By now, you probably know the drill. If you are new to this, this series, as you may have deciphered, is an outline of the entire Bible, book by good ol’ book. Here are the previous sections: Part 1 | Genesis, Part 2 | Exodus, Part 3 | Leviticus, Part 4.1 | Numbers 1-8, Part 4.2 | Numbers 9-19, Part 4.3 | Numbers 20-27, Part 4.4 | Numbers 28-36, Part 5.1 | Deuteronomy 1-11, Part 5.2 | Deuteronomy 12-20, Part 5.3 | Deuteronomy 21-34, Part 6.1 | Joshua 1-12, Part 6.2 | Joshua 13-19, Part 6.3 | Joshua 20-24, Part 7.1 | Judges 1-5, Part 7.2 | Judges 6-12, Part 7.3 | Judges 13-21.
Part 8 | Ruth – This book of the Bible is a gem in the midst of the mess of unfaithfulness and darkness that tainted the time of the Judges. It is a wonderful example of faithfulness, humility, and eternal redemption compacted into a short story of only 4 chapters! The story of Ruth and Boaz is a story of faithfulness and redemption at a time where it all seemed to be lacking, and the gem that is their story shines eternally through their direct descendant, Jesus Christ.
BEFORE READING MORE – It would be ideal if you read the chapters to be discussed prior to looking through the outline! This week we are covering 1 Samuel 1-8.
1 SAMUEL – The first book of Samuel details the life of major biblical characters such as Hannah, Samuel, Saul, Jonathan, and David. At the end of Ruth we learned that Ruth and Boaz had a boy named Obed, who was the father of Jesse, and Jesse was the father of David whose line would eventually lead to Jesus Christ. 1 Samuel describes an important shift from the time of the Judges over Israel to the time of Kings, and although that shift was an indication of the wayward heart of the Israelites, we still see God’s perfect will played out in a wonderful way through many characters and events. But of all the things that happened throughout the book, it was the life of David that is of particular importance.
- 1 Samuel 1 | Elkanah and the heart of his wife Hannah, Eli the priest, the birth and beginning of Samuel’s life for the Lord: At the beginning of the Chapter 1, we are introduced to a devout man named Elkanah, who travelled with his entire family in tow to sacrifice and worship the Lord every year in Shiloh where the Israelites had erected the tabernacle of the Lord as we learned in Joshua 18. Unfortunately, much like all of mankind, he had his flaws. Elkanah was married to two women, Peninnah and Hannah, but only Penninah was blessed with children. To complicate matters, Elkanah loved Hannah very much, although she could not bear children, and at the yearly sacrifice he would give her double the portion that was given to Peninnah. Because of this, Penninah constantly provoked Hannah “year by year”, which caused Hannah much distress. Although less than ideal circumstances are laid out in this chapter, we immediately see the Lord working to bring about His glory. Eventually, Hannah sought the Lord because of her stressful circumstances one day as they were in Shiloh for the yearly worship:
She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” | 1 Samuel 1:10-11
As she prayed Eli, a priest and great-grandson of Aaron, came across her praying and did not perceive her distress, but instead he thought she was drunk. To me, this little encounter seems to foreshadow events to come as Eli, the high priest, could not perceive a soul crying out to the Lord. When Hannah explains herself, Eli recognizes and promises her that the Lord has heard. Eventually, she conceives and give birth to a boy named Samuel, who after he was weaned, was given to Eli to live for the Lord as long as he lived. It is important to note that Hannah’s wonderful heart came before the Lord as a servant in distress, and because of her humility and distress the Lord answered. Hannah called herself a servant three times in her prayer, and she continued to refer to herself as a servant as she talked to Eli.
