347.) 1 Samuel 8

August 31, 2010

“All I say is, kings is kings, and you got to make allowances.  Take them all around, they’re a mighty ornery lot.  It’s the way they’re raised.”  — The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

1 Samuel 8  (NRSV)

Israel Demands a King

When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beer-sheba. 3Yet his sons did not follow in his ways, but turned aside after gain; they took bribes and perverted justice.

4Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, 5and said to him, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us, then, a king to govern us, like other nations.”

But we are called to be UNLIKE the rest of the world, to be holy and faithful and loving and just and gracious and joyful, in obedience to Christ!

6But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to govern us.” Samuel prayed to the Lord, 7and the Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.


The British Humanist Society put up these signs on buses and in subway stations in England in early 2009.

Luke 10:16 (Contemporary English Version)

Jesus said, My followers, whoever listens to you is listening to me.  Anyone who says “No” to you is saying “No” to me.  And anyone who says “No” to me is really saying “No” to the one who sent me.

John 19:15 (New International Version)

But they shouted, “Take him away! Take him away! Crucify him!”
“Shall I crucify your king?” Pilate asked.
“We have no king but Caesar,” the chief priests answered.


from Experiencing God Day-by-Day
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby


The Israelites were to be a nation unlike any other.  Every nation had a king or ruler, but Israel’s king was to be God Himself!  Still, the Israelites complained that they wanted to be like other nations and have an earthly ruler!  As we read about the Israelites, we marvel at their foolishness.  Yet we are prone to make the same mistake, choosing our human wisdom over God’s leadership.

There is much discussion these days about leaders and managers.  According to popular teaching, leaders have the vision and set goals for people or organizations to follow.  Managers handle the day-to-day marshaling of resources under their charge.  In the Christian life, God is the leader of our lives, our families, and our churches.  God sets the direction; He establishes the priorities; He provides the resources.  We are the managers.  We take what He gives us and do with it as He directs.

The biblical term for leader is Lord. As our Lord, Christ has the authority to reveal the direction for our lives.  As Lord, He chooses our careers, leads us to our marriage partners, and helps us set our daily priorities.  We are to be good managers of the mind, body, and spiritual life He gives.


8Just as they have done to me, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so also they are doing to you. 9Now then, listen to their voice; only—you shall solemnly warn them, and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.”

10So Samuel reported all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. 11He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen, and to run before his chariots; 12and he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. 13He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. 14He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his courtiers. 15He will take one-tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and his courtiers. 16He will take your male and female slaves, and the best of your cattle and donkeys, and put them to his work. 17He will take one-tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. 18And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves; but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”

Reasons for a king:   PRO — none.   CON — many.

Yet many times we ignore logic because we think we know best and we want what we want!  What my mother used to call “woeful stupidity.”

Israel’s Request for a King Granted

19But the people refused to listen to the voice of Samuel; they said, “No! but we are determined to have a king over us,

My mental picture of the Israelites now: “No! No! I can’t hear you and I don’t want to hear you and give me what I want NOW!”

20so that we also may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

21When Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. 22The Lord said to Samuel, “Listen to their voice and set a king over them.”

Samuel then said to the people of Israel, “Each of you return home.”



“Amazing Love (You Are My King)” — to remind us that we have a giving, loving king in Jesus.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
king chess piece.    http://www.plumcreekmarketing.com/articles/chess/11chessfotos/king.jpg
“no God” sign.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/there%20is%20no%20god/fashionblogger/there_is_no_god_bus.jpg
apple and orange.     http://csmanagement.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/apple-and-orange.jpg
boy with fingers in ears.    http://theblackcommenter.files.wordpress.com/2010/07/finger-in-ears.jpg?w=424&h=283

346.) 1 Samuel 7

August 30, 2010

1 Samuel 7   (NRSV)

And the people of Kiriath-jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord, and brought it to the house of Abinadab on the hill. They consecrated his son, Eleazar, to have charge of the ark of the Lord. 2From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.

Samuel as Judge

3Then Samuel

Samuel — now all grown up and serving as judge and prophet to the land of Israel.

said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Astartes from among you. Direct your heart to the Lord, and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4So Israel put away the Baals and the Astartes, and they served the Lord only.

5Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 6So they gathered at Mizpah, and drew water and poured it out before the Lord. They fasted that day, and said, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah.


Psalm 106:6 (New International Version)

We have sinned, even as our fathers did;
we have done wrong and acted wickedly.


Rembrandt’s “The Return of the Prodigal Son,” 1662.

Most merciful God,

we confess that we are by nature sinful and unclean. We have sinned against you in thought, word, and deed, by what we have done and by what we have left undone. We have not loved You with our whole heart; we have not loved our neighbors as ourselves. We justly deserve Your present and eternal punishment. For the sake of Your Son, Jesus Christ, have mercy on us. Forgive us, renew us, and lead us, so that we may delight in Your will and walk in Your ways to the glory of your Holy Name. Amen.

from Lutheran Service Book, Divine Service I


7When the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the people of Israel heard of it they were afraid of the Philistines. 8The people of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, and pray that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.”

Are the Israelites finally catching on?

THEN: looking to the Ark of the Covenant for victory

1 Samuel 4:3 (New Living Translation)

Then they said, “Let’s bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord from Shiloh. If we carry it into battle with us, it will save us from our enemies.”

NOW:  looking to the Lord for their salvation

1 Samuel 7:8 (New Living Translation)

“Don’t stop pleading with the Lord our God to save us from the Philistines!” they begged Samuel.


9So Samuel took a sucking lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord; Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him.

10As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel; but the Lord thundered with a mighty voice that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion; and they were routed before Israel. 11And the men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and struck them down as far as beyond Beth-car.

12Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Jeshanah, and named it Ebenezer; for he said, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”



“Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing” was written in 1758 by a Methodist pastor, Robert Robinson.  He was 23 years old.  The hymn includes what may be to many church goers an enigmatic line:  Here I raise my Ebenezer, hither by thy help I’m come. That reference is to the verse above, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

Some newer hymnals have altered that hymn line to Hither to thy love has blessed me — the loss of a lovely allusion, I’m afraid.  Perhaps the Ebenezer reference draws more to Scrooge than to Samuel.

