Friday 31 July, 2020

1 Samuel 11:1-15

11 Nahash the Ammonite went up and besieged Jabesh Gilead. And all the men of Jabesh said to him, “Make a treaty with us, and we will be subject to you.” 2 But Nahash the Ammonite replied, “I will make a treaty with you only on the condition that I gouge out the right eye of every one of you and so bring disgrace on all Israel.” 3 The elders of Jabesh said to him, “Give us seven days so we can send messengers throughout Israel; if no one comes to rescue us, we will surrender to you.” 4 When the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and reported these terms to the people, they all wept aloud. 5 Just then Saul was returning from the fields, behind his oxen, and he asked, “What is wrong with everyone? Why are they weeping?” Then they repeated to him what the men of Jabesh had said. 6 When Saul heard their words, the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he burned with anger. 7 He took a pair of oxen, cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel, proclaiming, “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel.” Then the terror of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out together as one. 8 When Saul mustered them at Bezek, the men of Israel numbered three hundred thousand and those of Judah thirty thousand. 9 They told the messengers who had come, “Say to the men of Jabesh Gilead, ‘By the time the sun is hot tomorrow, you will be rescued.’” When the messengers went and reported this to the men of Jabesh, they were elated. 10 They said to the Ammonites, “Tomorrow we will surrender to you, and you can do to us whatever you like.” 11 The next day Saul separated his men into three divisions; during the last watch of the night they broke into the camp of the Ammonites and slaughtered them until the heat of the day. Those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together. 12 The people then said to Samuel, “Who was it that asked, ‘Shall Saul reign over us?’ Turn these men over to us so that we may put them to death.” 13 But Saul said, “No one will be put to death today, for this day the Lord has rescued Israel.” 14 Then Samuel said to the people, “Come, let us go to Gilgal and there renew the kingship.” 15 So all the people went to Gilgal and made Saul king in the presence of the Lord. There they sacrificed fellowship offerings before the Lord, and Saul and all the Israelites held a great celebration.

What a strange story, at least in our thinking – why would anyone allow someone you are about to attack the opportunity to get some allies!  But the Ammonites did.  Was it a sign of arrogance and pride – I do not know – but they allowed the people of Jabesh Gilead the opportunity and it came to Saul’s hearing.  When Saul heard it he was enraged.  There are times in every leader’s life when a holy rage wells up and in that holy rage you stand for justice.  You will defend and call others to defend the truth, or the righteous, or …

When is the last time you allowed a holy rage to rise within you in a situation of injustice?  Make sure you hear both sides of the story – remember the wisdom of Proverbs 18:17 “The person who tells one side of a story seems right, until someone else comes and asks questions.”, but if there is truly injustice let the rage raise to become a call to action to defend, or right a wrong.  Remember Jesus cleared the temple as it was meant to be a house of prayer not a market buying and selling good – and He did it with a whip He had woven (John 2:15)!

Father – help us to live in unity with You and if a situation occurs when we need to rise to defend Your Name, or a person who has been wronged or to right a wrong – give us the courage to do so with grace and strength – in Jesus’ Name.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

[comments closed]

Thursday 30 July, 2020

1 Samuel 10:17-27

17 Samuel summoned the people of Israel to the Lord at Mizpah 18 and said to them, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I brought Israel up out of Egypt, and I delivered you from the power of Egypt and all the kingdoms that oppressed you.’ 19 But you have now rejected your God, who saves you out of all your disasters and calamities. And you have said, ‘No, appoint a king over us.’ So now present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and clans.” 20 When Samuel had all Israel come forward by tribes, the tribe of Benjamin was taken by lot. 21 Then he brought forward the tribe of Benjamin, clan by clan, and Matri’s clan was taken. Finally Saul son of Kish was taken. But when they looked for him, he was not to be found. 22 So they inquired further of the Lord, “Has the man come here yet?” And the Lord said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.” 23 They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. 24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the Lord has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.” Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!” 25 Samuel explained to the people the rights and duties of kingship. He wrote them down on a scroll and deposited it before the Lord. Then Samuel dismissed the people to go to their own homes. 26 Saul also went to his home in Gibeah, accompanied by valiant men whose hearts God had touched. 27 But some scoundrels said, “How can this fellow save us?” They despised him and brought him no gifts. But Saul kept silent.

