Readings for this week
Monday: 1st Samuel 6
Tuesday: 1st Samuel 7
Wednesday: 1st Samuel 8
Thursday: 1st Samuel 9
Friday: 1st Samuel 10
Saturday: 1st Samuel 11
Sunday: 1st Samuel 12
Introduction to 1st Samuel 6-12
Here we read about the return of the Ark to Israel. The Philistines present a guilt offering, admitting they were wrong. And they also make five golden replicas of the "tumors" and five golden replicas of the rats. And they put the Ark on a cart pulled by two milk cows, and the milk cows apparently head straight back to Israel. The Ark arrives in Israel, specifically to the field of Joshua. And some Israelites peek inside the Ark and drop dead.
All of the people gathered at Mizpah and Samuel told them to get rid of all their idols so they did. Later the Philistines tried to attack Israel again. The text says that God “thundered” among the Philistines so that they were too frightened to do anything. The men of Israel chased the Philistines away and defeated them in battle. Samuel set up the “Ebenezer stone,” or “stone of help,” saying, “Thus far has the LORD helped us.”
As Samuel got older, his sons did not follow in his ways and were not trusted by the people. The people went to Samuel and told him they wanted to have a king rule over them, just like their neighbors. Samuel was displeased that the people had asked for a king. God said to Samuel, “They are not rejecting you, but they are rejecting me.” God told Samuel to tell the people that if they chose the path of kingship, the king would be their master and he would make them work as slaves. The people told Samuel they wanted a king anyway. So God told Samuel to give them a king.
Saul and his buddy wandered the countryside looking for his father’s missing donkeys, but unfortunately the donkeys outsmarted them. They decided to go ask “The Seer” if he knew where the donkeys were. Samuel was “The Seer.” Samuel already knew that Saul was on his way. God told Samuel that Saul was to be ruler of Israel.
Samuel told Saul to not worry about the donkeys, they had been found. Samuel told Saul that he was the “desire” of all Israel. Saul was confused and pointed out the low-rank of his Benjamite family. He was also from Gibeah, the scene of the nasty incident that sparked the civil war at the end of the Book of Judges. Samuel put together a feast for Saul and his friend. Samuel anoints Saul’s head with oil before sending him on his way.
Three signs are given to Saul to confirm his calling:
The donkeys are found
Saul meets three men; is given two loaves of bread
Saul meets band of prophets; is possessed by Spirit of God and prophesies
The text explains that this event is one reason why the Israelites had a saying: “Is Saul also among the prophets?”
Saul kept quiet to his family about his new role as king.
Later, Samuel had all of the people gather together for the inauguration of Saul as King of Israel. Saul was nowhere to be found. He was hiding because he was afraid. The people pulled him from his hiding place and shouted “Long live the king!”
The festivities were interrupted with word that Nahash king of the Ammonites had attacked the city of Jabesh Gilead. The people of Jabesh Gilead were Saul’s cousins. Nahash tried to gauge out the right eye of every man in the land. Saul came to the rescue and defeated Nahash in battle.
Some Israelites had previously mocked Saul, and after Saul’s victory the people wanted to kill them, but Saul spared their lives. At this point, Samuel officially sets Saul up as king over Israel.