From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/11:

Today we meet Saul from the small tribe of Benjamin, and “There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.” Wow! The Israelites, who often make decisions based on sight, are going to love this guy!

While Saul is out looking for his father’s lost donkeys, he meets Samuel. “Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear the day before Saul came, saying, ‘Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to Me.’” So Samuel anoints Saul as king and sends him home. Samuel tells Saul that, on his journey home, he will have three God orchestrated encounters with one being an encounter with a group of prophets – “Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you.”

“So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day.” Later, when Samuel gathers the tribes of Israel to announce Saul as their king, Saul is nowhere to be found. The Lord reveals to the people that Saul is hiding behind the equipment. This is sort of a cowardly move for a tall handsome king, but after Saul is brought out, Samuel presents him as their new king, and the people shout, “Long live the king!”

When the Amorites threatened the children of Israel “the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard the news, and his anger was greatly aroused.  So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, ‘Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen.’” This is a similar tactic that was used against his own tribe in the Judges Era when the Levite chopped up his dead concubine and sent her pieces out to all of Israel to call them to battle against the tribe of Benjamin. 

Israel defeats the Amorites, and the people gather at Gilgal to rejoice and offer sacrifices to the Lord. Then Samuel gives a farewell address to transition his leadership of the people over to their new king Saul. He reminds the people of God’s faithfulness in the same way Moses and Joshua did by telling the amazing story of the Lord! – “When Jacob had gone into Egypt, and your fathers cried out to the Lord, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. And when they forgot the Lord their God, He sold them… into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab… Then they cried out to the Lord… And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side; and you dwelt in safety… And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the Lord your God was your king.”

Samuel explains that the Lord has given the people what they wanted – a king. Then Samuel warns the people – “If you fear the Lord and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the Lord your God. However, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers.” 

Samuel tells the people that they were wicked in rejecting the Lord and asking for a king, but he concludes his speech with a word of hope – “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

Will Saul be a king who fears the Lord and obeys His commandments? Keep reading to find out. (1 Samuel 9:1-12:25)

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/11:

Today we meet Saul from the small tribe of Benjamin, and “There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.” Wow! The Israelites, who often make decisions based on sight, are going to love this guy!

While Saul is out looking for his father’s lost donkeys, he meets Samuel. “Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear the day before Saul came, saying, ‘Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to Me.’” So Samuel anoints Saul as king and sends him home. Samuel tells Saul that, on his journey home, he will have three God orchestrated encounters with one being an encounter with a group of prophets – “Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you.”

“So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day.” Later, when Samuel gathers the tribes of Israel to announce Saul as their king, Saul is nowhere to be found. The Lord reveals to the people that Saul is hiding behind the equipment. This is sort of a cowardly move for a tall handsome king, but after Saul is brought out, Samuel presents him as their new king, and the people shout, “Long live the king!”

When the Amorites threatened the children of Israel “the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard the news, and his anger was greatly aroused.  So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, ‘Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen.’” This is a similar tactic that was used against his own tribe in the Judges Era when the Levite chopped up his dead concubine and sent her pieces out to all of Israel to call them to battle against the tribe of Benjamin. 

Israel defeats the Amorites, and the people gather at Gilgal to rejoice and offer sacrifices to the Lord. Then Samuel gives a farewell address to transition his leadership of the people over to their new king Saul. He reminds the people of God’s faithfulness in the same way Moses and Joshua did by telling the amazing story of the Lord! – “When Jacob had gone into Egypt, and your fathers cried out to the Lord, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place. And when they forgot the Lord their God, He sold them… into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab… Then they cried out to the Lord… And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel, and delivered you out of the hand of your enemies on every side; and you dwelt in safety… And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, ‘No, but a king shall reign over us,’ when the Lord your God was your king.”

Samuel explains that the Lord has given the people what they wanted – a king. Then Samuel warns the people – “If you fear the Lord and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the Lord your God. However, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers.” 

Samuel tells the people that they were wicked in rejecting the Lord and asking for a king, but he concludes his speech with a word of hope – “Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing. For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name’s sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.”

