1 Samuel 28 – Saul and the Medium of En-dor

As we forge ahead in chapter 28, Saul has gone from bad to worse.  Samuel has died. His madness and jealousy of David (in spite of knowing God was on David’s side) drove him to kill all the priests and women and children at Nob (1 Samuel 22:16-21), and Abiathar has fled to be with David.  Now the Philistines threaten to split the kingdom in two, and he has cut himself off from God.  So he decides to consult a medium – expressly forbidden in Leviticus 19:31 and elsewhere.

Apparition of the spirit of Samuel to Saul, by...

Apparition of the spirit of Samuel to Saul, by Salvator Rosa, 1668. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At Endor, he tells the medium to he wants to talk to Samuel.  We are not told that it is actually Samuel who does appear, but he speaks of the Lord and of Saul as Samuel would.  The surprise and shriek from the woman could indicate that God just allowed it. There is much we do not know about demons in the Bible and of this type of thing that the it strictly warns us from.  But whatever the case, the news is not good for Saul, as he is told that he and his sons would all die the next day.

Having fasted (probably for this event), the news is the last straw for the weak Samuel.  He finally consents to eat somethings at the urging of his servants – with the medium!  No man who thought himself righteous would eat in such company under any circumstances in that land and time.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

1 Samuel 17 – David and Goliath

Valley of Elah

One of the most famous chapters in the Bible begins with the Philistines camped at Socoh and Saul and his army gathered at the Valley of Elah.  Defeating them here was crucial, as control of this valley would give the Philistines an entrance into the hill country of Judah.  Goliath of Gath was their champion. A champion is a man comes forward to fight between the two enemy’s battle lines. Here Goliath challenges on behalf of the Philistines any champion that Israel will dare to confront him.  The survivor’s army would share the victory with him.  The actual size of this “giant” of a man is much debated, depending on the standard of the cubit one chooses to use (and the poor fellow that .  But it is sufficient to say that a warrior, whether approaching either 8 feet or 9 feet tall, would be most intimidating – then and now.

The Israel army is taunted daily by him (verse 16) as the actual battle continued (verses 19-21).  David arrives, and though his brother Eliab chastises him for leaving the sheep (verse 28), he continues inquiring about the champion.  Where Saul shows fear and a lack of confidence (verses 11, 33), David shows defiance and certainty that he will prevail because of God.  Even when relating his own killing of lions and bears (verses 34, 36), David points out that it was God who delivered him, just as he would do with “this uncircumcised Philistine”  because “he has defied the armies of the living God.”

Saul consents to let David go and outfits him with his armor, but it was not accustomed to it (verse 39) and sheds it.  Armed with his staff, a sling and stones he chose from the brook, he defiantly confronts Goliath, who is insulted by being challenged by such an unimposing enemy and , over-confident, curses David.  David tells him he will defeat him because the Lord will deliver him – and that he will cut off his head.  David does strike him to the ground with a stone embedded in his forehead.  The Lord was indeed with him.

(Side Note: There is an article at BiblePlaces.com on excavation at the site of Gath (Tel es-Safi) that has discovered a shard of pottery with the name Goliath inscribed, showing, at the least, that names similar to “Goliath”  were used around the 9th – 10th century BCE in that area)

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Bob’s boy
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

1 Samuel 5-6 – Return of the Ark

Mosaic showing the Philistine god
Dagon, half fish and half man.
Excavations at Ashkelon have revealed
many period of history.

Now that the Philistines had captured the ark of God, they brought it to Ashdod and took it into the house of their “god” Dagon.  When they woke early the next day, they found their idol face down on the ground in front of the ark, as if their “god” was bowing to the Lord.  They put it back in place, only to find the next day that the head and both hands were cut off and laying on the threshold – with only its trunk left (verse 4).

Done toying with them, verse 6 says that the Lord afflicted the people with tumors.  The men had enough and sent the ark to Gath, where the Lord caused a great panic, afflicting young and old with tumors.  So they sent it to Ekron, where verse 11 says there grew a deathly panic which verse 12 says was quite literal.  Those who did not die were struck with tumors.

Ashdod was one of the five
significant Philistine cities.
Archaeological excavations
at Ashdod have uncovered
remains from many periods
of history.

