Seek God First
"then I said, 'The Philistines will now come down on me at Gilgal, and I have not made supplication to the Lord.' Therefore I felt compelled, and offered a burnt offering."
1 Samuel 13:12
We can clearly see Saul's relationship with the Lord was not right. He knew of God, but He did not know God. He did not have a personal relationship with God. What was his problem? He did not pray; he did not spend time with the Lord. Instead of going before the Lord in prayer, when the Philistines threatened, he decided to make a burnt offering to the Lord. He knew only the priests were allowed to make the offering, but he did it anyway. He thought the offering would be accepted.
He was very wrong. It does not work that way. Prayer is more important than sacrifice! Sacrifice is nothing compared to prayer, because we need to come before the Lord and be in fellowship with the Him.
There is a saying, "It is easier to ask for forgiveness, than ask for permission." That is the difference between prayer and sacrifice. When Saul was faced with a situation, he should have gone before the Lord and said, "Okay Lord, you know we are outnumbered by the Philistines, so what would You have me do?" Remember, that is what Moses and Joshua did. When they asked God first, they had victory because they were doing things according to Godâ€™s will. God gave them the victory. He did the work.
Instead of asking God to get you out of a bad situation you got into because you did not go to Him first, spend time in prayer and seek God's way. God will always provide the way out, just seek Him first!
When we miss out on prayer we cause disappointment to Christ, defeat to ourselves and delight to the devil. -John Blanchard-
And Samuel said, "What have you done?" Saul said, "When I saw that the people were scattered from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines gathered together at Michmash,"
1 Samuel 13:11
Notice, Saul was a man pleaser. He was acting in fear, making excuses. He was fearful, because the people scattered, Samuel was not there when he wanted him there and the Philistines had gathered against them. Where was God in all this? Saul forgot God. He was worried about the people.
If God called you, what do you have to fear? People? I would rather have the fear of the Lord, than the fear of people. People cannot do anything to me eternally. God is in control of everything, not man.
I think it is important to remember, each one of us can come before the Lord at any time. We do not need another man, a pastor or teacher, to come into the presence of the Lord. Our relationship with the Lord is one on one.
That was the problem with Saul. He did not have a relationship with the Lord. He was counting on Samuel's relationship with the Lord. He was not trusting in the Lord, he was trusting in Samuel. Without Samuel, he was afraid of what was going to happen with the Philistines.
Remember, in the end, we will all stand before the Lord, one by one. We will not stand with our parents, our spouses or our children. God wants to know you. He wants fellowship with you alone -- love Him and trust Him!
What a vast difference there is between knowing God and loving Him! -Blaise Pascal-
Know God's Calling
Now it happened, as soon as he had finished presenting the burnt offering, that Samuel came; and Saul went out to meet him, that he might greet him.
1 Samuel 13:10
As soon as Saul finished making the offerings to the Lord, Samuel showed up. Samuel arrived seven days later, just as he had told Saul he would. Samuel was right on time, God's time, but what happened to Saul? He acted out of impatience and fear. He did not wait upon the Lord.
He thought he was consecrating his love to God, by making the offering to Him, but he was wrong. He was worshipping God according to his will and his ways, not according to the Levitical Law, given to Moses. Saul knew better, but he did it anyway.
Many times, we go through the motions, but our hearts are not in it. We come to church, we serve in the ministry, but there is no love for the Lord behind it. We are just doing it because it looks good. We know the heart and attitude we are supposed to have, but just go through the motions, there is no heart.
We are all called to be a part of the body of Christ with different gifts such as: teaching, preaching, helping, along with many others. You have to know where God is calling you and the gifts and talents He has given to you.
The only way we can truly be used the way God wants to use us is to be in the will of God, serving according to the gifts and talents He has given us. Then we can be blessed and bless God and others.
The sin of the world is not that it does not do the will of God but that it does not choose the will of God. -Arthur C. Custance-
Calling & Gifts
So Saul said, "Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me." And he offered the burnt offering.
1 Samuel 13:9
This verse gives us an important lesson in disobedience to the Lord. To really understand it, we have to go back to 1 Samuel 10:8 and look at Samuel's instruction to Saul:
"You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do."
Samuel was speaking to Saul and he said: I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Samuel was going to offer burnt offerings and peace offerings to the Lord. He was a priest and judge for the people, appointed by God. He was the only one who should have been making the offerings to the Lord.
What did Saul do wrong? He decided to play the part of the priest. Samuel was not there when he thought he should be, so he would be the priest and make the offerings. Saul was not consecrated to God; He had no business doing the work of the priest. It was a sin against the Lord.
How many times do we think we can do the job better than someone else? How many times do we try to do something God has not called us to do, or given us the gifts to do, because we cannot wait? It is important to realize, this is a sin. We are stepping outside of Godâ€™s will in disobedience.
In all true obedience there is remembrance. -William Jenkyn-
Then he waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him.
1 Samuel 13:8
Samuel set up the meeting with Saul. In 1 Samuel 10:8, he told Saul: â€¦ "Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do." Samuel was going to meet with Saul to give him instruction on what he was to do, while Samuel offered sacrifices to the Lord.
Notice, Saul was waiting for Samuel, but he was getting nervous. Samuel was not there and the people were in distress. The Philistines were gathering with their chariots and warriors. Things were not going well for Saul and it says the people were scattered from him.
Saul was told to wait seven days, the number of perfection, the number of completeness; we see seven days throughout the Bible for cleansing and purification. Just as in the beginning of creation, God wanted to complete His work in Saul, but the people were fearful.
How impatient do you get with God? The Lord shows you something through His Word, and you cannot wait for Him to bring it to pass. When He takes too long, we try to help Him, as if God needs our help. God does not need us to help Him. He needs us to wait upon Him. He needs us to have faith and trust in Him.
We will see in the next verse, when we try to help God, we end up messing up God's plan. If we want our lives to be in the will of God and receive the blessings of God, we have to wait upon Him. Be patient!
Patient waiting is often the highest way of doing God's will. -Jeremy Collier-
Trust & Faith
When the men of Israel saw that they were in danger (for the people were distressed), then the people hid in caves, in thickets, in rocks, in holes, and in pits.
1 Samuel 13:6
What does that show you? Fear! Fear entered their hearts. Fear! Do they trust in God? They do not trust in God; they trust in themselves. No matter how many times God delivered them from their enemy, they did not trust in Him fully. They did not recognize or remember they caused their own defeat, when they disobeyed God.
Think of how many people have been destroyed by fear? Some people cannot go anywhere, because of the fear they have. They cannot even leave their homes. That can happen to any one of us.
Years ago, Satan tried to bring fear into my life. He tried to put me on the shelf. When I had flash backs of the Vietnam War I was so afraid to close my eyes and sleep. My wife, Sharon, had to hold my hand just so I could sleep. The enemy was defeated, because so many people were praying for me, and I put my trust in the Lord. I knew only He could deliver me from the attacks.
I promise you this, you will go through the fire; it is just a matter of time. Everybody goes through the fire; if they want to be used by God, so we need to prepare ourselves, spiritually. The men of Israel were not spiritually prepared, so what did they do? Instead of being bold and confident in the presence of the Lord, they hid. Even knowing God was with them, they hid. Do not be like the children of Israel; trust God -- have faith!
The time of fear is the time to trust. -John MacBeath-
Obedience or Excuses
Then the Philistines gathered together to fight with Israel, thirty thousand chariots and six thousand horsemen, and people as the sand which is on the seashore in multitude. And they came up and encamped in Michmash, to the east of Beth Aven.
1 Samuel 13:5
Imagine that! The children of Israel were in an impossible situation. Do you know what is amazing? God always puts us in impossible situations, to see if we really have faith; if we really trust in Him.
When we get into trouble, we always think it is beyond what we can handle. The truth is, it is bigger than we can handle, but nothing is impossible with God. We forget the Scriptures in Matthew 17:20 and Luke 1:37 and how they tell us nothing is impossible with God.
You have to remember; it is not your work; it is His work; it is not your burden; it is His burden. What are we called to do when we face the impossible? We have to be obedient to what He calls us to do; that is all He wantsâ€”obedience. When we are obedient, then He will give us the victory. If we are disobedient, He will give us defeat, only to teach us things we need to learn before it is too late.
Saul did not learn this lesson, and that is why he was defeated. He always made excuses. If you make excuses for everything you do, then you are like Saul. When you make excuses instead of doing what God really wants you to do, you miss out. God gave you an opportunity, but you closed the door to whatever God wanted to do in your life.
God's commands carry no RSVP -- man indeed has the power to refuse the divine summons, but not the right. -R. C. Sproul-
Evidence of Pride
And Jonathan attacked the garrison of the Philistines that was in Geba, and the Philistines heard of it. Then Saul blew the trumpet throughout all the land, saying, "Let the Hebrews hear!" Now all Israel heard it said that Saul had attacked a garrison of the Philistines, â€¦
1 Samuel 13:3-4
We see the character of Saul starting to show itself in these verses. The Philistines were a real problem for the children of Israel. We saw that earlier in the book. They came against Israel and took the Ark of the Covenant. They kept it, even after God brought the plagues on them, so they had to return the Ark to Israel, yet they still did not learn their lesson. They still came against Godâ€™s people.
Now, Jonathon, the son of Saul, was out attacking the Philistines. He was out at war and Saul was home, playing the part of messenger. He was blowing the trumpet and announcing the battle. Notice, Jonathon attacked the garrison but Saul got the credit for the battle. The people heard and said Saul attacked the Philistines.
Wow, can you believe it? Jonathon was in the battle but his father took all the credit. As the king, Saul should have been lifting up his son and praising him for a job well done, but instead, he took the credit. Ultimately, God gave the victory, but it was under Jonathon's leadership, not Saul's.
What do we see in Saul's character? He was prideful. He was no longer a man of humility. We will see even greater evidence as we read on, but the signs are already here. Do you know why? He was not connected with God. Without God, we are all prideful men.
No sin is so deeply rooted in our nature as pride. It cleaves to us like our skin. -J. C. Ryle-
Saul reigned one year; and when he had reigned two years over Israel, Saul chose for himself three thousand men of Israel. Two thousand were with Saul in Michmash and in the mountains of Bethel, and a thousand were with Jonathan in Gibeah of Benjamin. The rest of the people he sent away, every man to his tent.
1 Samuel 13:1-2
Listen, it is a king's responsibility to serve the people, not the other way around. The first thing I noticed about Saul was all the people he gathered around him, and, yet, God had His own chosen one among them -- Jonathan, Saul's son. He was the one who was going to be used greatly with David. Jonathon did not want to be like his family. He wanted to be like God.
I honor people and God honors people who have hearts for the Lord. They seek the approval of the Lord, instead of man's approval. Many times, we talk about family, but if family is not right with God we can only pray for them. If we stand with family in unrighteousness, then we are not godly. We are contradicting the Word of God.
Remember, when you make a commitment to the Lord; you are counting the cost. It is not about money. It is about serving the Lord, and being obedient to God's call, His mission for you.
Saul had a mission, but he got caught up in pride and forgot the call of God. It was not God's plan to have a man lead His people, but He was going to use Saul. It was not God's plan for Saul to be disobedient. It was Saul's plan. If we are not obedient to the Lord, He cannot use us -- He will not use us. Remember that!
True faith commits us to obedience. -A. W. Tozer-
Beloved, do not imitate what is evil, but what is good. He who does good is of God, but he who does evil has not seen God.
3 John 1:11
We are living in very crucial days, very critical days; unless God works in my life, in my familyâ€™s lives and in His church, we are not going to accomplish anything for the Lord. We are living for self. We just have a job, but we do not have a call of God, a call to do God's will. Whoever you are and wherever you are, God has established you there to be salt and light.
When you become salt and light, you are not only creating a thirst in people for God, but God will shine through you, wherever you go. Then you will have a great witness; a great testimony. There is no stain.
Too many people "say" but they do not "do", and that is why the world is turned off to Christianity. Especially if you work in the world; you tell people you are a Christian, but then your actions are not Christ-like. They are like the world.
It is not only in the world, we see it in the church all the time, even among leaders. Many leaders, over the last 40 years, have fallen into sexual sin or they have stolen money from the church. Think about it. All the things people in the church do and they are supposed to be called by God, to serve Him and yet, they stab God in the back. Something is wrong. There is no fear of God.
If you really fear the Lord, walk in the light, as a true witness of the Lord Jesus Christ, or do not call yourself a Christian.
What I live by, I impart. -Augustine-
No Connection with God
Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him."
I think the church is out of order today, and God wants us to be in order. He cannot use a divided church. He needs His people to be united under His Word. He needs willing, obedient vessels to accomplish His work, especially in the days we are living in.
It is crazy. When you talk to people, they have no sense of conviction; they have no sense of God's presence. It is a shame because many young men today are future pastors, but they know more about their iPods and their music than about God. It is interesting! It is incredible!
They can spend hours searching the internet, when they could spend the time with God and really hear from Him. I think the internet should only be used to study God's Word and not to go around and get in trouble. If you go out there looking, you are going to be tempted.
If you are constantly on the computer, then what is going to happen to your spiritual life? You may have more information, but if you do not have God's Word, then how can you minister. You are not connected to the main source. We are connected to so many sources, but we are not connected to the main source; that is a real problem.
That is what happens. When there is no spirituality, there is no connection to God and then there is no work for God. That is why churches are dying; that is why leaders are dying today.
At the profoundest depths of life, men talk not about God, but with Him. -D. Elton Trueblood-
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Do not be carried about with various and strange doctrines. For it is good that the heart be established by grace, not with foods which have not profited those who have been occupied with them.
I recently read a book by Charles Finney and one of the things he shared really spoke to me. He said if you want to win people for the Lord, you have to be alone with God. You have to be alone with God in order to hear His voice, in order to have direction and commission from Him in your life.
It seems all these men of God from the past were successful, because they had an ear to hear God, to really hear God. They were not carried away with false doctrine, because they heard from the Lord.
Today in the church, we are listening more to men than God, and the condition of the church is in trouble because of this. The church will never change unless we change, individually. Unless the leadership really changes, the congregation will never change. Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior shows us who we are and what He wants us to do.
The only way to know Him is to be in His Word and to be in communion with Him. Taking the Bible and going through book by book. God was a God of order. He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. Do not be deceived by the false teachers. Follow Christ -- period.
Every doctrine that is not embedded in the Cross of Jesus will lead astray. -Oswald Chambers-
"But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king."
1 Samuel 12:25
Again, look at the grace and mercy of God. He was warning the people, still using His prophet Samuel. God knew the heart of the people. He knew they would turn from Him again, but He was trying to warn them. He really wanted them to stay faithful to Him, but in His heart, He knew the wicked hearts of His people.
If you go back through the Old Testament and then the New Testament, even to this present day, you can see the cycle of men worshipping God and then turning from Him. It is the desire of manâ€™s heart to worship idols and do evil in the sight of the Lord.
Look at our nation today. We are a nation who has turned its heart against the Lord. Many people say they are Christians, but they are practicing sin every day. They are lying, cheating, fornicating, committing adultery and making excuses -- pretending it is a one-time thing. They are lying to themselves, God sees them practicing sinâ€”enjoying sin.
It is important to recognize; we all sin and fall short of the glory of God, but we can repent and be forgiven. When someone chooses to practice sin, which means not repenting, but living it every day, they are living wickedly before the Lord and He will sweep them away.
God will chastise and punish people for their iniquity, both individually and as a nation. If the United States continues to sin against the Lord, He is not going to put up with it. He has given the church a wake-up call. Wake up!
God's wounds cure; sin's kisses kill.
Godâ€™s Work: Past, Present & Future
"Only fear the Lord, and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you."
1 Samuel 12:24
Notice, we are to fear the Lord and serve Him with all of our hearts. We are either for God or we are against Him. Remember what John wrote to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 3:16: So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
God desires we serve Him with all our hearts; there is no room for false idols to creep in. There is no opportunity to be turned away by something or someone else.
Look at what else Samuel said: "â€¦ for consider what great things He has done for you." When we consider the great things God has done for each one of us individually, it is easy to fear and serve Him with all of our hearts. Why would we serve anyone else? Who else has given us eternal life? No one, it is the Lord alone who saves us. There is only one way to heaven and that is through the Son, Jesus Christ.
When I think of all Christ has done for me in my life, I am blown away. I cannot believe the Lord would choose me to lead His church. There is no way I earned anything the Lord has blessed me with. It is all His grace and His mercy.
Do not ever forget the past and the present, all the things God has done. Look to the future and all God still wants to do in your life, and your faith will stay strong. He is alive and working in the past, present and future!
