I'm on a journey to read through the Bible in chronological order. Taking it one day at a time, I will read based on a list I found on the internet and blog about what happened, thoughts provoked, emotions conjured, etc. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Day 113: 1 Chronicles 1-2

I think I may have confused Chronicles with Numbers. I totally thought that Numbers was the genealogy portion of the Bible but was terribly wrong... oh how I'm learning! Looks like I'm in for a tedious couple of weeks!

Apart from giving me amazing name idea for my future children:
  • Arphaxad
  • Hazarmaveth
  • Ishbak
  • Mizzah
  • Dishon
This reading was really hard to get through. 95% of the names are impossible to pronounce and its so hard to keep the lines straight. I understand the importance for keeping these records, but it doesn't make for good reading. It was cool to see how much the earth expanded over time though.. all starting with 2!

One thing I did notice is that daughters are not mentioned, only sons. If someone did not have any sons before they died, either nothing was mentioned about them, or it said that they didn't have any sons. I realize that at the time, women were only identified by a male counterpart--father or husband, but could they not have at least been acknowledged?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Day 112: Psalms 6, 8-10, 14, 16, 19, 21

Lotsa Psalms today! The same theme is continuing--David praising God and asking Him for mercy.

In Psalms 8:
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
5You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings
and crowned him with glory and honor.

he points out that God has made man just below Himself and considers him in all things--what an amazing idea that the Lord of the Heavens even considers us!
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Another portion that really stood out to me was in chapter 16:
5 LORD, you have assigned me my portion and my cup;
you have made my lot secure.

He's talking about his surety in where he stands with God. There is no question that he stands firm and that he will be given what is promised--because God is stable and constant. A refreshing idea in these rocky times.
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Another in chapter 19:
14 May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be pleasing in your sight,
O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.

I've sung songs about this Psalm but never really thought about it. Are my thoughts and words REALLY pleasing to God? Most likely not... I love that the word "meditations" is used. It implies that these are what my heart and soul really dwell on...what do you meditate on? I know that my heart wanders astray more often then it stays focused on what is good.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Day 111: 2 Samuel 1-4

A man comes from the battle after Saul is dead and tells David what happened. The only problem is that he twists the story a bit and tells David that HE killed Saul on his request....David doesn't like that this man is boasting to kill God's anointed and has him killed for essentially blaspheming. Saul's body is finally laid to rest in the ground and David is anointed as king.

A son of Saul is made king over another part of the land and a bitter war ensues between David and his followers and the son of Saul and his followers. A high man in the house of Saul (Abner) defects and goes to David's side--proving to be a powerful ally in securing David's position as king. After Abner leaves, David's right-hand man (Joab) is angry that David just let Abner go (believing he was full of bad intentions) and kills Abner against David's will. David curses Joab--his household will never be without someone ill , hurt or hungry.

Abner's death sends Sauls house into a frenzy and Saul's son's own men kill him while he's taking a nap. They bring his head to David as a "hey lookit what I did for you!". But David is even more displeased at this than the man who claimed to kill Saul. He has them killed and strung up as an example and gives Saul's son a proper burial.

Poor David... people are just killing people for him left and right and bringing him their heads... so faithful, yet so disgusting!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Day 110: Psalm 121, 123-125, 128-130

These are uplifting Psalms about God delivering those who earnestly trust and seek Him. These verses are about waiting patiently for the Lord with prayer and petition for deliverance. Those who turn away from God will be punished and cut off, and those who attend to God will be uplifted. I love thinking of God as a refuge and a stronghold, but it's important to not let that be all He is to you. He doesn't just want you when you are scared and broken, He wants you when you are happy! He wants to weep with you, laugh with you, mourn with you, celebrate with you... take heart, we have an amazing God!

121:

1 I lift up my eyes to the hills—
where does my help come from?

2 My help comes from the LORD,
the Maker of heaven and earth.

130:

5 I wait for the LORD, my soul waits,
and in his word I put my hope.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Day 109: 1 Samuel 28-31; Psalms 18; 1 Chronicles 10

Today is a lot of reading so I apologize if this gets a little lengthy!

Saul fears the Philistines are gearing up to attack and with Samuel dead and God being silent towards him, he is clueless on what to do. He goes to a witch and asks her to conjure up Samuel's spirit--it works, but Samuel is a little ticked that Saul has done this and lets him know that God will come down on him something fierce.

