1 Samuel 4:1-22
1. Try to picture what a crushing blow these events were for Israel. What is the right answer to the question ‘Why? In verse 3?
2. The ark was the visible symbol of the Lord’s ‘glory’ or manifested presence (see verses 21, 22). Why, then, did the Israelites’ use of it prove unavailing? In what ways can Christmas today make a similar mistake?
1 Samuel 5:1-7:2
1. Read the story of 5:1-5 in the light of Jer. 10:1-16. Contrast the idols with the Lord of hosts. How ought such evidence to influence our fear and our faith?
2. Because the ark of the Lord was associated with his law (cf. Deut. 31:9), it was also associated with judgment – as in this passage. Why did such a dire punishment fall on the men of Beth Shemesh, and with what result? Cf. Exod. 19:21; Heb. 12:28, 29; and see Note 2 below.
1. 5:6, 12; 6:4,5. The association of tumours and mice suggests an outbreak of bubonic plague.
2. 6:19. The ark, according to God’s command, was to be kept closely covered, when not in the Holy of Holies. Cf. Num. 4:5, 6, 15, 20.
1 Samuel 7:3-8:22
1. How does the story of chapter 7 reveal the conditions of victory even on the field of former defeats? Have you had some such experience?
2. Wanting a king was not necessarily wrong (cf. Deut. 17:14, 15), especially in view of the situation described in 8:1-3. Why then did God, while granting their request, at the same time rebuke the people for making it? Why was the desire to be like ‘all the other nations’ (8:5, 10) wrong? Contrast Samuel’s actions with the attitude of the people.
- 7:6. The pouring out of water symbolized separation from sin.
- 8:7 The ‘you’ and me’ in the last clauses are emphatic. The people were rejecting God (cf. 10:19), as later Saul did (15:23)
- 8:10-18. The behavior described is typical of oriental despots.