Day 115 (April 25): David takes in Jonathan’s crippled son, new Ammonite king turns on David, David defeats Ammonites

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.

2 Samuel 8:15-18

1 Chronicles 18:14-17

1 Chronicles 6:16-30

1 Chronicles 6:50-53

1 Chronicles 6:31-48

2 Samuel 9-10

1 Chronicles 19:1-19

Questions & Observations

Q. (2 Samuel 9:1-13): I love this story.  It mimics how God took care of the descendants of the ones he loved: Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

A. Me too.  This story is also one that is held up by Christians and Jews throughout the ages as symbolic of God’s mercy and grace.  As a crippled person, which would have disqualified Mephibosheth from being king, Mephibosheth would have had no place at the king’s table, but he is welcomed out of the kindness of the king’s heart.  In the same way, we as sinners, the spiritually crippled, would have no place at God’s table on our own accord, but are welcomed as God’s own children through the King’s mercy.

Q. (10:3): There seems to be a theme in the Bible of the sons of great leaders making huge mistakes and not learning from their fathers.

A. You have touched upon a major theme of scripture: the passing of wisdom — or the lack there of it — down from generation to generation.  We will see clearly how this task succeeds or fails as we move through rapid succession of kings in our next volume.

Day 109 (April 19): David takes revenge on Amalekites, Saul and sons die, David wrote a funeral song for Saul and Jonathan

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 30:1-31

1 Chronicles 12:20-22

1 Samuel 31:1-13

1 Chronicles 10:1-14

1 Chronicles 9:40-44

2 Samuel 4:4

2 Samuel 1:1-16

2 Samuel 1:17-27

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Samuel 30:1,7): I am surprised that David and his men had left their town without protection.  The area is full of war, volatility and uncertainty.  Why would they leave their town unprotected?  I do understand that David had to leave or Saul would have captured him.

A.  Most likely because the king David was “working for” compelled him to take all of his men into battle.  I’m not saying it was a wise decision, just most likely the reason.

Q. (30:7) What ephod are we talking about here?  Is it the one way back from Moses’ days?

A. Yep.  That’s the one.  It is actually part of the reason Saul couldn’t consult God, because after he killed the priests, the one remaining priest escaped with the ephod.  Just one more way that God favored David over Saul in the midst of this story.

Q. (30:21-25): Giving to the lazy bones is always something I have had trouble with.  I don’t believe in the welfare program because of the stories like comedian Adam Carolla tells where his mom didn’t get a job so she could keep getting food stamps.  I do believe in helping those in need, but not sure if that should be a government function or just a service of churches and charities.  In this story, 200 men were fatigued.  We don’t know if that means they really were or just whining.  Regardless, what does the Bible say about giving to lazy bones?  Here, I do see that David recognized the victory and wanted to give the glory to God.  By following the suggestions of the sour-grape soldiers, he would have put a blemish on the celebration, and thus disrespected God.

A. We’re blurring some lines when we consider government assistance in a modern sense to making provision for soldiers who lived thousands of years ago.  I wouldn’t draw too many conclusions from this story and our modern welfare system.  In fact, one of the problems we run into as Christians is when we attempt to pigeonhole biblical concepts in a modern setting.  It just doesn’t work, and makes us look petty or foolish.  Be careful about that!  Now having said that, there’s two things I think the Bible has to say about laziness (we will see this described in Proverbs).  First, DON’T BE LAZY!  Second, be generous to all who have need — and don’t make consideration of motive, like someone mooching off of you.  When those two things are put together, you have yourself and your neighbor pretty much taken care of.

O. (1 Chronicles 12:20-22): This David-and-Saul story is a quite unusual.  Here you have Israel, God’s chosen people, led by King Saul, who was anointed but fell from God’s grace, yet still rules over his people.  Then, you have David, also anointed and in God’s favor, who now leads soldiers, referred to in verse 22 as “the army of God.”

Q. (1 Samuel 31:6): So, David promised to not kill Saul’s family (1 Samuel 24:21-22), a promise that he easily kept as we see here.  However, I am sad that Jonathan was killed.