David has been a favorite in the Philistine army and is even made bodyguard of the head leader. Some of the men are worried he will defect in battle because of his Hebrew background, but the leader is confident in David. Meanwhile, a raiding party has raided David's hometown and taken his wives along with all the other women. After consulting with God, he is given blessing to pursue the raiders. He comes across a slave who leads them to where the raiders are partying and slays them all. He recovers every missing person and item and heads home. During all of this, a few hundred men stay back because they are too tired to fight--the ones who fight feel that they should not share in the bounty because they sat with the supplies. But David tells them that all will share in the bounty because they were all in this together...pretty cool :)

Saul becomes hard pressed by the Philistines and is critically wounded by archers. He asks his armor-bearer to kill him, but he refuses. So Saul runs himself through with his sword and his armor-bearer--stricken with grief--kills himself too. The Philistines find Saul, decapitate him, and nail his body to a wall. It is later taken down by the Israelites who give him a proper burial...

David rejoices in a Psalm because he is finally free from Saul--his main oppressor. A main phrase that pops out to me is that God "delighted" in David. What does that mean to have God delight in you? It gives me a warm fuzzy feeling, like God surrounds and blesses... what also sticks out to me is that David claims he is saves because he has been a good boy. This is what greatly differs between the Old and New Testament. Before, it was how clean your hands were and how well you followed The Law...then Jesus comes and we are free from that bondage!!!

The passage from 1 Chronicles is just another version of Saul's death... its all the same except in Samuel, it says Saul's body was fastened to a wall, and in Chronicles, it is his head that is put on the wall... not sure why there is a difference....

Friday, June 25, 2010

Day 108: Psalms 17, 35, 54 & 63

David cries out for mercy from God. He has not sinned and has committed himself to a life of righteousness. He wishes to be rescued from his enemies.

He asks God to go to battle for him. He has done nothing but dole out kindness and mercy and his enemies just wait for him to stumble to point a finger and laugh.

Twice in this reading he asks God to vindicate him with His righteousness. Vindicate can mean avenge or even more importantly liberate. David is so desperate to be free from those that seek to harm him and wants God to completely liberate him from his oppressors.

David truly loves God and his Psalms are a great uplift to those who are facing trials. I think of teens being tormented at school, or the family in debt who just can't get a break--these Psalms can comfort and sustain them. While David is struggling he is resting under God's wing and trusts completely that God will deliver him...

I'll leave you with this:

Psalm 63:

3 Because your love is better than life,
my lips will glorify you.

4 I will praise you as long as I live,
and in your name I will lift up my hands.

5 My soul will be satisfied as with the richest of foods;
with singing lips my mouth will praise you.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Day 107: 1 Samuel 25-27

Samuel dies...I would think they would give him a more glorious exit, but such is the life of a prophet...

David moves to a new city and learns of a man who has a lot of sheep and food and sends men to ask him to give him some goods. Naturally the man has never heard of David and has no interest in giving him anything. David rises up his men for attack but the man's wife (Abigail) stops him along the way with food and drink and apologizes for her husbands wicked actions. David blesses her and later takes her as his wife after her husband does from a heart attack/striking from God.

Saul comes after David again, and David is again given a chance (while Saul is sleeping) to kill him, but spares his life. David knows that the Lord is the one to judge and kill Saul when the time is right. If you remember earlier, David had the chance to kill Saul while he was pooping in a cave, but didn't. Saul recants and apologizes yet again for pursuing him.

David decides that moving to the land of the Philistines is the only way to truly escape Saul. It works and David is welcomed as a member of the Philistines and lives among them. Seems a little weird to me since only a few years ago he killed their best warrior...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Apology

I apologize that I have yet again fallen behind. I've been pretty sick since Sunday and have had trouble focusing on anything for long enough to really glean from it. I will hopefully start tomorrow on 1 Samuel 25-27 and get back on track!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 106: Psalms 56, 120, 140-142

I woke up yesterday feeling a bit icky (body aches, sore throat, swollen nodes, etc.). The ickiness continues today and I fear I've had an on and off fever since last night--took a freezing shower at 1am for respite. Pray my body fights this off soon!!

