OT: I Samuel 1:1-2:21
Biblical marriage is not glamorous. Even today, I sometimes hear sermons on the "Biblical purpose" of marriage, which usually boils down to having babies and keeping oneself from sexual temptation and sin. And....that's just not why I got married.
That's why it is always refreshing to see love in Biblical marriages. I love Elkanah's words to Hannah: "Hannah, why are you weeping? Why don't you eat? Why are you downhearted? Don't I mean more to you than ten sons?" Wow. In a world where marriage was a business transaction and wives were property, it is refreshing to hear a man actually love his wife for who she was and not for her son-bearing capabilities. It is great to see a man value the relationship as an end in itself, and not simply as a means to having children.
I also liked Eli's encouraging words to Hannah (after he groundlessly berated her, granted), and the fact that after pouring out her heart to God and eating something, "her face was no longer downcast" (18). Those are both good strategies for feeling better to me:).
I also think it is just fascinating that Hannah decided on her own to give up her first born son to God. We read in the Law that husbands could override their wife's vows to God, but Elkanah was like, "Yeah, why not? Do what you think is best!" Really? I don't spend over $30 without running it by Greg (and vice versa, actually), and here she is deciding to give their kid away! That's crazy!
I love Hannah's song. I like the phrase, "for the Lord is a God who knows, and by him deeds are weighed" (3b). I like the idea of a "God who knows." And I especially like verses 4-8, which seem like an apt prediction of the kingdom of God. Many writers have referred to the kingdom of God (brought by Jesus) as "the upside-down kingdom." I believe there is even a book by that name. Such thinkers maintain that Jesus' kingdom is essentially a flipped world where the weak are strong and the poor are rich, and vice versa. I can see how these words would fit in well with that picture.
NT: John 5:1-23
Two small things today:
Jesus' statement in verse 14 seems a bit abrupt, but it just conveys yet again that His deepest concern is the spiritual well-being of people. Physical healing is just a prelude, a means, to this deeper truth.
In verses 19-20, Jesus says, "I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all he does. Yes, to your amazement he will show him even greater things than these." These words form the backbone of Henry Blackaby's thoughts in his famous book, Experiencing God. One of Blackaby's more salient points based on these verses is his idea about how we serve God. We do not start with ourselves, saying, "What am I good at?" or "What makes me happy?" Rather, we look at the world around us and see where God is working. When we see God's work in a clear way, that is our invitation to join Him in that work. I like that version better b/c it seems that the other version is distorted a bit by self-centeredness. Blackaby says that we don't ask, "What is God's will for my life?" We ask, "What is God's will?" It's not about us; it is about "what [we see our] Father doing."
Psalm 105: 37-45
The psalmist continues his walk through Israel's history, leading up to the manna and quail.
A random proverb about kings' populations, followed by one equating patience with wisdom, and quick-temperedness with folly.