Day 234 (Aug. 23): Death of Ezekiel’s wife a picture of what’s to come, Ammonites and Moabites will be overrun by desert nomads because they disrespected Judah, God gets revenge on Edom and Philistia, Zedekiah told of Babylon’s immediate invasion and his capture, punishment handed out for enslaving Hebrews, God refuses Zedekiah’s request to save Jerusalem from Nebuchadnezzar, God charges Judah’s royalty to use justice, Egypt punished because pharaoh claimed the Nile for himself, Egypt compared to fallen Assyria

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.

Ezekiel 24:15-25:17

Jeremiah 34:1-22

Jeremiah 21:1-14

Ezekiel 29:1-16

Ezekiel 30:20-26

Ezekiel 31:1-18

Questions & Observations

Q. (Ezekiel 24:15-17): Reading that God killed Ezekiel’s wife as a demonstration to the people on what their lives will be like seems cruel.  Ezekiel is putting up with a lot from God.  The lack of fairness comes to mind, but being fair is not something God has promised.  After going past my initial shock of his wife dying and Ezekiel not being allowed to mourn for her, I think how desperate these times are that God had to kill his messenger’s wife to try to get through to the people and how hard it must have been for God to make such harsh demonstrations and punishments.  These people are so obstinate.

A. It is a poignant scene, no doubt.  The wife’s death appears to coincide with the destruction of the temple, which surely caused Ezekiel a great amount of anguish as a priest.  God called upon him to mourn for his wife in a way that would be an example for his people: to carry on despite the crushing loss.

Q. (25:1-17): Has Ezekiel already lain on his side for over a year to take the sins of the Israelites and Judeans?  Here he has to travel to give messages to these other kingdoms, so I guess his time bound to bed is finished?

A. The story doesn’t tell us about when he completed the action, but no, I don’t believe that he is traveling to these lands as he’s a captive in Babylon.  He’s not allowed to leave.  God instructs him to symbolically “face” these nations and issue the statements.  He is not delivering these oracles in person.

O From Rob: If there’s any movie buffs out there who are fans of Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction (and I can’t say I am, just passing this along), Ezekiel 25:17 is the verse that Samuel L. Jackson’s hit-man character, Jules, uses when he is about to execute his targets.  If you watch the film, however, you will quickly note that the writers, including Tarantino, MADE UP most of the “verse” that Jules “quotes”, though the ending is similar to the King James Version.  I’m not linking to the scene, because it is extremely violent, but you might get a laugh out of how exaggerated the verse Jules uses is, and the way that it is played up to “sound” like a wrathful Bible verse.  Hollywood is certainly fond of treating the Bible in such a manner, so it is certainly wise of Christians to know what the Bible ACTUALLY says.

Q. (Jeremiah 34:1-7): Zedekiah is captured here, but I thought he was going to suffer for a while.  Here, it says he will die peacefully.

A. He will suffer by being sent into exile, rather than dying in the midst of battle.  The fall of Jerusalem is the conclusion of Babylon’s war against Judah; after this, “peace” is established by virtue of Judah’s people no longer resisting.

Q. (34:8-22): Is this passage out of order?  Zedekiah has been captured.  How could he make a ruling when he’s in exile?  Did he make it a while ago and now the people are not releasing the slaves?  I don’t know who is being addressed.  Who is doing the enslaving of Hebrews?

A. It’s not out of order.  Jeremiah is saying that Zedekiah’s capture is “about” to happen, and the city will be destroyed.  Jerusalem and its surrounding cities were under a long siege, which is about to come to an end.  So Zedekiah is not YET in exile.  Babylon is the only one enslaving the Judeans, but they are doing it slowly over the course of several years.

O. (Ezekiel 29:16): It’s so interesting to see all the countries at play here to make God’s messages come true, like here when He says that Egypt will be a minor kingdom so Israel will not be tempted to trust it and see how foolish they were to ever have trusted it.

