is that is simply gives people a different understanding about everything.  As all of the signs Samuel had foretold to Saul came about, the last of which was Saul prophesying, and was witnessed by many who knew Saul and was surprised to see him prophesy.  {Obviously, Saul and his family were not people who were given to strong religious display, which would have drawn people's attention and comments.}
Then in verse 17, Samuel takes another step in establishing Saul as king of Israel:  He summoned all of Israel to Mizpah.  (This always meant something special.  Gathering all the tribal and clan leaders was no small matter, and took days, if not weeks, to arrange.  Samuel was such a powerful figure that he had no trouble with the tribal elders doing as he asked.)  Samuel proceeds to recount to the assembly about how God had always taken care of them, and they should have been satisfied, but they insisted on having a king, and God was going to give them one.  Samual employs the same system of selection as used in Joshua.  He gathered tribes and selected Benjamin.  He then gathered the clans of Benjamin and selected the Matri clan, and out of that clan he selected Kish's family, and from the family of Kish, Saul was selected.  {The Urim and Thummin were probably used, as Samuel wanted to avoid any suspicion that he was personaly selecting Israel's king himself.  Using the Urim and Thummin, as described in Leviticus, was widely recognized as God's selection process.}
For some reason (perhaps humility) Saul was hiding among the supplies.  They found him and brought him to the front of the assembly.  He was tall enough for everyone to see.  Then Samuel said in vs 24 "Do you see the man the Lord has chosen?".  And the people shouted, "Long live the king!".  This was a common greeting for a sovereign royal in ancient times and still is.  It also meant that the people accepted Saul as their king and that they were pleased with the selection.  In verse 25 Samuel proceeds to state to Saul and the people the duties and the responsibilities of the king and his subjects.  As Samual explained these, he wrote them in a scroll and placed the scroll as an official part of History.  In verse 26 the Scripture tells us that Saul departed for his journey home, and with him went several men whose heart God had touched.  This same verse tells us that there was a certain group of men who did not accept Saul's kingship, and made it known by their comments.  At the very end of this verse and the very end of this chapter, it says yet another favorable thing about Saul's character, "But Saul kept silent."  This is important.  Saul could have challenged these men and established himself as undisputed king at that very moment, but this was not Saul's style.  The wiser Saul wanted to wait for the proper moment to solidify his kingship and his kingdom.

In the next post, the opportunity for greatness presents itself to Saul.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

LXXXIX - I Samual 8-9 - Israel Wants A King

Chapter 8  -  The very first five verses of this chapter tell an all too familiar story.  Samual's sons, Joel and Abijah, were much like Eli's sons Hophni and Phinehas.  They had engaged in idolatry and perversion of justice.  Up to the point in History where the books of Samual pick up, God had chosen Israel's leaders one at a time.  Then Eli's sons had tried to succeed their father and had quickly proven themselves unfit.  So God raised up Samual to interupt the priestly line that Eli's sons had corrupted.  Then Samual appointed his sons to follow him, but they too proved unfit.  At this point the elders of Israel came to Samuel and declared they wanted a king to rule over them.  In verse 5 they used the reasons that Samual is getting old and his sons were unfit for serving as leaders.  {The elders of Israel comprised a kind of senate that represented all twelve tribes of Israel.  Although Samuel did not agree with them wanting a king, the fact that they represented all of Israel was something Samuel could not ignore and simply brush aside, although I'm sure he was tempted to do just that.}  Note in verse 5 that they said "appoint us a king as all the other nations do".  Wanting to be like all other nations is the opposite of "holy".  This reasoning could not have turned out good, and Samuel was wise enough to know this.  But he did the right thing:  He took it to the Lord in prayer.  Vss 6-->  God surprised Samuel by saying, "go ahead and give them a king.  They have never accepted Me as their king.  But be sure to warn them about what having a king will be like."  In vss 10-18 Samuel tells these elders exactly what they could expect from a king:  The king will take their sons and place them into the military.  He will take their daughters and make them bakers and perfumers to serve the king and his court.  He will take at least a tenth of the harvest for himself.  He will take the best of the livestock to serve him and his military.  He will make everyone his slave in the name of the kingdom, rather than in the name of God.  And you will beg for relief from your king.  If we look back at Deut. 17:18-20, we'll see Moses giving an almost identical warning about having a king.  But in the remaining verses of chapter 8, they still want a king.  Samuel takes it to the Lord in prayer once again, and again the Lord told him to give them a king.  God knew Samuel's heart, and He assured Samuel that he would not be held responsible for the foolish decision the elders were about to make.  {The smartest thing the elders did was to insist that Samuel be the one to select the king, rather than the group of elders themselves.}

