Apr. 26. Samuel’s Death; David and Abigail

I Sam. 25:1-44; Ps. 54:1-7

After many years as a prophet and servant of God, Samuel died. He had been given to the Lord by his mother before his birth and remained faithful to his ministry throughout his life. David moved from En Gedi to the Wilderness of Paran, also known as Maon.

Nabal was a very wealthy man with vast herds of sheep and goats. His shepherds had coexisted peacefully with David and had received his protection for a period of time. David sent ten of his men to request provisions for his army, but they were harshly refused.

In his anger, David gathered four hundred of his men, leaving two hundred others with the supplies and set out to destroy Nabal and his men. One of Nabal’s servants went to Nabal’s wife, Abigail with the report of his evil deed and the plot of David.

Sometimes it takes the actions of a good wife to rescue her husband from his misdeeds. Abigail realized that David was a good man and that the Lord had appointed him to be “ruler over Israel.” Because of her wisdom and kindness, David relented from his mission of revenge. After Abigail had told Nabal of David’s plans and his rescue, he suffered a medical catastrophe and died ten days later.

Saul had taken his daughter, David’s wife, Michal and given her to another man. David soon married Abigail. It is likely that he came into possession of Nabal’s property after marrying her. In an era when men were married to multiple wives, he also married Ahinoam.

During David’s exile from Israel, he spent much time in the Wilderness of Ziph. The Ziphites, loyal to Saul reported David’s location which added to his anxieties. Those periods of uncertainty led him to pen another Psalm of supplication to God.

As with other psalms the poet began with a prayer for deliverance from the oppressors who sought his life. He recognized God as his strong deliverer. His oppressors had failed to call upon God, but He was with those who would aid David. He ended the psalm with praise to God for His deliverance.

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Apr. 25. Saul Spared

I Sam. 24:1-22; Ps. 57:1-11; 142:1-7

After Saul had returned from following the Philistines, someone reported to him that David was in the Wilderness of En Gedi. That area was an oasis on the west shore of the Dead Sea.

As Saul was inside the cave in which David happened to be hiding, David had an excellent opportunity to kill the king. Instead of taking the life of “the Lord’s anointed,” he only cut off a corner of Saul’s robe.

Later, after David had confronted Saul with the piece of his garment, the king wept and stated, “You are more righteous than I; for you have rewarded me with good, whereas I have rewarded you with evil…” Saul affirmed to David that he would, indeed be king of Israel.

New kings usually killed the families of the previous king in order to prevent future uprisings. Saul pled with David to spare his descendants. They then made a covenant and David swore that he would not cut off Saul’s descendants nor destroy his name from his father’s house. However, not fully trusting Saul, David remained in the Wilderness of En Gedi.

David, the Psalmist continued to write about his frustrations and fears while protecting himself from Saul. He used colorful words to describe his troubles. Even though not deserved, God’s mercy covers His children as a bird covers her fledglings under her wings. David’s enemies had prepared elaborate methods to capture, but through God’s mercy he could be saved from them. The poet concluded his Psalm by praising God for His deliverance. He exalted God above the heavens and earth.

In his next Psalm, David expressed some of the same fears of his earlier writings. Without God, one is overwhelmed within his despair. With God, who knows one’s path, there is deliverance from persecution and a strong refuge for salvation. In recognizing His blessings, David praised God.

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Apr. 24. David’s Continuous Exile

I Sam. 23:1-29; Ps. 63:1-11

The Philistines began to rob the threshing floors of the city of Keilah. That was a severe blow to their food supply. After inquiring from God, David and his now six-hundred-man army attacked the Philistines and saved the inhabitants of the city.

Saul, in his relentless effort to kill David imagined that he would be an easy target surrounded by the walls of Keilah. Upon hearing the counsel of God, David and his men departed and went into the mountainous wilderness of Ziph to escape the king and his men.

While in Ziph, Saul’s son, Jonathan came to David to encourage him. They made a covenant and Jonathan pledged his loyalty to the future king.

David then moved on to another desolated area in the wilderness of Maon and from there to En Gedi where there were many caves in which to hide. Saul was forced to abandon his pursuit of David because of an invasion of the Philistines against his land.

