Bible Study notes for Sunday November 18th, 2012. Ordinary 33 Yr B
1 Samuel 4:1-10
For Psalm – 1 Samuel 2:1-10
Pride of man and earthly glory,
Sword and crown betray His trust;
What with care and toil He buildeth,
Tower and temple fall to dust.
But God’s power, hour by hour,
Is my temple and my tower.
Joachim Neander (1650-80)
These familiar words from the hymn ‘All my hope on God is founded’ speak not only to this week’s gospel, but also in several respects to our other readings. Certainly the hymn title encapsulates the Christian outlook on life.
Take time first to read through the readings. Do we see connections? [Note we use Hannah’s hymn as a commentary on the Old Testament lesson, rather than the Psalm this week.]
1. In this story of the birth of Samuel – yet another tale from Scripture of barrenness turning by God’s intervention to fruitfulness – there are two key threads being played out. Firstly the rivalry of Hannah and Peninnah, the two wives of Elkanah; and secondly the judgement against the house of Eli which is Samuel’f first prophetic act. This week we concentrate on the first.
a. Why is the house of the Lord at Shiloh? [See Joshua 18:1] What is present there?
b. ‘though the LORD had closed her womb’ The Scriptures are not shy of ascribing to God all sorts of difficulties.
i. What do we make of this?
ii. Do we see the world in the same way? If not why not?
iii. If not, have we actually lost a vital dynamic of our life before God?
c. The provocation of Peninnah goes on for some considerable time vs 6-7 What is going on here?
d. What do you make of Elkanah’s words to Hannah (vs8)
e. The prayer of Hannah (vs11) is utterly extraordinary – take time to meditate upon it
i. Discuss it together
ii. This is a form of sacrifice a form of giving over to God which is in some way or other a form of death. Famously this is revealed in Abraham’s preparedness to sacrifice Isaac, and of course ultimately in the Father giving the Son for the life of the world (something we miss when we avoid traditional trinitarian language) Here a mother ‘give(s) up’ her son. What kind of relationship does it suggest between Hannah and the LORD?
iii. Jesus said ‘the one who loses his life will find it’ – How do we give freely to the Lord that which we have entreated him for? What does it mean for us? How do we so lose our lives?
f. Eli sees the distress of Hannah but mistakes it for drunkenness – she has been ‘pouring out her soul’ before the LORD. ‘Our prayer is often lacking our presence – we do not enter fully into prayer’ Discuss
g. What does ‘remembered’ mean? (vs 19) At the Eucharist we ‘remember’ Christ’s self giving – what does it mean beyond a reminder of something??
2. Looking now at Hannah’s prayer of exultation (1Sam 2:1-10)
a. What do you make of her response regarding Peninnah? (2:1)
b. She responds by describing the LORD – her view of the World is dominated by God, He is the one who closed her womb, He is the one to whom she pours out her soul in prayer, and now she praises him recounting his attributes. ‘We know too little of God in our day and age to live so fully and truthfully before him as did Hannah’ – Discuss
3. Turning to the passage from Hebrews – here once more we are in ‘the house of the LORD vs 11 – again there is triumph over enemies vs13
a. vs 19-25 Meditate on these verses – there is the same boldness before God here that Hannah had. Is it a boldness you know in your own relationship to God?
b. What occasions the boldness of approach set out in vs 19-23?
i. What does it mean ‘to provoke one another to love and good deeds’?
ii. What does this suggest about the type of fellowship which the writer envisages?
iii. We are exhorted not to neglect meeting together – Why?
iv. What does it mean ‘to encourage one another’ in this context? How do we do this?
v. What does it mean ‘as you see the Day approaching’?
4. Finally to the gospel – ‘What with care and toil he buildeth, tower and temple fall to dust’
a. Note Jesus asks a very curious question of his disciple – clearly he does see these great buildings . . . what do you think is the point of Jesus question?
b. In Mark, above all the gospels, the disciples are portrayed as failing to understand, or to ‘See’. So blind Bartimaeus is the model disciple who Sees Jesus, without seeing him and who hears the call to discipleship without being called. ‘The Visual is immensely distracting’ – Discuss
c. The rest of this passage is precisely about how we see. How do we learn not to be ‘led astray’, or ‘alarmed’?