Chapter 9  -  Saul

Chapter 9 starts a new narrative.  It begins by introducing a Benjamite named Kish, a man of standing, which means he was a prominent citizen of the tribe of Benjamin.  My research tells me he was either a man of wealth or an accomplished military man, or both.  But this chapter is not concerned with Kish, but rather his son, Saul.  Verse 2 says Saul was handsome and a head taller than anyone else.  {He looked like one who would be king, and satisfactory to the elders of Israel.}  We also see in the early verses of this chapter that Kish has trained Saul well, giving him responsibilities, such as not only overseeing the livestock, but also the somewhat mundane duties of finding strays, usually a task assigned to lower ranking servants.  In vss 3--> it tells how Saul and a servant searched for missing donkeys throughout the land of Benjamin, spending more time than it should have taken.  Saul decided to give up the search because he did not want his father to become worried about their safety.  This speaks well of Saul's character.  However, his servant knew about Samuel and they were close to where Samuel was.  The servant talked Saul into trying to find the prophet to guide them to where the donkeys were.  Another positive testimony to Saul was that he did not want to approach the man of God without a gift (vs 7).  They were able to scrounge up a gift minimally suitable for meeting with the prophet and so they were able to locate him through the help of some young women who were drawing water at the town well.

Vss. 15-27 - Samuel and Saul's First Meeting

The meeting between Samuel and Saul was not a chance encounter.  God had told Samuel that Saul was coming.  In vss 15-17 God told Samuel that He would send to him a Benjamite who Samuel is to anoint as king, and would deliver Israel from the Philistines.  God made certain there was no mistaken identity as (vs 17) God pointed him out to Samuel when their paths crossed.  Verse 18 records Samuel and Saul's initial meeting.  Saul did not know Samuel, as he asked Samuel where he could find the "seer".  Samuel responded by identifying himself as the seer and by inviting Saul to join him in the sacrifice ritual.  Afterwards, he would turn his attention to Saul's concerns ("all that is in thine heart").  Samuel did not want Saul to be preoccupied with anything.  He responded to Saul's immediate concern for the donkeys, saying they have been found and that Saul was not to be concerned with them any longer.  He gives Saul a clue to the bigger picture in vs 20 when he says that "the desire for Israel: was more important.  This statement suggested national prominence was about to be placed on Saul.  In verse 21 we see another favorable characteristic in Saul.  He says that he is from the smallest of the tribes in Israel, and from the least of the clans of that tribe.  This suggests a humble attitude in Saul, at least at this present time.  The rest of this chapter tells of Samuel treating Saul like the king he will become, placing him at the head of the dinner table and serving him the best of the food.  And in the last verse of the chapter, Samual takes Saul aside and begins to tell him that God has a mesage for him.

Next post  -  Saul Becomes Israel's First King

Monday, November 19, 2012

LXXXVIII - I Samual 6-7 - The Ark Returns to Israel

Chapter 6 - The Ark Returns to Israel

This chapter begins by telling us that the Ark has been with the Philistines for seven months.  It became general knowledge that the Ark was the cause of all the illness in their cities because the affliction took place wherever the Ark was taken, as we saw in the previous chapter.  {Evidently there were many rodents in each of these five cities that the plague had occurred.  Rodents were the carriers of the bubonic plague that afflicted Europe centuries later.  The bubonic plague placed boils and tumors near lymph nodes.  Most people who contracted bubonic died from it.}  These Philistines knew their History well, as they recounted what the Lord of Israel had done to the Egyptians, and the plague of tumors and boils was well documented as one of the plagues that God had inflicted on the Egyptians.  These early verses in this chapter make it very clear that the Philistines were scared and desparate.  So they came up with a plan.  Firstly they wanted to prove to themselves that the Ark was indeed the cause of their troubles.  And secondly, if that was proven, they wanted to not only get rid of it, but appease the Lord of Israel in hopes that He would withdraw the plague from their cities. 
So this was their plan:

