God’s People, part 44: Saul

Read 1 Samuel 15

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
Saul groaned to his armor bearer, ‘Take your sword and kill me before these pagan Philistines come to run me through and taunt and torture me.’ But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it.” (1 Samuel 31:4 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

The BiblePart 44: Saul. Well, we come to yet another character in the Bible that people think they know pretty well. Right? We who grew up in the church, we know who that nasty, no good, wicked, egotistical, jealous, power-crazed, heavy-handed King Saul was. There’s no need to discuss him, right?

He was that king who promised to follow God and then didn’t follow through. He was the king who refused to do as God instructed, but went his own way. He was the one who, though anointed by God, he led like he was in league with the devil.  He was an inefficient leader, one who became increasingly paranoid, who murderous in his paranoia and, let’s face it, the dude totally tried to kill the epic, rockin’, swave David. What is up with that?

Well, to be honest, David really wasn’t as rockin’ or swave as people give him credit for. Epic? Sure. But that discussion is for another time and place. In this devotion, we are dealing with Saul and, as much as we would like to view Saul as the villain, he really is more of a tragic hero. Do you know what I mean about that, he is the hero that has it all going for him, the guy who was on the rise until his character flaw got the best of him and he came crashing down, taking others (including his family) with him.

Let us not forget that, when the people rejected the judges, God led Samuel to discover and anoint Saul as their king. Saul was God’s child, God’s chosen leader, and had the potential to be a great king. I am sure that Saul had really good intentions on the way in too; however, you know the phrase: the power went to his head.

Instead of leading by example and pointing the people to be faithful in their relationship with God, instead of ruling God’s people in a holy manner, Saul became more concerned with establishing and solidifying his reign and his dynasty. Instead of taking no prisoners, as God commanded of him and the Israelites, Saul not only took prisoners of war but he took them as slaves.

In fact, it was that disobedience that caused Saul to fall out of favor with God. One might want to have pity on Saul because he chose to keep the King alive (which would seem like an act of mercy); however, he did so only for his own gain, not because he had any sort of benevolent heart within him. He didn’t spare anyone else but the king who he could display as his war trophy.

What’s more, we need to understand that the Amalekites were not good actors, but were attacking the Israelites and trying to eradicate them. A ruler is supposed to do what is in the best interest of his/her people, and keeping one’s people safe and ensuring their survival is at the top of the list. Yet, in his disobedience, Saul showed that all he really cared about was his own vainglory and popularity.

In the end, Saul was rejected by God and he further fell into the abyss from that point on. David was chosen to be the next King (more on that later) and that literally drove Saul mad. He spent the rest of his years chasing after David in order to kill him so that his sons could maintain the throne, and he ultimately failed. Saul, once the hero of his people and the first king of Israel, died defeated in battle along with his sons, his armor bearer, and his entire army.

While it is easy for us to look at Saul as villain, how much harder is it to see ourselves in him; however, is he that different from us? Have we not been chosen by God to reflect the true king, Jesus Christ? Have we not also, time and time again, let our own vainglory (aka excessive pride in ourselves and our achievements) stand in our way? Have we not sought to take control away from God so that we can be in control? Have we not lived our lives with the motto, “my kingdom come, my will be done”, which is the antithesis of the Lord’s Prayer?

Each of us has missed the mark in one way or the other, just like Saul did. The challenge is to repent and turn back to God, rather than letting our desire to be God bring us to our own demise. Repent, profess Jesus as your Lord, and be filled with love, grace, and the God-given power to transform this world through and through.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Absolute power corrupts absolutely.” – John Emerich Edward

PRAYER
Lord, help curb my pride and remind me of the need to humble myself before you. I am not Lord, you are. Forgive me. I accept your Lordship over my life. Amen.

A LOOK BACK: I WILL BE

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.

A LOOK BACK: I AM

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.

A LOOK BACK: J.S.S.

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.

A LOOK BACK: Haunted

bflw-devotional-800x490Writing the Life-Giving Water devotionals is not only an important ministry, but is a deeply rewarding spiritual discipline for me as well. With that said, observing Sabbath (aka rest) is an important spiritual discipline as well. So here is a LOOK BACK to a devotion I wrote in the past. Read it, reflect on it, be challenged by it. Who knows how God will speak to you through it and how it will bear relevance in your life today? May the Holy Spirit guide you as you read the suggested Scripture and subsequent devotion.

