God Speaks to Samuel; The Hand of Judgment Falls (1 Samuel 3:1 – 4:11)

Samuel, by now, is moving in the flow of the ministry in the temple.  Because of Israel’s sin, there were only rare occurrences of God’s Word being shared.  There was no widespread revelation.  In this Godless time, the Lord called to Samuel, and Samuel answered and ran to Eli, thinking he had called him.  This happened three times, and Eli finally realized that God had spoken to Samuel.  He sent him back to bed one more time and told him to say, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.”  He obeyed Eli, and responded as he instructed, and the Lord began to reveal Himself to Samuel.

1 Samuel 3:11–14 (NKJV)
11 Then the LORD said to Samuel: “Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them. 14 And therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

Eli laid down and went about his business, but was afraid to tell Eli the vision.  However, Eli forcefully asked what the Lord had told him, and he revealed it all.  Eli received it, and Samuel grew and favored him.  The nation then knew that Samuel was a prophet.  The word of the Lord then came to all Israel.

In times when God’s Word seems to be missing from the church or the life of Christians, it only takes one person to bring the Word back to the people.  Too often, we struggle with being the catalyst, but God needs a man or a woman to step up and be a leader.  If God calls you, answer!

The Israelites went out to battle against the Philistines, who soundly defeated Israel, killing about four thousand men.  The Israelites brought the Ark of the Covenant from Shiloh, with Hophni and Phinehas bearing the ark.  The roar from the camp of Israel struck fear in the hearts of the Philistines.  However, they encouraged themselves, and took up the fight.  The Philistines defeated Israel, and every man fled to their tents.  The Ark of God was captured, and the two sons of Eli were killed.

It is not enough to wear a cross pendant, or a t-shirt with a Jesus slogan, and suppose to invoke the protective presence of God.  Symbols alone do not make one a Christian, but rather a real relationship with the Lord.  Live for Him and in relationship with Him.  Do not just wear the symbols: truly know the Lord!

Warning! (1 Samuel 2:18 – 36)

Samuel, but a child, is in full swing as a helper/minister in the house of God, learning under the tutelage of Eli.  His parents visit him often, and Hannah usually brings him a robe every time.  God blessed Hannah for her gift to the Lord of lending Samuel to the Lord, and gave her three sons and two daughters after Samuel was born.  Moral of the story: if you believe in faith and vow to God, be sure to fulfill your vow after God delivers.  When He is faithful (always), you should be faithful in return, and the blessings of God will continue to flow.

Now for the warning part:  Eli’s sons were evil.  We already spoke of the meat hoarding, in which they took choice cuts of meat before they were boiled in order to cook them the way they wanted.  Now it is reported here that they were sleeping with women as they assembled at the door of meeting, as if it were their right as priests.  What an abominable practice that was!  God sent a man of God to Eli to warn him of the impending judgment upon his sons, Hophni and Phinehas.  The prophecy went on to say that the house of Eli would be cut off from serving in the temple, and God would raise up another priest to serve faithfully.  What does this story tell us?  When God gives a little grace and an opportunity for repentance, do not ignore Him.  Repent, and turn from evil in order to please God and live.  Eli’s son’s ignored the warnings, and the word of the Lord came in judgment.  We cannot afford to ignore the warnings of God for long, as will be evidenced in just a few days.

Rejoicing in Blessings and Danger in Corruption (I Samuel 2:1 – 15)

After the birth of Samuel and his being lent to the Lord, Hannah sang a song of praise unto God, outlining how things that seemed desperate or impossible had been reversed by the power of the Lord.  She rejoiced, where she once mourned and travailed before God.  When God comes on the scene and answers our prayers, we would do well to take a lesson from Hannah and offer praises, unbridled and vocal praises, to our provider God.

On another note, the sons of Eli the priest operated in an unlawful way, taking meat from those offering sacrifices in ways that were contrary to the law.  They were selfish and rebellious before God and His commandments.  We will see in just a few more verses how God reacted to this sin, but suffice it to say for now that God does not wink at sin, and there is danger in disobeying God’s law.  Seek His face, obey His commandments, and, if you transgress, seek His face for forgiveness…and live!

A Desire for a Son Fulfilled (I Samuel 1:8 – 28)

Hannah refused to eat at the feast during their pilgrimage to Shiloh.  Elkanah was concerned about her and asked if she would eat something.  She was full of anguish and arose from the table to pray again.  She made a vow to God that if He would give her a son, she would give Him unto the Lord.  After a time, Eli the priest accused her of being drunk, as her mouth moved, but no sound came out.

