Week 16: Samuel and Saul
Weekly memory verse:
Luke 1:46–48 – “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call be blessed.”
O Worship the King (free download)
Can you keep the law of God perfectly?
No. I am inclined by nature to hate God and my neighbor.
Day 76: Samuel’s Birth and Calling
Reading: 1 Samuel 1:1–3:21
Chapter 1, Verse 2. Two wives. Polygamy was never endorsed in Israel and was not God’s intention, although it was tolerated (see Deut 21:15–17).
Verse 3. Year by year. Every Israelite man was required to attend three annual feasts at the sanctuary, Passover, Weeks, and Tabernacles (Deut 16:1–17).
Verse 22. Weaned. This would have probably been around age three.
Chapter 2, Verse 1. Hannah prayed. Hannah’s prayer is considered in Jewish and Christian tradition as an Old Testament canticle and is the basis for Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46–53).
Chapter 3, Verse 1. Boy. The Jewish historian Josephus suggests that Samuel was 12 years old here.
Verse 3. Lying down. Samuel was not likely sleeping in the Holy Place of the Tabernacle itself, but rather in a larger compound that housed the Tabernacle in Shiloh.
The similarities between Samson and Samuel are striking, but differences are also clearly apparent. Samuel grows to be a true servant of the Lord, a prophet, and a judge of Israel, leading them from the period of tribal lords to one unified monarchy. God’s hand is evidently upon Samuel and remains so until his death.
- What did Hannah’s oath and prayer reveal about her?
- Why do you think Eli allowed his sons to continue their sinful lifestyles?
- What did Samuel’s response to God’s call reveal about him?
Day 77: The Philistines Capture the Ark
Reading: 1 Samuel 4:1–22; Psalm 21
1 Samuel 4, Verse 1. Philistines. These were not natives of Canaan, but rather “Sea Peoples” who immigrated and settled along the coast of southern Canaan. The Philistines plague God’s people throughout Saul and David’s reigns.
Verse 4. Ark of the covenant. God never allows for the ark to be removed from the Holy of Holies and brought into battle. This may be another example of religious syncretism, led by Hophni and Phinehas, since pagan nations often carried religious talismans with them into battle.
Verse 22. Ichabod. This name means, “Where is the glory?”
Israel’s religious syncretism comes to a climax in the capture of the ark and the deaths of Israel’s primary priests. Samuel’s prophecy had come true, and this establishes him as an important prophet and judge among the people.
- Why do you think Hophni and Phinehas brought the ark with them into battle?
- Why do you think Eli died at the news of the deaths of his sons and the ark’s capture?
- Had God really left Israel as the people assumed with the ark’s capture?
Day 78: The Ark Returned to Israel
Reading: 1 Samuel 5:1–7:2
Chapter 5, Verse 2. Dagon. This Philistine god had the lower body of a fish and the upper body of a man. In Philistine theology, Dagon was the father of Baal and the head of the pantheon of gods (Judges 16:23).
Chapter 6, Verse 7. Cows. If these cows who were not trained to pull a cart and who were nursing calves walked away from the calves and pulled the cart toward Beth-shemesh, this would be a clear sign of supernatural intervention by God.
Verse 15. Stone. Even though this action may be appear to be one of honoring and thanking the Lord, it was nevertheless in strict contradiction to what the Law required. The ark should have been covered and carried back to the tabernacle.
Verse 21. Kirjath Jearim. The ark remained in this city during the entirety of Saul’s reign and much of David’s reign until David brought it to Jerusalem (2 Sam 6:1–19).
The Philistines believed that their captive of the ark of God was a great victory, but God had other plans. He clearly demonstrates to them through demolishing their idol and sending plagues that he is the true God of all. Sadly, the Philistines seem to learn this lesson better than the men of Beth-shemesh, who disobey God’s Law in how they handle the ark once it is returned.
- Did the Philistine’s repentance and offering to God reveal their true belief in him, or something else? How do you know?
- Why did God kill the men of Beth-shemesh.
- Why do you think the ark remained in Kiriath Jearim for such a long time?
Day 79: The People Want a King
Reading: 1 Samuel 7:3–8:22
Chapter 7, Verse 4. The Baals and the Ashtaroth. These are the primary fertility gods of the Canaanite pantheon.
Chapter 8, Verse 1. Old. Samuel was about 60 years old.
Verse 5. King. God had predicted this desire for a king in Deuteronomy 17:14, and he said he would allow it to occur.
The fact that the people of Israel wanted a king was not necessarily a problem. However, their motivation for wanting a king was evidence of their rejection of God as their supreme ruler and deliverer—they wanted to be like the other nations around them and they wanted a human leader to lead them in battle instead of the Lord. This lack of trust in God caused much trouble for the nation going forward.
- Why do you think the people refused to obey Samuel?
- Why did the people want a king?
- What results did Samuel say would come from choosing a king?
Day 80: Saul Chosen to Be King
Reading: 1 Samuel 9:1–10:27
Chapter 9, Verse 3. Donkeys . . . were lost. This meant lost wealth.
Verse 12. High place. This was a place of sacrifice in Canaanite religion.
Verse 24. The leg. This was the choicest portion of meant that would typically be reserved for the priest according to the Law (Lev 7:28–36). The fact that Samuel gave it to Saul showed great honor for the new king.
Chapter 10, Verse 6. Spirit of the Lord. This was a special theocratic anointing of the Holy Spirit whereby God equipped Saul to be king. It was not the same as regeneration and could be removed.
God was gracious in that, even though it was wrong for the people to desire a human king in their distrust of God himself, God chose to give them what they requested. By all outward appearances, Saul was the ideal candidate to be king. Yet God had promised through Samuel that the people’s desire for a human king would end up causing much pain.
- Why do you think God granted the people’s request and gave them a king?
- In what ways does Saul demonstrate humility in this passage?
- Why was it important for Saul to receive an anointed from the Holy Spirit?