During David’s flight from Saul, he had periods of time for meditation upon God and His protective love for him. In one of his psalms, David wrote of his dependence upon God when he was in a dry and thirsty land.

God’s children recognize His power and glory and are eager to express their praise to Him. David praised God and rejoiced for His protection under His wings. He had faith that God would continue to deliver him from those who sought to take his life and that they would fall by the sword.

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Apr. 23. David’s Flight Continues

I Sam. 22:1-23; Ps. 52:1-9

The fugitive, David realized that his family was also in jeopardy because of his deteriorated relationship with the king. Being a descendant of the Moabitess, Ruth he received permission for his family to dwell in their land until it was safe for them to return to their home in Judah. He assembled a small army of about four hundred men for protection from King Saul.

Previously, David, in his desperate situation had pretended to be insane. Saul also was desperate in his own mind regarding David, the successor-to-be of his throne. He intended to kill David at whatever cost that was necessary. Having received information from his servant Doeg about the aid that David had gotten from Ahimelech, the priest, Saul called for the priest to account for his action

Saul ordered his servants to kill Ahimelech. However, because of their loyalty to the priests of God, they refused the king’s order. Doeg, an Edomite executed Saul’s decree and killed Ahimelech and eighty-four other priests along with women, children and livestock of the priestly city of Nob. Abiathar, one of Ahimelech’s sons escaped to report to David the massacre of his family and found protection with the future king.

It is thought that David wrote about the acts of Doeg in this psalm. The first part addresses the man and his love of evil. Following the commitment of evil are the consequences of punishment and the derision of the righteous against evil doers. In contrast, the righteous are strong and full of vitality and praise for the Lord.

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Apr. 22. David and Jonathan Part Ways; David’s Flight

I Sam. 20:1-21:15; Ps. 56:1-13; 34:1-22

David continued to hide from Saul. He went to Jonathan to inquire of his safety. As the two friends talked, David made a covenant with Jonathan that he would not cut off his kindness toward his house forever. Jonathan evidently knew that David was the future king instead of himself. Years later, David respected that covenant in a very special way.

The day of the New Moon was a special feast day for Israel. David was expected to be at the king’s table during that time. However, fearing for his safety, he informed Jonathan that he would not be there. They devised a signal that would indicate if David could return to the king’s house or must stay away.

After the feast of the New Moon, David and Jonathan met one last time before parting. It was a touching farewell as the two men, “Kissed one another; and they wept together, but David more so.” David departed and Jonathan returned into the city. Only one more brief meeting between the two friends is recorded in the Scriptures.

After leaving Jonathan, David went to Nob. He went to the priest seeking food and weapons. The priest believed his story of being there on business for the king and gave him Goliath’s spear and holy bread from the tabernacle. Doeg, an Edomite, Saul’s chief herdsman saw what had taken place and later reported it to the king.

Sometimes desperate people do desperate things. David went from Nob to the Philistine city of Gath and to Achish, the king. When the king’s servants pointed out that he was David the king, he pretended to be insane. That allowed him some time to move on.

During his flight, David wrote other psalms. He lamented the fact that his enemies were seeking his destruction. Even in his wretched condition, David put his trust in God to care for him. He declared that he would continue to praise God because He had saved David’s soul from death in order that he could continue to walk with Him.

As David began another psalm, he invited his readers to join him in praising God. He pointed out that those who fear/respect and seek God have no reason to fear/be afraid of others. Those who do not have a proper respect for God are instructed to guard themselves from evil and seek to do good. He sees and cares for the righteous, but turns His face against the evil ones. No one is exempt from troubles and afflictions, but the Lord delivers the righteous and condemns the wicked.

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Apr. 21. Jealousy in the Palace

I Sam. 18:1-19:24; Ps. 59:1-17

Following the defeat of Goliath, Saul set David over the men of war. He and the king’s son, Jonathan became very close friends to the extent that they made a covenant. Jonathan gave David his robe, armor, weapons and belt as a sign of their friendship.

