Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Canonical Reading Plan for Mar 27, 1 Sam 1-3

Today's readings are 1 Sam 1-3.

In the Hebrew Bible, the Books of 1 & 2 Samuel are the first two books of a four-book volume that includes 1 & 2 Kings. The Greek translation, the Septuagint, calls them the four “Books of the Kingdoms.”

We've seen Israel, led by Moses and Joshua, move from Egypt to Promised Land. Once settled there, God gave them judges to watch over them while they established homes and cities. As the new nation grows and matures, God will build them a more sophisticated system of governors and leaders. 1 Sam oversees the establishment of a monarchy. Samuel functions as prophet/priest/judge all the while becoming the man God will use to transition His people from judges to a king. Samuel’s birth and David’s rise to prominence bracket the story of Saul. 1 Sam depicts David’s preparation for kingship. 2 Sam tells the story of David as king. The narrative arc of both books leads to 2 Sam 7 which begins to develop the Messianic hope of the Abrahamic covenant.

Along the way, we see that God consistently, providentially gives Israel one man, a figure who will lead them into a better way. Frequently that man is born to a previously barren mother. This detail shows us that God not only designates leaders, but He also brings them life.

1 Samuel 1:1-20 starts out with what that familiar refrain: a barren woman, Hannah, gives birth by the power of the Holy Spirit. She loves her son but dedicates him to the Lord, a gesture of profound gratitude for God healing her of being barren. Then she sings a beautiful song of thanks and dedication the Lord in 1 Sam 2:1-11. 

These events are roughly parallel to those in Luke 1. The Jews are not yet able to see it, but God is setting a pattern that will validate His Son once He arrives.

The focus moves to Shiloh, the town where the tabernacle is located.

The young man grows up with Eli, a priest, watching over him. Eli is a good man for the most part, but his sons are not (1 Sam 2:12-21). For their cruelty and for Eli’s unwillingness to correct and discipline them, Eli’s household is rejected by God (1 Sam 2:27-36).

Samuel receives a call from the Lord (1 Sam 3:1-8) in a similar style to the way Moses received his, by means of a miraculous visitation by God, who gives him a difficult prophetic word to be delivered to Eli (1 Sam 3:10-12). Young Samuel, already in training to be a priest, will begin to develop a reputation as a prophet of God. However, right from the start, Samuel learns that being a prophet can be a very difficult calling (1 Sam 3:15-19).

Yet, there is a blessing for Samuel's obedience in carrying out the hard things God tells him to do. We see the contrast between Eli’s sons, who are disobedient and diminishing, and Samuel who is obedient and growing (1 Sam 3:19-21).

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