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Feb 13, 2015

90 Day Challenge – Day 44

Sarah Christmyer

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Bible Time Period: Conquest and Judges

You led Israel triumphantly into the Promised Land.  They failed to teach their children, and instead did what was right in their own eyes: Help me to keep my eyes on you and teach others what is truly right.


There is sadness in today’s reading as God delivers Israel to the Philistines and allows the Ark of the Covenant to be taken.  The situation plays out very differently than did their first foray into battle in the Promised Land, when God had them march against Jericho led by the Ark.

This marks the close of the era of the Judges, and the people ask for a king.  Their reason for wanting one tells a lot about their relationship with the Lord . Notice what God tells Samuel will be the outcome of their request, and their response.

Key Verses to Remember From the Period of Conquest and Judges

“Thus the Lord gave to Israel all the land which he swore to give to their fathers; and having taken possession of it, they settled there” (Josh 21:43)

“And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them, who did not know the Lord or the work which he had done for Israel. … Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the power of those who plundered them” (Jgs 2:10, 16)

Today’s Reading

I Samuel 5-8

Today’s Question

Take a moment to review the periods we have been through and the story so far:  Early World, Patriarchs, Egypt and Exodus, Desert Wanderings, Conquest and Judges.  How would you summarize the period of Conquest and Judges?

Join the discussion below!

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  • During the period of Conquest and Judges there is a pattern of turning away from God, suffering because of turning away, repentance, and forgiveness from God. I want to be critical of these people, but I recognize this pattern in my own life. Will humanity ever really learn to trust in God?

    • Humanity in general? Who knows! People in particular have a shot, though. I consider that the Church should be the bright light illuminating the path, yet collectively there is sin, corruptipn and shame within that needs to be dealt with before trust can be restored and we can be the beacon for humanity to follow. We have such limited time on earth to prepare for eternity….

  • In 1 samuel 7:13 it says “for the hand of the LORD was against them as long as Samuel lived” What do you think is the reason why the philistines did not attack till samuel lived, what was that, which samuel did which you and I could do which will keep our enemies from attacking us.

    • Samuel was a man after God’s own heart…if we keep our eyes on God, even in our weaknesses, we will be after His heart as well. We have the added bonuses of Our Savior, Jesus Christ, the Church, and the Sacraments to aid us in our journeys.

      • This about Samuel I do not understand: Samuel was a man completely obedient and loyal to God, he was a man of wisdom. Yet he sons were completely rotten.
        “3 His sons did not follow his example, but looked to their own gain, accepting bribes and perverting justice.”

        It seems to me that Samuel did the very best he could to teach his sons by example. Why did they become so rotten?

        • All people are born with free will…a will to turn to God and a will to turn away from God. Samuel did set a good example for his children. But they chose not to follow it. That is why we mustn’t judge a family by the bad behavior of one, for the rest may not be so…every one have free will…and each makes their own choice. They need our prayers. Pray that all will turn and say, “Yes” to God.

          • You are so right. However God’s instructions to the Israelites were Trust God, Keep the Commandments, and TEACH your children. How could a good man like Samuel fail? Now I understant that it is the “free will thing” Some of the Israelites failed to teach and some failed to learn.

          • I guess it is true, you can lead a horse to water but you can’t make them drink! This is where we don’t know the rest of the story. We know that Samuel was just in judging the Israelites but how did he raise his own family? This is true today. Sometimes we get caught up in our personal causes that we lose sight of what is truly important. For those of us that are parents our foremost obligation is to raise children who know, love and serve God! What good is it to help others learn if we have failed those that should be most dear to us?

  • Sorry if this was asked before, but what does it mean that these people were judges? In 1 Sam 7:16 it says that Samuel went on a circuit each year and judged Israel in all these places. Was this to hear cases? To exhort the people to live rightly? What sort of “judging” was going on? Everyone knows you’re not supposed to judge. 😉

    • I am far from an expert but I take this to mean that judges were to act in a position that kept the Israelites on a path that followed God’s ways. To put it in simple terms, they were the subject matter experts on God. They, were not God, however. I think of them as our Bishops and Priests…..we have them and they represent the goodness that is God but again, they are not God. Instead, they are experts that have a closeness to God. When the Israelites ask for a king to lead them they are hoping to have someone act as God here on earth. This is impossible as there is only one true God. Therefore, the Israelites are asking to be ruled by a king, who in reality equates to a false God.

    • Actually, we are called to judge! Judge the sin, not the sinner, I try to remember. The narrative at the beginning of Judges in the NAB says: “The Hebrew word translated ‘Judges’ in the English title of the book refers not to specialized judicial officers or magistrates but to leaders in general.” They seemed to fill a lot of roles, armed with special gifts from and particular recourse to God. They protected Israel physically and morally from the onslaught of pagan cultures surrounding them.

  • The cycle in this period is a vicious one, and like Andy states, I have the propensity to be critical until I look in the mirror and see how I go through these cycles at times in my life. I often focus on what I think I need rather than realizing what I have is all that I need. I have my God, our God, only if I open my eyes and heart to him rather than remaining stubborn and unable to see what is right in front of me like you see with the people asking for a King. After reading these chapters I have a strong sense of both internal unsettledness because I cannot imagine living in such a turbulent state, and I also have a strong sense of hope for the people. I like this graphical representation I found online with regards to this period. Simple yet very clear. Have a blessed day all.

    • Mark, when we covered that period in our Bible Timeline the conclusion was “Wow! Those guys were a whole lot better than ourselves. What is going to happen to us?”