Will Saul be a king who fears the Lord and obeys His commandments? Keep reading to find out. (1 Samuel 9:1-12:25)

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/10:

A messenger informs ninety-eight year old Eli that his two sons have been killed in battle and that the ark of God has been taken. At the news of the taking of the ark of God, Eli falls off his chair, breaks his neck, and dies. The shock of the news sends Eli’s pregnant daughter-in-law into labor, and she gives birth to a son. Before she dies, she names her son Ichabod saying, “‘The glory has departed from Israel!’ because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.”

The Philistines learn that you can’t disregard the Lord and take the ark of God with no repercussions. The Lord sends a plague upon the Philistines inflicting them with tumors, which many theologians think are hemorrhoids, and rats cover the land. The Lord also decapitates their beloved false god Dagon. Since moving the ark of the Lord around for seven months and experiencing tumors and death everywhere the ark goes is a real pain in the rear for the Philistines, the Philistines decide to return the ark. They inquire of their priests and diviners who tell them to load the ark on a cart with a trespass offering of five golden tumors and five golden rats representing the five Philistine rulers – “Therefore you shall make images of your tumors and images of your rats that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will lighten His hand from you, from your gods, and from your land.”

The cows, miraculously guided by the Lord, pull the ark back to Israel to the field of Joshua at Beth Shemesh. After a mishap there related to mishandling the ark, the people of Beth Shemesh have the ark of God taken to Abinadab’s house in Kirjath Jearim and consecrate his son Eleazar to keep the ark of the Lord. It will remain there until King David brings it to Jerusalem later in the story.

The prophet Samuel is now serving as judge and priest of Israel. Twenty years after the ark is in Kirjath Jearim, Samuel tells the people, who continue to slip into idolatry, to “return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.” When the people repent inwardly with their hearts and then outwardly by turning from foreign gods, the Lord provides victory over the Philistines.

“Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel. The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.” Since Samuel’s sons were corrupt and wicked, similar to Eli’s sons, the people ask Samuel to give them a king like the nations around them. God tells Samuel to give the people what they want “for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.” However, the Lord instructs Samuel to warn the people about what will happen when they have a king. God says the king will take your sons, take your daughters, take your fields, take your grain and vintage, take your servants, and take your livestock. That’s a lot of taking. But the people don’t care. They still want a king. 

Tomorrow the Lord gives the people what they want. Keep reading. (1 Samuel 4:12-8:22)

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/9:

While in Shiloh at the tabernacle, Hannah cries and prays to the Lord for a male child. She makes a vow to the Lord saying that if He will give her a son, she will dedicate him back to the Lord as a Nazirite. Eli, the high priest, saw her lips moving but heard no sound and assumed she was drunk. Sometimes hurting women are misunderstood, even by the leaders in the church. But Hannah, whose hope is in the Lord, responds graciously and once she explains herself, Eli says, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant you your petition which you have asked of Him.” So Hannah “went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.” 

Hannah bears a son and names him Samuel which means “God has heard” in Hebrew. Once Samuel is weaned, she brings him to Eli in the house of the Lord at Shiloh where they give their offerings to the Lord. Hannah says, “For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted my petition which I asked of Him. Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord, as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.” Then Hannah prays a beautiful prayer magnifying the Lord. It is much like the prayer Mary will say when she is pregnant with our Savior (Luke 1:46-55). Hannah’s prayer begins with – “My heart rejoices in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.” I imagine Hannah is thinking about that mean church girl, Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah. When our eyes are fixed on the Lord, we can smile in the face of our enemies, knowing that “the Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash of heap, to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory.”

Eli’s own sons, Hophni and Phinehas, “were corrupt; they did not know the Lord.” Not everyone who is in a position of authority in a church is a true follower of the Lord. Jesus will later tell us to “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15). This sounds a lot like Eli’s sons because they are saving the best offerings to the Lord for themselves and sleeping with the women who come to worship at the tabernacle. The Lord does not take this lightly. In His own timing and in His own way, He will deal with all the wolves in sheep’s clothing, just like He does with Eli’s sons in today’s reading. The Lord tells Eli regarding his two sons, “in one day they shall die, both of them. Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever.” We will see partial fulfillment of this promise through Samuel, but the final fulfillment will come through the ultimate High Priest Jesus Christ. 