A. Saul’s poor decisions got his heir (Jonathan) killed and his family line cut off.  It is tragic all around.

Q. (1 Chronicles 10:13-14): These two verses say that Saul disobeyed God by consulting a medium.  1 Samuel 28:6 says that Saul did ask God, but because he didn’t answer, Saul consulted a medium.

A. That’s not so hard to reconcile: rather than seeking to, for example, make peace with David and get the ephod back so that he could seek God’s will via the priest, or continue asking God for direction — just because God didn’t answer for a period of time doesn’t mean God would NEVER answer him again — Saul takes the easy and forbidden road of seeking a medium.  That would be my guess on how to reconcile these two versions.

Q. (2 Samuel 1:1-16): Rob, you’ve got this one. I’m not sure who’s right and who’s wrong here.  David has feared Saul, but also loves and respects him.  This dichotomy is hard to accept.  David seems to empathize with Saul and honors him with full respect.

A. I don’t think that David ever lost respect for Saul, and he greatly mourned his passing, especially since, though corrupt, he was God’s anointed king of Israel (as David alludes to).  David desired to make peace, but he would have been a fool to trust Saul very far.  I think a lot of the problems the two of them had were because of the evil spirit that tormented Saul: it appears that the king was never the same after this spirit began to torment him.

Q. (2 Sam 1:19-27): This song sounds like David is putting shame on the Israelites.

A. It certainly does.  David will begin working on turning that shame around in our next reading.

Day 105 (April 15): Jonathan helps David escape, David seeks shelter with Ahimelech in Nob, David’s psalm boasts of God,

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.  We have been reading between 1 Samuel and Psalms in the last few days.  For background information on these or any other books in the Bible, go to http://www.biblestudytools.com/nlt/

1 Samuel 20-21

Psalm 34

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Samuel 20:3): God was with David when he faced Goliath.  He showed no fear.  But, now, in the face of Saul, he is scared and wants to run.  Why is he not confident like he was with Goliath?

A. David did not fear Goliath because he knew that God was displeased by Goliath’s blaspheming, and desired a brave warrior to conquer in His name.  My suspicion is that God told David to run from Saul in this case because the time was not right for David to challenge the king.  He will get his chance.

Q. (20:5-23) This whole scheme on both parts, Saul’s and David’s, sounds deceptive.  Is David’s deception of Saul OK in God’s eyes: he’s breaking the “do not lie” Commandment.  At first, it seems that David and Jonathan are leaving God out of their plan.  In verses 11-17, Jonathan refers to God several times, but it sounds like he’s assuming he can command God.

A. David is asking Jonathan to lie to his father, and there certainly could have been a way for Jonathan to find out his father’s motives without lying to him.  I’m not going to try and defend the action itself.  But I think that these men were concerned that Saul was getting a little crazy regarding David, and so perhaps they were really convinced that deceiving the king was the best course of action to prevent David’s murder or repercussions to Jonathan.  I don’t think that David is trying to control God, but rather that he is trusting God to tell him when to “move” if you will.  In this case, God appeared to be telling him that it would be best to get out of town for a while.

O. (20:26): I enjoy seeing this verse because it takes away the mixed emotions I had about the Israelites being ceremonially unclean and cast out until they were clean.  This tells us that anyone, including someone with the respect of David, can become unclean.  It was nothing uncommon.  When I read the verses about the Israelites traveling with the Tabernacle and all of the rules that went with it, I would think that it would be unfair for someone, for no fault of their own, to be prohibited from taking part in a sacrifice because he or she was ceremonially unclean.  We don’t need to rehash all of that again.  Rob told us that it was a way of respect for God and a way to keep germs at bay, maintaining a healthier camp.

O. (20:30-31): And there’s the king’s answer to David’s question if Saul wants to kill David.

Q. (20:41,42): Is there anything wrong here with David bowing to Jonathan.  This friendship is truly deep.  Maybe too deep, where it takes the place of God?  Verse 42 shows their shared reverence for God.