I can understand why Saul didn’t want to be king. Israel had shown themselves to be a chaotic, rebellious herd of cats. Israel was surrounded by all sorts of dangers from the kings around them who were being very successful against them. If that’s not enough, Samuel has made it absolutely clear that even wanting a human king was a rejection of God as their king. I’d be scared too.

When God sent Samuel to anoint Saul as king, Saul objected “But I’m only from the tribe of Benjamin, the smallest tribe in Israel, and my family is the least important of all the families of that tribe!” (1 Samuel 9:21). Now it’s time to formally choose the king in front of all the people, how does God do it? By casting lots – by tribe and family and finally Saul. The very things that Saul thought disqualified him are the things God uses to choose him. God takes Saul’s weakness and uses it to achieve his plans.

God had shown Saul how it could work when God’s Spirit came on him, and he prophesied back in verse 6. God would work in partnership with him and speak and act through him. And God works in partnership with us too, by his Spirit.

When God asks me to do something that scares me, I have a choice. I can hide like Saul, or I can cling to God. I can run away from the things he asks of me (clearly seeing that I can’t do them), or I can do them in partnership with him. The really dangerous times are when I think I can do them on my own.

As God said to a later Saul (who became Paul), “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” (2 Cor 12:9)

Written by David Cornell

2 replies
  1. Kim Fleming says:

    What an amazing story of God’s divine plan. Even when hid, God still brought him out. Saul clearly didn’t think he was worthy but God did.

  2. Howard says:

    Thanks very much David. Even though Saul was a big man, he was insecure in himself and also in God. It cropped up time and again in his kingship, including when he was so jealous of David that he tried time and again to kill him.

[comments closed]

Wednesday 29 July, 2020

1 Samuel 10:9-16

9 As Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day. 10 When he and his servant arrived at Gibeah, a procession of prophets met him; the Spirit of God came powerfully upon him, and he joined in their prophesying. 11 When all those who had formerly known him saw him prophesying with the prophets, they asked each other, “What is this that has happened to the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?” 12 A man who lived there answered, “And who is their father?” So it became a saying: “Is Saul also among the prophets?” 13 After Saul stopped prophesying, he went to the high place. 14 Now Saul’s uncle asked him and his servant, “Where have you been?” “Looking for the donkeys,” he said. “But when we saw they were not to be found, we went to Samuel.” 15 Saul’s uncle said, “Tell me what Samuel said to you.” 16 Saul replied, “He assured us that the donkeys had been found.” But he did not tell his uncle what Samuel had said about the kingship.

What a strange incident.  Saul is anointed as the king and then he begins prophesying.  Why?  What is the point of Paul prophesying?

I think the point about the experience is to give Saul evidence that God is with him, and not simply so that he can be grateful for a nice experience.  It is because there are things he is going to find himself doing or challenged to do, and he could be tempted to think, “I couldn’t do that.”  Saul had said to Samuel, “I’m just a member of the smallest of the twelve clans”, and “I am a member of the smallest family in Benjamin”.  God’s granting him this experience is designed to stop this kind of talk. “God will be with you” or “God is with you” is a common used phrase in the Old Testament, especially when God places some impossible task in front of them.  In effect what the Lord is doing is saying ‘What you are is irrelevant’.  The fact that God is with you (of which this experience gives evidence) is what counts.

So when have you thought to yourself – ‘I cannot do that’, ‘that will never happen’ or similar thoughts.  I know those thoughts cross my mind all too often.

Yet, the Lord has anointed me, not as a king, but nonetheless he has anointed me.  And he has anointed you – to be you – but not the broken, rundown you, but the whole, healed and redeemed you, not with a marred self image, but made in the image of God to fulfil His plans and purposes in your life.

Are you operating in the affirmation of God? and when do you operate out of your brokenness?  God has anointed you to be all He calls!

Father, help me to remember and walk in the power of Your Spirit, not out of my brokenness but the wholeness You bring to me through the working of Your Word and Spirit in my life.