“So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the Lord. Then the Lord appeared again in Shiloh. For the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord. And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.”

During a battle against the Philistines, “There was a very great slaughter… the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.” Tomorrow Eli receives the bad news about his sons and the stolen ark. Then the Philistines become extremely eager to return the ark. Keep reading to find out why. (1 Samuel 1:9-4:11)

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/8:

Today Boaz and Ruth have a son named Obed, and the women all say to Naomi, “Blessed be the Lord, who has not left you this day without a close relative; and may his name be famous in Israel! And may he be to you a restorer of life and a nourisher of your old age; for your daughter-in-law, who loves you, who is better to you than seven sons, has borne him.” Obed becomes the father of Jesse who becomes the father of King David, landing a former widow Moabite woman, Ruth, in the lineage of Jesus Christ, fulfilling what will later be prophesied by Micah – “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). This prophecy will be fulfilled when Jesus Christ is born in Bethlehem (Luke 2:4-7).

So Naomi goes from calling herself Mara back to Naomi, and the Lord continues working His plan through His people. This concludes the Judges Era. 

The Kingdom Era begins with genealogies connecting the story:

  • Creation Era- After the fall, we learned that the Lord is sending a Savior to restore man’s broken relationship with Him. The Savior is coming through Adam’s son Seth. Ten generations after Adam we met Noah, a descendant of Seth, who was saved by grace through faith during the flood. 
  • Patriarch Era – Ten generations after Noah, we met the first patriarch, Abraham who is father to Isaac and grandfather to Jacob. We learned that the Messiah will be coming through Jacob’s son Judah. 
  • Conquest Era – During the battle of Jericho, we met the Canaanite harlot Rahab who married Salmon, a descendant of Judah. Rahab and Salmon are parents to Boaz. 
  • Judges Era – Boaz married Ruth and they had a son named Obed. 

In the Kingdom Era, we will meet Obed’s son, Jesse, and grandson, David. David will grow to be the mighty King David, and the Lord will continue to work His plan through David’s lineage. But first is the story of Hannah, a barren woman. Her husband, Elkanah, has another wife, Peninnah, who has borne him children. This family goes every year to worship at Shiloh. At this time in the story, Eli is the high priest and his wicked sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are priests. Peninnah, “a mean church girl”, makes Hannah miserable by tormenting her because “the Lord had closed her womb. So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.”

We have learned that the Lord is the one who opens the womb in His timing to accomplish His purposes as He did with Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. Will He do the same for Hannah? Keep reading to find out.  (Ruth 4:13-22, 1 Chronicles 2:9-55, 1 Chronicles 4:1-23, 1 Samuel 1:1-8)

14 Eras: 

Creation Era (Gen 1:1-11:26) ✔️

Patriarch Era (Gen 11:27-50:26 and Job) ✔️

Exodus Era (Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy) ✔️

Conquest Era (Joshua) ✔️

Judges Era (Judges, Ruth) ✔️

Kingdom Era (1,2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, 2 Chronicles 1-9, 1 Kings 1-11, various Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon) is up now!  

Eras to follow: 

Divided Kingdom, Captivity, Return, Silent, Gospel, Church, Missions, and End Times/New Beginnings

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/7:

Naomi and her husband, Elimelech, Ephrathites from Bethlehem and descendants of Judah, leave Bethlehem during a famine and go to live in Moab. There Naomi’s husband and two sons die, leaving Naomi with her two Moabite daughters-in-law, Orpah and Ruth. When Naomi hears there is now food in Judah, she sets out to move back home. She tells her daughters-in-law to return to their homes because she can not provide them with husbands. In the midst of Naomi’s suffering with the loss of her husband and her sons, she wrongly believes that the Lord is against her. Naomi pleads with her daughters-in-law to leave her and return home “for it grieves me very much for your sakes that the hand of the Lord has gone out against me!”