At any rate — here it is sung by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.


13So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel; the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14The towns that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites.

15Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16He went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah; and he judged Israel in all these places. 17Then he would come back to Ramah, for his home was there; he administered justice there to Israel, and built there an altar to the Lord.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Come thou fount.    http://uponmyknees.files.wordpress.com/2007/05/comethou.png?w=490
Rembrandt.    http://salvationist.ca/wp-content/uploads/2009/03/rembrant_prodigal.jpg
man with bright idea.    http://www.abc.nl/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/brightidea.jpg
Ebenezer stone.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/ebenezer%20stone/lnbseattle/Spring%25202009/2009-06-12elmatador2-nursery6.jpg

345.) 1 Samuel 5 and 6

August 27, 2010

Nicolas Poussin. “The Plague of Ashdod,” 1631. (The Louvre, Paris, France)

1 Samuel 5   (NRSV)

The Philistines and the Ark

When the Philistines captured the ark of God,

Indiana Jones! We need your help!


Here is John Williams’ invigorating theme music for the movie Raiders of the Lost Ark (a fanciful twentieth-century adventure-search for the long lost ark of the covenant).  This music was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Music, Original Score in 1982, but Williams lost to Vangelis and Chariots of Fire.


they brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod; 2then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it into the house of Dagon and placed it beside Dagon.

Dagon, one of the most widely worshiped deities in the ancient Near East, was one of the gods of the Philistines.  Some traditions portrayed him as a fish-god.

3When the people of Ashdod rose early the next day, there was Dagon, fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and put him back in his place.


Proverbs 10:8 (New Living Translation)

The wise are glad to be instructed,
but babbling fools fall flat on their faces.


4But when they rose early on the next morning, Dagon had fallen on his face to the ground before the ark of the Lord, and the head of Dagon and both his hands were lying cut off upon the threshold; only the trunk of Dagon was left to him. 5This is why the priests of Dagon and all who enter the house of Dagon do not step on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.

6The hand of the Lord was heavy upon the people of Ashdod, and he terrified and struck them with tumors, both in Ashdod and in its territory. 7And when the inhabitants of Ashdod saw how things were, they said, “The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us; for his hand is heavy on us and on our god Dagon.” 8So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the God of Israel?”

The inhabitants of Gath replied, “Let the ark of God be moved on to us.”

So they moved the ark of the God of Israel to Gath. 9But after they had brought it to Gath, the hand of the Lord was against the city, causing a very great panic; he struck the inhabitants of the city, both young and old, so that tumors broke out on them. 10So they sent the ark of the God of Israel to Ekron.

But when the ark of God came to Ekron, the people of Ekron cried out, “Why have they brought around to us the ark of the God of Israel to kill us and our people?” 11They sent therefore and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, “Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it return to its own place, that it may not kill us and our people.” For there was a deathly panic throughout the whole city. The hand of God was very heavy there; 12those who did not die were stricken with tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven.

1 Samuel 6

The Ark Returned to Israel

The ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months. 2Then the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners and said, “What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us what we should send with it to its place.”

3They said, “If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty, but by all means return him a guilt offering. Then you will be healed and will be ransomed; will not his hand then turn from you?”

4And they said, “What is the guilt offering that we shall return to him?”

They answered, “Five gold tumors and five gold mice, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines; for the same plague was upon all of you and upon your lords.

The Philistines had five major centers, each with its own ruler or lord:  Gath, Ekron, Ashdod, Ashkelon, and Gaza.

5So you must make images of your tumors and images of your mice that ravage the land, and give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps he will lighten his hand on you and your gods and your land. 6Why should you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? After he had made fools of them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?

Five gold tumors and five gold mice . . .

. . . what kind of offering is this?!  Some commentators think this gift may indicate what kind of calamity might have struck the Philistines.  One suggestion is hemorrhoids, and although that ailment can be very painful, the text seems to indicate something more serious.

Several commentators mention that Josephus indicated that it was “a very destructive disease” involving dysentery, bleeding, and severe vomiting. Josephus also mentioned a great plague of mice that accompanied the disease. Although no direct mention is made of the plague of rodents, when the Philistines sought to placate Jehovah’s wrath upon them by returning the ark, they sent five golden tumors and five golden mice as well.

The severity of the disease and the fact that rodents were involved lead many scholars to conclude that what smote the Philistines was bubonic plague. Bubonic plague gets its name from the buboes, or tumorous swellings, in the lymph glands.  It is well known that rats and mice are the main carriers of this disease, for the fleas that transmit the disease to man live on rodents. The disease is accompanied by great suffering and pain, and the fatality rate may run as high as 70 percent in a week’s time.  Small wonder that the Philistines were anxious to return the ark to Israel.

The ancient Philistines were very superstitious. They, like many others during the world’s history, believed that an image made to represent an actual object might be used to ward off evil powers. Such appears to have been their thinking in making golden images of the tumors and the mice and sending them as a “guilt offering” (verse 8 ) with the ark back to Israelite territory.


7Now then, get ready a new cart and two milch cows that have never borne a yoke, and yoke the cows to the cart, but take their calves home, away from them. 8Take the ark of the Lord and place it on the cart, and put in a box at its side the figures of gold, which you are returning to him as a guilt offering. Then send it off, and let it go its way. 9And watch; if it goes up on the way to its own land, to Beth-shemesh, then it is he who has done us this great harm; but if not, then we shall know that it is not his hand that struck us; it happened to us by chance.”

A two-fold test:  the cows had not been trained to pull a cart, and they would not have willingly left their nursing calves.  Only the Lord could have the cows go to Israel!

10The men did so; they took two milch cows and yoked them to the cart, and shut up their calves at home. 11They put the ark of the Lord on the cart, and the box with the gold mice and the images of their tumors. 12The cows went straight in the direction of Beth-shemesh along one highway, lowing as they went; they turned neither to the right nor to the left, and the lords of the Philistines went after them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh.