Q. (30:20-26): We see that God is strengthening Babylon and weakening most other countries, like Egypt here.  Were there reasons (weather yielding good crops, politics, uprisings, etc.) other than God planned it this way — well, really the peoples’ sinning caused the suffering — that caused all of this turmoil.  What I am asking is “is it God’s pure wrath at hand or does He use forces of nature to show His wrath?”  I may have mentioned this before that I saw a program on the History Channel or somewhere like that that told about how the plagues could actually be explained through geography.

A. God can do as He pleases with such efforts, and He is certainly capable of using a nation like Babylon to humble His people and the surrounding nations including Egypt. Like His use of messengers, God is capable of using third parties to His own ends, but He can also speak for Himself as He does in His messages to Jeremiah or Ezekiel as we read about in these chapters.

Q. (31:14): Just wondered if the “pit” here is referring to hell?

A. No, just the grave.  We won’t see much reference to hell until the NT, which certainly doesn’t jive with the common trope that God is purely wrathful in the OT and peaceful in the NT.  The NT, frankly, has MUCH more to say about eternal damnation then the OT does — something to watch for.

Day 215 (Aug. 3): Moab and Ammon will be destroyed, joined by Ethiopia and Assyria, Jerusalem remains stubborn, Jerusalem will be redeemed, Josiah dies from enemy arrow, the Philistines and Moabites will see destruction

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.

Zephaniah 2:8-3:20

2 Chronicles 35:20-27

2 Kings 23:29-30

Jeremiah 47-48:47

Questions & Observations

Q. (Zephaniah 2:8-9): This is an off-the-wall observation.  I hadn’t really thought about people’s and animals’ protection of “their” borders.  Does God say anything about this instinct we have?  We watched “Chimpanzee” the other day and the chimp groups had distinct borders.  We also have personal space or borders that we don’t want people to cross.  This is a protective mechanism, a survival instinct, or what?  Does God address it anywhere?  Also, v. 9 says, “The remnant of my people will plunder them and take their land.” So, this means the Israelites have the land of Moab and Ammon in addition to Canaan?  Is this setting up for the greater nation of Israel that we have talked about where other nations join them?

A. As far as I can tell, God does not address the nature of humanity and animals to claim borders.  If anything, the Bible teaches that God Himself regularly uses and shapes borders (see Genesis 1 for example, and all the “separations” God includes).  The writer of Joshua and Judges would have us understand that God provided the borders for the 12 tribes in the new nation that they formed, so we would hardly expect Him to condemn it when animals or other nations do it.  If anything, the Bible tells us that this desire originates in God, and is reflected in His creation.

Q. (Zephaniah 2:12-15): Now Zephaniah 2:8-11 doesn’t necessarily say that these happenings are being told directly to Moab and Ammon.  I think it sounds like it is being told to the Israelites.  But, vs. 12-15 sound like they are being addressed to the Ethiopians and Assyrians.  I know it’s not that important.  I am just wondering if these happenings are warnings to the nations or if they are prophecies being told to the Israelites.

A. I believe that they are both: the prophecy against Moab and Ammon would have been powerful signs to the Israelites, who saw them as enemy nations deserving of God’s wrath.  But God clearly, as with Israel, takes no pleasure in their destruction (Jer 48:36), but apparently feels that they must pay for their mockery of Israel and their worship of the idol Chemosh.

Q. (Zephaniah 3:7): God struggles terribly with impressing His power upon the Israelites.  They just don’t listen.  Is part of their problem that God cannot be seen?

A. Sure, but that doesn’t excuse their behavior.  Part of the reason God mocks the various idols of the people so mercilessly, i.e. they are just wood or metal, is that the people seem to find security in something they can touch and see, rather than having complete faith in God Himself, which they unfortunately cannot.  I frankly see this as being a problem of human nature — we trust what we can see a lot more than what we can’t — and it is surely still a problem with the various idols in our society.

Q. (Zephaniah 3:11): I don’t understand who Zephaniah is talking about when he says “you will no longer need to be ashamed, for you will no longer be rebels against me.”

A. He’s talking about the restored Kingdom of God, when the people will be purified of their sin and live in harmony with their Creator.

Q. (Zephaniah 3:15): I remember waaaay back when the Israelites were demanding to have a king.  God said it wasn’t necessary because He was their leader, their king.  But, the people demanded one.  Now, here, the kings are gone, right?  And, God says He will live among them … just like he recommended.