This grouping of Psalms comes from David's point of view. He is again asking for God to rescue him from the hands of his enemies and deliver him. It is a powerful reminder of just how fervent and faithful David was. He truly sought out God and craved His presence.

Chapter 141: 3-5 shows just how much he wanted to be refined and molded to be a man of God. He asks that God guard his mouth and heart and opens himself up for rebuking if it is necessary. I can't remember the last time I really asked God to search my heart and to fix the nasty things lurking in the corners...

Set a guard over my mouth, O LORD;
keep watch over the door of my lips.

Let not my heart be drawn to what is evil,
to take part in wicked deeds
with men who are evildoers;
let me not eat of their delicacies.

Let a righteous man strike me—it is a kindness;
let him rebuke me—it is oil on my head.
My head will not refuse it.

David wants to be an example--he wants people to see that is is different and wonder why. This is something I feel that a lot of Christians want, but never really take the leap of faith to achieve. I am just as guilty of this as the next person. I want to be a leader and be someone that points others to God... but I think my desires get easily swayed and lose their luster when its all said and done. These verses have definitely renewed my spirit..

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Day 105: Psalms 7, 27, 31, 34 & 52

These passages are all from this time of oppression written from David's perspective. He is totally confused why Saul hates him so much and is hunting him down. He asks God for help, to sustain him, and to deliver him from his enemies. He even asks for justice...if he has done something that he is unaware of, then it is right that these men are pursuing him.

The passages are rich with quotes so I wanted to share some with you:

27:4--One thing I ask of the LORD,
this is what I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD
and to seek him in his temple.

27:10--Though my father and mother forsake me,
the LORD will receive me. (this was a favorite of the street boys in Peru. Their parents had left them for dead on the streets, but they know that God will never leave them... take heart!)

34:18-19--The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

A righteous man may have many troubles,
but the LORD delivers him from them all

Overall, David's heart and strength is an amazing testimony. He is being cursed and his life hangs in the balance, but he still blesses the name of God and seeks Him for wisdom and strength. I know that David later fails (as all humans eventually do) but I am really liking this first impression of him... amazing.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Day 104: 1 Samuel 21-24

David bounces from land to land doing what he must to survive--begging for bread, pretending to be insane to avoid being found out... but Saul eventually finds out where David is hiding. In anger, Saul has priests killed that helped David on his travels.. he is really getting out of control.

David helps a nearby land by destroying Philistines who were looting their threshing grounds. Saul sees this town as his chance to capture David. David asks God if the town will hand him over to Saul--God says yes. The first thing that comes to mind is from the movie Taken. The father tells his daughter that the kidnappers will take her, but give her instructions on how to get through the next moments. Jonathon has a talk with David like this and assures him that Saul will take him, but will not harm him--he is sure of it.

What happens next is amazing. Saul takes a break in a cave to "relieve himself". David has a chance here to kill Saul but he doesn't. Instead, he waits til Saul is done and confronts him. Saul breaks down and realizes what a jerk he's been and confirms to David that he will be made king.
It's amazing how Saul's attitude changes to quickly... we'll see how long it lasts!

Friday, June 18, 2010

Day 103: 1 Samuel 18-20; Psalm 11 & 59

Starting today for the next few weeks the readings are paired with other verses from other books. This is why I am reading chronologically--to keep everything pieced together!

Saul becomes really jealous of David... kind of like Zoolander and Hansel; Saul is fading out and that David is so hot right now. Saul tries to give David a wife, hoping this will distract him and allow him to be killed in battle by the Philistines. Saul sends David out to kill 100 Philistines and bring back their foreskins (gross) as a deal for his daughter. David kills 200 and brings back the goods and takes Michal as his wife.

Saul takes it to the next level and tries to take killing David into his own hands. Michal helps David escape and puts a dummy in his bed to fool the guards and buy more time. David flees to Samuel, and Saul sends men in hot pursuit. Every group of guards that go after David begin prophesying and crying to the Lord. Saul decides to go himself and he too begins prophesying--God is truly with David.

David goes back and speaks with Jonathon (Saul's son). Jonathon is convinced his father is just going through a phase and would never do something as serious as killing David without talking with him first. Jonathon promises David that he will feel out the situation and get back with him. Jonathon learns that his father has ill intentions for David and warns him. It's clear that a close friendship has developed between David and Jonathon... its nice to see that there is an insider that is helping David stay alive.