“The return of the ark” by Marie Odile de Laforcade, 1991.

13Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. When they looked up and saw the ark, they went with rejoicing to meet it. 14The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh, and stopped there. A large stone was there; so they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15The Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the box that was beside it, in which were the gold objects, and set them upon the large stone. Then the people of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and presented sacrifices on that day to the Lord. 16When the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron.

17These are the gold tumors, which the Philistines returned as a guilt offering to the Lord: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron; 18also the gold mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and unwalled villages. The great stone, beside which they set down the ark of the Lord, is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh.

The Ark at Kiriath-jearim

19The descendants of Jeconiah did not rejoice with the people of Beth-shemesh when they greeted the ark of the Lord; and he killed seventy men of them. The people mourned because the Lord had made a great slaughter among the people. 20Then the people of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? To whom shall he go so that we may be rid of him?”

21So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to you.”

7)   And the people of Kiriath-jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord, and brought it to the house of Abinadab on the hill. They consecrated his son, Eleazar, to have charge of the ark of the Lord.

Many scholars believe that the city of  Shiloh was destroyed in the battle that killed the sons of Eli and resulted in the capture of the ark.  So the ark had to have a new home.  Approximate times:  300 years in Shiloh, 40 years at Kiriath-jearim — and then David brought the ark to Jerusalem.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Poussin.     http://www.abcgallery.com/P/poussin/poussin21.html
Indiana Jones.     http://img.custompublish.com/getfile.php/700375.919.brbxptxcuv/142+Indiana+Jones+and+the+Raiders+of+the+lost+Ark,+COVER.jpg
Dagon.    http://www.bible-history.com/sketches/ancient/dagon-1.jpg
ark of the covenant.    http://www.hem-of-his-garment-bible-study.org/image-files/ark-of-the-covenant.jpg
mouse.     http://img.dailymail.co.uk/i/pix/2008/02_01/mouseDM0302_468x311.jpg
Laforcade.     http://www.artbible.net/1T/1Sa0101_Samuel_youthjudge/images/20%20LANDRON%20RETOUR%20DE%20L%20ARCHE.jpg

344.) 1 Samuel 4

August 26, 2010

In chapters 4-7, the Israelites lose the Ark of the Covenant to the Philistines.  Such was their own wickedness, to treat it like a good luck charm!  Follow the journey of the Ark, beginning at the Tent of Meeting in Shiloh.

1 Samuel 4   (NRSV)

And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.

The Ark of God Captured

In those days the Philistines mustered for war against Israel, and Israel went out to battle against them; they encamped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines encamped at Aphek.


This carving of an ancient Philistine warrior was found among ruins at Thebes, Egypt. It is dated to around 1200 BC, around the time of Joshua.

Who were the Philistines?

Towards the end of the thirteenth century, B.C.E., an immigrant people from the Aegean named the Philistines arrived in the eastern Mediterranean and occupied the southern coast of Palestine. Evidence from archaeological excavations suggests that these people were an advanced culture. Philistine artifacts, such as elaborately decorated pottery, indicate that these people maintained contact with other civilizations and suggest that the Philistines were involved in trade. Excavations of Philistine sites show settlements that reflect large, well-planned, fortified cities and cult centers, and it is even surmised that the Philistines had knowledge of iron metalworking. The Bible does not portray the Philistines as an advanced civilization, but rather as a godless, barbaric culture that was a constant threat to the Israelites. Today, even the name “Philistine” evokes the image of an uncultured individual.

Want to know more?  Click  HERE!


2The Philistines drew up in line against Israel, and when the battle was joined, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men on the field of battle. 3When the troops came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord put us to rout today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, so that he may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies.”

The ark of the covenant of the Lord was the most sacred piece in the tabernacle.  It belonged in the Most Holy Place inside the tabernacle, where the high priest entered only once a year to ask for forgiveness for the sins of the nation.  On top of the ark were two gold angels which represented the presence of God.  Inside the ark were the stone tablets of the Ten Commandments and other objects important to the history of God’s chosen people.

But neither the priests nor the people seemed to care about holiness.  Instead, they saw the ark as a source of power and help — a kind of good luck charm or lucky rabbit’s foot.




4So the people sent to Shiloh, and brought from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who is enthroned on the cherubim. The two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

5When the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel gave a mighty shout, so that the earth resounded. 6When the Philistines heard the noise of the shouting, they said, “What does this great shouting in the camp of the Hebrews mean?”

When they learned that the ark of the Lord had come to the camp, 7the Philistines were afraid; for they said, “Gods have come into the camp.” They also said, “Woe to us! For nothing like this has happened before. 8Woe to us! Who can deliver us from the power of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with every sort of plague in the wilderness. 9Take courage, and be men, O Philistines, in order not to become slaves to the Hebrews as they have been to you; be men and fight.”

It seems the Philistines have a higher regard for God’s power, and a better memory of his deeds, than do the Israelites!

10So the Philistines fought; Israel was defeated, and they fled, everyone to his home. There was a very great slaughter, for there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers. 11The ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

Death of Eli

12A man of Benjamin ran from the battle line, and came to Shiloh the same day, with his clothes torn and with earth upon his head. 13When he arrived, Eli was sitting upon his seat by the road watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. When the man came into the city and told the news, all the city cried out.

14When Eli heard the sound of the outcry, he said, “What is this uproar?”

Then the man came quickly and told Eli. 15Now Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes were set, so that he could not see. 16The man said to Eli, “I have just come from the battle; I fled from the battle today.”

He said, “How did it go, my son?”

17The messenger replied, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has also been a great slaughter among the troops; your two sons also, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead, and the ark of God has been captured.”

18When he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for he was an old man, and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years.


What killed Eli?

a) the loss of the battle

b) the loss of his sons

c) the loss of the Ark of the Covenant


19Now his daughter-in-law, the wife of Phinehas, was pregnant, about to give birth. When she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed and gave birth; for her labor pains overwhelmed her. 20As she was about to die, the women attending her said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer or give heed.

