week 15 – speak Lord, for your servant is listening.
April 7 – 13
Monday 7 : Judges 21:1-25; 1 Chronicles 6:4b-15; Ruth 1:1-2:23
Tuesday 8: Ruth 3:1-4:22; 1 Chronicles 2:3-16; 1 Samuel 1:1-28
Wednesday 9: 1 Samuel 2:1-10; Psalm 113:1-9; 1 Samuel 2:11-21; Judges 14:1-16:22
Thursday 10: Judges 16:23-31; 1 Samuel 2:22-5:12
Friday 11: 1 Samuel 6:1-7:17; 1 Samuel 8:1-9:27
Saturday 12: 1 Samuel 10:1-13:22
Sunday 13: 1 Samuel 13:23-14:52; 1 Chronicles 8:1-9:1a
Naomi and Ruth
Ruth and Orpah obviously had a special bond. Naomi wanted what was best for Ruth, yet Ruth saw Naomi as her family. Naomi recognized her bitterness and wanted to go home from where she remembered her Help had come. When she saw the women back home she said, “Call me Mara, bitter, for the Lord has dealt with me harshly.” No telling how many years it had been, but the women hardly recognized her, saying “Can this be Naomi?” It makes me wonder if grief was so written on her face that even her appearance had changed, her countenance fallen. The sadness of losing her sons was consuming her, and it was evidenced in her demeanor. Ruth reached out to her mother-in-law in compassion and love, knowing the same pain. Also, it was apparent that Naomi had shown Ruth the One who could help her alone. She brought the “foreigner,” Ruth to long for the one True God so much that Ruth did not want to part from her. She had seen the Lord in Naomi and she wanted more, causing her to proclaim, “your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16) The mother in law-daughter relationship is often the subject of jokes due to its precarious nature, but Ruth and Naomi set an example of love and family for us in our relationships with our spouse’s family or our children’s spouses. I have a sweet mother in law, and I realize how often I shut her out when she would like to be a bigger part of my life. For my family and as a child of the Lord, I must reach out in compassion and love to the sometimes awkward relationships in my life.
Ruth and Boaz
Boaz first sees Ruth like a daughter, making sure none of the other workers harm her, then offers her more to be with his servant girls. I love when he approaches his workers and offers a prayer for them and they return the favor, “The Lord be with you.” Boaz was obviously a kind man and good provider to his workers and to strangers. In Chapter 2 verse 20, Boaz is called the “kinsman redeemer” by Naomi. Naomi couldn’t give Ruth anything. She was destitute herself. She needed a Redeemer. Only a kinsman redeemer could help. God’s Hand in orchestrating exactly which field Ruth gleaned, where she would be with a family relative who was the only one who could save them. Such a beautiful portrait of Christ in this story, as we see Boaz redeem Ruth and her family. Just as Boaz could redeem Ruth in his great extension of mercy and love, Christ redeems us with His sacred work on the cross. He is Lord of the Harvest of men.
In chapter 4:14-17, Naomi has come full circle from bitter to blessed as she holds her grandson, Obed, the grandfather of David. “The women said to Naomi: “Praise be to the Lord, who this day has not left you without a kinsman-redeemer. May he become famous throughout Israel. He will renew your life and sustain you in your old age. For your daughter-in-law, who loves you and who is better to you than seven sons has given him birth. Then Naomi took the child, laid him on her lap and cared for him. Then the women living there said, “Naomi has a son.” In Your mercy, Lord, You allow us to go from widows and orphans to sons of the Most High, renewing our life and sustaining us even in old age. You bring the bitter full circle to blessed, again knowing joy, for Naomi to again have a son. Blessed indeed are the children of the Lord.
Hannah in her distress prayed to the Lord. She was barren and wanted a child so badly. Her sweet husband , who didn’t get it, wanted to know why he wasn’t enough for her? Anybody else love that part? Eli prayed with her and she went away calm and at peace. Do I take my troubles to the Lord, or do I unsatisfactorily take my problems to the ears of tired friends who can do nothing? Hannah’s prayer was desperate and authentic. May my own prayers be unto the Lord seeking Him in every situation, not so much what I want but as an offering unto Him to bring my concerns, my struggles, my embarrassments, my joys, my celebrations, my whole heart before Him. He is Lord over all of it.
