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Bible Tuesday for Sunday, January 18, 2015

Bible Tuesday for Sunday, January 18, 2015

1 Samuel 3:1-20

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.

2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’* and he said, ‘Here I am!’ 5and ran to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ So he went and lay down.6The Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call, my son; lie down again.’ 7Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy.9Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” ’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’ 11Then the Lord said to Samuel, ‘See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. 12On that day I will fulfil against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13For I have told him that I am about to punish his house for ever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God,* and he did not restrain them. 14Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.’

15 Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16But Eli called Samuel and said, ‘Samuel, my son.’ He said, ‘Here I am.’ 17Eli said, ‘What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.’18So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, ‘It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.’

19 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord.

Earlier in the book of Samuel, the high priests of Israel, Eli, was allowed to appoint his two sons to assist him in his priestly duties. They perpetrated abominations against God and the tent of meeting and God wanted them severely punished by Eli was lighter on his own sons. Also, earlier in 1 Samuel, we learn that Samuel’s mother was a very beloved but barren wife of a faithful Israelite. She prayed that if God would grant her a son, she would give him back to the Lord. God blessed her and her husband with a child, a son, whom they named Samuel, and when he was 3 or 4 years old, they brought him to the high priest, Eli, to be his apprentice/errand boy. This was before King David made Jerusalem the new capitol of Israel and before Solomon built a temple to God. At this time, the house of worship for the Israelites was a tent with a big screened in courtyard which was called “the tent of meeting.” Within that courtyard there was a large tent and within that tent there was a small room with fabric walls in which the Ark of the Covenant was housed. This story tells us that it was with the Ark that Samuel slept.

We do not know exactly how old Samuel is in this story, but the word which is here translated “boy” means a child who has been weaned but is not yet soldiering/marrying age, somewhere between ages 4 and 14. Samuel is serving Eli as Eli was his grandfather, and Eli treats Samuel as if he were Eli’s grandson. This is more foreshadowing of the prophecy that God is about to give Samuel for Eli and Israel.

Remember, in Hebrew culture, the number 3 symbolizes God. When three times Samuel heard a voice and mistakenly responded to Eli, it was after the third time that Eli figured it was probably God calling. Eli is the High Priest, wisened and respected, but God wants to talk to a boy instead. Because Samuel, though only a boy, receives word from God, Samuel is now considered a prophet. The end of this pericope tells the readers that Samuel is a faithful prophet, a true prophet, too.

“May God do so to you and more” is a phrase we read in several places in the Bible. It is an adjurement not unlike, “I swear to God I’ll _______ if you don’t _________”

Psalm 139:1-18

1O Lord, you have searched me and known me.

2You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from far away.

3You search out my path and my lying down, and are acquainted with all my ways.

4Even before a word is on my tongue, O Lord, you know it completely.

5You hem me in, behind and before, and lay your hand upon me.

6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is so high that I cannot attain it.

7Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?

8If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.

9If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,

10even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast.

11If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,”

12even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.

13For it was you who formed my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.

14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; that I know very well.

15My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

16Your eyes beheld my unformed substance. In your book were written all the days that were formed for me, when none of them as yet existed.

17How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God! How vast is the sum of them!

18I try to count them—they are more than the sand; I come to the end—I am still with you.

This is such a lovely psalm depicting the intimacy God has with each member of creation. “…when I sit down and when I rise up,” refers to the full scope of one’s daily activities. God knows everything we do and everything we think and speak.

“You hem me in behind and before,” can sound negative since to be “hemmed in” usually means to be caught, trapped. But here the word translated, “hemmed”, can also be translated “hedged”, as in God planted a vineyard and planted a hedge around it to protect it from vermin, animals, and thieves. Another way to translate this is to say, “You tuck me in behind and before,” while not an exact translation, it does convey the nurturing and protecting that the author is trying to convey.

Sheol is the empty place for the dead, not a place of torment, but a place of death and nothingness. To invoke God’s name and presence in such a place is quite provocative of the author, as many Jews, even in Jesus’ time, did not believe in any kind of resurrection or afterlife.

1 Corinthians 6:12-20

12“All things are lawful for me,” but not all things are beneficial. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be dominated by anything.13“Food is meant for the stomach and the stomach for food,” and God will destroy both one and the other. The body is meant not for fornication but for the Lord, and the Lord for the body. 14And God raised the Lord and will also raise us by his power. 15Do you not know that your bodies are members of Christ? Should I therefore take the members of Christ and make them members of a prostitute? Never! 16Do you not know that whoever is united to a prostitute becomes one body with her? For it is said, “The two shall be one flesh.” 17But anyone united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him. 18Shun fornication! Every sin that a person commits is outside the body; but the fornicator sins against the body itself. 19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, which you have from God, and that you are not your own?20For you were bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body.

Here the Apostle, Paul, is developing his argument for responsible freedom in Christ. Paul, and many of the other apostles, taught that belief in Jesus as Lord and Messiah meant you were no longer bound by Jewish law. You could eat whatever you wanted, talk to folks of the opposite gender who were not spouses or relatives, walk as far as you needed whether or not it was the Sabbath, drink as much as you want where ever and whenever you want, etc. However, that sounds like the gospel of Jesus brings anarchy. Here Paul explains that freedom in Christ from the Law means order by putting service to God and others first, in place of the Law.

“Fornication” in the Bible means unfaithfulness to God. It may or may not include anything sexual, but will always mean abandoning worship of or following Yahweh for worship of self or another god.

John 1:43-51

The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. He found Philip and said to him, ‘Follow me.’ 44Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the city of Andrew and Peter. 45Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ 46Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ 47When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’ 48Nathanael asked him, ‘Where did you come to know me?’ Jesus answered, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’ 49Nathanael replied, ‘Rabbi, you are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!’ 50Jesus answered, ‘Do you believe because I told you that I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than these.’ 51And he said to him, ‘Very truly, I tell you,* you will see heaven opened and the angels of God ascending and descending upon the Son of Man.’

Whenever texts start with “The next day…” or “after this”, it is important to read the section which is being referred to in order to comprehend content and context of the text that is doing the referring. So, in this case, the above text happens the day after John the Baptist sees Jesus and points him out to John’s own disciples and the crowd that is around him saying, “Here is the lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” and “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove and remain on him.” By reading this, the reader then knows that this Jesus is God’s chosen and has been anointed with the Holy Spirit. Therefore, it is appropriate for Jesus to be calling disciples and those whom he calls should jump at the opportunity to learn from Jesus and serve him.

Nathanael might be snide and terse in this story, but he is honest. Nazareth was a little, working class and farming town in Jesus ‘ day. There wasn’t any reason for anyone to go there except to visit family. So, Nathanael’s comment is snarky but genuine, and Jesus rewards him for it.

“Come and see” is a theme in the gospel of John. Unlike other gospels, where Jesus has to prove himself in order to gather a following, in John, Jesus just exudes godliness and people are drawn to it. In John, the job of the disciples is not to go sow seeds but to bring people to “come and see.”

While we are accustomed to Jesus calling his first disciples when they are fishing by the sea of Galilee as told in Matthew, Mark, and Luke, in the gospel of John, Jesus walks into town and tells folks to follow him. Those disciples immediately go and tell others, “Come and see.” No nets or boats, but immediate evangelizing instead.