21She named the child Ichabod, meaning, “The glory has departed from Israel,” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband. 22She said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”


What killed the wife of Phinehas?

a) the loss of her husband

b) the loss of her father-in-law

c) the loss of the Ark of the Covenant



“And the Glory of the Lord” from Messiah, by G. F. Handel.  Performed by the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Chorus.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
map.    http://www.ldsces.org/inst_manuals/ot-in-1/images/24-14.gif
ancient Philistine likeness.   http://www.bible-history.com/archaeology/peoples/2-ancient-philistine-bb.jpg
rabbit’s foot.    http://www.pollsb.com/photos/o/33287-rabbit_s_foot.jpg
Eli dies.     http://1.bp.blogspot.com/_QVtPk6brgO4/TCv9ICQb97I/AAAAAAAAA_w/NqH0kYX1dUc/s1600/shmuel-a04b-eli.jpg
Quiz.     http://www.messianictrust.org.uk/kids-purim/images/QuizTitle.jpg

343.) 1 Samuel 3

August 25, 2010

“The Infant Samuel,” by Sir Joshua Reynolds, 1776  (The National Gallery, London)

1 Samuel 3   (NRSV)

Samuel’s Calling and Prophetic Activity

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.

2At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!”


1 Timothy 4:12 (New International Version)

Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.

Josephus writes that Samuel was 12 years old when the Lord appeared to him.  We read in Luke 2: 41-52 that Jesus was only 12 years old when he astonished the religious leaders in the Temple with his wisdom.


5and he ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.”

But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.

6The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.”

But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.”

7Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.”

Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. 9Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’”


“The first duty of love is to listen.”
— Paul Tillich


So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!”

And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”


“It is the province of knowledge to speak, and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.”
— Oliver Wendell Holmes



“Speak to Me, Lord”

Christian artist Dave Lubben, originally from Fargo, North Dakota, wanted to be a rock star.  But the Lord met him and now he and his family live in Portland, Oregon, where he is the worship pastor at Meadow Springs Community Church.

I want to be, where you are.
I want to know, who you are.
So when you call my name,
I’ll say to you “here I am.”
I’m listening Lord, speak to me.

I want to see, how you see.
Change my heart Lord, and make me holy.
If there’s anything in my life,
That doesn’t honor you tonight.
I’m listening Lord, speak to me.
Speak to me…

I want to be, where you are.
I want to know Lord, who you are.
So when you call my name,
I’ll say to you “here I am.”
I’m listening Lord, speak to me.

I want to see, how you see.
Change my heart Lord, and make me holy.
If there’s anything in my life,
That doesn’t honor you tonight.
I’m listening Lord, speak to me.
Speak to me…



If this is a story for children in Sunday School, stop here!  The things God tells Samuel and the fulfillment of God’s words in the next chapter are very sad and hard to hear.


11Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. 12On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.”

15Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.”

He said, “Here I am.”

17Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.”

18So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.”

19As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground (that is, the Lord accomplished everything He said). 20And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba (that is, from the most northern town in the nation to the most southern town = everybody) knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord. 21The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Reynolds.    http://freechristimages.org/images_1Samuel/The_Infant_Samuel_Sir_Joshua_Reynolds1776.jpg
Hole.      http://www.truthbook.com/images/site_images/William_Hole_Jesus_Amidst_The_Doctors_In_The_Temple_400.jpg
stop sign.    http://www.talis.com/source/blog/http:/www.talis.com/source/blog/images/Stop.jpeg

342.) 1 Samuel 2

August 24, 2010

“Magnificat” by Macha Chmakoff

1 Samuel 2   (NRSV)

Hannah’s Prayer

Hannah prayed and said,
‘My heart exults in the Lord;
my strength is exalted in my God.

“Magnificat” by Sister Mary Grace Thul, a Dominican nun in New Castle, Delaware.

Like Mary!
— praising God in Luke 1:

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.

My mouth derides my enemies,
because I rejoice in my victory.

2 ‘There is no Holy One like the Lord,
no one besides you;
there is no Rock like our God.
3 Talk no more so very proudly,
let not arrogance come from your mouth;

He has shown strength with His arm;
He has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

for the Lord is a God of knowledge,
and by him actions are weighed.
4 The bows of the mighty are broken,
but the feeble gird on strength.

He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
And exalted the lowly.

5 Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
but those who were hungry are fat with spoil.

He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich He has sent away empty.

The barren has borne seven,
but she who has many children is forlorn.
6 The Lord kills and brings to life;
he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
7 The Lord makes poor and makes rich;
he brings low, he also exalts.
8 He raises up the poor from the dust;
he lifts the needy from the ash heap,
to make them sit with princes
and inherit a seat of honor.

For He has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant;
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me,
And holy is His name.

For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,
and on them he has set the world.

9 ‘He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,

And His mercy is on those who fear Him
From generation to generation.

but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness;
for not by might does one prevail.
10 The Lord! His adversaries shall be shattered;
the Most High will thunder in heaven.
The Lord will judge the ends of the earth;
he will give strength to his king,

He has helped His servant Israel,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and to his seed forever.

and exalt the power of his anointed.’

11 Then Elkanah went home to Ramah, while the boy remained to minister to the Lord, in the presence of the priest Eli.



Hannah called — and God answered.  “Came to My Rescue”  by Hillsong United.


Eli’s Wicked Sons

12 Now the sons of Eli were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord 13or for the duties of the priests to the people. When anyone offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand,

See the fork? — one of the tools of the priestly bar-b-que set.

14and he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or cauldron, or pot; all that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself.  This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. 15Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the one who was sacrificing, ‘Give meat for the priest to roast; for he will not accept boiled meat from you, but only raw.’

16And if the man said to him, ‘Let them burn the fat first, and then take whatever you wish’, he would say, ‘No, you must give it now; if not, I will take it by force.’

17Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord; for they treated the offerings of the Lord with contempt.

The Lord had given clear instructions about proper protocol for offerings  in Leviticus and Numbers.  The fat was to be burned first, and then the meat for the priests taken while the meat was being boiled.  Eli’s sons “did what was right in their own eyes.”

