Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Arc de Triumph

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for April 18, 1 Sam 28-31, Psalm 18

Today's readings are 1 Samuel 28-31 & Psalm 18. Tomorrow's are Psalm 121, 123, 124, 125, 128, 129, 130. 

In 1 Sam 28, Saul faces a major confrontation with the Philistines. In desperation, the man who once disregarded counsel from Samuel while Samuel was alive, seeks Samuel's counsel now that he has died. Saul enlists the aid of a medium, all of whom were expelled from the land, by Saul, himself. 

The passage about the medium is an odd one, one that has generated much discussion and debate. Scripture prohibits the use of mediums (Lev 19:31). Saul would have been aware of this. Yet he employs one. The witch at Endor seems to be able to conjure up Samuel. That she is startled at Samuel's arrival says much. Whether she is a charlatan or an actual medium, she is clearly not expecting Samuel to appear  and calls him a "god". It seems she is actually more surprised than Saul. 

This is another case of God's sovereign presence and authority being exercised, even over the forces of evil, using all things for His divine purposes. Those who would be inclined to think of mediums and spiritists as valid means of communicating with the dead would do well to see the results of this encounter. Saul is reminded that he has lost the throne and will soon die. Nothing has changed in this supernatural encounter. Saul has heard all this before. In his desperation to hear something favorable from God, Saul hears exactly what he dreads hearing and is trying desperately to avoid.

Meanwhile, in 1 Sam 29, David has done a masterful job of fighting against Judah's enemies while in the service of Acish, the Philistine King and is promoted. He plans to attack Judah. David is divinely delivered from having to attack his own people. God uses Achish's own warlords to do this. They don't trust David and demand that Acish send David away from the battle. 

1 Sam 30 finds David's town, Ziklag, captured and all of its people including David's family carried away by the Amlakites. David inquires of the Lord by godly means. Unlike Saul, David receives clear instructions on what to do. He defeats the Amlakites, rescues his family and receives the spoils of battle which he divides among all in his army, including those who did not fight. 

Saul and Jonathan die in battle. Their bodies are desecrated bringing dishonor upon Saul's people. Their honor is redeemed when some of Saul's valiant men recover the remains and give them proper funerals. 

In accordance with God's word, David is slowly being elevated to the throne of Israel while Saul suffers the consequences for disobeying God. Saul's story is one of fear and pride, both creating an ever widening gap between Saul and his God, ultimately leaving him to his own devices which bring about his doom.

David's story is still developing. He's clearly not perfect and prone to stumble, sometimes making questionable or even bad decisions. David is familair with fear as well. But as fearful as David can be, he is learning to trust God in and through his fears. He is obviously gifted as a warrior and a leader. Even in his gifting, he can act impulsively and in desperation. Because David has a heart after God's, God protects him, preserves him, empowers him and sheds His grace upon him. 

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