Thursday 14 January 2010

Bible Book:
1 Samuel

"The elders of Israel said, 'Why has the Lord put us to rout today before the Philistines?'" (v 3)

1 Samuel 4:1-11 Thursday 14 January 2010


The first three chapters of 1 Samuel have beenabout families and about people's relationship with God. Firstthere is Elkanah's family, and the birth and childhood of Samuel.Second there is Eli and his sons' appalling behaviour. In the midstof all this, God calls Samuel and Samuel responds - and he isrecognised to be a prophet.

Now the scene suddenly widens out to involve the internationalsituation - politics and fighting. It is uncomfortable reading.Tension within families turns to tension between the Israelites andthe Philistines (people from the southern coastlands).

There is a battle in which the Israelites are defeated with greatslaughter. There is bewilderment that God has somehow caused thisrout, and a little bit of theological reflection. That results inthe ark of the covenant (which represents God's presence) beingdragged up to the battleground from Shiloh. It puts the fear of theLord into both armies!

But whereas the Philistines are driven to even greater efforts inthe face of the presence of the Israelites' god, the Israelitesthemselves seem to have assumed they didn't need to do anythingthemselves. They are resoundingly defeated - again - with greatslaughter.

To Ponder

What do you think when people claim that God ison their side? Is God on one side or another?

Do you find it difficult to read about battlesand killing in the Bible? How do you think God is involved in suchhuman behaviour?

How do you think God wants us to handleinternational conflict in the world today?

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