The Child Samuel at Shiloh

from “Standard Bible Story Readers, Book 2” published in 1925. Artist unknown.

18 Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy wearing a linen ephod (a garment worn only by priests). 19His mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year, when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, ‘May the Lord repay you with children by this woman for the gift that she made to the Lord’; and then they would return to their home.

21 And the Lord took note of Hannah; she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.

Prophecy against Eli’s Household

22 Now Eli was very old. He heard all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. 23He said to them, ‘Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. 24No, my sons; it is not a good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. 25If one person sins against another, someone can intercede for the sinner with the Lord; but if someone sins against the Lord, who can make intercession?’ But they would not listen to the voice of their father; for it was the will of the Lord to kill them.

26 Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and with the people.

While it is clear that with Samuel, God is raising up a godly man to do his purposes in Israel, it is equally clear that the sons of Eli are unfaithful to the Lord in almost every way.  They took for themselves the choice meats and offerings that belonged to the Lord.  They used their position as priests to sexually exploit the women who served at the entrance of the tent of meeting.  They refused to listen to their father’s warnings and carried on in their sinful ways.

But there is blame to share.  Eli did not discipline his sons and stop the abuses in the tabernacle.  Instead, he let things continue, and so God’s name was dishonored again and again by their actions.

Consequently, there will be punishment — death — for all.


27 A man of God came to Eli and said to him, ‘Thus the Lord has said, “I revealed myself to the family of your ancestor in Egypt when they were slaves to the house of Pharaoh. 28I chose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to offer incense, to wear an ephod before me; and I gave to the family of your ancestor all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. 29Why then look with greedy eye at my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded, and honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?”

30Therefore the Lord the God of Israel declares: “I promised that your family and the family of your ancestor should go in and out before me for ever”; but now the Lord declares: “Far be it from me; for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be treated with contempt. 31See, a time is coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your ancestor’s family, so that no one in your family will live to old age. 32Then in distress you will look with greedy eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed upon Israel; and no one in your family shall ever live to old age. 33The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep out his eyes and grieve his heart; all the members of your household shall die by the sword.

34The fate of your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you—both of them shall die on the same day. 35I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed one for ever. 36Everyone who is left in your family shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread, and shall say, Please put me in one of the priest’s places, that I may eat a morsel of bread.” ’


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Chmakoff.     http://www.chmakoff.com/Scenes%20de%20l%20ancien%20et%20du%20nouveau%20testament/slides/Magnificat%20%2892×73%29.html
Thul.    http://www.sistermarygrace.artspan.com/show-image/823740/Sister-Mary-Grace-Thul/MAGNIFICAT-%28-card-from-CHRISTMAS-catalog%29.jpg
three-prong fork.    http://cjpicnicbaskets.com/images/lg_BBQ_Apron%5B1%5D.jpg
Samuel’s mother putting him into his new clothes.     http://www.lavistachurchofchrist.org/Pictures/Standard%20Bible%20Story%20Readers,%20Book%20Two/target64.html
choices and consequences.     http://www.wkbradford.com/posters/choicesB.jpg

341.) 1 Samuel 1

August 23, 2010

“For this child I prayed”

1 Samuel 1   (NRSV)

Samuel’s Birth and Dedication

There was a certain man of Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham son of Elihu son of Tohu son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2He had two wives; the name of the one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.

3Now this man used to go up year by year from his town to worship and to sacrifice to the Lord of hosts at Shiloh, where the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests of the Lord.

The tabernacle (Tent of Meeting) was located at Shiloh, the religious center of the nation, as is clear from Joshua 18:1 — “The whole assembly of the Israelites gathered at Shiloh, and set up the Tent of Meeting there.”  Here is where sacrifices were made and worship was conducted.

4On the day when Elkanah sacrificed, he would give portions to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters; 5but to Hannah he gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the Lord had closed her womb. 6Her rival used to provoke her severely, to irritate her, because the Lord had closed her womb. 7So it went on year by year; as often as she went up to the house of the Lord, she used to provoke her. Therefore Hannah wept and would not eat. 8Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? Why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?

Like Ruth!
— Ruth 4:14-15

The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the LORD, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel!  He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons, has given him birth.”


9After they had eaten and drunk at Shiloh, Hannah rose and presented herself before the Lord.

Now there’s a lovely name for a little girl:  Hannah Rose!

Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat beside the doorpost of the temple of the Lord. 10She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord, and wept bitterly. 11She made this vow: “O Lord of hosts, if only you will look on the misery of your servant, and remember me, and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a male child, then I will set him before you as a nazirite until the day of his death. He shall drink neither wine nor intoxicants, and no razor shall touch his head.”

12As she continued praying before the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13Hannah was praying silently; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard; therefore Eli thought she was drunk. 14So Eli said to her, “How long will you make a drunken spectacle of yourself? Put away your wine.”

15But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman deeply troubled; I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. 16Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation all this time.”

17Then Eli answered, “Go in peace; the God of Israel grant the petition you have made to him.”

18And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your sight.

“Ruth meets Boaz” by Thomas Matthews Rooke (1842-1942), Tate Gallery, London.

Like Ruth!
— Ruth 2:13

Then she said to Boaz, “Let me find favor in your sight, my lord; for you have comforted me, and have spoken kindly to your maidservant, though I am not like one of your maidservants.”


Then the woman went to her quarters, ate and drank with her husband, and her countenance was sad no longer.


“A kind heart is a fountain of gladness, making everything in its vicinity freshen into smiles.”  –Washington Irving

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

Eli misunderstood Hannah, but she was not offended.  There isn’t anything huffy in her reply.  Haven’t we sometimes been quite unlike Hannah in this?  Perhaps there wasn’t a misunderstanding at all and yet we took offense.  Perhaps there was, and we were angry.  Hannah sets a splendid example to us all.  Never take offense.  Always believe the best.

After Hannah had prayed, her countenance was no longer sad.  That is what always should be—but is it?  Do we not sometimes wait to see the answer to our prayer before letting go of the trouble?  Hannah didn’t do that.  Long before she saw the answer to her prayer, she so completely let go of the trouble that there wasn’t a trace of it on her face.