Remembrance of past mercies is a great stimulus to present faith. -Jerry Bridges-
Love & Prayer
"For the Lord will not forsake His people, for His great name's sake, because it has pleased the Lord to make you His people. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you; but I will teach you the good and the right way."
1 Samuel 12:22-23
Underline these two verses. First, Samuel gave the people great hope. He told them God would not forsake His people. Why? It pleased Him to make us His people. Even though we are sinners, God loves us and chooses us. He pursues us, waiting for us to call out to Him. That is what we see time and time again, throughout the Scriptures -- God's great love for His people.
Second, Samuel told them he would pray for them. Even though they rejected God and rejected him, he would pray for them. Why? It is a sin not to pray. Wow! It is a sin not to pray for people.
Did you know it was a sin not to pray for others? I am not talking about praying for your friends and family. I am talking about praying for your enemies -- people who do not like you. You have to pray for them! Not just a bunch of little words, but true and sincere prayer before God.
As Christians, we have to really remember, these two things. God loves us; each one of us -- even our enemies. He desires to have a relationship with all of us. He wants us to pray for one another. Pray for our country, our President, Congress, the church and their leaders. If we really want to see the hand of God move, we must get on our knees and pray. I believe we will see God move mightily, if the body of Christ would pray!
When we do not pray, we work against God. -E. F. Hallock-
Then Samuel said to the people, "Do not fear. You have done all this wickedness; yet do not turn aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart. And do not turn aside; for then you would go after empty things which cannot profit or deliver, for they are nothing."
1 Samuel 12:20-21
Samuel gave the people reassurance; there was still the opportunity to repent and follow the Lord. He also gave them the same direction Moses gave in Deuteronomy 28 - 30. It was another reminder of God's Word and God's requirement.
Notice, he told them to serve the Lord and not turn aside from following Him, for then they would end up seeking and serving false gods. They would go after empty things, which would not profit them.
You see, in our hearts, we all serve someone or something. That is why Samuel was warning the people. If they did not worship and serve the true, living God, they would worship and serve something. Even if you serve your own selfish needs, you are serving something -- self.
What we have to remember is only God can deliver us. Only God can provide for all our needs and most importantly, it is only through God we are saved. God provided His only Son for our redemption. There is nothing and no one else who can provide eternity with Him, only Jesus.
If we serve false gods or self, we face eternity without the Lord, which means we face eternity in hell. The only way to heaven is through the Cross of Jesus Christ, without it we are all hell bound.
Christ is the final word about salvation. Here, He is not only without peer, He is without a competitor. -G. Campbell Morgan-
Deceive & Justify
So Samuel called to the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel. And all the people said to Samuel, "Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die; for we have added to all our sins the evil of asking a king for ourselves."
1 Samuel 12:18-19
First, Samuel reminded the people what God had done for their fathers and for them. Then he told them they had sinned against the Lord, but if they turned from their rebellion, God would be with their king and with them. Now, God will confirm the words of Samuel. He told them God would bring rain and thunder, and He did.
Notice, the people feared God and Samuel. Finally, they understood the evil of their sin. After all Samuel had been telling them, they finally recognized and feared the hand of God. They woke up to their sinâ€”this is because they wanted a king.
Many times, we are blinded to our sin. We want something so badly, we justify our actions. We make all kinds of excuses, but in our hearts, we know we are wrong; we know we are in sin. It is not only the children of Israel. We all have wickedness in our hearts.
This is the reason we must be in the Word every day and in prayer. If we leave the house without spending time with the Lord, we are going out into the world led by our flesh and not the Spirit. If our flesh is in charge, the world and Satan will get us every time. We will deceive ourselves and justify our sin.
If there is anything worse than our sins, it is our infinite capacity to rationalize it away. -Charles Colson-
Communion with God
"Now therefore, stand and see this great thing which the Lord will do before your eyes: Is today not the wheat harvest? I will call to the Lord, and He will send thunder and rain, that you may perceive and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking a king for yourselves."
1 Samuel 12:16-17
The children of Israel had just experienced a victory under the leadership of King Saul. They were celebrating his leadership. They believed they had made a good decision. Samuel stepped up and told them the truth. They had sinned against God. They had rejected Him, not Samuel.
To prove everything he told the people, Samuel gave them a confirmation from the Lord. He was going to send rain and thunderâ€”to authenticate Samuel's word to the people. They would understand what Samuel told them came from the Lord; it was not just Samuel speaking.
Do you know what blows me away about Samuel? He was in contact with God. He knew what God was thinking and how He wanted to show the people His displeasure. The people may not have believed his message was from God, but they would soon believe it, as Samuel would pray for the Lord to bring the rain and thunder.
We should be in touch with the Lord. Through His Word and prayer, we should know the heartbeat of the Lord. He desires to have the same communion with us. We have to be led by Him; we have to trust in Him, so He can accomplish His will.
I am so busy at the present time I cannot do with less than four hours each day in the presence of God. -Martin Luther-
"However, if you do not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers."
1 Samuel 12:15
Samuel took the children of Israel back to Deuteronomy 28 â€“ 30, where Moses gave their fathers the blessings and the curses. God told them, "If you follow my statues and commandments, I will bless you, but if you rebel against me, I will curse you. I will make your enemies the head and you will become the tail."
Rebellionâ€”that is the warning. If you rebel against the statutes and commandments of the Lord, then His hand will be against you, not for you. Notice, God's hand will be against them, just as it had been against their fathers. Even though God gave the Ten Commandments and Moses warned them again in Deuteronomy, their fathers did not learn. They rebelled against the Lord.
Look at the generation today. They have rebelled against the Lord. We have Moses, the prophets, the disciples, the Words of Jesus and the Holy Spirit, but we still have rebellious people. It is so sad.
When you read God's Word, you see God is the same yesterday, today and will continue on tomorrow with the same message: "Follow Me and I will bless you. Turn from Me and you are on your own. You will be the tail and your enemies will be the head." How can we expect the blessings of God without the presence of God? Think about it. It is impossible!
It is the tendency of righteousness to produce blessings, as it is the tendency of evil to produce misery. -Charles Hodge-
"If you fear the Lord and serve Him and obey His voice, and do not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then both you and the king who reigns over you will continue following the Lord your God."
1 Samuel 12:14
In these next two Verses, 14 and 15, Samuel gave Israel a choice. It was a reminder from Joshua 24:14-15, when Joshua told the people to choose who they would serve, God or the heathen gods.
In Verse 14, He began with their first choice. If the people and their king feared the Lord, served Him and obeyed His voice, they would be following the Lord. He would be with them.
Underline those three things: fear, serve and obey. It was the same command Joshua gave the people. God gave instruction and opportunity for the people to live in obedience to Him and His Word. It was so simple. There was not a long list of commands, just fear, serve and obey. Simple, right?
It was so simple; and yet they had failed in the past and God was bringing them back to the basics. He was giving them an opportunity to make things right. They rejected Him as King, but if they and their earthly king feared, served and obeyed the Lord, He would be with them. This is so cool.
Look at how much God loves us. They failed, just like us, but God gives us another chance, and then another chance. That is incredible love, only God could have for His people.
It would tire the hands of an angel to write down all the pardons God bestows upon true penitent believers. -William Bates-
Reflect & Remember
"And when you saw that Nahash king of the Ammonites came against you, you said to me, 'No, but a king shall reign over us,' when the Lord your God was your king. Now therefore, here is the king whom you have chosen and whom you have desired. And take note, the Lord has set a king over you."
1 Samuel 12:12-13
Look at the charge Samuel made against the children of Israel. After all God had done for them, they rejected Him and asked for a man to be king over them. God had given them victory in their battles, but they no longer trusted Him to be their protector. They thought a man could deliver them.
It is so hard to believe. From generation to generation, God had done the miraculous before their eyes, yet because of some bad judges, they turned away from the Lord. It was men who had failed them, not God, but they chose men over the Lord.
When I look back over my life, I can see the hand of God upon me. Even before I came to the Lord, I knew it was Him who got me through Vietnam and brought me home. He took me, a kid who barely made it through high school, and allowed me to be the shepherd over His flock. If I turned from God now, I would be finishedâ€”finished!
As individuals, we need to take an account of our lives. We need to reflect and remember the mighty things God has done for us. As a nation, He established us and delivered us from our enemies. Now, He is allowing us to reap to the decisions our leaders have made, to reject Him. Think about it.
Every day we are the objects of the grace of God. -Donald Grey Barnhouse-
Faithful & Just
"Then they cried out to the Lord, and said, 'We have sinned, because we have forsaken the Lord and served the Baals and Ashtoreths; but now deliver us from the hand of our enemies, and we will serve You.' "
1 Samuel 12:10
Notice how faithful God is to His peopleâ€”He is just in all things. All through the Old Testament, we see the people walking with God, turning from God, getting into trouble, and then crying out to God. They wanted their own way, but when their way got them into trouble, they wanted God to fix things.
After turning from God and serving foreign gods, the people were in bondage to their enemies. God had turned them over to the enemy. If they did not want to walk with Him, He would not force them, but He also would not protect them in their rebellion.
Samuel reminded them of God's deliverance once again. In Verse 11, he told of the judges God raised up to deliver them: "And the Lord sent Jerubbaal, Bedan, Jephthah, and Samuel â€¦ "
God is ever faithful and just. He does the same thing for you and me. He is always there for us, when we cry out to Him, but we have to remember, if we choose to rebel against Him, He will let us. He will allow us to get into trouble without interfering.
How many times have you told God, "If You only give me another chance, I will serve You Lord."? Think about it, if You only; if You only; if You only, I promise I will do this.
Those men are false, God is faithful. -Matthew Henry-
Chasten in Love
"And when they forgot the Lord their God, He sold them into the hand of Sisera, commander of the army of Hazor, into the hand of the Philistines, and into the hand of the king of Moab; and they fought against them."
1 Samuel 12:9
Notice, when God's people are seeking Him, walking according to His ways, He is there. He has everything under control. When they do not want to do things God's way, He allows us go our own way. In this verse, Samuel said, if you disobey the Lord, He will sell you into the hands of your enemy. He will turn you over to your enemy.
That sounds harsh. It seems like God does not want to help us if everything is not done according to His plan. Why? He is God. He knows what is best for us, but He will not force His will on us. He will allow us to live according to our will. It is all our choice. God will not make us do anything, but He will not support us in our rebellion.
Listen; if you are a parent, you know what it is like when your child is rebellious. They do not want to follow your rules, because they are not fair. They are old enough to make their own decisions, and we are just too old to understand. That is how our children think these days.
That is how we act with Godâ€”rebellious children. God knows what will help us and build us up, and He also knows what will destroy us. He wants us to avoid those things which will tear us down and because He loves us, He will chasten us. It is just like when you punish your child in love. You know what is best and you want them to prosper, not fail. That is a small glimpse of the love God has for you and me.
God's chastening originates in His love. -Vance Havner-
"When Jacob had gone into Egypt, and your fathers cried out to the Lord, then the Lord sent Moses and Aaron, who brought your fathers out of Egypt and made them dwell in this place."
1 Samuel 12:8
It was all God; when the children of God cried out in their slavery, God heard and He sent Moses and Aaron to bring them out of Egypt. God used Moses and Aaron to accomplish His purpose. Without God, they would not have even tried to rescue Israel from Egypt. They were vessels but God was the One who did it. God uses people to accomplish His will.
When God provided for Joseph and his family in Egypt, He knew already what was going to happen. He was not surprised when Pharaoh turned against His people and took them into bondage. Before Jacob took his family to Egypt, God knew He would have to rescue His people.
When Moses was put into the Nile River, God made sure Pharaoh's daughter was bathing, so she could rescue him from the water. God had a plan. He was setting the stage.
Out in the desert, as Moses was tending the flocks of his father-in-law, God was preparing him to lead His people through the desert. He knew what was coming and He was making sure Moses was ready for the job.
It is the same for us. We do not want to have problems. We want everything to be smooth. We pray for the Lord to take us out of difficult situations, but He is there with us, molding and shaping us. He has a plan.
God knows what He is going to make of us. -James Montgomery Boice-
Wisdom & Knowledge of God
"Now therefore, stand still, that I may reason with you before the Lord concerning all the righteous acts of the Lord which He did to you and your fathers:"
1 Samuel 12:7
Samuel was making sure the children of Israel understood the consequences of the decision they had made. Because they rejected God, things would no longer be the same. They wanted a man to lead them, so they had to accept the decisions he made for them, good or bad.
We have to remember, God guides, He knows exactly what the best decision is for each one of us. He knows whether it is best to go or to stay. He knows the beginning and the end. Nothing is a surprise to God.
As He led the nation of Israel, He knew when to move the tabernacle along with the nation and when to stay put. He knew when to go to war and what strategies to use against each army. He provided for their every need. It was all done according to the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, not manâ€™s limited knowledge.
When they choose a man as king instead of God, they were forgetting the righteous acts the Lord did for them. They were forgetting they survived because of God, and His love for them.
It is the same for us. When we have a problem or a situation, we often go to man for advice instead of God. No matter how good your friends are, they cannot give you the guidance God can give you. It is best to bring everything to the Lord, and seek His guidance through His Word first. Then, you will operate according to God's wisdom and not man's.
God knows best what is best. Why then should we question him? -Author Unknown-
It is God
Then Samuel said to the people, "It is the Lord who raised up Moses and Aaron, and who brought your fathers up from the land of Egypt."
1 Samuel 12:6
In Verses 6-13, Samuel spoke to the people of the Lord's faithfulness. He began in remembrance of Moses and Aaron. God raised up Moses and Aaron to lead the children of Israel out of their bondage in Israel.
Samuel was making a point by saying these words: It is the Lord who raised up â€¦ The nation of Israel was changing from a theocracy to a monarchy. God would no longer be their king, their leader. Now, a man would take over and lead the children of Israel.
Do you see the problem? Do you understand the point Samuel was making to the people? It was not Moses who really led them out of Egypt. It was not Moses of Aaron who changed Pharaoh's mind and convinced him to let them go. It was the Lord. He rescued His people from bondage. He enabled Moses to bring the plagues. It was all God, not man.
There are so many times when we forget we are not the smartest, the fastest or the strongest. Everything we do is done through the power of the Lord. He enables us; He gives us gifts and talents. Every time we succeed, it is God. God does everything.
We have to keep our eyes on the Lord every day, every minute, or we will forget who we are; we will forget who God is. Stay humble and remember It is the Lord who raised up â€¦ If He does not raise you up, you will fail. It is that simple.
He who knows himself best esteems himself least. -Henry G. Bohn-
Words & Actions
Then he said to them, "The Lord is witness against you, and His anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand." And they answered, "He is witness."
1 Samuel 12:5
Samuel's innocence had been established and the people of Israel testified before the Lord and before Saul. They could not come back and make an accusation against Samuel. He had been a faithful servant of the Lord. He had served the people without ever taking advantage of them or cheating them.
The people said, "Yes, with God as our witness, we find Samuel blameless in all he did as the judge of Israel." These words were important, because they had complained against the sons of Eli. They had complained when Eli did not take care of his sinning sons. They recognized Samuel was a godly man.
As Christians, we have to remember people are watching our lives. We cannot speak of God's Word and live like heathens. Our lives are our testimony before our families, friends, co-workers, strangers and enemies. We are either drawing people to the Lord or pushing them away.
Samuel lived his life before the Lord and before the people. His actions were examples to the people and a blessing to the Lord. His love for the Lord was found in the things he did and the things he said. People will see either our love for the Lord through our lives, or they will not see our love for Him. Our words and actions tell what is in our hearts.
A Christian's life should be nothing but a visible representation of Christ. -Thomas Brooks-
And they said, "You have not cheated us or oppressed us, nor have you taken anything from any man's hand."
1 Samuel 12:4
Samuel stood before the people and allowed them to bring any charges of wrong doing against him. He was leaving his service as judge over the children of Israel, as the nation was changing from a theocracy, governed by God, to a monarchy, governed by man.
Look at what the people said, as he stood before them. There was no man who could bring a charge against Samuel. He had a good testimony before God and before man. What a great witness before the people. Think about it; what a great testimony.
When we look at our leaders, judges and pastors, we want them to have the same testimony as Samuel. It would be great if we did not see the sins of our leaders broadcasted on television, as one leader after another is exposed. People have a testimony of adultery, lying, cheating and robbing God.
More importantly, what is your testimony before people? Is it more like the sons of Eli or can you stand before the people with clean hands, just as Samuel? This is a lesson to each one of us. We cannot hide our sins. They will be found out. People are watching and they have experiences with you. They know if you have cheated them or treated them fairly.
