I’ve missed you! It’s been a few weeks since I last blogged. I went on my mini break and during that time was on a search. While personal circumstances didn’t lead me to doubt God, I felt the need to explore why we’re thrown into trials and how we can make something out of them. In addition to reading the Samuel’s I’ve been perusing Phillip Yancey’s ‘Disappointment With God.’ These sources are not to just be skimmed over (hence why my mini break soon became a break, break).
All three books reinforced how the whole bible mirrors the individuals relationship with Jesus and how exactly faith works. I’ll explain more about Yancey’s ideas once I’ve finished reading his collection, but for now, I’ll reveal my conclusions on the Samuel’s. Rather than taking a chronological approach, I’ve decided to note what JUMPED out at me and perhaps holds most relevance to our day-to-day.
When I really think about it, all the books in the old testament convey the same overarching message. Just like in Genesis when Adam and Eve hid their nakedness out of fear and shame, the Hebrews hid themselves in caves and thickets, rocks, high places and pits; just like when God spoke to Noah and warned he’d flood the world and start again; just like when God spoke to Moses from the burning bush and warned of the punishment for the Egyptians, God warned Samuel (1 Samuel 3) that he would ”…do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears will tingle.” Furthermore, in 1 Samuel 15, God speaks against Saul’s rebellion post visiting the witch. I never really thought about the relationship between rebellion and idolatry but there blatantly is one if we choose to put our ‘otherness’ above our trust in God. You’d think after the first 100 years us humans would understand that our actions can have dire consequences. From this I realised when God referred to his people as a ‘stiff necked people’, he wasn’t just talking about the Israelites. Subsequently, I further understood the need for Jesus’ sacrifice. As humans we’re terrible at learning from our mistakes! Perhaps the crucifixion really was the only way. And even with that in mind, we still fluff it!
My heart sank when I learned that Samuel’s sons were dishonest. They ”…took bribes and perverted justice” (1 Samuel 8 vs 1-3). Imagine what that must have done to Samuel emotionally? This led me to think about the fact that the consequences of our actions not only impact ourselves, but the innocent people around us.
Paradoxically, despite our many faults I’m amazed at how God is still able to see beyond our literal behaviours and emphasise the glimmer of ‘something’ in our hearts- 1 Samuel 16 vs assured me of that. I had to put the book down and give myself a minute to really digest it. This point, I believe, was reinforced when God sent Nathan to David in 2 Samuel 12 to reveal to him the error of sending Joab to the front line so he could marry Bathsheba. It wasn’t so much David’s actions conveying a moral to us today, rather it’s his repentance upon realising his sin which mattered to God. Again, very overwhelming.
The Samuel’s are the most poetic books I’ve read in the bible yet. From Hannah’s prayer to David’s songs of praise, I really began to appreciate the creative arts. This may seem like a trivial point to some, but to those who are passionate about or even have a career in the arts, this means a lot. As a writer, I’m always wondering if I can balance both being a creative and a Christian. Different people draw different conclusions and it’s frustrating to discover that people can make their personal convictions a general rule. Reading of David’s talent on the harp, and his songs to God, I learned (and was happy to discover) that being a creative Christian is not a contradiction. YAY!
I would like to pose a question to you reader; What would be today’s equivalent of a philistine be? In 1 Samuel 7, the Philistines are to be against Israel for all of Samuel’s days. Is there some sort of correlation between the literal story and the way the world is today? I believe there might be but, I can’t quite articulate it.
Another question: In 1 Samuel 15 vs 22, Samuel says; ”…it is better to obey than sacrifice, and to harken than the fat of rams.” I couldn’t help but wonder if this verse correlates with tithes and offerings. Many churches put emphasise on the giving of 10% and the need to invest in God so it comes back to you ‘pressed down, shaken together and running over’, but I rarely hear this verse from the pulpit. Is this an issue or am I reading too much into it?
…And another question: 1 Samuel 16 vs 14-15 notes that ‘an evil spirit from God troubles Samuel’ Is it possible for God to have an evil side? If so, this could ignite an eternity of questions from moi and may lead me to reading the bible again from the top!
To summarise, The Samuel’s were not really explored in-depth to me as a child. Like many, I concluded that Samuel was a goody two shoes as a boy and that qualified him to be a prophet. I never appreciated his family troubles and the many trials he faced throughout his lifetime, particularly with the Philistines. It just goes to show that we are not exempt from life’s obstacles because we believe in God, rather we are given joy and are able to find a peace amongst it all in spite of them. Again, like many I was aware that David became a mini hero for konking Goliath with 5 stones and a sling shot, but I was unaware of his ‘antics’ and love for the ladies (to put politely). I was oblivious to the fact that his son Absalom betrayed him, was executed because of it and as a result, David went up to the mountains and wept for him and wished that he could exchange places like many parents would (which when you think about it, is what Jesus managed to accomplish for his children).
The Samuel’s are so rich in content probably enough for a whole blog series let alone a blog. It took me through an array of emotional roller coasters which manifested themselves through a range of smiles, frowns, puzzled looks and the occasional ‘huh’s? and ‘but why’s?’
To come to grips with the intricacies of a relationship with God, I would certainly point people to the Samuel’s as well as other books (but Sammy in particular). I would also encourage one to read David’s prayer in 2 Samuel 22- it can only be described as pure poetic awesomeness!
I’ve always admired Solomon’s wisdom as well as his artistic abilities in songwriting and that’s why I’m SUPER SYKED about reading Kings. See you on the other side!