  • The cycle has been completed.
    The Israelites followed, most of the times, God’s laws and covenant. When they sinned or turned their backs against God and experienced the repercussions of God’s wrath, they repented. God allowed their entrance, albeit the second generation of the Israelites into the Promised land (with the exception of Joshua and Aaron) and rather than purge the Canaanites out of that territory, they adapted to the pagan ways of the Canaanites. God’s anger surfaced once again and the Israelites lamented.
    The ark of the covenant became a forgotten keepsake from the past. “We are succeeding in our lives here so why ‘rock the boat’ and bring in old fashioned rules and regulations that we somewhat agree to right now?”
    As a side note, it seems that we think the way of life on the earth is far more important than our spiritual lives! How wrong they were and how easy one can step into this obsequious trap because it is so much easier than to work for a spiritual place with God once we leave this earth.
    So, here comes the “new sophisticated” Israelites that want an earthly king and have reservations about the ark of the covenant being returned to them. An earthly king will give them prestige and honor on earth, not in heaven. But then, their stiff necks were tuned towards what was important to their corporal well being on earth not in heaven. The Israelites wanted to be the “Newbies”, the guys you wish you can hang around with, the ‘Egos of the East’! God in His breathtaking and astonishing power spoke through Samuel and told him to warn the Israelites that there could be problems with an earthly king, but God granted their wishes. We will soon see how this scenario plays through in the Bible.
    Everyday of my life I can see that I need to make a choice. The devil is constantly present when I need to choose right from wrong. Do I have the strength to follow the way of God or do I fall into the ego centered ways of evil? Within this past year,I have grown spiritually and have matured to take pause before I make a decision. In the past, I could be so impetuous with my decisions. I regretted each and every decision that didn’t follow the ways of the commandments. I would like to blame it on ignorance, but I know better. I didn’t think things through. I did not utilize the aids God has given me throughout the years. I am now! Talking about being a bit late using this wonderful plethora of gifts!
    I still am in awe of His love for me! I love my heavenly Father so!

  • As the Israelites enter the Promised Land they have been taught all their lives by wandering in the Desert They had very good teachers, Caleb and Joshua, therefore they were also loyal to God. However, they failed to teach their children. This is a failing, I can definately relate to because I see this happen in many famileis. Many parents are too strict and teach their children that they are worthless and will go to Hell if they are not perfect. Or they are too indulgent. So throughout Judges we see the cycle of repentence, when God raises up a Judge to reteach the lessons of the Forty Years.

    • I absolutely concur with your sentiment, “they failed to teach their children.” I believe this is what happened in my family as I was growing up. My mother took us to CCD each Sunday but we had no further dialogue about religion. Truth be told, we all dreaded Sunday mornings for this. We went to church out of an obligation, check that box. I am not sure what would have happened to my spiritual life had I not married a Catholic. Although neither of us were going to church at the time it was just a natural fit that we both attend Mass as a couple. (Score one for the Holy Spirit working here on earth!) Now 20 years later and three children I am hoping to change the thought of, “I failed to teach my children.” Of course we attend Mass on Sunday with Faith Formation afterwards (with the dutiful groans from my middle-schooler, at times) but we also talk about God as an active live person living among us. He is a member of our family and is included in our daily family discussions. Believe me, I am far from perfect but I believe that first and foremost we must talk about God. When we keep our thoughts private they are just that, private thoughts. How can we expect others to know about God if we don’t share our thoughts and knowledge? This is the new evangelization, in my opinion, say it loud and say it proud!

      • I actually liked the CCD classes. The God taught in those classes was a much kinder and more merciful God than the God discussed in our home. “God will punish you for that”, was a common statement in our home.

        • Very interesting perspective, Barbara. I am not certain what decades you were raised but I am a product of being raised in the late 70s to 80s. It is interesting that each of us have our own familial experiences with God which form our relationship with Him. In my home, I never heard that God would punish us. How neat, however, that regardless of how we were raised fast forward to today and here we are! Together, trying to learn more about OUR God. We can now benefit from each other’s experience, knowledge, and life lessons. We do have an amazing God who wants us to share in His life!

          • I was raised in the 40’s and 50’s (Class of 60) I had my children at what was considered in my time “late in life”. So you are about the same age as my children. When Blessed Pope John XXIII called for the Vatican Counsel II my mother believed him to be Satan himself. She believed him to be a false pope. Unfortunately she drove two of her son’s away from the Church one other son is only a marginal Catholic only going to church when convient. I almost committed suicide because of he view of God. Only my sister has remained faithful completely

          • What a story! I am truly sorry for your adolescent experiences but here you are; a proud Catholic fully participating in this online Bible study. We each have our own journey but I truly believe God must be happy that our effort to know, love, and serve Him is alive and well in each of us. Not only are we using the Bible as our historic guidebook but also our own experiences to help us along this life journey which will hopefully end in our eternal salvation. Have a blessed evening.

          • See how God protected you through all that evil. I’m so glad that you are here today… May you be blessed and comforted by His peace.

      • I think we must always remember they did the best they could. The God they transmitted to us was the God they had been shown. We can share the God of love and mercy that has revealed himself to us. Yes, the New Evangelization.

        • Absolutely, I didn’t mean to imply my parents didn’t do their best. Without the formation I was provided with I would have nothing now. The “spark” my Mother planted was invaluable. I always tell my children as parents we do our best, which is as we see fit. When they are parents they will take what they learned from us and parent as they see best. The hope for each generation is that we continue to share our love and knowledge of God as best we can. The spark, that is God in our lives, can never be allowed to be extinguished.

      • I think we are fortunate to be a part of the era of the New Evangelization and a greater awareness of educating children and adults alike.