A. You’ve remembered correctly.  In this instance, God is speaking about His future Kingdom, where He will rule among the nations.

Q. (2 Chronicles 35:22): So, Josiah should have listened to King Neco?  This was a weakness of Josiah that he didn’t want to be told what to do?

A. It appears to be a pride moment for Josiah, and he pays a hefty price for ignoring Neco’s warning.  It is surely strange to the story, I admit, that God’s word comes via a pagan king.

Q. (Jeremiah 48:7): I don’t remember hearing about Chemosh before.  Anything special about that idol?

A. We have addressed it before, but I can’t seem to find the reference to the question.  Chemosh was the idol/god of the Moabites and occasionally Israel: Solomon built an altar to Chemosh in 1 Kings 11, and he is mentioned in Judges 11 and Numbers 21.

Q. (48:10): Does this mean that those who can’t bring themselves to kill someone else in the name of God will be cursed?

A.  No.  God has assigned an army (probably Babylon’s army under Nebuchadnezzar) to the “task” of wiping out Moab, and does not want to see them delay: He wants the task done.  It is in no way a license to kill indiscriminately.

Q. (48:35-39, 47): God is super sympathetic to Moab and acts as if it hurts Him to be doling out this destruction.  And, then in v. 47, God says He will restore Moab.  Why does God have a special connection to Moab?

A. I don’t know of anything specific, but as I mentioned above, it appears that God simply takes no pleasure in this slaughter and promises to restore the nation in some form.

Day 214 (Aug. 2): Habakkuk complains to God against evil, God raises up Babylonians against Jerusalem, Habakkuk pleads with God for a pardon, God replies that there is too much corruption, Habakkuk prays for mercy, God informs Zephaniah with Judah’s coming judgment, last call to be humble before the Lord, judgment against Philistines

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.

Habakkuk 1-3:19

Zephaniah 1-2:7

Questions & Observations

Q. Can you tell us anything about Habakkuk? Was he a prophet?

A. Habakkuk and Zephaniah are considered to be part of the group of Minor Prophets known as “the twelve.”  In the Jewish Bible, each of these twelve writings (with Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi) is part of one book.  Christians Bibles consider them as separate “books” but keep the group arrangement.  The twelve writings are included in (roughly) chronological order: Hosea first, Malachi last.

As to information on Habakkuk himself, we know almost nothing except for the fact that he was most likely a contemporary of the “major prophet” Jeremiah and fellow “minor” Nahum.  He is generally understood of being the “voice” of the small group of faithful Jews in Judah (possibly Jerusalem) that seek to understand why God is planning to bring about their destruction.  But that’s really all we know.

Q. (Habakkuk 3:17-18): Habakkuk sounds a little like Job here.  (Job left an impression on me.)  Although Habakkuk sees no signs of hope, he is trusting and rejoicing in the Lord.

A. Through Habakkuk’s visions/conversations with God, he comes to conclude that God is being just and that He will be faithful.  That last chapter is an astonishing psalm of praise.

Q. Can you tell us anything about Zephaniah?

A. Only what the writer chooses to tell us, but in this case, that’s actually something.  It appears that Zephaniah was related to the royal family, and was a great-grandson of Hezekiah the king.  The style of the letter also indicates that he understood royal politics and was most likely familiar with the earlier writings of Isaiah and Amos, both of which he alludes to in his book.

Q. (2:6-7) I welcome this glimpse of calm along the Philistine coast after the turmoil.

A. God’s message indicates that this land controlled by the sea-faring Philistines will revert to pasture land and be controlled by Israel in the aftermath of all the impending destruction.

Day 181 (June 30): Ahaz dies, Babylon destroyed for its sins, those who raided Israel will be Israel’s servants, Assyria will be trampled, Philistines will see fierce soldiers from north, Moab will be leveled

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 Kings 16:19-20

2 Chronicles 28:26-27

Isaiah 13-16

Questions & Observations

Q. (Isaiah 13:4): Who are these armies?  Those who still believe in God?

A. Though the title of the section refers to the Babylonian army, it is actually referring to what we have been calling the Assyrians.  Babylon was their most important city, and so this section (13:1-14:27) all pertains to the Assyrian people, army, and king.  But there will be another Babylon that will come onto the scene and be a very important player in future events for Judah.