*Take two cows away from their calves, cows that have never been yoked
*Yoke the two cows to a cart
*Place the Ark into the cart
*Melt down enough gold to make five golden tumors and five golden mice (this was to be a guilt offering)
*Place them into the cart beside the Ark
*Before letting the cows leave with the cart, they penned up the calves in plain sight
*Then they pointed the cows toward Beth Shemesh, an Israelited city, and let them go

If the cows turned back toward their calves, that was to be considered a sign that the Ark was not the cause of the plague.  If the cows ignored that calves and pulled the cart toward Israel, then that would be confirmation that the Ark was indeed the cause and they had made the right decision.  This turned out to be a good plan.  The cows marched steadily towards the Hebrew city of Beth Shemesh.  This was a delight to the five Philistine kings and their elders.  {I don't think they had a plan-B}  They followed the cows at a distance to make sure they would know if the cows altered their course.  In vss 13--> the people of Beth Shemesh celebrated getting the Ark back.  They chopped up the cart and used the wood to make a fire to burn the two cows as a sacrifice to God.  In the remaining verses in chapter 6, we see that the rules concerning the Ark of the Covenant were not to be comprimised.  God struck down some of the non-Levite members of that city as punishment for looking in (and probably handling) the Ark.  The people mourned, but God's point was made.  {We compromise and water down values all the time, but God does not.}

Chapter 7  -   Samual Is Israel's New Leader

We've seen in the first six chapters of I Samual that Israel has become an ungodly nation.  The priesthood has become corrupt, the Levites have placed themselves up for sale, they are welcoming pagan dieties into their homes, their sons and daughters are marrying outside the tribes of Israel.  They have lost their moral compass and have consciously disregarded God and His Laws.  In the first six verses of chapter 7, we see that Samual blames Israel's troubles on their devotion to pagan deities.  Samual mentions by name Ashteroth (the supreme female deity of the Canaanites and was always associated with Baal).  Also mentioned, of course, is the pagan god Baal.  Baal was the god of fertility and was the supreme deity of the Phoenicians and the Canaanites.  Being the god of fertility meant that Baal must be happy in order for the women to bear children, livestock to multiply, and the crops to be successful.  As I mentioned before, they would stop at nothing to satisfy Baal, including child sacrifice.  Ever since the book of Genesis, we have seen God time and time again admonish His people to stay away from worshiping other gods.  He also warned them against doing things that would lead to the temptation to do so.  This was extremely important to God, and still is.  Remember the very first of the Ten Commandments.  Samual in this passages tells the people of Israel to "get rid of these strange gods".  {These idols that were in possession of the Israelites had become precious items in their households.  Asking them to get rid of them was no small thing.}  One would think that Samual's demand to get rid of their idols would have made many or most of the people to disregard Samual as some religious nut that was asking unreasonable things.  But surprisingly they did as Samula told them as it says in vss 5-6 that Samual led them in a worship service in which they fasted and confessed their sins.  {I think these people had become so miserable and desparate for spiritual guidance that they were drawn to Samual and hung on his every word.}

There is much in the remaining 11 verses of chapter 7.  Remember Samual gathered "all of Israel" to Mispah and had a worship service that included repentance.  But the Philistines heard about this gathering and of course assumed that Israel was gathering an army with which to deal with the Philistines.  {Remember our comments about how the Philistines were military minded and they thought every gathering would have been for no other purpose than to wage war.}  But the Philistines were correct that their hold on the Israelites was being challenged.  So the Philistines did what they do best:  They attacked Israel.  Then something important happened {please be aware of how much time has passed}.  They asked Samual to intercede to God in their behalf and protect them (vs 8).  This was a huge step, and a necessary one for them to return to God.  Then in verse 9 Samual sacrificed a young lamb as a burnt offering unto God as he cried out to God for Israel's protection.   As Samual was sacrificing and worshiping, the Philitines approached Mizpah to attack.  God created loud claps of thunder and frightened the Philistine soldiers so badly that they went into a panic and lost control of themselves.  This allowed the scantly armed Israelites to defeat the large Philistine army, so much that it goes on to say that the Philistines never bothered the Israelites again during Samual's lifetime.  In addition, they gave the towns from Ekron to Gath back to Israel as a gesture of peace.  There was also peace with the dreaded Amorites during Samual's leadership.
So, Samual was established as Israel's leader and God's prophet.  News had spread throughout the Promised Land of Samual, and all twelve tribes respected everything about Samual.  Finaly there was real peace with real spiritual revival.