God’s People, part 43: Samuel

Read 1 Samuel 3

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“So as David stood there among his brothers, Samuel took the flask of olive oil he had brought and anointed David with the oil. And the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David from that day on. Then Samuel returned to Ramah.” (1 Samuel 16:13 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

bible-samuelPart 43: Samuel. Have you ever felt like you heard the voice of someone calling you? I have. I remember when I was a boy, my parents had my sister and I go to bed at the WAY TOO EARLY time of 8 p.m. during the school year. Okay, so I now realize my parents were more reasonable then I thought they were then; however, at the time, this was a BIG DEAL for me. Why did I have to go to bed so early? As you can probably tell, I have always been a night owl and still am to this day.

One time, my parents were watching a movie after were in bed. Well, I just wanted to watch it and I couldn’t fall asleep, so I suck to the stairs and laid down so I could peer at the TV screen through the railing at the top of the staircase. At some point, deeply entrenched in the movie, I heard the voice of what I thought to be one of my parents (I couldn’t really tell if it was mom or dad at the time, which is odd now that I think of it) saying, “Todd, go to bed.”

My heart froze in its place and I jumped up and ran to bed. The next day, I sheepishly walked up to my mother and confessed that I had indeed been watching the moving from the railing and that I was sorry for not staying in bed. She looked at me with the most puzzled look on her face. I then asked her if she had been the one who told me to go to bed. She shook her head horizontally, to tell me that she had not told me to go to bed and that she didn’t even know I was up there watching. Later, my dad stated that he had not known either. Yet, I had audibly heard that adult-like voice telling me to go to bed.

I’d imagine that Samuel, much like me, had his heart freeze when he heard the voice of God calling him to be a prophet. Three times he heard that voice and thought it was Eli, the high priest who had taken Samuel under his wing as an apprentice of sorts. Finally, Eli instructed Samuel to say, “Speak, your servant is listening,” as he realized it was God speaking to him.

Samuel, as the Bible informs us, became the next and the final judge of the Israelites. As he would find out, his call kept changing and evolving and Samuel often felt like he was on shaky ground. He served God and his people as faithfully as he could; however, as is often the pattern in the Bible, his children were not spitting images of him or his faithfulness. They, rather, became corrupt and the people did not trust them to be leaders.

This must have crushed Samuel, and he must have felt like an utter failure when he ended up having to give in to the demands of the people and anoint a person to become their king and sovereign, a person he could only hope would represent God rather than his own self-interests. And the fact that his first choice for king was a failure and a realization of his worst fears, certainly did not help. With that said, Samuel did what he felt he must despite all the uncertainty and his faithfulness to God led to the rise King David and the royal lineage that would trace itself all the way to the King of kings, Jesus Christ.

The challenge for us is to learn from Samuel’s persistence despite the uncertainty we face in day to day life. We are often uncertain of how things are going to turn out and we often find ourselves questioning why things are turning out as they do; however, if our hearts remain open to the guidance of God, we will never be led astray. Even when we do make wrong choices, God will still work in us and through us for the glory of God and the coming of the heavenly Kingdom. Have faith, be still and know that God is with you.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“In this quest to seek and find God in all things, there is still an area of uncertainty. There must be. If a person says that he met God with total certainty and is not touched by a margin of uncertainty, then this is not good.” – Pope Francis I

PRAYER
Lord, help me deal with the uncertainty and, rather than resting assured in what I think I know, let me rest assured in my faith. Amen.

God’s People, part 42: Eli & Sons

Read 1 Samuel 2:12-36

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“You can enter God’s Kingdom only through the narrow gate. The highway to hell is broad, and its gate is wide for the many who choose that way.” (Matthew 7:13 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

Steinway-and-SonsPart 42: Eli & Sons. There is nothing quite like an exquisitely made, top of the line, grand piano. The sounds that come from such an instrument are enough to inspire, strike fear, haunt, elicit grief, elicit love, elicit anxiety, and stir the heartstrings within the being a of a person. For instance, one is horrified by the skeletal dancing on the fingers down the “ivory” keys in a song like Franz Liszt’s arrangement of Danse Macabre, and one is moved by the overwhelming beauty of Beethoven’s reflective “Moonlight Sonata.”

