I Samuel 2-7
We are in the Nation Stream. The leadership is transferring from Eli to Samuel as we read from the New International Reader’s Version today.
It is right about 1100 B.C. when Samuel is born. We are approaching the halfway point between Abraham and Jesus. David will be ruling in Jerusalem a century later and here starts the development of that monarchy. Samuel oversees this process. It was not the Lord’s perfect will for His nation (when do humans EVER allow for the LORd’s perfect will to occur?!) but nonetheless the people of Israel demand a king now so the process has begun. Samuel has arrived following his mother’s longing and prayer [He happens to turn out to be one of the finest human beings that have ever lived]
2- Hannah says her prayer of thanksgiving and praise for Samuel’s arrival after Samuel is dedicated to the Lord’s service. The need for SAmuel; a man of his character is contrasted as we next learn of the current priest, Eli and the fact that his sons are scoundrels in the Temple. They had no regard for what they were to be doing. Their appetites mattered more to them than obeying God. They even acted as if the sacred tent where they were to be serving the LORD was a bordello! They were warned but would then again, they would not be warned! Meanwhile Samuel grew in the Lord’s sight as he was becoming ready to be the prophet of the Lord. At the close of this chapter Eli receives a word from one of God’s messengers that his family is doomed.
3 – The Lord calls Samuel in the night and it is a genius move of God get to Eli the way He does. There is no way that God could get through to Samuel so effectively but to do so via the pure of heart of a child. Eli took SAmuel seriously and the whole country, Dan to Beersheba does the same.
4 – Samuel has commenced his ministry of a Prophet and notifies the country that time has basically run out for Eli’s family. The Israelites then head into a battle with the Philistines. To cut to the chase, 30,000 of them die that day, the deaths include Eli’s sons and what is the worst, the Ark of the Covenant, the most sacred object God had ever instructed them about, was captured and was in the hands of Philistines. Someone from Benjamin ran all the way to Eli to bear the dreadful news. He swoons; falls over backward and dies. His daughter-in-law goes into distress and labor as she too dies giving birth to a boy whose name means “the glory has departed.” And it had departed.
5 – The ark was in Philistine hands and was moved through their cities. They thought they were playing just another version of their war games in taking the Israelites greatest prize possession. but they were fooling around with a power that they had no comprehension of . It was taken from Ashdod to Gath to Ekron. Everywhere it was taken, the false idols collapsed to the ground, and the people Ekron, at least, at least they cry out to the God of heaven. That was a first.
6 – The Phiistines realize that after 7 months, they best return the ark to the Israelites if they want to not be finished off as a people. They put two untrained cows to a cart with the ark on it, added offerings of gold shaped into rats and tumors and the cows walked the ark and the ‘gifts’ clear back to Beth-shemesh. The Philistines were relieved and the people in Beth-Shemesh were elated at the arrival of the Ark. They made an offering to the LORD but in their irreverence they looked into the Ark and 70 were struck dead by God. To resolve this matter best they knew how, they had the ark taken to Kiriath Jearim and it was kept at Abinidab’s house…. 7 –
7 – It remains there for 20 years Samuel then takes complete leadership of the nation and leads them in a service of repentance that affects the nation. They Philistines come to attack during that time and God rises up and throws them into a panic and Israel is able to take full control of this tribes of ruffians and for the length of Samuel’s life the Philistines are indeed subdued. The Israelites put away their idols, God is followed as monuments are put up in his honor.
God was able to work mightily once they had cleaned up and got their house in order. They got rid of a wicked, hapless ruler, a godly man was guiding the country and their enemies were under foot now.
God, may we rise and do what it is you want us to do, to “get house in order” and allow you to do what it is you want to do in and through us. Thank you for caring enough to want to use us in greater ways than we expect. Amen”