Ruth, however, refuses to leave Naomi and says, “For wherever you go, I will go; and wherever you lodge, I will lodge; your people shall be my people; and your God, my God.” Ruth commits herself to Naomi and to the Lord instead of going home and worshiping the false gods of Moab. Ruth further expresses her loyalty to Naomi and faith in the Lord when she says, “The Lord do so to me, and more also, if anything but death parts you and me.” So Naomi concedes, and when Naomi and Ruth arrive in Bethlehem, the people are excited to see Naomi. But Naomi responds, “Do not call me Naomi, call me Mara [which means bitter], for the Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again empty.” But did Naomi come back empty as she said? No. Naomi was so blinded by her deep pain that she could not see all that the Lord was doing and all the ways He was for her. She could not see how God was going to use the life of Ruth, who clung to Naomi and trusted in her God, to fulfill His promise to send a Savior.

Ruth works in the field of Boaz, a descendant of Judah’s son, Perez (one of the twins from Judah and Tamar). Boaz admires how Ruth has been so faithful to Naomi, and he says to her, “The Lord repay your work, and a full reward be given to you by the Lord God of Israel, under whose wings you have come for refuge.” When Ruth brings the barley she gleaned from the field to Naomi, Naomi tells her that Boaz is a close relative and instructs Ruth to go to him and lie down at his feet and wait for him to tell her what to do. Ruth obeys Naomi. When Boaz awakes and finds Ruth at his feet, she says to him, “Take your maidservant under your wing, for you are a close relative.” 

Boaz responds, “Blessed are you of the Lord, my daughter! For you have shown more kindness at the end than at the beginning, in that you did not go after young men, whether poor or rich. And now, my daughter, do not fear. I will do for you all that you request, for all the people of my town know that you are a virtuous woman.” Then Boaz follows the proper procedures per the Levirate law and becomes the owner of all that belonged to Naomi’s husband and sons, and he becomes husband to Ruth – “And all the people who were at the gate, and the elders, said, ‘We are witnesses. The Lord make the woman who is coming to your house like Rachel and Leah, the two who built the house of Israel; and may you prosper in Ephrathah and be famous in Bethlehem. May your house be like the house of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah, because of the offspring which the Lord will give you from this young woman.’”

Tomorrow we finish the book of Ruth bringing an end to the Judges Era and transitioning us into the Kingdom Era. Keep reading. (Ruth 1:1-4:12)

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/6:

“And it came to pass in those days, when there was no king in Israel, that there was a certain Levite staying in the remote mountains of Ephraim. He took for himself a concubine from Bethlehem in Judah. But his concubine played the harlot against him, and went away from him to her father’s house at Bethlehem in Judah, and was there four whole months.” Then the Levite goes to retrieve her and ends up staying with the father-in-law for several days. While journeying back home, the Levite refuses to stay in a pagan town because he assumes they will be safer in the town of Gibeah, an Israelite town belonging to the tribe of Benjamin. However, in Gibeah no one invites them in except an older man from Ephraim who is staying there.

As they are enjoying themselves in the house of the older man, perverted men from the city come to the house to rape the Levite, similar to what happened at Lot’s house in Sodom. Eventually, in order to protect himself, the Levite throws his concubine out to these wicked men, who abuse her all night. When the men finally release her, she walks to the door of the house where the Levite is staying, falls down, and dies. The next morning her callous master, the Levite, the man who should be caring for the people physically and spiritually and guiding people toward the Lord, opens the door and tells her to get up because they are leaving. But when he discovers she is dead, he loads her on his donkey and takes her home.

Then the Levite chops her body into twelve pieces and sends a body part to each of the tribes of Israel. This gets everyone’s attention. So all the children of Israel gather together before the Lord at Mizpah to hear the Levite’s story. Then Israel asks Benjamin to “deliver up the men, the perverted men who are in Gibeah, that we may put them to death and remove the evil from Israel.” However, the Benjamites refuse to rid the land of evil, igniting a war between the tribe of Benjamin and the tribes of Israel. 

The Lord instructs the Israelites to attack Benjamin, but Israel is defeated twice by the Benjamites. Keep in mind that it isn’t just the Benjamites living lives of rebellion against the Lord; it is all of Israel. Therefore the Lord is using these defeats to humble Israel as a nation. After a total of forty thousand Israelites are slaughtered, “all the children of Israel, that is, all the people, went up and came to the house of God and wept. They sat there before the Lord and fasted that day until evening; and they offered burnt offerings and peace offerings before the Lord.” Once the people are humble and brought to repentance, the Lord gives them victory over Benjamin. The entire tribe of Benjamin is nearly wiped out by Israel, with only six hundred men remaining.

