I lote blackberries. That is not a typo. It's a love hate thing all smashed together. I love warm blackberries off the bush and blackberry crisp and canned blackberry jam. I hate the stinking bushes. Our particular bushes hang over our fence from the neighbor's yard. Convenient when the fruit is ready. A hazard to drive through or walk through on the way home. I've got scars to prove it. Saturday I donned my crud clothes and my heavy duty gloves and went out to battle the blackberries. I always feel like the underdog when I go out into the yard.
The most well known story in the book of 1st Samuel has to be the epic battle between David and Goliath. The little guy beats the big guy saga is woven throughout literature and pop culture. It's included in any self-respecting self help book. Most of the time though the retelling skips an important piece. The story isn't really about the underdog vs. bully. It's about the power of God. David wins because he trusts the character of his creator. That same power is available to you. Fight your giants. God is bigger.
"And David said, "The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear, He will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine," I Samuel 17:37a
Just like David and Goliath, the rest of the stories in 1st Samuel are beautiful puzzle pieces all by themselves. Little character portraits that we can draw wisdom from and apply to our own lives.
Hannah: We spent two years of our marriage wondering if we could have a baby. Surgery and therapy and lots of prayer later and I identified with Hannah. Later my eldest daughter was convinced she would be an only child forever. She told me she prayed for a sister for over a year. When we read about Hannah my kiddo said she understood. Hannah cried out to the Lord and he heard her plea. Like all kids, Samuel was a gift.
I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. I Samuel 1:27
Samuel: This boy was dedicated to the service of God from birth. He grew up in the temple helping the prophet Eli. When Samuel was around twelve, he heard God speak. His response is one we should all mirror. Speak. I'm listening.
"Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening." 1 Samuel 3:10
Saul: Samuel grows up to be a great prophet. The people come to him and beg for a king. They want to be like all the surrounding countries. So in grief, Samuel asks God. And God replies with a classic parenting method. You aren't gonna like it....but okay....here is a king. Sometimes we manipulate our lives to the point that we get what we want. It would have been better had we waited. At any rate, God appoints Saul to be king. This goes okay for a while but Saul becomes a bitter, jealous, arrogant man. God eventually tells Samuel his reign is over. Saul spends the rest of his life trying to kill David. Like most things, it's all about the heart. When the motives are wrong the situation deteriorates.
"But the Lord said to Samuel, "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart". I Samuel 16:7
At one point on Saturday I was standing under the berry bushes cutting down the tangled vines above. The branches were heavy with dried leaves and leftover berries. Each time I cut a vine out of the mess I was showered in dust and dried bits. It got in my hair, down my shirt, into my eyes. Every time. The fallout was painful. Frequently the puzzle piece stories of 1st Samuel show the consequences of choices. Fallout.
Jonathan: I love the story of Jonathan. He is Saul's son and heir to the throne. He was also good friends with David. You would assume that when the throne was given away Jonathan would have joined his father in a temper tantrum. He doesn't. Jonathan spends the rest of his life protecting David. Love helps us let go, support others, protect.
"As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David and Jonathan loved him as his own soul." I Samuel 18:1
David: This shephard boy turned giant slayer turned great king is perhaps the pinnacle character in the entire Old Testament. David is called a man after God's own heart. He is a servant leader, a humble king and as we'll see in 2nd Samuel a repentant flawed soul. David is also a symbol hinting at the servant savior promised to Abraham who will be fullfilled in the coming Messiah. (Hint: Christians believe that was Jesus).
Saturday afternoon as I stood back from my now cleaned up fence line I thought about the book of 1st Samuel. The stories wind and weave together a lot like my blackberry vines. Some of those stories are sharp warnings to avoid the barbs of jealousy and rebellions. Some give lessons to sweeten our lives. The full picture that the book of 1st Samuel makes when it is pieced together and seen in context of the entire Bible narrative is breathtaking. It's full of courage and redemption. Promise and consequences. The grand picture continues to be that God's eternal plan will be worked out for good.
Read Scripture: 1 Samuel. Here you go! If you haevn't watched these yet, grab a cup of coffee and catch up. They are a great tool.
Handy infographic from New Spring Church along with a whole array of stories to help you think about and process the book of 1st Samuel. Read here.
There are TONS of great books about the characters in 1st Samuel; Hannah, David, Saul, Goliath. Here are a few I've read and enjoyed. Click on the book to purchase a copy through Amazon.
Mark Batterson's newest book is on my to read list. I loved In a pit with a lion on a snowy day. This one is the sequal. Chase your lions!
I love Jesus. I think my two daughters can change the world. I think you can too.
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