But we all know that the nation Israel is not going to tolerate but so much peace and prosperity.  In the next post, we'll see something new:  Israel wants a king.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

LXXXVII - Samual 4-5 - War With the Philistines

In the book of I Samual, we have seen about Hannah's plea, her song of praise and thanksgiving, Samual's call to God's service, and a brief look at Eli and his sons Hophni and Phinehas.  Now in chapter 4, the Philistines are introduced rather abruptly.  After the Philistines unsuccessfully battled the Egyptians around 1175 BC, they settled the territory that usually is associated with them, predominently along the Mediterainian Sea in the central to southern part of the Promised Land.  The Philistines were a cruel people as we've seen in the book of Judges, especially in dealing with Samson.  But also, the Philistines were warriors, who by all accounts, were constantly readying themselves for battle.  And, as mentioned in Scripture, their weaponry was as sophisticated as that of the Egyptians.  Therefore, for Israel to go against the Philistines in battle was no small undertaking.  My studies has led me to believe that they had weapons made of iron and steel, which were superior in strength to those (like Israel's) made of brass or bronze.  When clashed, the steel would break the brass, leaving the soldier with a brass weapon hopelessly vulnerable.

Chapter 4:1-11  -  The location of this battle cannot be pinpointed, but we do know that the Philistine-occupied city of Aphek was close to modern day Tel-Aviv, which would have placed the battles close to the western part of Dan.  Verse 2 (KJV) says that the Philistines "put themselves in array against Israel".  This means that the Philistines were the aggressors.  Without much pretext of this battle, we cannot know the exact cause leading up to this.  Israel lost this first battle and four thousand Israelite soldiers were killed.  In verse 3 the elders of Israel questioned the soldiers asking "Why did the Lord bring defeat on us today?".  {To be fair to these elders, they were not directly blaming God, but they were not incorrect in their question either.  In the life of Israel, EVERYTHING was attributable to God, good or bad.  This is true, but let's be careful:  God is not the one to blame.  Many students of the Bible seem to get a little confused about this, as we do today about the things in our lives.  Israel brought this on themselves when they became so apathetic toward God and His Laws, that God gave them over to the Philistines.  By "giving them over" means that God did not intervene.  This type of thing has happened to Israel throughout the Old Testiment.  Just like the Israelites of this era, we also need God's intervention at all times in our lives.}  But then in desparation Israel made another mistake.  They decided to take the Ark of the Covenant into battle with them to assure themselves of victory.  This might be attributal to the use of the Ark in Josh. 6:6 during the battle of Jericho.  The Ark of the Covenant had been at Shiloh since the original conquest of Canaan, hundreds of years ago.  While at Shiloh, the Ark was under the charge of the Levite priests.  It appears to me that the Levites were not consulted.  The elders who suddenly became self-appointed military strategists and priests, sent for the Ark.  They thought the Ark would solve all their problems, but instead, this action created problems.  One problem was that the Ark was not to be moved unless God ordained it.  And whenever it was moved, there was a procedure for moving it, mainly involving ONLY Levites to physically carry it.  Another problem with their reasoning is that they were treating the Ark like a good-luck charm.  The Ark was to be a symbol of God's presence in worship.  {The apostacy of the Israelites was bad enough.  But when they start disrespecting the Ark of the Covenant, that was just going too far.}  So, the Ark was brought to the battle site.  And who was to accompany the Ark into battle?  None other than Hophni and Phinehas, the corrupt sons of Eli.  {At least they were priests.}  The Scripture goes on to tell that when the Israelite soldiers saw that the Ark had arrived, they shouted for joy, so loud that the Philistines heard them and became fearful.  The God of Israel still had a tremendous reputation for overpowering anything in existance in the whole earth's civilization.  The Philistines were as aware of that as any other group.  With Israel's disregard toward God, He was actually forgotten about by the rest of Canaan until this very day.  The Scripture indicates that the Philistines thought they were doomed, and decided they must go down fighting as hard as they can, for they were indeed fighting for their lives.  As a result of the whole situation, the Philistines overwhelmingly won the battle.  Vss 10-11 tells us of the slaughter so great that the Philistines killed thirty thousand foot soldiers.  Also, they killed Hophni and Phinehas, and worst of all, the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant, along with the mercy seat, the manna, the tablets that contained the Ten Commandments, and the budded staff of Aaron.  This was an awful day for Israel.