The passages from Psalm are written from David's point of view. Its great to get to see another facet of the story. He is praying that the Lord will deliver him from the evil that is chasing him because he's done nothing wrong.

for you are my fortress,
my refuge in times of trouble.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Day 102: 1 Samuel 15-17

God decides to test Saul one last time. He tells him to attack a nearby land and kill everything--leaving nothing alive and taking no plunder. Well Saul brings the king of the land back alive and keeps some of the best sheep and cattle for "sacrifice". His disobedience leads God to reject him as king and Samuel finished off the king as Saul should have done. The passage says that God "grieves" over making Saul king. I wonder how many times God has grieved over my actions?? Probably more than anyone can count.

God sends Samuel out to annoint the next king from the line of Jesse. Jesse lines up all his sons--strong, tall, good looking, etc. Samuel stops at each one, convinced that one of them is perfect. But God reminds Samuel that (and this part is my favorite!) "The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." In comes little David from tending the sheep and BINGO! he's anointed.

I'm a little confused abuot what happens next since I thought that Saul was removed from his kingly position.. but--Saul becomes tormented and decides a little harp will soothe his soul. He hears about David and sends for him to play for him. By this point, I thought Saul was removed from king and David was anointed king, but I must be missing something here.

The Philistines line up once again for battle and Israel follows suit. This time, instead of battling it out themselves, the Philistines send out their best warrior--Goliath. They want to make a deal; he wins-Israel becomes their servants; Israel wins-the Philistines become their servants. Seems like a pretty easy idea until you realize Goliath is 9 freaking feet tall and covered head to toe in the most amazing armor ever. Every day for 40 days, Goliath comes out and stands, waiting for an opponent to step forward from Israel.

David's dad send him with some food to check on his brothers and see how the army is doing. Being the youngest, his brothers get mad and accuse him of getting in the way and just wanting to watch the battle. Davide decides to show them and tells Saul that he will fight Goliath himself. He doesn't understand why Israel is working themselves up over someone who defies the army of God. His faith and courage is unbelievable. David convinces Saul he can win because he's killed a lion and a bear before...seems like a pretty good resume to me. Saul agrees and outfits him in the best armor--but David isn't used to armor and takes it all off and goes into battle armed with 5 smooth stones and his shepherd's clothing.

Goliath laughs when he sees him--this will be an easy win. But David shouts that he comes in the name of the Lord and will defeat him. With one swift movement, he slings a rock and kills Goliath in one blow. After he tumbles down, David takes out Goliath's sword and cuts off his head. Kind of a bloody moment, but hey, he's a kid and just shut a lot of people up so I'll go with it. Its a part of the story they don't tell in Sunday School--David always gets Goliath but you never hear about him cutting off his head... good for you David... good for you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Day 101: 1 Samuel 13-14

Well, I did what I said I wasn't going to do--fall dreadfully behind in my reading. But since I'm only human, I guess it was inevitable. This past weekend and week have been crazy busy and I feel like I'm just now coming up for air! Instead of trying to read and blog for the past 5 days, I will start today with a clean slate and move forward from here.

When I left off, Saul had just become king. He has now appointed a small army of men under his command, but one of his leaders (Jonathon) attacks a Philistine governor. This obviously ticks them off and they rise up to attack Israel. Seeing that they are out numbered, Israel flees and hides in caves and pits. Saul is given instructions from Samuel (which he obeys) but takes matters into his own hands. When Samuel shows up, he rebukes Saul and lets him know that God is out looking for his replacement as king. Saul's days are numbered.

We now learn that Jonathon is Saul's son. He goes on a rogue mission with his armor-bearer and succeeds in throwing the entire Philistine camp into a frenzy. When Saul sees this, he sends in his men and God saves Israel--men who had previously defected to the Philistines wanted to rejoin Israel, Israelites in hiding came out to fight, the Philistines were even so confused they were killing each other!