Our witness before man is so important, because God is in control and He sees everything. We need to have a blameless testimony, just like Samuel.
The real mark of a saint is that he makes it easier for others to believe in God. -Author Unknown-
Give Account to God
"Here I am. Witness against me before the Lord and before His anointed: Whose ox have I taken, or whose donkey have I taken, or whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed, or from whose hand have I received any bribe with which to blind my eyes? I will restore it to you."
1 Samuel 12:3
Samuel stood before the children of Israel with clean hands. He knew he was innocent of any wrong doing, so he said. "Okay, if you have anything against me or you can blame me for a wrongdoing, tell me now." Samuel had walked right before the Lord for so many years; he knew he had clean hands before the people and before God.
Samuel was making himself available to God and the people. He was requesting the people to testify about Godâ€™s covenant, which had been violated.
Notice, if he had done wrong to anyone, he would restore it to them. He would pay back any debt he owed. He was coming to the end of his service to the children of Israel, and he was making sure there was no wrong doing in his life, which he had not made right. Imagine everything he said, he had been blameless before God, but if anyone had a complaint, he wanted to take care of things before he stepped down.
Do you know where you stand before the Lord? If people come to you, what can they say about you? Do you have clean hands before the Lord? All of us one day are going to have to give an account to God when we die. Make things right before men, before you stand before God.
Time shall be no more when judgment comes, and when time is no more, change is impossible. -C. H. Spurgeon-
Evidence of His Presence
"After that you shall come to the hill of God where the Philistine garrison is. And it will happen, when you have come there to the city, that you will meet a group of prophets coming down from the high place with a stringed instrument, a tambourine, a flute, and a harp before them; and they will be prophesying."
1 Samuel 10:5
This is the third sign. As Saul came to the hill of God, near the garrison of the Philistines, he would meet a group of prophets. He was about five miles from Jerusalem, most likely in the city of Gevah.
Prophesying is declaring God's Word. It was not something everyone could do. Only the prophets, who were chosen by God, could proclaim God's Word. Saul was not a prophet of God.
It is important to remember, in the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit was not working in and through every person. God chose His prophets, and then His Spirit would come upon those who were chosen. The Holy Spirit was not available to all people like He is today. When a person spoke as a prophet, it was evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit in their life. They were speaking for the Lord and it was done through the Holy Spirit.
Today, we are so blessed. Before we come to the Lord, the Holy Spirit is with us, drawing us to the Lord. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, the Holy Spirit comes in us, and when we are baptized with the Holy Spirit, He comes upon us. His presence in our lives is evidence of our walk with the Lord.
The Holy Spirit is the only authenticator of Christianity. -Arthur P. Johnson-
Love & Obedience
"Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man."
1 Samuel 10:6
Saul was not a prophet, but he was going to be empowered by the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit would enable Saul to declare the Word of the Lord as a prophet, but it would not last.
We will soon see, even though Saul prophesied, with the anointing of God over his life, the anointing of God will depart and an evil spirit will come upon him, to rule his life. Because of disobedience and operating in the ways of the flesh, Saul would not allow God to rule his life. He lost the guiding of the Holy Spirit in order to seek the flesh. Amazing!
Saul is the not only man to turn from his anointing. There was a man who was starting a church, so the elders of Calvary Chapel anointed him with oil. They prayed over him and there was a prophecy given. He left the Lord about five years later. He fell back to drugs and never came back.
As God anoints you and uses your life, it is up to you to be obedient to the Word of God. Why? We have a will. We are not puppets on a string. God wants to see if you really love Him by obeying Him. What is the first commandment? Love God with all your heart (Deuteronomy 6:5).
God has to be first in your life. If He is not first in your life, you are going to be enticed with other things and be moved from your foundation in Christ. Instead of pleasing God, you are going to please yourself. That should never happen.
Christ's lovers prove their love by their obedience. -John R. W. Stott-
Victorious in Christ
"And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you."
1 Samuel 10:7
Again, it all comes down to obedience! Samuel was guiding and directing Saul according to the Lord. These were not Samuel's directions. They came from the Lord. Samuel told Saul, "Be obedient to what God says, for He is with you."
God was giving Saul an opportunity to serve Him, just like He gives everybody opportunities. He was anointing Saul, even though the people had chosen him, not God. He was going to give Saul the opportunity to see if his heart was with God, to see if he would be obedient to the Lord, not the people.
How many times does God give us opportunities to serve Him, but we listen to people instead of listening to the Lord? How many times do we seek wisdom from man instead of the Lord? If we seek the will of man, instead of the will of God, we will fail or worse, be disqualified.
It is so important to remember the last part of this verse: for God is with you. If God is with us, why would we seek the counsel of man? If God is with us, we can do anything and everything God calls us to do.
What did Paul the Apostle tell the Philippians? I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13). These words are for you and I. We can do anything with Christ. Without Him, we are hopeless, but with Him we are victorious!
Jesus Christ is God's everything for man's total need. -Richard Halverson-
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
On July 4, 1776, the United States of America officially declared our independence from the tyranny of England. In the Declaration of Independence, the founders said: "â€¦ they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."
Francis Bellamy wrote the original words of the Pledge of Allegiance, in 1892: "I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."
I really believe these men were influenced by Paul the Apostle's message to the church in Galatia. They had a desire to be a nation built upon liberty and justice for all people. It is important to understand what Paul was saying. The word liberty in the Greek is eleutheria and it means, "true liberty is living as we should, not as we please." Interesting.
Today, people think liberty is the right to do whatever they want to do, but that is not what Paul was teaching, and it is not what our country was founded on. In order for us to be a nation undivided, we must all come together and do what is right, not what we feel like. If we live according to our feelings and emotions, we will be bondage to sin.
On this day, we all need to truly seek the Lord's will for our lives, individually, so we can come together as one nation under God, not divided, seeking true liberty and justice for all.
This is liberty: to know that God alone matters. -Donald Haukey-
God Honors Faithfulness
"You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do."
1 Samuel 10:8
Notice, Samuel was declaring to Saul to wait for his commissioning from the Lord. Saul was to wait for Samuel and God to send him. He had to wait only seven days. He had a time limit.
Many times, people do not wait on the Lord. They have their own commission and their own mission, but they have not heard the Word of Godâ€”the voice of God. It has to be confirmed in the Word.
When I got saved, God called me but I waited on Him, because I did not know His Word. The first thing I did, in obedience to God, was go to church; I went to Calvary Chapel Costa Mesa, to learn God"s Word.
When God called me to go back to Baldwin Park High School, I had a vision. I was awake, and I could see the school and the kids. The Lord spoke to my heart, "I want you to go there". Not in an audible voice, in my heart. I went and God honored it. I waited on the Lord; I did not just go.
When I went, they rejected me. They said I could not come and preach. I left very disappointed, but I prayed for two weeks. The Lord told me to go again, and they let me into the school, not only Baldwin Park High School, I went to ten high schools. I wanted to reach people, it was in my heart. When you wait on the Lord and are faithful to the call He has for you, He will honor what you do to serve Him.
Faithfulness to God is our first obligation in all that we are called to do in the service of the Gospel. -Iain H. Murray-
Hear from God
So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day.
1 Samuel 10:9
God did not hesitate to do all He told Saul through Samuel. He changed Saul's heart and brought about all the signs that day. What God said came to pass, because God is a God of His Word. Whatever He says, He is going to do.
Sometimes, when people come to the Lord they are so zealous, so excited, but, after a period of time, they become so cold and uncaring. They lose their vision and passion.
Think about it. You see people running the race well, but then you see them get comfortable in their ministries. Eventually, they do not have the fire, and when they do not have fire, they are going to be put on a shelf. God is not going to use them. Whose fault is it? Their fault, because they were not in the Word, not really praying and seeking God to see what He wanted to do.
You want to be in the forefront, as God is speaking through His Word. Make sure He is leading, He is providing and He is in control of your life, not you. He has to be in control.
I really need God's voice in my life. I do not want to run around by myself. I want God to be with me. I want God to speak to me. Do you know God's voice? Do you really know God's voice, when He is speaking to you? If you do not, you are going to have troubles, big troubles.
The Christian is strong or weak depending upon how closely he has cultivated the knowledge of God. -A. W. Tozer-
Empowered by God
When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them.
1 Samuel 10:10
We have the fulfillment of God's Word from 1 Samuel 10:6. God sent the prophets to the hill of God, to meet Saul. There, God sent His Spirit to come upon Saul, so he would prophesy. God said He would do it, and here He fulfilled His Word.
Remember, Saul was not a prophet. It was only through God's Spirit he was able to prophesy among the prophets. God allowed it, in order to fulfill His Wordâ€”to show His power.
It is the same for you and I. In Zechariah 4:6, God said: â€¦'Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,'â€¦ Paul the Apostle told the church in Philippi: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13).
All throughout the Bible, we see the writers tell us it is God who empowers us. We are able to do the impossible, through the power of the Lord. In our own strength, we are as weak as babies. We cannot accomplish the things of the Lord in our strength. We will fail, if we trust in our own strength.
Just as God was showing Saul where his strength and power would come from, He is showing each one of us, individually. We must put our hope and trust in the Lord, who will enable us to accomplish the things He has called us to do. Without Him, we cannot rightly serve Him.
There is an Arm that never tires, when human strength gives way. -George Matheson-
Called by God
And it happened, when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, "What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?"
1 Samuel 10:11
When people look at you, they are going to have questions in their mind. Did God really call him to the ministry? Did God really anoint him to the ministry? All these questions will go through their minds, as they look at your life. Even your own children may question your call.
Are you really in the place and position God has called you to be in His perfect will? Either you turn people to Christ or you turn people away from Christ. They want to see the fruit of your life.
Many times, your family does not understand why you spend so much time at church. If you go into the ministry full-time, they do not understand why you would leave your job, making so much money, to serve the Lord. Why would you want to serve in a church? They do not understand the heart and mind of God; they do not understand the passion God puts in people He has called.
Without the passion God gives you, you cannot serve Him. What happened to the Church of Ephesus? They did not lose their first love; they left it. They left God; God did not leave them.
They left their first love and that happens when Christ is no longer number one in your life, and then you will be out of Godâ€™s will. Your passion now is something else, and it will disqualify you.
The Christian worker must be sent; he must not elect to go. -Oswald Chambers-
Sin of Unbelief
And Saul's uncle said, "Tell me, please, what Samuel said to you." So Saul said to his uncle, "He told us plainly that the donkeys had been found." But about the matter of the kingdom, he did not tell him what Samuel had said.
1 Samuel 10:15-16
Saul had returned home after speaking with Samuel, and he was met by his uncle, who asked him what happened. Saul had been gone for some time and they were worried about Saul.
Notice, Saul told his uncle about meeting with Samuel, but he did not tell him everything. He did not tell him about being named king of Israel. Can you imagine? Samuel had anointed Saul with oil, making him the commander of Godâ€™s people, but Saul did not tell his family.
Maybe Saul thought it was a joke. Maybe he thought Samuel was kidding him at first, but then Samuel told him the people he would meet on the way and how he would prophesy with the prophets. All Samuel told Saul had come to pass, so he must have been telling Saul the truth, but Saul was not trusting in the Lord.
I think we often hear from the Lord through His Word, but we do not always believe what the Lord is telling us, or we do not trust the Lord is going to really do what He says. This is a sin. When we do not trust in Godâ€™s Word and His promises, we are sinning against Him.
Saul needed to realize God was anointing Him and trust God to do all He proclaimed. He had to receive the blessing of the Lord. Many times, we miss out on God's blessings because of unbelief.
Unbelief, or distrust of God, is a sin that is its own punishment. -Matthew Henry-
Then Samuel called the people together to the Lord at Mizpah, and said to the children of Israel, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all kingdoms and from those who oppressed you.' "
1 Samuel 10:17-18
Samuel gathered the people of Israel together to declare Saul as king. They were getting what they asked for, but before God gave them their earthly king, He would speak to them, and remind them of all He did.
When the Word of God says "Thus says the Lord", you know it is God speaking, and you better take heed to it. It would be a great sin for a prophet to say this and not actually be speaking words from the Lord.
As the people gathered and Samuel said, "Thus says the Lord," they knew Samuel and his faithfulness in serving the Lord, so they knew they were hearing from the Lord. God spoke to them of His deliverance. If they had forgotten all God had done for them, He was going to remind them.
Think about what they must have been thinking. They had asked for a king instead of the Lord and now God started out reminding them of all His blessings and provisions for them. Do you think they were beginning to understand they had rejected the Lord?
Sometimes, we do not trust the Lord and we go to everyone for help or counsel instead of going to the Lord. We are choosing the counsel of men over the wisdom of God. Think about it. It is the same as Saul's unbelief!
Unbelief is at the bottom of what sinners do ignorantly. -Matthew Henry-
Free to Choose
Then Samuelâ€¦said to the children of Israel, "Thus says the Lord God of Israel: 'I brought up Israel out of Egypt, and delivered you from the hand of the Egyptians and from the hand of all kingdoms and from those who oppressed you.' But you have today rejected your God, who Himself saved you from all your adversities and your tribulations; and you have said to Him, 'No, set a king over us!' Now therefore, present yourselves before the Lord by your tribes and by your clans."
1 Samuel 10:17-19
God had delivered the children of Israel from all their enemies and now they were rejecting Him. God was reminding them; He was in control. Remember all the victories I gave to you? Because God can see into the future, He knew they were going to reject Him, but still He delivered them from their enemies.
It is the same for you and me. God can see you; God can see me; and He knows where we are going to be 10 years or 20 years from now. He knows the choices and the decisions we are going to make, but He gives us free will; a free will to do what is right, according to His Word.
It is so important to remember; God gives warnings. He has given us His Word, with the lessons of those who have gone before us. Just like the children of Israel, we cannot say, "I did not know." We know what is right. We have God's Word. We know better.
If we choose to ignore God and His Word, we cannot plead ignorance. We make the choice. We have the freedom to choose God or reject Him.
God excludes none if they do not exclude themselves. -William Guthrie-
Strength in the Lord
When he had caused the tribe of Benjamin to come near by their families, the family of Matri was chosen. And Saul the son of Kish was chosen. But when they sought him, he could not be found.
1 Samuel 10:21
When I look at this verse, I ask the questions, "Was Saul going to be a strong king? Would Saul have the boldness to stand before God and man?" This verse shows Saul was in hiding; right away we see his weakness.
God had anointed Saul as king of the children of Israel, but instead of stepping up to the honor and responsibility of leading them, Saul was hiding. It is a very important look into the character of Saul. Would he be a man faithful to the Lord and faithful in leading God's people?
I was in the Vietnam War, and I can tell you, this is not the kind of person you want to go into battle with. When you are in a fight, you want someone you can trust to fight side by side with, not someone who would run and hide.
It is the same thing in the battle for people's souls. We are in a spiritual battle. We fight against powers, might and principalities for the souls of our families, friends and strangers. In this battle, I want people who are bold in the Lord. Their faith and trust is in Jesus Christ.
When you go to war, you do not want cowards with you, and when you battle for the souls of people, you cannot do it with cowards. If you truly trust in the Lord, you will have the boldness, because you know where your strength comes fromâ€”the Lord!
It is impossible to be a true soldier of Jesus Christ and not fight. -J. Gresham Machen-
Therefore they inquired of the Lord further, "Has the man come here yet?" And the Lord answered, "There he is, hidden among the equipment." So they ran and brought him from there; and when he stood among the people, he was taller than any of the people from his shoulders upward.
1 Samuel 10:22-23
When the people could not find Saul, they inquired of the Lord. He knew where their new king was hiding. This was the man they asked to lead them, instead of the Lord. He was a fearful man. He would lead the children of God in place of an omnipotent God. Imagine that.
When the people brought Saul out of hiding, they were impressed by his appearance. He stood head and shoulders above all the other people. They thought, Look at our strong leader. He is greater than any other man in appearance.
How does God see man? He looks at the inner man, the heart, not the outward man. We will see this in 1 Samuel 16:7, when the Lord anointed David as king. He told Samuel not to look at his appearance, because God was choosing David because of his heart. David had a heart for God. He was a courageous man.
This is such an important lesson for us today. We have elections and we vote for leaders. Do we vote based upon their heart and where they stand morally or do we vote for a handsome face or a popular person? We need to look at our leaders as God sees them and then cast our votes.
If your heart does not want a world of moral reality, your head will assuredly never make you believe in one. -William James-
Then Samuel explained to the people the behavior of royalty, and wrote it in a book and laid it up before the Lord. And Samuel sent all the people away, every man to his house. And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and valiant men went with him, whose hearts God had touched.