Chapter 4:12-22  -  This passage begins by telling us that "a man of Benjamin" ran about twenty miles to the city to report of the battle.  Eli had been anxiously awaiting word from the battle field.  Eli was blind, old, and very over-weight.  He heard that there was a report being made and sought word from the messenger.  The messenger answers Eli in verse 17.  He told Eli that 1) Israel was so defeated that they fled from the Philistines, 2) Hophni and Phinehas were killed, and 3) The Ark of the Covenant was captured.  In verse 18, upon hearing of the Ark, Eli fell backward off his chair, broke his neck and died.  {I've tried to place my mind into Eli's.  This was awful.  We know that, although his sons caused him a lot of trouble, he still loved them and certainly didn't want to see them receive such a fate.  Also, Eli probably considered himself a failure.  He served Israel forty years.  During Eli's tenure as High Priest, Israel had gone down hill spiritually during those forty years.  Then, Israel's the most valuable item, the sacred Ark of the Covenant, that was entrusted to Eli was captured by their bitter enemies the Philistines. Eli's life did not end well at all.}  Vss 19-22 tell of further tragedy marking this day.  Eli's daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant and near time of delivery.  Upon hearing of this news, she went into labor and gave birth to a son.  To a Hebrew woman, there was no greater moment in her life than giving birth to a son.  But this was no time for joy for this woman.  She named her son "Ichabod", which means "inglorious" or "where is the glory".  Soon after she gave birth, she died.

Chapter 5 - This chapter is only twelve short verses and is interesting reading for you.  But I will paraphrase it anyway, not being aware of how you stand with reading ahead of these posts.  The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant and proudly carried their trophy back to Ashdod, a principal city of the Philistines.  Ashdod was where they had their temple for Dagon, the Philistine pagan god of the crops.  They made a mistake of placing the Ark in the temple near Dagon because God destroyed the idol Dagon.  Also, the inhabitants of the city broke out in boils and tumors, much like those of the bubonic plague.  The citizens of Ashdod had the Ark moved to another city, to which the same affliction was cast.  This went on for five different cities, all of which suffered the bubonic plague-type symptoms.  Most victims of bubonic plague died.  I'll explain in the next post why I believe it was bubonic.

Next post:  The Ark Returns to Israel

Thursday, November 15, 2012

LXXXVI - Chapter 3 - Samual Grows Up

Chapter 3 - God calls Samual

It's likely that Samual is now about twelve years old, being raised all that time by the priest Eli.  {I failed to mention in the previous post that Eli must have been led by the Spirit to agree to raise Samual.  Eli was the High Priest at that time and dwelt near the tabernacle.  Although Samual was a committed Nazarite, he was an Ephraimite, not a Levite, which would have disqualified him from becoming Eli's replacement.  And he did not replace him as priest, but rather became a prophet for the entire nation Israel.  A Prophet is a Spokesman for God.}

In verse 1 it says there were not many visions in those days, which is telling us that these people have all but put God out of their lives.  (Sound familiar?)  We see in the first four verses that the time is right for God to involve Himself directly in the nation Israel.  Four reasons:  1) the decline of the priesthood as evidenced by Hophni and Phinehas's corrupt behavior, 2) the lack or absence of any prophetic word, 3) immorality and idolatry has spun out of control, and 4) Eli's approaching death.

