If we could interview Michal-the daughter of Saul and first wife of David-what might she say about her crazy, complicated life?
We could have to ask about her experience of being “a royal.” the youngest of King Saul’s five children (read 1 Sam 14:49). No doubt the could regulate us with jaw-dropping stories of wealth and privilege.
The apostle Paul’s letter to the Romans is widely regarded as his magnum opus. He began with eleven chapters that are deeply theological, essentially answering the question, “What does the gospel of Jesus really mean?” Then Paul wrote four more chapters that are decidedlypractical, answering the question, “What differences does the gospel make in the believer’s life?
The New Testament is full of “Marys.” With six or seven different women sharing that same name, it’s easy to get confused. The Mary we’re looking at here was a resident of Bethany, near Jerusalem. She was the sister of Martha and Lazarus. We meet her in three separate stories in the New Testament.
As a prophet of God in Israel during the reign of King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, Elijah was an endangered species. The evil royal couple had done everything in their power to rid the nation of God’s spokespeople so that their own prophets of the false gods Baal and Asherah could do their work unopposed.
Zacchaeus was a chief tax collector, which means he likely was one of the least popular citizens of Jericho. Jewish people in the first century AD despised tax collectors. They not only did the work of the hated Roman Empire but also overcharged their fellow Jews and pocketed the extra money. That’s why Luke describes Zacchaeus as “rich” (Luke 19:2). He likely built his wealth from the funds he stole from the people in his community.
The story of Judas Iscariot may be the most unsettling cautionary talk in all of Scripture. For three years Judas spent practically every day in the presence of the Son of God-experiencing his miracles, listening to his teachings, and watching him change lives and give hope to multitudes.
It’s one thing to speak the truth to people in power when you have nothing to lose. It’s quite another to speak the truth when you have everything to lose. The Old Testament prophet Nathan faced the prospect of losing everything, including his life, if he spoke the truth to the most powerful man in Israel. Yet that was exactly what God called him to do.
Elisha was a yond man plowing his father’s fields when he first encountered the prophet Elijah. Elisha immediately dropped everything to follow him. For years, he served as an apprentice while Elijah performed his duties as a prophet-often under and lows, to his courageous obedience and crippling doubts. He observed the way Elijah interacted with kings and commoners. He studied the prophet’s personal relationship with God.
Leah’s father, Laban, was a piece of work. It wasn’t being his oldest daughter. Her greater burden, however, was being the older sister of Rachel.
Everybody noticed Rachel. And why not? the Bible bluntly says she “was shapely and beautiful” (Gen 29:17); we can be sure family members, neighbors, and adolescent men raved nonstop about her. Meanwhile, poor Leah is described only as having “ordinary eyes.” The idea is that next to her head-turning sister, Leah was all but invisible.
The biblical text gives us a clear picture of Delilah. She was a calculating woman. She was aware of the power her sexuality gave her and quick to use sex for personal gain. While Samson had fallen in love with Delilah, she only pretended affection for him. Delilah was more than willing to let Samson use her body, for she was using him to become rich.
How Samson failed to see what was happening we cannot imagine. Her repeated efforts to get him to betray the secret of his strength seem so transparent. But Samson was blinded by his passion and was easily manipulated by Delilah. Her pretended doubt of his love, and her appeal to prove his love by revealing his secret finally wore Samson down.