        I guess one could say that my parents also “did the best they could” in spite of their own struggles. I was the youngest of five children, and growing up, I remember hearing my mother tell everyone “when you’re 18 you can do whatever you want”. So one by one, I watched each of my siblings stop going to church when they turned 18. I thought it was what I was SUPPOSED to do. (At the time, my parents didn’t even attend church themselves.) So when I turned 18, I did what I thought I was supposed to do. In this regard, I think my parents did me a great disservice. I think my life would have turned out very differently if we had attended mass as a family.

        I feel so blessed that the Holy Spirit implanted a love for Christ in my heart from a young age; so that even my years spent away from the church, deep down I had a faith that sustained me till I made my way back to the Church.

        Bottom line is, (1) never tell your children that when they turn 18 they can do whatever they want; (2) go to Mass as a family; (3) keep the dialogue about God alive in your home; and (4) set a good example for your children… live your faith in your words and deeds.

        • If parents tell their childrent “they can do what they want it is the same as what happened to the Israelites in Judges. ” In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in their own eyes.”

          • You are absolutely right, Barbara! Children NEED guidelines and standards. And children will imitate what they see…

        • Hi Marianne! I have to just tell you that (2) didn’t work for us! My boys did Rugby on Sundays and my older daughter musical drama. Everyone knew mass had to be part of their day. My children learnt about going to mass on their own. They quite like it! It is a real treat when we all go together but I am hopeful that the pattern they have worked out allows them to be independent in the sacraments rather than reliant on it being just a family thing.

          • I think it will be OK as long as they make time for Mass and not sacrifice it for their other activities.

            A priest once told us the story of a sports team of teenage girls that were chosen as finalists for the championship. But they would have to play on a Sunday. Collectively, the entire team forfeited the championship because they refused to play on a Sunday…

            As your children get older of course they will gain their independence but I pray that they will keep God first in their lives. They will learn by your example. Best wishes, Mar

        • Good advice. I have siblings (Catholics) who let their children “decide for themselves” what they will believe. It sounds so open minded, but it’s just a way for my siblings to say that they don’t really believe. I don’t think they would let their children decide for themselves that it’s ok to play with matches and lighter fluid that could do real physical harm. But ignoring dangers to their spiritual life is ok.

          • Yes, it does sound so liberal, doesn’t it?

            I think in my mother’s case it may have been a copout, an easy way not to have to deal with conflict.

            Perhaps “Uncle John” will have influence, by your example. Let the children AND your siblings see how faith has made a difference in your life…

        • Very good advice! Even with this good advice…some might not follow. When they leave the nest, they have their own free will…to choose good or evil. It is very hard to watch as a parent when they go down the wrong road. My advice then is “NEVER GIVE UP HOPE’ and PRAY, PRAY, PRAY. By the grace of God, they do come back. It is so beautiful to see how strong their faith develops then. God bless you!

  • During the periods preceding Judges and Conquests the Israelites were hoping for survival because they were faced with turmoil that challenged this ability to survive. They put their faith in real live people, think Moses and Joshua; each of these men led the Israelites on very emotional journeys. Although these men, in no way shape or form considered themselves to be God, they were in a way looked upon with reverence because they were in charge during these periods of turmoil. Although scary events were occurring around the Israelites they had faith in their leaders and in their God because they saw awesome feats occur at the hands of these leaders with power given them by God. Now once they were living in the land promised them by God the judges are given the awesome task of keeping God alive in the lives of the Israelites. How quickly the Israelites forgot, sigh! I wonder, what were the Israelites doing to recover the Ark of the Covenant when it was taken by the Philistines? Were they waiting for another Moses or Joshua? Where was God in their lives? Where was their faith? During the Exodus and Wanderings God saved the Israelites from utter destruction and yet once they are living in this period of calm they so easily turned away from Him and worshipped false Gods. The Israelites know they are the “chosen ones” and they live their lives, it seems, as if that should be enough. (Because we are the chosen ones we can live our lives however we want and God will take care of the rest. Big mistake!) We, just as with the Israelites, must take personal responsibility for our relationship with God. After all, to have a relationship it takes two! I know for many of us, this holds true today. We turn to God for guidance and protection in times of turmoil but how about in those times of calm? God asks of us only to follow his Commandments and to know, love and serve Him above all things. It really sounds quite simple, why is this not so? I pray that my faith to follow God becomes greater each day and not less. It is work, however. I must never forget, all that I have is given to me from God and for these blessings I must honor God through daily prayer, devotion and evangelization! That I live my life so that others see Jesus in me!

  • Conquest and Judges is a time of great blessings and greater blasphemies. Like a perfect Father, God has raised His children thus far by providing for their every need and offering protection. The children, during this period, are like adolescents: self-centered, stuck in an instant gratification mode, aching to fit in with the culture around them, stubbornly defying Parental (God) authority. Maturity cannot happen, it seems, unless the adolescents can be given enough independence to make their mistakes, and then bear the responsibility/consequences for their actions.

  • We have the beautiful example of Samuel, who went to God first in making decisions. He prayed and asked God for guidance. But he had two sons who didn’t follow his example, but instead were self-serving and dishonest. I guess in the end, we all have free will. It’s on us to teach our children, both in action and words. If they seem to fail to develop a relationship with God, we will always have prayer. I’m reminded of St. Monica and her son St. Augustine. This didn’t answer today’s question but its what came to my mind. Blessings of the day to everyone!

  • Everyone has covered the observation (better than I could) that came to my mind about the cycle of obedience and then disobedience to God. Even before the Israelites disobeyed God and shared the land with the Canaanites, they tended to be susceptible to the latest ideas or practices which seemed popular without thinking about their relationship with God. Sadly, I have to admit to falling into the same trap. The more I seek God, the more I start to question the world around me and the truth behind the current mainly secular preaching and teaching.

