1 Samuel 5-6 – When God Parents Teens

Parent is a difficult job, no matter the age of your children. But it is especially difficult to parent teens. Teens strongly demonstrate and exercise their self-will. They are also very good at diverting blame and misrepresenting loving discipline as punitive retribution.

1 Samuel chapters 5-6 portray the Israelites much like teenagers. In chapter 4, the Israelites independently do what they want to do, without consulting God. Because of this (and previous offenses,) they bring about a disconnect in the relationship…symbolized by their separation from the Ark of the Covenant.

As a good parent, God works behind the scenes (unbeknownst to them) to reconnect the relationship and return the Ark. Like teenagers, the Israelites are happy to receive the blessing of the Ark’s return, but they continue to do what they want to do. They continue to treat God with casual disrespect. And when God disciplines them for this attitude, the Israelites respond as if God is to blame (1 Sam. 7:2)

Too often, I respond to my Heavenly father as if I’m a teenager. I want what I want, when I want it. I’m glad to receive His benefits, but hurt when He disciplines me. And I’m usually more concerned with Him not leaving me, then with me not leaving Him.

I tend not to recognize:

  • All He did behind the scenes to restore our relationship.
  • The fact that He, more often than not, is the one who makes the first move to restore the relationship.

Yes, 1 Samuel chapters 5-6 make theological statements about the omnipresence of God in a pagan culture. And yes, you see teachings about God’s sovereignty and holiness. But mostly you see a God who goes out of His way to move towards His children…even when they have rebelled and disconnected from Him.

Be grateful God has a heart for teenagers…like us!

1 Samuel 4 – Are You Superstitious?

Would you consider yourself superstitious? Most of us would deny being superstitious. In our modern, scientific, and technologically driven world, we would see superstition as archaic and mythological.

Superstition takes a right concept (the idea that there is an unseen force which effects our lives positively or negatively) and links that right concept with a wrong connection (a certain object or sequence of events.)

In 1 Samuel chapter 4, the Israelites were superstitious, because they wrongly connected God’s favor with the physical Ark of the Covenant. They assumed that God’s favor was in holding onto the Ark of the Covenant, rather than holding onto the Covenant itself. The Israelites saw God’s presence and favor as the result of keeping the box that held God’s law, rather than keeping God’s law itself.

An initial reading might prompt us to say, “I can’t believe these ancients were superstitious enough to think that putting a golden chest in the middle of a battle would ensure their victory!”

But before we’re too hard on the Israelites, let’s be honest. Don’t we tend to think that the more we’re inside a church building the more God will like us? Don’t we tend to think that the more good things we do, the more God will bless us?

We can be just a superstitious as the Israelites.

How often do we feel we’re made right by visiting God’s house, rather than abiding in Him? How often do we feel better about ourselves because we carry and read God’s word, rather than obeying and living God’s word?

We need to turn from our religious superstition by finding our comfort, direction, and strength in God Himself, rather than in the things that symbolize Him.

Joshua 6 – Walls

Walls. They prop up our structures. They give us protection, privacy, and a sense of security. Walls can also isolate us, impeded us, and entrap us. All these functions can be good or bad, depending on our motivation.

But any wall that stands between you and what God wants for you needs to come down.

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