Q. (13:16,18): OK, it doesn’t look like these people are followers of God if they are raping women and killing children.  I guess God just mobilized these wicked soldiers so Babylon could look evil in the eye?

A. Isaiah is talking about the same armies we have already been seeing in the story.  The Assyrian army routed the nation of Israel and pretty much everything in their path, and did so with bloodthirsty gusto.

Q. (14:1-23): We haven’t heard much about Babylon, right?  We have mostly heard of Samaria and Jerusalem.  Why Babylon now?  What was the city known for … not counting the evil?

A. For the moment, it is known for being the capital of Assyria.  Hold onto this question, and let’s revisit it later.

Q/O. (14:24-27): You were right in one of yesterday’s questions when you said it wasn’t Assyria who would bring down Israel.

A. Hum, Assyria did destroy Israel.  What I mentioned yesterday is that Assyria would not destroy Judah, and that I stand by.

Q. (15:1-16:14): And why is destroying Moab important?  What is its relationship to Israel?  It seems like I remember battles between the two ever since the Israelites arrived in Canaan.

A. This section of Isaiah contains prophecy against many other nations (he’s going to talk about Damascus and Egypt next, for example).  So in that sense, there’s nothing special about Moab, other than it was a nation that God told Isaiah to prophecy to.  This section of Isaiah is all about God calling the nations in this part of the world to account for their sins (like Jonah was called to), while keeping the long-term focus unto the people of God.

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 108 (April 18): David declines second chance to kill Saul, David takes refuge from Saul with Philistines, Benjamin tribes join David, Saul talks to Samuel .. who is dead, Philistines think again about allowing David to fight, Manasseh men join David

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 26

1 Chronicles 12:1-7

1 Samuel 27:8-12

1 Samuel 28-29

1 Chronicles 12:19

Psalm 56

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Samuel 26:1-25): Why is Saul after David when they’ve been through this cat-and-mouse chase and after David won, they made peace where Saul acknowledged David’s grace and David agreed to not harm Saul’s family.  Although, I didn’t mention it in yesterday’s reading, when I looked back, a verse stuck out.  1 Samuel 24:22 says that Saul went home, but David stayed in the wilderness.  If the fighting was truly over, why would David stay hidden?

A. Because he still didn’t trust Saul is the only reason I can give you.  It appears his instinct not to trust Saul was proven correct.

Q. (26:16): David keeps referring to Saul as “the Lord’s anointed” almost in jest.  So, does everyone know that David is anointed or is it to be revealed to all at a later time?

A. God has made David His king, but he will not become Israel’s king until Saul is dead.  It appears that God’s selection of David was not a secret at this point, so perhaps Samuel talked about it before he died.

Q. (27:8-12): Do I have this right that David and his soldiers and their families were living among the Philistines?  David would go on raids of whom and why?  David was aligning with King Achish, a Philistine.  I don’t get this.

A. He did so to move out of Saul’s territory, since this appears to be the only place where Saul would not pursue him — probably because he did not have the military strength.  That is probably your answer as to why he allied himself with the Philistines: because they were the only nation strong enough to protect David.  It seems to fit under the rule of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend.”

Q. (28:8-19): We haven’t seen anyone talk to anyone in heaven besides God.  I always thought that mediums, fortune tellers, witches, whatever they are called were a farce.  Apparently not?  Again, this is the OT.  Are these people just present in the OT times or are they really here now?  This reminds me of my questions when the Egyptian “magicians” replicated the staff-to-snake trick of Aaron and Moses (Exodus 7:8-13).  I have never believed that magic or possessions exist today.  Maybe they do?  But, in the staff-to-snake miracle, could God have made the magicians able to do this trick just so he could finish it off with his snake eating their snakes?  I was shocked to read Samuel talking again!

