Wow, what a breadth of events is covered. We are well into the history books by the end of this week's readings, moving from the conquest of Canaan by Joshua and his forces and the resulting division of the land among the tribes to the appearance of Samuel to Saul, predicting his death.
The book of Joshua is one of my personal favorites. Joshua has been Moses' second in command for over forty years. Now Moses is dead, leaving Joshua to lead the people into the promised land at long last. Can you imagine how hard it was to follow Moses as a leader?
But in Joshua 1:1-9 God Himself gives Joshua a pep talk. He tells Joshua to be strong and courageous (three times, in fact!), exhorts him to obey all the commands that He has given to the people and promises that He will not leave or forsake His people.
After a bloody romp through various battles,the people are at last at rest and Joshua gives his farewell speech:
And now I am about to go the way of all the earth, and you know in your hearts and souls, all of you, that not one word has failed of all the good things that the Lord your God promised concerning you. All have come to pass for you' not one of them has failed.
Not one word has failed. God kept all His promises. He still does that today.
Unfortunately, though the people pledge to follow the Lord wholeheartedly, it doesn't take long before the nation is wandering off after other gods, and ultimately, asking Samuel to choose a king to be over them, so they can be more like the nations around them. God tells Samuel to do as they request:
And the Lord said to Samuel, "Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.
1 Samuel 8:7
The remainder of the readings for the week followed the kingship of Saul, his inconsistency and partial obedience. It is because of his refusal to completely follow the Lord that Saul is eventually rejected as king by God, and Samuel is commanded to anoint a shepherd as the next king.
If you want a more in-depth exposition of the years David spent on the run and how he clung to the Lord during that time, I highly recommend the "Shepherd, Soldier, King" sermon series at Mercy Hill. Pastor Tommy preached an outstanding series on the life of David as shown through the psalms David wrote (frankly, it was a sneaky way of preaching through 1 and 2 Samuel as well).
So - what are my take aways for this week of readings? The overwhelming conviction that comes out of these books is the necessity of complete obedience, of whole-hearted and mindful following of God. While I can shake my head at the Israelites' wandering after other gods, the truth is, I'm no different. The gods today may not be of wood and stone, but they still have the ability to take my attention away from totally following the Lord.
This past week we've continued in the history books - David and Solomon's reigns, the division of the kingdom, the parade of (mostly bad) kings that followed. That post should (hopefully) go up tomorrow night. I'm up to date on the readings, but out of time for this evening.