1 Samuel 19-20

Jealousy is making Saul insane. He can see the kingdom slipping through his fingers. His son is BFFs with his arch nemesis and his daughter is married the the guy. No one is on his side anymore. I guess this is a kind of destruction that pride goes before.

Can we take a minute to talk about how awesome friendship is? “He loved him as he loved his own soul”! That’s beautiful. I know Car touched on this yesterday, but really think about the friendships in your life. I think they often get the short stick because they’re not marriage. We are less and less inclined to be committed to people these days. That’s a real tragedy. This obviously isn’t the only part of the Bible that talks about friendship, but it’s important enough to slow the story down and spend a few chapters on it. 

God’s greatest commandment is to love people. How good am I at that, really? The love He specifies is sacrificial. “Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John‬ ‭15:13‬) FRIENDS. I think it’s more common to view your friends as the people you can get away with disrespecting. 

Who do you want to commit to loving better?

-Bethany

PS. I think it’s kind of funny Saul flips out and starts in on Jonathan with “your mom” stuff. There’s nothing new under the sun!

1 Samuel 17-18

David & Goliath. Easily the most referenced story of the Bible, at least by secular culture. I won’t grab for some over-spiritualized connection here; the story speaks for itself. If you didn’t read it today, I’d highly encourage you to do so. I read it aloud to my son last night (in a very theatrical voice with around fifteen interruptions) and it was as if it was my first. The Bible really does have the best stories. The worst villains. The craziest plots. The greatest heroes.

Meanwhile, in chapter 18, things get sad. Sad for Saul, and really sad for David. I love the gift of friendship that God gives him with Jonathon. As an extrovert, I make it a lifestyle to meet new people, but it is a gift to meet someone and have an immediate bond. I have many fiercely wonderful friends in my life that I don’t deserve. But some of them I am especially endeared to, because they came into my life during a dark time and their friendship lightened it up. I suspect you have friends like that too.

I encourage you to reflect on the people in your life. True, healthy friendships are a gift from a relational God. Let’s thank Him for them and steward them well.

 

-Carly

P.S. We love when you guys chime in! I’ve loved having a platform to eavesdrop on what God tells other people through Scripture, keep the comments comin’. If you’re interested in submitting a post, visit the Contributor page or email us at biblewithus@gmail.com. 

 

 

 

1 Samuel 15-16

“To obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen is better than the fat of rams. For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and presumption is like the evil of idolatry.” (15:22-23)

Say what is just as evil as idolatry?! Arrogantly presuming to know what would actually make God happy regardless of what He commanded. (Uh, whoops, I do that). Israel’s King was supposed to write himself his own copy of the law and study it every day. Humility and obedience is the name of that game.

What are some other red flags? He set up a monument to honor himself (v.12), and this nice little sentence he used to defend himself: “I was afraid of the men so I gave in to them” (v. 24). In contrast, you’ll soon notice when David is king he often flies in the face of popular opinion and does something culturally outrageous, since he fears the LORD more than he fears people.

It can be really easy to skip over Saul to get to David, but he is (unfortunately) super relateable, well meaning, insecure and a way more familiar leader. We’re about to get to David, but keep a close eye on Saul. We still have a lot we can learn from him. Tell us what else you notice. 

The first contrast I see, is Samuel assuming the oldest, tallest brother would obviously be the king. Why would he assume that? Maybe because Saul was the tallest, most attractive guy around when he became king, so those are the prerequisites, right? Nope, not anymore! The LORD is looking for a good heart this time.

-Bethany

1 Samuel 13-14

Saul’s story can be a little hard to read. I hate reading about his hungry soldiers being caught up in a power struggle to get them under his thumb. My stomach twists at his frantic efforts to succeed. His disobedience and lack of trust in God’s timing send him in a panic that spirals him far away from being the man God deemed worthy to lead his people.

But still, I love what Saul’s story tells us about God.

God doesn’t want our religious tendencies or our obligatory offerings. He always, always, always wants our hearts. Saul misses this when he gets impatient, gives in to fear and then sacrifices the burnt offering without Samuel. If you don’t understand the significance of burnt offerings and why Samuel had to do it, that’s okay, I don’t really either. The point is, several times in just two chapters, Saul fails to trust God and wait for his timing. Unfortunately, he is not by any means the only person to get swept up in a God-appointed task and lose perspective.

Notice the stark contrast between Jonathon and Saul. Jonathon is brave. He takes decisive action with great confidence in God. He shouts ” for the Lord will help us defeat them!” and I can practically see him raising his sword high and leading the weapon-less army into his daring plan.

But Saul’s pride grows as his trust in God shrinks. He treats God like a vending machine, jamming coins in and slamming buttons to get what he wants. (Is that a fair analogy or do I need to take snacks less seriously?) He forgets to consult with God and in a scramble to succeed, he fails.

When you’re under a lot of pressure and there’s plenty of reason to be afraid, do you respond like Jonathon or do you respond like Saul?

 

-Carly

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sundays

Thanks for joining us for our first week! We have loved reading along with you and hearing what you think. Just wanted to let you know that there won’t be posts on Sundays.

Use this day to catch up if you’re behind or reflect on what you’ve read this week. Or, if you’re like me, completely forget how to get out the door in a timely matter and run around like a mad person trying to get the family to church.

Tomorrow we’ll jump right back in with 1 Samuel 13-14. See ya then.

1 Samuel 11-12

First off, I kinda love how as soon as Saul receives the Holy Spirit he goes all Conan the Barbarian as God’s way of saying, “Ain’t no way you’re gonna gouge my kid’s eyes out!” 