There is no doubt that such songs would not carry the same effect on cheaply made piano, or on a Yamaha keyboard. There is nothing like a quality piano. One of the best makers of pianos is Steinway & Sons. There impeccable design and attention to detail make for an instrument of no parallel. The company was formed by a German immigrant, Heinrich Engelhard Steinweg, who changed his name to Henry Steinway upon arrival in America. Between him and his sons, the business grew and expanded and made an incredible name for itself.

Unfortunately, this is not a devotion about Steinway & Sons, or about the history of the piano empire they built; rather, this is a devotion about Eli & Sons and the brand they never ended up building. Eli was God’s high priest and was appointed to that position to lead others in worshiping God and living in a godly fashion. Not only that, but he was also the second to last judge of Israel, preceding Samuel.

Eli, himself, was not the most discerning of individuals. When Hannah came to the tabernacle to pray to God in order to request that she be allowed to bear a child, Eli was quick to think she was drunk and tried to send her away. With that said, he did bless her when he heard that she was merely there to pray and wished that God grant her the request she made.

Eli also was able to point Samuel, as we will soon see in the next devotion, to realize that it was the Lord that was calling him. So, like most human beings, Eli was wishy-washy at best. He was definitely someone worthy of leadership and someone who was attuned to God; however, he did not always reamin attuned and was often quick to make rash judgments. What’s more, he wanted his family to reamins the judges of Israel. Yet, his sons (who were also priests) were corrupt and would steal meat and goods that were meant to be sacrificed to the Lord.  They ended up ruining the family name as well as the people’s confidence in them to lead.

As such, they brought on themselves their own destruction and the Bible says that God rejected Eli’s household. To Eli’s credit, though, he called his own sons out for being disgraceful and, when push came to shove, Eli did mentor Samuel and knew that God was calling him to be the leader his sons never would be. In the end, despite his flaws, Eli served the Lord and gave Israel their next judge and leader: Samuel. This is the same Samuel who would eventually find, annoint, and advise the greatest King in Israel’s history: the shepherd boy and songwriter, David.

As can be seen, God knows our imperfections and works in us, through us, and even in spite of us when need be. The question for us is not whether we will be perfect, for will never will. The question for us is this: will we, despite our imperfections choose to serve the Lord as faithfully as we can? Or will we, like Eli’s sons, choose our own twisted and corrupt path? One way is a redemptive, grace-filled path, and the other is the path that leads to destruction. One path is narrow and hard to find, while the other is broad and wide and chosen by many. The choice is ours. Choose wisely.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Sartre was only half-right. Both heaven and hell are other people. The difference is how you treat them.” – Rev. Todd R. Lattig

PRAYER
Lord, I recognize that I can either be an ambassador to heaven or an agent of hell. Steer me and correct me when I stray off of the narrow road so that I may walk The Way that leads to the Kingdom of Heaven.

God’s People, part 41: Hannah

Read 1 Samuel 1

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Then Hannah prayed: ‘My heart rejoices in the LORD! The LORD has made me strong. Now I have an answer for my enemies; I rejoice because You rescued me.’” (1 Samuel 2:1 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

HannahPart 41: Hannah. Here is yet another “barren woman” story in the Bible. There are no doubt countless ways to go with this account, and certainly plenty of women’s studies classes could be taught on all of the women in the Bible that are degraded and dehumanized in the Bible. No doubt, the way women are represented in the Bible does reflect their status in the societies and cultures that produced the Bible; however, I think to over read 21st century women’s issues into the Biblical accounts, as fascinating as that may be, would be to miss the ultimate point they are making.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that our much more egalitarian view of the sexes today shouldn’t inform our interpretation; however, I think if we get too caught up in the details we will miss the underlying beauty of what is going on. Suffice it to say that the role of the woman in ancient Israel was to bear children and raise them up to be contributing members of the household. Part of that duty included passing the Hebrew faith on to the children.

Hannah was the first of the two wives of Elkanah and she happened to be barren. Since having children was a must for survival and for the continuation of one’s lineage in that patrilineal society, Hannah’s barrenness would not be viewed positively by her husband. It is probable that Elkanah married a second wife, Peninnah, in order to have children.

Hence Hannah’s despair. Peninnah was able to bear children for Elkanah, whereas Hannah could not. She could not perform the most basic and important role for a woman in that time period. One can only imagine the shame and disgrace she was feeling. No doubt, others probably judged her barrenness to be a “punishment of God” for either her sins or the sins of her parents. Perhaps even Hannah questioned that as well.

