Friday, May 4, 2012

my notes for The Story, chapter 10-- I Samuel 1-15

The first thing I ever studied in the Bible-- since my fellow studier's daughter's name was Hannah!

Glad I studied it then-- and since-- since it's overlooked, to focus on David. Aside from the poignant beginning with Hannah, you have the famous passage with Samuel as a youngster, one of the funniest passages in Scripture (I Sam 5-- not in The Story), the huge passage on govt (I Sam 8-- oh, if Christians and others heeded these warnings today!). Also overlooked, Saul gets off to a strong start, before fading and engaging in three huge sins in the Christian life: legalism, compromise, and poor timing.

I Samuel 1-15

Intro: period of the judges; Samuel: the last judge, providing segue from judges to kings; served as a prophet (3:20), priest (9:12-13, 13:8-13) and a judge (7:15-17)

1:1-8 (skim)
-introduced to Elkanah, Peninnah/Hannah w/ & w/o child
-Hebrew’s posterity continued by having a son; else—curse from God (Dt 7:12-14)
à despite that, he did all he could to encourage and love Hannah, giving choice share to her at Feasts as a token of his love
-despite her barrenness, as Christ loves the church (Eph 5:25)
-giving greatest support to the weak and afflicted
-6-7 for Peninnah's rivalry with Hannah, esp. at sacrifices
-when Elkanah showed Hannah the most love
-when she should have left well-enough alone; interfering with her worship
-should have helped bear Hannah's burdens instead of adding to them
-8's Elkanah and Hannah revisited: "isn't my love worth ten sons?"
-"typical male response" here
-her wise (or least confrontational?) response: no answer...

1:9-20’s Hannah Dealing w/ her Problem (skim)
-troubled, burdened, mournful
-9's "they ate" vs. 7's "she couldn't": sorrow too large, kept her from feasting; eating of Holy Things
-HOWEVER...did not fight Peninnah or nag Elkanah
-in grief and trouble, prayed-- went before God; commits hypothetical son to God
-11’s prayer for a single child (vs. Rebekah’s demandingness), but wanted a boy (for a legacy and a gift to God in service)
-Eli messes up initially, but recovers/repents and his encouragement to Hannah pays off
-in terms of food: cheered her up enough
-she goes to God in prayer, casting her burdens upon God

1:21-2:2’s early years and worship—“Hannah's Song" (skim)
-see: “Mary's Song" (Lk 1:46-55)
-God's strength, holiness, knowledge, discernment, sovereignty
-1’s Giver vs. gift to heap praise: "My heart rejoices in the Lord"
-might expect "child", but instead, God who answered her prayers

Elkanah's family
-generally faithful to God and his commands in the face of overall decline of religion among the people and specific problems with Eli's sons
-still constant attendance to feasts and yearly sacrifice
-not tied to other people or leaders in the church-- focus on God/Christ
-but wives had struggled—w/ reason to be happy (for P, children vs. for H, more love)
-P couldn’t bear the blessings of fruitfulness; H, the affliction of barrenness
-Elkanah's problem: 2 wives
-may have married Peninnah to get kids, which actually indirectly turned out to be the cause of his later troubles (see: Abraham/Sarah/Hagar)
-Hannah's care for her child—2:19’s clothes
-how tough it would be to send one's child to Eli, someone who had failed as a father
-easier w/ God's answer to her earlier prayer
-in both points, see also: Abraham's near-sacrifice

3:1-5 (read)
-1’s “rare”—why? God not speaking or them not listening (in context, given their unrepentant sin; Jas 1:5-8)
-2's blindness x2
-took Eli 3x to recognize God's hand
à a devoted boy called in a dramatic way to a difficult task
-w/ app. to sometimes the call comes at a very young age

3:16-18's message delivered (read)
-Eli's careful but insistent inquiry, dealing with it
-wanting to know what God said although he knew it was likely to be something bad about his life
-accepted God's verdict gracefully from Samuel; no complaints (as opposed to Cain and Aaron in Lev 10:3)
-Eli used despite inadequacies
-Samuel: every whit/detail --> no punches pulled (see also: evangelism, ministry)

