Hearing God’s Voice and Obeying in Our Sorrows

By Kelly M. Williams -May 18, 2021

We have to dedicate the darkest places of our lives to God’s miraculous power.

A 19th century poem by William Ross Wallace asserts, “The hand that rocks the cradle is the hand that rules the world.” He must have been thinking about the story of Hannah and Samuel in 1 Samuel when he wrote that.

Hannah was a barren woman who longed to have children. She cried to God in her sorrows. God wants to meet us in our sorrows.

Maybe you feel “small” today in your life. Maybe the circumstances of your life are huge and overwhelming. Good! God’s about to do something through you that will amaze you. I pray you allow Hannah’s life to inspire you.

We meet Hannah for the first time in 1 Samuel 1:2. She is described as, “Hannah who had no children.” She was known by her sorrow.

The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 1:3 that Hannah’s husband would go up to the city every year to worship God and give thanks to God for his goodness and blessings to them. Because Hannah was barren, her husband had taken another wife in order to have children. This was a common practice in that day similar to surrogacy today. However, her surrogate often tormented her that she could not have children. It was a painful visit for Hannah to go and worship the Lord and give thanks in the midst of her sorrows.

The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 1:6 that Hannah couldn’t have children because the Lord had closed Hannah’s womb. It is very difficult to give glory to God when God is the source of your greatest sorrow.

You are supposed to be giving glory to God today for his goodness to you and all you can think about is the blessing God has withheld from you. This is truly the dilemma of life.

Maybe you find yourself there today. I know I have been there. What do you do? These next seven words are crushing to a spirit that is already struggling. 1 Samuel 1:7 says, “So it went on year by year.”

Not only was she barren at a festival in the presence of her rival, where she was supposed to give glory to God for his blessings, but it went on year after year.

I find that a lot of people stop showing up for church for this very reason. They are tired of seeing God bless others before them. Can you relate? You are happy for them, but you want to say to the Lord, Where’s my blessing, Lord?

It is important in these seasons that we keep leaning into God in the midst of our sorrows.

Hannah’s pain was great, ongoing and unrelenting.

In the midst of Hannah’s hopelessness, she kept inviting God into these dark and hopeless spaces. She does this in 1 Samuel 1:11 when she said to God, “O Lord of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life.”

I remember as a kid my mom telling me she prayed this prayer over me when I was two years old, sick and dying in a hospital bed in Louisville, Kentucky. My parents were told there was no hope for me to live. My mom knelt by my bed and prayed this prayer that Hannah prayed. I didn’t miraculously get up out of the bed that day, but I started getting better from that day forward.

If you and I are going to hear and obey God in our sorrows, we have to dedicate the darkest places of our lives to God’s miraculous power.

Hannah stays after it. Hannah says to Eli the Priest in 1 Samuel 1:15–16, “I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.”

I love Eli’s response to Hannah, 1 Samuel 1:17, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” I love Hannah’s response to Eli’s in 1 Samuel 1:18, “‘Let your servant find favor in your eyes.’ Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.”

Can you say that and do that? If so, we should follow Hannah’s example. The next day 1 Samuel 1:19 tells us, “She rose early in the morning and worshipped before the Lord.”

Hannah didn’t allow her pain to define her practice of worship.

The Bible tells us in 1 Samuel 1:20 that in due time God gave Hannah a son. She named him Samuel because that means “I asked for him from the Lord.” She wanted Samuel to know he was from the Lord. The loudest human voice in my head is my mom’s voice. She told me the story of my life when I was too young to remember it. She told me how God blessed my life and saved me. But the blessing wasn’t the end of the story. She reminded me of God’s faithfulness to me and she told me of God’s purpose for me.

God doesn’t bless us so we can be blessed. He blesses us so we can live out his purpose for our existence.

Do you see the blessings of God as your means to fulfill your purpose?

After Hannah weaned Samuel, she took him back to the house of God where God heard her cry and answered her. She said to God in 1 Samuel 1:28, “As long as Samuel lives, he is lent to the Lord.”