Written by Ps. Richard Botta

1 (reply)
[comments closed]

Tuesday 28 July, 2020

1 Samuel 10:1-8

10 Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you ruler over his inheritance? 2 When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel’s tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, ‘The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, “What shall I do about my son?”’ 3 “Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to worship God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. 4 They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them. 5 “After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, timbrels, pipes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying. 6 The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. 7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you. 8 “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.”

This is a true prophet of God at work. Bringing insights only God can know to the young Saul. Bringing to Saul, with exquisite detail (what about the three men, one of whom would greet Saul and offer him two loaves of bread), the awareness of what would happen to Him next. 

It is so easy to take this for granted, and not think – wow, who normally does this kind of thing? The truth is, not many people have throughout human history. 

This is a special trust, a supernatural relationship, and a powerful demonstration of what partnership with God looks like – albeit a very special example of it. 

For me, the encouragement is this – whilst I am, at this stage, no prophet of God, I am in relationship with the same God of this Universe. I need to expect the supernatural, and accept it, without presuming it for myself and others. 

Lord, help me rise to a new place of expectant faith and bold trust – you are Supernatural by definition, I just need to keep remembering this! 

Written by Ps. Rob Waugh

[comments closed]

Monday 27 July, 2020

1 Samuel 9:11-27

11 As they were going up the hill to the town, they met some young women coming out to draw water, and they asked them, “Is the seer here?” 12 “He is,” they answered. “He’s ahead of you. Hurry now; he has just come to our town today, for the people have a sacrifice at the high place. 13 As soon as you enter the town, you will find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. The people will not begin eating until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward, those who are invited will eat. Go up now; you should find him about this time.” 14 They went up to the town, and as they were entering it, there was Samuel, coming toward them on his way up to the high place. 15 Now the day before Saul came, the Lord had revealed this to Samuel: 16 “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel; he will deliver them from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked on my people, for their cry has reached me.” 17 When Samuel caught sight of Saul, the Lord said to him, “This is the man I spoke to you about; he will govern my people.” 18 Saul approached Samuel in the gateway and asked, “Would you please tell me where the seer’s house is?” 19 “I am the seer,” Samuel replied. “Go up ahead of me to the high place, for today you are to eat with me, and in the morning I will send you on your way and will tell you all that is in your heart. 20 As for the donkeys you lost three days ago, do not worry about them; they have been found. And to whom is all the desire of Israel turned, if not to you and your whole family line?” 21 Saul answered, “But am I not a Benjamite, from the smallest tribe of Israel, and is not my clan the least of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why do you say such a thing to me?” 22 Then Samuel brought Saul and his servant into the hall and seated them at the head of those who were invited—about thirty in number. 23 Samuel said to the cook, “Bring the piece of meat I gave you, the one I told you to lay aside.” 24 So the cook took up the thigh with what was on it and set it in front of Saul. Samuel said, “Here is what has been kept for you. Eat, because it was set aside for you for this occasion from the time I said, ‘I have invited guests.’” And Saul dined with Samuel that day. 25 After they came down from the high place to the town, Samuel talked with Saul on the roof of his house. 26 They rose about daybreak, and Samuel called to Saul on the roof, “Get ready, and I will send you on your way.” When Saul got ready, he and Samuel went outside together. 27 As they were going down to the edge of the town, Samuel said to Saul, “Tell the servant to go on ahead of us”—and the servant did so—“but you stay here for a while, so that I may give you a message from God.”

What a day for Saul.  He is a son from the smallest tribe of Israel.  He heads out with a servant to find donkeys owned by his father.  They walk possibly 15-20 miles in search of the donkeys and don’t find them.  However, they hear that the town nearby has a Prophet who lives there, so they seek him out in hope that he knows where the donkeys are.

The prophet Samuel is a man after God’s heart.  God has already spoken to him about Saul coming and that he is to anoint him as the next King of Israel.  I don’t think Saul had any idea that going looking for donkeys would find him returning home anointed as the first King of Israel.

It makes me think how God has such different plans from us.  Often in our simple and ordinary day to day lives, God is looking at our obedience and our heart.  Just doing faithfully what we are supposed to do, lays the opening to something we could never conceive of.   I love it that God works in ways that are “out of the box” and never through the eyes of man.

