Check out all the previous Esther readings here.
Esther Reading Plan | Week 1 | Day 3
Take a deep breath in and let it out slowly. Do this three times. This helps you be more present and aware. Say a prayer, talking to God about what’s going through your mind today. Don’t try to say what you ought to say, but simply be honest about where you are. Ask Him to meet with you where you are at.
Bible Reading: 1 Samuel 8
Read these verses three times slowly.
When Samuel grew old, he appointed his sons as Israel’s leaders. The name of his firstborn was Joel and the name of his second was Abijah, and they served at Beersheba. But his sons did not follow his ways. They turned aside after dishonest gain and accepted bribes and perverted justice.
So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not follow your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.”
But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the Lord. And the Lord told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will claim as his rights.”
Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will claim as his rights: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your male and female servants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.”
When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the Lord. The Lord answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.”
Then Samuel said to the Israelites, “Everyone go back to your own town.”
Reflection & Questions
We’ve seen in our readings this week, the delight God had in making us. He saw everything He made and said it was “very good.” Yesterday, we saw how all that was very good broke. And to this day, we see brokenness all around us: in creation, in relationships, within ourselves.
This brokenness has led mankind on a search for a fix. Something that would restore us. We know we are broken, and we can’t stand it, and so we look for a solution. It is one of the reasons that self-help books are so popular today.
It was no different in the times of the Old Testament. God’s people Israel were looking for a fix. They wanted someone or something to save them. But instead of finding it in God, they rejected Him and said, “No!” they said. “We want a king over us.” They thought the answer would be in a new leader. Even after being warned of what an earthly king would bring them, they were stubbornly committed to the wrong path, the wrong fix. Samuel, the prophet, is distraught at this attitude, but God tells him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.”
We might see the actions of the Israelites as foolish. But where do we go looking for a fix to our brokenness? We look to all sorts of salves for our pain – whether good things or bad. We try to restore what is broken, or at least deaden the pain. But in doing that, we are just seeking fixes in all the wrong places. Our brokenness causes us to look for fixes that don’t work.
- Where are you looking for a fix for the brokenness inside you? How is that working out for you?
Pray in response to today’s reading. Confess to God the ways you are looking to fix your brokenness outside of Him. Thank Him for His grace to forgive you and restore you.
You might use this song today to worship Jesus today:
Prepare to Meet with Jesus
Go to your quiet place. When there are no devices around that will distract you, take a deep breath. Blow it out slowly. Do that again. And do it one last time. Ask God for His help to read and understand.
Bible Reading: Judges 2:11, 14, 18-20
Read these verses three times slowly.
The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord. They served gods that were named Baal.
The Lord became angry with the Israelites. So he handed them over to robbers. The robbers stole everything from them. The Lord handed the Israelites over to their enemies all around them. Israel wasn’t able to fight against them anymore and win.
Then the Lord gave them leaders. The leaders saved them from the power of those robbers.
When the Lord gave them a leader, he was with that leader. The Lord saved the people from the power of their enemies. He did it as long as the leader lived. But when the leader died, the people returned to their evil ways.
So the Lord became very angry with the Israelites. He said, “This nation has broken my covenant. I made it with their people of long. But this nation has not listened to me.”
Reflection & Questions
Did you predict that the Israelites would be able to keep their covenant? They were NOT. God has always been forgiving and merciful. When He saw how hard things were for His people with the robbers in charge, He would save them. He gave them MANY chances. But when things were good, they would forget about being obedient.
It was a cycle. That means that it happened over and over again in the exact same way. They would disobey, be taken over by robbers, ask for help, be saved by a leader, disobey, be taken over by robbers, ask for help, be saved by a leader, disobey . . . I think you understand. God gave them many chances to break the cycle because He loved them, and He always forgives.
The Israelites even told God they didn’t want Him to be in charge. They wanted a leader all the time and asked for a king. Do you think they obeyed once they had a king? No. They fought with each other. The country broke up into two countries, Israel and Judah. The cycle continued. Finally, God had had enough. They were taken prisoner by some of the rulers from other countries. It was called exile because they were taken away from their homes and forced to live in another country. Exile was even harder than dealing with robbers. But God was with them even in exile.
- Do you ever have a hard time keeping your promises?
- What are some things that make it hard to obey or keep your promises?
- What are some things that help you obey and keep your promises?
Thank God for keeping His promises. Thank Him for always forgiving us. Ask God to help you obey and keep your promises.
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