This week, we transitioned from the Judges period of Israel’s history to the beginning of the kings. These king-centric narratives begin with the amazing story of Ruth, where we see God’s kindness to a faithful foreigner through Boaz. The book of Ruth previews the coming story by providing us a genealogy that tells us that she is the great-grandmother of Israel’s greatest king ever, David.
Before we get started, though, I want to make sure you know about three important things coming up over the next few weeks:
Hidden Symbols of Christ
On Sunday, I will be starting a new message series where we explore how God has been telling us about Jesus since way before the New Testament began. This series will take us all the way to Easter, and I am hoping to use it to help prepare our hearts for what God wants to do in and through us on that very important day.
All messages from this previous series, “The Big Story” are available on our website. You can also subscribe to our podcast to have all messages delivered automatically to your mobile device. It is free and easy.Messages
Prank the Pastor
If you haven’t already heard, we are NOT having a service on our North Campus on Sunday, April 2. Instead, we will be having a one-time only Saturday evening service at 6pm on April 1. EVERYONE is welcome to join us for something a little different that weekend!
Help us get the word out to our community! When you see our “Prank The Pastor” videos on Facebook, be sure to like and share them. There are three videos, which you can watch at prankthepastor.comPRANKTHEPASTOR
Easter is less than four weeks away! I am so excited about this. Starting next week, you will begin to see our video promotion on Facebook for this, also! I hope your group will pray together tonight about who you will be bringing with you on Easter Sunday!EASTER ON THE FIELD
Okay. Now to our reading.
It is easy to overspiritualize these stories to make them about our individual lives. The primary question isn’t “What is in this for me?” But “What is happening in the story of God and Israel?”
Of course, the Holy Spirit will connect themes from the stories into your life, but this is not an allegory for me and you. These are actual historical narratives that God wants us to understand.
As we begin, let’s pray Hannah’s prayer aloud together.
1 Samuel 2:1–10 (NLT)
Then Hannah prayed: “My heart rejoices in the Lord! The Lord has made me strong.
Now I have an answer for my enemies; I rejoice because you rescued me.
No one is holy like the Lord! There is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.
“Stop acting so proud and haughty! Don’t speak with such arrogance! For the Lord is a God who knows what you have done; he will judge your actions.
The bow of the mighty is now broken, and those who stumbled are now strong. Those who were well fed are now starving, and those who were starving are now full. The childless woman now has seven children, and the woman with many children wastes away.
The Lord gives both death and life; he brings some down to the grave but raises others up. The Lord makes some poor and others rich; he brings some down and lifts others up.
He lifts the poor from the dust and the needy from the garbage dump. He sets them among princes, placing them in seats of honor.
For all the earth is the Lord’s, and he has set the world in order.
“He will protect his faithful ones, but the wicked will disappear in darkness.
No one will succeed by strength alone.
Those who fight against the Lord will be shattered. He thunders against them from heaven; the Lord judges throughout the earth.
He gives power to his king; he increases the strength of his anointed one.”
As you started reading 1 Samuel, what elements of the story stood out to you? Maybe you were surprised to see God calling out to Samuel in an audible voice, or you were distressed at the “gouging out of eyes” that happened…?
In 1 Samuel, Israel is led by the faithful priest/prophet/judge Samuel. He is really a good, Godly man. But, as Samuel grows old, he appoints his sons to be judges. These two are pretty bad, accepting bribes and perverting justice.
Israel (like today) finds itself surrounded by many enemies. They feel threatened, and are sick of the injustice of corrupt judges. So, they ask Samuel to appoint a king over them.
1 Samuel 8:4-5
Finally, all the elders of Israel met at Ramah to discuss the matter with Samuel. “Look,” they told him, “you are now old, and your sons are not like you. Give us a king to judge us like all the other nations have.”
The request itself isn’t bad… Moses knew this was going to happen, and described the type of king Israel would need once it entered the promised land. (Deuteronomy 17:14-20)
The problem wasn’t with Israel wanting a king, but with the fact that they were actually rejecting God’s authority in favor of man’s authority. They were willing to sacrifice their God-given identity because they were sick and tired of politics as usual, and they felt threatened. They were supposed to be holy, to be set apart, to live differently than the other nations around them, in that they were to be led by God Himself. Even in Deuteronomy, Moses envisioned a king that would restore them to their true king, rather than a powerful military leader.
Samuel warned them what would ultimately happen: he will lord over you, take your children and send them into battle, take your money and land, force you and your children into labor, and make you his slaves. Samuel is warning, in no uncertain terms, that Israel will be as they were under Pharaoh in Egypt: crushed and enslaved. Israel ignores these warnings and demands a king anyway, rejecting YHWH and essentially choosing to live under a Pharaoh instead.
So, why do you think the story slows down so dramatically here to zoom in on this particular series of events, especially after racing through hundreds of years of history in Judges?
Why is this such an important chapter in the theological story of Israel?
According to Moses, what kind of king is Israel supposed to have? (See Deuteronomy 17:14-20, below.
You are about to enter the land the Lord your God is giving you. When you take it over and settle there, you may think, ‘We should select a king to rule over us like the other nations around us.’ If this happens, be sure to select as king the man the Lord your God chooses. You must appoint a fellow Israelite; he may not be a foreigner.
The king must not build up a large stable of horses for himself or send his people to Egypt to buy horses, for the Lord has told you, ‘You must never return to Egypt.’ The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the Lord. And he must not accumulate large amounts of wealth in silver and gold for himself.
When he sits on the throne as king, he must copy for himself this body of instruction on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. He must always keep that copy with him and read it daily as long as he lives. That way he will learn to fear the Lord his God by obeying all the terms of these instructions and decrees. This regular reading will prevent him from becoming proud and acting as if he is above his fellow citizens. It will also prevent him from turning away from these commands in the smallest way. And it will ensure that he and his descendants will reign for many generations in Israel.
What does it say about Israel and its leaders at this point in the story that they desire the Pharaoh-like king Samuel warns them against versus the priest/prophet king described in Deuteronomy 17 and embodied by Samuel?
Do you feel any sympathy for Israel in this story? If you were in their shoes, what kind of king would you want ruling over you?
God calls us, like Israel, to live differently (or as holy) from the world and the culture around us. With this in mind, in what ways can you identify with Israel’s rebellious desire to instead follow the ways of the world?
In closing tonight, be sure to pray for God to use our Easter On The Field celebration in a powerful way.