Thank you, Lord, that you look upon our hearts.  We thank you for your love and that you honour those who walk humbly with You.  Help us Lord to trust afresh our lives to you, knowing that you hold an amazing future for each one of us.  Amen.

Written by Ps. Sue Botta

[comments closed]

Sunday 26 July, 2020

1 Samuel 9:1-10

9 There was a Benjamite, a man of standing, whose name was Kish son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bekorath, the son of Aphiah of Benjamin. 2 Kish had a son named Saul, as handsome a young man as could be found anywhere in Israel, and he was a head taller than anyone else. 3 Now the donkeys belonging to Saul’s father Kish were lost, and Kish said to his son Saul, “Take one of the servants with you and go and look for the donkeys.” 4 So he passed through the hill country of Ephraim and through the area around Shalisha, but they did not find them. They went on into the district of Shaalim, but the donkeys were not there. Then he passed through the territory of Benjamin, but they did not find them. 5 When they reached the district of Zuph, Saul said to the servant who was with him, “Come, let’s go back, or my father will stop thinking about the donkeys and start worrying about us.” 6 But the servant replied, “Look, in this town there is a man of God; he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true. Let’s go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take.” 7 Saul said to his servant, “If we go, what can we give the man? The food in our sacks is gone. We have no gift to take to the man of God. What do we have?” 8 The servant answered him again. “Look,” he said, “I have a quarter of a shekel of silver. I will give it to the man of God so that he will tell us what way to take.” 9 (Formerly in Israel, if someone went to inquire of God, they would say, “Come, let us go to the seer,” because the prophet of today used to be called a seer.) 10 “Good,” Saul said to his servant. “Come, let’s go.” So they set out for the town where the man of God was.

This is the first time we encounter Saul, who will be Israel’s first king. Knowing this, I am wondering what kind of a man Saul is that God would choose him. Would he demonstrate clear leadership characteristics such as initiative, confidence and wise decision making skills that would indicate he would be a good choice?

Not really. We find him at home, his dad sending him out to find his lost donkeys. Saul takes a servant with him in order to search for them. When they can’t find the donkey’s Saul says they should go back home because he doesn’t want his dad worrying about him. But his servant has another idea: let’s ask the man of God. (Yay for people like this who point us towards God).

Interestingly, Saul responds “Yes, let’s go!” I think it is this response that indicates Saul’s potential: he has an open heart to the things of God. It wasn’t his wealth or height that impressed God. It was because Saul had a soft spot towards God and listened to his servant and was willing to seek the prophet’s advice. Having an open heart towards God is something God can work with.  

Father God, I thank you that You look beyond our circumstances and look to our hearts. May we keep our hearts open and soft towards You and keep trusting in You.

Written by Gab Martin

1 (reply)
  1. Kim Fleming says:

    Amen! May I be like & have ‘Servants’ in my world that point me in the right direction!

[comments closed]

Saturday 25 July, 2020

1 Samuel 8:1-22

8 When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders.[a] 2 The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. 3 But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice. 4 So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. 5 They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead[b] us, such as all the other nations have.” 6 But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. 7 And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 8 As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. 9 Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.” 10 Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle[c] and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.” 19 But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. 20 Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” 21 When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. 22 The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.” Then Samuel said to the Israelites, “Everyone go back to your own town.”

This chapter captures a hugely significant moment in Israel’s history from God’s own perspective. Israel is choosing a human king instead of having their God as their king. From God’s perspective he is willing to let them have their way, but he sees it as a rejection of his own leadership and a road towards future trouble for his people.

I can see where the Israelites are coming from. Samuel has for the most part done a wonderful job leading Israel as a Priest. He has been full of the Spirit of God and been obedient to God. He is now old and the Israelites are wondering who will next take up this priestly position, Samuel’s sons certainly are not a promising bunch.

I can think of some specific moments in my life where I was not happy about the present circumstances that I or my work organisation found itself in, I can think of moments where I did not like the direction leadership in church or work were going, I can pinpoint moments where I thought I could see the future clearly and it wasn’t looking good.