Verse 3 - The day's activities had been completed.  Eli and Samual had retired to their dwelling places for the night.  Then the Lord called Samual.  Samual of course assumed it was Eli and ran to him to see what he wanted.  But Eli told him he did not call for him and sent him back to bed.  This happened again and Eli sent Samual back to bed again.  Then in verse 8 God calls Samual a third time, and Samual ran to Eli again.  This time Eli perceived that it might be God, so he instructed Samual that if it happens again, say "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening".  So when Samual went back to bed,  God called him and Samual responded as Eli instructed him.

Vss 11-14  -  God's message to Samual was brief.  He was about to bring judgement on Israel and on the house of Eli.  It says in verse 11 that what God is about to do to Israel is so startling that "the ears of everyone who hears about it will tingle".  Verse 12 states that all of the circumstances recounted in 2:27-36 finally would come to the house of Eli.  The judgement was because of the sins of Eli's sons, Hophni adn Phinehas.  But secondly, it was because Eli tolerated his children's sins.  Because of this, Eli would suffer along with his sons (vs 13).  Verse 14 is striking.  In it God says that He swears to the house of Eli, "The guilt of Eli's house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering".  In no uncertain terms, this verse tells us just how serious the situation with the priesthood had become.  {God hates corruption wherever it exists, but this wasn't just anywhere.  It was in His tabernacle, defiling the very thing God wanted to remain holy and pure.}  Verse 15 - Samual went back to sleep and got up in the morning going about his regular assigned duties.  But he was afraid to tell Eli what God had said because the judgement was so severe against Eli and his family.  But, as you would suspect, Eli was very anxious to hear what God had told Samual and approached him about it in verse 17.  Samual told Eli what God said He was going to do with Eli and his family.  Eli said in so many words, "so be it".  {Eli could not have been surprised, and he accepted the inevitable.  He knew what his sons had been doing and that he did little or nothing to correct them.  If you've studied the Law closely, you would know what Eli was supposed to do if his sons would not obey his words.  The Law was clear on this:  He was to give them over to the elders at the city gate and the two would have beened stoned to death.  The crime for which they would have been executed was not theft inside the tabernacle, but rather for disobedience to their father.  This offense was not taken lightly.  Sounds cruel, but in this instance, the priesthood was at stake.  The actions of these two men made the entire nation of Israel disrespect the sanctity of the priesthood that God Himself established.  Think about this.  This is no small deal.}  In the remaining verses of this chapter 3, much time is passed as it tells that Samual grew up and God let none of Samual's words "hit the ground".  This means that God made sure that Samual was established as a true prophet.  As will be studied later, a true prophet is one who's prophesies ALWAYS come true.  Many self-proclaimed prophets are exposed by that fact that some of their prophesies are proven false.  A true prophet appointed and annointed by God is flawless.  This always takes quite a number of years to establish itself, as much prophesy was given years, if not decades or centuries, in advance.  Verse 20 tells us that Samual was recognized as God's spokesman from Dan to the north, to Beer-Sheba to the extreme south of the Promised Land.  Not only did God annoint Samual and gave him prophesy concerning Eli and the Philistines, but all this time God continually appeared to Samual.

Next post:  The Philistines Continue to be a Problem

Saturday, November 10, 2012

LXXXV - I Samual

The Book of I Samual

Author:              Unknown
Place:                 Israel and Judah
Main Subject:    Samual establishes Israel as a united kingdom

You've noticed I've often compared the Biblical Patriarchs with one another, ie. Boaz was Christ-like; Gideon much like Joshua; etc.  Samual is to be compared with Moses in his personal characteristics and leadership style.  Bear in mind that Samual was such a powerful leader that his fame as God's prophet (spokesman) spread from Ephraim to every tribe throughout Israel, as all tribes honored Samual's words.