Still, that did not stop her in petitioning God to be blessed with her own child. She didn’t just petition in a one-sided way, rather, she promised that if she bore a child, she would dedicate that child to the Lord. God, according to the Bible, indeed granted her request after she was blessed by Eli, who we will look at in our next devotion. Indeed, once she bore and gave birth to a child, she named him Samuel (literally meaning, “heard by God”), raised him until he no longer needed to be weened, and then put in him the care of Samuel at the tabernacle so that he could  live out his days serving God.

The point of this is that God does not abandon those who society has abandoned. In fact, while Peninnah may have been the first to bear children, her children fade into obscurity. All the while, rejected and shunned Hannah has a child who becomes the final judge of Israel and the right prophet for the task of finding Israel a suitable king. What’s more, he serves as prophet and advisor to the king, acting as the accountability mouth piece off God. On top of being blessed by God, she not only rose up to be the mother of Samuel, but she was a prophetess in her own right (see 1 Samuel 2:1-10).

The challenge for us is to have the faith and the persistance of Hannah. She did not allow herself to be defined by her circumstances and she had faith that God not only could, but would, aid her in overcoming the obstacles in her way. Her faith led to faithfulness, and her faithfulness led to the raising of a great judge who would forever shape the history of Israel and establish the Davidic line that would eventually lead us to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. She didn’t know it would work out that way, but she had faith that God would not abandon her in her circumstances. If we model ourselves off of the faith of Hannah, there is not limit to what God can do in and through our lives.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“No one is holy like the LORD! There is no one besides You; there is no Rock like our God.” – Hannah, mother of Samuel, prophetess of God (1 Samuel 2:2 NLT)

PRAYER
Lord, give me the unwavering and persistent faith of Hannah, that I may see you working in all situations. Amen.

God’s People, part 40: Divided

Read Judges 20-21

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“Jesus knew their thoughts and replied, ‘Any kingdom divided by civil war is doomed. A town or family splintered by feuding will fall apart.’” (Matthew 12:25 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

MelGibson-BraveheartPart 40: Divided. One of my all-time favorite films was the 1995 Mel Gibson movie, “Braveheart”. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this film, if such a person exists, it is the tale of Sir William Wallace who rose from being a Scottish peasant to the noble whom Scotland hailed as the Guardian of their kingdom. While the film has many historical inaccuracies, it certainly captured heart of a people who were seeking to be unified under a single leader who would rule justly with a pure heart.

The film tells the tale of a Scottish peasant who had to marry his wife in secret so that he didn’t, by law, have to share her with the local English lord. Unfortunately, the English discovered she was married and tried to rape her; however, not before Wallace tried to free her. The attempt to liberate his love from the tyranny of the English failed, and his wife was publicly put to death in order to lure Wallace out of hiding.

It did, indeed, lure him out. It was that evil, murderous act that sparked the peasant to rise up into a brilliant noble who would lead his Scots to victory against the English at the Battle of Stirling. Again, no one knows if this truly happened this way or if this is more legend than it is history, and we do know that the battle of Stirling Bridge was missing the bridge in the film; however, the reality is that William Wallace did end up leading the Scots to a number of victories against the English.

Yet, in the end, William Wallace was betrayed, captured and ultimately killed by the English. Why? Because the leadership of Scotland were divided. Some of the nobles prized their land and money over the people they served and chose to side with the English King, while others took the side of William Wallace. A people that are divided among themselves cannot stand, but are bound to fall.

We see the same thing going on here throughout Judges, culminating in Judges 20-21. In fact, the last verse of chapter 21 is, “In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes.” (Judges 21:25 NLT) Not only did they not have a king and not only did they do whatever they deemed to be right in their own eyes, but they also fought against their own people who were of different tribes.  There was utter chaos among God’s people.

We can learn from this. When we do not look to Christ as our King, when we do not follow and obey our sovereign God, we fall into chaos. We can look to all of the human rulers we want to save us, we will never find salvation through the world, nor through the women and men who lead it. Our salvation comes through Christ, the one and only true King, who has commanded that we be a people of love. When we choose, hatred, enmity, strife, division, and chaos over LOVE, we are choosing the world over God. Let us be a people who know AND FOLLOW our one, and true, Sovereign Ruler. Let us be a people who know AND FOLLOW LOVE.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Out of ignorance and fear comes judgment and division.” – David Furnish

PRAYER
Lord, help me to choose you and not become mired in the chaotic fear and ignorance of this world, which leads to division. Use me as an agent of hope, peace, love and unity. Amen.