In time, David’s popularity grew because of his conquests in war. The women danced and sang, “Saul has slain his thousands, And David his ten thousands.” This made the king angry and from that time forward, because of his jealousy, he sought a way to kill David. He saw how the Lord had left him and was with David.

After two failures of his own to kill David, Saul demoted him to captain over a thousand men in hopes that he would be killed in battle. He also schemed that if he gave him his daughter as a wife, “The hands of the Philistines may be against him.” Saul thought that David would be killed as he brought one hundred foreskins of the Philistines for payment of Michal. He fulfilled the requirement of Saul and received Michal as his wife. That also failed to accomplish his desire as he saw that the Lord was still with David.

Evidence of an impending split among the Israelites began to show as, “All Israel and Judah loved David, because he went out and come in before them.” In time, that division would separate Judah from the rest of Israel.

Jealousy causes mental instability. Saul told his son, Jonathan and all of his servants that they should kill David. Jonathan informed him of Saul’s plan and advised him to hide out until morning and he would speak to his father. He persuaded the king that David had done well toward him and had risked his own life in confronting Goliath. Saul changed his mind about killing David and, “He was in his presence as in times past.”

There was another war with the Philistines. As before, David was victorious and the king became depressed from David’s popularity and tried again to kill him as he played music for Saul.

David escaped and fled to his home, but there was no safety there as the king’s men had orders to kill him the following morning. His wife, Saul’s daughter helped him to escape in the night. David then went to Ramah and reported to Samuel all that had taken place. Saul was unsuccessful in his attempts to take David.

It is probable that David wrote another of his psalms during his escape from Saul.

The beginning of the psalm was a prayer that God would deliver David from his enemies. He felt falsely accused because he had done nothing to deserve their wrath. The writer urged God to not only punish his enemies, but all nations of wicked transgressors. He likened his persecutors as vicious dogs.

David concluded the psalm by praising his God of mercy for deliverance. He compared his troubles and deliverance to the contrast of evening and morning. The evening brings on darkness and the morning ushers in the rays of light. “To You, O my Strength, I will sing praises; For God is my defense, My God of mercy.”

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Apr. 20. David and Goliath

I Sam. 17:1-58

The continuing conflict between Israel and the Philistines erupted again with the armies of each gathered on opposite mountains facing each other. There was a “champion” of the Philistines, a giant man of great height. He continually challenged the Israelites to send someone to meet him in a personal battle. The people of the one who would be killed would be servants of the other nation.

David’s father, Jesse had sent him to check on the welfare of his three oldest brothers. Upon hearing the challenge from the giant, he was disturbed that God’s armies were being defied and volunteered to face Goliath.

Saul was notified of David’s words and sent for him. Seeing that he was only a youth Saul initially rejected his offer, but David convinced him that the Lord would deliver him from Goliath.

The weight of Saul’s armor was so great that David could not walk. He removed them because, “I have not tested them.” Armed with his staff, sling and five smooth stones, he ran forward to face Goliath. In reply to the giant’s belittling remarks, David said, “You come to me with a sword, with a spear, and with a javelin. But I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts…and He will give you into our hands.”

With the hurling of one stone that struck Goliath in the center of his forehead, the Lord delivered the Philistines into the hand of David. He used Goliath’s own sword and cut off his head and took it to Jerusalem as a trophy. David also took the giant’s armor as spoils of his victory.

Due to the possibility of an extended period of time between David’s service as harpist and the slaying of Goliath, Saul did not recognize him and inquired of his army commander, Abner who also did not know him. David later identified himself to the king.

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Apr. 19. Saul Rejected as King; Shepherd Boy David Chosen

I Sam. 14:47-16:23; Ps. 23:1-6

“So Saul established his sovereignty over Israel…” The Lord allowed Saul to prevail against his enemies. His cousin, Abner became commander of his army.

During the wilderness wandering, the Amalekites had fought against God’s children. Then, many years later, the Lord instructed Saul through Samuel to utterly (completely, leaving nothing) destroy them as punishment for their evil deeds. He had a “better idea.” Instead of following God’s requirements, they took King Agag as a prisoner and the best of their livestock as spoil.

