Week of July 31 - Day 1

Read: Nehemiah 1

1 The words of Nehemiah the son of Hacaliah.

Now it happened in the month of Chislev, in the twentieth year, as I was in Susa the citadel, 2 that Hanani, one of my brothers, came with certain men from Judah. And I asked them concerning the Jews who escaped, who had survived the exile, and concerning Jerusalem. 3 And they said to me, “The remnant there in the province who had survived the exile is in great trouble and shame. The wall of Jerusalem is broken down, and its gates are destroyed by fire.”

Nehemiah's Prayer

4 As soon as I heard these words I sat down and wept and mourned for days, and I continued fasting and praying before the God of heaven. 5 And I said, “O Lord God of heaven, the great and awesome God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, 6 let your ear be attentive and your eyes open, to hear the prayer of your servant that I now pray before you day and night for the people of Israel your servants, confessing the sins of the people of Israel, which we have sinned against you. Even I and my father's house have sinned. 7 We have acted very corruptly against you and have not kept the commandments, the statutes, and the rules that you commanded your servant Moses. 8 Remember the word that you commanded your servant Moses, saying, ‘If you are unfaithful, I will scatter you among the peoples, 9 but if you return to me and keep my commandments and do them, though your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there I will gather them and bring them to the place that I have chosen, to make my name dwell there.’ 10 They are your servants and your people, whom you have redeemed by your great power and by your strong hand. 11 O Lord, let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who delight to fear your name, and give success to your servant today, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.” Now I was cupbearer to the king.

Reflect: Why is Nehemiah distraught? What is his response to his despair?

Consider: While serving at the Persian winter palace in Susa (cf. Es. 1:2; Dan. 8:1;), Nehemiah one day received a report from several men who had come from Judah. One of them was his own brother, Hanani; later Nehemiah appointed him to a high position in Jerusalem (7:2). This report came in the month of Kislev, that is, November–December in the 20th year of Artaxerxes the king (cf. Neh. 2:1). Artaxerxes, Persia’s sixth king, began reigning in 464 b.c., so this year was 444. (1)

Respond: What stands out to you about Nehemiah’s prayer? What elements are present? What can you learn about prayer from his example?

(1) Gene A. Getz, “Nehemiah,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 674.

Week of July 24 - Day 5

Read: 1 Samuel 3:19-20

19 And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord.

Reflect: How does God confirm Samuel as his choice to be His spokesman to the people?

Consider: This section depicts Samuel’s transformation from naʿar (“boy,” 3:1) to nābîʾ (“prophet,” 3:20), from being a juvenile ignorant of the Lord to one who functioned as the Lord’s impeccable and revered spokesman. With this event the child Samuel, the first named male prophet since Moses, begins his career as a prophet who will be like Moses (cf. Deut 18:15–19). In it all the Lord once again demonstrated his propensity for confounding human systems, bypassing the exalted in favor of the humble.5

Respond: What’s your next step of surrender today? Are there any practices you need to start? Is there anything from your life that you need to remove?

55 Bergen, 84.

Week of July 24 - Day 4

Read: 1 Samuel 3:15-18

15 Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” 17 And Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him.”

Reflect: How did Eli receive the message from Samuel?

Consider: Samuel is afraid to tell Eli the vision, the appearance (מַרְאָה) which had presented itself to his internal sense, in which God’s revelation concerning the house of Eli had been set forth before him—partly from awe at the divine word which formed the content of the revelation, partly on account of the dreadful significance it had for Eli, partly by reason of the sorrow of which, in his reverence and filial piety towards Eli, he could not rid himself.1

Respond: Was Samuel successful with his first assignment from God? How do you normally view something as successful? Think back to last week and Isaiah’s assignment from God (Isaiah 6:9-13). How does God measure success? How does God’s standard for success differ from man’s?

1 John Peter Lange et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: 1 & 2 Samuel (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 90.

Week of July 24 - Day 3

Read: 1 Samuel 3:12-14

12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God,[a] and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

Reflect: What message did God give to Samuel?

Consider: The message consisted of the announcement that the promised removal of Eli’s family from the priesthood was about to occur. It was an announcement so shocking that it would cause the ears of the people to ring like hammer blows on a bell. The reason is explicitly stated—Eli’s sons were wicked, and though he knew it he failed to restrain them. Though the message was given right then to Eli through Samuel, Eli himself lived for a short time thereafter, and indeed the priesthood continued in his family for three more generations. This is clear from 14:3—Ahijah served as priest to King Saul. He is identified as the great-grandson of Eli through Phinehas and Ahitub. The prophecy to Samuel came to pass fully when Abiathar, son of Ahijah (the same as Ahimelech of 22:9–12), was apparently replaced by King David with Zadok after Abiathar sided with Adonijah against Solomon (1 Kings 1:7–8; 2:27, 35). Thus the time between prophecy and fulfillment was more than 130 years.1

Respond: Why do you think God gave Samuel such a difficult message to deliver from the start? How was Eli’s reluctance to discipline his family a detriment to the temple? What did God accomplish here?

1 Eugene H. Merrill, “1 Samuel,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 435.

Week of July 24 - Day 2

Read: 1 Samuel 3:10-11

10 And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” 11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.

Reflect: Why was Samuel able to recognize the voice of the Lord the fourth time?

Consider: Calling as at other times--literally “called as time on time.” The expression is a common way of saying “as usual”. The same expression is used in Num 24:1 and in the story of Samson (Judges 16:20; 20:30, 31), where it is also translated “as at other times.”1

Respond: Who has been a mentor figure for you in your walk with the Lord? Who do you need to mentor?

1 Roger L. Omanson and John Ellington, A Handbook on the First Book of Samuel, UBS Handbook Series (New York: United Bible Societies, 2001), 94–95.

Week of July 24 - Day 1

Read: 1 Samuel 3:1-9

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.

2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was.

4 Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” 5 and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down.

6 And the Lord called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

8 And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

Reflect: What was Samuel’s role?

Consider: Josephus, apparently reflecting a popular first-century Jewish understanding, indicated that Samuel was twelve at the time of the events (Antiquities of the Jews, Josephus 5.10.4). (1)

Respond: What changes do you need to make in your life in order to hear from God? What distractions need to be removed? Do you have a mentor who can help you discern the Lord’s voice in your life?

(1) Robert D. Bergen, 1, 2 Samuel, vol. 7, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996), 84.