Daily Bible Reading for March 25, 2014, with Commentary: 1 Samuel 11-15
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Context: 1 Samuel 11 contains many parallels to Judges 19-21. The city sieged by the Ammonites was Jabesh Gilead, the city which refused to stand with the rest of Israel against the Benjamites. For this reason, Jabesh was unsure if Israel would answer their call for help. Saul cutting up the oxen mirrored the Levite cutting up his concubine after she had been killed by the Benjamites. Following his victory, Saul was reaffirmed as king. Samuel's farewell speech mirrors his speech in chapter 8. In this new age of kings for Israel, prophets would continue to speak for God. The Israelites also finally realized the error of their request for a king. Samuel reassures them that if they continue to seek the Lord, they will be fine, but if they should turn away, having a king would not help them. In chapter 13, Saul displeases the Lord by offering the sacrifice instead of waiting for Samuel. As punishment, Saul's descendents were not going to inherit his throne, rather a new line of kings would be chosen. In the war against the Philistines, the Philistines had the advantage of numbers and weapons. Only Saul and his son Jonathan had swords. In chapter 14, we see what kind of king Jonathan could have been, if not for his father's mistakes. Additionally, we see that Saul has fallen farther from God. Accompanying the army is a priest from the house of Eli, whom the Lord is no longer with. Later during the war, Saul is shown as indecisive and failing to seek God's direction. Saul forbids his army from eating, which prevents them from having the victory they could have had. Additionally, Saul drives a wedge between him and his army for failing to recognize his mistakes. Saul is rejected as king when he fails to do as the Lord instructs. Obedience is worth more to the Lord than any sacrifice. Saul's confession in verse 24 is a self-serving confession. He is not sincere, which is evident in verse 30. Saul no longer considers the Lord "his" God and is more concerned with what the people think than God. At the end of the chapter, everyone is grieved, except Saul.
World History: In 1027 BC, around the time Saul became King, the Shang dynasty comes to an end in China. The Shang Dynasty was replaced by the Zhou Dynasty. In 1020 BC, the legendary city of Troy is destroyed. This is not the first time the city was destroyed, nor was it the likely setting for Homer's famed love story between Paris and Helena.