Saturday, August 31, 2013

US to wage war against Syria - a Paraprosdokian

Bloomberg Image: Victims of the Aug. 21 chemical attack on a Damascus suburb

Few hours ago, we learned that President Obama urged military action against Syrian targets to confront their menace. Reminds me of a paraprosdokian:

War does not determine who is right - only who is left.

A paraprosdokian is a figure of speech in which the latter part of a sentence or phrase is surprising or unexpected in a way that causes the reader or listener to reframe or reinterpret the first part. Some paraprosdokians not only change the meaning of an early phrase, but they also play on the double meaning of a particular word. Few more for you to tickle your brain:
  • Where there's a will, I want to be in it.
  • Since light travels faster than sound, some people appear bright until you hear them speak.
  • In filling out an application, where it says, 'In case of emergency, Notify:, I put 'DOCTOR'.
  • Women will never be equal to men until they can walk down the street with a bald head and a beer gut, and still think they are sexy.
  • You do not need a parachute to sky dive. You only need a parachute to sky dive twice.
  • I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not so sure..
  • To be sure of hitting the target, shoot first and call whatever you hit "the target."
  • I'm supposed to respect my elders, but its getting harder and harder for me to find one.
Still have some more time to spend?

Check out a related posting link:
Beyond the Sunday School: Paraprosdokian

Mary's Birthday coming up

Mary holding Jesus and surrounded by Angels

Looking ahead into my calendar, I can see the birthdays of few dearest and beloved people in my life coming up. One such person is Mother Mary, whose birthday falls on September 8th.

A traditional lent spanning 8 days is observed in Eastern Orthodox Churches, which begins on September 1, and wraps up on the 8th. This year, let us observe the lent and offer prayers to honor this extraordinary woman who was blessed and privileged to become the mother of Jesus Christ.

Let's prepare ourselves to observe this lent, starting tomorrow.






Friday, August 30, 2013

1 Samuel 8 - 13

Prophet Samuel's Farewell Speech

The Book of 1 Samuel 
The nativity of Samuel
Israel without a Leader
Samuel emerges as Leader and Prophet
Monarchy in Israel
Saul's Reign over Israel
Transition to David's Reign
David's Reign over Israel
Threats to David Overcome
Sidebars to David's Story

The Weekly Outlook - Aug 25, 2013
Monday, Aug 26: Judges 13 - Judges 16
Tuesday, Aug 27: Judges 17 - Judges 21
Wednesday, Aug 28: Ruth 1 - Ruth 4
Thursday, Aug 29: 1 Samuel 1 - 1 Samuel 7
Friday, Aug 30: 1 Samuel 8 - 1 Samuel 13
Saturday, Aug 31: Labor Day Weekend; Holiday

Introduction
Today we are going to see Samuel transition from his current role of Judge, who is appointing a new king for Israel.

To arrive at those individual chapters, you may either click on individual chapter headings or navigate via Archives located to the right. The section 'My Thoughts' in those chapters are notes for myself, related to that particular chapter, and you may ignore them to save time.

1 Samuel Chapter 8 (link provided)
As Samuel is getting old, his two sons turn out to be corrupt Judges. Israel wants to have a new king, instead of Samuel's sons. LORD agreed to their request.

1 Samuel Chapter 9 (link provided)
LORD revealed to Samuel the person who should be anointed as the king - it is Saul. Samuel met Saul in a feast foretold by the LORD and there he has a special message for Saul.

1 Samuel Chapter 10 (link provided)
Samuel anointed Saul and gave him a series of signs that were about to happen. All of them took place. Samuel then gathered all Israelites and their king is chosen by picking a lot. Saul was selected to be the king and Samuel announced it to the Israelites.

1 Samuel Chapter 11(link provided)
Jabesh Gilead is attacked by the Ammonites and threatened to take everyone prisoners. Saul heard this news and gathered a large Israelite army and defeated them. Samuel then confirmed Saul as the king at Gilgal.

1 Samuel Chapter 12(link provided)
Samuel is ready to handover his responsibilities to the new king, Saul. He gave a speech and told them LORD did not approve the Israelites asking for a king. He then advised them to follow the paths of the LORD.

1 Samuel Chapter 13(link provided)
Samuel had asked Saul to wait until he arrived on the seventh day to offer sacrifices. However, Saul became impatient and offered sacrifices himself. Samuel became furious and rebuked Saul.


Note that most likely I won't be posting anything tomorrow (8/31) and Monday (9/2) for the sake of those having fun during the Labor Day Weekend. Enjoy your labor day weekend!

-----------------------BIBLE READING------------------
WARNING: Some of the actions performed in this book are dangerous and should only be attempted by professionals familiar with the action in question.


:-)

:-)

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--------------------------------------Related Paintings



www.flickr.com
sapjacob's 1 Samuel photoset sapjacob's 1 Samuel photoset






1 Samuel Chapter 13

Saul Reproved by Samuel for Not Obeying the Commandments of the Lord - John Singleton Copley, 1798

Introduction
This incident took place right after the battle with Ammonites, where Samuel rebukes Saul.

Samuel Rebukes Saul
The enigmatic opening verse in this chapter left me perplexed and confused - see additional Info.

For the sake of our discussion, let's assume this incident took place right after the defeat of the Ammonites. Saul had just finished bulldozing them; he has very little experience dealing with Samuel; therefore I am going to give him the benefit of doubt to Saul attributing this chapter to take place right after 11. Samuel decided to confirm Saul as the king right after winning (?) battle at Giligal. They story in this chapter takes place in and around Giligal and therefore, I tend to believe so. Let's dive in assuming this takes place right after the Ammonite defeat.

Saul had two thousand (2,000) men with him; Jonathan, Saul's son, young and dashing, accompanied him with one thousand (1,000) men. The rest of the army was sent home.

Jonathan, mostly in his late teens, attacked the Philistine outpost and has stirred up the hornet's nest (something that was not in the plan earlier). The Philistines have turned against Israel. Saul (not Jonathan) is held responsible for this action. Saul called all those troops which he sent home.
1 Samuel 13:4 So all Israel heard the news: “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel has become obnoxious to the Philistines.” And the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal.
When the Philistines lined up for the battle, with three thousand (3,000) chariots, six thousand (6,000) charioteers, and soldiers as numerous as the sand on the seashore, the Israelite army got scared. Guess how scared? Check it out:
1 Samuel 13:6 When the Israelites saw that their situation was critical and that their army was hard pressed, they hid in caves and thickets, among the rocks, and in pits and cisterns. 7 Some Hebrews even crossed the Jordan to the land of Gad and Gilead.
Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear.
Here is how (with the help of LORD, I am able to make a connection to the chapter 10 - see my thoughts below)
1 Samuel 13:8 He (Saul) waited seven days, the time set by Samuel (in 1 Samuel 10:8); but Samuel did not come to Gilgal, and Saul’s men began to scatter.
9 So he said, “Bring me the burnt offering and the fellowship offerings.” And Saul offered up the burnt offering.
10 Just as he finished making the offering, Samuel arrived, and Saul went out to greet him.
11 “What have you done?” asked Samuel.
Saul replied, “When I saw that the men were scattering, and that you did not come at the set time, and that the Philistines were assembling at Mikmash, 12 I thought, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me at Gilgal, and I have not sought the LORD'S favor.’ So I felt compelled to offer the burnt offering.”
13 “You have done a foolish thing,” Samuel said. “You have not kept the command the LORD your God gave you; if you had, he would have established your kingdom over Israel for all time. 14 But now your kingdom will not endure; the LORD has sought out a man after his own heart and appointed him ruler of his people, because you have not kept the LORD'S command.”
Then Samuel left Gilgal. Saul had about six hundred (600) men with him.

