Another year, another bible reading plan. This year, we are starting our reading of the Old Testament with 1 Samuel.
The period of 1 Samuel comes just after the dark era in the history of Israel. God had brought the Israelites out of Egypt and onto the promised land of Canaan, albeit after a long period of wandering in the wilderness due to their constant grumblings and forgetfulness of the grace and mercy of God.
Although Joshua had led them pretty well into Canaan, we know that after his death, the Israelites entered a cyclic period of blessings and discipline – the result of their obedience and disobedience.
The last chapter of Judges ends with this bleak statement:
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
~ Judges 21:25
Now the books of Samuel dealt with the transition period between Israel’s judges and their kings. Samuel was very much needed during this period as the word of the Lord was rare (1 Sam 3:1). He was the leader that the people needed to remind them of their faith and the need to re-commit to the Lord once again. But however hard Samuel tried to advice the people not to do it, the Israelites finally insisted on having an earthly king. Despite this, he remained faithful to mediate between the people and God.
There are several themes that we can see throughout 1 Samuel. The picture I have chosen gives a clue.
Did you guess what it was?
The first is Obedience.
We see the people’s failure to obey God – and their spiritual leaders like the sons of Eli and Samuel certainly did not show a good example here.
We see the recurring story of Saul’s attempt at obedience but failing miserably.
In contrast, we read of Samuel’s obedience to God from young to his old age.
The second is on receiving guidance from God. There are stories of how the people viewed the ark of the covenant like a good luck charm (1 Sam 4:1-11) rather than seeking God directly and Saul’s misguided attempt to seek spiritual advice through a medium (28:4-25).
But we also read positive examples like Hannah’s fervent prayer (1 Sam 1:1-20) and how Samuel was able to discern God’s voice (1 Sam 3:1-21).
As we read 1 Samuel, we will find ourselves reacquainted with many of the bible stories that we have heard since young. But don’t skip them.
Read them…. meditate upon them… reflect and see…
What does God want me to know today? Am I a son of obedience or disobedience? Do I seek God?
Am I more like Samuel? Or I find myself acting very much like Saul?
Let’s start the year by making a new commitment – to follow words of the Lord and draw closer to him day by day.