Good evening! We are officially one full week through the reading plan, and the daily challenge can become exhausting. You may have full-time jobs, or may be students, or have a family among many other responsibilities, but you can do it!
This is a very short summary, but my computer has been giving me problems today, and I'm being forced to close open-windows too frequently for comfort. I hope this brief (very brief) overview provides one or two nuggets for you as we continue to read through the Bible.
Today, we finished the Book of Judges, read all of Ruth, and finished through chapter 22 of First Samuel. Much has happened in the Bible, and a lot of time has passed. As always, I'll be briefly summarizing some bigger ideas in the reading, as well as painting illustrations for some important, but perhaps less-likely findings within the chapters.
Like we discussed yesterday, the Book of Judges is primarily a story of the Israelites doing what was right in their own eyes instead of in God's eyes (Judges 21:25), and is the time period that precedes the monarchy rule in Israel. However, before the end of the book, there are some important characters to note.
Jephthah and Samson
-Jephthah teaches us a few lessons. But before that, it's helpful to know a bit about him. His father was Gilead and his mother a harlot. When Jephthah was a bit older, his half-brothers withheld his inheritance from him (because of his unnatural birth). Later, they ask Jephthah to lead the Israelites in battle against the Ammonites.
Jephthah makes a vow to the Lord in order to be victorious in battle. He promises that he will offer as a burnt offering whatever (or whomever) walks out the door of his house if the Ammonites were defeated. What a dangerous vow this was! Later, we find that his daughter walks out of his house, and he offers her as a burnt offering after giving her thirty-days to mourn.
Our vows to God should not be taken lightly (Deut 23:21; Ecc 5:4), nor should we speak haphazardly in prayer. We must think before we speak, and know the God we are praying to.
- Samson was a strong-willed Nazarite (set aside from birth; see Numbers 6), and was devoted to the Lord during a period of 40-years that the Israelites were in the hands of the Philistines. While we may often consider Samson to be rash, condescending, and/or arrogant, it's pivotal to note the frequency in which the Spirit of the Lord stirred Samson's heart. In Judges 13:25, 14:6, 14:19, and 15:14, the Bible makes sure to write that the Spirit "rushed upon him" (ESV) or "came powerfully upon him" (NIV) or as the HCSB says, "took control of him." Why is this language so vital to read? Samson made some decisions that were perhaps not commendable; however, the Lord used him powerfully; in fact, the Spirit took control of Samson during some of his most important scenes.
If you are a member of Douglas Jacoby's website, you can listen to a helpful character podcast on Samson, which adequately describes some of his characteristics worth noting.
The Book of Ruth
The Book of Ruth is about the Moabitess Ruth, who is King David's great-grandmother. Ruth sets an example for being set-apart, abandoning pop-culture, and being loyal to God and to people. Ruth also sets a Godly standard for how we should trust God's care and providence. Ruth only has a small book in the Bible, but her name is important among genealogies; she is mentioned in Matthew 1:5 as an ancestor of Jesus Christ. God used normal people in history to bring his Son, Jesus, the Messiah.
In about 1050 B.C., Israel established its first monarchy. After the period of Judges, which recently concluded, Samuel was directed by God (and demanded by the people (ch. 8)) to appoint a king for the people Israel.
The 22 chapters we read are about Samuel's calling by the Lord, Samuel choosing Saul to reign as king over Israel, then Samuel choosing David to succeed Saul.
Samuel, like Samson, was a Nazirite.
During the beginning of Saul's reign, Saul was devoted to the Lord; however, over time, and as a result of many poor decisions, the Lord rejected Saul. This is when David is chosen as the new leader of Israel. While David makes poor decisions as King, he is described as "a man after God's own heart" (13:14), and proves the Spirit of God with him by defeating the Philistine giant, Goliath. The chapters that follow regard Saul's jealously of David, David's close relationship with Saul's son, Jonathan, and the many attempts Saul makes to take David's life.