One of the most well-loved hymns of all is “What a Friend We Have in Jesus,” which encourages us to take all our burdens and requests to the Lord in prayer, just as Hannah did!

Sung by Chris McDaniel.


19They rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord; then they went back to their house at Ramah. Elkanah knew his wife Hannah, and the Lord remembered her. 20In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son. She named him Samuel, for she said, “I have asked him of the Lord.”

The name Samuel means, in Hebrew, “heard of God.”

21The man Elkanah and all his household went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice, and to pay his vow. 22But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, that he may appear in the presence of the Lord, and remain there forever; I will offer him as a nazirite for all time.”

23Her husband Elkanah said to her, “Do what seems best to you, wait until you have weaned him; only—may the Lord establish his word.” So the woman remained and nursed her son, until she weaned him.

24When she had weaned him (typically at age 3), she took him up with her, along with a three-year-old bull, an ephah of flour, and a skin of wine. She brought him to the house of the Lord at Shiloh; and the child was young. 25Then they slaughtered the bull, and they brought the child to Eli. 26And she said, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the Lord. 27For this child I prayed; and the Lord has granted me the petition that I made to him. 28Therefore I have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives, he is given to the Lord.” She left him there for the Lord.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
sleeping baby.    http://photopostsblog.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/11/top-baby-sleeping-photos12.jpg
Ruth and her new family.   http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_QVtPk6brgO4/TCsySxd_pYI/AAAAAAAAA_A/X5n6OPGCpGg/s1600/ruth13-baby.jpg
Hannah praying before Eli, drawing by Annie Vallotton.    http://www.kcm.co.kr/bible01/gnb/gnb086.jpg
Rooke.    http://www.womeninthebible.net/1876Rooke_Thomas_Matthews_The_Story_Of_Ruth2.jpg
woman smiling.    http://www.sansumclinic.org/ContentStore/woman_smiling.jpg
Victors.    http://www.oceansbridge.com/oil-paintings/product/43278/hannahgivinghersonsamueltothepriest1645

340.) Psalms 47 and 48

August 20, 2010

Psalm 47 (New International Version)

1 Clap your hands, all you nations;
shout to God with cries of joy.

2 How awesome is the LORD Most High,
the great King over all the earth!

3 He subdued nations under us,
peoples under our feet.

4 He chose our inheritance for us,
the pride of Jacob, whom he loved.

Amy Carmichael, 1867-1951.  Born in Ireland, she went to the mission field of India in 1895 and never left.  Much of her work involved rescuing young children from temple prostitution.

from Whispers of His Power,
by Amy Carmichael

“He shall choose our inheritance for us, the excellency of Jacob, whom He loved.”

Have you ever looked longingly at another life and wished that you had as much as it has to offer?  But He shall choose, and He does not call the inheritance of any Jacob “poor.”  He calls it the excellency of Jacob.  The marvel is not that we have so little to offer, but that we have anything at all.  There was no worthiness in Jacob.  Whom He loved is the only explanation.

But—and is not this comforting?—God needs each separate soul, each personality with the inheritance of His choice, for the perfecting of His purpose in the spiritual creation.  And when it is perfected He will be satisfied, and we too shall be satisfied, “lost in wonder, love, and praise” that we ever were allowed the smallest share in it.


5 God has ascended amid shouts of joy,
the LORD amid the sounding of trumpets.

6 Sing praises to God, sing praises;
sing praises to our King, sing praises.

7 For God is the King of all the earth;
sing to him a psalm of praise.

8 God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne.

9 The nobles of the nations assemble
as the people of the God of Abraham,
for the kings of the earth belong to God;
he is greatly exalted.



“Love Divine, All Love Excelling” is one of Charles Wesley’s most sung hymns.  It ends with a glorious vision of heaven, with the redeemed falling before the throne of God, “lost in wonder, love, and praise.”

The Sanctuary Choir, The Cathedral Choir of Young Men and Boys, The Cecilian Carolers, organ and orchestra perform “Love Divine, All Loves Excelling” in the 2009 Christmas concert from First Presbyterian Church, Davenport, Iowa. Arrangement by Mack Wilberg, conducted by Steven R. Jobman.

1. Love divine, all loves excelling,
joy of heaven, to earth come down;
fix in us thy humble dwelling;
all thy faithful mercies crown!
Jesus thou art all compassion,
pure, unbounded love thou art;
visit us with thy salvation;
enter every trembling heart.

2. Breathe, O breathe thy loving Spirit
into every troubled breast!
Let us all in thee inherit;
let us find that second rest.
Take away our bent to sinning;
Alpha and Omega be;
end of faith, as its beginning,
set our hearts at liberty.

3. Come, Almighty to deliver,
let us all thy life receive;
suddenly return and never,
nevermore thy temples leave.
Thee we would be always blessing,
serve thee as thy hosts above,
pray and praise thee without ceasing,
glory in thy perfect love.

4. Finish, then, thy new creation;
pure and spotless let us be.
Let us see thy great salvation
perfectly restored in thee;
changed from glory into glory,
till in heaven we take our place,
till we cast our crowns before thee,
lost in wonder, love, and praise.


Jerusalem from the Mount of Olives. The blue building with the gold dome is the Dome of the Rock, the third most sacred mosque in Islam. The pointed tower at the far left is the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer in the Old City.  The gray dome about in the middle is Holy Sepulchre, or as the eastern Christians call it, the Church of the Resurrection.  Tall buildings in the background are in the new city of Jerusalem.

Psalm 48 (New International Version)

1 Great is the LORD, and most worthy of praise,
in the city of our God, his holy mountain.

2 It is beautiful in its loftiness,
the joy of the whole earth.
Like the utmost heights of Zaphon is Mount Zion,
the city of the Great King.

The Jerusalem Citadel, also known as the Tower of David, is located just south of Jaffa Gate on the western side of the Old City.  Its location is  the highest point of the city, higher even than the Temple Mount.  There have been fortifications here for over twenty centuries, protecting and defending the city.