And I can see that too many times I was just like the Israelites; I took matters into my own hands and did not wait upon the Lord. The lesson for me is clear: when things are not going well or the future looks gloomy, do not be hasty in acting according to worldly wisdom. Cry out to the Lord, seek him out as King, and let him “lead me, go out before me, and fight my battles”.

Written by Andrew Mellor

1 (reply)
[comments closed]

Friday 24 July, 2020

1 Samuel 7:2b-17

2 The ark remained at Kiriath Jearim a long time—twenty years in all. Then all the people of Israel turned back to the Lord. 3 So Samuel said to all the Israelites, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the Lord only. 5 Then Samuel said, “Assemble all Israel at Mizpah, and I will intercede with the Lord for you.” 6 When they had assembled at Mizpah, they drew water and poured it out before the Lord. On that day they fasted and there they confessed, “We have sinned against the Lord.” Now Samuel was serving as leader[a] of Israel at Mizpah. 7 When the Philistines heard that Israel had assembled at Mizpah, the rulers of the Philistines came up to attack them. When the Israelites heard of it, they were afraid because of the Philistines. 8 They said to Samuel, “Do not stop crying out to the Lord our God for us, that he may rescue us from the hand of the Philistines.” 9 Then Samuel took a suckling lamb and sacrificed it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. He cried out to the Lord on Israel’s behalf, and the Lord answered him. 10 While Samuel was sacrificing the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in battle. But that day the Lord thundered with loud thunder against the Philistines and threw them into such a panic that they were routed before the Israelites. 11 The men of Israel rushed out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, slaughtering them along the way to a point below Beth Kar. 12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named it Ebenezer,[b] saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.” 13 So the Philistines were subdued and they stopped invading Israel’s territory. Throughout Samuel’s lifetime, the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines. 14 The towns from Ekron to Gath that the Philistines had captured from Israel were restored to Israel, and Israel delivered the neighboring territory from the hands of the Philistines. And there was peace between Israel and the Amorites. 15 Samuel continued as Israel’s leader all the days of his life. 16 From year to year he went on a circuit from Bethel to Gilgal to Mizpah, judging Israel in all those places. 17 But he always went back to Ramah, where his home was, and there he also held court for Israel. And he built an altar there to the Lord.

When Israel were prepared to return to God and be faithful to Him, God demonstrated His incredible power on their behalf. God’s faithfulness to Israel is amazing – thundering loudly and completely confusing the enemy such that Israel had victory and a lasting peace. 

Am I walking in faithfulness to God? Am I worshipping only Him? In the thick of life is God first in my thoughts and affections? Am I looking to Him as the one who can and will rescue me from what is against me? 

God, forgive me for getting distracted or relying on myself and other things. Help me to return again to you, as the One who matters far and above all other things and who is at the centre of all things. Holy Spirit, teach me how to be faithful in the everyday rhythms and routines of life. Amen. 

Written by Ps. Bethany Waugh 

1 (reply)
  1. Justin says:

    I love your thoughts on this passage Ps Bethany! I need to keep praying and expecting that God will show up and shake things, and and in the shaking, he will bring good out of a scary situation

[comments closed]

Thursday 23 July, 2020

1 Samuel 6.13-7:2a

13 Now the people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley, and when they looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the sight. 14 The cart came to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and there it stopped beside a large rock. The people chopped up the wood of the cart and sacrificed the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15 The Levites took down the ark of the Lord, together with the chest containing the gold objects, and placed them on the large rock. On that day the people of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings and made sacrifices to the Lord. 16 The five rulers of the Philistines saw all this and then returned that same day to Ekron. 17 These are the gold tumors the Philistines sent as a guilt offering to the Lord—one each for Ashdod, Gaza, Ashkelon, Gath and Ekron. 18 And the number of the gold rats was according to the number of Philistine towns belonging to the five rulers—the fortified towns with their country villages. The large rock on which the Levites set the ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh. 19 But God struck down some of the inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, putting seventy of them to death because they looked into the ark of the Lord. The people mourned because of the heavy blow the Lord had dealt them. 20 And the people of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?” 21 Then they sent messengers to the people of Kiriath Jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to your town.” 7 1 So the men of Kiriath Jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord. They brought it to Abinadab’s house on the hill and consecrated Eleazar his son to guard the ark of the Lord. 2 The ark remained at Kiriath Jearim a long time—twenty years in all.

