God’s voice kicks off the book, calling Samuel, but after that is something of a deus ex machina, engineering plot twists and victories. Very much a narrative with little editorialising or sermonising. You can’t assume because a character is a bible hero or villian everything they do is God’s will or is evil. They go in and out of obedience. Samuel plants a rock, Ebenezer, that stands constant throughout. Samuel, the rock and the ark are earthly images of God, saying the truth, constant, a power unable to be tamed to personal ambitions.
Samuel’s story is one of grace vs earthly power. God’s blessing passes to him from the previous preist Eli’s family, because God called him. The story echos the Kingship struggle that will come.
David is the hero of the book, in tune with God but he does some dreadful things. Particularly after Samuel dies, David goes a bit astray.
Saul is a tortured villian, constantly repenting but unable to relinquish his love for his own power.
Jonathon is the most grace filled, obedient person in the book, he is shown winning a victory by trusting God, in contrast to his father King Saul, and then accepts God’s choice when David is anointed to his inheritance.
God speaks through a number of grace filled women in the book too, Samuel’s mother, Micah and Abigail, David’s wives, and even a fortune teller Saul resorts to.
So I learned to look for God’s will in life, to live obediently, be prepared to let my own plans go. I saw the line of Jesus established through relentless unblinking plans and grace of God, and I read a ripping yarn of how those plans are executed through sinful actors and second best situations.
The call of Samuel, grace arriving and grace departing
1 Samuel`s choosing by God… miraculous birth, check, humble god-fearing parents, check
2 About being chosen and grace. We are able to choose to be among chosen today. Samuel compared to corrupt priest’s sons. He is dedicated to live in the temple
3 God calls Samuel 3 times. Eli the priest interprets, knowing the grace has left his family
An untamed God… attempts to bend the Ark to human service
4 A nation ripe for spiritual transformation, treating the Ark like a magic box to win battles. Eli, the source of this form of idolatry, and his sons, die in battle.
5 Philistines capture the Ark and find it powerful. Jehovah is not tame. I wonder why they don’t believe, but then with more evidence than them, why don’t we?
6 The Ark freaks out the Philistines, they send it back, then Israelites are disrespectful and many die. Weve been warned. Don`t pick a fight with God.
Samuel’s leadership – not enough
7 Samuel leads Israel. God win the next victory, the people have well directed reverence. Samuel plants a rock, Ebenezer. A reminder of how Jesus is planted in history like a rock
8 The people ask for a King. Samuel and God think its a bad idea. The people persist, Its another plan B that ends up being the plan
Saul – aware he should acknowledge God but clings to his own kingship
9 Saul is chosen as King
10 He has the characteristics of a good king, humility, good looks, he’s from the least tribe (Benjamin) to avoid disputes
11 Saul wins a victory in the Lord`s name, but the people give him the kudos. Win-win is not the third commandment, we mustn`t expect that life will deliver goods for following God
12 Some coronation speech from now old Samuel: God is the only king. Earthly king represents any earthly hope, it will fail, it will disappoint
13 Trust and obey… Saul thinks there is another way, him allowing circumstances to make an exception… so they head into battle not in God`s trust….
14 Contrasting victories of Saul and son Jonathon, the legalist and the believer. Saul seems to have lost confidence in God, Jonathon improvises counting on God to reward his obedience
15 Another act of disobedience and Samuel is forced to predict the end of Saul’s kingship. Samuel no longer supports Saul, the men love each other, its a very sad chapter
David’s path to the throne – flawed guy, but accepting God’s kingship
16 Samuel anoints David as King while Saul still reigns, the spirit leaves Saul and comes to David. Did Saul sense it in him when he got David to court for his musical ability?
17 David and Goliath, boldly improvising based on faith in God. I pray for boldness
18 David offers the foreskins of philistines as a bride price. I contemplate whether this is God’s will or just a reported incident. Samuel is low on editorialising. Saul, tortured by Davids grace, channels it into hating David rather than repentence
19 Saul chases David, he runs to Samuel. All the players wind up worshipping God, its extraordinary. I contemplate D J Trump winning the US election
20 Saul back to wild jealousy, throws a spear at Jonathon for even mentioning David. The friends bid an emotional farewell, they both accept and obey where Saul cannot
21 David on the run fudging and lying a bit… including feigning madness. He’s not perfect
22 God’s plan continues despite David’s unfaithfuless, his lie last chapter results in deaths, and Saul’s murderous rage he has been told is futile. Our disobedience only hurts us, not God’s plans
23 The great chase, Saul after David. One full of grace, the other empty and self serving
24 Delivered into David’s hands, he can’t act against Saul, because he is God’s anointed
25 David marries while in exile… odd episode foreshadows his weakness, Abigail his new wife has a story of grace. And tossed in… Samuel’s death. Why isn’t this book called ‘David’
26 Saul in a cycle of murderous rage and repentence towards David, who shows him mercy many times. Tortured guy. Saint or sinner, I wonder.
27 Not ready to be king, David becomes a mercinary, loyal to Israel by deception, but … I conclude not true to God’s
28 Two sinners, Saul and David. One accepts God’s kingship, the other doesn’t because he doesn’t like the truth that his is over
29 David’s deception as a traitor to the Philistine King comes to a head when he is scheduled to fight the Israelites. The other generals send him home, divine intervention. H’es living in enemy territory, as I often feel I am. Needs to start living for God.
30 All that David has in Philstine is destroyed by invaders. He addresses God for the first time in chapters. Its time to go home…