As man has done throughout history, Saul blamed someone else for his shortcomings. In the Garden of Eden, Eve blamed the serpent for her sin; Adam blamed the woman; and Saul said, “…the people spared the best of the sheep and the oxen, to sacrifice to the Lord your God…” We, like Saul are responsible for our own actions and will be held accountable.

“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord?…He also has rejected you from being king.”

Those words stung the proud king like the sting of a bee. He confessed that he had sinned and begged Samuel not to leave him. However, Samuel turned back and accompanied Saul as he worshipped the Lord.

After executing Agag, Samuel, “went no more to see Saul until the day of his death.” Samuel mourned for Saul and God regretted that He had made Saul king over Israel.

Samuel was deeply distressed and mourned Saul’s departure from God. It was time to move on. God sent him to Jesse to anoint one of his sons to be the next king. After his seven brothers had been rejected by God, the boy, David was brought in from tending the sheep. He was selected to succeed Saul. David, the son of Jesse was a great-great grandson of Rahab and a great grandson of Ruth.

Upon being anointed by Samuel, “The Spirit of the Lord came upon David from that day forward.” As the Spirit came upon David, a distressing spirit came upon Saul. He had left God and God had allowed an evil spirit (possibly depression?) to enter Saul.

Through a suggestion from one of Saul’s servants, David was selected to come and play the harp to help ease his depression. Since he did not know that he was his successor, David found favor with Saul and became his armor bearer as well as his musician.

During his lifetime, David was also a great writer. Many of the psalms are attributed to him. Since he had been a shepherd, he wrote about the relationship of the Lord and His sheep in one of the most quoted passages in the Scriptures. It is possible that this may have been written to provide comfort to Saul during his periods of depression.

Sheep are totally dependent upon their shepherd for their care and protection. God, the Good Shepherd provides everything necessary for our spiritual and material well-being. Even as this life nears its end, God has made preparation for us to, “Dwell in the house of the lord forever.”

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Apr. 18. Saul’s Reign Begins; Samuel’s Farewell

I Sam. 11:1- 14:46

The Philistines were Israel’s enemies on their western side and the Ammonites were a threat east of them. As the Ammonite king, Nahash prepared to attack the people of Jabesh Gilead, they proposed that he make a covenant and they would serve them. The condition of surrender was that the Ammonites would put out all of their right eyes—a disgrace and sign of weakness. A period of seven days was given in order to notify all of Israel of the proposition and to prepare an answer.

Saul, who was not yet recognized as their king acted more as a judge. The Holy Spirit led him as his hastily assembled army soundly defeated the Ammonites. That victory confirmed his qualifications in the eyes of the people. They called for the deaths of the men who had rebelled against Saul’s selection as king. He refused their request and stated that, “Today the Lord has accomplished salvation in Israel.” The kingdom was then renewed and Saul was made king in Gilgal with great rejoicing.

As Samuel began his farewell speech, he stated that if he had taken anything from them, he would restore it. They stated that he had not misused his position in any way.

Samuel continued by reminding the people of their historic heritage and the sins that they had committed along the way. He especially rebuked them for asking for a king to lead them instead of trusting in God for their deliverance. He admonished them to follow the Lord and to serve Him with all their heart. Rebellion would bring destruction. We should follow that same admonition today.

Saul began his reign as king of Israel in humility, but as time passed, pride began to overshadow his humility. His son, Jonathan seemed to be his “right hand man” or at least a close officer. Jonathan and a thousand poorly equipped men, by the power of God defeated a garrison of the seemingly ever-present Philistines. After that, the Philistines gathered an immense force against Saul’s meager army. Seeing their dangerous position, the men of Israel scattered and hid from their enemy.

The first of a series of mistakes that Saul committed occurred when Samuel failed to meet him at the time he had expected. Saul took it upon himself to offer a burnt offering to God. That seemed to him to be an appropriate action under the circumstances, BUT Saul was not a priest or even of the Levitical tribe which was to offer sacrifices. Samuel informed him of his foolish deed and said, “But now your kingdom shall not continue.”

Sometime later, Jonathan took his armor bearer and approached another garrison of the Philistines. Thinking that they were Israelites coming out of hiding, the Philistines called for them to, “Come up to us, and we will show you something.” That was their sign that God was with them. Again, by the power of God they attacked and defeated those Philistines.