After some time passes, the Israelites weep at the thought of completely losing the tribe of Benjamin since the Benjamite women were all killed in war, and the Israelites made an oath at Mizpah not to give their daughters to the Benjamites. So when Israel realizes that the people from Jabesh Gilead failed to come to the congregation at Mizpah, the Israelites attack them and take four hundred of their women for the tribe of Benjamin. Then the Israelites give the Benjamites permission to kidnap two hundred of their daughters while they come out to dance at the annual festival at Shiloh, giving each of the remaining Benjamite men a woman.

The book of Judges ends today with this statement which explains why the Judges Era was such a dark period in the history of Israel – “In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own sight.” Today’s reading is a perfect example of how wicked a nation can become when everyone is doing what they believe is right in their own sight without regard to God’s word. It started with a Levite taking a concubine, the concubine leaving the Levite, the Levite handing her over to be abused, the men of the city raping and killing her, the shock of the body parts sent out, war against their brothers, killing of others, and kidnapping of women. What a tragic mess! This is why we so desperately need the word of God! We need guidance outside of ourselves for living and relating to others or we will act out of the wickedness of our own hearts. We need the Lord, His word, His Spirit, and His promises.

And that concludes the book of Judges. Tomorrow we get a glimmer of hope in the book of Ruth, as we will see that the Lord is still on the throne. Behind the scenes He is working His plan to send a Savior, just as He promised at the beginning of this story. So keep reading. (Judges 19:1-21:25)

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/5:

“Now Samson went to Gaza and saw a harlot there, and went in to her.” Then he leaves Gaza carrying the city gate with him and goes to the Valley of Sorek. There he falls in love with another ungodly woman named Delilah, who does not have his best interests at heart. The lords of the Philistines bribe Delilah to find out where Samson’s strength lies. As Delilah attempts to uncover his secret, Samson allows her to place him in bondage three times. However, Samson is just toying with her. “And it came to pass, when she pestered him daily with her words and pressed him, so that his soul was vexed to death, that he told her all his heart, and said to her, ‘No razor has ever come upon my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaven, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.’” Once again, Samson caves into the pestering of a woman like he did with the Philistine wife and the honey riddle. God has warned His people over and over since the exodus from Egypt not to commingle with the people around them who are walking outside of the presence of the Lord. Samson’s downfall is due to his disobedience, as he is a man who walks by sight making decisions based on the lust of the eye and fleshy emotions instead of walking by faith and trusting in the Lord, in His word, and in His promises. However, the Lord uses Samson’s disobedience to accomplish His purposes, but it results in a tragic life for Samson.

While Samson is asleep, Delilah has his head shaved. “Then the Philistines took him and put out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza. They bound him with bronze fetters, and he became a grinder in the prison. However, the hair of his head began to grow again after it had been shaven.” At the end of his life, when Samson is brought to the temple of the false god Dagon to entertain the crowds, he prays for the Lord to give him strength one last time so he may take vengeance on the Philistines for the loss of his eyes. The Lord hears his prayer, and Samson pushes down the beams of the temple killing about three thousand Philistines, which was more than he had killed his entire life. Although Samson suffered major consequences as a result of being a sinful, fleshly driven man, he was still a man who had faith in the Lord, as we see here at the end of his life (Hebrews 11:32-34).

Next we meet a man named Micah, from the tribe of Ephraim, who stole a great fortune from his mother. However, when he returned the shekels to his mother, she praised him and asked him to make a shrine, ephod, and household idols from the fortune that he stole from her. Then Micah makes one of his sons a priest. The Judges Era is defined as a period of time in Israel when “there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.” The story of a Micah is a good illustration of someone doing what is right in their own sight, as we see him making up a new religion with his false gods and man made rules. When a Levite named Jonathan, one of Moses’ grandsons, shows up at Micah’s house looking for a place to stay, Micah welcomes him in and makes him his priest. Jonathan is a priest who offers to serve for his own personal gain and not for the glory of the Lord.

