Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
1 Samuel 15
Questions & Observations
Q. (1 Samuel 15:2): What does Heaven’s Armies mean? I know this isn’t important. The important note here is that God is commanding Saul. I just always wonder who is all in heaven. Do we get a glimpse of it later in the Bible?
A. It appears to refer to the angelic warriors that serve God. We only get glimpses of them, so I’m afraid you’ll just have to wonder. We are rarely given more than a glimpse at angelic beings. There’s an important reason why: the Bible desires that God alone should be our focus!
Q. (15:4): Why list Judah separately?
A. Because the city where the armies are mustered is in Judah’s territory. It is telling us how many “home team” members are serving Saul.
O. (15:7-23): This is such a great lesson for even today. Go with what you are told, not what your brain tells you would be a better idea. I see this in my kids. I tell them to do one thing, but they don’t do it because they are caught up in something else. Often times, that something else is a little handmade gift for me. That makes me feel guilty for getting on them, but then, they were making an excuse — albeit a good one — for not doing what they are told. Also, when you think that the little things don’t matter — sparing some livestock when God told you to destroy everything — they turn into big things.
Q. (15:33): What is this custom of cutting up beings into pieces? We saw it with the Levite cutting his concubine, Saul cutting up his oxen, and now, Samuel cuts up the king of Agag.
A. It appears to be an act of emphasis, and may have involved a “display” of the parts in some form. Other than that, I’m not entirely sure.
Q. (15:35): I think we have talked about this before, but why not again? I have always thought the Lord was sure of everything he did. But, after reading the Bible a while, it seems that he isn’t always so sure. Here, he is sorry that he made Saul king. Moses often talked God out of taking revenge on the Israelites. But, there are many other things that he has been positive of: Moses, Job, Jacob over Esau, Ephraim over Manasseh, etc. And, I feel like He already knows the big picture and outcome, so how could he not know the little things like Saul was a bad choice for king. Looking around, I have no doubt in my mind how amazing our Creator is. I just think it’s wonderful that we can see some human-like traits in Him. It makes me feel closer to Him.
A. As a big believer in free will and human choice, my answer to your question is a little complicated, but basically it boils down to this: if we believe that God is ultimately sovereign over all things BUT allows for human choice, then He is certainly capable of being grieved or upset when human beings such as Saul do not follow in the path He desires. I think this is what the story is attempting to tell us. Just because God knows the path we will walk in an eternal sense does not mean He regrets any less the poor decisions we make.
If I can be metaphysical for just a moment, let’s examine an idea here. In our story, we know that 1) God makes Saul king, 2) Saul turns away from God out of fear and a pattern of rash decisions, 3) on this basis, God rejects Saul as king. But, if God had never made Saul king, He could not have had foreknowledge of what Saul would do. God’s ability to see our paths is dependent upon the possibilities of our choices, not the other way around (at least in my Biblical worldview). So, if I am never elected President of the United States (fat chance), God would not have foreknowledge of my administration or mistakes as President, or my re-election strategy, because there would be no administration, and that foreknowledge REQUIRES me to be President in the scenario. I hope that sort of “big idea” makes sense and can help put passages such as this one and others where God is surprised, disappointed, etc. into proper perspesective.
Q. (16:14-23): So, Saul was no longer king of Israel according to God, but he still was to the people. Why? Why wasn’t David automatically king after he was anointed?
A. Well, for one thing, David was a young man when he is chosen, and not yet ready to rule. For another, well, actually, the next few chapters, I think, will make this pretty clear why not (and I don’t want to spoil it). But if its not clear in the next couple of chapters, as me again.
O. (16:4-7): I don’t recall ever reading this passage except for the children’s versions. It’s humorous how the description in the “adult” Bible perfectly matches the pictures of Goliath in children’s Bibles. The description paints a real clear picture of him except how tall he actually was — 9.75 feet or 6.75 feet.
Q. (17:16): Here we have a “40.” Is it notifying us of a cleansing period, when you mentioned the meaning of “40” in Day 3’s reading?
A. It can also refer to a time of trial, and this certainly is a trying period for Israel. Daily, Goliath is taunting the people and testing their faith in God, which is revealed to be quite poor. But all that’s going to change when a certain shepherd shows up.
Q. (17:26): Why does David refer to God as the “living” God?
A. Living God is one of the most common titles used to refer to God throughout scripture. It refers to the fact that the God it refers to is not an idol, a dead object made of wood, stone, or precious metal. The God of the Bible is a living being and all things find their life in Him.
O. (13:31): That last paragraph makes me want to read on!
Thanks for inquiring about God’s message! We welcome you to join us tomorrow and the next day and the next!