A. First, let’s clear something up: it does not appear that Samuel is in “heaven” in the sense that we would understand it.  Samuel is in the realm of the dead, Sheol, which is NEITHER heaven nor hell.  Much of the OT refers to it as a place of rest for the dead (akin to the Greek concept of Hades), while awaiting judgment at a future date — we will see this referred to as the Day of the Lord in future volumes, so watch for that term.  This is why Samuel tells Saul that he will be “with me” in 28:19.  Samuel is certainly NOT telling Saul that he is going to heaven when he dies “tomorrow.”  So, to get a clear picture of what is going on, you’ve got to remove the simple notion of heaven and hell: eternal judgment in the Bible is not cut and dry at this point in the story (though it will be later!)

In addition to your questions about Egyptian magic, back on Day 76 (when reading Deuteronomy 18), we discussed the issue of communication with the dead, and I mentioned then this story as a forthcoming example, so here’s your pay off.  The implication of the story, to me, is that in this era — I couldn’t tell you whether or not you can still do so today — it was possible for certain people to communicate with the dead.  They did so using what we would call occult practices today — and they surely still exist. We usually call them Wicca or similar names today.  The issue here is not whether or not one can communicate with the dead.  This story surely tells us that we COULD, if not can, but rather that God strictly forbids such an act.  The reason: consulting the dead, called necromancy, always involves an attempt to learn about or control the future, as Saul is doing here.  When we do that, we are no longer trusting God to provide for our future.  Now in Saul’s case you can understand his desperation: his prophet is dead, the priesthood has allied itself with David, or been killed by Saul himself, and he appears to have no way to communicate with God.  He has painted himself into this corner, but we can certainly sympathize with his plight.  It’s going to get bad for Saul and his family.

Q. (29:6): So, Achish acknowledges the Lord here.  Are the Philistines just fickle and go back and forth between following the true Lord and idols?  Or, was he just simply acknowledging the Lord’s power, even though the Lord is not his God?  Another question this brings up is swearing.  We may have talked about it before, but it’s worth exploring again.  We have read about many of God’s followers — most recently, Jonathan and David and Abigail — swear by God.  One of the Ten Commandments, Exodus 20:7 says, “You must not misuse the name of the Lord your God. The Lord will not let you go unpunished if you misuse his name.”  I certainly don’t think any of the three I mentioned are misusing God’s name.  But, I thought it was a great time to bring the subject up.  I have the feeling that whenever I mention the Lord, I have to make sure he would approve of it.  I don’t say He said something He didn’t, nor do I use his name casually in blame or whatever.  It jabs me when I hear someone say, “God this” or “Jesus that” or “Oh my God,” especially Christians.  As I pull the knife out of me, I would like to call the person on it, but never do.  What do you say about this, Rob?  I found a great paper on this subject.  See if you think it’s worth mentioning. http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2007/06/what-does-it-really-mean-to-take-the-lords-name-in-vein/

A. Okay, you went a bit stream of consciousness on me, but let’s see if we can untangle this.  I think the Philistines recognized David’s God, but they would not have acknowledged Him as the God of the whole world, merely Israel.  In this era, it was common thinking that the gods had what we might call territories: so the Philistine god watched over his kingdom, the God of Israel watched over Israel, etc.  They would have seen the battles between human kings and soldiers as acting out struggles between the various gods.  If your army won, it was because your nation’s god was more powerful than your enemies.  The Israelites speak of a radical departure for this: only their God exists, and He rules the whole world.  This concept would surely have been lost on the Philistine king, and he likely was speaking of the Lord out of his own understanding of gods.

I agree with you that David and the others are not misusing God’s name in the stories you mentioned, and it does come down to casual use of God’s name when His name ALWAYS deserves to be revered.  I read on someone’s blog where the writer warned that real danger of violating this commandment is not lightning, i.e. being struck dead, but lightening.  When we misuse a name — any name — we cause that name to lose significance: we take it lightly.  That might be okay with people, but if we begin to take God lightly — and surely we do that in our society today! — the entire fabric of our relationship with God begins to fall apart.  In the end, that only costs us — God does not need us, but we NEED Him.  Much that takes place in our world today — the glorification of sin, the loss of morality, etc. — can be traced to the fact that, ultimately, we take God lightly.  What better example can there be then in how we show a lack of reverence for the name of God!  It can be tricky to get people to see this point of view, but I think with people that we have relationship with; it would be a worthwhile endeavor.  Respect for God is surely worth our time.