1 Samuel 10:25-26
Once Saul was set before the people as king, the people were all sent home. God had given the people what they asked for and now they had to live with their decision. Notice, God had Samuel tell the people how the king would treat them and even had him write it in a book, as a reminder.
Never could the people complain against God, because of their king. First God warned them what would happen, and when they insisted, He gave them what they wanted. After giving them their king, God left them with a reminder. This was their choice, but it was never Godâ€™s planâ€”never.
God did not only leave a reminder of what was to come, He touched the heart of brave men to go with Saul. They would be men who would stand by Saul's side in the battle, and give him godly guidance, because their hearts were touched by the Lord.
I want to fight with people whose hearts God has touched; those are the people you want by your side. They will really fight for the Lord, and not run. They are not going to be behind you; they will be by your side or in front of you.
On our own, our hearts are wicked, but God can transform our hearts, as we seek to know and serve Him.
No man is conquered until his heart is conquered. -George Barlow-
God: Final Judge
But some rebels said, "How can this man save us?" So they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.
1 Samuel 10:27
The children of Israel asked for a king, but not everyone was happy with the choice. There were men, children of Belial, who hated him. In the Hebrew, their name means, "worthless, good for nothing, unprofitable, base fellow," so these worthless men were not happy to have Saul as their king.
Remember, Saul was the first king of Israel. I do not think it was possible to elect a king who everyone loved. We cannot do it today. Every president we elect is hated by some of the people. You cannot make everyone happy.
It is not only for elected leaders; we are not going to be loved by everybody. If you are doing God's will, if you are really disciplined and obedient to God, people will get jealous, others will get offended. That is what happens. Not everyone will be in agreement with you.
I think it is important to remember who we serve. We cannot make all the people happy, but we can be pleasing to the Lord. That is what countsâ€”pleasing the Lord.
When we are faithful in the call God has put in our lives, we please God. I may not please everyone, but the only one I am trying to please is God. I do not worry about the people, because I will stand before the Lord one day, and only He holds eternity in His hands, not man. Remember that!
The power of man can never reverse the sentence of God. -Thomas V. Moore-
Faith & Power
And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.
Stephen was a man of great faith and power. When you read the story of his life, you know he had to have great faith. He stood accused before the religious leaders, and he was not afraid to speak the truth. He was stoned for speaking truth. That is a man of great faith.
I have been driving in my car, worshipping the Lord, and I just cry out to God. Many times, I have to pull over, because I cannot see. The tears are rolling down my face, straight out of my heart. Ever since I had my infirmity, I cry. I do not know why. Pastor Chuck told me it is because I have a passion for souls. He said, "You care for people," and I wish everyone would feel like that. It is for everybody, not just for me.
What do you think of people who stand on the corners begging for bread? When you go to the grocery store, are you open for anyone to come up and speak to you. If you have tunnel vision, you are never going to be able to see the whole picture. You will not see the lost souls.
Every day I get up in the morning I say, "Lord give me opportunities today." If you do not start the morning with prayer and the Word of God, you cannot expect God to give you wisdom, so He cannot use you. He cannot open those doors to share with others, because He has not spoken to you. You have not spent time with Him in fellowship, a time of really praying and asking God to go before you.
We have been called to a walk of faith, not a walk of feelings.
Faith is the daring of the soul to go farther than it can see. -William N. Clarke-
Secular or Godly
You shall walk after the Lord your God and fear Him, and keep His commandments and obey His voice; you shall serve Him and hold fast to Him.
As we have been studying 1 Samuel, it is clear, God had a plan and the plan was for Samuel to be the prophet to the people of God, as God led the people. If we go back to the Book of Deuteronomy, God told the people His plan. They were to hold fast to God.
It was never God's plan for a man to lead God's people, but the people were not happy with Eli and his children, so they began to murmur and complain. They did not realize they were complaining about God, and they were rejecting God when they asked for a king like the rest of the nations. They wanted to be like the world.
Think of how many churches want to be like the world. They do not teach the Bible. Instead, they have programs and want to be secular to reach the secular people.
You have to follow the Bible. God made the church to teach and to preach the Gospel, not to have programs. When people get saved they come into the church to mature, to receive the call of God, and then they are able to go out and do what God has called them to do.
Remember, the talents and gifts God gives to you, God can take away from you. If He does not get the glory; if you are abusing the gifts God gives to you, believe me, He will take them away from you, He will chasten you. His gifts are to glorify Him, not the world!
You might as well talk about a heavenly devil as talk about a worldly Christian. -Billy Sunday-
Consistent Walk with God
But some rebels said, "How can this man save us?" So they despised him, and brought him no presents. But he held his peace.
1 Samuel 10:27
Before we begin Chapter 11 of 1 Samuel, I want to look at the question the men asked in the last verse of Chapter 10. The men asked, "How can this man save us?" They were questioning Saul's ability to serve the nation of Israel and keep them safe from their enemies.
Remember, the people chose him as king and he was hiding. He began his reign showing weakness not strength. It was not only weakness in his character but weak in his trust in the Lord.
The people were questioning his leadership as soon as they anointed him king. Then, instead of acting like a king, he went back to plowing. He has shown us no strength, only weakness, and he is the king of Israel.
As we come to Chapter 11, Israel's neighbors came asking for help. Saul, as the king, did the right thing. He was on fire and went after the people to destroy them. We are going to see how Saul started out good, but as he went on, he did not finish well.
There are many people like that. They are running a race and as the gun goes off, they take off fast, but they burn out and never finish. That is what happens when you are not really listening to the Lordâ€”when you are trusting in your own strength and not the Lord. If you serve the Lord and follow His plan for your life, you will run the race well, consistently, and finish well.
Religion is not a matter of fits, starts and stops, but an everyday affair. -David Livingston-
Then Nahash the Ammonite came up and encamped against Jabesh Gilead; and all the men of Jabesh said to Nahash, â€œMake a covenant with us, and we will serve you.â€
1 Samuel 11:1
The name Nahash means "serpent" in the Hebrew and he was an Ammonite, who were enemies of Israel. Do you remember who the Ammonites were? Genesis 19 tells us they were born of sin, when Lot's daughters sinned against God and lay with him. They became pregnant; and through them were born Ben-Ammi, the Ammonites and Moab, the Moabites.
The tribe of Ammon represents the world. They were not children of God. They encamped against Jabesh Gilead, which was Saul's home town. Since Israel feared them, they tried to make a covenant with them. Think about what he was saying. Should God's people make a covenant with the world? No possible way. Light and darkness do not go together.
In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul said: Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness?
Many times, people go into business with a non-believer and get burned. It does not work; sooner or later the non-Christian will get greedy. They start cheating and stealing from the company. I have had so many people come to me with this story; it happens all the time. When God talks about being unequally yoked, it does not just mean in marriage, it is in any committed relationship, personal or professional.
It is madness for sheep to talk peace with a wolf. -Thomas Fuller-
And Nahash the Ammonite answered them, "On this condition I will make a covenant with you, that I may put out all your right eyes, and bring reproach on all Israel."
1 Samuel 11:2
Remember, the men of Jabesh Gilead asked Nahash to make a covenant with them. They feared the Ammonites, so they thought they could make a deal with them to save their lives. Look at the condition of their service. They had to allow Nahash to pluck out their right eyes. How many of you would volunteer to pluck out your eye?
Nahash thought he could convince them to do it, because they could not beat him. How many times has Satan tried to make a deal with you? Nahash wanted to blind the people of Jabesh. What does Satan want to do to you and me? He tries to blind you. He blinds you to sin, so you cannot see to make the right choices. He wants to disable you, so you cannot do whatever God intended for your life.
Look at his motive. He wanted to bring reproach to all of Israel. He wanted to humiliate them; reduce Israel to nothing, so the people would believe God was not with them. If He was with them, surely He would have saved them from Nahash. He wanted to bring doubt.
That is what the enemy does to all of us. He brings trials and tribulations into our lives, and then he whispers in our ears, "God does not love you. He will not save you." Think about how many believers have walked away from God, because of a great trial. Instead of holding tight to the Lord, they believe the lies of Satan and fall back into the world, with no comfort. They are casualties of spiritual warfare.
Satan does not work haphazardly but attacks systematically. -Thomas Cosmades-
Seek God First
Then the elders of Jabesh said to him, "Hold off for seven days, that we may send messengers to all the territory of Israel. And then, if there is no one to save us, we will come out to you."
1 Samuel 11:3
The men of Jabesh were not happy with the condition set for their covenant with Nahash. They did not want to pluck out their right eyes, so they decided to send for help. They were going to send messengers out to the other cities of Israel and ask for help.
I find it interesting, they went to the people of Israel to help them, but they did not send for Saul, the king, the one they asked for. Even more interesting, they did not cry out to the Lord. This really tells us their spiritual condition. They were seeking men for help, not the Lord.
In seeking help from the other tribes of Israel, they were also buying time, trying to come up with a plan to save themselves. They were looking to other men and their own wisdom to save them, but they were not seeking the Lord. This is very interesting.
We are just like the children of Israel. How many times do we go to other people for help or advice, instead of the Lord? How many times do we try to fix something we cannot possibly fix, instead of seeking the Lord? Then, when all else fails, we finally go to God. We say, "I guess I will pray. I cannot do anything else." God can do and fix anything; nothing is too big for Him. He should be the first one we turn to, whether in trials or triumphs. God wants us to share our failures and our successes with Him.
We are not to think that where we see no possibility, God sees none. -Marcus Dods-
Faith in Trials
So the messengers came to Gibeah of Saul and told the news in the hearing of the people. And all the people lifted up their voices and wept.
1 Samuel 11:4
Notice, they came to Gibeah of Saul, not because he was king, but because they sent messengers to all the territory of Israel. Even though Saul was king, the people did not turn to him first. They were still acting like sheep without a leader. They had rejected God, and they did not know where to turn.
The people heard the news and they wept. They thought they were doomed. Who would save them from the enemy? They had their trust in nothing and no one. Again, they had rejected God, and they did not know what to do with their new king. They just accepted defeat. How sad.
They were the children of God. How had they come to a place where they were so defeated? How did they lose all their faith? They no longer had their eyes on the Lord. Instead of looking to men, they should have been looking up. Instead of weeping, they should have cried out to the Lord.
When we are facing great trials and tribulations, we do not have to weep. We are not defeated. We serve a great and mighty God. He is bigger than anything the world or Satan can ever throw at us.
When we come to Christ, we are not promised a life without trials. We are promised a Savior, who will walk with us through the trials. It is only through faith in Christ, we can face the trials of this world, or we will be defeated.
Faith is demonstrated by Christians who refuse to accept failure as final. -Author Unknown-
Strong in the Lord
Now there was Saul, coming behind the herd from the field; and Saul said, "What troubles the people, that they weep?" And they told him the words of the men of Jabesh. Then the Spirit of God came upon Saul when he heard this news, and his anger was greatly aroused.
1 Samuel 11:5-6
Now, we see where the victory comes from. The Spirit of God came upon Saul, giving him great courage. God was going to lead him. God was going to guide him. God was going to give him the victory.
If we do not wait upon God's Spirit to lead us and guide us, we are in deep trouble; because we are going to try and do it in our own strength. We will try to use our own wisdom and knowledge.
It is of real importance; if we are going to win the battles, then we need to learn how to fight the battles God's way. That is with the Lord, by putting on the armor of God, praying and waiting upon Himâ€”His timing. God gives us the way to defeat the enemy. He tells us how to strategize spiritually, so we are not defeated. I know when I am defeated, it is because I am in the flesh. Then, I embarrass God, because people think God is weak, when it is my weakness.
Remember, in the Book of Isaiah, when the Assyrians surrounded the city and threw the letter over the wall for Hezekiah to submit and surrender. They said God could not defeat them. Hezekiah spread it before the Lord in prayer and went to sleep; do not worry about it. In the morning, he looked over the wall and God had sent an angel to wipe out 185,000 Assyrians. Is there anything impossible with God?
God is not waiting to show us strong in His behalf, but Himself strong in our behalf. That makes a lot of difference. -Vance Havner-
So he took a yoke of oxen and cut them in pieces, and sent them throughout all the territory of Israel by the hands of messengers, saying, "Whoever does not go out with Saul and Samuel to battle, so it shall be done to his oxen." And the fear of the Lord fell on the people, and they came out with one consent.
1 Samuel 11:7
This was the first act of Saul as king of Israel. Remember, he did not start out well. He looked weak in front of the people, when he was found hiding during the ceremony to make him king. The people wanted a king, but Saul did not seem to be the strong man they were looking for.
Saul knew he had to do something to get the attention of the people. He did not know if the people were going to come out and stand with him against the enemy, so he sent out a message to put fear in the people.
It is important to notice, the fear of the Lord came upon the people. It was not the fear of Saul. It was the fear of the Lord. The fear brought all the people out in one accord, to fight for the people of Jabesh Gilead.
I have known many people who do things because they fear the Lord. They think He is an angry God, who will punish them. That is not my God. My God is not angry. He loves me and wants only good for me. When He chastises me, it is done in love, not anger.
We have to remember, having fear, or reverence, for the Lord is a good thing, but we should not fear Him. His only desire is for us to walk in fellowship with Him. He is motivated by love, not anger.
God's chastening originates in His love. -Vance Havner-
Grace & Mercy
And they said to the messengers who came, "Thus you shall say to the men of Jabesh Gilead: 'Tomorrow, by the time the sun is hot, you shall have help.' " Then the messengers came and reported it to the men of Jabesh, and they were glad.
1 Samuel 11:9
The messengers had the message to deliver to the men of Jabesh Gilead. God was going to send help to them. The Spirit of God had come upon Saul and He was going to deliver the city, using Saul. Even though the children of Israel had rejected God, they were still His chosen people. He was going to use the king, empower him, to save His people.
It is the grace and mercy of God. His great love for us has no limits. Even when we walk away from Him, He still loves us and pursues us. He wants the best for us, even when we are running from Him. That is His grace and mercy.
To fully understand the love God has for His people, we have to understand His grace and mercy. The word grace means "unmerited favor." We have favor in God's eyes and it is not earned.
The word mercy means "not getting the punishment we deserve." While we deserve hell, God sent His Son to die for our sin and take our place. God displayed His mercy.
Just as the city of Jabesh Gilead was rescued by God, even though they rejected Him, we are rescued from eternal hell by the grace and mercy of God. Think about it. Is there anything greater than the love of God?
Christ is the mine of mercy and the gold-ore of grace and salvation. -Thomas Hooker-
The Victory is God's
So it was, on the next day, that Saul put the people in three companies; and they came into the midst of the camp in the morning watch, and killed Ammonites until the heat of the day. And it happened that those who survived were scattered, so that no two of them were left together.
1 Samuel 11:11
In Verse 10, the men of Jabesh Gilead told Nahash the Ammonite they needed another day, and then they would come out and submit to them. They were buying time, waiting for the help to come.
Notice, God gave them the victory. When Saul came with the three companies of men, they defeated the Ammonites, killing so many, the few left ran away. The men were fighting, but it was God who gave them the victory.
Why does God give us the victory? He has promised us, "As long as you are with Me, I will be with you." That is what the Bible teaches. When God makes a promise He keeps it.
It is important to remember, the victories are not ours; the victories are the Lord's. Sometimes, if we are defeated, it is because God wants to speak to us. When we do not win the battles, we have to examine our lives. Do I have sin in my life?
When you take care of sin, God will defeat your enemy. He will continue to be your defense. But when there is sin in the camp, He will allow your enemy to defeat you. God chastens you because He loves you. You cannot get away with anything.
Sin is God's one intolerance. -W. E. Sangster-
Then the people said to Samuel, "Who is he who said, 'Shall Saul reign over us?' Bring the men, that we may put them to death."
1 Samuel 11:12
Remember, back in 1 Samuel 10:27, the chapter ended with the children of Belial saying: 'Shall Saul reign over us?'. At the time, Saul held his peace, He did not confront the men, and neither did the children of Israel.
Now, with Saul leading them to victory against their enemy, the people were ready to fight for Saul; they wanted to kill these people, but Saul still did not want to have division. In Verse 13, it says: But Saul said, "Not a man shall be put to death this day, for today the Lord has accomplished salvation in Israel."
Not only was Saul unwilling to punish the children of Belial, he wanted to celebrate the victory. He wanted to give the glory to the Lord, because he knew it was the Lord who gave Israel the victory. He had a rocky beginning as king, but he was beginning to act like a king, a godly king.