After the victory against the Ammonites, Israel is suddenly real on-board with Saul being the king. A little too on-board. But really, wasn’t it the power of God in Saul they were attracted to?

In Samuel’s speech, he says Israel’s down fall is they “forgot the Lord” (12:9) They forgot how clutch He is at saving them and starting putting their hope elsewhere.

He disciplines them, then promptly comforts. 

Hone in on the last part of the speech (12:20-24) and write down these promises and exhortations. What strikes you the most?

Today, for me, it’s:

“Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the Lord with all your heart.” 

Failure is inevitable, but God picks me up, dusts me off and tells me to keep going, keep loving. He doesn’t disqualify me and that is truly wonderful news. It’s so easy to give up or spiral once we’ve made a mistake because we want to be perfect. If I’ve already messed up this much, what’s the point? HE’S the point! His name! His glory! His goodness! His salvation and purposes for mankind! He’s not done with me and He can even still use me. “It pleased Him to make a people for Himself.” 

Wow. I love Him. Don’t you? What do you want to remember about Him today?

-Bethany

1 Samuel 9-10

When I read these chapters today, I couldn’t stop thinking ahead to Saul’s downfall. God hand-picks him to become king, anoints him and changes his heart. This is best-case scenario for how a leader could get chosen! Then (spoiler alert) he caves in on himself, rebels and ultimately rejects God. We’ll come back to this, it gets good.

But even with that in mind, there’s something to be said about how God chose leaders in the Bible. He almost exclusively elected undeserving, unsuspecting, under-qualified people to make his moves and write his story. They’re never perfect. They’re usually kind of a mess, actually. Often selfish. Sometimes adulterous. Murderers. Liars. Yet, God is immensely strengthened in their weaknesses and deservingly glorified. Because he’s sovereign. Because he’s not surprised by our sin. He doesn’t need us. He doesn’t count on us; we count on him. 

Today I’m reminded that when God extends any sort of authority to me (these days it’s motherhood and tending to usually-dehydrated plants), I shouldn’t run (or dive into piles of baggage). I should take God-given responsibility quite seriously, with great humility and reverence to God.

How do you respond to what God’s appointed you to?

Take a minute and pray about it, and while you’re at it, pray for those He has appointed over you in your life too.

-Carly

1 Samuel 7-8

A lot of major, on-going themes are highlighted today. I’ll touch on a few, but let us know what else you observe.

1. When Israel decides they’re tired of being oppressed and mistreated they call Samuel to figure out what to do (which is their go-to cycle process, starting in judges and continuing for basically ever). Samuel says, “you can’t just cry about the problems you’ve had since turning from the Lord, you need to GET RID of all the things you tried to replace Him with.” (Side note: when we get to Kings, you’ll start wondering “what the heck is so cool about Baal?!” since Israel just cannot help but backslide to “him”, and I’ll do a thing about that.)

2. “Until now, the Lord has helped us.” (7:12) This is why we need that prayer journal. Keep track of God’s faithfulness! Each time Israel takes time to remember, they’re on the brink of a turnaround.

3. They want a king, so they can be just like everyone else. There’s a drill for this and it’s back in Deuteronomy 17:14-20. I encourage you to read it, because it will help you understand when and how a king is doing it right.

Chapter 8 kills me. Why do we prefer harsh human leaders to the Lord? Why, at our core, do we default to letting something or someone own us? Every other religion is about making it harder than it needs to be. And why this ancient and modern obsession with “being like everyone else?”

What does this look like for you?

-Bethany

1 Samuel 5-6

The Philistines admit defeat: the God of Israel triumphs over their gods. The presence of the Lord (the Ark) became an object of dread to them and they want it out of there. The way they go about it makes this one of those kinda-weird stories that maybe make people leery of how to relate to the Old Testament. But when I zoom out a little, I can see a beautiful gospel-soaked moment and lots of application for my life.

In moments of defeat, we pile our lifeless idols and offer up our guilt to God. We cry out “get these out of here!” and an obedient, innocent servant intercedes. He carries out our sin on his back, reconciles God’s wrath by sacrificing himself and saves us.

I love this beautiful foreshadow of Jesus, but it also doesn’t escape me what the text says about God’s holiness. Approached incorrectly, pridefully with the wrong attitude, is potentially dangerous. He has power over everything, even disease and farm animals. God is infinitely superior to our idols. I’m thankful for that, because nothing in my life that I frantically grasp for compares to him. Like the tower of Dagon, they fall down, break apart and fail me. Nothing compares to God’s presence. Today, take notice of your tendencies.

What do you turn towards first?

 

-Carly

 

 

 

1 Samuel 3-4

Samuel is truly one of the Bible’s best characters. He is called young and never strays from the LORD. This is extra impressive, because it’s pretty clear this isn’t a bright time in Israel’s history. They were supposed to come in to the Promised Land and be God’s example of love, wisdom, power and goodness to everyone who passed through (which, historically and geographically, they were the major pit stop on the world’s only highway at the time). Instead they were twisting His designs to be self serving and were just as jacked up and oppressive as everyone else.

They used God’s blessing for their own selfish gain. Later, they take the Name of the Lord, which He had made Great in the eyes of the nations through His power displayed during the Exodus, and defame it.

We won’t ever be in a situation where we’re being a Levitical priest wrong, or misusing the ark of the LORD in a war, but multiple times a day we are faced with a decision about what our lives will tell the people around us about God.

This is super intimidating. It should be. We’re not supposed to just know it all on our own. That’s why God SPEAKS TO US

Read this account of the patient, gentle way God begins a dynamic life long relationship with little boy Samuel. Then take some time today to listen after saying, “speak, for Your servant hears.”

-Bethany