During Jonathan’s absence, Saul had mistakenly placed a curse on anyone who ate that day before he had taken vengeance on his enemies. Jonathan being unaware of the curse had eaten some honey that he had found. Saul was ready to kill his own son because of the curse but the people rescued him.

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Apr. 17. “We Will Have A King.”

I Sam. 8:1-10:27

As Samuel became an old man, he appointed his sons, Joel and Abijah to be judges over Israel. They were corrupt in their dealings with the people by taking bribes and perverting justice. The elders of Israel confronted Samuel with their dissatisfaction of his sons’ leadership and demanded that they have a king like the other nations around them.

Samuel was displeased at their rejection of his leadership and took his problem to the Lord. God instructed him to do as the people said, “For they have not rejected you, but have rejected Me…” In allowing their demands, Samuel was to let them know how they would be treated by their future kings. Their final response was, “No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.”

Saul was a young Benjamite man. His father, Kish sent him and a servant out to find his lost herd of donkeys. After failing to find them after three days of searching, Saul suggested that they return home because his father would be concerned about them instead of the donkeys. As a last effort, Saul decided to seek out the man of God that was in the city at that time. Perhaps he could direct them to their donkeys.

Meanwhile, God had notified Samuel that He was sending a man about that time the next day for him to anoint as, “commander over My people Israel.” When he met Saul, he told him that his donkeys had been found, but he added, “And on whom is all the desire of Israel. Is it not on you and on all your father’s house?” Saul was amazed that he, of the least of the families of Benjamin who was also the least of the tribes of Israel would hear a man of God speak to him in that manner. God has used the lowly and humble to do many great works.

The day following their first meeting, Samuel anointed Saul by pouring a flask of oil on his head. That indicated God’s favor upon the king, prophet or priest that had been anointed. He would serve under God’s direction. Samuel gave Saul three signs that would prove to him that he indeed was God’s anointed.

Samuel called the people together for a formal selection/presentation of their new king. He reminded them of their rejection of God, who had led them out of Egypt and later delivered them from their oppressors. In a type of lot casting, Saul was chosen. He was a tall handsome man and stood head and shoulders above all of the people. His physical appearance indicated strength and power in a leader. The people were happy and shouted, “Long live the king!”

After the ceremony, Samuel sent everyone home and Saul returned to his home in Gibeah about three miles north of Jerusalem. But, there were some rebels who were unhappy with the day’s events.

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Apr. 16. Ark of the Covenant Captured and Returned; Samuel Judges Israel

I Sam. 4:2-7:17

The Philistines were bitter enemies of the Israelites. They engaged in many battles with them—both successfully and unsuccessfully. Soon after Samuel’s appointment as God’s prophet, Israel fought a war with Philistia and lost four thousand soldiers in a disastrous defeat.

Following that defeat, the Israelites mistakenly took the ark of the covenant with them into the next battle. They had the ark, but not God’s presence. Thirty thousand foot soldiers, including Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas died. The ark was also captured by the Philistines and placed unceremoniously before Dagon, the god of the Philistines.

A messenger reported to Eli that his two sons had died in battle and that the ark of the covenant had been captured. The news that the ark had been captured caused Eli to fall backward. The fall broke his neck and he died at the age of ninety-eight years.

Phinehas’ wife heard the news of the capture of the ark of God and the deaths of Eli and her husband. The shock of that news caused her to go into labor. Soon after naming her baby son Ichabod, she also died. The prophecy against Eli’s family was beginning to be fulfilled.

Sometimes what one thinks is a good thing turns out to be not so good. The Philistines in their exuberance of capturing the ark learned that even though God had turned His back upon Israel, He refused to allow their god, Dagon to prevail against the ark. It fell before the ark and its head and hands broke off leaving only its torso.

Plagues broke out in every city in which the Philistines moved the ark of God. By then, no one wanted it in their presence. They asked that it be sent back to its own place. Man and his gods cannot prevail against God.

