God had something special in mind for the child Hannah would someday give birth to, so He closed her womb until she had completely devoted the child to the LORD. When Samuel was born, there was no mistaken that the child was an answer to her prayer and the vow she had made.
Ask yourself, how does this relate to my life?
1 Samuel 2:21b in the English Standard Version says, “… the young man Samuel grew in the presence of the LORD.” Despite the wickedness around him, the LORD was able to teach and groom Samuel.
Eli told his sons that he didn’t want them practicing the wickedness they were, but he did not stand up to them to stop them. The LORD’s response was to ask him in 1 Samuel 2:29, “Why do you kick at My sacrifice and My offering which I have commanded in My dwelling place, and honor your sons more than Me, to make yourselves fat with the best of all the offerings of Israel My people?” When leadership wants to make people happy more than God, we are not honoring God. The LORD continues in verse 30, “those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.”
1 Samuel 3:11 says, “Then the LORD said to Samuel: "Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.” The people’s “hearing” of God’s word had become dull; God said He would do something that would cause their ears to “tingle.” Eli’s natural eyes had grown dim (symbolic of his spiritual sight), and when God tells him judgment is looming over his house, he acknowledges it is the LORD but he doesn’t do anything about it. How often to Christians “acknowledge” God’s word but don’t do anything about it in their lives. Samuel would truly honor God’s word and, “the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground” (vs. 19).
These chapters are the beginning of 1 Samuel 3:11 taking place, “Then the LORD said to Samuel: "Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.” Eli and his sons died on the same day the Ark of the Covenant was lost. It was a great loss and wake-up call, but Israel would quickly realize that the Philistines could not handle the manifest presence of God contained in the Ark either. After seven months the Philistines would send back the Ark with offerings to the delight of Israel, but some Israelite's would be struck by the LORD after they irreverently looked into the Ark of God. Some versions say 50,070 men were struck; other versions say it was 70; 70 is probably the accurate number.
All the events of chapters 4-6 along with twenty more years under the rule of the Philistines were precursors to what God wanted to do through Samuel. 1 Samuel 7:3-4 “Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, "If you return to the LORD with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the LORD, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines." So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.”
This is where Israel loses its uniqueness of only having the LORD as their King. Samuel attempted to delegate his work to his sons but Israel asked for a king instead. Samuel felt like this was a personal rejection of himself, but the LORD assured him the people were only rejecting Him. Samuel’s sons were not honorable like Samuel, but Israel should have trusted the LORD to rise up a Judge or Judges if they needed. Having a king would cause problems of tyranny and would also contribute to the people looking to man instead of God to save them.
Read through the Bible with us in 2012! The reading plan can be downloaded below; we are reading in chronological order. Check back often to read the blog posts on the Bible readings and discuss things in the "comments" section.
2012 Bible Plan