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The Bible In A Year: Day 127

1 Samuel 27-29
Psalm 131-134
Acts 13

1 Samuel 27-29

David decides to leave the territory of Saul and go live among one of the Philistine kings, because he rightly intuited that Saul would never stop trying to kill him. Sure he’d have moments where his better angels would tug on his conscience and he’d turn back, but then something would set him off again and the chase was back on. David grew tired of this and left for Gath.

The philistines that David is staying with make war on Israel, and Saul comes out but he keeps seeking God to tell him how the battle will go. He gets no answer, so Saul does what Saul does, and he finds one of the few mediums that he hasn’t had killed or driven out of the land. He has her conjure up the spirit of Samuel the prophet, and Samuel isn’t too pleased.

This passage is somewhat controversial because some people believe it wasn’t actually Samuel that was conjured up. They believe this because they completely discount the possibility of souls being anywhere but heaven or hell once they are separated from their bodies. But this is reading their personal beliefs into the text, and not just reading the text for what it says. There’s no indication anywhere in here that this is not really the prophet Samuel speaking from the grave.

Furthermore, while it’s possible they may be correct that souls exist in either heaven or hell after death, with no possibility to return to earth as a ghost, this event happens prior to the resurrection of Christ so all deceased humans are together in Sheol. There’s indications that’s there’s different parts of Sheol, a place where the just are gathered, and a place of discomfort and suffering where the wicked are gathered, but they’re all still in sheol. Personally, I think that souls naturally only go to heaven, purgatory or hell once they are deceased, but that In special cases they can be sent by God wherever he pleases to send them.

No matter what your opinion on ghosts is though, what Saul did was strictly forbidden then and now. We are not to consult mediums or psychics for any reason, and if someone does do such a thing there’s no guarantee that who they speak with us who they say they are. Evil spirits would gladly impersonate dead relatives to lead someone away from their faith and God.

David gets dismissed from the Philistine army because the other Lords didn’t trust that he wouldn’t turn on them in the heat of the battle.

Acts 13

Paul and Barnabas set out on their first missionary journey to Cyprus, the homeland of Barnabas. They preach and share the gospel from one side of the island to the other, and then they run into the second magician to make an appearance in Acts. Bar-Jesus is in the capital city of Cyprus with the Roman pro-counsel. This Roman official named Sergius Paulus had summoned Paul and Barnabas to hear what they had to say, he was seeking the truth and was considered a wise and good governor. But the magician Bar-Jesus kept trying to stymie their efforts and so Paul declared that he would be blind for doing the work of the devil, and so it happened. At that moment the governor believed in the gospel because of the power that Paul had displayed and their preaching.

They travel back to Asia Minor (modern day turkey) and go into a synagogue on the sabbath. This was Paul’s standard operating procedure. He’d go to the synagogue because thats where a crowd would be, where he’d get at least a semi receptive audience because of his formal education as a Pharisee and student of Gamaliel, and also because Israel stood first in line for the blessings of the messianic age, and after them the gentiles.

This scene in the synagogue gives us a glimpse into what was probably his standard sermon, tailored to situations and audiences of course, but it’s a pretty straightforward that would resonate with most Jews of the day. He recounts the history of Israel up until David, and then tied Jesus to the prophecies as the son of David.

He then recounts the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus and offers them the chance to be justified by faith in him in a way that the law of Moses could never offer. The people were eating it up and begged them to return the next sabbath and tell them more. But the next week there were such crowds from all over the city that the leaders of the synagogue became jealous and started to contradict and oppose the points that Paul was making. And so he tells them that because of the hardness of the hearts he’s turning to the gentiles to share the good news with them. This isn’t a rejection of all Jews by Paul, but just these leaders, because throughout his ministry he’ll almost always preach first at the synagogue and then the markets and in the city.

Tomorrow’s Readings:
1 Samuel 30-31
Psalm 135-138
Acts 14

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