My mom went to heaven 29 years ago, but her dedication of me to God like Hannah did Samuel, still carries great weight and fulfillment through my life and ministry today.

Keep obeying God’s voice in your life. Dedicate your sorrows to God like Hannah, and in due time, he will fulfill his eternal purpose through it.

Bible Contradiction? Who was Samuel’s firstborn son?

July 18, 2019 by SLIMJIM

For today’s post we will tackle the question the Skeptic Annotated Bible asked: Who was Samuel’s firstborn son?

Here are the two answers which the skeptic believes indicate a Bible contradiction:

Joel.

Now the name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judging in Beersheba.” (1 Samuel 8:2)

Vashni.

The sons of Samuel were Joel the firstborn, and Abijah the second.” (1 Chronicles 6:28)

(All Scriptural quotation comes from the New American Standard Bible)

Here’s a closer look at whether or not there is a contradiction:

 

  1. When dealing with skeptics’ claim of Bible contradictions it seems one can never be reminded enough of what exactly is a contradiction.  A contradiction occurs when two or more claims conflict with one another so that they cannot simultaneously be true in the same sense and at the same time.  To put it another way, a Bible contradiction exists when there are claims within the Bible that are mutually exclusive in the same sense and at the same time.
  2. One should be skeptical of whether this is a Bible contradiction given the Skeptic Annotated Bible’s track record of inaccurately handling the Bible.  See the many examples of it’s error which we have responded to in this post:   Of course that does not take away the need to respond to this claim of a contradiction, which is what the remainder of this post will do.  But this observation should caution us to slow down and look more closely at the passages cited by the Skeptic Annotated Bible to see if they interpreted the passages properly to support their conclusion that it is a Bible contradiction.
  3. A bit of background of each verse in its context might be helpful for readers.
    1. 1 Samuel 8 is a chapter that gives description of the transition of Israel being ruled by Judges to being ruled by Kings.  1 Samuel 8:1 mentioned that Samuel appointed his sons as judges then in verses 2-3 give more information about the sons.
    2. 1 Chronicles 6 present the priestly line’s genealogy and it also mentioned about Samuel’s family history.
  4. Sometimes the skeptic cite alleged Bible contradictions that actually are referring to different individuals.  Here however the skeptic is right that both 1 Samuel 8:2 and 1 Chronicles 6:28 are referring to the same individuals.
    1. In both passages and the context the father is Samuel.
    2. In both passages the second son is “Abijah.
    3. Also in both passages Samuel’s family is a priestly family.
  5. The skeptic cited 1 Samuel 8:2 as teaching Joel was Samuel’s firstborn son. I believe the skeptic interpreted this verse correctly and Joel was Samuel’s firstborn son.
    1. 1 Samuel 8:2 states it directly: “the name of his firstborn was Joel.
    2. Joel being the firstborn of Samuel is affirmed in other passages:
      1. These are those who served with their sons: From the sons of the Kohathites were Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel” (1 Chronicles 6:33).
        1. Here it Joel is “the son of Samuel.
        2. Notice Joel’s son is Heman since the verse says Heman was “the son of Joel.
        3. Heman is described here as a “singer,” an important for below.
      2. These are those who served with their sons: From the sons of the Kohathites were Heman the singer, the son of Joel, the son of Samuel” (1 Chronicles 5:17).
        1. Here this verse mentioned Joel is “the son of Samuel.
        2. This apparently is the same Joel as in 1 Chronicles 6:33 since in both verses Samuel has a son name Heman who was a singer.
    3. Thus it is clear that Samuel’s firstborn was name Joel.
  6. The skeptic cited 1 Chronicles 6:28 as teaching Vashni was Samuel’s firstborn son.  I believe this is not the case.
    1. Notice how the verse in the New American Standard Bible does not say Vashni.  It says Joel instead.
    2. The author of Skeptic Annotated Bible got “Vashni” from reading the King James Bible which stated that name.  However I think it is problematic of the King James to state the name is Vashni.
      1. From our post “” I mentioned that the manuscripts of the Old Testament contain minor error at times with the manuscripts; yet we can still establish what the Words of the Old Testament are with reasonable accuracy.  Here with this alleged Bible contradiction we do have touch on the issue of textual Criticism.  For more on textual criticism make sure to also check out our “.”
      2. I think the King James Bible’s translation of “Vashni” is a misreading of the Hebrew.  “Vashni” in the Hebrew is וַשְׁנִ֖י in 1 Chronicles 6:28 (note: 1 Chronicles 6:28 is 1 Chronicles 6:13 in the Hebrew Bible).  וַשְׁנִ֖י can be seen as the combination of the Hebrew word meaning “and”(וַ) plus the word meaning “two” (שֵׁנִי).  In other words “Vashni” is in the pronunciation of the word “and two/second…”  I think what happened here is an error of thinking this is a name when its just means “and second…”  The verse also is missing the name of the first born.  Literally the verse translated is “And the sons of Samuel the first the second Abijah.”  Notice there’s a missing name for the firstborn.  Joel probably fell out accidentally due to a common scribal error called homoeoteleuton, in which words that look similar in sharing the same or similar endings can accidentally get dropped.  Both Samuel and Joel have similar ending in Hebrew and it is easy for a scribe to think he’s written Joel already when one sees the ending of the word “Samuel.”
      3. While the Hebrew medieval manuscripts is missing the name “Joel” in 1 Chronicles 6:28, consulting the Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartenesia‘s Textual Critical Apparatus for this verse we see that there are witnesses of earlier translations of the passage that does have “Joel” in this verse, specifically the Syriac Peshitta, Luciani’s Greek Septuagint and the Latin Vulgate.
      4. Ultimately the word “Joel” is very compelling to be in the verse as what best explains the passage.
    3. Also there are no additional collaborating Bible verses that Samuel’s firstborn was named Vashni.
      1. This is a contrast with the passages that collaborate to state Samuel’s firstborn was name Joel.
      2. Furthermore one of the verses affirming that Samuel’s firstborn was named Joel is 1 Chronicles 6:33.  It comes from the same chapter as our verse 1 Chronicles 6:28.  This is a compelling point since this is within the very chapter that supposedly teaches the firstborn was Vashni.
  7. There is no Bible contradiction.  Its just that the author of the Skeptic Annotated Bible is not familiar with Hebrew and the field and skill of textual criticism.
  8. We shouldn’t miss that worldviews are at play even with the skeptic’s objection to Christianity.  The worldview of the author of the Skeptic Annotated Bible actually doesn’t even allow for such a thing as the law of non-contradiction to be meaningful and intelligible.  In other words for him to try to disprove the Bible by pointing out that there’s a Bible contradiction doesn’t even make sense within his own worldview.  Check out our post “Skeptic Annotated Bible Author’s Self-Defeating Worldview.”