O. (Psalm 56) This Psalm reminds me of when Jesus feels the doom of his enemies creeping up on Him.  David says God is protecting him.  He is his shield.  Yet, in verse 11, he says “I trust in God, so why should I be afraid?”  I know the feeling.  I know God is real — I have always felt it, but after seeing how undeniably true the Bible is — I have real proof of God’s existence.  Yet, there is always the doubt that if I ask God for something, I won’t get it … that it’s just an empty wish.  I’m working on it.  David admitting his fear and doubts helps me personalize this story.  Verses 12-13 give David’s reason for his faith.  This feels like when David ever has his fear, he can refer to this verse to bolster his faith.

Day 104 (April 14): David proclaims God’s power and kills Goliath, David fulfills Sauls request and marries Saul’s daughter as prize, Saul becomes jealous of David’s success and tries to kill him, David’s wife protects him against her father, David trusts in God to save him, David escapes to Ramah and joins the prophesying party

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 17:32-58

1 Samuel 18:17-19:17

Psalm 59

1 Samuel 19:18-24

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Samuel 17:45): I find it so hard to let go of control like David and give it all over to God.  We are surely trying to raise our children like this, but letting God guide me — and most Christians, I would think — was not something I was taught growing up.  I was raised in the church and definitely taught the major Bible stories.  But, I don’t recall talking about asking for God’s guidance in everything I did.  Now, I am doing that more and more, but I feel like I am a long way off from giving up control of my life to God.  Reading the Bible has definitely shown me that I need Him in all realms of life and my life will be more fulfilling if I let Him in.  Rob, any tips on letting God take control of my (and others) life, as David did?

A. Well, I would say you’re off to a good start.  One of the best ways to give control over to God is to KNOW what the Bible teaches about Him and His will.  This can only come by reading the scriptures.  Once you have become more immersed into the will and desires that God has for your life and the lives of those around you — especially your children — you will find it easier to follow these desires, or at least be aware when you are making a mistake.  Giving more of yourself over to God is one of the roles that the Holy Spirit plays in your life, if that makes sense: He is the one who convicts the hearts of believers to do the will of God the Father and follow Him more closely.  Being focused on the words of God in reading and prayer, or even prayerful reading, is a great way to give control over to God.

One other note might be worth mentioning here: many Christians seem willing to put their faith in God and trust Him with their eternal destiny, but somehow think He is wrong when He attempts to instruct us on how to live RIGHT NOW.  I think that’s a pretty foolish notion if you think about it.  Part of our proclamation as Christians is not just that Jesus/God is our savior, but also that He is our LORD.  If we are unwilling to listen to what God desires to teach us as our sovereign Lord, we have little chance of giving God more control over our life.  Let’s touch on this again way down the road, when we look at the Sermon on the Mount in the Gospel of Matthew 5-7.

Q. (18:14-16): Saul was selfish and disobeyed one time.  Is there anything he could have done to redeem himself?  From this passage, he may as well hand David the crown.  Also, Saul’s jealousy of David is obvious.  Can we draw a parallel from David and Saul to Jesus and the Pharisees?

A. Well, he keeps making actions that are selfish and prideful, so stopping that would be a good start. (But, he won’t.  In fact he makes it worse, if you can believe it).  David still has a long way to go, however to get the crown, for reasons that we will continue to see.  While the Pharisees were certainly jealous of Jesus, I think the circumstances are quite different in the two scenarios, so I wouldn’t draw too many parallels from the two.

Q. (18:26): I wish I could read a book — fiction or nonfiction — that would tell about the life and times of the Bible years.  There are so many customs I don’t understand, like this foreskin request.  I’m sure there isn’t any literature describing customs, because it would be just like the Bible, translated from ancient scrolls.

A. The foreskin request is for “trophies,” like the thumb/toe effort we read about earlier.  There are two reasons Saul requests it: first, only the Israelites would have been circumcised, so the Philistines would not have been marked in this way, ensuring that David really did kill the number requested or fake it in some way.  The other thing Saul is requesting David to do is to humiliate the surviving Philistines, by making the bodies “join Israel” in death.  Lovely, isn’t it?