Israel Without Weapons
There is a shortage of blacksmiths in the land of Israel. Only Philistines have them, and they have a monopoly in the sector of iron production and blacksmiths, which prevented Israelites from making swords or spears.

Israelite farmers were at a disadvantage and at the mercy of Philistines in this sector. They paid an exorbitant price to the Philistines, to get their agricultural tools sharpened.
1 Samuel 13:22 So on the day of the battle not a soldier with Saul and Jonathan had a sword or spear in his hand; only Saul and his son Jonathan had them.
Let's wrap up here today - am overjoyed with excitement!
:-)

We'll include the last verse of this chapter as part of next chapter, under the section 'Jonathan Attacks the Philistines.'



My Thoughts
While writing this, I was perplexed with the opening verse and therefore struggled a lot with this chapter, to make a connection with our earlier chapters. There are too many interpretations and several theories. My main question was, "When did this incident take place? Was it right after the defeat of the Ammonites?"

After so much struggle, I reached out to our LORD and prayed, "LORD, you were there when all these incidents took place and I really cannot ask anybody else how to connect this chapter. As you know, I am not a Bible scholar. Please show me a way so that I am at least able to write something that makes sense."

It was now time for me to make a choice, in order to continue our story.

Few minutes ago, while flipping through chapter 10, these two verses caught my attention.
Samuel continued,
1 Samuel 10:7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.
8 “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.” 
With this verse, I can now connect the story, to the best of my knowledge.

Am noting this down to share my own excitement with you - the LORD showed me these verses, when I asked for direction. With this, I can complete it. I would have never uncovered it and made the connection otherwise. On a future date, this note will serve as a remind to my struggle so that I do not forget LORD revealing this.

OMG - I cannot believe this is happening to me!!!
:-)

With the help of these two verses, we are now able to connect our story - am positive!

The painting by John Singleton Copley looks neat. Those two spears were the only ones they had, as explained in 1 Samuel 13:22. The young chap towards the right of Saul is Jonathan, I suppose.


----------------------------Additional Info 
Mixed up Verse - 1 Samuel 13:1
1Samuel 13:1 is one of those mixed up verses in the Bible. Scroll down and you'll find what various versions of Bible say - have highlighted few. I will do my best not to confuse you any further. It is good to know that there is some sort of mix up, but let's come out of it.

Meanwhile, for your understanding, here is where it gets confusing:

1. The age or Saul is not consistent across all versions of the Bible.
- Some say he was thirty (30) years old when he became the king,
- Some say forty (40) years,
- Those who are not sure leave it blank,
- Few versions say he was one (1) year old - which is impossible and could mean he ruled for one year and after two (2) years of his reign, the incident took place,
- Some interpret it as Saul was so innocent like a one year old and so forth,
- To others, Saul had a one year old son when he began to reign,
- Acts 13:21 says Saul ruled forty years.

2. The chronology of this chapter is the next confusion.
- Some think that the battle between Israel and Philistines mentioned here took place right after Saul attacked the Ammonites in 1 Samuel chapter 11, and this section should appear right after it,
- Some say this incident took place in the second year of Saul's reign,
- Others think the first part of the verse 'Saul was thirty years old when he became king' should have been part of the last chapter in which Samuel gave his farewell speech. The next part "And when he reigned over Israel forty two years... the following incident takes place.

Whatever the reality is, let us not get stuck here and move on. For whatever reason, Samuel rebuked Saul and that's what we need to focus on.

New International Version
Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned over Israel forty- two years.

New Living Translation
Saul was thirty years old when he became king, and he reigned for forty-two years.

English Standard Version
Saul was… years old when he began to reign, and he reigned… and two years over Israel.

New American Standard Bible 
Saul was thirty years old when he began to reign, and he reigned forty two years over Israel.

King James Bible
Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,

Holman Christian Standard Bible
Saul was 30 years old when he became king, and he reigned 42 years over Israel.

International Standard Version
Saul was 30 years old when he began to reign, and he ruled for 42 years over Israel.

NET Bible
Saul was [thirty] years old when he began to reign; he ruled over Israel for [forty] years.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
Saul was [thirty] years old when he became king, and he was king of Israel [forty-two] years.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Saul was as a son of one year when he began to reign, and when he had reigned two years over Israel,

King James 2000 Bible
Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,

American King James Version
Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,

American Standard Version
Saul was forty years old when he began to reign; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,

Douay-Rheims Bible
Saul was a child of one year when he began to reign, and he reigned two years over Israel.

Darby Bible Translation
Saul was ... years old when he became king; and he reigned two years over Israel.

English Revised Version
Saul was thirty years old when he began to reign; and he reigned two years over Israel.

Webster's Bible Translation
Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,

World English Bible
Saul was [forty] years old when he began to reign; and when he had reigned two years over Israel,

Young's Literal Translation
A son of a year is Saul in his reigning, yea, two years he hath reigned over Israel,

On a closing note, I want to make a point that nothing in the universe (including the Holy Bible) is prefect; The One And Only One Who is Perfect Is The LORD. 


1 Samuel Chapter 12

Prophet Samuel's Farewell Speech

Introduction
Saul has been anointed and confirmed as the king of Israel. Samuel is now preparing himself to officially step down by handing over the mandate to Saul.

Samuel's Farewell Speech
Samuel here is addressing the whole army, who just returned victoriously after the war. He outlines his own past to the people to gain consideration of the people, in contrast with his corrupt sons and is about to offer an advice, which is about to follow.
1 Samuel 12:3 Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the LORD and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right.”
He then nostalgically reminded them of their yesteryear's on how they came out of Egypt until this battle, they just won. Samuel then told them that it was their wickedness by asking for a king. LORD gave them the 'approval' to have a king, however it was not in His best interest. Samuel confirmed his statement by bringing thunder and rain during the harvest season in a preternatural way.

People stood in awe of both the LORD & Samuel, cried out and felt sorry for asking for a king. Samuel shared the good news that even though they had committed such a heinous sin, there was grace and mercy with the LORD, provided they did not depart from the LORD.
20 “Do not be afraid,” Samuel replied. “You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the LORD but serve the LORD with all your heart. 21 Do not turn away after useless idols. They can do you no good, nor can they rescue you, because they are useless. 22 For the sake of his great name the LORD will not reject his people, because the LORD was pleased to make you his own. 23 As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. 24 But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things He has done for you. 25 Yet if you persist in doing evil, both you and your king will perish.”

With that, Samuel concluded his farewell speech.


My Thoughts
Samuel's goal is to win the audience by reminding them that he had had no selfish goals throughout his leadership.

Samuel is using an array of legal terms while addressing a military crowd - which I suppose is naturally flowing out of his mouth, due to his prolonged service as a Judge.