It is amazing when a leader loves the Lord. He recognizes the anointing comes from the Lord. He knows the Lord does the work and he is just a vessel, a servant of the Lord.
As children of the Lord, we have to remember the Lord gets the glory. It is never for you or me to get the glory. We have to stay humble and know God is the Provider, the Defender, the King of kings and Lord of lords. Everything is done according to His will, not our will. We are all bondservants, willing vessels of the Lord.
There is no limit to the good a man can do if he doesn't care who gets the credit. -Author Unknown-
Humble Servants of the Lord
Then Samuel said to the people, "Come, let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there." So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they made sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.
1 Samuel 11:14-15
They were not crowning Saul king again; they were finally recognizing him as king. Remember, when the threat first came, they did not run right to Saul, the king. They sent messengers to all the tribes of Israel. Now, with the great victory, they were excited to have Saul as king and they made sacrifices of worship to the Lord. Everything was right between God and man.
At the beginning of Saul's reign, we saw a very humble man, who loved the Lord. He was governed by the Lord, as His Spirit came upon him. This was the heart of the man God anointed king of Israel. Unfortunately, the character of Saul does not remain as a humble man of God.
This is such an important lesson to all of us, both as leaders and as individuals who vote for leaders. We have to look at the heart and character of a person. God is looking for humble servants, who are fully dependent upon Him. He does not need people who are full of themselves.
We should look at the men and women who stand before us as leaders and see humble servants of the Lord. If they are self-governed, we are in trouble. We have to pray for leaders who are governed by God.
Those whom God will employ are first struck with a sense of their unworthiness to be employed. -Matthew Henry-
Success in God's Will
Then Samuel said to the people, "Come, let us go to Gilgal and renew the kingdom there." So all the people went to Gilgal, and there they made Saul king before the Lord in Gilgal. There they made sacrifices of peace offerings before the Lord, and there Saul and all the men of Israel rejoiced greatly.
1 Samuel 11:14-15
Saul was leading the army and they had a great victory. The people now accepted and recognized Saul as their king, but there was a great temptation in the victory. It would tempt the Israelites to put their faith in the new king, not in God; really heavy.
Samuel wanted them to know their future success rested in trusting Jehovah God; it was never in man. A man could never do all the things God could do. God allowed men to be instruments to accomplish His purposes, but the glory and honor always belongs to the Lord.
That is always the case; we have to trust God to open the door and shut the door. You do not want to go through a shut door; it will be the most frustrating thing you could ever do in your life. Remember, we have free will, so God will allow you to go through the closed door, but He will not go with you. Instead, He will teach you so many lessons in obedience. You will come back crawling, totally humbled before God.
This is so important for us today, to trust in the Lord, only then will everything align. You can always have your own way, your own will, but you will miss the blessings of God if you choose your way instead of His will.
Inside the will of God there is no failure. Outside the will of God there is no success. -Bernard Edinger-
Now Samuel said to all Israel: "Indeed I have heeded your voice in all that you said to me, and have made a king over you."
1 Samuel 12:1
In Chapter 12, we have Samuel's farewell speech. He was giving his farewell speech to the children of Israel. It reminds me of the Book of Deuteronomy, where Moses took the children of Israel back through their history. He reminded them of all the things they did to bring the wrath of God upon them.
In this chapter, Samuel reminded Israel of their error with the Lord. They were the ones who asked for a king. He did not tell them He was leaving them. They came to Him. When they went to Samuel, they did not reject him, they rejected God.
Why? They had their eyes on all the nations of the world. They wanted to be like the world. They wanted a king; they wanted a queen; they wanted men to rule over them.
Listen, God was already speaking to them and giving wisdom. He was with them through the wilderness and gave them victory over all their enemies. He provided for all their needs. He gave them prophets, like Samuel to lead them, but they were not happy. They wanted a man. It does not make sense.
There are so many people today, who choose to be in bondage to sin. They choose the flesh, the world and Satan over God, who loves them. It is the same as the children of Israel. It does not make sense.
To forsake Christ for the world is to leave a treasure for a trifle â€¦ eternity for a moment, reality for a shadow. -William Jenkyn-
Power of Prayer
"And now here is the king, walking before you; and I am old and grayheaded, and look, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my childhood to this day."
1 Samuel 12:2
Remember when Samuel was elected. He was around 12 years old. Then, he had two sons who he was going to appoint to take over the leadership, but God said, "No." His sons were just like the sons of Eli. They were partying; they were drinking; they were doing everything evil before the Lord and in His house.
God saw what was happening and He said, "I cannot trust them, Samuel. Do not choose for me. I will choose whom I want; I will choose who will represent me before the people." The leader of Israel was anointed by the Lord, not men.
You have to realize, you are not in control of your kids. I am not in control of my kids. I am not in control of my grandkids. I can only pray for them; you can only pray for them. Then God will do what He wants to do when we are gone. We may see God's plan for them before we are taken home, but we might not ever see it.
I really believe my son Ryan, and many others, are walking with the Lord because of prayer. It was the prayers of their great-grandparents, their grandparents and then parents. My kids are where they are today not because of Sharon and me; but because of the power of prayer. Ryan would have been lost forever in hell, but God gave him a second chance. Think of the power of God within our lives and what He does.
The prayers of the Christian are secret, but their effect cannot be hidden. -Howard Chandler Robbins-
But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." So Samuel prayed to the Lord.
1 Samuel 8:6
It says Samuel was displeased but it was more than that. He was very hurt. He had been a faithful servant of the Lord and to the people since he was a small child, and now the people were rejecting him. They did not trust him to make the right decision for them.
Even though he was hurt, Samuel did not speak out in anger to the people. He went to the Lordâ€”he went to pray. He could have said something hurtful, but he waited upon the Lord. What a great example Samuel is to each of us. Whenever we are hurt by someone, we need to take it to the Lord in prayer. We need to wait on God and not respond in the heat of our emotions.
Samuel had every right to be hurt. The Lord had led the people and protected them for years, and yet, they did not want Him. They did not trust Him. They wanted change.
Just recently, I realized, we did the same thing here in America. We have slowly thrown God out of the schools, out of the government and out of our personal lives. We do not want God to lead us. Instead, we elected a man who promised change, without knowing what kind of change.
There can never be good change, if it involves taking God out of our lives. If change means trusting man over God, we are in trouble. All we have to do is read 1 Samuel to know we must put our hope and trust in God or all is lost.
Our hope lies not in the man we put on the moon, but in the Man we put on the Cross. -Don Basham-
Judgment of a Nation
And the Lord said to Samuel, "Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them."
1 Samuel 8:7
Samuel was hurt when the people asked for a king. He thought they were rejecting Him, but when he went to the Lord, he found out the truth. The people God had chosen as His own were rejecting Him. He had provided for them during the famine, delivered them from slavery in Egypt, brought them into the Promised Land and continually defeated their enemies, and they were rejecting Him. They wanted a man to judge them instead of God. Imagine that!
It seems hard to believe, and yet, that is exactly what the people of the United States are doing today. God provided a land of plenty, without a king for those escaping from religious persecution. He defeated our enemy and enabled us to establish our own government, with religious freedom, but we no longer want God to rule over us.
That is the bottom lineâ€”we do not want God ruling over us. We no longer want a moral absolute. We want to do what is right in our own eyes. We are just like Israel.
We have rejected God from ruling over us, just like Israel, and just like Israel, we will face Godâ€™s judgment. When a nation rejects God, they are on their way to judgment, but they do not even know it. They are so full of themselves; they fail to see God's hand coming against them until it is too late. Surely we need to pray for our nation today more than ever.
If you are not seeking the Lord, judgment is at your heels. -C. H. Spurgeon-
Rebellion or Faithfulness
According to all the works which they have done since the day that I brought them up out of Egypt, even to this dayâ€”with which they have forsaken Me and served other godsâ€”so they are doing to you also.
1 Samuel 8:8
Samuel was not only hurt by the rejection of the people, he was surprised. How could they reject God after everything He had done for them? Samuel had been faithful to the Lord since childhood but, more importantly, he had seen the faithfulness of God first hand.
On the other hand, God was not surprised at all. He had seen the faithlessness of the people time and time again. The people would rebel and God would allow their enemies to overcome them. Then, they would cry out to God and God would deliver them.
They murmured and complained against Moses and God, and God's judgment came against them in the wilderness. All the people who were older than 20 years old died in the wilderness. They never saw the Promised Land. Why? Their rebellion against the Lord.
I could tell you story after story from the Bible about rebellious peopleâ€”God's people, not non-believers. God gave us all these stories as examples and warnings, but we do not listen. We do not learn from the children of Israel. We want to be rebellious people too. We want to test the patience of God.
I pray today, you really examine your life and see if you are being faithful to the Lord. Do not test the Lord. You will not like the results.
Reverent fear of God is the key to faithfulness in any situation. -Alan Redpath-
Living in God's Will
"Now therefore, heed their voice. However, you shall solemnly forewarn them, and show them the behavior of the king who will reign over them."
1 Samuel 8:9
Heed their voiceâ€”God was going to do what the people asked. He was going to give them a king, but in His great love for them, He was giving them a warning. He was not going to let them enter into this decision blindly. God would give them what they asked for, but they would know the consequences in advance.
In this life, the situations we are in all come down to the choices we have made. Many times, we look around and ask ourselves, How did this happen? Why is this happening to me? If we go back and look at our past, we will see the choices we made, and how they led us to the place or the situation we are currently in.
When life seems to be beating us up, people often blame God. How could He let this happen? If you read through the Old Testament, the children of Israel constantly blamed God. Why did God take us out of Egypt just to die in the wilderness? God had everything under control, but they did not trust Him.
As we go through the Book of 1 Samuel, we have to recognize the lessons for us today. God is always faithful. He cannot be unfaithful. We must realize the choices we make determine the situations we encounter. If we seek the will of God for our lives, we will avoid much pain and suffering.
There are no disappointments to those whose wills are buried in the will of God. -Frederick W. Faber-
So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who asked him for a king. â€¦ "He will take a tenth of your sheep. And you will be his servants."
1 Samuel 8:10, 17
The people asked Samuel to give them a king in Verse 5 and in Verses 10 through17, he returned to give them God's answer, along with the warning. God will give them a king, but they will be in bondage to the king.
The king was going to use them and their children for labor. They would take care of his chariots and be horsemen for the king. The children of Israel will be used to plow the kingâ€™s fields, gather his harvest and make his weapons.
Notice, all the labor will now be for the king. The best of their fields and vineyards will be for the king. Their children will serve in the king's court as cooks and bakers, warriors and laborers. They were free in the Lord and they chose to be in bondage to a king. God gave them everything and now it would all go to the king and his officers.
This was the warning from the Lord. They wanted a king, like the other nations, and this is what an earthly king does. He puts you in bondage to serve him and his court.
This is a warning from the Lord to you and I. We can serve the Lord and be blessed with the freedom we have in Him, or we can choose to be in bondage to sin and this world. The world will use you and abuse you, but God just wants to love and bless you. You choose!
The money, the pleasures, the daily business of the world are so many traps to catch souls. -J. C. Ryle-
"And you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, and the Lord will not hear you in that day."
1 Samuel 8:18
This is the end of the warning. This is looking to the future, after the people realize what life will be like under a man for a king. In the midst of their despair, the people will cry out and God will remind them; they chose a king over Him. They made the decision, and God just gave them what they wanted. What a sad commentary.
The worst part of the warning is God's response. When the people cry out, God will not listen. He loved them. He provided for them; and He warned them. They would have to live with the choice they made.
It happened then, to the children of Israel, and it will happen today. How many times do we make the wrong decision without praying and it has become a snare to us. We need to learn from history. These things were written for our example.
We need to be prayed up. We do not want to get ahead of the Lord. We want to do exactly what God intended all along. It is the only way you have peace and joyâ€”when you walk in the will of the Lord.
Samuel wanted the right thing, but the people chose the wrong thing. They will be in bondage to a king but God never intended that. They would cry out about of the abuse of the king, but God would not hear them, because they willfully rejected the Lord.
The will is the deciding factor in everything we do. In every sphere of life it settles alternatives. -Frederick P. Wood-
Feast of Weeks
"You shall count seven weeks for yourself; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you begin to put the sickle to the grain. Then you shall keep the Feast of Weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand, which you shall give as the Lord your God blesses you."
The Feast of Weeks is also known as Pentecost, which means "50" because it is celebrated 50 days following the Passover. This is a feast of joy and thankfulness, as the children of Israel give thanks to the Lord for His blessing on the harvest. In celebration, the people make an offering to the Lord of new grain from the summer wheat harvest.
It is also closely linked to the Ten Commandments, because it is believed it was during the Feast of Weeks when God gave Moses the Law. With this in mind, the children memorize Scriptures and many spend the entire night reading and studying the Torah and the Book of Ruth.
Tomorrow, as morning approaches in Israel, the practicing Jews will leave their homes and make their way through the orthodox quarters of Jerusalem to the Western Wall plaza, where they will recite the Amidah prayer together. This ancient "standing" prayer goes back 200 years and includes 19 blessings.
The feasts of Israel are central to the lives of the Jewish people. They do not work but spend their time with family, reading God's Word, praying and celebrating the blessings and provisions of the Lord. He is worthy to be praised, as He is our great provider!
There are no days when God's fountain does not flow. -Richard Owen Roberts-
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. â€¦ And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Acts 2:1, 4
They were all still together in Jerusalem on the Day of Pentecost, because this is one of the three festivals which require the Jewish males to make the pilgrimage to Jerusalem to appear before the Lord. Just as the name Pentecost signifies, this was 50 days after the Passoverâ€”50 days after the death of Christ.
Think about it. The Day of Pentecost is a time of joy and celebration for the Jewish people. They give thanks to the Lord for His blessing on the harvest, for giving the Ten Commandments and for deliverance from Egypt.
In Acts 1:4, Jesus told the Apostles to stay in Jerusalem and wait for the Promise of the Father. He said, "for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now" (Acts 1:5).
When the Lord filled them with the Holy Spirit, they were able to truly give thanks, as He enabled them to speak in tongues. The promise of the Lord had been fulfilled, with God's great provision.
Today, celebrate and give thanks to God for the provision of salvation. As God gave the Law, He also gave His Son for a new covenant of grace, for those who will believe and walk with Jesus Christ.
The work of the Holy Spirit is as needful as that of Christ. -William MacLeod-
God or Man
Nevertheless the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel; and they said, "No, but we will have a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles."
1 Samuel 8:19-20
These verses are so sad. After everything Samuel told them, warned them, they still chose to have a king rule over them instead of the Lord. They did not care. They were not listening to the warning.
Think about it; they wanted a man to go out and fight their battles. God had delivered them from their enemies time and time again. He had protected them through the wilderness. He had defeated the giants in the land, but they chose a weak man over the omnipotence of God.
It sounds crazy, but think about how many people come to church every week, and they are not listening. They are just attending, but they do not heed the warnings. They do not take God's advice, and then they get themselves in a pit they cannot get themselves out of it.
What does this mean? Why do we make bad choices? It is rebellion in the hearts of the people. When we ignore God and the warnings He gives for our own good, we are a rebellious people. We think we know better than the Lord.
Just like the children of Israel, we have to decide who we will follow, God or man. We can rely on the weakness of man or the power of the Lord.
Godâ€™s power is the best guard, the safest convoy and the surest castle that any can have. -William Gouge-
Humble & Mighty
There was a man of Benjamin whose name was Kish the son of Abiel, the son of Zeror, the son of Bechorath, the son of Aphiah, a Benjamite, a mighty man of power.
1 Samuel 9:1
Saul came from the tribe of Benjamin, one of the best tribes, but one of the smallest tribes. At one time, Benjamin was almost completely wiped out, but God spared them. In Judges 19 and 20, the people sinned and killed the concubine of a Levite, so the other tribes came against them.
While the tribe of Benjamin was small, Saulâ€™s family was very wealthy. The word power in the Hebrew is chayil, and it means "strength, might, efficiency, wealth and army." They had money, and they were powerful in their community.
God raised up the first king of Israel from the smallest of His tribes. Even though the family was powerful within their tribe, that did not mean they were as powerful among all the tribes. Coming from the tribe of Benjamin, they were a humble people.
I find it interesting; God raised up Paul the Apostle from the tribe of Benjamin. He was another powerful man, with great authority in the Sanhedrin and yet God made him a humble man.
That is a great lesson to all of us. Your background does not matter to the Lord. He is looking for men and women who are humble and have willing hearts. He wants men and women who will be fully dependent on Him, not on their great knowledge. Then He can do great things, but only if we stay humble! Remember that!
