Saturday, February 17, 2024

February 17, 2024

The Philistines stole the Ark of the Covenant, took it home with them, and placed it beside Dagon, their idol. The next morning, Dagon had fallen over and was on his face before the Ark of the LORD. They set it back up, but the next day, it fell over again; this time, Dagon's head and hands were broken off. The people of that city, Ashdod, began dying and getting tumors. They knew God and the Ark were causing their pain, yet continued to revere Dagon more than Him. They sent the Ark to two other Philistine cities, and the people of those cities also had death and tumors come upon them. They missed the point! Why couldn't they see that God was more powerful than Dagon? Yet instead, they decided to remove the symbol of God rather than renounce their worship of Dagon and worship Him as He desires from all people. Their hearts were so hardened they couldn't see their ignorance. We are seeing more and more people turn away from worshipping God to worship idols like Dagon. I expect we will start seeing God punish them and show them his power; I hope they are smart enough to renounce those idols and turn their hearts to God. No one who denies God will win.  

But the hand of the LORD was heavy upon them of Ashdod, and he destroyed them, and smote them with emerods, even Ashdod and the coasts thereof. And when the men of Ashdod saw that it was so, they said, The ark of the God of Israel shall not abide with us: for his hand is sore upon us, and upon Dagon our god. 1 Samuel 5:6-7

Friday, February 16, 2024

February 16, 2024

We make a mistake in expecting God to intervene on our behalf when we haven't confessed and repented our sin. Israel, thinking they had the upper hand over the Philistines and God on their side, engaged in war against them for oppressing them. However, they didn't enquire of God beforehand and lost. They tried again, but they took the Ark of the Covenant with them this time. According to God's word, they were not supposed to move it once he told them where to place it. Eli's sons, who were evil, carried it into battle. The Philistines heard Israel rejoicing over the Ark and got scared but decided to fight harder. Israel was confident because of the Ark, but they treated it like an idol rather than a visual reminder of God's presence. Israel was slaughtered! Eli's sons were both killed, and the Ark was stolen. After hearing his sons were dead and the Ark was stolen, Eli fell backward, broke his neck, and died. Phinehas, one of Eli's son's wife who was pregnant, heard the news of her husband and the Ark and went into labor and died. Before dying, she named her son Ichabod, "the glory is departed from Israel: because the Ark of God was taken," which means God has left. 

"Let none think to shelter themselves from the wrath of God under the cloak of a visible profession, for there will be those cast into outer darkness that have eaten and drunk in Christ's presence." Matthew Henry

Make sure confession and repentance are always on the tip of your tongue, especially when wanting God's help in a matter.

The Philistines understood and revered the presence of God more than Israel.

And the Philistines were afraid, for they said, God is come into the camp. And they said, Woe unto us! for there hath not been such a thing heretofore. 1 Samuel 4:7

Thursday, February 15, 2024

February 15, 2024

God’s word is revealing. I learned something new. Samuel was young when the Lord called to him verbally. He didn’t recognize his voice and thought it was Eli, the priest calling. Remember, he was living in the Tabernacle and receiving training because his mother, Hannah, had dedicated him to serve God. Thinking it was Eli calling him, he ran to him three times. Finally, Eli realized it was God calling Samuel and told him to go and lay down again, and when he called again, he answered him, saying, “Speak, your servant hears you.” The first verse in this chapter said that Samuel ministered unto the LORD. But isn’t it interesting that he was immersed in the duties of the Tabernacle but didn’t know the LORD? During those days, God was quiet, and no one was receiving open visions, so he probably wasn’t acquainted with them. The LORD stood by him, and he stayed calm! That would have scared me! He had never heard God’s voice before that night, and after hearing it the fourth time, he responded and saw Him! It must have been shocking. He then told him what would happen to Eli and his sons.

In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. 1 Samuel 3:12-13

If you don’t think you hear God’s voice through the Holy Spirit, you must continue ministering or doing your duty to him. Keep reading the Bible, praying, and worshipping Him, and like Samuel, he will eventually open your eyes and ears to hear his voice.

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

February 14, 2024

Hannah prayed, God gave her the son she asked for, and then she worshipped him with a beautiful prayer. She was so grateful that he answered her, so she paid tribute to the One and only Giver of life. Do we get so wrapped up in the gift that we forget to honor God? I don’t know about you, but when I see my prayers answered, I become overjoyed, especially knowing that it couldn’t have happened without his intervention. Be like Hannah and honor the Giver more than the gift. 

When you read these first couple of chapters of Samuel, you can see God’s plan falling into place. He was going to replace Eli with Samuel. Eli, the priest, was getting old and would soon have to turn over his duties to one of his sons. However, they were not fit to be the high priest because they were evil, stole the sacrifices from the people, and didn’t know or respect God. At his young age, Samuel was already wearing the ephod and ministering before the LORD. 

Eli was visited by a man, probably Jesus, who told him his sons would not replace him, that they would die on the same day, and that he would raise a faithful priest who would honor him. Samuel’s parents visited him yearly during the sacrifices, and Hannah made and brought him a coat each year. Samuel was loved by God and man. It may take time, but God will bring justice for his people, just like he had planned with Eli’s sons. 