I can sense the pain while Samuel uttered verse 3. He is so hurt about his own sons, who constantly took bribes while serving as judges. To judge a case fairly, and to stand by the side of truth, one requires immense blessings from the LORD, along with tremendous amount of willpower and braveness. May the LORD provide necessary courage to those who are in such situations.

Verse 23 caught my attention, and means a lot - As for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the LORD by failing to pray for you. And I will teach you the way that is good and right. Only a man of higher state of divinity can say this with an open and sincere mind. Just praying for others for namesake can be classified as lip-service. Most of the times when people say, "I'll pray for you" they do not mean it in their hearts and are uttering it casually. A devotional and dedicated prayer for someone, other than our self, requires tremendous amount of strength. For such prayers to reach the Heavens, it takes sacrifice and pure intentions. On the next part - I will teach you the way that is good and right means the person himself/herself will have to first walk on that right path. It means, I am with you all the way; let me show you what true religion is; let me lead you towards happiness of your soul; there is only goodness and absolutely no evil; ultimately, let me lead you to Heaven!

For a moment, let me take a look at the person who is uttering these words - it is prophet Samuel, who dedicated his life for the service of the LORD, who had the privilege to hear LORD's calling while he was young, and who knew the 'password' to enter the presence of LORD. His advice is priceless.

One last thought - Samuel is handing over his authority to Saul. This is one of the most difficult tasks for human beings - to give up an official position to someone AND to help out that person do equally well or even better than how we performed. Many fail at this step miserably. They tend to think, "Let him/her figure it out himself/herself." Again, it takes a God-fearing person with a big heart to truly pass on the legacy.




1 Samuel Chapter 11

Saul Sacrifices the Oxen - Tissot

Introduction
Israel is in a festive mood as they got their first king according to their wish. Everyone, is talking about the new king. Saul is maintaining a low profile. This is an action packed chapter.

Saul Rescues the City of Jabesh
The Ammonite king Nahesh had besieged Jabesh Gilead. He was about to capture all Israelites living there and, gouge everyone's right eye, to bring disgrace upon them. The men of Jabesh Gilead asked for a seven day grace period. In the meantime, they sent messengers all over Israel in a desperate attempt, seeking help.

The Holy Spirit came upon Saul and his anger kindled greatly against the Ammonites. He had not yet officially taken the office of a King, but had the authority given by Samuel. In an attempt to display his superior dignity,
1 Samuel 11:7 He took a pair of oxen, cut them into pieces, and sent the pieces by messengers throughout Israel, proclaiming, “This is what will be done to the oxen of anyone who does not follow Saul and Samuel.” Then the terror of the LORD fell on the people, and they came out together as one. 
After mustering a large army of three hundred thirty thousand (330,000) men, Saul sent a message to Jabesh Gilead, that they'll be rescued by noon, the following day. Based on this news, people of Jabesh Gilead told the Ammonites that they would surrender the following day. In a surprise attack, Saul broke his army into three groups and defeated them.

Saul Confirmed as King
Victory celebrations were being held everywhere. Samuel called the happy crowd to assemble at Gilgal, offered sacrifices to the LORD, and confirmed Saul as the king of Israel in the presence of the LORD. Jubilant celebrations followed his this occasion.



My Thoughts
The Holy Spirit came upon Saul and the next emotion aroused within him was one of righteous anger. Saul knew he was doing the right thing by defending his own men, and hence his anger is justified.

Jabesh Gilead told they would surrender to Ammonites the following day, after hearing from Saul. This was the worst case scenario. They had two choices:
(a) In the event Saul's army did not show up, they did not have the strength to withstand them and had no other choice, but to surrender.
(b) If Saul arrived on time, they would be saved.
They prepared themselves for the worst case scenario.

Saul divided his army into three groups. This seems to be a proven strategy for the Israelite army, as Gideon and Abimelech used a similar formation in Judges.

There were few Israelites who did not approve Saul's kingship earlier. After winning the battle against Ammorites, in a victory spree, people urged Samuel to go kill those who opposed. Saul objected that, saying today is an auspicious day, and Samuel was in agreement with this decision. I did not mention this part in the blog, which is in the Bible, and think that Saul made the right choice without yielding to such temptation (to show off his power) and maintained a cool head.




1 Samuel Chapter 10


Introduction
The people of Israel want a king and LORD has shown Samuel who that would be. Saul, a man of the Benjamite tribe came looking for his father's strayed donkeys and met Samuel. The two had dinner and are leaving now. Samuel had a special message from the LORD for Saul.

Samuel Anoints Saul (continued..)
The story continues where we left off:
1 Samuel 10:1 Then Samuel took a flask of olive oil and poured it on Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the LORD anointed you ruler over his inheritance?
This oil Samuel poured was balsam oil in a vial, as opposed to a horn. Samuel must have carried it with him for this special occasion. He kissed Saul congratulating him to the dignity he was raised to and to show his reverence.

“Has not the LORD anointed you ruler over his inheritance?" - means all of Israel belongs to the LORD,

“Has not the LORD anointed you ruler over his inheritance?" - means Saul is being anointed as the ruler over Israel. Saul is being held accountable to the LORD towards the the proper usage of Israel's men and resources,

“Has not the LORD anointed you ruler over his inheritance?" - means the LORD is the one anointing him and Samuel is performing it on behalf of the LORD,

Has not the LORD anointed you ruler over his inheritance?" - here Samuel is asking Saul, whether Saul is able to see that... in other words, "Saul, do you understand.."

Saul, do you understand that I, Samuel, on behalf of the LORD am anointing you as the ruler over Israel as you are being held accountable to the LORD for the proper usage of all of Israel's men and resources, all of which belongs to the LORD.

Next, Samuel foretold all the minute details that were to take place on Saul's return. He would meet:
-- two men near Rachel’s tomb, who would say that the missing donkeys have been recovered,
--  three men going to Bethel would offer him two out of their three loaves of bread, which Saul would accept,
-- a procession of prophets coming down at the Philistine outpost, and he would prophesy with them, as the Spirit of the LORD would come upon him,
-- finally, Saul would become a different person.

Samuel continued,
1 Samuel 10:7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.
8 “Go down ahead of me to Gilgal. I will surely come down to you to sacrifice burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, but you must wait seven days until I come to you and tell you what you are to do.”
Saul Made King
All those signs Samuel mentioned were fulfilled on that day. The Holy Spirit came upon Saul and he even made a prophesy. However, Saul did not share the news of Samuel anointing him as the king with anyone.

At the meeting of everyone at Mizpah, Samuel announced that a king was going to be selected by means of a lot. Tribe by tribe, clan by clan, finally Saul was selected - but he was nowhere to be seen.
1 Samuel 10:22 So they inquired further of the LORD, “Has the man come here yet?”
And the LORD said, “Yes, he has hidden himself among the supplies.”
23 They ran and brought him out, and as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others.
24 Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.”
Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”
The year was 1026 BC. Shouts and cries of the people assembled there went up into the air. For the first time, they had a unified king in Israel.

Samuel explained the rights and duties of kingship to the people, then wrote it down and deposited it in the Tabernacle. He then dispersed the crowd.

