I Samuel 10

Vs. 24, “Samuel said to all the people, “Do you see the man the LORD has chosen? There is no one like him among all the people.” Then the people shouted, “Long live the king!”  Earlier in our chapter, Samuel anoints Saul to be Israel’s king (vs. 1).  In a series of interesting events, Samuel instructs Saul through three future events (vs. 1-9).  They were most likely given to Saul to give him outward signs and encourage him.  You can imagine that Saul was in shock mode as all these revelations were coming to him.  He was simply looking for his father’s donkeys and now is to become the first king of Israel.  Though God was granting Israel their king, it wasn’t exactly the way they had perceived it.  God was in control and would play a pivotal role.  Samuel would remind the Israelites at Mizpah about their rejection of the LORD (vs. 17-19) before he would cast lots before the people for the divine revealed choice (vs. 20-26).  It’s interesting that when it pointed to Samuel that he was hiding himself among the baggage (vs. 22), once again just showing us how overwhelming this was!  Though God rose up valiant men to be with Saul (vs. 26), there was also a troublemaker’s who were in opposition (vs. 27).

Regarding application…Reassuring Signs.  The LORD didn’t have to give Saul three signs to reassure him (two strangers, three men, prophesying), but He did.  I think it’s also important to note that Saul did not request these signs.  God already knew the trepidation and fear he would have to hear such news.  I must confess, there have been times I have specially requested signs in the past from God.  But I’ve realized God often gives us signs in hindsight to help us confirm His faithfulness.  When the Pharisee’s and teachers demanded a sign (Matthew 12:38-41, Luke 11:29-32) from Jesus, He knew it was out of a lack of faith.  God can give us reassuring signs in all sorts of ways; bible, prayer, church, conversations with people, events that transpire, etc.  The more we are “in step” with the Lord, the more we will notice His reassuring signs.  For example, I have two church members who drive mini-coupers.  I never really noticed any out and about until I started seeing their car at church.  Now, everywhere I go, it seems I see a mini-couper driving around.  Likewise, the more we know God, the more will notice His signs in our lives!

Judges 20

Vs. 1, “Then all the Israelites from Dan to Beersheba and from the land of Gilead came out as one man and assembled before the LORD in Mizpah.”  In a crazy turn of events, the Levite’s shocking act at the end of our previous chapter has brought all the tribes of Israel together except for Benjamin.  The Levite’s testimony was not quite accurate and he basically bore false testimony (vs. 4).  Notice he stated they tried to kill him, but we know from our previous chapter they wanted to have sex with him.  The Levites actions towards his concubine were just as atrocious.  But, the people of Israel only got one side of the story and they assemble an impressive army of 400,000 soldiers (vs. 17).  The Israelites gather together and vow they will destroy the men of Gibeah and not hand their daughters over in marriage to the men of Benjamin (vs. 13, Judges 21:1-7).  The Benjamites gather in solidarity and vow they will not allow their close relatives from Gibeah to be judged and killed.  Sadly, this would lead to civil war.  In fact, we haven’t seen this type of purpose and oneness in Israel against any of the pagan nations.  After it was all said and done (vs. 18-40), there were only four hundred Benjamite men who had survived war.

Regarding application…Dealing With Sin.  Vs. 13, “Now surrender those wicked men of Gibeah so that we may put them to death and purge the evil from Israel.” But the Benjamites would not listen to their fellow Israelites.”  Question: How do we respond when confronted with sin?  Regardless of the actions of the other tribes, the tribe of Benjamin should have considered the atrocities of their fellow brothers in Gibeah.  Thousands upon thousands of people’s lives were literally at stake.  But in the midst of emotion and wrongdoing, our judgment gets impaired.  Perhaps we have seen such a scenario play out in our own lives; family, friendship or church.  The ending of the book of Judges doesn’t sugarcoat the result of what sin can do.  Let us continue to be humbled, contrite and also extending forgiveness in our lives!