At this time, the tribe of Dan is still trying to acquire land for themselves since they failed to drive out the inhabitants of their allocated land during the conquest. So they send five men to spy out the land, and the spies go to the mountains of Ephraim where they arrive at the house of Micah. There they recognize the voice of the Levite. Then the spies from the rebellious tribe of Dan ask the rebellious Levite priest, Jonathan, for God’s blessing, which is interesting because clearly no one is obeying the Lord. The men desire God’s blessing while completely ignoring His Word. 

After receiving a blessing from Jonathan, the spies continue scouting out the land and find some easy territory to conquer, a city called Laish. Before the tribe of Dan conquers the land, the spies go back to Micah’s house and say to the Levite priest – “‘Is it better for you to be a priest to the household of one man, or that you be a priest to a tribe and a family in Israel?’ So the priest’s heart was glad; and he took the ephod, the household idols, and the carved image, and took his place among the people.” Jonathan glady goes with the tribe of Dan and continues to build his own platform for his own interest.

“So they took the things Micah had made, and the priest who had belonged to him, and went to Laish, to a people quiet and secure; and they struck them with the edge of the sword and burned the city with fire… So they rebuilt the city and dwelt there. And they called the name of the city Dan, after the name of Dan their father, who was born to Israel… Then the children of Dan set up for themselves the carved image; and Jonathan the son of Gershom, the son of Manasseh, and his sons were priests to the tribe of Dan until the day of the captivity of the land. So they set up for themselves Micah’s carved image which he made, all the time that the house of God was in Shiloh.”

This story shows how far away from the Lord the Israelites are at this point. Moses’ own grandson leads an entire tribe into idolatry and away from worshiping the true God in the way and place the Lord told His people to worship Him. We will see during the Divided Kingdom Era that this idolatrous city of Dan will continue to be a central place of false worship for Northern Israel. 

Tomorrow we meet another Levite living a life in complete rebellion against the Lord, resulting in a very dark outcome. Keep reading. (Judges 16:1-18:31)

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/4:

“Then the Spirit of the Lord came upon Jephthah, …he advanced toward the people of Ammon. And Jephthah made a vow to the Lord, and said, ‘If You will indeed deliver the people of Ammon into my hands, then it will be that whatever comes out of the doors of my house to meet me, when I return in peace from the people of Ammon, shall surely be the Lord’s, and I will offer it up as a burnt offering.’” Was this vow necessary for the Lord to work on Israel’s behalf? No. I’m not sure what Jephthah was expecting to run out of that house when he returned home after the Lord gave him victory, but it was his daughter, his only child, who was playing music and dancing.

We read in Numbers 30:2 – “If a man vows a vow to the Lord… he shall not break his word.” Jephthah does not break his word – “he carried out his vow with her which he had vowed. She knew no man.” Some commentators debate whether she was offered as a burnt offering since this would go against the Lord’s teaching in Leviticus 20:1-5 about not offering human sacrifices. They debate that she could have been sent to the tabernacle as a servant of the Lord for life since she went away two months with her friends to mourn her virginity and not her death. Regardless, this story teaches us the importance of not making hasty and foolish vows. The story of Jephthah’s vow becomes so popular with the Israelites that “it became a custom in Israel that the daughters of Israel went four days each year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite.”

After the victory over the people of Ammon, the prideful men of Ephraim confront Jephthah in the same way they confronted Gideon. Once again they are upset that they weren’t also asked to fight – “Why did you cross over to fight against the people of Ammon, and did not call us to go with you? We will burn your house down on you with fire!” This results in a battle between the men of Ephraim and the men of Gilead, with Gilead defeating Ephraim. Jephthah judges Israel for six years before he dies.

After several more sin cycles and judges, “again the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and the Lord delivered them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.” This is when we meet Samson. Israel was being oppressed by the Philistines, and the Lord appears to a barren woman, the wife of Manoah, and tells her she is going to have a child, and “the child shall be a Nazirite to God from the womb; and he shall begin to deliver Israel out of the hand of the Philistines.” Samson grows up into a sinful, fleshly driven man who does not have much regard for the Nazirite lifestyle. However, the Lord will send His spirit upon Samson and use him mightily to accomplish His purposes against the pagan Philistines. 