Q. (Psalm 59:4): David is asking God to “wake up?”

A. We will see this referred to sometimes in the Psalms.  The writer is ascribing human qualities (in this case the need for sleep) to God as a way of saying, “if You were paying attention to my circumstances, You would be doing something.”  Since God is not responding in the way that the writer requests, he is accusing God of sleeping on the job.  We will see some very heartfelt pleas in the Psalms that, frankly, I love reading.  It tells me about the cries that these people made to God for the injustices they see in the world, and they really bear raw emotion in the writings: joy, pain, anguish, depression, etc.  So it is little surprise that the Psalmist is accusing God of sleeping on the job, he is pouring out his heart, and God is not, in his mind, responding.

Q. (Psalm 59): David’s song tells about evil lurking around the Israelites and the enemy surrounds them. But, when David — or anyone — trusts in the Lord, He will protect them from the evil.  I am eager to read more of Psalms.  This chapter just brings calm to my heart.  Is there anything else to glean from this passage?

A. I think you’ve got it.  Oppression and being surrounded by enemies are common themes of certain Psalms, so you’ll get some more chances to look at the way the writer expresses his apprehension at the circumstances God has placed them in.

O. (19:18-24): God provides the humor.

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.

Day 100 (April 10): Eli dies from shock of battle casualties, capture of Ark curses Philistines, Philistines return Ark, God hears Samuel’s cry, God gives Israelites victory, Samuel’s greedy sons, Samuel warns against pleading for a king

Day 100!  Can you believe it?  Just three more weeks and will be one-third of the way through the Bible.  It doesn’t seem possible.  If you are joining BibleBum for the first time, welcome!  This blog is using the The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version to explore the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  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 4:12-8:22

Questions & Observations

Q. (1 Samuel 4): Just as a scene setter, the Israelites were warring with the Philistines who were in the land of Canaan, which God had given to the Israelites.  When the Israelites were taking over the land conquering cities in the time of Joshua, some of the tribes were not destroyed.  This is because the Israelites were not fully acknowledging God?  And, as you said in earlier readings, this would come back to plague the Israelites.  Since then, the Philistines had grown in strength and worshipped idols and the Israelites had weakened because of straying from God.  The Philistines had enslaved the Israelites (Hebrews) and the Israelites were revolting.  Is this accurate?

A. I don’t think the Israelites were actively being enslaved, but rather the Philistines were taxing them and controlling certain areas of Canaan, and that is what the people were revolting against.  Other then that, I think you’ve told it correctly.

Q. (5:1-12): I remember when the Tabernacle was set up that it was so sacred that only certain ones who had become ceremonially clean could view it.  And, several died trying. Here the Philistines have it.  Has it lost some of its sacredness with the weakening of the Israelites?  How come the Philistines were not struck down as they approached it, let alone touched it?  In the subsequent verses, we learn that they were plagued.  This just seems a weaker curse for mistreating the Ark than in Moses’ time.

A. The curse in some ways represents a form of God’s mercy: the Philistines were not aware of the Israelite requirements to not approach the Ark, so God spared them, but He clearly let them know that He was displeased (the curses are certainly a similar story to the plagues of Egypt).  There is no indication that the Philistines touched the Ark, which would result in their death.  They carried the Ark on a cart to avoid touching it directly.  This was obviously not what God instructed: He wanted the priests to carry it.  So, I would say that the “weaker” curse, as you see it, is God having compassion upon a people who don’t know what they are getting themselves into.  They certainly learned fast that you don’t mess with the Ark.

Q. (6:1-2): The Philistines obviously should have realized the power of God.  I’m just wondering why they didn’t convert to worshipping God.  Were they ever invited?  Or, was it understood that they all had their own idols?  The Philistine priests did a good job of making arrangements for the Ark to be returned.  And, they saw what the Ark did to Dagon.  So, why don’t they turn to God?

A. Hmm, that’s a good question.  I don’t really know.  It was probably because they considered this to be “Israel’s god” which they had offended, and not necessarily that Israel’s god was more “powerful,” simply that they had angered Him.