https://veritasdomain.wordpress.com/2019/07/18/bible-contradiction-who-was-samuels-firstborn-son/

Reputation Or Foundation ???

April 22, 2019

 

If life is likened to a rope, human life is like a rope that’s not visible where the ends are. We know when it has started, we also know how long it has been done, but we don’t know when it will arrive at the end node. How much time we have left cannot be measured by how long it has taken, because each person has a different length of rope. To be sure, everyone only has one chance to live life in this world.

Now let’s pause from all the busyness to reflect on the life we have been through. Some of us have gone through it for decades, some may have been a dozen years. What kind of life have we lived? What kind of deep impressions and images are captured by others about us? Have all of our behaviors built a good or bad reputation? Has our reputation been established on a solid foundation? If in a moment we are faced with a choice between reputation or foundation, which one will we prioritize? Do we attach importance to displaying a glorious reputation or prefer to build the right foundation even though for a moment we seem to lose our reputation ??

Saul: Concerning the Image in the Human Eye

In 1 Samuel 9-10 Saul was anointed as king by Samuel. The people exclaimed “Live the king” cheering him because they were happy to have a king for the first time. Even the valiant men followed Saul because their hearts were touched by God. However, in the midst of the respect he received there was a group of people who doubted and even insulted him. Saul’s reaction to this matter is really interesting: But Saul kept silent.” (1 Sam. 10: 27 NIV)  It seems that Saul didn’t care, but apparently it hurt him. This can be seen from the decisions that show how much Saul thirst for recognition and respect from others.

