Samuel and His Accomplishments

The Prophet Samuel who was raised by Eli, the priest of God, is a foundational person in the spiritual life of Israel.  He is the key spiritual figure between Moses and the prophets Elijah and Elisha.  His story is found in 1 Samuel chapters 1 through 25. Most people have heard at least one sermon about him and the references probably came from 1 Samuel: 1 -3; they are used a lot in meetings where young people are the target audience.  While studying his role in the anointing of the first two kings of Israel, Saul, and David, it became apparent just how important he really was to Israel.

We are not told how old he was in chapter 4 when Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas all die on the same day.  Nothing is mentioned of him until 1 Samuel 7: 3 when he is calling Israel to repent.  Verse two gives us a time stamp of twenty years that the ark was in Kiriath Jearim.  Why had it not been returned to Shiloh?

A possible reason is that there was no priest who was of age to carry on the proper worship at the Tabernacle or “Temple.”  Phinehas had sons (4:20 and 14:3) but who trained them in their duties as a priest?  I will guess that Samuel either did the training or at least had a hand in doing it; after all, he studied under Eli.  There needed to be an Aaronic priest to serve before the Ark, Samuel was from Ephraim. (Side note – If I was writing this as a novel the Benjamite in 4:12 would have King Saul’s father, Kish.)

While at Mizpah, where Samuel was leading Israel in their return to God, the Philistines attacked trying to keep them in slavery.  Samuel’s leadership was being put to the test and his response is a true act of faith.  He orders the people to continue in their “crying out to God” and he offers a sacrifice.  God responds to this “faith action” with thunder, “loud thunder” that caused the defeat of the enemy.  (I will assume there was a storm with lightning, but what if God just spoke at the enemy and they heard it as thunder.)

The next time reference is Chapter 8:1 and all it says is that Samuel is “old.”  This and the fact that Nahash the Ammonite king was threatening Israel (12:12) made the people think a “king” would be better.  The remaining years of Samuel’s life were spent in hearing about Saul chasing around after David trying to kill him.

The final reference to Samuel in the Book of Samuel is in chapter 28 after he is dead.  Saul breakers his own decree and the Law of God and consults a witch/medium.  Samuel comes “back” and rebukes Saul once more.

The other mentions of Samuel’s life and deeds are found in 1 and 2 Chronicles. 1 Chronicles 9:22 he and David assigned gatekeepers.  I could think that David just added or continued to what Samuel did since Samuel would have been dead when David got around to doing this.

In 1 Chronicles 26: 28 the things that Samuel had dedicated for the “Temple” were brought in when Solomon had finished the building.  So it seems that Samuel was honoring God with offerings even when the Ark was still in the Tent.

1 Chronicles 29: 29 states that Samuel was a writer/historian.  Other people probably took his work and that of other historians and wrote the Books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles.  I have done parallel studies of these books and combined them into one manuscript.   

2 Chronicles 35: 18 mentions that Samuel was the last leader to celebrate Passover correctly.  He did his best to get Israel to honor God as described in the Law of Moses.

There is still more post to come from the study of the anointing of the first two kings, but I have developed a new appreciation for Samuel and his place in the Bible and the spiritual history of Israel.

Simeon – Where Did They Go?

Simeon – Where Did They Go?

In my post-Rehoboam/Jeroboam Legacy I wondered where the tribe of Simeon went too.TwelveTribesofIsraelebible While reading about the Meunites I followed a reference to 1 Chronicles 4:41 that states the men of Simeon attacked two places and took them over for their living areas: Gedor east of the valley and the hill country of Seir. The important thing here is it was done during the time of Hezekiah. 2 Kings 18:9 gives the time stamps where this could be possible and it was just before Shalmaneser of Assyria conquered Hoshea son of Elah king of Israel and took Israel to the Habor River.habor_river

Maybe not a complete answer but it does clarify the mystery of Simeon a little better.