By chapter 6, the ark had been in their land for seven months, and they were ready to get rid of it.  Their priests and diviners advise to send it back with golden images of their tumors and of mice.  Verse 5 speaks of the mice that had ravaged the land.  Some people think that this could indicate that the bubonic plague had been at work in all of this.  Whatever the case, verse 6 makes it clear that the word of the plagues on the Egyptians and Pharaoh so long ago had spread, and was not forgotten.  The ark is finally returned and ends up in Kiriath-jearim.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

1 Samuel 4 – Philistines Capture the Ark

So far in the book of Samuel, we have read of little mention of real worship – other than some sacrificial offerings.  Indeed chapter 3:1 says “the word of the Lord was rare in those days.” And Eli’s consultation with the Lord is especially and conspicuously absent in this chapter, as the Israelites go to do battle with the Philistines.  They are soundly defeated in verse 2, and the elders seem to decide on their own that the Ark should be brought to the battle to put the Lord with them, treating it – and God – like little more than a talisman.  Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s sons are right there with it when the Israelites were defeated even worse this time.  And now, the Ark has been captured!  Containing the tablets of the Ten Commandments, this loss of the sign of the Lord’s covenant with Israel is devastating!

One of the men of the tribe of Benjamin from the field of battle runs and gives the news to Eli, who is more distressed at the loss of the Ark than the death of his sons – and he dies on the spot (verse 18)!  The verse states that he had judged Israel for 40 years.  Samuel the prophet would be the final judge.  Eli’s daughter-in-law, too, is more distressed at the loss of the Ark; and she goes into labor.  She dies giving birth and names her son Ichabod – which means “Where is the glory?” Because the glory has left Israel.  It would seem to the people that the Lord himself has left them!

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Judges 16 – Samson and Delilah

Samson destroys the temple

Samson destroys the temple (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When the Lord was with him, His gift to Samson was great strength.  Obviously, it wasn’t accompanied by much wisdom.  His blindness to coming betrayal, first by his wife and now by Delilah (verses 6, 10, 13, 15) seems to be a foretaste of the Philistines’ treatment of his eyes (verse 21).  Pair this naivety with his continued lack of regard for the Lord’s commandments, and his confidence in his own might, and you see the path his downfall.

Samson is, as usual, out of control from the start of the chapter. He visits a common prostitute in Gaza in verse one.  The Gazites, discover he is there and lay an ambush for him, but he just pulls the city gates out of the ground and carries them away.  The gates would be about two stories high with posts set deep in the ground that he pulled up with his brute strength.

When he allowed his hair to be cut, it broke the last of his Nazirite vows, and the Lord was no longer with him.  But in verse 20, he did not expect that to ever happen.  He had always done as he pleased before., so his capture surprised him.  His prayer in verse 28 and God’s will to stir the Israelites are what returned his strength long enough to bring the house down on himself and 3,000 of the Philistines.

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Judges 15 – Samson Defeats the Philistines

Samson and the Foxes, miniature (Judges 15:1-8...

Samson and the Foxes, miniature (Judges 15:1-8: “Samson went and caught three hundred foxes, and took torches, and turned the foxes tail to tail, and put one torch in the middle between two tails. When he had set fire to the torches, he released the foxes into the standing grain of the Philistines.”), Oktateuch, Vatopedi monastery, 602, fol. 440r, detail References: Weitzmann: Aus den Bibliotheken des Athos, No. 2 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In verse 4, the Hebrew could denote foxes or jackals.  Either way, sending them into the Philistine’s standing and stacked grain with torches tied to their tails was to get double revenge (verses 1-3).  When the Philistines came after the “son-in-law of the Timnite,” he allowed himself to be bound to be given over to the Philistines (verses 9-13) knowing he could get free.  Not only are the people not ready to battle the Philistines for their freedom, but they are happy to give Samson to their foes in order to appease them.

Samson once again has the spirit of the Lord rush over him, and gets free to reduce the number of Philistines by 1,000, using the jawbone of a donkey (verses 14-15).  Correctly giving God the credit for victory (verse 18), Samson then is disrespectful in nearly the same breath.  But God grants him his water.  He judges Israel during the Philistine rule for 20 years (verse 20).

(Side note: an excellent article on this chapter is at Ferrell’s Travel Blog.)

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
some images © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.

Judges 14 – Samson’s Marriage

Samson kills a lion with his bare hands

In verses 1-3, Samson decides he must have a Philistine woman he saw for his wife.  This was expressly forbidden in Deuteronomy 7:1-3.  In verses 8-9. he violates his Nazirite vow (Numbers 26) by touching the lion’s carcass.  As for his wedding feast, the Hebrew word in verse 10 is “mishteh” which denotes a feast with much drinking.  If Samson participated, such would be another violation of his vow.

Samson right away begins to show disregard not just for his Nazirite vow, but for the will of God in general. Unfortunately, it will not get any better, as we will see in the next two chapters.  So why was he chosen even before birth in chapter 13?  Why was the spirit of the Lord with him so much of the time, such as when he tore the lion to pieces with his strength (verses 5-6)?  Verse 14 gives us the answer – God was going to use him against the Philistines in his own way. This time, the people were not crying out at their plight – at  least not yet.  They needed someone to stir things up – and to wake them up!

Read or listen to audio of ESV version of this selection from this link.

/Robert
___________________
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers

Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog.  All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility.  When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com.  For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.