April 16, 2016

I Samuel 28-31 - ....Samuel was now dead. All Israel had mourned his death and buried him in Ramah, his hometown.... 

The Philistines had mustered their troops and camped at Shunem. Saul had assembled all Israel and camped at Gilboa. But when Saul saw the Philistine troops, he shook in his boots, scared to death.  Saul prayed to God, but God didn’t answer—neither by dream nor by sign nor by prophet.
 
So Saul ordered his officials, “Find me someone who can call up spirits so I may go and seek counsel from those spirits.”
His servants said, “There’s a witch at Endor.”  Saul disguised himself by putting on different clothes. Then, taking two men with him, he went under the cover of night to the woman and said, “I want you to consult a ghost for me. Call up the person I name.”  The woman said, “Just hold on now! You know what Saul did, how he swept the country clean of mediums. Why are you trying to trap me and get me killed?”  Saul swore solemnly, “As God lives, you won’t get in any trouble for this.”  The woman said, “So whom do you want me to bring up?” “Samuel. Bring me Samuel.”
 
When the woman saw Samuel, she cried out loudly to Saul, “Why did you lie to me? You’re Saul!”  The king told her, “You have nothing to fear . . . but what do you see?”  Saul knew it was Samuel. He fell down, face to the ground, and worshiped.  Samuel said to Saul, “Why have you disturbed me by calling me up?” “Because I’m in deep trouble,” said Saul. “... “Why ask me?” said Samuel. “God has turned away from you and is now on the side of your neighbor. God has done exactly what he told you through me—ripped the kingdom right out of your hands and given it to your neighbor. It’s because you did not obey God... Worse yet, God is turning Israel, along with you, over to the Philistines. Tomorrow you and your sons will be with me. And, yes, indeed, God is giving Israel’s army up to the Philistines.”

Saul dropped to the ground, felled like a tree, terrified by Samuel’s words. There wasn’t an ounce of strength left in him—he’d eaten nothing all day and all night. The woman, realizing that he was in deep shock, said to him, “Listen to me. I did what you asked me to do, put my life in your hands in doing it, carried out your instructions to the letter. It’s your turn to do what I tell you: Let me give you some food. Eat it. It will give you strength so you can get on your way.”  He refused. “I’m not eating anything.” But when his servants joined the woman in urging him, he gave in to their pleas, picked himself up off the ground, and sat on the bed....

The Philistines mustered all their troops at Aphek. Meanwhile Israel had made camp at the spring at Jezreel. As the Philistine warlords marched forward by regiments and divisions, David and his men were bringing up the rear with Achish...Angry with Achish, the Philistine officers said, “Send this man back to where he came from. Let him stick to his normal duties. He’s not going into battle with us. He’d switch sides in the middle of the fight!... 

So Achish had to send for David and tell him, “As God lives, you’ve been a trusty ally—excellent in all the ways you have worked with me, beyond reproach in the ways you have conducted yourself. But the warlords don’t see it that way. So it’s best that you leave peacefully, now. It’s not worth it, displeasing the Philistine warlords.”... David rose early, he and his men, and by daybreak they were on their way back to Philistine country....

Three days later, David and his men arrived back in Ziklag.... David and his men burst out in loud wails—wept and wept until they were exhausted with weeping....  And suddenly David was in even worse trouble. There was talk among the men, bitter over the loss of their families, of stoning him.  David strengthened himself with trust in his God...Then David prayed to God, “Shall I go after these raiders? Can I catch them?”  The answer came, “Go after them! Yes, you’ll catch them! Yes, you’ll make the rescue!”....

David went,... Some who went on came across an Egyptian in a field and took him to David.... David asked him, “Can you take us to the raiders?” “Promise me by God,” he said, “that you won’t kill me or turn me over to my old master, and I’ll take you straight to the raiders.”  He led David to them.... David pounced. He fought them from before sunrise until evening of the next day... David rescued everything the Amalekites had taken.... 
Then David came to the two hundred who had been too tired to continue with him and had dropped out at the Brook Besor. They came out to welcome David and his band. As he came near he called out, “Success!”  But all the mean-spirited men who had marched with David, the rabble element, objected: “They didn’t help in the rescue, they don’t get any of the plunder we recovered. Each man can have his wife and children, but that’s it. Take them and go!”

“Families don’t do this sort of thing! Oh no, my brothers!” said David as he broke up the argument. “You can’t act this way with what God gave us! God kept us safe. He handed over the raiders who attacked us. Who would ever listen to this kind of talk? The share of the one who stays with the gear is the share of the one who fights—equal shares. Share and share alike!” From that day on, David made that the rule in Israel—and it still is....

The Philistines made war on Israel. The men of Israel were in full retreat from the Philistines, falling left and right, wounded on Mount Gilboa. The Philistines caught up with Saul and his sons. They killed Jonathan, Abinadab, and Malki-Shua, Saul’s sons.  The battle was hot and heavy around Saul. The archers got his range and wounded him badly. Saul said to his weapon bearer, “Draw your sword and put me out of my misery, lest these pagan pigs come and make a game out of killing me.”  But his weapon bearer wouldn’t do it. He was terrified. So Saul took the sword himself and fell on it. When the weapon bearer saw that Saul was dead, he too fell on his sword and died with him. So Saul, his three sons, and his weapon bearer—the men closest to him—died together that day....

The next day, when the Philistines came to rob the dead, they found Saul and his three sons dead on Mount Gilboa. They cut off Saul’s head and stripped off his armor.... The people of Jabesh Gilead heard what the Philistines had done to Saul. Their valiant men sprang into action. They traveled all night, took the corpses of Saul and his three sons from the wall at Beth Shan, and carried them back to Jabesh and burned off the flesh. They then buried the bones under the tamarisk tree in Jabesh and fasted in mourning for seven days.

I Corinthians 5 -
 I also received a report of scandalous sex within your church family, a kind that wouldn’t be tolerated even outside the church.  One of your men is sleeping with your stepmother.  And you’re so above it all that it doesn’t even faze you.  Shouldn’t this break your heart?...Shouldn’t this person and his conduct be confronted and dealt with?... I’m telling you, this is wrong.  You must not simply look the other way and hope it goes away on its own.  Bring it out in the open and deal with it in the authority of Jesus our Master.  Assemble the community...Hold this man’s conduct up to public scrutiny.  Let him defend it if he can?  But if he can’t, then out with him.  It will be totally devastating to him, of course, and embarrassing to you.  But better devastation and embarrassment than destruction.  You want him up on his feet and forgiven before the Master on the Day of Judgment.

Your flip and callous arrogance in these thing bothers me.  You pass it off as a small thing, but it’s anything but that.  Yeast, too, is a “small thing” but it works its way through a whole bunch of bread dough pretty fast.  So get rid of the “yeast.”  Our true identity is flat and plain, not puffed up with the wrong kind of ingredient...So let’s live out our part in the Feast, as the Unraised Bread, not as raised bread swollen with the yeast of evil, but as flat bread, simple, genuine, unpretentious.

I wrote you in my earlier letter that you shouldn’t make yourselves at home among the sexually promiscuous.  I didn’t mean that you should have nothing at all to do with outsiders of that sort...But I am saying that you shouldn’t act as if everything is just fine when a friend who claims to be a Christian is promiscuous or crooked, is flip with God or rude to friends, gets drunk or becomes greedy and predatory.  You can’t just go along with this, treating it as acceptable behavior.  I am not responsible for what the outsiders do, but don’t we have some responsibility for those within our community of believers?  God decides on the outsiders, but we need to decide when our brothers and sisters are out of line, and if necessary, clean house.