The book of I Samual begins at the end of the period of the Judges.  Israel was a scattered group of twelve tribes who ruled themselves as each saw fit.  They had not purged the promised land of all non-Israelites as commissioned by God, and of course these Canaanites were the constant sourse of all of the individual tribes' problems.  Most or all the judges were territorial, thus the nation Israel was really twelve separate tribes with each having their own separate set of circumstances and problems.  Samual was to be a prophet to serve the entire nation, thus a uniting force for Israel.  At this particular time, the biggest oppressor was again the Philistines.  The most influencial person at this time was the priest Eli, who was now advancing in years and whose sons were not fit to succeed him.  But Eli was entrusted with the training of the child Samual, who is the obvious heir to Eli's authority.  This book covers so much History and I will have to take it slow in order to be thorough, so please be patient.  I want to cover at least the first two chapters in this post.

In the opening verses of the first chapter we read about a man named Elkanah, from the tribe of Ephraim.  Elkanah had two wives, Peninnah and Hannah.  {Allow me to address this polygamy:  Elkanah's polygamy was not in keeping with the ideal that God established for marriage in the beginning (Gen. 2:24), and the Old Testament never condoned it.  However, it was a general practice in the ancient world.  Even though Elkanah was a polygamist, he was a devoutly religious person, as he was careful to appear before the Lord at Shiloh on every ritual occasion, and he made sure that each member of his household participated properly.}  In the first 8 verses, its very clear that Elkanah loved Hannah more than he loved Pininnah, but Pininnah gave him children and Hannah could not.  {Hannah was in good company:  Sarah, Rebecah, Rachel.}  A woman being barren, especially in those days, was a serious affliction, akin to being a curse.  Hannah was distrought by this affliction, which was made even worse by Pininnah teasing Hannah about it.
In verses 9-18 we see that Hannah (while attending worship at Shiloh) prayed earnestly, howbeit silently.  So deeply in prayer was she, that Eli the High Priest thought she was drunk.  Hannah immediately took offense to this and corrected Eli.  This was a very special moment to Hannah, and she was not going to have it misunderstood by Eli or anyone else.  In verse 17 Eli sent sent her on her way with his blessings {I think he knew he accused her in haste and that he was in the presence of a truly Godly woman}.  When Hannah and her family returned to their home in Ramah, she concieved and gave birth to a son.  She named him Samual.  The name Samual meant "Because I have asked him of the Lord".  Hannah and Elkanah knew that Samual was a direct answer to prayer.  Hannah knew that she had promised to give her son to God, and actually dedicated him as a Nazarite (vs 11).  But Hannah kept Samual about two years until he was weaned.  Then, in vs 24, Hannah kept her promise.  She gave Samual to God by giving him to the priest Eli.  What a Godly woman.  You know she loved and appreciated her son above and beyond any other mother for ages and ages.  But not only did this saintly woman give up her son, but Hannah wrote a song, praising God for answring her prayer and giving her Samual.  (God blessed Hannah and Elkanah with many more children after she delivered Samual to Eli.)  Take time to read this song in chapter 2.  You can sense the depth of her love and appreciation for God.

Allow me to skip to verses 18-21 of chapter 2.  Hannah was Samual's mother and she always would be.  It says that when her and Elkanah would go to Shiloh to worship, Hannah would always bring Samual some clothes and probably other gifts.  I'll bet Hannah and Elkanah were so proud to see their son growing up to be everything they had hoped for and more. 

Back up to vss 12-17.  These verses give you an idea of just how corrupt Eli's sons are.  Eli's two sons were Hophni and Phinehas.  They stole from the Lord's portion.  What a bad idea.  They stole their portion before God got His.  I won't dwell on this, but no matter how busy Eli was, he was still commissioned to raise his children properly.  Children are a blessing from God (ask Hannah) and we, like Eli, must not shirk the responsibility of doing everything we can to raise them properly, out of obedience and respect for God.  In vs 22 we see that Eli has been made aware of his sons' evil ways (they even made the female temple servants to prostitute themselves).  These guys were making a mockery of their father and the priesthood itself.  But God steps in.  Look at vss 27--> as God takes this matter into His own hands.  Vs 30 "Those who honor Me I will honor, but those who dispise Me will be disdained."  God proceeds in vs 34 to pronounce a curse on Hophni and Phinehas.  Although God has decided their punishment, He is going to have Samual give this information to Eli, which we'll see in the .............

..........Next post:  Chapter 3  -  Samual Grows Up