    When I read the warning Gd gave about the Israelites having a king to replace Him, I thought of Psalms 146:3 “Put no trust in princes,
    in children of Adam powerless to save.” So I am waiting for the next installment tomorrow. I really cannot believe how much I am actually enjoying reading the Bible, the question and the main commentary gives me much needed direction. However, the best part is being able to share the insights of such amazing fellow travelers. Thank you.

    • I concur, Liz! I am a huge fan of the Psalms, too, particularly after working through the AP Psalms study. Powerful.

          • That’s for sure! I also took the Psalms study. It was a perfect complement to a transitional time in my life.

          • Kerry, I was thinking of you the other day as I was reading a commentary on Psalm 69 in a book called “Christ in the Psalms” (Patrick Henry Reardon). I read, “It is a prayer appropriate to a great many circumstances in life.”

            It quotes from The Conferences of St. John Cassian (c. 360-435), a Romanian monk, who was quoting Abba Isaac. “Whether in temptation or calm, whether in fear or reassurance, whether in pain or pleasure, joy or sorrow, there are no circumstances in life when it is not supremely proper to pray, ‘O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me’. This prayer, he goes on, should never be absent from our lips… For it takes up all the emotions that can be applied to human nature and with great correctness and accuracy it adjusts itself to every condition and every attack. It contains an invocation of God in the face of any crisis, the humility of a devout confession, the watchfulness of concern and of constant fear, a consciousness of one’s own frailty, the assurance of being heard, and confidence in a protection that is always present and at hand, for whoever calls unceasingly on his protector is sure that he is always present. It contains a burning love and charity, an awareness of traps and a fear of enemies.
            ‘O God, come to my assistance; O Lord, make haste to help me.’ Prayed from the heart, it places the mind constantly in communion with God… You should… meditate constantly on this verse in your heart… let it accompany you at all times.”

          • Wow – that is awesome! Thank you so much for sharing that reflection. I LOVE that Psalm. Feeling so grateful for this 90 day trek that has connected us….

          • Thank you for this short but powerful prayer, Marianne. I have prayed a variation of this prayer several times already today for a situation my husband and I are dealing with. It gives me a sense of peace knowing I’m not alone and that God is aware of what’s going on. I will copy and give it to my husband, praying it’ll help him as it does me. He is like a wounded bear right now, trying to wrestle with this situation on his own (we can lead the horse – or bear? – to water, but we can’t make him drink). 🙂 Thanks again! Blessings on your day!

          • We can never go wrong with the Psalms! I also like to add prayers of thanksgiving “in advance” by praying something like, “Thank You, Lord, that You see into my heart and hear my prayers. Thank You that You are with me always. Thank You for Your providence and help in this situation. I lift it up to You, oh Lord. And I will proclaim Your goodness and glory to every one I meet. Amen.”

            Thank You Lord, for blessing Janet and her husband with clarity and peace and assurance that You are with them always. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.

          • Oh, how I love all of you! I’m learning so very much and trying to pass it along to the church groups I’m involved in. Now you’ve given me prayers, Marianne, that are wonderful – I especially love the last one – thank you. I’m giving God the glory He deserves as I see him unravel our situation. Thank you, Lord, for taking care of our needs, including putting these wonderful people in my life and this opportunity to delve into Your Word. All honor, glory and praise to You, Lord, now and forever. Amen.

          • Marianne, beautifully said! As time goes on, I find myself more and more drawn to the Psalms. I love them. I will have to get “Christ in the Psalms”. Thank-you.

          • Yes, Rosi, the Psalms are such a treasure. You will enjoy the book which will enrich your understanding of the Psalms. I love that it helps me see clearly the connection to Jesus.

        • The Liturgy of the Hours is full of Psalms. They are so beautiful and helpful as you say. The monks knew what they were doing as did the Church praying the Divine Office so many times daily to keep themselves focused on God as with so many other things such as agriculture, beautiful decorative Bibles, and the spread of Christianity, the civilization of mankind, and so much more. Prayer and work went hand in hand. Ora et labora.

          • Also, the Psalms within the Divine Office or even prayed over and over are repetition and eventually flood the mind, heart, and soul with good thoughts and God’s peace and joy but time spent on the opposite in the world such as bad music and movies has a harmful affect on a person.

  • Thanks again to Sarah to allow me to revisit the OT again. My faith journey has been identified as the people of Israel. My faith in God did not exist when I was born because my parents and their parents never know the One True God. But God’s way is not our ways. He let my parents to bring me to the Church even when they didn’t know Him. The Holy Spirit has guided me day by day, and eventually use me to evangelise His people. And the work has brought me closer and closer to Him. There’re days that I fall back to my old self and doing my ways and not His ways. How grateful is the Sacrament of Reconciliation, that I am allow to be turning back to God, the One True Love! The ‘stiff neck’ of Israel story is a mirror to me to repeat and call to God day by day

  • A cycle of sin, turning from God, punishment, calling out to God, and being saved again. I want to be so critical of these people when I read I find myself saying :What are you doing?!!: Then I look in the mirror and see this same pattern in my own life. It is important to not only keep focus and strength on our own journeys but to also be there for our brothers and sisters and help them in their own cycles of sin. I don’t know why but this song came to mind. Let us keep solid reserve in our own cycles of sin and lift each other up and support them in theirs.

  • The Book of Joshua is a bridge between the Pentateuch and the remainder of the Old Testament. Joshua leads the people across the Jordan and, in a series of campaigns against the Canaanite kings, lays claim to much of the land God promised first to Abraham and again to Moses and the Israelites. As you will notice throughout the books of Joshua and Judges, the Ark is a defining symbol of God’s election of Israel as His chosen people. The Ark contained signs of God’s covenant with Moses – the tablets of the Law, the staff of Aaron, some manna from the wilderness. It was God’s dwelling place, the sign of His real presence among the Israelites.