Q. (8:1-3): Samuel’s sons are falling in the footsteps of Eli’s.  What’s up with these priests parenting skills?

A. We aren’t told, so I don’t really have anything to base an answer off of.  Sorry!

Q. (8:21): Why didn’t God encourage Samuel to keep urging the Israelites that God was their king and that they don’t need to be like their neighbor countries?  Is this a “wait and see” question?

A. Again, this is a good question, but I don’t have a great answer.  We know from the Law that God had already made provision for a human king (see Deuteronomy 17:14-20, from our reading on Day 76).  God was not threatened by the request for a human king — though it appears He was a bit insulted — but He does warn the people that they will regret giving themselves over to a human leader. Boy will they.

Day 99 (April 9): Hannah prays for son, vows to give son to God, Samuel is born and dedicated, Hannah’s Prayer of Praise, Eli’s disrespectful sons, God warns Eli, God speaks to Samuel, Philistines capture Ark in war with Israel

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 1:9-4:11

Questions & Observations

O. (1 Samuel 1:19-28): We haven’t seen a person in the Bible like Hannah, who has the utmost reverence for God, for some time.  It’s refreshing and uplifting to read her words.

Q. (2:1-11): Hannah’s prayer is beautiful.  It has so much praise in it and telling of God’s treatment of others.  This almost sounds like Hannah is a prophet.  I must say that it is strange to hear such eloquence for a prayer.  I’m just used to hearing and saying “Thank you for all of my blessings and here is all of my needs/wants.”

A. Her words are certainly prophetic, in the sense of declaring God’s justice and desires, but I would not go so far as to say Hannah is a prophetess.  If you read Luke 1, you can see clearly the writer Luke records that the women of that story, Mary and Elizabeth, are very influenced by Hannah’s song.  Anyway, as a person who clearly felt that God was against her because she couldn’t have children, she readily sings the praises of God when He turns her fortunes.

Q. (2:27-36): I don’t think we see that Eli does anything wrong except for not raising his sons with enough discipline.  God has shown the Israelites that their actions affect the rest of their line.  In Eli’s case, his sons conducted themselves with complete disrespect for the Lord.  And, his descendants are being severely punished for it.  You would think they would learn!  The running theme to the demise of Israelite leaders seems to be greed and pride.

A. God warns Eli that he should be doing a better job of correcting his sons, and his failure to do so is the reason that HE is just as culpable as they are in what takes place.  While both pride and greed do seem to play a part in this story, the real culprit is a lack of reverence for God — both Eli and his two sons are guilty of being too trivial with things that are sacred.

Q. (3:14): I have heard of the unforgiveable sin.  Is this it, blaspheming God?  Can you describe ways of committing an unforgiveable sin today?

A. You’re talking about Jesus’ reference to the unforgivable/unpardonable sin in Matthew 12 and Mark 3.  It has to do with blasphemy, which at least partly has its origins in a lack of proper respect for God, as is described here.  The situations are different, however, for reasons that, quite honestly, I don’t want to spoil at this time.  So if you don’t mind, let’s file this question away for a later date.  It is an important issue, but I want us to examine it within the gospel stories for reasons that will become clear at that time.

Q. (4:1b-11): We know that God said Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, would die on the same day.  Is this the main reason that Israel lost the battle?  Many Israelites had to die for the sins of two priests.  The tone I got from reading this was that the Israelites took God for granted thinking that if they marched in with the Ark that God was with them.  God did not instruct them on the battle or mention that they should carry the Ark.

A. The sins of Eli’s sons contributed to the loss, but the larger issue was the Israelites believing they could use the Ark — and therefore God — as a weapon at their own convenience.  It is likely that the warriors here were hoping to duplicate the victory at Jericho (from Joshua 6) where the Ark was instrumental in giving Israel victory, but in that case, God TOLD THEM to use the Ark.  In this case, they tried to circumvent God and do what they wanted — rather than consulting Him — and lost not only the battle, but the Ark in the process.  Wait until you see what happens when the Philistines try to do things with the Ark: its actually quite humorous!