- 1 Samuel 2-4 | Hannah praises the Lord, Eli and his sons are rejected, Samuel grows, the Ark of the Covenant is lost to the Philistines, and Samuel is called: As the book continues, we continue to see the faithfulness and beautiful heart of Hannah. Chapter 2 begins with words of praise from the woman of God who called out to the Lord in humility and was heard! She exults Him and praises Him and rejoices in His Salvation, and most importantly, she recognizes Him as Judge over all the earth! After reading of the praise and faithfulness of one parent who gave her son completely to the Lord, chapter 2 quickly changes course to the wayward children of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas. These two “priests” abused their status and “treated the offering of the Lord with contempt”. The interesting part of Chapter 2 is that every horrible account of Eli’s household is followed by an update on the growth and favor of the boy Samuel in the presence of the Lord. This cycle eventually ends in Eli’s household being rejected by the Lord at the end of Chapter 2, while Samuel is vividly called by the Lord in Chapter 3 at a time when this was literally happening: Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. | 1 Samuel 3:1 What a dark time that must have been if the word of the Lord was rare! Fortunately, we see it’s resurgence as Samuel is literally called by name by the Lord at night, and although Samuel believed it to be Eli the first few times, Eli helps him perceive that it was the Lord calling him. The Lord proceeded to establish Samuel as a prophet and to warn of the impending destruction of Eli’s household as promised by the Lord in Chapter 2. Finally in Chapter 4, Hophni and Phinehas foolishly take the ark of the covenant into battle with the Philistines, but the Lord was not with them. So, the Israelites fell (30,000 soldiers); the ark was taken by the Philistines; and the sons of Eli were killed. Upon hearing this news, Eli fell and died, and we learn that he had judged over Israel for 40 years!
- 1 Samuel 5-7 | The Ark wreaks havoc on the Philistines, the Ark is returned, the Israelites rejoice, and Samuel judges Israel and calls them to repentance: Chapter 5 and Chapter 6 are somewhat comical…The Philistines were probably reeling with excitement of their victory over the Israelites and, more importantly, their capture of the ark. They took it to their city, Ashdod, and placed it in the temple of their god, Dagon. This is what happened:
And when the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, behold, Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place. But when they rose early on the next morning, behold Dagon had fallen face downward on the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off on the threshold. Only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. | 1 Samuel 5:3-4
The Lord proceeded to wreak havoc on all of the people by afflicting them with tumors at every city that the Philistines attempted to move the ark to. Eventually they decided to send it back to the Israelites with an offering for the Lord, and they devise a test that would prove whether it was the Lord or coincidence that caused all of their suffering, as if it wasn’t already obvious! They placed the ark on a cart that was pulled by two milk cows, and they claimed that if the cows went to the land of the Israelites, Beth-shemesh, then it was of the Lord. After they set the ark on the cows and released them, they “went straight in the direction of Beth-shemesh”, and “they turned neither to the right nor to the left”. Of all of the clear indications of the Lord’s power and might, it took cows for the Philistines to finally realize His presence. When the cows reached the land of the Israelites, the people rejoiced, but the Lord also struck down many many that looked upon the glory of the Ark. Finally, Samuel is seen judging Israel “all the days of his life” going to many cities and serving the Lord, and the Philistines are subdued.
And Samuel said to all he house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only. | 1 Samuel 7:3-4
- 1 Samuel 8 | Samuel’s sons “judge” Israel, the Israelites demand a King/reject the Lord, and the Lord permits it: In Chapter 8 Samuel faces the same dilemma that Eli faces. His sons, Joel and Abijah, were made judges by Samuel, but they “took bribes and perverted justice”. This misstep in Samuel’s family caused the Israelites to demand of the Lord a king to judge them “like all the nations”. Their grave mistake is clearly seen as their mindset, swayed by the unbelieving nations around them, caused them to fall in their faulty way. However the mercy of the Lord shines as He regretfully fulfills their demand:
And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the kind who shall reign over them.” | 1 Samuel 8:7-9
Samuel listened to the Lord and warned all of Israel of what this king would do, and how he would cause them to cry out to the Lord and that the Lord would not answer. But the people of Israel refused to listen and the Lord finally grants their request. What a sad day it is when we realize that we ourselves have demanded another king that could never come close to the stature of our Lord and Savior, and the Lord in his mercy allows it to happen.
As we continue reading this book, we will see the king that the Lord appoints over Israel, and we will continue to see the good work of the True King as he guides all of creation and all of time to testify to His glory!