 

 

Map from http://www.biblestudytools.com/resources/maps/twelve-tribes-of-israel-map.html and eBibleTeacher.com.  and http://bibleatlas.org/full/habor_river.htm

Rehoboam/Jeroboam Legacy

In looking at Rehoboam and Jeroboam and the mess they left there are some things I have wondered about and then there are some “shadows” of their behavior that really are just scary. One thing that I will not find an answer for just because it does not appear to be there is the tribe of Simeon (see Simeon – Where Did They Go?). In Genesis 49:5 Jacob “scattered them” in Israel. When the land was divided by Joshua Simeon’s portion was in the middle of Judah’s territory. What happened when the Ten Tribes went to Jeroboam? They are mentioned twice after the split but before the exile of Samaria – 2 Chronicles 15:9 and 34:6. In 15:9 some have settled with Judah after seeing that the Lord was with them; King Asa has a covenant renewing in the third month on the fifteenth day of his reign. The 34:6 reference is to Simeon’s towns that Josiah removes idols from. It would seem they may have left their allotted portion and then just settled wherever they could but the Genesis 49 prophecy did come to pass.

Another thing I noticed was in Ezra and Nehemiah only Levites and families from Judah and Benjamin are mentioned. Some of the lists are for people from a town but they were towns from those two portions. Most all of the tribes are mentioned in Ezekiel and Revelations when the land is again handed out or they are sealed in the last days. (See List of Tribes)

Musing on these two things will show you the love of God and that He does expect obedience to Him and the Word He gave us. His love for the Northern and Southern kingdoms was rooted in Abraham (2 Kings 13:23) and He kept having mercy on both kingdoms. 2 Kings 17: 7 – 23 summarizes it all and should be a warning for all who claim God.

In Matthew and Luke, we find two family trees that are for the tribe of Judah leading to Jesus. Matthew’s tree is for Joseph and Mary’s is found in Luke and the common factors are David and Zerubbabel. Bathsheba is in David’s line because of Solomon and by extension in Mary’s line because of Nathan (1 Chronicles 3:5); Solomon started Rehoboam’s problems but sin and the world certainly took its toll on the King’s of Judah.

The chroniclers of the two kingdoms judged the kings with very interesting phrases. Judah’s kings were judged against David and if they followed his ways OR did they do “right in the eyes of the Lord” or did they “walk in the ways of the kings of Israel.” Israel’s measure was “they did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat” and if they did “evil in the eyes of the Lord.”

The wars and battles between the kings of the two kingdoms are legacies that still shadows the people of God today. True peace between the two really was out of the question. Jeroboam made the separation a matter of religion, add in a lot of pride and top it off with the forbidden pagan deities and war had to follow. But in all of that, the North seemed to be used by God to bring Judah to repentance or punish her for disobedience. Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 18 + 19 seemed to have a relationship with Israel but 19:2 clearly states what God thought about working with the enemy (people who did love Him). Having said that I also noticed that Father God sent two of the great prophets to Israel in order to get them to repent: Elisha and Elijah.

The Books of Kings and Chronicles are snapshots of the lives of the leaders of the people of God. Many of them are not real pretty. Closing the Temple, killing his children, ordaining anyone with the right price to be a leader of your church are just some of the sins they did. The people’s reaction to all of this is also recorded and is a lesson in its self. At times they were forced to follow God and at other times they rejoiced to see their leaders acting, as they should.   It would seem that the people followed their leader both in doing good and doing bad. But as you read the prophets it is easy to see that they just finally were going to do their own thing. Jeremiah and the women who made cakes to the “queen of heaven” show the degree that most of the people had sunk too. So where was the remnant? God always has a remnant! Did they have to go with the others or were they directed to flee and find safety? Were they the poor ones left in the Land? We know there were people in both Israel and Judah who still thought about God: they took care of prophets, wrote letters, wanted to hear about God and His plan for them and their families. We know these survived because there is still a Jewish nation/people!

