God’s Providence in an Historic Moment
Many ask why certain occurrences happen. The Bible doesn’t answer all our questions, but it does teach us what we need to know–that God is in control of the most personal details of human life as well as of the events at the highest levels of nations and empires.
[Note: This post is based on last week’s reading: 1 Samuel 1-20].
A Personal Story and a National Crisis
Two weeks ago, we read the books of Judges and Ruth which prepared us for 1 Samuel and the beginning of the kingdom of Israel. The book opens with a personal story and a national crisis. The personal story is that of a childless woman named Hannah whose prayers were heard and answered by the Lord. She bore a boy named Samuel who would play a crucial role in the history of Israel. The national crisis involves the family of the high priest, Eli, his two wicked sons and the loss of the Ark of the Covenant in a battle with the Philistines.
Samuel-an End and a Beginning
The lives of Samuel and Eli intersect as Samuel becomes an assistant to Eli in the tabernacle. Through Samuel, God tells Eli his lineage is going to end. After Eli’s death, Samuel emerges as the last of the judges and the first of the prophets. Not only that, Samuel is the leader who–with God’s direction–guides Israel from a confederation of tribes to a kingdom under Saul. Later, Samuel anoints a replacement for the unfaithful King Saul in the person of David, the shepherd son of Jesse of Bethlehem.
David is the unlikely king-designate who had to be called in from his shepherding duties to receive Samuel’s anointing. Soon we come to appreciate the quality of this future king as he defeats Goliath and shows amazing integrity while trying to stay alive under Saul’s paranoid efforts to assassinate him.
People Ask Why
People frequently ask why certain events happen. Why was Hannah childless for so long? What was God’s purpose for allowing the Ark to be stolen in battle? Why did God choose an unworthy man like Saul to be king? Why did David have to spend so many years as a fugitive? The Bible doesn’t answer all these questions fully, but we do understand that nothing is happening by chance. God is firmly in control of human history from the big events of nations and wars to the intimate personal issues of an infertile woman and the trajectory of a stone from a shepherd boy’s slingshot.
Hannah prayed and God gave her Samuel. Samuel heard God’s voice and guided Israel during pivotal times. He pronounced the Lord’s judgment on the high priest, Eli, and on King Saul. He warned the nation of the downsides of having a king but also committed himself to pray for them.
God providentially directed David’s early life and David was a good learner. As a shepherd, David fought and killed lions and bears so he was confident he could take on the giant Goliath. When Saul needed a musician, David was prepared. David’s early military victories established his reputation but also created rivalry with Saul resulting in years of life as a fugitive. Could that have been God’s character-building school for the future king? Very probably.
God Tells Us What We Need to Know
We aren’t always given an answer as to why events happen. The Bible shows us that God is always in control and that His purposes are always fulfilled. So we live by faith in Him who wisely directs all things for His glory. He will bring His people safely home on schedule.
Much of what David learned and believed about God is reflected in the psalms he wrote. This week we will follow his life on the run but also sample fifteen of those psalms.
This week’s reading: 1 Samuel 21-31; Psalms 16-30