God’s People, part 39: The Levite

Read Judges 19

ALSO IN SCRIPTURE
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” (Romans 3:23 NLT)

When we think of God’s people, we tend to think one of two things. We might think of the Israelites who were God’s “chosen people”, or we might think of specific characters in the Bible. Either way, we tend to idealize the people we are thinking about. For instance, we may think that God’s people are super faithful, holy, perform miracles and live wholly devout and righteous lives. Unfortunately, this idealism enables us to distance ourselves from being God’s people, because we feel that we fall short of those ideals. As such, I have decided to write a devotion series on specific characters in the Bible in order to show you how much these Biblical people are truly like us, and how much we are truly called to be God’s people.

LeviteConcubinePart 38: The Levite. This is one of those rare instances that a male character is not named in the Bible. While this is not uncommon for minor women characters, most of the male subjects in the Biblical stories are named and, when they are not, it is usually because they are just THAT bad. Like Harry Potter, such people are “they who shall not be named.” Pharaoh is one such character who is only known by his title and role in Egypt.

The Levite in Judges 19 is another one of those characters and, quite honestly, his story is that of a horror story. It is a macabre fest filled with stuff that would send Stephen King running away in sheer fright, and would send shivers down the spine of Edgar Allan Poe. The story is repulsive, twisted, and completely random. It is also one of those texts that have people up in arms over the “violence” in the Bible.

Prior to dealing with the story, we need to first understand what a Levite is. If you recall, many devotions back, we discussed Jacob/Israel and his 12 sons (not counting Joseph) who became the 12 tribes of Israel. Levi was one of those 12 sons and his tribe. Out of that tribe descended Aaron, brother of Moses, who became the first “high priest”. From that point forward, all “levites” were dedicated to the priesthood and were set apart for leading the Israelites in worshiping the God of Israel.

So, it is important for you to realize that this unnamed “Levite” is a priest. This priest, while traveling, takes a woman to be his concubine or mistress. That sounds priestly, doesn’t it? Upon traveling home, the priest decides to stop off at a town along the way called Gibeah. While there, an old man invited them in to stay at his home; however, trouble was brewing and what happens next is sure to curdle the blood at the very thought.

The townspeople formed a mob and came to the house of the old man, demanding that he hand over the priest so that they could rape him. This narrative is not all that different than what happened to Lot and his family. Refusing to do so, the old man instead offered the mob his own virgin daughter and his guest’s mistress, so that they could rape them instead. For raping the priest would be “evil.”

The mob wanted none of that. So, Levite (out of what I can only imagine was fear) pushed his mistress out the door and toward the mob. The author than writes, “The men of the town abused her all night, taking turns raping her until morning. Finally, at dawn they let her go” (Judges 19:25 NLT). How horrifying, right? How can a priest, a person of God, do such a cowardly and terrible act?

Well, that is not the worst of the story. At daybreak, the raped and battered woman returned the priest, who found her unconscious at the doorstep. He commanded her to get up and get going (as they were going to continue traveling onward), but she did not respond. So, he put her body up on his donkey and brought her home. Once he arrived, he butchered her body into twelve pieces and then sent a piece of her body to each of the twelve tribes of Israel. Who knows if the woman was dead already or not, as the text never specifies.

This is a truly gruesome and greuling narrative. Apart from those who have seriously read the Bible, it is unlikely most Christians even know it is in there. Yet there it is, in black and white. Again, I want to remind you, the reader, that this man was a priest. He was supposed to be a representative of God, yet he chose to save himself and the household he was staying in by sending his concubine out to be raped and battered.

I am not sure what the point of this story was, except perhaps to remind the reader of just how sinful people had gotten and how society was pushing closer and closer to the need of a “just ruler” who would keep the peace and execute justice throughout the land. This story reminds us that we live in a cruel and broken world; honestly, not even pastors or other Christian leaders are immune to the reality of sin and evil. Christians, leaders or not, are prone to sin and fall short of God’s glorious standard, just like the rest of humanity. Let us reflect on that, on our own propensity to sin and put ourselves first. Then let us turn to God in humility and penitent heart.

THOUGHT OF THE DAY
“Sin is too stupid to see beyond itself.” – Alfred Lord Tennyson

PRAYER
Lord, have mercy on me a sinner. Create in me a clean heart and renew a right spirit within me. Amen.