1 Samuel 1:15–16 (NKJV)

15 But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord. 16 Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now.”

Eli blessed her and she thanked him for his encouragement.  Then she felt better, and ate food and fellowshiped with her family.  They returned home, and Elkanah knew his wife, and she conceived.  When her son was born, she named him Samuel.  Once he was weaned, Hannah took him to the temple and offered animal sacrifices.  She left him with Eli, having lent her son to the Lord for all his life.

God is faithful, and fulfills His promises.  No matter what you ask of Him, if He makes a promise, He will fulfill it.  Have faith in God, and believe without doubt.  Live a life of constant faith in God, and He will be faithful!

From Bitter to Pleasant (Ruth 4:13 – 22; 1 Samuel 1:1 – 7)

Ruth and Boaz were married, and thus Naomi’s estate was redeemed.  They had a child, and named him Obed.  Obed would become the grandfather of David the king.  Naomi took the child and became a nurse to him, and her days of bitterness were ended.  She was again called Naomi, which means “pleasant.”  

The tragedies of loss that befell Naomi were significant, but God was able, through a daughter-in-law (described by the women of their city as “better than seven sons”) to redeem not only her land, but also her life.

Boaz and Ruth are a beautiful type and shadow of the Redeemer, Jesus Christ, providing life and redemption to all who would need it and receive it.  

The second passage in this reading begins the story of a woman named Hannah who longed for a son.  Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah.  Peninnah had sons, but Hannah did not.  Elkanah loved Hannah best and gave more to her, even though she was barren.  Peninnah, perhaps our of jealousy, provoked Hannah severely to make her miserable.  When the family would make the trip annually to the temple, Hannah was so miserable that she would not eat, and wept constantly.

We all probably know the end of the story, but it is important to understand the need to provide support, not provocation, to those who are suffering or in need.  Hannah was desperately seeking that which would fulfill her and give her a better place in her culture, a son.  Barrenness was a curse in her day, placing her below other women who were mothers.  When someone is oppressed or in a tougher spot, do not provoke or taunt, but rather be a support and a blessing.  That is what God would rather us do!

Seed for Sowing – Psalm 126:5–6 (NKJV)

Psalm 126:5–6 (NKJV)
5 Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.
6 He who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing,
Shall doubtless come again with rejoicing, bringing his sheaves with him.

The Precious Seed
A passionate, intimate investment of life can result in more than a nuisance or an interruption of one’s lifestyle.
The World sees sex and resultant pregnancy as a possibility, but not something to be concerned about. If it happens, there are options. However, God sees the investment of one’s life into an act of intimacy as something to be taken seriously, and only to be entered into in the sacred context of marriage.

The Joyful Result
Bringing in the Sheaves
The Proper Attitude
The Blessed Result
An addition, not an accident
Abortion may be convenient, but not holy

The Precious Seed
In a broader sense, God sees the Christian as a sower of seed.
We should spread the gospel with passion and care, weeping over the lost and pouring the gospel out to all who will hear and believe.

The Precious Sheaf
Whether it be a precious new baby brought into a life—ready or not—or whether it is a new soul brought into the kingdom, it is important to bring new life into all our lives.
The only way to be sure that the new life arrives and is secure is if we are totally committed to the process.

The Questions of the Day
Are We—as a church—committed to the process of standing up for new life every day?
Are We—as individuals—willing to be responsible, not only for our actions, but for the welfare of others, even the unborn (physically and spiritually)?
We have an opportunity to make a difference in our world in the arena of abortion, but also in the arena of salvation.

What Will We Do?

Today, We Pray
For forgiveness for our nation’s sin of abortion
For healing of our nation and the victims of abortion
For salvation for those who are in sin and bondage
For direction for our lives and ministries

Boaz Makes His Move (Ruth 4:1 – 12)

Boaz went up to the city gate and waited for the close relative to come by.  Once he did, he asked if he would redeem the land belonging to Naomi and Elimelech.  He agreed to buy it, but then Boaz informed him that the redeemer would need to take Ruth as a wife, too.  At that news, he declined, for it would ruin his own inheritance.  He then deferred to Boaz to redeem the property.  They sealed the deal with a sandal ceremony, and Boaz declared his intention to purchase the property and take Ruth as a wife.  The people at the gate witnessed the transaction, and blessed Boaz and his new family!

Boaz is a wonderful type or shadow of Jesus Christ, redeeming the lost, the poor, the person without power, and giving them a place in a family of hope.  Boaz and Ruth are in the lineage of Jesus found in the book of Matthew.  They show us how Jesus loves us, and how He take us from a place of loss and puts us in His family.  Praise God for redemption!