    The history we read in the Book of Judges shows the “plot” of Judges pivots on the Israelites’ repeated fall into the snare of idolatry, the Israelites giving in to the worship of the gods of the Canaanites. The entire book, in fact, is built on this “testing” of Israel’s faithfulness to its covenant with God.

    The narrator of Judges tells us that God allowed the pagans to remain in the Promised Land precisely to test Israel’s faithfulness to its covenant – “so that through them (the pagans left in the land) He might put Israel to the test, to determine whether they would obey the commandments the Lord had enjoined on their fathers through Moses” (Judges 3:1,4).

    Joshua had foreseen Israel’s weakness. At the end of his life, like Moses, he called on Israel to renew its covenant with God (Joshua 24:13-28). He told the people they must choose – “decide today whom you will serve – the gods your fathers served beyond the river (Jordan) or the gods of the Amorites in whose countries you are dwelling” (Joshua 24:15).

    But like Moses, Joshua also predicted they wouldn’t be able to keep the covenant (see Joshua 24:19; compare Deuteronomy 31:16,24-29).

    He was right. Israel failed the test. That’s the message of Judges. That’s why the history we read there seems to repeat itself in a sad cycle of sin, punishment, repentance, forgiveness, and backsliding into sin again .

  • Tomorrow being the halfway point, I’d like to say it’s been wonderful sharing this experience with you all. You are all so insightful and you help me to learn, and I feel this is a great communion we share. My wish for you all is this:
    May you see that happiness is found in what you have,
    Not in striving for what you don’t have.

    Have a Blessed Weekend;-)

  • I must join in Anthony’s comments on this group – I love that many of you will find videos or images to accompany our readings, like M.G. did today and that you will search through the Bible for relevant verses that support our efforts. Each morning I look forward to reading those postings before mine and then to go back in the evening to see what else has been contributed. I, too, am learning a lot from each of you and look forward to the next half.

  • Now for today’s lesson. My first off-handed comment on today’s reflection is that it is “same-o, same-o” with a bit of frustration in my mind for the Israelites’ actions. From a more thought-out view of today’s reflection, I would have to say that Israel is trying to find their way. I notice that they do not speak at all about a life after death – they don’t have this now – so they are constantly struggling with what is now and what is available to them prior to their death. This is a short term goal and leads them to satisfy themselves for the present – what can I do for myself today, how can I make my life better today. I wonder if the bedazzling with the pagan gods isn’t the now – I can see it, I can hold it, others are worshipping this idol so it must have value and worth to my life.
    Now why won’t the Israelites look to God with the same worshipping eyes as they do the pagan gods? God has given them great leaders with a direct line to God Himself – Moses and Joshua; the judges uphold the Commandments and ordinances of God for the Israelites to see and now we see Samuel, again with a direct line to God, sent to strengthen the people with God’s words. However, even Samuel the prophet doesn’t sway the people totally as they do not put away their idolatry. This is evidenced by the battle with the Philistines; the Israelites lost their Ark of the Covenant, in other words, they lost it all. This got their attention but not totally as not all were “attached” to the Ark and the God that resided in it. Allowing the Ark to be captured did help wake up the people and brought many, again, back to the fold. The big question is, “For how long?”
    As for wanting a king instead of a judge, in all their battles they work to capture and destroy the king of the people slaughtered. The king is the visual leadership of the people. These people do not see God as their king, although, return to Him in their darkest days. They cannot see God nor have visible evidence of his presence, this appears to be their downfall. Perhaps they see a king as a central figure that all the tribes of Israel can revere versus a judge from one of the tribes that is not accessible or visible to all. A king representation without the

    • Yes we have the Mass and Eucharist and Reconciliation still we some how fail to teach our children. Even Samuel failed though he tried very hard, his children refused to learn.
      Those working with addicts say that the addict must hit bottom before he can be rehabilitated. I believe that is true of all of us. Even the great saints at some time in their lives hit bottom. Only then can we turn to God and ask forgiveness and enter into a true relationship with God. It is true that the “bottom’ is softer for some than others.

  • At first the People would trust in God and follow His teachings. But because things were going well they forgot to teach the children. They became complacent and drifted into Idolatry. God in his mercy would raise up a Judge to call them to repentance then things would go right and complacency would set in. Is it not the same today? One has only to the examine the nations that gave birth to our last three Popes ; St. John Paul II from Poland, Pope Benedict from Germany and Pope Francis from Argentina. Those nations suffered revolution and conquest

  • St. John of the Cross is a Master Teacher of the Gospel and is known for his deep prayer life and tells us how to become closer to God. First, he says that we are to obey the Commandments and strive to be virtuous. Many might not be attracted to him but once you study this less than five foot tall saint, you will find many gems in what he has to say. He is a mystic like St. Theresa of Avila. Like all of the saints, he says that we have to get rid of our attachments and exchange them for what God has to give to us. What God has to give to us when we are obeying Him and when we are seeking him in prayer, meditation, and prayer. What about the married person? Is what he says about contemplation for only the religious? He says it is for everyone no matter their vocation in life. He talks about the faithfulness of a married couple and their love for one another and how the basis of their relationship is the love of God. St. John of the Cross talks about “divine touches” where God comes to the person deep in prayer. It is always the Bridegroom Christ who does the giving when one has reached this stage of prayer of contemplation to His Bride the Church. The Blessed Mother is the best example of one’s closeness to God and contemplative prayer.