As a priest, Eli prays for Hannah, and says go in peace. We need His peace so desperately when our hearts are broken. Eli prayed with Hannah and the Lord was present, as Hannah felt His peace. Eli knew that his sons were doing wrong as priests, taking advantage of their power and abusing it, disgracing the priesthood. He should have taken care of it immediately but he chose to ignore it. This caused many to fall because of their defilement. Eli as a parent had a responsibility to them, but failed. Even when the consequences are dire, we must be diligent to discipline our children as parents, and we cannot ignore them. His sons ruined their own lives and those of many others. Not only did Eli have a responsibility as a parent, but as a high priest to protect the reverence of God. His response to Samuel in his vision shows he is a man who loves the Lord, but can’t quite bring himself to do the right thing. He says even when he hears the devastating prophesy, “He is the Lord. Let Him do what is good in His eyes.” (I Samuel 3:9) Imagine his own heartbreak as he knew he had failed the Lord in his actions. Do I have a repentant, broken heart over my sin, and agree with the Lord’s judgment, or do I take His mercy for granted? Again, full circle, God redeems Eli’s parenting by placing Samuel in his care to raise and train. Samuel then became the greatest judge over Israel.
From his birth, Samuel was dedicated to serve the Lord. “In those days, the Word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.” Had God grown silent because there were no ears to hear, or had the people abandoned their Lord and not even sought His counsel? There was a stage in my own life where God was very quiet. I was not walking with Him, so it was very rare to hear His Word to me, His counsel, His comfort, His direction. God is harder to hear when we are not following after Him, but His Word says He will not leave you or forsake you.
Two of my favorite verses from Samuel are “Here I am. Speak Lord, for your servant is listening”(Samuel 3:10) and the Ebenezer stone that Samuel set up as a reminder, “For thus far, the Lord has helped us.” (I Samuel 7:12) ,If you want to know why see this post. Surely there was no greater year in my life of His mercy and help. Lord, give me a heart to receive you and ears that listen as a servant to obey. 1 Samuel 3:19 tells us “The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground.” Samuel served as a mighty judge, prophet and priest. He anointed the first two kings of Israel, Saul and David. He was an example of how dedicated parents and rightly upbringing can prosper a child to do the work of the Lord.
Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it over Saul’s head and kissed him, saying, “Has not the Lord anointed you leader over his inheritance…as Saul turned to leave Samuel, God changed Saul’s heart, and all these signs were fulfilled that day.” (10:1, 9) Though God wanted to be enough for His people, He gave them what they asked. We should be careful what we ask for, what we seek, when it is out of our own desires that do not line up with His Will. He may just give us what we want to our own detriment. Even still in verse 20-24, Samuel tells Israel, “Do not be afraid. You have done all this evil; yet do not turn away from the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.” For the sake of his great name, the Lord will not reject his people because the Lord was pleased to make you his own. …But be sure to fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you.” All God is seeking is a right relationship with us. The Lord will punish the ones He loves as a loving Father does his children. He will also never abandon them. I feel like Moses, (well maybe I wished I could fathom feeling like Moses, but can certainly relate) in that I can deal with anything as long as He goes with me. Yesterday I was having a moment of anxiety, and I heard a song singing “Prepare the Way.” I know it was referring to John The Baptiser’s cry in the wilderness for us to prepare ye the way of the Lord, but just for that moment, I asked Him to walk before me and prepare my steps that I might not feel fear, but know that He is ever before me. I asked Him to make the way for me to walk in His Will. I felt a flood of peace come over me as I knew He was doing just that. He will not leave us alone to our own wiles as long as we eagerly seek Him. Saul had all the makings of a great king. But Saul took matters into his own hands too many times (I Samuel 13:7) and thought he knew better, acting in his own strength, making inappropriate sacrifices.( 13:9) Our strengths are nothing in comparison to what God can do, when we release it in obedience to Him. Obedience always involves sacrifice but sacrifice doesn’t always involve obedience.
I close with a most profound picture of our God coming down to us to take care of every detail of our lives. Psalm 113:5-6 asks, “Who is like the Lord our God, the One who sits enthroned on high, who stoops down to look on the heavens and the earth? And my answer is None but Thee, Lord. None but Thee. Assuming you have neither fallen asleep nor fainted by now in this long passage, I close. With an overflowing heart this week for our amazing God in these Scriptures, I hope you go to Bev’s site and read others’ revelations of His beautiful countenance found in His Word.