Afterward, the Israelite army is walking in the woods and sees honey all over the place. This would have been great, but Saul gave them strict instructions not to eat anything during the day or something bad would happen. I am not sure why this command was given--you'd think you would want your soldiers in tip-top shape... Jonathon tastes a bit of the honey and then causes the men to go wild after they see how his strength renews-killing sheep and other animals and eating the meat along with the blood (something that was strictly forbidden). To stop this, Saul has a large stone placed for the men to kill their animals on and do it right. This is how Saul builds his first altar to God.

Saul asks God if they should continue to press the Philistine army or hold back--but God is silent. Saul in convinced this silence is due to some evil or sin and asks with whom the sin lies--it comes out that it is with Jonathon. He decides he must be killed for his wickedness, but the men save him because of his valiant effort in slaying the Philistines. The reading ends stating that throughout Saul's entire reign, there was a struggle with the Philistines.

This passage was a little confusing with all the war talk. I even had to read it a second time using The Message translation to see it in more layman's terms. It was good reading through it and seeing it all in a different light. Saul is a very interesting character in this whole narrative. I think he means well and wants to look good in front of his men, but just keeps going about things the wrong way and ends up in a bitter war for the duration of his reign.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Day ONE HUNDRED!: 1 Samuel 9-12

God told Samuel that He would bring him a Benjamite to govern the people. Very soon, Saul (a young Benjamite) is sent out to find his father's livestock that have gone missing. He gets lost and decides to stop and ask a "seer" (or prophet/Man of God) for the way home. Samuel invites him to dinner and is so excited to see him.. Saul is obviously a little freaked out but goes with it. The next day he anoints Saul and sends him home with a prophesy--he will encounter various men and circumstances along the way (his father's animals have been found, free food, etc.). All happens as it was told and Saul is made king.

There were a few doubters about Saul's abilities to govern, but his first job as king (wiping out an opposing land) served to affirm Samuel and God's decision. Samuel also gives a great speech in which he rebukes their stupidity and reminds them that Saul is the king they have been crying out for.

This is just another time I am really tired of reading about the whiny and useless Israelites... they just really get under my skin. " We want a king, no not that king, well I guess he's ok, we should rebel, no he's ok again, PRAISE GOD!". All the wishy-washy stuff is driving me bananas.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Day ninety-nine: 1 Samuel 4-8

The Philistines and the Israelites go to battle and Eli's 2 sons are killed in the fray. The Philistines overcome the Israelites and take the Ark. When Eli hears of this he falls over backwards and breaks his neck. The Philistines place the Ark in various cities, and each time the city is afflicted with something terrible. The eventually return it to Israel because they are tired of getting sick and being overrun with rats.

Samuel tells the folks the gather together so he can intercede for them. The Philistines view this as a readying for attack and mount up against them. God allows Israel to subdue the Philistines and Samuel erects an Ebenezer (stone of help) as a sign of God's help. I never really knew what an Ebenezer was until now :)

The people cry out for a king and Samuel gets a little jealous. God reminds him that not only did they not choose Samuel as a king, they also didn't choose God...something to think about. God says they can have a king, but it will not be pleasant; he will make some work with the chariots, plow the fields, etc. and others will be put in charge of armies and lifted up. A king will take portions of their labor and goods for himself and his court. The people are stubborn and insist on getting a king... Samuel obliges.

The passage ends without saying what is next, but its yet another example of the Israelites being blind sheep just following what they think is best. They already have a king--God! They just have to claim Him!!! Silly Israelites...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Day ninety-eight: 1 Samuel 1-3

Samuel's mother Hannah gave birth to him after many years of barren agony. During this time it says that her "rival" taunts her year after year, but never says who this rival is. Is it her sister that is able to conceive being an annoying sibling? Is it the devil himself? Its left open to interpretation, but I feel like it is being supposed that Satan is trying to wear her down, but God has bigger plans in store for her! After not being able to conceive for years and years, she pleads with God to remember her--and he blesses her with Samuel. Hannah went on to conceive 3 more sons and a daughter, but Samuel is the focus of this reading.

Samuel grows up learning God's ways. He spends time in the temple and even has his own little linen ephod that he wears. Meanwhile, the sons of the great priest Eli have become corrupt and are running rampant throughout Shiloh. A man of God tells Eli that no one from his line will ever live to see old age and that his life will be filled with misery--God will raise up a new priest.