Saul was selected publicly, but did not want to start ruling right away. He waited for the right occasion to start and went home with few bodyguards and militant leaders.



My Thoughts
Need to make note of verses 7 and 8. These verses are here for a reason - explained in chapter 13.

Being a king is a huge responsibility. In that role, Saul is under the microscope and extreme scrutiny. Being the first king will certainly have it's own challenges as he has to start everything from scratch. Good that he has Samuel near him, who has the experience of leading Israelites for the past twenty years. Saul could utilize all of Samuel's skills to run the country efficiently. Saul was transformed into a new person when the Holy Spirit came over him. He will need the blessings of the Holy Spirit to make numerous decisions, dealing with people. One thing for sure is that it will take a while for people to get used to the kingship, as they're new to it.

Saul was so afraid that he went and hid himself in the storage room among the supplies.

Noted that Saul was a tall guy - as he stood among the people he was a head taller than any of the others. In general, tall guys are picked over the rest, for leadership roles

1 Samuel Chapter 9

Samuel meets Saul -  James Tissot, 1896-1900

Introduction
Samuel is the Judge of Israel, and is old. His two sons are corrupt Judges and the people are not satisfied with them continuing. They approached Samuel with a request wanting a king, who in turn approached the LORD. The LORD has approved their request, though He is not very happy with it. People are excited that they received 'an approval.'

Samuel Anoints Saul
LORD had made arrangements for Samuel to meet with the man who was to be the future king. His name is Saul. Let's look at this chapter the way those events unfold. In that case, verses 15 & 16 should appear in the beginning.
1 Samuel 9:15 Now the day before Saul came, the LORD had revealed this to Samuel:
16 “About this time tomorrow I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin. Anoint him ruler over my people Israel; he will deliver them from the hand of the Philistines. I have looked on my people, for their cry has reached me.”
Accordingly, Saul arranged for a dinner party, and he asked the chef to set aside a special meat piece for Saul.

In the tribe of Benjamin lived a man named Kish. He had a handsome son named Saul, who was a head taller than anyone else. One day few donkeys belonging to Kish strayed from home, and Saul along with his servant set out to search for it. The two went bit too far, searching for those lost donkeys. Saul realized that his father would forget about the donkeys and instead become anxious about him being missing for so long. He therefore decided to call off the search, and head back home.
1 Samuel 9:6 But the servant replied, “Look, in this town there is a man of God; he is highly respected, and everything he says comes true. Let’s go there now. Perhaps he will tell us what way to take.”
Saul thought it was a great idea. They worked out a means to pay the man of God for his service and go to meet him. On the way, they saw few girls who had come out to draw some water. The girls told them that he just went up the hill and is about to have a feast and people are already waiting for him to arrive. If they hurried, chances are, they could meet the man of God quite soon.

As you guessed, the man of God is Samuel. They met Samuel at the town gate. LORD spoke to Samuel and revealed that Saul was the future king LORD had in mind. Samuel asked Saul to join the feast, and also mentioned that not to worry about those donkeys which were lost three days ago, as they've been found. Samuel was going to speak his mind the following day. At the same time, Samuel gave a slight hint about what was in store for him. This hint appeared to be bit enigmatic to Saul and he therefore was intimidated. Saul humbled himself as he knew his roots originated from the least clan of the smallest tribes of Israel.

At the feast, Samuel asked Saul and his servant the seat of honor. He further asked the chef to bring out that special piece of meat which he had asked to set aside for Saul, the previous day. After the feast, the two talked with other guests.

The next morning, Samuel asked Saul to let his servant walk ahead, so that he could give him a message from the LORD.

The chapter ends here, leaving the reader in a state of suspense.





My Thoughts
Samuel was not offended when his personal opinion was superseded by that of the LORD. It is noteworthy to mention that Samuel was at first displeased with the idea of a king over Israel. When LORD asked him to give the people a king, Samuel worked towards that goal by setting aside his own difference in opinion and submitted himself for the LORD's plan, and performing his duties faithfully.

The way this chapter is written in the Bible, it is supposed to generate suspense in the minds of the reader about LORD conversing with Samuel, Samuel arranging a dinner and setting aside a piece of meat for him.

Saul seems to be one of a caring and thoughtful nature, as he shared with his servant that his father might be looking for him by now and started making plans to return.

Drawing water seems to be girl's hobby in those olden days. Almost every story involving women in the Bible seems to have water or well associated with them. In other words, women seem to be hanging around the wells almost always to gather water, where they meet men.








1 Samuel Chapter 8

Israel Demands a King 

Introduction
The threat of Philistines is over for now. Israel is at peace with it's neighbors, and Samuel is serving as the Judge travelling all over. He ruled Israel for the past twenty years.

Israel Asks for a King
Samuel is getting old and appointed his two sons - Joel and Abijah, as judges for Israel. Similar to Eli's sons, Samuel's two sons turned out to be corrupt and dishonest, who accepted bribes and perverted justice. Perversion of Justice through bribery was against the law of Moses as described in Exodus 23:8 and Deuteronomy 16:19. The people were not satisfied with his sons.

People had observed their neighboring countries have a king rule over them. Using the excuse of dissatisfaction over Samuel's sons, the elders of the tribes approached Samuel, asked for a king for Israel.

Samuel was disturbed at this request and approached the LORD. The LORD was also not very happy at this request, as He Himself was serving as their King. However, the LORD asked Samuel to listen to the people and to describe those policies of contemporary kings.

Therefore, Samuel shared the views of the LORD with the people:
1 Samuel 8:11 He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. 12 Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. 13 He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14 He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. 15 He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. 16 Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. 17 He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. 18 When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the LORD will not answer you in that day.”
People refused to listen to Samuel's recommendation. They were willing to pay more, from their pockets to live in peace. They wanted to build a brand new nation.

Samuel was once again disappointed and approached the LORD to share his thoughts and to check LORD'S opinion.
1 Samuel 8:22 The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”
Samuel agreed to it and asked everyone to return to their homes.



My Thoughts
The whole idea of this 'king' came up because Samuel's sons were not like him. Someone in a certain tribe came up with the idea of having a king instead. He must have convinced this to other tribal leaders and sold them on the idea. They probably held numerous 'internal meetings' prior to meeting with Samuel. Rather than listening to Samuel, they are instead thrusting their decision upon Samuel.

Even after Samuel warning them the implications and complications of having a king, people do not want to listen. They are willing to pay tenth (10%) of their earnings to the king, over and above what they are already devoting to the LORD. During the time of prosperity in the Promised Land, that extra 10% is not going to leave a hole in their pockets. The issue here is not about money at all. They simply want to accomplish what they set out for - they want a king.

The LORD has not given a king for Israel because, Israel has been set apart; Unlike other nations, the king of Israel is the LORD Himself, as in Deuteronomy 32:9

The LORD is trying to advice His people by giving them an option and an opportunity to think things through. The people do not want to hear anything. They want to accomplish their goal - they want a king.

Samuel is caught in between. He cannot hide the fact that his own sons are corrupt like Eli's sons. He is not going to live longer, and so far no transition of power has been made as to who would be the next leader. Samuel has faith in the LORD, but the people don't have that sort of faith in Him. Samuel is serving as the mediator between LORD on one side and the people on the other.