After seven months of misery, the Philistines called for their priests and diviners to tell them how to return the ark of the covenant to the Israelites. They were instructed to make a trespass offering of five golden images of both the tumors and rats that had afflicted them and to place them in a chest on a cart beside the ark. The cart was to be pulled by two milk cows that had never been yoked. If they took the cart with its load to the Israelites instead of returning to their calves, they would know that it had been God who had afflicted them because of the ark and not a by chance occurrence.

There was great celebration in the Israelite city of Beth Shemesh when they saw the ark. They used the wood of the cart for fire and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. However, in their excitement, some of the men opened the ark. Only priests and Levites were allowed to touch it. Because of their disrespect, God destroyed fifty thousand and seventy men of Beth Shemesh. The ark was taken to Beth Jearim where it remained for twenty years.

Israel continued to suffer at the hand of the Philistines. Samuel, the judge and prophet of God convinced them to put their gods away and return to the true God. As the Israelites were meeting for worship and rededication at Mizpeh, the Philistines again went up to attack them. With God’s help, His children were able to subdue them. They once again lived in peace.

“And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.”

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Apr. 15. Samuel, A Child of Promise Is Born; Begins Ministry.

I Sam. 1:1-4:1

One of God’s purposes for placing women on the earth was to bear children. Women who were unable to perform that high calling were often unhappy and even scorned by their peers. Such was the case of Hannah, one of the two wives of Elkanah of the tribe of Levi. His other wife, Peninnah scoffed and ridiculed Hannah because of her barrenness.

During their annual trip to the tabernacle at Shiloh to worship and sacrifice to God, Hannah was especially sorrowful. She prayed to the Lord that if He would send her a son, she would give him to the Lord, “all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head.” That was the same Nazirite vow that had been made for Samson many years earlier.

The priest, Eli speaking for God informed Hannah that He would grant her petition. Soon after that occasion, the future judge and prophet, Samuel was born. Hannah fulfilled her promise after the child had been weaned and took Samuel to Eli to begin his life of ministry to the Lord. He was probably two or three years old at the time.

Fathers are heads of their households. The priests of God were especially responsible for setting good examples before the people. Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas were everything but good examples for the people of God to follow. They abused their position of being sons of the priest in the manner in which they accepted their portion of the offerings and in immoral living.

Meanwhile, the righteous Elkanah and Hannah continued to be blessed by the Lord. In addition to Samuel, Hannah bore three sons and two daughters. Each year, when they went to the temple to worship, Samuel’s mother would bring him a new robe. “And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.” That same statement was made about Jesus many years later as He grew into manhood.

God sent a messenger to Eli informing him that because of the wickedness of his sons, the priesthood would be taken from his descendants. Both of his sons would die in the same day and another would succeed him as priest. His descendants would all “die in the flower of their age.”

Samuel was probably about twelve years old and Eli was a blind old man. In order to be of service if needed, he slept near the priest. One night while they were sleeping, Samuel heard a voice call his name. He went to Eli, but it was not him who had called. After the third time that happened, Eli told Samuel to answer, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.”

God instructed Samuel to reaffirm to Eli the things that he had been told previously. The boy, Samuel was in a very difficult position. He loved and respected Eli as a father, BUT the Lord God had given him an unpleasant message to deliver. His house would be judged forever, “because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.” At Eli’s request, Samuel told all to him.

Samuel’s legacy as a prophet had begun. “And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.”

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Apr. 14. Ruth—A Love Story

Ruth 1:1-4:22

There were many turbulent times in the lives of God’s people. Within those times however, peaceful events also occurred. The story of Ruth is a perfect example of peace, love and harmony.

During a period of famine, Elimelech moved from Bethlehem, Judah with his wife, Naomi and two sons, Mahlon and Chilion to the land of Moab. He was able to escape the famine, but soon died in that foreign land. Mahlon and Chilion married Moabitess women, Ruth and Orpah. Within about ten years they both had died leaving their wives as young widows.

The famine in Bethlehem had ended. Naomi determined to leave her daughters-in-law and return home. After first refusing to stay, Orpah kissed her mother-in-law goodbye. However, Ruth in a now classic quote replied, “Entreat me not to leave you, Or to turn back from following after you; For wherever you go, I will go; And wherever you lodge, I will Lodge; Your people shall be my people, And your God, my God. Where you die, I will die, And there will I be buried. The Lord do so to me, and more also, If anything but death parts you and me.”