4:1-3’s ark (read)
-contained the 10 commandments, as a symbol of God's support/presence
-supposed to be kept in the Most Holy Place-- a sacred part of the Tabernacle that only the High Priest could enter once a year (see: Heb 9:6-7, Lk 23:45)
-here, desecrated; wrongheadedness ratified by Eli's sons (4:4)
-confused about God's actual support/presence (as a function of obedience)
-ex) Raiders of the Lost Ark
-role of rituals; externals/internals (II Tim 3:5)
-making the Ark into an idol

-the Ark's inherent power vs. Israelites trying to coerce God to do their will by bringing the Ark along --> "bringing" God to them vs. going to God
-Lincoln's response to "God on our side?" --> "Us on God's side?"
-see also: worshipping God as we want him to be vs. how he actually is
-I Samuel occurs soon after Samson defeated the Philistines
-again confusing one man's godly act w/ general support for contemporary Israel, as Samson's example inspires them

8:1-5 (read)
-fast-forwarding about 20 years, things had gone well under Samuel, but his kids were a mess
-Samuel’s lasting legacy, but perversely/ironically, through his children’s lack of character (and what follows); a Biblical theme, but why did Samuel struggle?
-didn’t have positive role model (following Eli’s passivity); battling a corrupt culture/church; not enough time for his sons (Samuel as prophet, priest and judge—last time for that combo!)
-see also: Eli and his sons --> why wasn't Samuel punished like Eli?
-not as corrupt/bad
-Samuel not as responsible for how they turned out
-parent/child correlated, but not perfectly (see: children of alcoholics—both abstainers and abusers who cite parents)
-4-5’s (stated) reasons for wanting a king: Samuel growing old and his sons were corrupt; to be like the other nations (see also: 19-20’s wanting "a king to fight our battles"?!)
A. Striving to be average; peer pressure
-GCM's "Their glory and their power had consisted in their unlikeness to the nations in this very fact."
B. Focusing on Externals (again, as with the Ark in 4:3)
-king as a symbol of power, fulfilling role as head of state (pomp)        
-"thinking that a new govt would bring about a change in the nation"
-bottom line: disobedience of the people
C. Concern for "Security"
-forgetting what the Lord has done for them 8’s "as they have done from the day I brought them up from Egypt"
-threatened by Philistines to the west and by Ammonites to the east (12:12); looking for security in a human king; rejecting God's leadership
D. an early version of faith in government vs. God
-the use of govt to reach economic and social goals; see also: our pursuit of security, solutions and sustenance thru govt
-implicit and explicit; implicit: looking to govt to solve problems vs. explicit: current examples and past quotes from Ch. 16 (next page)
--> today, political and spiritual revival-- away from human govt and "self"

Around the turn of the century, worship of the State by Christian leaders was at an appalling level. Olasky quotes the Canon of Canterbury, William Fremantle, concerning government: "(it) calls forth a worship more complete than any other..." and only government "can embrace all the wants of its members and afford them the universal instruction and elevation which they need." As Olasky continues, he notes that "the worship of power had rarely been stated so explicitly by a church leader" before quoting Fremantle a final time: "when we think of the Nation as becoming, as it must do more and more, the object of mental regard, of admiration, of love, even of worship (for in it God preeminently dwells), we shall recognize to the fullest extent its religious character and functions."
Mrs. G. Harris Robertson, one of the leading proponents of welfare in the early 20th century, exhibited tremendous faith in government: "the state is a parent, and, as a wise and gentle and kind and loving parent, should beam down on each child alike." And describing the supposed merits of socialism, she claimed that "every step we make toward establishing these lines (socialism) means an advance toward the Kingdom of Peace."
Pope Paul VI said of government: it "always intervenes with careful justice and with devotion to the common good for which it holds final responsibility." His policy recommendations followed his faith: "it pertains to the public authorities to choose, even to lay down, the ends to be achieved, and the means of attaining them, and it is for them to stimulate all the forces engaged in this common activity."