This passage is the end of a fascinating story. The Philistines had just learnt the hard way, that God is holy. To treat God as less than holy was to invite the terrible consequences they experienced. So, they returned the Ark of the Lord to Israel. Now the Israelites are also reminded that God is holy.

The Israelites see the Ark returning on a cart, no one leading it, but the cows pulling the cart directly to their village. Naturally, there was a celebration. The cows were sacrificed, burnt offerings made, some Levite men set the Ark on a rock, it’s all going well until seventy men decided to have a look inside the Ark and died. The Lord’s holiness killed them.

There are no excuses, the Levite men should have known the Law and God’s clear instructions regarding the Ark. God is a holy God. His Word must be obeyed always. No exceptions, sin can not live in the presence of a holy God. Both the Philistines and the Israelites found this out. The people of the village cried out, “who can stand in the presence of the Lord, this holy God?”

Ps 119 opens with this, “Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord”. (NLT)

I am reminded that we don’t obey God’s law out of fear, but because of our relationship with him, his great love for us, we are now made holy though the sacrifice of Jesus, allowing us into His presence. Blessing, wisdom and joy follow.

Father, your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.

Written by Andrew Martin

1 (reply)
  1. Linda Stengl says:

    Thanks for sharing , Andrew.
    So heartening to be reminded of God’s awesome power.
    In a world full of here and now, I am thankful to lift my eyes to Eternity. Grace and mercy in Jesus.

[comments closed]

Wednesday 22 July, 2020

1 Samuel 6:1-12

6 When the ark of the Lord had been in Philistine territory seven months, 2 the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it back to its place.” 3 They answered, “If you return the ark of the god of Israel, do not send it back to him without a gift; by all means send a guilt offering to him. Then you will be healed, and you will know why his hand has not been lifted from you.” 4 The Philistines asked, “What guilt offering should we send to him?” They replied, “Five gold tumors and five gold rats, according to the number of the Philistine rulers, because the same plague has struck both you and your rulers. 5 Make models of the tumors and of the rats that are destroying the country, and give glory to Israel’s god. Perhaps he will lift his hand from you and your gods and your land. 6 Why do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh did? When Israel’s god dealt harshly with them, did they not send the Israelites out so they could go on their way? 7 “Now then, get a new cart ready, with two cows that have calved and have never been yoked. Hitch the cows to the cart, but take their calves away and pen them up. 8 Take the ark of the Lord and put it on the cart, and in a chest beside it put the gold objects you are sending back to him as a guilt offering. Send it on its way, 9 but keep watching it. If it goes up to its own territory, toward Beth Shemesh, then the Lord has brought this great disaster on us. But if it does not, then we will know that it was not his hand that struck us but that it happened to us by chance.” 10 So they did this. They took two such cows and hitched them to the cart and penned up their calves. 11 They placed the ark of the Lord on the cart and along with it the chest containing the gold rats and the models of the tumors. 12 Then the cows went straight up toward Beth Shemesh, keeping on the road and lowing all the way; they did not turn to the right or to the left. The rulers of the Philistines followed them as far as the border of Beth Shemesh.

The Ark of the covenant was spoils of war, captured in battle. The Philistines had it by rights, however it wasn’t right for them to have it. My question is this….what is there in my/your life (hurt/resentment/self righteousness/being right/pride) which you feel is rightfully yours but which brings no peace or joy? In fact, if you are honest this thing is eating away at you, bringing destruction. We need to be prepared to examine what is within us and give back to God anything that we feel justified in hanging on to, but which is slowly destroying us or the relationships around us. It might not be gold tumours and rats, but some things can gnaw away at us just the same. This was not a question of entitlement but rather a question of what was demanded by the Most High God. The philistines had to let the ark go and show God they were sorry, maybe it’s time for us to examine ourselves and do the same. 

Heavenly Father show me anything which you need me to let go. Give me the strength Lord to lay down the things I hold on to, but which bring destruction. I pray for healing and peace in my thoughts and in my relationships. In Jesus name Amen

Written by Christine Knight

1 (reply)
[comments closed]