    “Taste and see the goodness of the Lord” (Psalm 34: 8) “Eye has not seen or heard what God has prepared for those who love Him.” (1 Corinthians 2: 9) This means that it is for us now on this earth and will reach its final glory in heaven. “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. 18But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit.”(2 Corinthians 3: 18) God does not have anything for us that is not good, beautiful, lasting, and overflowing with His love for us all. God wants us to come to the fountain and drink for all thirst for Him, all thirst for true love. This abundant life is for us now, at the present time and not later and for all, single, married, and religious. “I will be your God if you will be my people” echoes within the Old and the New Testament. God dwells in divinity and also came in the Incarnation for us to bring us His Love.

    All on this Catholic Match site are here for a reason–to find true love. St. Anthony Messenger has an article on St. John of the Cross (December 2014). It is titled–“St. John of the Cross, How to be Reflective in Our Distracting World.” There are many distractions in this world such as things Hollywood puts out. Speaker Frank Runyeon who used to play in Soap operas speaks about the things of the world versus Faith–Faith versus Hollywood in that many people are not really listening to the World of God during the mass and are thinking about material things and what they are going to get next when God is present all of the time. The Lover wants what is the best for his/her beloved. God wants the best for us all. St. John of the Cross tells us for the one who perseveres in prayer and spiritual discipline, “I abandoned and forgot myself, laying my face on my Beloved; all things ceased; I went out from myself, leaving my cares forgotten among the lilies.” St. John of the Cross’s “The Living Flame of Love” even with a suggestion of mystical eroticism (and St. John of the Cross read the whole Bible including “The Song of Songs.” St. John writes–“O you, then, delicate touch, the Word, the Son of God, through the delicacy of your divine being, you subtly penetrate the substance of my soul, and, lightly touching it all, absorb it entirely in yourself in divine modes of delight and sweetness unheard of in the land of Canaan and never before seen in Teman!” Nothing that Canaan has to offer then and now or ever will be like the Truth and sweetness of the real thing–true love, caring for the other, thinking of the other, selflessness which we all want to strive for because we are all sinners and have not fully reached the Promised Land of heaven yet. But St. John gives us the marrow of the Gospel of how to experience full joy in the Lord which all the saints knew. He was on fire because of his deep prayer life. “11When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. 13But now faith, hope, love, abide these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:12). St. John is telling us that we can begin to experience this now.

    “8Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father ‘? 10″Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works.…” (John 14:9) St. John of the Cross is speaking of life in the Divine Trinity, transforming the soul and the body. There is no room for violence in love. The goal of our lives is an intimate presence of a living and loving God. Singles, marrieds, and religious are welcome to experience this kind of love. John calls God “My Beloved,” a union with the Trinity that is “spiritual marriage” for all vocations. This St. Anthony Messenger article ends with this–“As John lay on his deathbed…, the Carmelites began to recite the somber prayers for the dying. But the afflicted man spoke up, pleading with his brothers to instead recite words from the Old Testament book which describes the communion of humans with God in vividly sensual imagery–the Song of Songs. Hearing the words, St. John of the Cross is said to have cried out, ‘O what precious pearls,’ celebrating the beauty of the biblical poetry even as he lay dying.” Commitment to one another and to God first and foremost, the Bridegroom for the Bride. The husband for his wife. The wife for her husband. For Love of God and neighbor and family. The purpose of marriage is union and procreative. The purpose of being single is to first and foremost be in union with God. For the religious, to give his or her entire life for the Beloved. And of course, this should radiate to others, overflowing to tell them the Good News. This article comes from St. Anthony Messenger and if you subscribe to the magazine, you can read all the archives that they have online, digitally.

    The Holy Spirit leads us to a fuller union in the Trinity. God is beyond any human ideas of God. The transforming of the mind, heart, and will to God is not done overnight. St. Ignatius of Loyola says that there is consolation and desolation. God never gives us depression or desolation. God gives us delight, enjoyment of being with Him, beauty, and consolation, happiness even in suffering. God desires us to be virtuous. God is Perfection. Feelings and emotions will pass away but not God once found who will remain forever without end. The four last things are the end things–death, judgment, heaven, or hell. We are seeking heaven and St. John says that we can start heaven on this earth by daily prayer, to pray throughout the day no matter what our profession or where we are, to say the St. Michael the Archangel prayer, Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, thy Kingdom, come and Most Sacred heart of Jesus, have mercy on me, Jesus, I trust in You, and other prayers like the Our Father–to keep our thoughts, words, and actions holy and pure. Purity in everything we think, say, and do. “Do all for the honor and glory of God” (1 Cor. 10:31). St. John of the Cross is not speaking of technique. He is talking about a deep prayer life with God, the love of the Gospel which St. Francis of Assisi speaks about.

    St. Ignatius of Loyola says that when we begin something new that is holy and brings us peace, that peace will remain. But desolation can set in and he warns not to abandon our endeavor because of this but to continue. God gives consolation. Today, we want things done immediately. We are used to modern day technology. Without much effort, we expect fast and quick results. There are many distractions and attachments. Attachments or clingings to the wrong things of life, to someone or something that will not bring us true joy and happiness. Eternity is forever and life is short. St. Anthony of Padua lived only 36 years. St. Therese of the Little Flower of Jesus lived for 24 years. St. Francis of Assisi knew what he wanted when he found God–“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” (Psalm 27:4) We are all temples of the Holy Spirit. God speaks in all who are living in the truth and we do not want to say anything that is unkind to another for God can speak through this person too, the Holy Spirit helps us in one another. God lives “in his angels and in his saints” as the ending of the Divine Praises says. The Old Testament Israelites strove to keep the Temple from being defiled but Christ in the New Testament said that “he would destroy this temple and in three days, raise it up” was a shock to many. Of course, he was speaking of his Body. Our bodies are the temples of the Holy Spirit. St. Paul speaks about defilement of the body in that “God will turn you over to all kinds of immorality” when man turns to the creature rather than the Creator.”24Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. 25For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. 26For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions; for their women exchanged the natural function for that which is unnatural,…” (Romans 1:25) “Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. 19Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?…” (1 Cor. 6:18). Flee with vigor and rapidness whatever has a smell or foul odor of disrespect of God and his creatures, whatever may smell bad. Do not enter the realm of where the devil can deceive you. The saying still goes–“Garbage in, garbage out.” If something is not going to bring one closer to God, avoid and shun it. Curiosity is the enemy of leading the ways of God. What good can possibly knowledge of something that appears to be good be if it leads one away from God. All images are imprints upon the mind and memory and the soul. It is hard to erase them once they are started and engaged in even for knowledge pursuits and so forth. Our five senses are gifts from God and we will be accountable before God for their use or misuse. The saints warn us to have custody of the eyes, to avoid looking at immodest things and actions. The body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. Only in a loving relationship can the sexuality that God gave us be good. Violence of any kind is wrong.