While Samuel is sleeping, he hears a voice calling him. 3 times he runs to Eli, and 3 times Eli explains that he wasn't calling him. Eli realizes that God Himself is calling the boy and give Samuel instruction on listening to what God has to say. God tells him that He will soon take action on the house of Eli... from then out Samuel is made a great and famous prophet throughout the land.

This is yet again another example of Good cheering on the underdog. He can use ANYONE for his glory and I love that he is using a child this time. God has so much in store for Samuel and I'm pumped to see where He takes him!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Day ninety-seven: Ruth

The scene opens with Naomi and her little family with her husband and 2 sons... the husband dies but her sons marry Orpah and Ruth. Then the sons die and the ladies are left to fend for themselves. Naomi tells them to go back home and find another husband, Orpah obliges, but Ruth stays with her. My favorite verse: 16 But Ruth replied, "Don't urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.

Back in Naomi's homeland, Ruth takes up working in a field owned by Boaz (Naomi's cousin); gleaning the leftover crops after the fields have been harvested. Boaz knows her story and asks her to not leave his field but to stick around... me thinks he has a crush :) He even tells his men to not gather as thoroughly as usual so that she will gather more... kinda sweet!

Naomi tells Ruth to go to the threshing room floor and wait for Boaz to fall asleep--then lay her head on his feet. He awakes and is deeply touched and blesses her. He then redeems some land belonging to Naomi and takes Ruth as his wife who gives birth to a son.

I've known the story of Ruth for years, but each time I hear it it makes me excited for the plans God had for me. Being a widow in this time was like the seal of death for a woman. She had no one to claim her and had nothing to call her own. Ruth made a choice to stay with Naomi and proved herself to be a hard worker. Boaz immediately saw that she was a gem and didn't waste time in pursuing her. It's a story of beautiful, unadulterated love and provision given by God through Boaz...it makes me all warm and fuzzy inside :)

Monday, June 7, 2010

Day ninety-six: Judges 19-21

I just read the most disturbing passage my friends. In an effort to show how ruthless the peple are during this time, Judges 19 tells of a random man who takes a concubine. She runs away to her father's house and he goes back and gets her. On his journey back, he and his wife are taken in by a kind man. The village folks (Benjamites) come to this man's house wanting to rape his visitor (the man). The owner of the house tells them that the man is his guest, but they are welcome to rape his virgin daughter or the man's wife. They don't want them, but the man forces his wife outside anyways. The men have their way with her and she crawls her way back to the door of the house when its all done. In the morning, the man gets ready, opens the door, sees his wife laying there and nudges her to "come on". She doesn't move so he throws her on the donkey, takes her home, then cuts her into 12 pieces and send a piece to each area in Israel. I'm sure there is a point to all this.. but what the heck??

The Israelites rise up against the man and ask him to explain himself. He tells the story and they decide the fault lies with the Benjamites who raped and attacked the concubine. Upon asking the city to surrender these men, a great battle ensues because everyone is too stubborn. God blesses Israel before they go into battle and give the Benjamites into their hands. What is sad is that thousands died, when only the men who committed the act would have been harmed had the city just given them over.

Israel made a vow to not let their women marry anyone from Benjamin--they weep over this since a tribe is literally being cut off...its a sad day. The elders are worried that the tribe will eventually disappear without women to carry on heirs. They tell the men to hide in the vineyards during a festival and snatch a wife when the women dance through the fields... so the all snatch a wife and run back to their land.

The reading ends with a perfect verse: "In those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit." Such a sad and muddy time in history.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Day ninety-fine: Judges 16-18

At this point, Samson has ticked just about everyone off with his brute strength and has made a lot of enemies. He meets and falls for Delilah who is bribed into finding out what the secret to his strength is. He told her several times how he can be weakened, each time he breaks free from his bonds and Delilah is mad that she has been made a fool. Then she finally breaks through...

15 Then she said to him, "How can you say, 'I love you,' when you won't confide in me? This is the third time you have made a fool of me and haven't told me the secret of your great strength." 16 With such nagging she prodded him day after day until he was tired to death.

He confides in her that he has never cut his hair (in pops an image of Fabio...). She subdues him and has his hair cut while he is sleeping. The Philistines are not able to capture him and gouge out his eyes (OUCH). He is placed in prison and occasionally brought out to entertain them. When he has had enough, he prays to God for one last feat of strength and brings their temple down--killing many along with himself.