Until a man is nothing, God can make nothing of him. -Martin Luther-
And he had a choice and handsome son whose name was Saul. There was not a more handsome person than he among the children of Israel. From his shoulders upward he was taller than any of the people.
1 Samuel 9:2
In Hebrew Saul's name means "desired". He was not only from a wealthy and powerful family, but he was the tallest in Israel. He was taller from the shoulders up and he was handsome. He had it all, and now God was going to make him king. He was just what the people were looking for.
When you look at Saul, you have to understand, he was very impressive as a young man. He was about 32 years of age, and the Bible says there was not a man more handsome. At the same time, think about God and His requirements. Do you think God was looking at the outward man? Do you think He wanted the most handsome man or the strongest man?
Sometimes appearances are very deceiving. Even though he was the choice among the children of Israel and was head and shoulders above all the people, Saul would turn out to be one of the worst kings.
Think about all our elections. How many times we choose people by the outward appearances instead of the inward heart. It is not only in elections, but in choosing our wives and husbands.
What do you look for in a spouse? Be careful as a single person. You do not want someone who looks good but does not have a heart for God. Then, it would be your choice in the flesh but not God's choice. Remember, God's will is always the best choice!
Now the donkeys of Kish, Saul's father, were lost. And Kish said to his son Saul, "Please take one of the servants with you, and arise, go and look for the donkeys."
1 Samuel 9:3
God was already making things happen in order for Saul to meet Samuel. He arranged for Kish to lose his donkeys, so he could send Saul to go look for them. This was all part of God's plan. Nothing is by coincidence.
If the donkeys had not been lost, where would Saul be? His father was rich. He came from a great family and, maybe, because of his familyâ€™s wealth, he was too comfortable. God had to take him away from his family, so He could put His plan into action.
God saw this family of Benjamin and He wanted to use Saul. He wanted to give him an opportunity to serve Him, as he served the people as their king. That was his responsibility, to serve the peopleâ€”to protect and provide for them.
Nothing is by coincidence. You have to be open to the Holy Spirit, because God is working in your life. Remember, He is in charge of everything. He causes situations and problems to accomplish His will, not your will. He provides opportunities for each one of us to serve Him, and sometimes He puts us in situations to take us out of our comfort zone. He does this so we will trust in Him and no one else, fully and completely.
If we choose to walk according to the plan God has for us, there will be surprises along the way, but God is in control, so we can rest in Him.
There is no such a thing as chance or accident; the words merely signify our ignorance of some real and immediate cause. -Adam Clarke-
God in Charge
So he passed through the mountains of Ephraim and through the land of Shalisha, but they did not find them. Then they passed through the land of Shaalim, and they were not there. Then he passed through the land of the Benjamites, but they did not find them.
1 Samuel 9:4
Saul and his servant were going throughout the land looking for his father's donkeys. How far could they have gone? They could have been around the corner. It was not about the donkeys; God was in charge of the situation, and He was leading them to exactly the place He needed him to be. God was in charge.
I think they were a little frustrated, because they could not find the donkeys, but again it was God's plan. He was leading and guiding them to the perfect place to meet Samuel. It was all God's doing. He told the people He would give them a king from the tribe of Benjamin, and He was going to bring it to pass.
Just like Saul, sometimes, we cannot figure out why we are going through something or why there is a delay and yet, it is all God's timing. Sometimes, we think God is punishing us or He hates us, because we are in a difficult situation.
That is not the case. God loves us and His plans for us are greater than anything we could ever imagine. We have to trust in Him and be open to His plans and His timing, or we will miss out on the great blessings He has for us. Remember Jeremiah 29:11, God promises us a future and a hope.
God's promises are like the stars; the darker the night the brighter they shine. -David Nicholas-
God's Perfect Will
When they had come to the land of Zuph, Saul said to his servant who was with him, "Come, let us return, lest my father cease caring about the donkeys and become worried about us."
1 Samuel 9:5
There is a very important lesson in this verse. Saul and his servant had been gone for some time, and they could not find the donkeys. He knew his father loved him and would be worried, so Saul was ready to go back home.
There was a conflict between what Saul wanted and what God wanted. He could not go back home, because God's will had to be fulfilled and God wanted him to stay right where he was. God was stirring Saul's heart, to talk to his servant, to seek his opinion.
We have to remember, there are two wills: God's perfect will and God's permissive will. Godâ€™s perfect will is exactly what it says. It is God's perfect plan for our lives. We will be blessed beyond our imagination, if we stay in God's perfect will.
God's permissive will is second best, and we will miss out on some of God's blessings, if we choose to follow our own path. God allows us to do whatever we want to do. He does not force us into His plan. That is His permissive will, and it falls short of His perfect will.
I want God's perfect will for my life. I want it for my children and my grandchildren. If you want God's perfect will, you have to submit yourself to Him. If you are sensitive to His Holy Spirit, you will walk according to His perfect plan for your life.
God will always reveal His will to one who is willing to do it. -Hilys Jasper-
Therefore I urge you, imitate me. For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church.
1 Corinthians 4:16-17
I think, for some people, Father's Day is a very hard day. Many people did not grow up in a family with a loving father, or some had no father at all. On this day, when everyone is celebrating their fathers and taking them out to lunch, many have no one to celebrate with them.
I thank God, my father and I were reconciled before he went to be with the Lord. I grew up with an angry, alcoholic father; I did not grow up in a home with a loving father. I hated him.
This is one of the reasons I really love the Apostle Paul. He was a father to many young men of the faith, but we see his relationship with Timothy very clearly in his writings. Timothy was a son to Paul, not by blood but in Christ. Timothy's real father was a Greek but not a believer.
As Timothy went out to serve the Lord, Paul was the man who taught him. When Timothy became discouraged, Paul encouraged him. When he was wrong, Paul admonished him. He was a true father to Timothy.
We need to remember, there are many young men and women who do not have fathers. We are called to encourage and chastise them in love. They are in the church, the schools and our neighborhoods. They could be Timothyâ€™s and all they need is a Paul in their lives. God may be calling you to be a godly father to a young man or woman. Happy Father's Day!
Every child has a right to be both well fed and well led. -Author Unknown-
Seek Godly Wisdom
And he said to him, "Look now, there is in this city a man of God, and he is an honorable man; all that he says surely comes to pass. So let us go there; perhaps he can show us the way that we should go."
1 Samuel 9:6
God touched Saul's servant and used him to lead Saul. While Saul wanted to return home, God wanted him to continue on and meet Samuel. The servant gave Saul godly wisdom, and Saul had to decide whether to listen to his servant or do his own thing.
Notice, the servant did not tell Saul to do something crazy. He was leading him to seek God; the servant was being led by the Holy Spirit. Was it God's will for them to seek the man of God? Of course it was! They were seeking for God's wisdom. That is always the will of God.
Listen, it is always God's will for us to seek godly counsel. That does not mean we go from one pastor to another, seeking for one of them to tell us what we want to hear. We seek godly counsel, and we wait for the Lord to confirm it through His Word.
How easy it is to ignore the wisdom of righteous people, because they do not tell us what we want to hear. I have seen it happen too often. Many times, when you give counsel, the person ignores it and does their own thing. Then, they come back and ask, "Why did this happen?" I tell them, "Because you did not seek the Lord, you did your thing but not God's will."
We can always do our own thing, that is freewill, but there are consequences, and we must face them.
It was by the evil use of his free will that man destroyed both it and himself. -Augustine-
(Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: "Come, let us go to the seer"; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.)
1 Samuel 9:9
The seer was the prophet Samuel, but the word prophet was not used at this time. They were called seers, because they could see into spiritual things. They had spiritual perception.
Later, the seers were called prophets of God. They had spiritual perception, and they were Godâ€™s spokesman. God would speak to them and speak through them. That is where we get the books of the Major Prophets and Minor Prophets. They spoke and wrote what the Lord gave to them.
I find it interesting that Saul started out by going to a seer, or prophet of God, but in the end, he went to the witch of Endor. The Lord was no longer speaking to him, so he went to a witch, and for the first and only time, God allowed someone to come back and speak. Samuel came forth to proclaim judgment on Saul.
This reminds me of our walk with the Lord. We can start out on fire, walking in righteousness, but how do we finish? That is the most important thing. It is never about how we start but about how we finish. It is not a sprint but a marathon.
If we want to finish the spiritual race well, we have to train ourselves. Read your Bible, pray, be in fellowship and stay close to God, so you can be prepared for the race and finish well.
It ought to be the business of every day to prepare for our last day. -Matthew Henry-
According to God's Plan
Then Saul said to his servant, "Well said; come, let us go." So they went to the city where the man of God was. As they went up the hill to the city, they met some young women going out to draw water, and said to them, "Is the seer here?"
1 Samuel 9:10-11
Saul took the advice of his servant and went into the city to seek the seer, Samuel. It was really Godâ€™s direction, not the servant. God was using the servant to get Saul in the right place, at the right time. It was God's divine order. He brings all things completely together.
Look at what the young women told Saul, in Verse 12: And they answered them and said, "Yes, there he is, just ahead of you. Hurry now; for today he came to this city, because there is a sacrifice of the people today on the high place."
It just happened that Samuel had also come into the city to perform the sacrifice for the people. Was it a coincidence? I do not think so. It was the hand of God. He was directing everythingâ€”working everything according to His purpose. It was appointed by God for Samuel and Saul to be there at the same time.
I think it is very important for us to be open to the guiding of the Holy Spirit. We can plan our day, but we cannot be set upon the course. Pastor Chuck always said he was open to God's interruptions. When your plans do not go the way you expect them to go, ask the Lord what He wants you to do. Seek His plan.
God is working out His eternal purpose, not only in spite of human and satanic opposition, but by means of them. -A. W. Pink-
"As soon as you come into the city, you will surely find him before he goes up to the high place to eat. For the people will not eat until he comes, because he must bless the sacrifice; afterward those who are invited will eat. Now therefore, go up, for about this time you will find him."
1 Samuel 9:13
Make a note of this verse; it is the first place in the Bible where they prayed for their food. It was not the same as how we pray, but it is how we should pray.
Notice, Samuel blessed the sacrifice, and then after they were invited to eat. They were to first bless the sacrifice unto the Lord. They did not sit down and start eating. They gave praise and honor to the Lord first.
When we sit down to eat, do we just say, "Lord, bless this food," and start eating? We no longer make a sacrifice unto the Lord, but we should be praising and thanking God for His provision. We should always begin our meals thankful to God.
Think about how many people in this world go to bed hungry, and we have more than we can eat at one time. Think about the little children who are eating out of garbage cans, and we are eating home-cooked meals. We have so much, yet, we are no longer thankful to the Lord. We expect to have a plate of food every time we sit down for a meal. We really need to be thankful and teach our children and grandchildren to pray for their food all the time.
We should spend as much time in thanking God for His benefits as we do in asking Him for them. -Vincent de Paul-
Hearing From God
So they went up to the city. As they were coming into the city, there was Samuel, coming out toward them on his way up to the high place. Now the Lord had told Samuel in his ear the day before Saul came, saying,
1 Samuel 9:14-15
Samuel, whose name means "Asked of God", met Saul and his servant as they came into the city. Saul did not know the plans of God, but Samuel did. The Lord had already prepared Samuel. Look at what it says, the Lord had told Samuel in his ear the day before.
Isn't that amazing?! Think about it for a minute. The Lord spoke in Samuel's ear. Have you heard the voice of the Lord? Has He spoken to you in an audible voice?
God does not only speak to us in our ears. He can speak to us through His Word and through people. Many times, after a study, people will come up to me and say, "How did you know I was doing that? Did my wife talk to you?" It was the Lord speaking to them through me. It was not me.
When was the last time you heard from the Lord? With all the distractions we have today, it can be hard to hear Him. Sometimes, you have to turn everything off: the television, computer, iPods, phones and iPads, and just spend some quiet time with God.
Once we put away all the distractions and open God's Word, we will be open to hearing from the Lord. Imagine all the things He wants to say to you and to me.
It is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself. -A. W. Tozer-
"Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to Me."
1 Samuel 9:16
This is the message God whispered in Samuel's ear. God was preparing Samuel to receive Saul. It was all done according to the will of God, the permissive will of God. Remember, the people had rejected God and asked for a king to be like the other nations. It was never Godâ€™s perfect will for a man to be king over His people.
This reminds me of an old saying, "Be careful what you pray for, because God might just give it to you." It says God heard the cry of the people, and He was going to give them what they asked for, an earthly king. He would be a man who took advantage of the people and used them for his own gain, but they asked for him.
This is freewill. We can choose to walk according to the will of God, or walk in our own ways. We make the choice. In Deuteronomy 30:19, God spoke through Moses:
I call heaven and earth as witnesses today against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing; therefore choose life, that both you and your descendants may live;
The choices we make are between life and death, blessings and cursings, so choose wellâ€”choose wisely.
Will is character in action. -William McDougall-
The Heart of Man
So when Samuel saw Saul, the Lord said to him, "There he is, the man of whom I spoke to you. This one shall reign over My people."
1 Samuel 9:17
I love this verse. Look how the Lord spoke to Samuel so clearly. There was no confusion, because Samuel was so intimately involved with the Lord. He did not have to question what God wanted him to do. The Lord clearly spoke to him, guiding and directing his path.
God told Samuel, "That's the one." That is what God said about you and me. God chose us to do His work, not in our strength but in His power. It is all done through His power. He chose us in all our weakness and limitations, so He would get the glory.
Remember when Samuel went to the house of Jesse, to choose a new king. He went from son to son, thinking they were the one, but God had other plans. He saw with spiritual eyes. He sees the heart of man, not just the outer appearance. God chose David, even though he was the youngest, because God knew his heart. He was a servant.
Many times, God has spoken to me about people, to put them on staff without even knowing them. God shows me how they are going to grow and develop. God sees their hearts. He recognizes the true servants.
From the beginning, God knew the kind of king Saul would be. He knew he would fall short, but He gave the people what they wanted. What He wants is for us to look at the heart of people, not their outer appearances.
There is nothing in the life but what was first in the heart. -Thomas Manton-
Of Good Character
Then Saul drew near to Samuel in the gate, and said, "Please tell me, where is the seerâ€™s house?"
1 Samuel 9:18
When Saul walked up to Samuel, he did not know Samuel was the seer. God did not speak to Saul, but to Samuel, a man of God. God had been speaking to Samuel since he was a young child, serving in the house of God.
Samuel already knew he was going to meet and anoint Saul:
Samuel answered Saul and said, "I am the seer. Go up before me to the high place, for you shall eat with me today; and tomorrow I will let you go and will tell you all that is in your heart" (1 Samuel 9:19).
Samuel was going to share some very heavy things with Saul, but Saul thought he was going to find out where his father's donkeys were. He was going to be very surprised when Samuel shared what the Lord told him.
Notice the respect Saul had for Samuel, because he was a seer. He respected the man of God. He trusted him. As a leader in the house of God, Samuel was a man of character. When they were looking for him, no one gave a bad report of him.
Can you say the same thing? It is so important, as men and women of God, to be of good character. As God's representatives, we have to be trusted and well respected or we are of no use to the Lord.
The actions of men form an infallible index of their character. -Geoffrey Wilson-
God's Wisdom & Knowledge
"But as for your donkeys that were lost three days ago, do not be anxious about them, for they have been found. And on whom is all the desire of Israel? Is it not on you and on all your fatherâ€™s house?"
1 Samuel 9:20
Samuel was a seer, so he was sensitive to the things of the spirit. He had spiritual perception. God was speaking through him. God revealed what Saul was seeking and what had happened to the donkeys. God also told Samuel Israel wanted Saul. It was Israelâ€™s will to have him as king. Notice, it was not God's will.
Israel was seeking a king and God was giving them what they asked for. He would raise up a man from the house of Benjamin to be king over Israel and fulfill the desire of Israel.
Can you imagine the heart of Saul when he heard these words? There had never been a king in Israel before this. He was not following a good king or a bad king. He was the first king of Israel. How would he know what to do?
Listen, just as the Lord was giving Samuel a word of knowledge to reveal His plans, God was hoping Saul would look to Him for wisdom and knowledge. He would only be a good king if he was led by the Lord. Without God, he would get into trouble real quick, and he would lead the people into trouble.
We have to remember this lesson as leaders and parents. Without the wisdom and knowledge of the Lord, we will get into trouble fast, and we may lead others into trouble. We have to seek God's wisdom every day!
True wisdom is a divine revelation. -George Barlow-
Humility or Pride
And Saul answered and said, "Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?"