    Our attachments are what gets us into trouble, quarrelling, bickering, and so forth. “7 You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must rid yourselves of such things as these, anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your mouths. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices….” (Col. 3: 7-9) St. John is telling us to give up false desires and appetites. Attachments to something like a person or thing can become an idol and take us away from God. An overemphasis upon this can lead us in the opposite direction of the right path to God. Food is good and everything in moderation. Job is the story of the journey of Tobias which eventually will end with him meeting his bride. That night before the marriage bed, they knelt down to pray and he told God that he was not taking this woman for lustful reasons. “You it was who created Adam, you who created Eve his wife to be his help and support; and from these two the human race was born. You it was who said, ‘It is not right that the man should be alone; let us make him a helper like him.’7 And so I take my sister not for any lustful motive, but I do it in singleness of heart. Be kind enough to have pity on her and on me and bring us to old age together.8 And together they said, ‘Amen, Amen,’” (Tobit 8). St. Raphael, pray for us! Possessing and using things is not an attachment such as food, drink, computer, watches and so forth. But too much of anything and over fondness for it can become an idol. These things St. John is talking about. St. Augustine lived an immoral life before he came to God. He was gifted as a genius with a mind that was not used at first for the honor and glory of God. In the end he realized what his true beauty was.

    “Too late have I loved you, O Beauty of ancient days, yet ever new! Too late I loved you! And behold, you were within, and I abroad, and there I searched for you; I was deformed, plunging amid those fair forms, which you had made. You were with me, but I was not with you. Things held me far from you—things which, if they were not in you, were not at all. You called, and shouted, and burst my deafness. You flashed and shone, and scattered my blindness. You breathed odors and I drew in breath—and I pant for you. I tasted, and I hunger and thirst. You touched me, and I burned for your peace” (St. Augustine, Confessions). “Our hearts are restless, until they rest in Thee.”

    St. John is saying that something becomes an idol when it is used for selfish reasons. Such things as not speaking the truth, idle talk or gossip, misuse of speech, misuse of time, talent, or treasure, attachment to our own thoughts of what is right, attachment to pride, St. John says to give up everything that does not lead to God. Clingings dim our supernatural vision. This is a harm. Selfish clings beget other clings which can be mortal sin. Addictions then come about, false vanity, fearing useless things, fearing what other people think about us, striving to please others, following others because of peer pressure, searching after things that lead us not to God, in other words, slavery. Each attachment is an obstacle to prayerfulness because it focuses on the self. Attachments are an affront to God. Seek ye first the Kingdom of heaven and all good things will be given to you. God does not dwell in the things that are not of God. Putting something else before a husband or a wife is an affront to love of the other. Attachments to vanities, drugs, illicit worldly pleasures, avarice, drunkenness might bring momentary gratification but they are a false and finite gratification. In the end, there is nothingness, emptiness, illusions, boredom, alienation, conflicts. Where are the friends one once had when there is no more money to be spent on them. People who have led a seriously sinful life have said this and those who have repented say this and sometimes they end up with hangovers and suicides. Living the Gospel brings supreme joy. Fr. Thomas Dubay speaks about St. John of the Cross and the Great Exchange in an audio series on EWTN. He has since died not long ago but he went around the world talking about St. John of the Cross, St. Theresa of Avila, and Contemplation. “Rejoice in the Lord always” Attractions bring about a lack of freedom. One can be a slave to what others think about him/her. What it amounts to is that worrying about the image that others have of us. “We are what we are before God and nothing else,” says St. Francis of Assisi who also said, “My God and my All.” His friend, St. Clare of Assisi was so taken up with the worship of God that St. Francis had, that she wanted nothing else. Both saints were living in that wonderful 13th century with St. Thomas Aquinas and Blessed Duns Scotus and St. Anthony of Padua and others. St. Anthony of Padua loved Scripture and knew the Bible by heart it is said. Attachments will diminish another and the love for another. Psalm 62: 1 says that only in God is my soul at rest. Ridding self of attachments is to center or focus upon God entirely, to look at the poor baby Jesus in a manger, to contemplate his poverty, his life with his mother and foster father, Mary and Joseph, to look at his life, to pray the mysteries of the rosary, to pray for an end to abortion and euthanasia, and an end to same sex marriage and for the restoration of friendships and relationships, to pray for those things that really matter for eternity, to dwell on the things of God, to pray for the poor souls, the sick and the dying, those without the basics of life, to pray for good Catholic Christian education, television, movies like St. Joseph of Cupertino, The Song of Bernadette, St. Anthony of Padua, the wealth of good movies about religion and the saints found on EWTN and Youtube, and so forth, to go to daily mass if possible, to read the Bible, pray the Liturgy of the Hours if possible, visit the sick and dying, corporeal and spiritual works of mercy and so forth.