When Samson goes to Timnah, he sees a Philistine woman that he desires to marry. However, his parents don’t want him marrying a Philistine as this would go against the Lord’s teaching. Samson’s parents are not aware of the fact that the Lord is working behind the scenes to use the union to make a move against the Philistines; and what a move He makes! The wedding festivities are wild! Samson ends up killing thirty men to honor a bet he made with some of the male wedding attendants. Then his wife is given to his companion to marry. Out of anger, Samson burns the Philistines fields with torches tied to fox tails. Then the Philistines burn Samson’s wife and her dad. “So he attacked them hip and thigh with a great slaughter; then he went down and dwelt in the cleft of the rock of Etam.”

The tribe of Judah takes three thousand men to the cave where Sampson is staying. They tie Samson securely with ropes and hand him over to the Philistines to avoid trouble. “Then the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him; and the ropes that were on his arms became like flax that is burned with fire, and his bonds broke loose from his hands. He found a fresh jawbone of a donkey, reached out his hand and took it, and killed a thousand men with it.” 

The Lord is using Samson to carry out His judgment against the Philistines. However, there are always consequences to living a sinful and flesh driven life, as we will see with Samson. Tomorrow Samson falls for another pagan woman, which will lead to his downfall. Keep reading. (Judges 11:29-15:20)

From today’s reading in Tyndale’s One Year Chronological Bible dated 4/3:

Abimelech reigns for three years until, in judgment, the Lord sends a spirit of ill will between Abimelech and the men of Shechem for the murder of Gideon’s sons. The men of Shechem choose a new leader, Gaal, to overthrow Abimelech. However, Abimelech and his troops defeat Gaal and his men. Then Abimelech seizes Shechem and kills the people both outside and inside the city. The remaining people flee to the temple of the god Berith for refuge, but Abimelech barricades them inside and sets it on fire, killing about a thousand men and women.

After the slaughter of Shechem, Abimelech goes to Thebez in an attempt to do the same to the people there. Once again we see the people of the city take refuge in a strong tower. However, Abimelech does not have the same success with burning down this tower. A woman throws a millstone down and crushes his head. Abimelech tells his armor-bearer to thrust his sword through him so no one will say that a woman killed him. Unfortunately for Abimelech, throughout this story a woman will continue to get credit for his death (2 Samuel 11:21). “Thus God repaid the wickedness of Abimelech, which he had done to his father by killing his seventy brothers. And all the evil of the men of Shechem God returned on their own heads, and on them came the curse of Jotham the son of Jerubbaal.”

The people, seeking safety and security, sought refuge in a tower built by man, but they never sought the Lord. “The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe” (Proverbs 18:10). If we run to the Lord in times of trouble and call upon Him through prayer and reading His word, we will remember His goodness and His sovereignty, and we shall find peace and rest for our souls. However, the children of Israel don’t experience this peace for long because they keep seeking fulfillment outside of the Lord.

Again the Israelites return to doing evil and serving other gods. “So the anger of the Lord was hot against Israel; and He sold them into the hands of the Philistines and into the hands of the people of Ammon. From that year they harassed and oppressed the children of Israel for eighteen years —all the children of Israel who were on the other side of the Jordan in the land of the Amorites, in Gilead.” Then the Israelites cry out to God until “His soul could no longer endure the misery of Israel.”

The children of Israel gather together and ask “who is the man” that will fight Ammon? So God raises up a man to lead the people. This is when we meet Jephthah, a mighty man of valor and a son of a harlot. His half brothers drove him away from home, but when Ammon makes war against Israel, the elders of Gilead, who are now desperate, call Jephthah to come back and save them. Jephthah responds, “If you take me back home to fight against the people of Ammon, and the Lord delivers me, shall I be your head?” The elders of Gilead say “yes”!

When the Amorites accuse Israel of taking their land, Jephthah says that the land is theirs because the Lord gave it to them. “‘Therefore I have not sinned against you, but you wronged me by fighting against me. May the Lord, the Judge, render judgment this day between the children of Israel and the people of Ammon.’ However, the king of the people of Ammon did not heed the words which Jephthah sent him.” 

Tomorrow Jephthah makes a foolish vow to the Lord, resulting in a tragic outcome. Keep reading to find out what happens. (Judges 9:22-11:28)