3 God is in her citadels;
he has shown himself to be her fortress.

4 When the kings joined forces,
when they advanced together,

5 they saw her and were astounded;
they fled in terror.

6 Trembling seized them there,
pain like that of a woman in labor.

7 You destroyed them like ships of Tarshish
shattered by an east wind.

8 As we have heard,
so have we seen
in the city of the LORD Almighty,
in the city of our God:
God makes her secure forever.

Mark 5:36 (New International Version)

Jesus told the synagogue ruler, “Don’t be afraid; just believe.”


9 Within your temple, O God,
we meditate on your unfailing love.

10 Like your name, O God,
your praise reaches to the ends of the earth;
your right hand is filled with righteousness.

11 Mount Zion rejoices,
the villages of Judah are glad
because of your judgments.

the walls of Jerusalem

12 Walk about Zion, go around her,
count her towers,

13 consider well her ramparts,
view her citadels,
that you may tell of them to the next generation.

14 For this God is our God for ever and ever;
he will be our guide even to the end.

from This Day with the Master,
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

“For this God is our God for ever and ever;
he will be our guide even to the end.”
–Psalm 48:14

In the Hebrew language, the future is behind a person and not out in front.  Instead of striding confidently into the future, the Hebrews talked about stumbling backward into it.  We can see the past, but we cannot see the future, and we can never tell exactly where our foot will land.  Isn’t this an accurate description of life’s uncertainties?  Christ asks us to put our hand in his because he can see the future as well as the past.  He is the one who transcends time’s boundaries.  He is the Lord of tomorrow as much as he is the Lord of today and yesterday.  He can see exactly where each footstep will go.  It is never irrational for us to put our hand in the hand of God.  In fact, it is the only rational choice for us, considering our vantage point in life.  If we choose to go alone, we will most certainly back into something destructive.

As a Christian you do not know what the future hold, but you do know who holds your hand.  If you get ready to put your foot down in the wrong place, he will stop you and nudge you in another direction.  He will shift your direction often, and as you look back on the way he has led, you will find that he has never guided you into a dead-end street or into a destructive situation.  When your hand is in his and you come to the end of the way, you will be able to say, “I never lost a day.”

The essence of being a Christian is putting your hand in the hand of Christ and turning your back on any rights to the direction of your life.  Your future becomes his, and he leads you.


New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by Biblica
Images courtesy of:
Psalm 47:2 with river and cliffs.     http://oneyearbibleimages.com/psalm47.jpg
Amy Carmichael.    http://www.myfrienddebbie.com/images/amycarmichael.jpg
Jerusalem overview.    http://www.synergise.com/travel/Homepage/ecards/israel_jerusalem_dome.jpg
Jerusalem Citadel.     http://www.katapi.org.uk/images/Archaeology/JerusalemCitadel.jpg
God is faithful.    http://www.timeoutdevotions.net/wp-content/uploads/2009/05/god-is-faithful.jpg
walls of Jerusalem.     http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_RRV7ci01pYA/TCyn2f4uUkI/AAAAAAAACMo/dlpZdFxW-M0/s1600/jerusalem+walls.JPG
past-present-future signs.    http://www.cpsla.com/images/past-present-future-smallsign.jpg

339.) Psalm 46

August 19, 2010

Psalm 46 (English Standard Version)

God Is Our Fortress

1God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
2Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,
though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,
3though its waters roar and foam,
though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

from This Day with the Master
by Dennis F. Kinlaw

One of the characteristics of human personhood is that we never find our fulfillment in ourselves.  We must look beyond ourselves if we would ever really know fulfillment.  As human beings we need purpose and meaning in our lives.  We need something of which we can boast, something that gives us some confidence, self-esteem, and inner joy.  But the effect of sin on us is such that we naturally look in the wrong places to find this fulfillment.  We look for something when we should be looking for Someone.  Our true fulfillment, the only ultimate fulfillment, is in God himself.

As we look for fulfillment, we also seek security.  We seek it in creatures, institutions, possessions.  Again, our sin blinds us and deceives us.  All things other than Christ are only temporary refuges.  David learned this and said, “God is our refuge.” He is the haven to whom we should all flee.  Peter was sensing this when he said to Jesus, “Lord, to whom shall we go?  You have the words of eternal life” (John 6:68).

Are you looking for a refuge today?  A place not only of security but also of fulfillment?  Run to Jesus.  He is the One you seek.


4There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,
the holy habitation of the Most High.

Cairo has the Nile.  Paris has the Seine.  Washington has the Potomac.  My hometown of Independence, Iowa has the Wapsipinicon (pictured here).  But Jerusalem has no river.


Revelation 22:1-2 (New International Version)

Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.


5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;
God will help her when morning dawns.
6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter;
he utters his voice, the earth melts.
7 The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.


2 Corinthians 1:21 (New International Version)

It is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ.


8 Come, behold the works of the LORD,
how he has brought desolations on the earth.
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
he breaks the bow and shatters the spear;
he burns the chariots with fire.

10 “Be still, and know that I am God.
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”


from My Utmost for His Highest,
by Oswald Chambers

“Be still, and know that I am God.” — Psalm xlvi.10

Tenacity is more than endurance, it is endurance combined with the absolute certainty that what we are looking for is going to transpire.  Tenacity is more than hanging on, which may be but the weakness of being too afraid to fall off.  Tenacity is the supreme effort of a man refusing to believe that his hero is going to be conquered.  The greatest fear a man has is not that he will be damned, but that Jesus Christ will be worsted, that the things He stood for—love and justice and forgiveness and kindness among men—will not win out in the end; the things He stands for will look like will-o’-the-wisps.  Then comes the call to spiritual tenacity, not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately on the certainty that God is not going to be worsted.

If our hopes are being disappointed just now, it means that they are being purified.  There is nothing noble the human mind has ever hoped for or dreamed of that will not be fulfilled.  One of the greatest strains in life is the strain of waiting for God.  “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience.”

Remain spiritually tenacious.


11 The LORD of hosts is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress.



Will God be worsted?  Absolutely not!  As Martin Luther wrote, “God’s truth abideth still; His kingdom is forever.”

