This is a story many people know well, when the Lord calls Samuel. It is interesting to me that Samuel was ministering to the Lord before knowing the Lord, before he had heard from the Lord. He had faith and believed in God, but had not entered into that relationship with Him yet. This is also true in ministry. There are many stages we go through on our way from sinners to saints. Believing in God, honoring Him, and growing in relationship with Him are all parts of that, but may come at different stages.
Louis believed in God long before becoming a believer. He also believed that Jesus had died on the cross, but still did not feel like God was in, or even wanted, a relationship with him. One night, sitting before the rugged wooden cross at Community of Hope, God spoke to Louis and he accepted the relationship.
In our ministry in Lebanon we have many people who come to the center for the services and Bible Studies for a long time before they accept Jesus into their hearts. We have people do ministry and go out to do the distributions of Bibles who may not believe themselves yet. Serving the Lord draws us closer to Him whether we are believers or not. Only God can judge the hearts of people, and we must continually live a life that ministers to the Lord and shares Him with others so that no matter where people are in their journey toward Christ we are helping them toward Christ.
This chapter also continues the judgment on Eli, letting Eli and Samuel know that it is close now. Again God tells Eli through a man of God, now Samuel, that he should have done more to restrain his sons. Also, God is passing the torch on to Samuel by now speaking to him more commonly. At the beginning of the chapter it is explained that the word of the Lord was rarely heard any more in Shiloh, and there were not many visions. The chapter ends with Samuel walking with the Lord and hearing from Him commonly, which lets the region know that Samuel is a prophet of the Lord. In this way also, as the people around us are at different places in their path toward God, those with whom God has a relationship should be evident. We should be reflecting the light of Jesus while not taking for granted that those in church around us are Christian, because they might not yet be. We must stand up for God and draw even our friends and family into the adventure of following and listening to God.
Samuel, Eli, the Lord, the house of Eli, Israel from Dan to Beersheba
Verses 19 “And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.”
1 Samuel 2:21 “Indeed the Lord visited Hannah, and she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the young man Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord.”
1 Samuel 9:6 “But he said to him, “Behold, there is a man of God in this city, and he is a man who is held in honor; all that he says comes true. So now let us go there. Perhaps he can tell us the way we should go.”
God is raising up Samuel as his prophet and will use him in great ways throughout this book. I think there is also something to the way that Samuel responds. He does not yet know the Lord, but Eli does, and Eli discerns that God is speaking to Samuel. Eli is going to be punished for his sins, but he is still a priest of the Lord. There may be spiritual leaders in our lives or countries who we do not approve of their actions. It is God’s job to judge and take care of punishing them. God may still be using them to train up their replacements before their great fall, God knows best. Eli is right in his training of Samuel. Because of Eli’s guiding Samuel is able to enter into relationship with God. None of us are perfect leaders, but God has us leading somewhere in our lives, and we may be just as messed up as Eli, but God can still use us. We also may not have had the best teachers to get us to where we are, but God has used them as well.
Samuel answers that he is listening. Another reminder to listen to God when He calls, and to remember what He says. If God is speaking it is important.
Jesus in the Old Testament
“Eli’s rejection from office is irrevocable, and he will eventually die under his own unrighteously accrued weight (4:18), yet there are nevertheless hints in the narrative that his spiritual life may have experienced some healing from the God who abundantly pardons (Isa. 55:7). For instance, Eli humbly submits to his rejection (1 Sam. 3:18) and, despite his physical—and formerly spiritual—blindness (4:15), he is described in 4:13 as “watching” and “trembling” for the ark of God. “*
1 Samuel 4:13, 15, 18 “When he arrived, Eli was sitting on his seat by the road watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told the news, all the city cried out… Now Eli was ninety-eight years old and his eyes were set so that he could not see… As soon as he mentioned the ark of God, Eli fell over backward from his seat by the side of the gate, and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. He had judged Israel forty years.”
Isaiah 55:6-7 “”Seek the Lord while he may be found; call upon him while he is near; let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.”
“Because God’s grace is persistent, even one whose life has been marked by failure can have hope for renewal (cf. Jesus’ words to the thief on the cross; Luke 23:39-43). Our sin can never outstrip God’s grace if we will simply persist in coming to him (Rom. 5:20).”*
Luke 23:39-43 “One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, “Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!” But the other rebuked him, saying, “Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong.” And he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.” And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.””
Romans 5:20 “Now the law came in to increase the trespass, but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more,”
*Note: I am using the ESV Gospel Transformation Bible for the Jesus in the Old Testament section, so these are paraphrases and quotes from the commentary with my own ideas sprinkled in.
Thank you for reading. I am excited to hear your key verses, observations, and thoughts! Please take a moment to leave a comment to share with us.
Next Week: 1 Samuel 4
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