2.) also reveals the people's agenda
A. Emphatically Stated/Demanding (Style)
-despite God's warning through Samuel about what a king (govt) would/will do (8:10-19)
-people not persuaded by reason; see: "when you want something bad enough"
-the coercive nature of government/powers of the state (taxes, conscription, abuse of power)
--> vs. earthly kings who often send their own people into battle in foreign countries for their own interests, our heavenly king sent his son to a foreign land to die for his people
B. A case of "bad timing"; Israel's own agenda (Substance)
-too early; God planned to have His own chosen king in His timing (Dt 17:14-20, esp. 14-15)
-David, after Samuel died; thus, Israelites force God's timing by 10-12 years (for birth of David, probably 25-30 years until he could rule)
-desire not wrong, but reasons, timing, etc. were wrong...
-king not inherently evil, as long as in the context of covenant w/ God; as long as under God thru Samuel-- no problem

-no dependence on God; people who don't trust that God will provide for their well-being as promised, as before
-noteworthy that no one rises to be a candidate for king
-that was left to God (just timing was disturbed)
-most government begins with someone's ambition to rule; here Israel's ambition is to be ruled

8:19-22’s God gives them what they want (Rom 1:24-28)....why? (read)
-1.) God could still bring glory out of a foolish request
-2.) to prevent rebellion
-3.) beaten with their own rod; to see the differences between His government and the government of a king (II Chron 12:8)
-got to see whether it's the "right way"...
-analogy to kids (do you let them fall or not??)
-GCM's "He would give them a king in order that in the long processes of experience, they might learn the folly of their choice. In this is revealed a constant method of the Divine government. When men fail to rise to the height of the purpose of God, and clamor for something lower, He gives them what they ask and then watches over them and guards them as they work out their low choice to its ultimate conclusion and thus are eventually brought back to his purpose with a full understanding of its perfection."

Chapters 9-10 (skim)
à Saul trying to get out of it-- an excuse (Ex 3:10-12, 4:10-12; Judg 6:14-16)
-God doesn't take our excuses; but wants complete dependence on Him...says simply, "I will be with you"
-doesn't see our inadequacies; will use His grace
-humble person more likely to be dependent, and as a result, He'll get the glory; will have to be supernatural
-or false humility (9:1 vs. 9:21's claim); feeling inferior unnecessarily
-externals emphasized again
-Saul's height (23)
-judgment/excitement (23's ran, 24's "long live the king") based on externals only
-in the face of his apparent cowardice
-rubbing it in on Samuel; their true King is eternal

à what will God do with Saul?
-Chs. 10-12: Saul’s dependence on God
-Chs. 13-15: Saul's independence from God
-Chs. 16-19: Saul rejected by God; David appears, Saul continues to fall apart

10:27’s handled dissenters well (again in 11:12-13); "holding his peace" (skim)
-he realized they were rejecting God, not him (as with Samuel in Ch. 8)

-GCM's "A sense of God corrects all the things of a human life. Where it is acute, there is no room for the passion of revenge. There is not even a care to fight for one's own rights." (Rom 12:19)

11:4-7 for Saul's character (read)
-still modest and humble (and overly afraid?)
-tending his flocks even as appointed king
-leaves God's work to Samuel until appropriate time when Saul fires up in dependence
-11:6's empowerment by the Holy Spirit; requires his/our cooperation
-in 11:7, " anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel"
-zeal for Israel's honor (Eph 4:26a's "in your anger, do not sin...")
-kinder and gentler gov't, but still very firm
-threatened their oxen in 11:6, not them-- as other regimes had done
--> Saul steps out in obedience and people respond to "fear of God"

11:8-11’s Saul handled warfare well (skim)
-9's faith, confidence, courage, boldness, bravery, resolution in this matter
-11's strategy
--> in sum, attended to the business of war as well as the best soldier w/o training
-the spirit of God can make experts out of those w/ no experience
-"whom God calls to service, he will make fit for it."
-God's call; dependence is more likely in those areas where we're weak or not trained