    Lent is a good time to pray and fast for an end to the trafficking of children, men, and women, an end to terrorism in the world. St. John of the Cross would say “to reach delight in everything, desire the possession of nothing.” “To come to possess everything, desire the possession of nothing.” “To arrive at being all, desire to be nothing.” In the end we will possess everything and cling to nothing.

    A couple deeply in love with one another as St. John of the Cross says, will get rid of impediments to love. People who love much have no difficulty in understanding St. John of the Cross says Fr. Thomas Dubay, S.M. “Happy the man who ponders the ways of the Lord day and night, he will find delight.” Discursive mediation is to think about a passage of the Gospel over and over and ponder it and raise the thoughts to God and ask God to give us guidance.

  • This was a very interesting reading. No one mentioned about the harm to the people who confiscated the Arc of the Covenant. Interesting that when the Jews got it back and had victory they temporarily followed the Lord. They listened to Samuel but when Samuel was old and his sons were corrupt, the people wanted a king. The Lord wanted to lead them and he had Samuel warn them about having a king but they were steadfast and would not listen. Isn’t that typical of man. We cling to our own ideas instead of listening to the Lord. It goes back to Adam and Eve.
    Mankind wants to decide what the rules should be instead of leaning on the Lord’s wisdom. Authority is something hard for people to follow. We certainly have a breakdown of authority in homes and society.

    • God told the people not to have a king like the pagans. God said that he was their King. God told them that they would fall into idolatry and worship false gods by marrying the pagan women. But like usual they would not listen. Today, it seems to be the same story. O God, my God help us to not forsake you and to keep our minds, hearts, and souls only on You.

  • February 14 Sts. Cyril and Methodius pray for us!
    (d. 869; d. 884)
    Many Slavs lived in a part of Greece where their father was an officer. They were Greek brothers who would become missionaries and teachers of the Slavic peoples. They would be their patron saints in the end. They studied hard, Cyril was called Constantine until he became a monk shortly before he died. He refused the governorship of a district. But his brother did not. Cyril withdrew to a monastery where his brother Methodius had become a monk after some years as a governor. The Duke of Moravia (present day Czech Republic) asked the Eastern Emperor Michael for political independence from German rule. He also asked for ecclesiastical autonomy which is having their own clergy and liturgy. So, Cyril and Methodius decided to take this mission. Cyril invented an alphabet which is still used in some Eastern liturgies. His followers probably formed the Cyrillic alphabet (e.g., modern Russian) from Greek capital letters. They translated the Gospels, the psalter, Paul’s letters and the liturgical books into Slavonic. They composed a Slavonic liturgy which was highly irregular at that time. They preached in the vernacular. The German clergy was opposed to this. The bishop refused to consecrate Slavic bishops and priests. Cyril appealed to Rome. Pope Adrian II approved their new liturgy. Cyril had been an invalid for a long time. He died in Rome 50 days after taking the monastic habit. Methodius continued mission work for 16 more years. he was papal legate for all the Slavic peoples, consecrated a bishop. He was given an ancient see. Much of their former territory was removed from their jurisdiction. Then the Bavarian bishops retaliated with a violent storm of accusation against Methodius. Emperor Louis the Germ exiled Methodius for three years. Pope John VIII secured his release. The Frankish clergy continued their accusations. Methodius had to go to Rome to defend himself against charges of heresy and uphold his use of the Slavonic liturgy. They found nothing wrong with Methodius. Legend says that Methodius translated the entire Bible into Slavonic in eight months. He died during Holy Week surrounded by his disciples in the cathedral church.

    • Opposition continued after the death of Methodius. The work of the brothers in Moravia came to an end. Their followers scattered. But their expulsions effected the spreading of the spiritual, liturgical, and cultural work of the brothers to Bulgaria, Bohemia, and southern Poland. Patrons of Moravia, and
      specially venerated by Catholic Czechs, Slovaks, Croatians, Orthodox Serbians and Bulgarians, Cyril and Methodius are eminently fitted to guard the long-desired unity of East and West. In 1980, Pope John Paul II named them additional co-patrons of Europe (with Benedict).
      “Even in the liturgy, the Church has no wish to impose a rigid uniformity in matters which do not involve the faith or the good of the whole community. Rather she respects and fosters the spiritual adornments and gifts of the various races and
      peoples…. Provided that the substantial unity of the Roman rite is maintained, the revision of liturgical books should allow for legitimate variations and adaptations to different groups,religions, and peoples, especially in mission lands” (Vatican II, Constitution on the Sacred Liturgy, 37, 38).

  • My interpretation of the readings of “conquest and judges” was a lesson for me of God wanting the people that were so dearly loved to exercise their loyalty and devotion to the Lord our God. The battles were a test for the people to maintain their faith and pray with faith for protection against their enemy. Judges were an early rendition of Priests of today, with the same pattern, some were good and some were not so good. When judges died, the people became like lost sheep, reverting to worshiping their idols and not taking God so serious. It will be interesting to see how Samuel proceeds with the people of Israel as God directs him.

  • The critical verse for the period of conquest and judges is Judg 2:10 “And all that generation also were gathered to their fathers; and there arose another generation after them, who did not know the Lord or the work which he had done for Israel. … In Deut 6:5-9 Moses had warn the leaders, “If you go over that land you have to teach your children.” That’s the only way to survive. Judg 2:13-14 They forsook the Lord and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth. So the Lord gave them over to plunderers. Then the Lord raises up judges, who saved them out of the power of those who plundered them. The book of Judges is made up of 7 cycles. 1st they sin, 2nd servitude or being a slave, 3rd supplication they cried out to God, 4th salvation. The judges are 3:9 Othniel, 3:15 Ehud, 3:31 Shamgar, 4:4 Deborah, 6:13 Gideon, 10:1 Tola.

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