1 Samuel 5: Dagon vs. YHWH

Llllllllllllllllet’s Get Ready To RRRRRRRummmmmmbllllllllllllleeeeeeeeeeee!Marvel-Invite-fakeinfo

Tonight’s Fight: Dagon of the Philistines will be squaring off against YHWH of Israel.

Significance: This is the first time these two have personally matched up. Their people have skirmished from time to time, but this one is a Diety vs. Diety face-off. Should be a great match.

Key Factors: Dagon not only has the home-court advantage in Ashdod, but YHWH has been taken there from Shiloh against his wishes.

Also, the Philistines just won a major battle against Israel. The momentum is entirely on their side.

Round 1

Results: Surprisingly, no one stuck around to watch the fight after dark. It is unclear how long it lasted but by morning, Dagon was pinned and lying face down before YHWH. Shocking!

Round 2

Results: The Philistines we expecting Dagon to rally back in round two. Perhaps he just got a little over confident in the first round. They came back in the morning and discovered that round two had gone far worse than they could have imagined.

Dagon was “face down” before YHWH but this time his head and hands were cut off.

That’s the match, folks. Nothing more to see here.

The Hand of God

Is there a connection between the severing of Dagon’s hands and the repeated references to “the hand of the LORD?”

Uh, yes.

God was “kidnapped” by the Philistines. His people lost a huge battle. Things are looking pretty bad. So what happens?

God trounces the Philistines on their home turf, in their temple, in their cities, without any help from his people. He can do it all by himself.

The LORD’s hand was heavy and three great cities broke out in panic and tumors.

God is more powerful than the Philistines’ God. He is not limited by the might of his people or his geography.

This is a powerful reminder given that in a few chapters, Israel will cry out for a king when they don’t need one! God can handle it himself!

When was a time you were surprised at the way God worked all by himself?

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Ruth 1: The Prodigal Mother-In-Law

Our protagonist leaves their homeland.

Loses everything.

Begins to be in need.

Hears that back home, people have enough food to eat.

So they get up and head back, not quite sure what to expect when they get there.

If that was all you knew, you might think I was talking about the parable of the lost son from Luke 15. But this particular story is about Naomi, a woman from Bethlehem who lived in the time of the Judges. And instead of a rebellious son, she is a refugee, widow, single-mother, childless, stuck with a couple of foreign women, and starving. In that order.

If part of the reason Jesus told that story was to help us understand God’s grace for rebellious sons, how much more should we have compassion on those who find themselves in the same situation through no fault of their own?

The LORD Has Turned Against Me

Naomi lost her homeland, husband, and children.

I can’t even fathom what that was like.

Given all that had happened to her, can you blame her for believing that God had abandoned her? Or, to use her words: turned against, dealt bitterly, brought her back empty, dealt harshly, and brought calamity upon her?

How many of us would be quick to try and snap her out of it?

How many of us would push her to have hope? Push her to believe that God had a reason and a plan and that things were going to look up if she could only have faith?

That’s because we know the end of the story. We know about Boaz and the lineage to David and Jesus.

But in the moment, before any of that has happened, there is only grief and pain.

Ruth & Mount Sinai

Naomi hasn’t lost everything. She still has a couple of daughters-in-law. But they have a shaky relationship at best. There is nothing legally binding them to one another. Naomi cannot offer them anything that they might need. Staying with Naomi isn’t going to set them up for success.

Naomi is helpless. Her sons’ widows are also helpless. That is like adding zero to zero.

But for some reason, Ruth doesn’t care. Ruth wants to stick with Naomi. And not just any kind of sticking with, no! Listen to the words she uses:

Do not press me to leave you

Where you go, I will go

Where you stay, I will stay

your people shall be my people

Your God, my God.

I will never leave you. I will be with you when you go and when you stay. I will become one of your people and worship your God.

This is a covenant.  And it mirrors not just Israel’s side of the Sinai covenant, but God’s.

Naomi can offer Ruth nothing. But Ruth moves toward Naomi, just as God moved toward Israel. Ruth binds herself to Naomi, just as God bound himself to his people.

How ironic that in the midst of all of Naomi’s pain and grief at what God has done to her, she almost drove away the very person who was embodying his steadfast love to her.

Have you ever encountered someone embodying God’s love? What did it look like?

 

Judges 3: The First Three Judges

There are two things the people of Israel need to teach their children: The story of God delivering them from Egypt, the commandments he gave, and how to follow them. According to Judges 3, the Art of War There are also two things Judges are supposed to do (according to Judges 2): Deliver Israel from … Continue reading