Chapter 12’s Final Sermon

à coming into Ch. 10: foreshadowing and Ch. 12's ominous ending; but Chs. 10-12 features Saul's dependence on God, now...
-Jonathan's dependence upon God bookended by two examples of Saul's self-dependence and turning away from God
-Saul's big 3 sins (pre-David): ch. 13’s violating God's timing, ch. 14’s legalism (not in The Story); Ch 15's libertine/compromise with God's holy standards

13:8-12's impatience
-Saul fails to follow instructions to wait for Samuel at Gilgal so he could do the burnt offering on this occasion
-offers sacrifice and decided to engage the Philistines without Samuel/God (and apparently didn't try to send a messenger)
-rituals vs. faith
--> under pressure from the enemy, took things into his own hands and disobeyed God
--> a good thing done the wrong way: by the wrong person in the wrong timing
-"just as he finished..." --> uh-oh...

-tries to justify himself (in the face of a direct question)
-11's three excuses/rationalizations vs. prophet's "you disobeyed" (period)
-"no fun" being a prophet (most of the time)
-12's "I saw...I thought...I felt compelled" (!)

15:1-3’s told to destroy Amalek completely
-why Amalek??...
-here, specifically because of Ex 17:1-8 (Dt 25:17-19), but they were continuously giving Israel trouble (Num 14:45; Jud 3:13, 6:3-4,33)
-from Thomas' book, "a picture of the flesh, seeking to stop the journey of God's redeemed/delivered people through the wilderness to Canaan"
-...and why completely?
-no compromise; God's war as just
-given chances to repent (see: Rahab & Gibeonites in Joshua; devil worship and child sacrifice; not your next-door neighbor…)

15:7-9 for Saul's Big Mistake-- How NOT to deal with Amalek
-disobeying God's command by sparing Agag (others escaped as well) and the best livestock -Amalekites (and Agagites) appear after this: Esther, etc.
-Saul didn't get all of them now or later (because of pursuit of own agenda &/or troubles that followed events of Ch. 15)
-keeping the best of what God has condemned (ironically, to give to God)
-there was nothing good in Amalek; there was to be no compromise
-Saul found good in what God had condemned; took the best of what God hated
-Saul's "superior judgment" in this matter
-see also: the best of our human nature (the flesh)
-what makes genuine good? how can we contribute to God's glory?
-only with Christ (through us) --> dependence
-sin as failing to do right thing at right time with right person using right methods in right strength

15:13-23 for Saul's "defense": excuses cont'd
-13’s Saul's "religious" greeting and boast of obedience implies defensiveness
-deceiving self or trying to with Samuel (remember God had given him the victory)
-14’s Samuel easily convicts
-15’s Saul tries to justify...rationalization; shifting blame
-16’s Samuel's prophecy, cutting through the bull
-20-21's rationalization: good intentions, lies (about motivations), was careless with or twisted God's word, blames soldiers
--> throughout, Saul quick to take credit and deflect blame/responsibility
-Samuel on Saul's disobedience in his mission as 22-23's rebellion and arrogance
-the comparison: divination and rebellion = determining own future; arrogance and idolatry = pride, self/other over God
-"to obey is better than sacrifice"
-moral precepts over ceremonial observances

The Consequences
1.) for Saul

-God deserts Saul (15:23, 26-28); Samuel deserts Saul (15:35's no more effort)
-kingdom taken from him (15:23,27-28), given to one who is "better" (David)
-in the book of Esther: Haman (an Agagite) and the Jews (Est 3:1)
-his own death by an Amalekite-- at the end of a tortured life (given 3 sins)
-I Sam 28:15-19, II Sam 1:5-10, Buechner's last 2 P's on Saul
2.) for us, in general
-there can be no compromise with the flesh (sin)
-Thomas' "Spare it if you will, but it will never spare you."


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