Samson's story intrigues me. He seems like a simple caveman--killing and taking what he wants but with the consent of God. He gives into a wily temptress and this ultimately is the death of him. I will have to think a bit about what the moral of this story is... to be discussed later.

This is an unruly time in the land. They are without a king and everyone does as they see fit. The story of Micah is told and how his house is raided without a second thought and he is left with nothing. Lands left without someone to govern become chaotic and desolate. I can only imagine that the people are praying for a light at the end of the tunnel.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day ninety-four: Judges 13-15

I've been waiting to read all about Samson and my time has come! Most people know him as a strong man, deceived by Delilah...blah blah blah. But I was excited to read about him first-hand; really read into his story for the first time.

An angel appears to a barren woman and tells her that God is going to open her womb for a son. She is to not eat or drink anything unclean or containing alcohol during this time nor shave his head. There is an interesting exchange between Samson's parents and the angel as they try to offer him human food and ask him what his name is. He tells them to make the food a burnt offering and is confused about why they ask about his name..."it is beyond understanding". They don't realize they aren't speaking with a man, but with an angel of God. Kinda cute.

Samson grows up and decides to take a wife...he goes about it in an interesting way. He sees her, then tells his father "go get her, I want that one". Not exactly how Travis and I met, but hey if it worked for them.. :) On his way to meet the woman he encounters a lion--which he "tears apart with his bare hands"...ummmm intense! On his way back from meeting with his future wife, he sees the dead lion carcass with bees and honey inside--so he eats some. I think this is absolutely disgusting, honey or not. When he comes back, he gives his friends a riddle--if they can solve it, they get free swag:

"Out of the eater, something to eat;
out of the strong, something sweet."

The friends go crazy trying to figure it out and tell the wifey they will burn her house down if she doesn't help them. She cries and weeps and bats those dirty eyelashes until he finally gives in and tells her. After her betrayal, his dad gives her to another man without Samson even knowing. This obviously makes him a bit angry, so he takes a few hundred foxes, lights their tails on fire, and has them run through the Philistine's fields--scorching them beyond recognition. The people grab his wife and her father and burn them in revenge. This only makes Samson more angry and want to seek more revenge...its a vicious cycle.

While he's hiding out in a cave, some locals come to hand him over to the Philistines. They tie him up but with God's provision, the ropes become weak and fall away. He picks up an old donkey bone and kills a thousand of his enemies...this guy is like the ultimate man. He would put King Leonidas to shame!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Day ninety-three:Judges 10-12

Abimelech is followed by Tola and Jair. After Jair's death they turn to other gods again and fall into the hands of their enemies. After 18 years, they cry out, destroy their false gods and look to God for help. He takes pity and brings Jephthah into the picture. Jephthah is the son of a prostitute whose own family drove him out of inheritance... told ya God liked the underdog.

When a local king tries to take back the land that was taken from his people by the Israelites when they first entered Canaan, Jephthah stands for them. He explains that God took the land, not the Israelites, who are they to challenge God's rulings? He further says that God will be the judge if this king decides to go ahead and attack. Jephthah makes a vow to God that if he is able to defeat this king, he will sacrifice the first thing that comes out of his household upon his return. He ends up winning, and who should come out of his house to greet him but his only daughter...he tears his clothes and weeps and explains what he has done. Unlike Isaac, God allows the girl to be sacrificed. The locals took time from then out to remember the girl and honor her life. I'm not sure why he chose to let Isaac live, and this girl die...kind of torn up about it.

3 more judges follow after Jephthah's death. I am really liking this book. Although the Israelites are idiots who never learn their lesson, God never completely gives up on them. It's a great testament to His amazing mercy and compassion!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Day ninety-two: Judges 8-9

Only 2 kings of Midian escape Gideon's small army and they follow in hot pursuit. Along the way he asks 2 different towns for bread and water for his men. They reply "no" so after he achieves victory, he thrashes them with thorns and tears down one of their towers. Israel loves Gideon--he is like a god among men and they beg to follow him. He tells them to only follow God, but takes gold from them and makes it into an ephod (photo below). The people begin worshipping the ephod and it becomes a snare to the Israelites.