One of the events that clearly shows how people’s recognition and respect is very important to Saul is when Israel fought against the Philistine forces: Jonathan attacked the Philistine outpost at Geba, and the Philistines heard about it. Then Saul had the trumpet blown throughout the land and said, “Let the Hebrews hear!” So all Israel heard the news: “Saul has attacked the Philistine outpost, and now Israel has become obnoxious to the Philistines.” And the people were summoned to join Saul at Gilgal. . . .  Saul remained at Gilgal, and all the troops with him were quaking with fear. (1 Samuel 13: 3-7 NIV)

Jonathan fought and defeated the Philistine army but Saul made it in the eyes of the people as if he had defeated the Philistines. Saul’s goal was for the people who were afraid of the retaliation from the Philistines to become dependent on him. Until this stage the goal seemed successful. Saul went to Gilgal according to Samuel’s instructions and the people followed him. But that didn’t last long. The people who followed him began to leave because Samuel had not arrived yet, while the Philistine army was ready to attack.

Knowing that he had begun to lose control of the people, Saul decided to take a shortcut by offering burnt sacrifices without waiting for Samuel. This is a violation because Samuel clearly ordered Saul to wait (1 Samuel 10: 8). When Samuel rebuked his folly, Saul made the excuse: “When I saw that the people were scattered from me . . . .” (1 Sam. 13: 11 )  For the sake of not being abandoned by his people, Saul chose to violate God’s decree.

What happened next further reinforced the tendency of Saul’s heart which emphasized reputation rather than obedience to God, namely when Saul was ordered to crush Amalek. Since Israel was still in the wilderness, in Exodus 17: 14 the Lord commanded them to crush the Amalekites to extinction because of their wickedness. This command was further confirmed by Moses in Deuteronomy 25: 19. Then Samuel commissioned Saul to carry out the Lord’s command (1 Sam. 15: 2-3). Unfortunately Saul was disobedient. He only killed everything that was despised and weak, but Agag, the king of Amalek, was left alive. He also took the best sheep and oxen. When Samuel rebuked him, Saul used his people twice as an excuse and shield to justify his disobedience: The soldiers took sheep and cattle, . . .  . Then Saul said to Samuel, “I have sinned. I violated the Lord’s command and your instructions. I was afraid of the men and so I gave in to them. Now I beg you, forgive my sin and come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord.” (1 Sam. 15: 21, 24-25 NIV)

Saul twice on behalf of others for his mistakes and twice he asked Samuel to return with him. The second request was even followed by words so that Samuel would honor him before the people: “I have sinned. But please honor me before the elders of my people and before Israel; come back with me, so that I may worship the Lord your God.” (1 Samuel 15: 30 NIV)  This is an insincere confession of sin. Saul confessed to sin only so that Samuel would not leave him.

Saul asked Samuel to remain with him not because Saul realized that he needed God’s guidance, but because he was afraid that the people would leave him if Samuel left him, because at that time the priest had a huge influence. This shows that Saul’s actions and words were controlled by what people say and how people perceive him. We know how Saul became angry and jealous of David because the people sang “Saul has slain his thousands, and David his tens of thousands.” Saul was very angry; this refrain galled him. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a jealous eye on David. (1 Samuel 18: 8-9 NIV)

Saul was very concerned about the words, impressions, and views of people about him. Saul is concerned with reputation, even if necessary he will violate the truth if his reputation is disturbed. The end was Saul losing what he had been chasing and trying to maintain it in various ways. The Spirit of God departed from Saul and the king’s position was given by God to David.