A. David and Jonathan both appear to have good relationships with God, and it appears there was nothing to fear about their relationship replacing their walk with God.  David is bowing to show his thanks to Jonathan for saving his life and out of respect for him as the prince of the nation.

Q. (21:1-15): I have questions here, but I think they may be answered in subsequent verses.  I would think that the Bread of Presence would not be up for grabs.  I take it was for David to eat?  He obviously wanted a weapon to protect himself.  But, why did he seek King Achish?

A. The bread was for David and his men.  Technically, the bread was not “up for grabs” because the men were not priests, but as the story points out, they didn’t have any other food, so the bread was God’s provision for them.  This story will actually come up again, in the ministry of Jesus (Matthew 12), and Jesus will discuss the ethics of the situation.

We don’t know exactly why David went to Achish specifically, since it appears he was a Philistine king.  It may have been the closest kingdom in proximity to Israel, so it may have been as simple as a distance consideration.  He actually won’t stay there long, and you might recognize were he goes next.

Q. (Psalm 34:7,9): Can you explain having “the fear” of God?

A. Sure.  I would say that the “fear of God” in this context is a proper understanding of the relationship between God and ourselves.  God loves us and cares for our needs, but we must never forget that God is set apart from us, and we must be respectful of Him.

If we would (crudely) compare God to a loving but firm parent, we can get just a glimpse of the concept.  A parent who truly loves a child does not only provide for the needs of the child, but also must dole out discipline when needed, as we have seen God do to this point in the story … and that will continue.  You don’t want your child to live in paralyzing fear of you — that is ultimately unhelpful and will push the child away.  But, you SHOULD desire that your child know who is in charge (you), and in that regard, a reasonable level of respect/fear is important for a good parent-child relationship.  That, I think is at the heart of what God desires us to understand about fearing Him.  If we do not show proper reverence/fear for God, we are more likely to make poor and sinful decisions, such as the ones Saul is making and many others will follow.  But by starting our walk with God in right relationship with Him, He will guide us in right relationship.  Watch for more verses, especially in the Psalms, that continue the thinking on this concept of fearing God.

Q. (Psalm 34:12,13): Since I have become more aware of being judgmental, it has really helped me.  Judging is to be left up to God.  But, so many times it’s hard to do.  For instance, I work with young children.  We see some of them who are tired or don’t get enough food packed in their lunch among other things.  And, it’s very easy to make judgments of the parents based on the children’s condition.  When we do finally mention something to the parents to say the kid needs more food or maybe a little more nutritious stuff and less snack food, we either find out the reasons why and are enlightened, the parents are appreciative and make the appropriate changes, or we look like a fool for assuming we know more than they do.  So, when should we make judgments and act on them and when should we leave them to God?

A. I would say one of the hardest things to do in life is discern when to act and when to leave it to God, so there’s not going to be a cut and dry answer to this question.  Sorry!  I would say that generally you should lean in to God and ask for His guidance on when the time is to speak, or to keep silent (Ecclesiastes 3:7).  If you lean in to God and trust His Spirit to guide you, I believe that you will be able to make more informed decisions about judgment verses waiting on God.  That doesn’t mean you’ll never confuse the two, but if you are trusting God with the results, you will generally find that He is able to bring good out of situations even when you mess things up.

Q. (Psalm 34:19-22): I am still confused about God being sorrowful for choosing Saul as a king (1 Samuel 15:35).  Saul pleads for forgiveness, so why didn’t God give him another chance?  Here in Psalms, it says that God will redeem those who serve Him.  Saul did conquer Amalekites, he just took the best livestock, when God said to destroy it all.  Why didn’t God give him another chance?  Maybe God knew Saul’s heart?  You may not be able to answer that.  I can think that maybe Saul is being used as an example of what happens to people when they disobey the Lord’s commands.

A. Part of what the writer is doing here with Saul’s story is setting up the inevitable comparisons with David, the king who will follow him.  The writer clearly desires to make David look good, and part of the way he does so is by showing the comparisons with Saul.  Regarding Saul’s seeking forgiveness from God: I think part of the problem is that Saul is very reluctant to take responsibly for his own failings.  In the stories we read such as the failure to completely destroy the Amalekites’ livestock, Saul takes almost no responsibility for his personal stake as the leader: he attempts to blame his soldiers and also make excuses for the reason God’s specific commands were not carried out.

