Monday, March 5, 2012

The Books of Samuel

The Life Project: 1 & 2 Samuel
Paul Pope

The story of God and His people, the Israelites, continues in 1 & 2 Samuel where we pick up immediately following the book of Judges. Judges were the anointed leaders of the Israelites. Their role included that of a prophet, military leader, and judge. The role of a judge was definitely significant as It carried with it great power and influence. However, the role of a judge paled in comparison to that of a king because God was intended to be the king of the Israelites. He wanted His people to see that He had all authority and power. He wanted His people to see that if they would follow Him in faith, He would lead them to places no human leader could ever hope to go. We learn in 1 & 2 Samuel that the Israelites were not interested in allowing God to be their king, they wanted a human king to lead them (1 Samuel 10:19). 1 & 2 Samuel is the story of the establishment of the Kingdom of Israel as we see the rise and fall of Israel’s first 2 kings: Saul & David.

1 Samuel begins with the story of Hannah as she cries out to God. She wanted a child. 1:11 She made a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life. One of the great passages of scripture is 1 Samuel 1:28 where Hannah follows through on her promise to give her most precious treasure to the Lord as she hands Samuel to the priest Eli. From there Samuel grew to be a great servant of God. Samuel was actually the final judge of Israel as God granted them their desire for a king (1 Samuel 8:19-20) and Saul was chosen to be the first king of the Jews (1 Samuel 9:17). Samuel tells the Israelites despite their foolishness for wanting a king when God is their king; they still have an opportunity to be blessed by God if they follow Him. 14 If you will fear the LORD and serve Him, and listen to His voice and not rebel against the command of the LORD, then both you and also the king who reigns over you will follow the LORD your God. 15 If you will not listen to the voice of the LORD, but rebel against the command of the LORD, then the hand of the LORD will be against you, as it was against your fathers.

Does this sound familiar? Read Deuteronomy 30:19-20 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20 by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for [x]this is your life and the length of your days, [y]that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.”

From here until the end of 2 Samuel we see a sharp contrast in the first two kings of Israel: Saul and David.

Saul A man after God’s own heart (Acts 13:22) A man after people’s praise (1 Samuel 10:23-24)
Kind and benevolent (2 Samuel 7:29)
Cruel (1 Samuel 20:30-32, 22:11-29) Courageous (1 Samuel 17:32-40, 48-54) Fearful (1 Samuel 17:11)
Forgiving (1 Samuel 26)
Unforgiving (1 Samuel 18:9) Repentant (2 Samuel 12:13) Lied when confronted (1 Samuel 15:10-31)
His kingship is eternal through Jesus (2 Samuel 7:29)
His kingship is rejected (1 Samuel 15:23)

Of all the differences between Saul and David, the most striking to me comes from how they dealt with their sin. As
you read through the accounts of David’s reign, you will find that he was by no means perfect. He sinned like
everybody else who has ever walked this earth, expect for Jesus. Yet, he was referred to as a man after God’s own
heart. Let’s take a closer look at the sin that he committed with Bathsheba to see how this is possible.
In 2 Samuel 11 we learn the details of David’s fall. Gazing out from the rooftops of his palace, he sees Bathseba for
the first time. He immediately inquires about her and is told that she was married to Uriah. His passion and desire
take over as he pursues her despite the obvious sin. His pride leads him to commit adultery with her. He soon learns
that she has become pregnant, which meant there was no way to cover this sin up since Uraih was away at war. He
then sends orders to his general to send Uriah to the front lines and then withdraw, essentially, covering up his sin by murdering Uriah.

Then in 2 Samuel 12, David is confronted with his sin by Nathan. His response to Nathan’s rebuke is what makes
David stand out. He did not run or hide from it. He did not defend or deflect it onto someone else. He owned it and it
broke his heart to the point that it changed him. This is repentance. This is what made David great.
David’s story should encourage us. This is one of the great men of the Bible and he was far from perfect. If we take an honest look at ourselves, we will find that we also are not perfect. God desires that we be holy as He is holy (Leviticus 11:44, 1 Peter 1:15-16) yet He knows that perfection was only possible for Jesus. One of the great paradoxes of faith in God is this call for perfection combined with the absolute inability to fulfill it. David shows us how to navigate these waters with true repentance.

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