1 Samuel 9:21
Saul was very humble at the beginning of his life. He was honest and sincere, but God saw his heart and He knew it would not last. As his commission was given to him, he started out humble, but later we will see him get puffed up. He will try to justify his actions.
I think people were praising him, and instead of thinking, I am from the least family in the smallest tribe, he was thinking, God picked me and the people love me, so I must be something special.
At this point, Saul was small and humble. His heart and mind would be set upon the Lord for guidance and direction. As he got prideful and puffed up, he no longer looked to the Lord. He started to think he could do it all on his own.
This is what destroys so many people; they believe the lie instead of the truth. When pride takes over, you will fall. You will take your eyes off the Lord and you will sink over your head, just like Peter did when he walked on the water to Jesus (Matthew 14).
The way people start and the way some finish. Remember, as you are faithful in the small things, God will make you greater in the bigger things, but it is always God who expands your borders, not you. He builds your business or ministry, not you.
I believe every Christian man has a choice between being humble and being humbled. -C. H. Spurgeon-
Blessings to the Humble
Now Samuel took Saul and his servant and brought them into the hall, and had them sit in the place of honor among those who were invited; there were about thirty persons. And Samuel said to the cook, "Bring the portion which I gave you, of which I said to you, 'Set it apart.' "
1 Samuel 9:22-23
They were in Ramah and came into the open hall with all the people. Right away, Samuel led Saul and his servant to the place of honor, because he was going to be the next king. In front of all the people, Samuel set Saul apart, putting him at the place of honor.
With Saul in the place of preeminence, Samuel then asked the cook to bring the portion set aside for Saul. Check this out, Verse 24 says: So the cook took up the thigh with its upper part and set it before Saul.
If you go back to Exodus and Leviticus, the thigh was part of the offering and it was given to Aaron and his sons. Now, Samuel, the priest, was giving it to Saul. This was very significant to the people.
Think about this. Saul did not get to the place of honor on his own; Samuel put him in the place of honor. In Luke 14, Jesus taught this same principle. He told them to always take the lowest seat and wait to be brought up to the higher seat. Why? "For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted" (Luke 14:11).
Again, we have another lesson in humility. God really wants us to get the point. Do not be prideful; be simple and humble. God will bless the humble.
All God's thrones are reached by going downstairs. -G. Campbell Morgan-
As they were going down to the outskirts of the city, Samuel said to Saul, "Tell the servant to go on ahead of us." And he went on. "But you stand here awhile, that I may announce to you the word of God."
1 Samuel 9:27
Samuel took Saul aside, by himself, because he was going to reveal all the Lord had shown him concerning Saul's life and his new position as King of Israel. He could have told Saul at any time, but he took him aside to speak to him alone.
This verse really spoke to me. It makes me think of the times the Lord has spoken to my heart. I am usually by myself, taking quiet time to be with the Lord. Other times, I am out on the water, on my surf board, all alone and the Lord will speak to me.
It is so cool. I think God wants time alone with us, without distractions, so He can really talk to us, one on one. When we have time alone with the Lord, we can really think about all He is revealing to us. We are not thinking about the next thing we have to do.
I also think about how scared Saul must have been. He was going to be the first King of Israel. The whole nation would look to him for leadership. What a huge responsibility. Saul must have been overwhelmed.
Sometimes, God calls us to do things that seem beyond our abilities, and often times, they are beyond our abilities. Without the Lord, it is all beyond what we are capable of doing. We have to trust Him. If He calls us to do something, He will equip us. He is always faithfulâ€”always!
You can never understand the faithfulness of God by taking the short view. -Paul S. Rees-
Obedient to the Anointing
Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on his head, and kissed him and said: "Is it not because the Lord has anointed you commander over His inheritance?"
1 Samuel 10:1
This is the anointing of God, with the oil representing the anointing of the Holy Spirit, which goes back to Leviticus 8:12 and the anointing of the priests. The anointing came from the Lord. The people chose a king, but the anointing came from God, because it was His inheritance.
We have to understand the importance of the oil and the anointing. Even though God anoints His leaders, He gives us freedom to choose: obedience or disobedience. Many times, people are anointed by the Lord and they start out well, on fire for the Lord, but they do not finish well. They had the anointing, but they chose to be disobedient to the call of God.
If God gave you the opportunity to be in ministry, He has anointed your life, it is not anointing by man; it is anointing by God. God already knows what is going to take place, because He is God. Even Samuel knew they were rejecting God and accepting a king, but it was not Godâ€™s choice.
As leaders, we have to be sensitive to the anointing of the Lord. We cannot and should not choose leaders who are not anointed by God, just because we like them or they are friends. Be careful, because it can become a snare to you and your ministry.
The anointing can only come from the Lord, but we have to be obedient to the anointing. We have to be obedient in how we live, how we lead and the people we choose to lead with usâ€”very important!
Only he who believes is obedient; only he who is obedient believes. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer-
"When you have departed from me today, you will find two men by Rachelâ€™s tomb in the territory of Benjamin at Zelzah; and they will say to you, 'The donkeys which you went to look for have been found. And now your father has ceased caring about the donkeys and is worrying about you, saying, "What shall I do about my son?" ' "
1 Samuel 10:2
In Chapter 10, Samuel was speaking to Saul on behalf of the Lord. He gave him three signs of three things that would happen to show the Lord was with him. In Verse 2, we have the first sign. After Saul left Samuel, he would find two men at Rachel's tomb at Zelzah, which is located between Ramah, Bethel and Bethlehem.
The men would tell Saul his father was worried about him. Notice, Saul's father did not even know he had been anointed king of Israel. He thought Saul was still looking for the donkeys, but the lost donkeys were just an instrument of God. He used them to send Saul out to make contact with Samuel. This was all in the purpose and the will of God, but Saulâ€™s father still did not know what was happening.
Many times, we do not understand why we do things or why things happen. We have to always remember; God is in control. He has a plan and a purpose, even when it does not make sense to us. Sometimes we get frustrated or angry about the circumstances and situations we find ourselves in, but when we look back, we see the hand of God.
That is the reason God said: Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? (Matthew 6:27). Do not worry; God has a plan!
Worry is an indication that we think God cannot look after us. -Oswald Chambers-
Obedience is Love
"Then you shall go on forward from there and come to the terebinth tree of Tabor. There three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you, one carrying three young goats, another carrying three loaves of bread, and another carrying a skin of wine. And they will greet you and give you two loaves of bread, which you shall receive from their hands."
1 Samuel 10:3-4
In Verses 3-4, we have the second sign from the Lord. As he continued on from the tomb of Rachel, he would come upon three men at the terebinth tree of Tabor. They were going up to meet God at Bethel. Notice, the three men had their offering for the Lord, three young goats. From their provisions, they would give Saul two of their three loaves of bread.
When I read the Old Testament, I am amazed at the people's faithfulness in bringing their offerings before the Lord. They were disobedient in so many ways, yet they would bring their offerings whenever they went to meet with the Lord.
We will see, later in 1 Samuel 15:22, God would rather have our obedience than our sacrifices. Our obedience shows our love and respect for the Lord. If we only provide sacrifices, without obedience, we are only sinning and asking for forgiveness. We do not truly love the Lord and seek to obey Him and His Word.
Today, our lives are sacrifices unto the Lord. We are the temple of the Lord. We show our love for the Lord in our obedience and sacrificing our lives up to Him.
True faith commits us to obedience. -A. W. Tozer-
National Day of Prayer
Now may the God of patience and comfort grant you to be like-minded toward one another, according to Christ Jesus, that you may with one mind and one mouth glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Today is the National Day of Prayer, officially established April 17, 1952 by President Harry S. Truman, but it has truly been a national practice since the beginning of our nation, starting with President George Washington. As a nation founded upon the Word of God, the leaders recognized the need for prayer and the need to be of one mind.
As the years have passed, and the culture has changed, we are in even greater need to be a people of one mind, as the Apostle Paul called us to be. He said to me like-minded and with one mind, so there would be no division among us.
Remember what Jesus said: "If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand" (Mark 3:23). A nation divided cannot withstand the attacks of the enemy. They will defeat themselves.
We are living in a nation divided. The government is clearly not working together and we see a great divide in social issues. As Christians, we cannot be divided. We must come together, during this crucial time, and pray for one another. We must pray for our nation and its leaders.
We need the Lord to intervene and bring a revival to our nation or we will see our nation destroyed, not from the enemy outside the gates, but from within. We cannot pray just one day but must pray earnestly every day.
Only that prayer which comes from our heart can get to God's heart. -C. H. Spurgeon-
They answered, "Five golden tumors and five golden rats, according to the number of the lords of the Philistines. For the same plague was on all of you and on your lords. Therefore you shall make images of your tumors and images of your rats that ravage the land, and you shall give glory to the God of Israel; perhaps He will lighten His hand from you, from your gods, and from your land."
1 Samuel 6:4-5
There he sums it up all completely. Here is one of their priests rebuking them for taking the Ark of the Covenant and bringing trouble to their own camp. He knew the troubles were coming from the Lord. He also knew they could not send the Ark back empty. There had to be an offering. Think about that.
Think about how many times we bring trouble to our own camp, in our home, in the church, because we are really not aligning ourselves with what God says in His word. This is not a new story. It has happened many, many times over the years in the church.
We start out on the right path, going in the right direction with the Lord, and then we slowly start to turn off the path. It does not happen suddenly, just a slight change in direction, but over time, we end up so far from the Lord. That is what happens when we allow a little sin into the camp -- we lose sight of God and His Word.
We no longer have to come back to the Lord with an animal sacrifice. All God really wants is us to give our entire lives over to Him as a sacrifice. Then He can bless us beyond our imagination.
The only life that counts is the life that costs. -Frederick P. Wood*
Live By the Word
Why then do you harden your hearts as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? When He did mighty things among them, did they not let the people go, that they might depart?
1 Samuel 6:6
The priests and diviners were speaking to the leaders of the Philistines. They knew the history of the children of Israel, and they were telling the leaders what happened to Israel when they came out of Egypt. They knew how the Lord had come against Egypt, and yet they still came out against Israel and even stole the Ark of the Covenant.
When I was in junior college, I was not a Christian, but I took a class because it was listed as a literature class. In that class we looked at Bible stories and the class was full of heathens. The professor was not a Christian, so he did not have the Holy Spirit for inspiration, revelation or illumination. He just read them as works of literature, like Shakespeare. Nobody understood the history.
Imagine how many people in the church hear the Word of God and it is only history to them. They do not really believe it is God's Word. I know they do not believe it is the Word of God, because they have no fear of the Lord. If they had the fear of the Lord, they would follow God's Word.
We have to take the Word of God seriously in our lives. We have to recognize the lessons and the warnings God is giving us through the lives of the people in the Bible. Their successes and failures are there as examples to us, so we can learn from history and walk right before the Lord.
He who rejects the Bible has nothing to live by. Neither does he have anything to die by. -R. B. Kuiper-
Now therefore, make a new cart, take two milk cows which have never been yoked, and hitch the cows to the cart; and take their calves home, away from them.
1 Samuel 6:7
The Philistines were preparing to return the Ark of the Covenant, but they were going against God's commands in transporting it. The Ark of the Covenant had to be carried on the shoulders with two long poles, through the rings on the sides. They were going to put it on a cart and send it away and God would allow it. He did not punish them.
Look at what happened when King David tried to move the Ark of the Covenant in 2 Samuel 6. When the oxen stumbled, the cart tipped and Uzzah, one of the drivers, put out his hand to hold onto the Ark. When he touched the Ark, God struck him and he died. It says he aroused the anger of the Lord (2 Samuel 6:7).
God struck Uzzah because he was a child of God. He knew better. King David knew better. They had the Word of God. They knew the proper way to move the Ark of the Covenant, but they failed to follow Godâ€™s instruction.
The Philistines did not know God. They did not know His Word, so God did not expect them to follow His commands. However, they knew He was real and His judgment would come against them in the end.
It is the same for you and me. God expects us to know and follow His Word, because we know it. He does not hold the non-believer to the same standard, yet they will be judged in the end. No one escapes the final judgment.
Human unbelief cannot alter the character of God. -A. W. Tozer-
Leap of Faith
Then take the ark of the Lord and set it on the cart; and put the articles of gold which you are returning to Him as a trespass offering in a chest by its side. Then send it away, and let it go. And watch: if it goes up the road to its own territory, to Beth Shemesh, then He has done us this great evil. But if not, then we shall know that it is not His hand that struck us -- it happened to us by chance."
1 Samuel 6:8-9
It was time for the Philistines to take a step of faith. They would send the cart out with the offering to the Lord. Then, they would wait to see which direction it would go. If it went to Israel, it was the Lord. If it did not go to the Lordâ€™s people, then His hand was not in the plagues.
Was it a leap of faith or where they testing God? They thought God had sent the plagues against them, but they were not sure, so they sent the cart out unmanned. They wanted to see if the Lord would direct the cart, and then they would know if He had plagued them.
I think we like to test God, just like the heathen Philistines. We sometimes say we are stepping out in faith when we are really testing God. Testing and faith are different. When we step out in faith, we have been before the Lord. We have a peace and a prompting from Him, we believe the Lord is guiding.
When we test God, we have no idea what we are doing, so we step off the ledge and say, "Okay, God, if you love me, save me." We should not be like the heathens. We should seek the Lord in all things and follow His guidance. Do not leap until you have sought the Lord in prayer and in His Word.
The authority for faith is the revelation of God. -G. B. Foster-
Then the cows headed straight for the road to Beth Shemesh, and went along the highway, lowing as they went, and did not turn aside to the right hand or the left. And the lords of the Philistines went after them to the border of Beth Shemesh.
1 Samuel 6:12
This is the power of the Lord revealed to the heathen nation. The Philistines were testing God. They sent the oxen out with the cart and no drivers to see if the Lord had afflicted them with the plagues. If the oxen stayed on course to Beth Shemesh, then they knew it was the Lord who afflicted them. If they turned aside, it was all chance.
God was in control the whole time. Nothing was done by chance. He allowed the Philistines to defeat Israel, and He allowed them to steal the Ark of the Covenant. It was also the Lord who sent the plagues of boils and rats, when they put the Ark of the Covenant in the house of Dagon, as if Dagon was equal to God.
God is mighty and He is powerful. He will not be mocked by the non-believer. When God is mocked, He will reveal His glory to the heathens. He told the children of Israel: For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, (Exodus 20:5).
It is important for us to recognize the power of God, for He is a jealous God. He desires our whole heart, not just a small part. If we go off after the world, He will not bless us; He will afflict us.
The essence of God's action in wrath is to give men what they choose, in all its implications; nothing more, and equally nothing less. -J. I. Packer-
Then the cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth Shemesh, and stood there; a large stone was there. So they split the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord.
1 Samuel 6:14
The children of Israel were following God's commands. The Levites took down the Ark of the Lord and the chest with the articles of gold and put them next to large stone. Then, the men of Beth Shemesh offered burnt offerings to the Lord. It was a great time of celebration and giving thanks to the Lord for returning the Ark of the Lord.
Notice, they offered a burnt offering to the Lord. They broke up the wooden cart, built a fire on the large stone and they burned the oxen from the cart as a sacrifice of consecration to God.
As Christians, we no longer offer burnt offerings to the Lord, but our lives are to be consecrated unto the Lord. We are to offer up our lives, fully and completely to the Lord, to be used however God would want to use them.
I was listening to a study from Pastor Chuck Smith the other day and he was saying there are many people who say they are Christians, but God is not Lord over their lives. If you are to be consecrated to the Lord, He has to be Lord of your life.
We are all called to be servants, doulos -- bondservants -- willingly giving our lives over to the Lord, fully and completely. That is the only way God can really use us to bring glory and honor to Him -- the only way!
Consecration isn't our giving anything to God. It is our taking our hands off what already belongs to God. -Walter B. Knight-
Then He struck the men of Beth Shemesh, because they had looked into the ark of the Lord. He struck fifty thousand and seventy men of the people, and the people lamented because the Lord had struck the people with a great slaughter.
1 Samuel 6:19
When the cart came into the field in Beth Shemesh, the children of Israel built a fire out of the cart and offered the oxen pulling the cart as a burnt offering to the Lord. They knew Godâ€™s Word, and they did what was right in the eyes of the Lord.
Then, they decided to look inside the Ark of the Lord. They knew it was right to offer a burnt offering to the Lord, so they knew not to look inside the Ark of the Lord. They knowingly sinned against the Lord, and the Lord punished them. He struck down 50,070 men of the people.
Imagine, for just one little thing, 50,070 men lost their lives. Think about it. Was it a little thing? They willfully sinned against the Lord. They knew they should not look into the Ark, but they did it anyway.