To me, Saul got several chances to redeem his rule, and the story certainly does not tell us that Saul was completely unsuccessful as king.  He had his moments, but ultimately, he falls short because of his fear, disobedience, and excuses.  The king that God desired was to be an EXAMPLE to the entire nation of a right relationship with God, and Saul did not even come close on this scale.  Even if God had granted Saul forgiveness and gave him more chances, he was still not being a good leader for his people.  That, I think, is ultimately the reason that God rejected him.  He did not have the heart of the king God desired.

Please join us again tomorrow as we continue our odyssey through the Bible.

Day 102 (April 12): King Saul’s ancestors and descendants, Israelites and Philistines continue their hatred, Saul disobeyed God’s battle orders, Israelites without swords to fight, Jonathan asks for God’s help in battle and is victorious, Saul’s vow imperils his son,

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 Chronicles 9:35-39

1 Samuel 13:1-5

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Chronicles 9:37): I should have asked this a while ago.  Why is Jerusalem an important place?  What is there and why?

A. There’s a lot of answers to this question, and it is quite clear even from Genesis 14 that Salem/Jerusalem was an important religious place.  But, the answer to your question is likely that Jerusalem is the “high ground” in that area of Canaan.  It would have been a very strategic place to control, and it will, of course, become the capital of the entire nation, and then the nation of Judah.

Q. (1 Samuel 13:14): This is confusing to me.  Saul is saying that Samuel should have made a better choice, but God knew he would not be the one to lead Israel forever.  So, why is Samuel surprised?  God had not informed him that Saul was not the one?  Or, because Saul failed, God sought someone else and found him?  This is also reminiscent of Moses’ and Aaron’s missteps when they got water from a rock.

A. What Samuel is saying is that if Saul had been faithful, his DESCENDANTS would have ruled over the Israel forever.  Saul’s failings caused God to reject his line, but not immediately his personal rule — that comes later.  Note the way that Jonathan, Saul’s line, is actually the faithful one of the family, as this will play an important role in the subsequent story.

Q. (14:1-15): What do you say about Jonathan’s sideline battle?

A. Jonathan, unlike his father, sought the Lord’s guidance before acting.  When God gave him the sign he was looking for, he went for it.  As I mentioned, it will become clear that, for many reasons, Jonathan is a more faithful man of God than Saul is, which will make the subsequent events even more tragic.

Q. (14:15): Is it possible that our natural disasters today could be God’s responses to sin?

A. I personally do not think so (regardless of what Pat Robertson says).  Generally, when God uses a natural disaster as a punishment, the ones who will “reap” the disaster are fully aware of what will happen to them, and what they are being punished for.  I would say we would be hard pressed to prove such awareness today.  To me, natural disaster is proof that we live in a fallen world, and it is a regular opportunity for God to call people back to Himself in the aftermath — rather than punish them for sins.  I hope you see the difference.

Regardless of our position on such disasters, however, what Christians SHOULD be able to agree upon is that we should be willing to sacrifice and show God’s mercy to those who have suffered from these disasters.  We should see things like hurricanes and earthquakes as opportunities to serve and share the gospel, not as examples of God’s wrath.

O. (14:45): I’m glad this story didn’t end on a gruesome note.  I like seeing the Iraelites, as a whole body, support someone.

Q. (1 Samuel 14:49, 1 Chronicles 9:39): We have two different lists of sons of Saul here.  Rob, can you explain that?

A. Saul clearly had four sons, as the Chronicler tells us.  I don’t know why the last son is “left off” the chart, but it may have had to do with the children (male and female) who served in Saul’s court or council of advisors.  Since this fourth son was not part of that council (he may have come from a different mother than the other children), he is not a part of Samuel’s list.  We will see this other son in 2 Samuel, but I don’t want to spoil why.