Friday, March 16, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey March 16th

Today's reading is 2 Samuel 4-8

The biggest complaint I hear from people about 2 Samuel 6 is the death of Uzzah. He was after all trying to help. It might have just been a natural instinct not a conscious act of disrespect. Why would God be so unfair? But is that the whole story? 


To explain I often start with the proposition that a well intention action doesn’t prevent injury. If you move a live electrical wire way from a child, you may mean well, but those intentions don’t save you from the current in the wire. However, this being the case that isn’t what is happening here. What is happening is the ark is being moved by the same method the Philistines used and not the way God commanded the Israelites to move it. If the priest would have been carrying it the way God intended, then this would never have taken place. What we see is not the illustration I used above. A better picture would be someone wiring a house wrong and while trying to plug something into the outlet a person dies. Who is responsible in this later illustration? The person doing the wiring, not the person plugging in.

What we do not know is if Uzzah was both the person who should have known better than to put the ark on a cart or just the person trying to do right. The truth is in this world actions have consequences even if the person has the right motive and the actions of others can affect you. They can even kill you.  God wasn’t being mean he was following the rules he set in place. God’s rules like electricity don’t change because people have a good motive.

Good motives can’t undo wrong behavior. Perhaps that is a lesson we can learn here. Motives and attitudes can influence our actions and behavior and we might wish that our motives can undo bad behaviors, they never do. Certain behaviors result in certain outcomes no matter our motives. It is a truth we need to remember.  

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

Thursday, March 15, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey March 15th

Today's reading is 1 Samuel 30-31 & 2 Samuel 1-3

"How could you stretch out your hand against the Lord's anointed?" 

2 Samuel begins with David receiving word that Saul was dead. It has been guessed that perhaps the young man who came to David was lying about killing Saul and found him dead and made up the story to gain favor with David. We don’t know, it could have been that the sword-bearer was wrong when he thought Saul was dead before he killed himself 1 Samuel 31:4. However, if this young man was telling the truth there is a strange irony which might be easy to miss.

In 1 Samuel 15, God told Saul to go and utterly destroy the Amalekites. In verse 20 Saul claims he did kill all the Amalekites except the King. Yet over and over we see Amalekites showing up. The one which really stands out is here in 2 Samuel 1. The person who claims to have killed Saul was someone who Saul claims he had killed. There is an irony here. Could it be that Saul’s own disobedience caused his death? Perhaps if nothing else it is an example of one’s actions having unintended consequences.

 It also reflects to the warning God gave Israel in Deuteronomy 32:23 about not driving out the inhabitants of the land, “But if you fail to do this, you will be sinning against the LORD; and you may be sure that your sin will find you out.

Photo by Alexander Lam on Unsplash

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey March 14th

Today's Reading is 1 Samuel 25-29

Have you ever been cheated? In David’s day, men would help guard herds and shepherds for their owners. The common practice was to share something with those who had helped guard your property. David and his men though didn’t plunder any Nabal’s goods nor, as it would appear to allow anyone else. Nabal’s servants point out that since David and his men were there they hadn’t lost anything. Yet, at the time of the festival, a time of generosity, Nabal was greedy.  Nabal used the division between David and Saul as an excuse to keep from sharing anything with David and his men even though they had earned it.

David began to do what most of us want to do: take vengeance. It is clear he seems to have forgotten God’s word’s in Deuteronomy 32: 35a,36a, “It is mine to avenge; I will repay... The LORD will vindicate his people.” David acted in the heat of the moment in anger. His son Solomon would later write, Proverbs 14:29 (NIV) Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly.  David was heading for great folly and an action which would never have been forgotten. Thankfully for David and for the people of Nabal’s family there was a woman with wisdom.  

Abigail was stuck in a bad marriage, she was a good looking and intelligent woman stuck with a man who was mean and bad-tempered. She did what was needed to turn David away from his anger and save her household. She knew one day God would deal with her husband but did not want David to hold the guilt of having killed him in anger.

David saw later that God did deal with Nabal. Could it be that in remembering this encounter David wrote Psalms 37:8 “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret—it leads only to evil.” 
For Abigail, she was vindicated by God and made the wife of a king. She had no promise that any of this would happen, but she trusted God and did what was right. She placed herself in harm's way and shown as a beacon of light to those around her. 

Photo by Peter Forster on Unsplash

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey March 13th

Today's reading is 1 Samuel 20-24

I Samuel 20

Jonathan thought everything was fine between David and Saul, Jonathans father. David knew that Saul was trying to kill him. Jonathan and David came up with a way to test Saul. David was willing to wait and see if his friend was right and Jonathan tested his father to see if he did intend to kill David.