Judges 19

Vs. 1, “In those days Israel had no king.  Now a Levite who lived in a remote area in the hill country of Ephraim took a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah.”  I will preface, this is one of the most disturbing chapters you will read in the Bible.  Question: Why a Levite?  Levites were supposed to be one of Israel’s spiritual leaders as the priesthood, yet this example shows us the extant of moral depravity.  Our unnamed Levite makes Jonathan the Levite from our last couple of chapters look like a good man.  This Levite was not living in one of the cities the LORD had allotted for the Levites.  Additionally, he takes on a concubine (second-class wife who performed marriage duties without the legal rights of a wife) which shows his lack of integrity as a godly man.  Her unfaithfulness led her to flee her husband and go back to her father in Bethlehem (vs. 2).  Although some scholars point out that her unfaithfulness was not adultery, rather a quarrel and by leaving him, she was unfaithful.  After missing her for four months, he travels to Bethlehem to come back to him (vs. 3).  In Bethlehem, the Levite spends extra days indulging in drinking and eating with his concubine’s father (vs. 4-10).  Traveling in the times of Judges was a dangerous thing (vs. 11-15) as we see the Levite take precautions to travel four more miles to Gibeah a place where Israelites resided.   And shockingly, our story takes a horrible turn (vs. 16-26).  Reminiscent of Lot’s situation in Sodom (Genesis 19 1-11), men from the town of Gibeah are demanding to have sex with the Levite priest.  The old man who at this point seemed to be a great host not only offers his own daughter but also the Levites concubine so that they will not rape his guest.  To our surprise, the Levite does not protest and allows these men to rape his concubine all night.  We are shocked to see the Levites response to the dying concubine (vs. 27-28) as he throws her on his donkey to set out for home.  In anger and justice, he cuts up her now dead body and sends her body to each of the twelve tribes (vs. 29-30).  In his twisted morals, he was seeking justice for her, but he himself was the one who had allowed this to happen.  This would lead to civil war.

Regarding application…Wicked Outcome.  Vs. 29, “When he reached home, he took a knife and cut up his concubine, limb by limb, into twelve parts and sent them into all the areas of Israel.”  This is a chilling chapter of moral degradation, violence, rape and shocking desecration.  Everyone in Israel was doing what they thought was right in their own eyes.  Sadly, the victimization of the concubine has not stopped in the world today.  People who are wicked can do things that are unthinkable.  Besides the concubine, the priest, the host and the men of Gibeah all did horrific things.   Even though this type of wickedness doesn’t make sense in the world, the fact that such a thing happened in the Bible prevents us from being naïve.  I suppose one thing we can take away from this is that we should not be bystanders.  Consider how you can be a Good Samaritan or find a cause that can help those in need.  It makes me perplexed yet thankful that God could so love the world that He gave his one and only son (John 3:16).

Hosea 10

Vs. 1, “Israel was a spreading vine; he brought forth fruit for himself.  As his fruit increased, he built more altars; as his land prospered, he adorned his sacred stones.”  We continue the description of what God’s people were doing.  They were supposed to be a vine that represented the fruit of God, but now they took the fruit of God and gave honor to themselves and other gods.  We see the evidence of spiritual decline as they professed they had no king (vs. 3).  It’s as if they were saying, “God can’t do anything for us anyway.”  Hosea reminds them of their civil war in Gibeah (vs. 9) and how again defeat will come to them (vs. 14-15).

Regarding application…Honoring God.  Vs. 12, “Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the LORD, until he comes and showers righteousness on you.”  Question: What was keeping Israel from honoring God?  Deceit (vs. 13).  They thought that all the other things in their lives and their thoughts would not affect how God responded.  Remember, we are to worship the Lord in spirit and in truth (John 4:24).  It’s not about what we perceive to be good.  For example, the so-called righteous Pharisees looked quite good in their reverence to God.  But, God knew their hearts.  Anytime we have the opportunity to come and worship God, the Lord knows what the intention of our hearts are.  Let’s not make the mistake of putting other things in front of the Lord.  The Lord waits for our hearts and His grace is always abundant.  Seek the Lord with all your heart.