Looking back, the LORD has been appointing Judges as and when it's required. People from various walks of life rose to the occasion during times of turmoil. The people are now able to reject Samuel's sons from being future judges because they are corrupt. However when a king takes charge, the next generation king could be a corrupt king, which people will be unable to reject. Again, the people simply want to accomplish what they set out for - they want a king.




Image courtesy Bizzell Bible Collection, University of Oklahoma Libraries.

New Format!

Dear Readers,

Let's try out a a different style of posting, considering those various 'Groups' of audience on the 'guided tour.'

Here is how we can categorize them:
Group A - Those who come here to read this blog and then go read the Holy Bible,
Group B - Those who read the Holy Bible first and then come here to learn something extra,
Group C - Ones who read just the bible summary posted here, without reading the Bible,
Group D - Those who wait for the weekends to read all those weeks' summary in one go,
Group E - Those who visit just to view those paintings,
Group F - Those who pay a visit once in a while, to skim through the blog,
Group G - Ones who started reading enthusiastically in the beginning, but later dropped off, yet say in their mind they'll get caught up later on during a long weekend or so, but never had a chance to do so,
Group H - Those who monitor our progress by visiting regularly, but are too busy to read anything that's posted.

Am I writing too much? Few of you told me that you cannot keep up with the pace. For such readers, I have compiled a "Summary of Summaries" section for 1Samuel 1 - 7. This page has links to other individual pages. You could also navigate through the Archives folder on the right side.

So this is how the current design is:

One summary page titled, 'Samuel chapters 1 - 7' (contains links to individual chapters)
Seven individual pages for '1 Samuel Chapter 1,' '1 Samuel Chapter 2'..... '1 Samuel Chapter 7' etc.

The online Bible is only available on the summary page, and have not posted it on those individual pages - am lazy!

Let's see how this works out. It's all about experimentation, so that every 'Group' of reader gets what they are looking for. It's a win-win situation. For those super-busy individuals, the 'Summary of summaries' section may serve better, without indulging into all those details as time is precious for that 'Group.'

By the way, you'll find the addition of a new section, "My Thoughts" which you can totally ignore. It is for my own benefit, so that I may come back few months later and ask myself, "What were you thinking at that time?"

Am sure you noticed that we have a holiday coming up - this Saturday, due to Labor Day Weekend. While you are enjoying your holidays, I need to play my 'catch up' so that I don't fall behind.

As always, let me know if we can do better at all.

Have a good day.
:-)


PS: Guests @ home today and tomorrow. 

Thursday, August 29, 2013

1 Samuel 1 - 7

Hannah presenting her son Samuel to Eli by Jan Victors 1645

The Book of 1 Samuel 
The nativity of Samuel
Israel without a Leader
Samuel emerges as Leader and Prophet
Monarchy in Israel
Saul's Reign over Israel
Transition to David's Reign
David's Reign over Israel
Threats to David Overcome
Sidebars to David's Story

The Weekly Outlook - Aug 25, 2013
Monday, Aug 26: Judges 13 - Judges 16
Tuesday, Aug 27: Judges 17 - Judges 21
Wednesday, Aug 28: Ruth 1 - Ruth 4
Thursday, Aug 29: 1 Samuel 1 - 1 Samuel 7
Friday, Aug 30: 1 Samuel 8 - 1 Samuel 13
Saturday, Aug 31: Labor Day Weekend; Holiday

Introduction
Today we will see one of those few 'heavy weights' of the Holy Bible - Samuel, last judge and first major prophet. But before we get to Samuel, I want you to meet another judge, Eli, who according to the Books of Samuel, was a High Priest of Shiloh.

Israelites lived in peace for some time after the death of Samson. They has no trouble from the Philistines. Shiloh served as their religious headquarters as the Sanctuary stood there. Eli took up the role of the High Priest soon after the death of Samson. Eli was trained under Phinehas, the grandson of Aaron. High Priest Eli was a god fearing and kind man by nature, beloved to everyone. People freely approached Eli for his spiritual guidance.

The two books of Samuel (1 Samuel and 2 Samuel) sheds light on a turning point in the history of Israel. People insisted on a united kingdom under the ruling authority of a king. The story begins when Eli is the judge and priest of Israel, based out of Shiloh, after the death of Samson. Eli had two notoriously wicked sons, Hophni and Phinehas, who were serving as priests as well.

1 Samuel Chapter 1(link provided)
Hannah, the wife of Elkanah did not have any children. She went and prayed at the House of the LORD, and made a vow to dedicate her son to the LORD, if one was born. Soon, a son is born to her and she named him Samuel.

1 Samuel Chapter 2(link provided)
Hannah dedicated Samuel at the House of the LORD and praised Him by singing a song. Eli's sons continued their wicked behavior. Even though Eli rebuked them, they did not give heed to his words. One day a man of God prophesied to Eli that his family will suffer.

1 Samuel Chapter 3(link provided)
One day LORD called Samuel and gave him a prophecy regarding Eli's family and punishment to come. Eli inquired about it and it was too late for him to do anything regarding his evil sons.

1 Samuel Chapter 4(link provided)
Meanwhile, there was a battle with the Philistines and they killed many Israelites at first. The Israelites decided to carry the Ark of the Covenant along with them to the battlefield. On that day, both of Eli's sons were killed and they captured the Ark as well. Upon hearing this news, Eli fell off the chair and died. His pregnant daughter-in-law upon hearing all those events, gave birth to a premature son.

1 Samuel Chapter 5(link provided)
Philistines carried the Ark to Ashdon, Gath and Ekron. At Ashdon, they placed it next to the idol of dagon. To their dismay, the idol of dagon fell facedown two days in a row and broke it's head and limbs. Also, a plague broke out throughout the city. They then moved it to Gath and the city was plagued as well. Same incident repeated at Ekron with death as well. The leaders then decided to return the Ark to Israelites, along with a guilt offering.

1 Samuel Chapter 6(link provided)
After seven month, they set up the Ark of the covenant on a cart along with gifts, drawn by cows and set it free. The cows arrived at Beth Shemesh while people were harvesting. They offered burnt offerings to the LORD. Seventy Israelites who looked at the Ark fell down dead. The Ark was later moved to Jerusalem, and Samuel was called in to look after it.

1 Samuel Chapter 7(link provided)
Samuel guarded the Ark for twenty years. By now, he was serving as the leader of Israel. He called for everyone to assemble at Mizpah offer burnt offering to LORD. While everyone was assembled, the Philistines came for a battle. Samuel reached out to the LORD and with His help, the Israelites defeated them.

Samuel continued to serve as a judge as well, and he traveled all over the country and peace was restored in Israel.


-----------------------BIBLE READING------------------
WARNING: Some of the actions performed in this book are dangerous and should only be attempted by professionals familiar with the action in question.


:-)



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--------------------------------------Related Paintings



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1 Samuel Chapter 7

Prophet Samuel

Introduction
Israelites have received the Ark of the Covenant from the Philistines. They very well know that it contains the LORD'S presence in it and handed it over to the Levites for safe custody.  The Ark was brought over to on Ahinadab's house and Samuel was consecrated to guard it.