Several of the kings of Judah did follow God and some of the kings of Israel at least showed an interest in the things of God. King Saul and kings Jeroboam and Jehu were offered a dynasty if only they would obey the Lord and follow His plan but these kings turned and did what they wanted to do. David had problems but the difference is he believed God AND acted on the promise by staying true to the Lord. So while Solomon’s kids were having varying success as king and Jeroboam’s family was eliminated quickly Nathan’s family was living in Bethlehem not knowing that the Christ would come through them.

A sad fact in our world today is that we still have leaders like Rehoboam and Jeroboam running things today. They may have a small church or a big one that really is not the question; do they have the heart to follow Jesus, a concern for people, and a plan to reach out to them with the Gospel?

Top 20 Song or Musical Sunday School Lesson?

A look at Psalm 60 and 108

Previously, I wrote a blog entitled Where and When the Psalms Were Written. In that blog, I matched the verse in the Bible that may have been the inspiration for writing the Psalm. Psalm 60 and 108 were two of those psalms but I want to compare them because they have a large similar portion used in two very different psalms.

I believe Psalm 60 was one of the reasons I started doing the matching. Its timestamp was easy to find in 2 Samuel 8:13 and 1 Chronicles 18:12 which tells of the 12,000 Edomites and the Valley of Salt. The introduction and the verses don’t really match and if you do a “search” on the Valley of Salt there are several reasonable explanations as to why there may be differences. (The Valley of Salt is also a topic of disagreement because we are not sure where it is/was.)

Psalm 108 I originally put with 2 Samuel 6:5 when David was bringing the Ark to Jerusalem. David the Writer uses rhetorical devices in many psalms by repeating phrases but in these two Psalms, a large portion is used in apparently two different occasions much like Psalm 14 and 53. These “re-purposed” psalms are also in different “Books” within Psalms. I compared Psalms 135 to 136 because of similar content but they really are presented in very different styles.

Not all Bible translations have a chapter “headings.” I like them because they can allow your imagination to soar as to the “when what, and why” they were written and used. Psalm 108’s heading is not a repeat, as most people will say all psalms were sung. “Song” and “psalm” here are two completely different words. I can imagine that it was a favorite that you might hear someone humming in the marketplace or while they were working.

Psalm 60, on the other hand, has all the markings of a formal arrangement that was used at special gatherings. Asaph may have been the “director” but we don’t know for sure. Miktam like maskil is thought to be musical terms whose exact meaning has been lost to us, what a shame. It also has a Selah at verse 4 which may signal a pause to give time to reflect. The fact that David set it to the tune of another well-liked song just shows that we have not changed all that much, my example is the hymn, “Amazing Grace” (it was set to a popular tune of the day). But the “for teaching” is what catches my eye. David knew the power of music to help with learning and remembering!

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Psalm 60 shows great distress and turmoil and the unspoken “where are You, God.” The term “banner” in verse 4 is a very “visible signal” that pulls the learner back to the Father. The start of Psalm 108 could not be more different with phrases like “make music with my soul” and “your faithfulness reaches to the skies.” Well maybe not. Love and faithfulness reaching to the skies and a banner do sound like the same thing.

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The shepherd, the ridiculed little brother, the youngest son, the overachieving young man who feared little are all descriptions of David. As complex as David may be the last two lines in this shared portion would only come from the heart of someone who has been in God’s presence and has valued that experience – “human help is worthless” and “with God, we win.”  The box below – on the left is the shared portion, the right side is my notes.