After Gideon's death, his son Abimelech rises to power. He is one of 70 sons born to Gideon. In his thirst for power, he murders his brothers...all of them; except for Jotham (the youngest) who escapes. Jotham warns the people after they make him king and press them to truly think about their actions. Abimelech's reign is filled with bloodshed and evil-doing. Ultimately, he turns all of his beloved followers against him and he fights a few epic battles--ending in putting everyone in a tower and burning them alive. On his final burning (he did this several times) a woman drops a millstone from the tower and strikes him in the head--cracking his skull. At the sake of not being killed by a woman, he has a fellow soldier run him through with a sword.

All of this transpired as a means for God to set right a number of evils that had come upon the land. So far, I've noticed that good and evil in the land comes and goes in waves. During Gideon's time there was years and years of peace and prosperity followed by years and years of oppression under Abimelech. Its a way of God balancing and weighing everything out. We can't appreciate the good without the bad...

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Day ninety-one: Judges 6-7

Israel sins again and crys out to God for help (pathetic really). An angel visits young Gideon and tells him he will defeat the Mideonites who are oppressing the people. Now you have to understand, Gideon comes from the weakest tribe, is relatively young and has no warrior training. The angel found him working in a wine press for crying out loud...but God favors the underdog :)

Under God's direction, Gideon tears down an altar that his father has built to Baal and builds a proper one in its place. In the morning, the town is ticked that they altar has been "defiled" and demands justice. Joash (Gideon's father) says that if Baal is as powerful as they think he is, then Baal should deal with Gideon--not man. God allowed him to be spared--he's got more important things to do!

Gideon takes a little convincing that he is a chosen man of God. When the angle first comes to him, he asks for a sign--and gets it in the form of a small fire brought forth from a rock. The second and third signs show that he is still a little timid--he lays a fleece on the ground and asks God to cover the fleece in dew leaving the rest of the ground dry...it happens. Then he asks God to do the reverse=wet ground, dry fleece..it happens.

Gideon and is men are set for attack, but God decides that his army is too large. If the army is too large, the people can claim it was by their own strength that they won, not Gods. The army is dwindled to 300 and they march on the defeat the Midianites. Reminds me of another story about 300 amazing soldiers ;)

The whole point of this story is that God can use whoever He wants. If He wants to make something happen, He will make it happen. Gideon was humble and just the man for the job. He questioned himself and never thought too highly of his abilities. God knew he was the perfect "warrior" to defeat Midian and save the people once again...beautifully perfect.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Day ninety: Judges 3-5

God left several nations in place to test the Israelites faith and see if they would stray from the Law. Of course they strayed, but God also allowed people to rise up and intercede. The first time they strayed, Othniel was sent to save them from 8 years of slavery. The second time, Ehud was sent to save them from 18 years of oppression from a local king. Ehud actually gets the king alone and plunged a sword into his extremely fat belly...the Bible says that he was so fat the fat closed around the hilt of the sword...GROSS!

After Ehud was Shamgar, followed by Deborah (a normal name... finally!) Deb was serving as a judge of the Israelites at the time and heard the cries of them after being oppressed for 20 years by king Jabin. Deb worked out a plan with a man named Barak to take over the army of king Jabin led by a man named Sisera. I know its a lot of names, but the story makes more sense with names! Barak told Deb he would only do this plan if she came with him...because he wanted her to basically old his hand throughout the whole thing, she explained that the glory of defeating Sisera would not belong to him, but to a woman. Of course I'm thinking that by woman, she meant herself, but its not so! The plan works and Barak conquers all of Jabin's army, but Sisera gets away. He goes to the house of someone with whom he has friendly relations and is taken in by the man's wife-Jael. Jael gives him food and drink and after he falls asleep she rams a tent peg through his temple. When Barak comes looking for Sisera, Jael informs him she's already killed him--just like Deb said :) With Sisera dead, its only a matter of time before Jabin falls to the Israelites and peace is restored.

I just love the reoccurring theme that shows that doing things your own way are not the way to prosper! God meticulously lays things out for the people and whenever they stray from the plan, they either end up dead, enslaved or forgotten. Deborah seems like a rockin woman who knew her God well and wasn't afraid to stand up for what she believed in.