Samuel Subdues the Philistines at Mizpah
The Ark stayed at Ahinadab's house for twenty years, and everyone sought the LORD. Samuel made an important announcement to everyone:
1 Samuel 7:3 So Samuel said to all the Israelites, “If you are returning to the LORD with all your hearts, then rid yourselves of the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths and commit yourselves to the LORD and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the Israelites put away their Baals and Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.
I would expect those on the 'guided tour' to be able to comprehend the above announcement by Samuel. We have seen Israelites turn after idol worship, the cycle they followed and many still maintaining possession of those idols and practicing their rituals.

Samuel, serving as the leader of Israel, called everyone to repent and assemble at Mizpah. He offered burnt offerings to the LORD. While everyone assembled at Mizpah, the Philistines drew near to engage Israel in a battle. The people of Israel asked Samuel to continue praying on their behalf. He then cried out to the LORD and offered burnt offerings. The LORD heard Samuel's plea as they were now obedient and following LORD'S instructions.

LORD caused a great panic within Philistines and the Israelite army went and defeated them. Samuel set up a stone at that location and called it 'Ebenezer' meaning “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

Throughout the life of Samuel, the Philistines were subdued and put under the lid. Cities were reclaimed; there was peace between Amorites. Samuel traveled the entire county judging people and he even set up an altar and court in his hometown.


My Thoughts
We now see a shift in the role of High Priest. Samuel, though not a Levite by birth, is now performing the duties of a "faithful priest" who LORD sought out. He is also assuming the role of a judge all over Israel. Sounds to me that the Nazirite vow is a pretty serious one.


1 Samuel Chapter 6

The Return of the Ark - Sebastien Bourdon 1659

Introduction
Philistines had captured the Ark of the Covenant from the Israelites and positioned it in three cities. Wherever the Ark went, it wrecked tremendous havoc, tumor and even death. Now the Philistines wanted to get rid of it from their territory.

The Ark Returned to Israel
After seven months of maintaining captivity of the Ark, the Philistine leaders consultated with religious experts and diviners, about what to do with the Ark.
1 Samuel 6:3 They answered, “If you return the ark of the god of Israel, do not send it back to him without a gift; by all means send a guilt offering to him. Then you will be healed, and you will know why his hand has not been lifted from you.”
They made five gold tumors and five gold rats(as they were the carriers of the disease), corresponding to the symptoms of those plagues to be offered as guilt offerings. They were told to place it on a cart pulled by cows and set them free and to watch which way they were going - either to their own place, or to the land of Israel.
1 Samuel 6:11 They placed the ark of the Lord on the cart and along with it the chest containing the gold rats and the models of the tumors. 12 Then the cows went straight up toward Beth Shemesh, keeping on the road and lowing all the way; they did not turn to the right or to the left. The rulers of the Philistines followed them as far as the border of Beth Shemesh.
People of Beth Shemesh watching the arrival of the Ark

The two cows knew where they were going, carrying the most valuable luggage known to mankind. They arrived at the border town of Beth Shemesh, which belonged to the tribe of Judah.
1 Samuel 6:13 Now the people of Beth Shemesh were harvesting their wheat in the valley, and when they looked up and saw the ark, they rejoiced at the sight. 14 The cart came to the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and there it stopped beside a large rock. The people chopped up the wood of the cart and sacrificed the cows as a burnt offering to the LORD. 
 Levites were called in to handle the Ark, and they offered burnt offerings to the LORD. The Philistine kings watched all these from a distance and once the Ark was in Israelite's custody, they returned home.

Seventy (70) inhabitants of Beth Shemesh looked directly at the Ark and fell dead. People were upset.
1 Samuel 6:20 And the people of Beth Shemesh asked, “Who can stand in the presence of the LORD, this holy God? To whom will the ark go up from here?”
The people sent for Levites staying west of Jerusalem to take ownership of the Ark.


My Thoughts
Those Philistines conducted a 'Root Cause Analysis' and got to the root of the problem as to why the Israelite god was angry. They then decided to act upon it by making offerings. Their logic is 'almost' correct, but they have no idea or knowledge about the LORD, other than the fact that the Israelite god wrecked havoc upon Egyptians, during the time of Moses.

The inhabitants of Beth Shemesh, after the loss of seventy people, are now treating the Ark as if it a dangerously contaminated radio-active material. They were supposed to follow LORD'S instructions as to not to look at it. Don't look means, not to look - period.

LORD has laid out all those instructions required for men to follow. The first step is to search out for such instructions in the Holy Scripture. The second step is to learn them. The third step is t apply them to the daily life verbatim, without swaying left or right.

People such as myself, have almost no clue about what LORD'S expectations are. I feel empty as though I have not learned anything at all by attending church services on Sundays, and hence need to explore and learn them, starting from scratch - that is precisely the idea behind providing a 'Guided Tour of the Holy Bible' My next step would be to understand them - which involves lots and lots of prayers and blessings from the Holy Spirit. Then comes the herculean task of following them - when I'll be subjected to numerous trials and tribulations in everyday life. Finally, it's up to the LORD to decide if at all I've lead a worthy life on this planet according to the standards He has set forth.


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1 Samuel Chapter 5

The Plague of Ashdod - Nicolas Poussin, 1630

Introduction
The Ark of the Covenant is now in the hands of the Philistines, after they captured it from the Israelites.

The Ark in Ashdon and Ekron
The Philistines brought the Ark of the Covenant into their land and placed it a place which they felt was most logical - inside a temple in Ashdod. They positioned it next to their god, Dagon. Next day when they woke up, they found the idol of Dagon fallen face down, in front of LORD'S Ark. They put him back in his place.

The following morning, the same incident took place - only to find dagon's idol face down before the Ark, except that this time, his head and his hands were broken and were sitting at the threshold to the temple.

In ancient times, the heads and hands of slain enemy soldiers were often brought back home as trophies of war and to establish headcount. This sign indicated that the LORD'S Ark had defeated dagon. The threshold was the dwelling place of the spirits.

Meanwhile, a plague broke out in the town and people were afflicted with tumors. The priests of dagon took this vision seriously and they decided to remove the Ark from this temple and to move it elsewhere.
1 Samuel 5:8 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and asked them, “What shall we do with the ark of the god of Israel?”
They answered, “Have the ark of the god of Israel moved to Gath.” So they moved the ark of the God of Israel.
Once the Ark was in Gath, things settled down in Ashdod. However, it created great panic in Gath. This time, the people of the Gath, both young and old, were affected with an outbreak of tumors in their groins. Hence, they decided to moved it into Ekron.

While the Ark entered Ekron, people of Ekron cried out that they were being targeted to be victimized and killed. The people of Ekron did not want the Ark in their city. This time, the punishment was severe - death was all over the place. Those who remained alive were affected with tumors.
1 Samuel 5:11 So they called together all the rulers of the Philistines and said, “Send the ark of the god of Israel away; let it go back to its own place, or it will kill us and our people.” For death had filled the city with panic; God’s hand was very heavy on it. 12 Those who did not die were afflicted with tumors, and the outcry of the city went up to heaven.
Philistines were convinced that the chain of events that took place in Ashdod, Gath and Ekron were not merely coincidence and they decided to get the Ark out of their territory.