And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever. 1 Samuel 2:35

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

February 13, 2024

The story of Hannah starts very heartfelt. Her husband had two wives; the other one, Peninnah, had many children, but Hannah was barren. The unfortunate thing is that rather than being sympathetic to her, she was jealous of her husband's affection for her even though he had no children from her. Peninnah's mean spirit causes Hannah grief and makes her depressed. So, she went with her husband when it was time for the Lord's feasts. When he made his offering to the Lord, he gave Peninnah and her children each a good portion, but for Hannah, he gave her the choicest portion. I'll bet he gave her the ribeye! She was so distraught that she couldn't eat. So she went into the temple to pray. Eli, the priest, thought she was drunk because when she prayed, her lips moved, but the words she spoke were within her heart. It was then that she asked God for a son and committed to give him back to the Lord if he granted her prayer request; she had made a vow. Remember, she couldn't make a vow without permission from her husband. Eli told her that her prayer would be answered, and she left there with a happy heart. She was then able to eat. When they got home, she became pregnant with Samuel. She raised him until he was weaned, took him back to the temple, and presented him to Eli, the priest, for him to finish raising him and to train him in the ways of the Lord. 

Can you imagine leaving your child? Her trust in God was incredible. I'll bet she cried all the way home; I would have. We're talking about Samuel; by the time these following few books of the Bible are over, God will have raised up an incredible prophet wholly devoted to Him. Hannah received blessings upon blessings. It's shameful that Peninnah was so mean to her, but Hannah may not have prayed and devoted Samuel to God if she hadn't been. Remember, sometimes our trials are to help us rely on God's blessings and trust him with our situation. Even that mean girl in your office has a role to play, pushing you to do what's right in the eyes of God. Trust Him without reservation. He has nothing but good things waiting for you on the other side of your despair.

And they slew a bullock, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there. 1 Samuel 1:25-26

Monday, February 12, 2024

February 12, 2024

I was once a widow like Ruth, and my Boaz came along and rescued me from my poverty, or maybe it was me rescuing him from his poverty. Either way, we created a wonderful life full of God's blessings.

Boaz went before the city and waited for the relative who was a closer relative to Naomi's deceased husband, Elimelech, and to Mahlon, her son who was the deceased husband of Ruth, Naomi's daughter-in-law. He was the one who was supposed to redeem the property. Boaz invited other dignitaries to the city gate to witness the transaction. He was all for the purchase until Boaz told him he would have to marry Ruth as part of the deal. He immediately rejected the proposal and passed it on to Boaz, who was next in line for the purchase. I believe Boaz was more than happy with the other relative's decision to let the property and Ruth go to him. The Bible doesn't say there was a wedding ceremony; the property purchase may have been the only ceremony needed, but I'm only guessing. Ruth and Boaz consummated their relationship, and she became pregnant with a son they called Obed. He became the father of Jesse, King David's father. David eventually led to Jesus. You may get bored with the biblical genealogy, but it is an integral part of the scriptures, showing the royal thread that sews the characters together with our ultimate redeemer, Jesus. If you are single and long for a mate, remember that Jesus is our one true love. Fall in love with him; he is all you need until he gives you the desires of your heart. What a perfect story for this season, especially as we approach Valentine's Day. 

And the women said unto Naomi, Blessed be the LORD, which hath not left thee this day without a kinsman, that his name may be famous in Israel. And he shall be unto thee a restorer of thy life, and a nourisher of thine old age: for thy daughter in law, which loveth thee, which is better to thee than seven sons, hath born him. Ruth 4:14-15

Sunday, February 11, 2024

February 11, 2024

The romantic interaction between Ruth and Boaz begins. Naomi encouraged Ruth to bathe, make herself pretty, and go see Boaz, where he was working on the threshing floor. The harvest season was over; like any businessman, he was celebrating his accomplishment, so he was quite happy. Naomi told Ruth to wait and go to him after his meal and pay attention to where he lay; she may have attended a party there. Ruth did as she was told, and after he had fallen asleep, she uncovered his feet and lay there. She started him and asked him to cover her with his skirt and told him that he was her kinsman redeemer, meaning she thought he was her nearest kin to marry her and redeem her inheritance from her deceased husband, Mahlon. Being an older man, Boaz was overtaken that a young woman would come to him rather than go for a younger man. I know what you're thinking, but it didn't happen. The scripture says she left before they could "know" one another:

And she lay at his feet until the morning: and she rose up before one could know another. And he said, Let it not be known that a woman came into the floor. Ruth 3:14

The plot thickens! Boaz told her that there was another man who was a closer relative than he was and would handle the situation for her and see if that man wanted to redeem her. Boaz wanted her but knew he couldn't have her legally if this other man chose to redeem her. Boaz took the weight off her, so she didn't have to handle the situation herself. Boaz was a gentleman who didn't force himself upon her but waited until she came to him. This is a picture of our relationship with Jesus. When we go to him and ask, he will redeem us from the clutches of sin. He chooses us but waits for us to come to him, where he then covers us with his cloak of protection.