The Law of Moses required grain harvesters to leave a portion of grain in the field for the poor to glean for their own use. Since it was the time of barley harvest, Ruth went out to glean and happened to be in the field of Boaz, a close relative of her deceased husband.

Boaz had heard of the care that Ruth had given to Naomi and because of her reputation, he gave her special favors. At the end of the day she had gleaned about an ephah of grain. That was equivalent to about six or seven gallons. She continued to glean in Boaz’s fields through the barley and following wheat harvests.

Naomi had returned to Bethlehem bitter toward God for the loss of her husband and sons. Her attitude changed to one of thanksgiving for His allowing Ruth to find favor with Boaz. She then began to focus upon the role of matchmaker between Ruth and Boaz.

Hebrew law required that the near kinsman of a widow’s husband redeem her property if it had to be sold. He would also be responsible to marry a childless widow to raise up children for her deceased husband. Naomi was beyond childbearing age, but she was caring for Ruth’s welfare.

Ruth was guided by Naomi through the steps that would get Boaz’s attention. He was an honorable man and agreed to perform the duties of the near kinsman if the man more kin than he refused to accept his responsibility. That man agreed to redeem Naomi’s land, but when he learned of Ruth, he declined. He released all of his responsibilities to Boaz. As confirmation of his decision, he removed his sandal at the gate before the legal number of witnesses.

Boaz, Ruth and Naomi became a happy family that was prominent in the history of Israel. Ruth soon bore a son, Obed. Naomi became his nurse. More importantly, Boaz, Obed, Jesse and David were in the earthly linage of the Son of God.

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Apr. 13. War with Benjamin and its Consequences

Judg. 20:1-21:25

Israel prepared themselves for war with the tribe of Benjamin after they had failed to deliver the men who had murdered the Levite’s concubine. They selected ten percent of their men of war. After three bloody battles, they had destroyed the complete tribe of Benjamin except for six hundred men who escaped.

What had they done? Sometimes in one’s eagerness to act, he fails to recognize unintended consequences. The Israelites had destroyed the men, women and children of their brother, Benjamin. Only the six hundred men had survived. Because of a vow that they had taken earlier to not allow their daughters to be wives of the Benjaminites, they supposed that Benjamin had been destroyed.

The Israelites devised other schemes that allowed the six hundred Benjaminites to have wives. The tribe of Benjamin had been salvaged and they took their new wives and returned to rebuild their inheritance.

Israel’s existence is summed up in this statement. “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.”

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Apr. 12. Continued Wickedness in Israel

Judg. 17:1-19:30

The Israelites had become corrupt in their lives and worship during the time that the various tribes were taking their inheritances. One such incident occurred during the time that the Danites were preparing to take their land.

After Micah had returned silver that he had stolen from his mother, she returned it to him. He then proceeded to construct various idols to be used in his worship. Micah even enlisted the services of a Levite to be his personal priest.

Meanwhile, the people of Dan sent out five men to spy out the land. They enticed Micah’s priest to leave him and bring the idols and join them. The people of that area felt secure and were unprepared to offer the necessary resistance to prevent the Danites from taking their land. Even though God had allowed the Tribe of Dan to occupy the land, they repaid Him by setting “up for themselves Micah’s carved image which he made…” That was sad about the people of God.

The story was told of a Levite whose wife/concubine had returned to her father’s home. After a period of four months the Levite went to bring her back home to himself. After five days, they began their return trip late in the day. Being unable to complete their journey before night came upon them, they stopped in the Benjamite city of Gibeah.

Wicked men of the city came to the house where they were lodging and after a series of confrontations, the Levite gave his concubine to them—another example of the depravity of the Israelites of that time. After a night of abuse, she was released, but died before she could get inside the house.

The Levite in “righteous” indignation cut the concubine’s body into twelve pieces and distributed it among the Israelites and incited them to go to war against the Benjaminites.

#chronological-bible-study