One of the truly great hymns of the faith — “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God” — written in 1529 by Martin Luther — performed here by GLAD.


English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
Psalm 46:1-2 with waves.    http://media.photobucket.com/image/Psalm%2046/glorifing/Bible%2520Scripture/psalm46_1-2.jpg
Cry out to Jesus.     http://media.photobucket.com/image/jesus,%20refuge/pinkyfan17p/Various%20Myspace%20Stuff/cry_to_jesus.jpg
the Wapsipinicon River, Independence, Iowa.    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Wapsipinicon_River_Bridge.jpg
Stand firm.    http://www.qbcny.org/clientimages/25195/images/stand-firm-logo.gif
Psalm 46:10 with a candle.    http://www.russhutto.com/wallpapers/nov09/psalm46-10-1024×768.jpg
rock climbing.     http://byfiles.storage.live.com/y1pwb8u9CBAq3Vs145DziNalhfKyXPgOGkSprfJPE1T7CaHhpFrnxTi9uIlFRAlrLoZ8kmYAeq9Xws

338.) Ephesians 6

August 18, 2010
One of the main colonnaded streets in Ephesus, looking down to the library.  Excavations were started here over a hundred years ago, and are still ongoing.

About Ephesus:  One of the main colonnaded streets in Ephesus, looking down to the library. Excavations were started here over a hundred years ago, and are still ongoing.  If you ever have the chance to go to Ephesus, don’t miss it!

Ephesians 6   (NRSV)

Children and Parents

6)   Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2“Honor your father and mother” —this is the first commandment with a promise: 3“so that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth.”


4And, fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Slaves and Masters

5Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; 6not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7Render service with enthusiasm, as to the Lord and not to men and women, 8knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are slaves or free.



Many of us have at least one “master,” one authority over us, to whom we report regarding our earthly responsibilities.  That person may be a supervisor at work, or a teacher at school, or a parent at home.  In verse 7, what the NRSV renders as “Render service with enthusiasm,” other translations put as “serve wholeheartedly,” and “gladly serve your masters.”

Think of one thing you can do — differently from, better than — what you are doing now, to fulfill this instruction.  Can you put it into effect within the next few days?  Remember, you are doing it not for that person in authority, but “as to the Lord” (verse 7).

God bless you  “as you obey Christ” (verse 5).


9And, masters, do the same to them. Stop threatening them, for you know that both of you have the same Master in heaven, and with him there is no partiality.

The Whole Armor of God

6. WholeArmor

10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. 11Put on the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. 12For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

13Therefore take up the whole armor of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. 14Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. 15As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. 16With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

6. the-sword-of-the-spirit17Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

18Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.

Ephesians 6 Pray without ceasing

from Daily Readings from Luther’s Writings, edited by Barbara Owen:

You have needs enough:  You are lacking in faith, in love, in patience, in gentleness, in chastity; my wife, my children are sick.  Then pray undauntedly and with sure confidence, because God has commanded you to pray.  He did not command it in order to deceive you and make a fool of you.  He wants you to pray and to be confident that you will be heard; he wants you to open your bosom that he may give to you.  But you must present your need to God, in order that you may learn to know yourself, where you are lacking, and to receive more and more the longer you hold open your sack.

Therefore, children right from the cradle on should begin to pray for the princes, for their brethren and companions.  For here you hear the command and the promise:  “Ask, and it will be given you; seek and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).  You have been commanded to pray and promised that what you pray for will be given, as in Psalm 50:15, “Call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me”; and Psalm 91:15, “When he calls to me, I will answer him.”  So, go on that and say:  Now I know that my prayer is not to be despised; for if I despise it, I despise the command and the promise of God.  But God does not despise prayer, but rather has commanded it and promised that he will hear it.


19Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.



verse 13 — “and having done everything, to stand . . .”

“Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus.”

Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!
Ye soldiers of the Cross;
Lift high his royal banner,
It must not suffer loss.
From victory unto victory
His army he shall lead,
Till every foe is vanquished
And Christ is Lord indeed.

Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!
The trumpet call obey,
Forth to the mighty conflict
In this his glorious day.
Ye that are men now serve him
Against unnumbered foes:
Let courage rise with danger,
And strength to strength oppose.

Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!
Stand in his strength alone;
The arm of flesh will fail you
Ye dare not trust your own.
Put on the Gospel armor,
Each piece put on with prayer;
Where duty calls or danger
Be never wanting there!

Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!
The strife will not be long;
This day the noise of battle,
The next the victor’s song.
To him who overcometh
A crown of life shall be;
He with the King of Glory
Shall reign eternally.


Personal Matters and Benediction

21So that you also may know how I am and what I am doing, Tychicus will tell you everything. He is a dear brother and a faithful minister in the Lord. 22I am sending him to you for this very purpose, to let you know how we are, and to encourage your hearts.

23Peace be to the whole community, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 24Grace be with all who have an undying love for our Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 6 Paul - Signature


Isn’t this a wonderful letter to you

— in your very circumstances now?  Haven’t you been reminded of the greatness of God and his everlasting love to you?  Hasn’t your heart been awakened to seek to be more and more the valiant follower he calls you to be?  I truly believe that if we were to read the book of Ephesians every month, our hearts, our homes, our churches, our communities, our world — would be far different, far better places, because of the Holy Spirit of the resurrected Jesus working God’s purposes though us!

Your thoughts?  I would love to hear them!


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:
Father.  http://media.photobucket.com/image/Ephesians%206/thegreatawakening/Web%20Components/ephesians6_4.jpg
street in Ephesus.  http://www.petersommer.com/galleryimages/carian/Ephesus-Turkey-Ancient-Stre.jpg
armor of God.  http://www.truthseek.net/files/WholeArmor.jpg
sword.  http://www.markscollection.com/images/christian/the-sword-of-the-spirit.jpg
Pray without ceasing.   http://www.gospelgifs.com/clips/clips2/images/pwc002.gif
Paul signature.  http://www.rowforhope.com/html/images/Paul%20-%20Signature.GIF