• Old Testament

    Was Samuel a Levite?

    How is it that Samuel was able to work in the Tabernacle? Wasn’t the Tabernacle work reserved for Levites? Samuel was born in Ephraim, so wouldn’t that disqualify him from service? These are some significant questions that readers of 1 Samuel often think about. The book of 1 Samuel opens up by talking about “a certain man of Rammathaim-zophim of the hill country of Ephraim whose name was Elkanah” (1 Sam 1:1). Elkanah is married to two wives, one of whom is Hannah. Although barren, Hannah prays for a child, and the Lord answers her prayer. This child is Samuel! After giving birth, Hannah names her son Samuel, and dedicates him to tabernacle service with Eli (1 Sam 1:28). Samuel stays with Eli and serves the Lord (cf. 1 Sam 2:11, 18). Throughout the story, it is obvious that Samuel is ministering in the tabernacle (cf. 1 Sam 3:3). This…

  • Old Testament

    David as a Man after God’s Own Heart (1 Sam 13:14)

    The Bible says David was a man after God’s own heart (1 Sam 13:14; Acts 13:22). Most people want to take this phrase as a reference to the moral character of David. As such, David was a man after God’s own heart in that he was committed to God’s ways and demonstrated fidelity to God’s Law. However, this viewpoint has a couple difficulties. On the one hand, David was far from morally pure. He was a murderous adulterer (2 Sam 11). He killed Uriah the Hittite, and committed adultery with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. Can we say David was uniquely a man after God’s own heart when his actions seem to communicate otherwise? To get around this potential problem, some people will say that David never engaged in direct idolatry and that is the explanation for saying David was a man after God’s own heart. However, there are a couple other…

  • Old Testament

    Why was God Upset Israel Asked for a King in 1 Samuel 8?

    1 Samuel 8 is an interesting passage of Scripture because both Samuel and God seem displeased Israel asked for a king (1 Sam 8:6-9). The reason this is initially surprising is that God had promised Abraham that kings would come from him (Gen 17:6), and that same promise is repeated to Jacob (Gen 35:11). Furthermore, God’s revelation to Israel foretold a king who would come from Judah (Gen 49:10; cf. Num 24:7, 17). Not only was there to be an expectation of a king of Israel, but in Deuteronomy 17:14-20 God had given Moses specific guidelines about installing a king once Israel was in the land of Canaan. So, Israel had prophecy creating the expectation of a king, and they also had laws given by God to help their king govern. So, why was God upset that Israel asked for a king? Why did both Samuel and God view this…

  • Old Testament

    Who was Haman the Agagite in Esther?

    The story of Esther takes place during the reign of King Xerxes. In Esther 3:1 we are introduced to Haman the Agagite, who is promoted within King Xerxes’ retinue to second in command. Immediately following the introduction of Haman into the narrative, we find out that since Mordecai does not bow before him, Haman wants to destroy not only Mordecai, but Mordecai’s entire race—the Jews! This desire to destroy the Jews is not a passing fancy for Haman. He follows through with his desire and pays off the king to make a decree that all the Jews be destroyed (Esther 3:8-11). Haman is clearly portrayed as a violent individual, and yet, it seems there may be more to the story. Some scholars have noted that the term “Agagite” is rare, and it is likely related to the king of the Amalekites. This connection is drawn from Numbers 24:7 where Balaam…

  • Old Testament

    Was Goliath a Native Philistine?

    Goliath was the most impressive warrior in the Philistine army. However, was Goliath a native Philistine? The evidence suggests that he probably was not. In Numbers 13, Israel sends out spies to spy out the land of Canaan. Upon their return, all but Joshua and Caleb were shaking in their boots. Their chief complaint was that the people “are of great height” and that the Nephilim (the sons of Anak) were there (Num 13:32-33). The phrase Nephilim is not used often, but in the context of Numbers 13, it is obviously used to refer to someone of great height. This is confirmed by the LXX and Latin translations of “giants.” Even in Genesis 6:4, the narrator tells us that Nephilim (giants) were on the earth in those days, and also after. What that means is that after God wiped out the earth with the flood, giants began to populate the earth…

  • Old Testament

    One, or Multiple Stories of David?

    Some liberal scholars postulate the idea that as we read the story of David, we are actually reading multiple versions of legendary tails which have been woven together into the whole story we read today. They claim this is evidenced by inconsistency in the biblical narrative, and a chronological flow that does not make sense at face value. One of the examples they give to attempt to prove their point is the two interactions of David with Saul.