My Thoughts
Possession of the Ark wreaked havoc on the Philistines. It is no laughing matter that dagon's idol fell face-down in front of the Ark. LORD sends similar signs whenever He is not well pleased. Most of the time, people tend to ignore those warnings unless they encounter life-threatening situations.

We ought to give reverence to every single object used during LORD'S worship - even at home.



----------------------Additional Info
Dagon
Dagon is the fish god of Philistines. Please refer to prior postings on Dagon.


1 Samuel Chapter 4

Hophni and Phinehas are killed, the Ark is captured by the Philistines - Blecher Geritt

Introduction
A fairly straight-forward chapter, and we'll get through this fast. The Israelites are about to wage a battle with the Philistines.

The Philistines Capture the Ark
The Israelites engaged in a battle with their rivals, Philistines and lost about four thousand (4,000) men. They inquired themselves why they lost their battle and finally hit upon a solution themselves, without consulting the LORD - to carry the Ark of the Covenant, along with them, into the battle.

Eli's wicked sons went with the Ark and there is no mention in the scripture what was Eli's opinion. As they brought the Ark into the Israelite camp,
1 Samuel 4:5 When the ark of the LORD'S covenant came into the camp, all Israel raised such a great shout that the ground shook. 
6 Hearing the uproar, the Philistines asked, “What’s all this shouting in the Hebrew camp?”
The Philistines learned about the arrival of the LORD'S Ark and were worried about a god entering the Israelite camp. They have heard all those stories about the miracle of the Ark and the LORD, starting from the Egyptian plagues, to the Red Sea crossing to Joshua bringing down the walls of Jericho and much more. Finally, they decide to muster their courage and fight.
9 Be strong, Philistines! Be men, or you will be subject to the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Be men, and fight!
Hence the Philistines engaged in the battle valiantly and again this time, the victory was to their's. Israel on the other hand, faced an even worse shameful defeat loosing thirty thousand (30,000) men. Both of Eli's sons, Hophni and Phinehas were killed on the same day, as prophesied. In a disgraceful situation, the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines.

Those remaining Israelites fled the battlefield with their lives.

Death of Eli
Eli, now ninety eight (98) years old, with poor vision, was sitting on a chair waiting to hear news about the battle. He was concerned about his wicked sons taking out the Ark. One Benjamite returned from the battle and broke the bad news to the town of Shiloh, sending up a cry of mourning.

The man came to Eli and shared the ill fate of Israeli army, the death of both his sons, and the loss of the Ark. This news is a huge blow to Eli, that he fell down from his chair, broke his neck and died.

Eli falling off his chair upon hearing bad news

Eli's daughter-in-law (Phinehas' wife), who was pregnant at that time, upon hearing these chain of disastrous events, went into an early labor and delivered a son and paid no attention to him.
21 She named the boy Ichabod, saying, “The Glory has departed from Israel” - because of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of her father-in-law and her husband.
22 She said, “The Glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

My Thoughts
The Israelite army forgot the fact that the Ark of the Covenant is the Holy dwelling place of the LORD, and treated it a talisman to bring lucky charm upon them. They should have had shown more respect to the Ark.

Next, the Israelites are thinking they could do anything, whenever they want, and have LORD'S back. They are taking LORD for granted, without paying proper homage.

As we notice Eli eagerly waiting to hear news about the battle, it leads me to believe that the boys took the Ark without Eli's consent. I think if Eli was all for it, he would have somehow gone along with the Ark, even in his old age.

Notice Eli's daughter-in-law being worried about the loss of the Ark, more than the loss of her husband, Phinehas. Somehow, she seems to have her priorities right. For sure, one has to worry about the presence of the LORD in one's life, even above the spouse. I would give her full credits for her worry over the Ark.

Then again, we read that Phinehas had been using his priestly powers to commit adultery with those women. Phinehas' wife was battling a psychological warfare when she learned about Phinehas' activities at the sanctuary. A feeling of anger, betrayal and depression blanketed her constantly, resulting in loss of trust and faith in Phinehas. To her, she had lost Phinehas long ago. His physical demise may have mattered less to her.

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1 Samuel Chapter 3

Infant Samuel by Joshua Reynolds 1723
Introduction:
In this short chapter, LORD literally speaks to Samuel and gives him a prophecy.

The LORD Calls Samuel
Communication with the LORD has slowed down, relative to olden days. Young Samuel has heard about the LORD at the temple, but has never spoken to him.

One day Samuel lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the Ark of the Covenant is situated, and an interesting event takes place. High Priest Eli is also nearby. The Maker of the Heaven and the Earth, The Boss of the entire universe reached out to Samuel.
4 Then the LORD called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
Eli said he did not call him, so Samuel returned.
6 Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
Eli said he did not call him, a second time, so Samuel returned.
8 A third time the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
Eli realized this was the LORD calling.
9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD  for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 
It happened once again, and Samuel followed Eli's direction.
11 And the LORD said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”
Samuel went and slept off, without sharing this with Eli. Next day, business is as usual. However, Eli got hold Samuel and made him explain the incident.
18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the LORD; let Him do what is good in His eyes.”
The LORD continued to appear to Samuel several times. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up and was recognized as a prophet all over Israel.

My Thoughts
What a blessing it is, being able see the LORD and to hear His words. There are select few who are privileged to encounter such a meeting. Even to this day, LORD continues his miracles by meeting his devoted and faithful.

Eli is clearly held responsible for his son's deeds and made such a powerful statement - "He is the LORD and He can do anything." So true! Who among us, dares to challenge or question the LORD? Eli knows that his fate is sealed and it's futile to fight against the LORD.

We are responsible in bringing up our children in LORD'S way. Failure to do so will result in punishment and could span numerous generations long. For us to teach our children the LORD'S ways, we first need to learn and walk in His ways - which is such an arduous task, for people like myself.


-----------------------------Additional Info
LORD's Calling
It is true that LORD still speaks to devotees through a myriad ways. Since this is not the main topic, I'll be brief. Prayers are we reaching out to LORD; we are now talking about the reverse process of prayers. As we are unique, every encounter could be different. I can confidently say, "You will know when He speaks to you." Hearing his audible voice would be an awesome experience that would cinch His existence.

Few ways I can think of:
Holy Scripture - by studying and meditating the words He has handed over. While studying the Scripture, There are numeorus passages when you read them will stand out and appear to you so differntly, as if it's being spoken to you.

Holy Spirit - the veil in front of your eyes will be removed by the blessing of the Holy Spirit and you'll start seeing things differently; much different from the way they appear to the entire public around you. Be assured that you're being shown it for a purpose, by the Almighty.

Circumstances - He will put us in difficult and unique circumstance - so unique, that literally none around us will be able to help us out, other than the LORD Himself. During such times of despair, we will reach out to the LORD, desperately via prayers, and we can hear that small, faint, inner voice of our's speaking to us and guiding us. The goal is to make that inner voice sound louder through prayers.

Others - LORD sometimes speak to us through our best friends. The chances are, we listen to our dear ones more than our own parents. By listening to others, particularly those well wishers who caution and guide us in our lives, we could hear His word.

There may be several other means, which I cannot think of at this specific moment.