Reuben, Gad, Manasseh, Judah, Edom, Moab, Shechem, Genesis 49box 3New International Version (NIV) Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.®  Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

The Places of Rehoboam and Jeroboam

The Places of Rehoboam and Jeroboam

Israel and Judah

Shechem – (see the post The Tribes of Israel and Shechem) Why or if Rehoboam choose this place for his coronation is not mentioned in Scriptures but its history links it to Jacob (Genesis 34). It is also important in the start of the nation with Joshua because this is where the “Blessings and Curses” were recited (Deuteronomy 27:12 and Joshua 8:30). Shechem was also a city of refuge where people could find sanctuary if they were accused of murder and had not yet been tried (Numbers 35:9). It was also in Manasseh so for Rehoboam to pick this city would have had major unifying step to start his reign. But his poor judgment in accepting bad advice divided the kingdom. This is where Judah was elevated over his three older brothers and where his descendent split the nation of Israel.

Peniel or Penuel– This is the second city that Jeroboam “built up” or fortified in 1 Kings 12:25. The name means “face of God” and it is first mentioned with Jacob and his wrestling matching with the angel (Genesis 32: 30). This is when he was renamed Israel and met his brother the next day. The landmark that is mentioned is the Jabbok River on the east side of the Jordan in the Land of Gad. The area is also part of the story of Gideon and the city was punished for not helping him in a time of need. The Reader’s Digest Atlas of the Bible adds a twist to the why this city question. It is near the King’s Highway trade route and they hypothesize it was to control the trade (money). It is also in the Valley of Succoth and is more or less in a line with Shechem so it would form the southern boundary of the new nation. I can’t help but think that Jeroboam son of Nebat was still making a connection to Israel’s past and identifying with Jacob thus furthering his gods of gold as legitimate.

Shiloh – The name means tranquil. It was the first meeting place for the Israelites (Joshua 18) and is where the Ark of the Covenant was housed before the Temple was built so it was the major place of worship (Judges 18 and 1 Samuel 1). The prophet Ahijah lived there and this is where the wife of Jeroboam came to seek answers about her sick son (1 Kings 14). But this place was rejected by God because of Israel’s unfaithfulness and was desolate by the time of Jeremiah (chapter 26).

Bethel – The name means House of God and this is the place where Jacob saw the staircase to Heaven and God spoke with him (Genesis 12). It was part of the circuit that Samuel traveled when he judged Israel (1 Samuel 7). Jeroboam probably picked this because of how close it was to Jerusalem, was in the land belonging to Benjamin, and the connection to Jacob. The sin was so bad that in the prophet Amos’ day Bethel was condemned. FYI – The problem started with the first Jeroboam and Amos’ prophecies came during the second Jeroboam’s reign, Jeroboam son of Jehoash (2 Kings 14: 21).

Dan – (see the post Dan) The city and the tribe was considered the northern most part of Israel. So the saying from Dan to Beersheba meant from the north to the south. This area started wrong and never stopped. From Joshua 19:47 we see that they did not take control of their inheritance but instead went to Laish or Leshem. They killed everyone and set up their own priest and ignored God’s order of priest (Judges18: 30). Their priests were from Moses’ family not from Aaron’s. Note – this really is what Jeroboam son of Nebat did maybe that is why Dan is “lost” on so many of the Family List, they simply rejected what God had for them and did things their own way.

Egypt – The land of false gods and slavery, an enemy that did not quit until Babylon destroyed them. Yet almost without exception (Jonah is the only one I can think of) Israelites run back to Egypt. I know it is a spiritual picture of what not to do and of the sin we are to leave behind us. Jeroboam is a good example; Shishak gave him a place to hide but history indicates that when he invade Judah he kept going and subjected the Northern Kingdom also. The lesson here is RUN TO GOD NOT YOUR PAST.

Jerusalem/City of David – This is a name-dropper situation. Saying the City of David just made everything “look” better.

Built-up towns -2 Chronicles 11:6 -10.   Reader’s Digest Atlas of the Bible helps make sense of why these towns were picked by Rehoboam. This blocked the mountain passes from the south (Egypt) and set a defensive perimeter to the east and west of Judah. Looking at these marked off on a map this was a well thought out course of action the only place really not defended was to the north.

Map from:  http://www.bible-history.com/maps/israel_judah_kings.html