We know that Saul's heart was filled with murder. Jonathan was going to learn how wrong he was and chose to protect his friend. Scripture says Jonathan was angry, but I wonder also how heart-broken he must have been to see his father behave in the way that he did. It is a reminder that sometimes our deepest pain comes from our own family.

This chapter reminds me just how true friendship should work. It also shows the strength of Jonathan who, though it meant the loss of his kingdom, he trusted Gods choice.  

Photo by Paul Gilmore on Unsplash  

Monday, March 12, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey March 12th

Today's reading is 1 Samuel 15-19

Pretend the doctor comes to you and says “The reason you are sick is because of your appendix. I want to remove it immediately.” You may wonder if it is really necessary and when the doctor confirms that if it isn’t removed you will be dead in a week or two at the most. You know that you trust the doctor and you know she isn’t doing it to be vicious or mean, so you allow the surgery to take place.

Verses 1-3 of Chapter 15 are some of those verses which disturb a lot of people. Like the dropping of the bomb on Hiroshima, there are people who want to argue it was unnecessarily vicious for God to order this done.  Unlike the doctor wanting to remove a sick appendix, God has something Truman, the doctor, or we will ever have a perfect view of eternity. God knew what would happen if even one person escaped. Let me tell you later we find out in the book of Easter that at least one person and probably many people escaped, and it almost caused the extinction of Israel.

Also, why kill everything and take nothing for spoils?  This was a reminder to Israel this was God’s judgment and not a raiding mission (pirating was common in those times, as is it is still today in some places). This wasn’t to be a way to gain wealth. When the people walked away there should have been a sense of dread and a reminder of the consequences of what happens when you fight against God. This lesson wasn’t taught, and we will never know what might have changed in the hearts of Israel if Saul would have been obedient. 

Friday, March 9, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey March 9th

Today's reading is 1 Samuel 10-14

"Not my fault"

This chapter begins the downfall of Saul. He has been king a year and war is now upon Israel. They started out right but Saul faltered when he saw his army start to disintegrate in front of him.

Saul had his faith been in the Lord would have waited on God's timing, but Saul's faith moved from God to his army. The army didn't know if God would defend them and Samuel the prophet of God was running late. Saul was probably counting on Samuel to offer sacrifice to God so the people wouldn't be afraid and to assure that God would help them. The issue was that Saul was not a priest and instead of waiting he offered the sacrifice that the priest was supposed to.

This might have been overlooked if Saul was truly wishing to please God. However, the text makes it very clear that the sacrifice was meant as a motivator for the people rather than a sacrifice to God. Saul used the things of God to try and manipulate the people.

The other issue that stands out here was he began to offer excuses. Here and as we will see later Saul will blame the Israelites for his choices. In modern wording, he said to Samuel, "I had to, they didn't give me a choice." Samuel didn't believe it and neither did God. We are responsible for our own actions, we can not blame them on anyone else.

John Maxwell says, "Everything falls and rises on leadership." Though I do not always agree with this, it is true 99% of the time. Today, that leadership may be the top leader or those in leadership in other areas, but when we look back to ancient Israel, it always seems to fall on the King. Saul was not willing to take responsibility. Yes, David in some ways did far worse than Saul, but no where do we see David blaming others for his sin. So at the end of the day what helped make David the leader God wanted and Saul a reject was a willingness to accept responsibility for their own actions.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Thursday, March 8, 2018

TCN's Biblical Journey March 8th

Today's reading is 1 Samuel 5-9

One last test.

Yes, that is what is happening in the middle of 1 Samuel chapter 6. The Philistines have had it with the art of God (the symbol of God's presence on earth). The art has brought nothing but trouble, and yet even as they send it back they are testing God. They take two cows who have calves and have never had a yoke placed on them and let them return the ark of God on a cart. A note here cows don't like being separated from their young and second, a cow or any animal has to be taught (broken) so that they know how to work with a yoke. Finally, there isn't just one untrained cow but two. What should have happened was the cow would bolt and the cart, the ark, and everything in it when flying. However, God wasn't through showing his power.

God passed this final test. The cows took the Ark straight back to the Israelites, proving to the Philistines that God was greater.

The story should have ended in rejoicing, but the Israelites at Bethshemesh disobeyed God. They tried looking on the ark and to open it. God had told Israel not to do this and what should have been a time of rejoicing turned into sorry as God punished Israel for a crime greater than the Philistines. Why was it greater? They should have known better.

Another note of sadness in this was that the Philistines had God is their midst, saw his power, and sent him away.

In the end, with the cows, and with the plagues God proved he was who he said he was.

Photo by Caleb Woods on Unsplash