David: Prioritizing the Right Heart

In many ways, David’s attitude was the opposite of Saul’s. Saul cared too much about his image in the eyes of others, David did not. For example, when David left the palace because of Absalom’s rebellion. Knowing this, Shimei, one of Saul’s family, cursed David and pelted David and his troops with stones along the road. David who was accompanied by soldiers and heroes didn’t counter at all. Instead, when Zeruiah was about to avenge Shimei, David said: “What does this have to do with you, you sons of Zeruiah? If he is cursing because the Lord said to him, ‘Curse David,’ who can ask, ‘Why do you do this?’”. . . . Leave him alone; let him curse, for the Lord has told him to. It may be that the Lord will look upon my misery and restore to me his covenant blessing instead of his curse today.” (2 Sam. 16: 10-12 NIV)  Compared to anger, feeling insulted, and retaliating, David prefers to subject himself to the authority of God.

Saul did everything he could to maintain his image, David did not. More than once David had the opportunity to kill Saul but he didn’t do it (1 Sam 24, 26). In fact, if Saul died then David’s life would be calmer because no one hunted him again. If Saul died, the way to become king would soon be realized because he had indeed been anointed as king. But David didn’t do it because he didn’t want to touch the Lord’s anointed person. David respected God and feared God. Compared to doing it in his own way, David prefers to trust God.

Saul never truly repented, while David quickly regretted his sin. When the Prophet Nathan rebuked him for taking Bathsheba, David immediately said: “I have sinned against the Lord.” (2 Sam. 12: 13 NIV)David didn’t excuse or blame others for his sin.

In many instances, David prefers his heart to remain right before God. For him, God’s words are more important than human words. Most of the Psalms are the outpouring of David’s heart to God. How in joy and sorrow, in strong and weak, in various situations, he always comes closer to God. He isn’t afraid of being abandoned by humans, he just doesn’t want God to leave him. He doesn’t care about being antagonized by humans as long as God sided with him. The most valuable for him isn’t the treasure and throne, but God. That’s why God is pleased with David.

BUILDING THE TRUE FOUNDATION

A reputation, good or bad, will stick to someone as long as the person lives. Even for some people who have a big influence, their reputation will continue to be remembered even if the person is gone. As children of God, we must have a good reputation because a bad reputation will be a stumbling block. But a good reputation is not everything. The most important thing is whether that reputation has been built on the true foundation. The true foundation here isn’t true according to man, but true in God’s view.

The only absolute truth for believers is the Bible. So, whatever attitude and behavior of the children of God must be in accordance with God’s word written in the Bible. When we think, say, and act according to God’s word, what comes out of us is everything that is good and right, which in itself will build a good and right reputation. Indeed obedience to the word of God doesn’t always make us favored by others, or even makes us despised, because many of the values of this world are contrary to God’s word. But our duty isn’t to please people but to please God. What is the point of having a good reputation in human measure, but finally we are wrong before God.

A good and true reputation built on the true foundation will have eternal impact, not just to impress others. Conversely, if we try to build a reputation by relying on power, wealth, expertise, even good deeds, then we will be trapped in what people say about us. We can be encouraged to become hypocrites. We will easily compromise to please others. We will do good things just for the sake of good name, but there is no love and sincerity. We must remember that God always sees the heart, not what is in sight. If reputation is everything to us, then we will fall into arrogance and unnecessary competition with other people.

Therefore let us ensure our lives have been built on a solid and true foundation, namely the word of God. Don’t be like Saul who was more concerned with his name and image in the eyes of others than obedience to God. Be like David who was obedient and gentle in heart and makes God the most valuable treasure. Don’t put our values on the words and views of people towards us, but put our values in God. We are valuable not because we are successful, good, even godly. We are valuable because we are created like God and God loves us so much.

Let’s focus on what’s inside, whether our foundation is right or not, by always connecting with God. At the time we diligently build relationships with God and put God above all else, that’s the time we are actually building a solid foundation for our reputation. And at the time we choose to obey the word of God even though for that we will be left behind by people, that’s the time we are actually laying the right foundation for our lives. The foundation is indeed invisible but the foundation greatly determines the strength of whatever is built on it. Foundation will form reputation. Bad foundation means bad reputation. So, prioritize building the true foundation, not just a reputation.

 

By: Sella Irene – Beautiful Words

Photo Credit: https://pixabay.com (edited with pixlr apps)

Original here