1 Samuel Chapter 2

Hannah presenting her son Samuel to the priest Eli - Gerbrand van den Eeckhout - 1665

Introduction
Hannah is so excited that she now has a son. Let's go visit Hannah and see how she feels about giving up her only son.

Hannah's Prayer
Hannah prayer is one of praise and thanksgiving to the LORD.

1 Samuel 2:1 Then Hannah prayed and said:

“My heart rejoices in the Lord;
    in the Lord my horn is lifted high.
My mouth boasts over my enemies,
    for I delight in your deliverance.
2 “There is no one holy like the Lord;
    there is no one besides you;
    there is no Rock like our God.
3 “Do not keep talking so proudly
    or let your mouth speak such arrogance,
for the Lord is a God who knows,
    and by him deeds are weighed.
4 “The bows of the warriors are broken,
    but those who stumbled are armed with strength.
5 Those who were full hire themselves out for food,
    but those who were hungry are hungry no more.
She who was barren has borne seven children,
    but she who has had many sons pines away.
6 “The Lord brings death and makes alive;
    he brings down to the grave and raises up.
7 The Lord sends poverty and wealth;
    he humbles and he exalts.
8 He raises the poor from the dust
    and lifts the needy from the ash heap;
he seats them with princes
    and has them inherit a throne of honor.
“For the foundations of the earth are the Lord’s;
    on them he has set the world.
9 He will guard the feet of his faithful servants,
    but the wicked will be silenced in the place of darkness.
“It is not by strength that one prevails;
10     those who oppose the Lord will be broken.
The Most High will thunder from heaven;
    the Lord will judge the ends of the earth.
“He will give strength to his king
    and exalt the horn of his anointed.”


Converting a song to a prose is not always a good idea, but I will anyhow try for those 'allergic to poems' and songs.

Hannah starts off with a huge paraphrase by rejoicing in the LORD, because now He has delivered her a son.

Verse 2
Then she shouts out the fact that there is nobody as Holy as the LORD, and nobody is like Him. His Holiness is a source of comfort, and a terror for those wicked. His strength gives comfort as well.

Verse 3
To her listeners, whoever that might be, she advises: Don't talk proudly, or speak arrogantly, because the LORD knows our tone. All our deeds are weighed by the LORD.

Verse 4
In a series of examples drawn from everyday life, she sings that LORD often works contrary to the natural expectations, and brings about surprising reversals. She shares her experience that the LORD is in charge. Warriors may be broken, while others could be armed with strength.

Verse 5
Those with lots of food today could become hungry tomorrow. Those who find themselves hungry today could find food tomorrow. Speaking from her own experience, women who are barren today can bear children, while women those who have several children could lose all of them.

Verse 6
LORD is the one who brings death and life. He has the power to raise the dead from the grave.

Verse 7
LORD is the one who brings poverty and wealth. He humbles and He exalts.

Verse 8
The LORD also has the ability to raise up the poor, and seat them with princes, giving them a seat of honor. He has set the foundations on firm ground.

Verse 9
She also says that the LORD will guard the feet of his servants. In olden days, as people traveled by foot over trails, one's foot could easily get hurt, and it was a concern. His eyes roam over every plot of wickedness hatched in secret. LORD will silence the wicked, as people will never prevail based on their own strength.

Verse 10
Anyone who tries to oppose the LORD will be “shattered,” and LORD will thunder against them from His mighty Heaven.

After dedicating Samuel to the LORD, and handing him over to High Priest Eli, the family of Elkanah returned home.

Eli’s Wicked Sons
The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were serving as priests. The first verse of this section sums up everything about them.
1 Samuel 2:12 Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the LORD.
Hophni and Phinehas were taking for themselves all those prime cuts of meat from sacrifices. They also committed adultery with those women who served at the sanctuary entrance. Eli was aware of their behavior but he rebuked them too lightly and was unable to stop them. The two sons continued their sinful behavior, and as a result, LORD decided to put them to death.

Samuel ministered before the LORD, wearing a linen ephod, and every year when Elkanah's family came to offer sacrifices, Hannah made a new robe for Samuel and took it along with them. Eli, the High Priest was evidently impressed and thankful for the service provided by the young Samuel, in contrast with his own sons. He blessed Elkanah and Hannah along with a prayer to the LORD to have more children, and they evidently did.
1 Samuel 2:21 And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the LORD.
LORD blessed Hannah with five more children, in place of Samuel. The following verse gives us a hint as to the direction in which young Samuel is growing up:
26 And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with people.
Prophecy Against the House of Eli
Of course, LORD had been angered by those wicked activities of Hophni and Phinehas. LORD held Eli responsible for all their wickedness, as he was a mild and gentle old man. One day a man of God came to Eli and prophesied that all of Eli's descendants will die before attaining old age. He also said that both Hophni and Phinehas will die on the same day. LORD was considering a change in leadership as well:
1 Samuel 2:35 I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his priestly house, and they will minister before my anointed one always. 36 Then everyone left in your family line will come and bow down before him for a piece of silver and a loaf of bread and plead, “Appoint me to some priestly office so I can have food to eat.”
LORD was going to put a faithful priest in charge, and great sufferings were imminent upon Eli's family line.

My Thoughts
Hannah sang her song, forgetting everyone around her as she was extremely overjoyed. You, my friend, shall also pour out your heart one day, even dancing in the rain, proclaiming the name of LORD while cheering the crowds around you.

Samuel was not a Levite, and yet he was ministering before the LORD. Of course, he was dedicated and set apart for the LORD, as he was under the Nazirite vow. Those with a pure heart and dedication and love for LORD can minister before Him, even if one is not a priest.

Eli was held responsible for the behavior of his sons. He should have disciplined them properly at a young age. He should not have allowed his corrupt children to hold priestly offices, and should have used the authority vested within the High Priest. We saw how LORD was happy with Phinehas, the the grandson of Aaron due to his actions.

LORD is now seeking a "faithful priest" in this chapter. Every priest and church official should be careful not to trifle with the sacred privileges of God’s house. LORD is always seeking a "faithful and dedicated priest" to minister his children.



--------------------------------------Additional Info
Hannah's Prayer
Also known as the Magnificat of Rejoicing, the song of Hannah is regarded as the prime role model for how to pray, in Judaism and is read on the first day of Rosh Hashanah as the haftarah.

The Song of Hannah is also known as the "Canticle of Anna", and is one of seven Old Testament canticles (song of praise).

Hannah's Robes for Samuel
Hannah's return to the tabernacle each year with a little robe for Samuel is a touching event. She loved her son and cherished these annual visits. One can imagine Hannah's thoughts and anxiety while stitch those robes - whether her son has now grown tall or not. Samuel certainly must have treated those robes with reverence as they were prepared by his mother, and I bet he was serious about his duties while wearing them.

I still have my deacon robes prepared by my mother, and I can speak for myself as to how preciously I take care of them to this day.

God’s Wrath Against Sinful Humanity
The following verses are from Romans 1:18-32, paraphrases a very scary situation. In these verses below, LORD almost gave up on wicked and sinful people. He simply let them continue with their sins. Sometimes it makes me wonder, "LORD, are you talking to me, about myself?"

Romans 1:18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.

24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another. 25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.

28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.

We will see this scripture in detail, once we arrive in New Testament.