I hear people say the same thing all the time. They lose their jobs, because they took a little money. They lose their families because they committed a little sexual sin.
We like to minimize sin. We think it is okay to commit little white lies but not big black lies. We have to remember, in the eyes of the Lord, sin is sin. There is no one sin greater than another and all come with a heavy price, if we do not repent.
The least sin is infinitely evil. -David Clarkson-
The Holiness of God
And the men of Beth Shemesh said, "Who is able to stand before this holy Lord God? And to whom shall it go up from us?" So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kirjath Jearim, saying, "The Philistines have brought back the ark of the Lord; come down and take it up with you."
1 Samuel 6:20-21
The holiness of God is a great and mighty thing. The children of Israel had lost sight of who God is. They had been led into sin by Eli and his sons, so they had forgotten the holiness of God. Because of this, the Lord allowed them to be defeated and the Ark of the Covenant stolen.
Once the Ark was returned, the Lord had to remind the people of His holiness and might. They had forgotten so much; they ignored the Word of God and looked inside the Ark. They did not fear the Lord.
When God punished the men of Beth Shemesh for opening the Ark, the people realized their error and feared the Lord. They did not want the Ark to remain in their city, because they feared His presence among them. Why? They were not living holy lives. They did not want to be judged by God.
We cannot hide from the Lord. He was not in the Ark of the Covenant, and He is not confined to the church. He is with us wherever we go. He sees us in the dark as well as in the light. We are called to be holy as He is holy. We cannot pretend and we cannot hide from the Lord. We can only surrender and consecrate our lives to Him, or face His wrath.
No attributes of God is more dreadful to sinners than His holiness. Matthew Henry-
God's Incredible Love
The integrity of the upright shall guide them: but the perverseness of transgressors shall destroy them.
Character is very important. If people see your character is not outstanding, that you do not have integrity, then they are not going to trust you. How can God entrust you with bigger things, when He cannot even trust you with the little things He has already given to you. Think about it.
God has such a plan for our lives, but we have to be open to His plan. He has to be able to trust us with His plan. When our lives are led by the flesh or the things of the world we end up missing the plan of God. We try to fulfill our own plan but our plan is not everlasting. Our plan is temporal; it is only for a little while. If you really, truly look at the Lord, what He says and what He does, it will blow your mind.
When I read the Old Testament, I get blown away. God had such a great plan for the children of Israel, but they kept allowing the flesh to interfere and stop the work of God. They got caught up in their emotions and forgot about the promises of God. As you read through, you see they did not always have good character. They were not always people of integrity.
What really blows me away is they are still God's chosen people. They blew it many times, but God has never given up on them. He loves them and He loves us. He desires us to be men and women of integrity, and He will not give up on us when we blow it. There is such comfort in the love of the Lord. It is from everlasting to everlasting.
God's love is not drawn out by our lovableness, but wells up, like an artesian spring, from the depths of His nature. -Alexander MacLaren-
And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Mother's Day is a day to celebrate our moms and all they mean to us. When I think of what it means to be a mother, I think of the love and care a mother has for her child. It is like no other bond. As the baby grows in the motherâ€™s womb, they are one. The baby is totally dependent upon the mother for its life.
That is the greatest gift a mother has. She is able to have a child grow inside of her. God gives life, but women bring forth that life. How amazing is that!
Being a mother is more than giving birth to a child. It is the love and care they provide for the child once it is born. Think about it; how would a child survive without someone to care for it. That is another great gift -- the love of a mother. There is nothing like it.
Mary, the mother of Jesus, was a virgin when she became pregnant. She had never been with a man, and she was not yet married. The penalty for her being pregnant outside of marriage was death -- stoning. Yet, Mary kept her baby out of obedience to God. She accepted and cared for her Son, at the expense of her own life. That is the love of a true mother.
We need to all be thankful to our mothers for the miracle of life; for the love and protection they provided all our lives. I pray every mother is blessed today and throughout the year!
I don't believe there are devils enough in hell to pull a boy out of the arms of a godly mother. -Billy Sunday-
Then the men of Kirjath Jearim came and took the ark of the LORD, and brought it into the house of Abinadab on the hill, and consecrated Eleazar his son to keep the ark of the Lord.
1 Samuel 7:1
God allowed the children of Israel to recover the Ark of the Covenant, and the people thought they were saved. They had put their hope and trust in the Ark. They believed their deliverance was attached to the Ark. The return of the Ark seemed to be a real sign God was going to be working among the people and blessing them. It was not a time of oppression anymore.
It is amazing, because the presence of the Ark does not guarantee anything. They did not learn their lesson. Just because they had the Ark of the Covenant back, did not mean they were protected. It was not the Ark of the Covenant, it was the Lord.
It was God who took it away. It was God giving it back. It was God fighting for them. It was God defeating their enemy. It was all God, not the Ark of the Covenant, but they did not get it.
Sometimes, we do not get it. It is not about the church we go to or the pastors we listen to on the radio. It is all about God. It is not about self; it is not about anybody else. It is all about the mission and the commissioning God has given to each one of us individually, to fulfill the ministry of God, not your ministry God. That is why He says if you are faithful in the little things, He will make you greater in the bigger things.
God is the cause of all causes, the soul of all souls. -Augustus H. Strong-
So it was that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years. And all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD.
1 Samuel 7:2
The Ark was in Kirjath Jearim for more than 20 years. It remained in Kirjath Jearim for 100 years, until David brought it up in 2 Samuel 6. It stayed in Kirjath Jearim for Samuel's entire life, but it was not the Ark itself that brought protection or victory; it was God. God is the only One.
This is the thing I really see in the life of Samuel. His anointing was from the Lord. He did not depend on the Ark of the Lord. His faith and trust were in the Lord. He had his eyes in the right place, looking up, not on anything here on earth.
The anointing of God is the most important thing in my life, as a leader, a husband and a father. I have to be led by the Holy Spirit, because if I am not led by the Holy Spirit, I am going to be led by emotions and I am going to be led by other peoples' voices. I do not want to do that. I really want to hear from God. I want to make sure God is speaking to me and not man.
This is something I have learned from Samuel and it is very important. While Israel lamented the Ark of the Lord not being brought up to Shiloh, Samuel continued on with the work of the Lord. He was not controlled by his emotions, the wailing of the people or the circumstances. We all have to be like Samuel and keep our eyes on the Lord, not the circumstances or the people around us. God is greater than any circumstances.
Worship God in the difficult circumstances and, when He chooses, He will alter them in two seconds. -Oswald Chambers-
Israel's Independence Day
" 'For behold, the days are coming,' says the Lord, 'that I will bring back from captivity My people Israel and Judah,' says the Lord. 'And I will cause them to return to the land that I gave to their fathers, and they shall possess it.' "
On May 14, 1948, David Ben-Gurion, the Executive Head of the World Zionist Organization and the chairman of the Jewish Agency for Palestine announced Israel had become an independent Jewish state.
The nation of Israel is the only nation to ever be re-established and the Jewish people are the only people to maintain their cultural heritage after more than 2000 years of dispersion. Clearly, the Lord had His hand upon His people.
That is something we have to remember, the Jewish people are God's chosen people. He has allowed them to be driven from the land and taken captive, but He has always maintained His remnant. He has always had His hand upon the nation of Israel.
It is because of God's great love for His people, we recognize this great day in history. God brought His people from all over the world to return to the land He had given to them. It was a great move of the Lord.
The Jews are God's people, as we are His people. He calls us to pray for the peace of Israel and we will prosper (Psalm 122:6-7). I think we should pray for the peace of Israel and the Jewish people because it is God's nation -- His people, and as Christians we have been grafted into this great nation.
Peace is not real peace until it has been tested in the storm. -Eric Hayman-
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."
1 Samuel 7:3
Look at how simple it is to get your life right with the Lord. Samuel has four easy steps. First, return with your whole heart -- repent. I want you to underline the word all in your Bibles. God wants all of your heart, not part of your heart, all of your heart.
Second, underline the words put away the foreign gods. Remember, idols and gods can be anything, our families, our jobs, sports. It is anything we put before the Lord. Put them away from you.
Then, third, underline the word prepare; prepare your hearts for the Lord. We have to prepare our hearts because, the heart is deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). If we do not guard our hearts, we will be led astray. Our hearts will deceive us.
Fourth and last, we are to serve only Him. Underline the word only. That means we serve God alone, not God and our job, or God and the football season. We serve God, period!
If you look at all these four things, you can see God wants our full attention. He desires our hearts, minds and eyes to be focused on Him. Then we will be able to serve Him and only Him, fully and completely.
No man ever lost anything by serving God with a whole heart, or gained anything by serving Him with half a one. -Thomas V. Moore-
So the children of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtoreths, and served the LORD only.
1Samuel 7:4Wow, Samuel told them, put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, in Verse 3 and they did it. They did not think twice. They wanted the blessings of the Lord and they followed Samuel's direction. I want you to underline Verse 4, and keep it in your mind, because it was only for a little while. It did not last.
I have been a Christian for 40 years; I am not finished yet, but I have a race to finish, and I am going to finish well. I have a little time left, but I am going to keep my heart and mind on the Lord, so I can finish well.
Many of you are young; you have barely begun to run the race, but you will see. The race is not easy, especially when you are young, because you have so much time ahead of you. When you are young, you are selfish, you are not thinking of serving others.
When godly people, older than me, used to talk to me, I thought they were ancient; they did not know what they are talking about, but they knew. They knew better than me. They had great wisdom and godly counsel.
Now, I am their age and, believe me, they were right. I should have listened. I should have listened. I think I would have done better, but I did not listen and it cost me, just like it will cost you. You can learn the hard way, just like me, or you can learn from this ancient guy. If not, you could be like the children of Israel, who put away their Baals and Ashtoreths and served their God only; but only for a time.
The oil of the lamp in the temple burnt away in giving light; so should we. -Robert Murray M'Cheyne-
Armed Forces Day
For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
1 Corinthians 12:12
Armed Forces Day was established in 1949 by President Harry Truman, and recognized for the first time on May 20, 1950. It was created as the branches of the services had come together for the first time under the Department of Defense. Prior to this, they had operated independently and recognized each branch on different days.
The President recognized the need for unity in our armed forces, and wanted to establish a day for our nation to thank the hard work, commitment and sacrifice of our men and women in the military. Without them, our nation and the world would not be secure.
When I read about unity in the military, I am reminded of the words Paul spoke in 1 Corinthians. We are all different and have various talents but no one person is more important to the body of Christ than another. We all have to work together in unity with Christ.
That is how the military works. Every branch has their responsibility and each is important. I really learned unity and team work in the Marines. In boot camp, you learn to work as a unit. You are only as strong as your weakest member, but every member is needed.
Like President Truman, I recognize the tremendous sacrifice of our men and women in uniform and their families. I am thankful there is a day to honor them, but I think we need to honor them every day. Without them, we would not have the freedom we love. Semper Fi!
It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer-
Tactics of Satan
And Samuel said, "Gather all Israel to Mizpah, and I will pray to the LORD for you." So they gathered together at Mizpah, drew water, and poured it out before the Lord. And they fasted that day, and said there, "We have sinned against the LORD." And Samuel judged the children of Israel at Mizpah.
1 Samuel 7:5-6
Samuel summoned all the people. He was their intercessor. He would stand for the people before the Lord. Samuel was like Moses, standing before the Lord for the people and speaking to the people for the Lord.
Then, notice, when they repented, they also fasted. They denied their physical needs in order to focus on their spiritual needs. There was a battle for souls, and they had to be wholly focused on the Lord.
I have to warn you, whenever you decide to do something for the Lord, Satan is going to come after you big time, believe me. Satan wants to discourage you. He wants to disqualify you from ministry. He wants to bring you down and take you out of serving God, any way he can.
I am not trying to frighten you. I am warning you of Satan's tactics. We have to always remember; God is in control and He will do whatever He wants to do with our lives. When my time is up, it is up. I am not even going to strive; I do not even want to live one day more or one day less.
Satan does not number our days, God does. We can allow Satan to take us down, but he can only do it if we allow it. If you keep your eyes on the Lord, you do not have to worry about Satan.
Satan has only a persuading sleight, not an enforcing might. -Thomas Brooks-
Now when the Philistines heard that the children of Israel had gathered together at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the children of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines.
1 Samuel 7:7
Notice the fear the Philistines had for the Lord. When the people gathered to repent before the Lord, the enemy knew they were in trouble, so they came in to stop the work of the Lord.
Isnâ€™t that what happens to you and I? The enemy comes in when we are focused on the Lord and doing what He has called us to do. It is the same for the new believer. When you repent and try to get right with God; Satan attacks. When you are compromising, he could care less. You are no threat to him and his plans.
Look at how the children of Israel reacted to the news of the Philistines coming. They were afraid. Can you believe it? They had already forgotten how God had delivered them and brought home the Ark. He was their protection, but still they feared the Philistines.
God has done so much in my life and I know He has done a tremendous work in each one of your lives, individually. When the enemy comes against you, do you trust in the Lord or do you react in fear? Do you forget all the Lord has done and fear the situation you are in?
How can we forget when God has done so much? We get our eyes off the Lord and on the problem. We forget He is greater than any trial or situation. Trust in Him and you will have no need to fear anything.
Fear is of the flesh and panic is of the devil. -A. W. Tozer-
Prayer Above All Else
So the children of Israel said to Samuel, "Do not cease to cry out to the LORD our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines."
1 Samuel 7:8
I find this verse very interesting. The children of the Lord cried out to Samuel, so he would continue to pray to the Lord for them. Notice, they cried out to Samuel to pray. They did not cry out to the Lord themselves. That speaks of their spiritual condition. They were relying on a person, an intercessor.
What is so cool today is we have an intercessor in Christ, but we can still cry out to God the Father ourselves. Because of what Christ did on the Cross, we no longer have to go through an intercessor. We can enter into prayer with the Lord directly.
Unfortunately, just like the children of Israel, there are so many people today who do not go to the Lord in prayer. They go to their pastor or an elder. They think somehow their prayers are more effective than theirs, but that is just not so.
God does not hear my prayers any better than yours. My prayers do not have more value because I am a pastor. God has no limits. He can hear all our prayers and all are equally important to Him. No oneâ€™s trial or situation is insignificant to God.
Prayer is one of the greatest gifts we have, and one of the greatest weapons against the enemy. Remember what Paul the Apostle said: bring everything to the Lord in prayer and supplication (Philippians 4:6).
All our perils are as nothing, so long as we have prayer. -C. H. Spurgeon-
And Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the LORD. Then Samuel cried out to the LORD for Israel, and the LORD answered him.
1 Samuel 7:9
I love what the Scripture says in this verse. Samuel had grown up in the temple, so he knew exactly what to do. He took a lamb and offered it to the Lord as a burnt offering. He did not come before the Lord without making a sacrifice for the people.
Then it says Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel. Samuel was a true servant of the Lord. He was not in it for fame or fortune. He truly had a shepherd's heart. The people were in distress and Samuel went before the Lord on behalf of the people.
Think about it. Samuel was also in danger from the Philistines, but he did not cry out for the Lord to save him. He cried out for the people. He offered a sacrifice for Israel. He was not self-centered; he was God-centered and people-centered.
This is a great lesson for each one of us, whether we are serving in the church or serving our families. We have to be true servants of the Lord. We should go before the Lord daily in prayer for the people we are serving, the congregation, our families or both. Remember Job? He made a sacrifice to the Lord for his children, just in case they had sinned. He made sure they were covered.
These are the examples God has set for us. These are men of God who loved the people they served. Remember that and live it.
Whom God sends He employs, for He sends none to be idle. -Matthew Henry-
Do Not Worry
Now as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel. But the LORD thundered with a loud thunder upon the Philistines that day, and so confused them that they were overcome before Israel.
1 Samuel 7:10
Wow! Look at how fast the Lord answered the prayer of Samuel. While he was still offering up the sacrifice, God took care of the approaching enemy. Through the thunder, God spoke and caused confusion among the Philistines. I love that.
Notice, God took care of the problem of the Philistines before the children of Israel could do anything. They were not set in battle formation. They were waiting upon God to answer Samuel, and God answered in a mighty way. He defeated the enemy before they could do anything against Israel.
I think God works like this, so man cannot take the credit for God's work. He steps in and takes care of the problem before we can lift a finger. Then, we can give all the honor and glory to the Lord. We will not make the mistake of thinking we had anything to do with the miracles of the Lord.
I think it is important for us to remember; the honor and glory always goes to the Lord. Without Him, we would be lost, and we would be in fear all the time. There is so much freedom in knowing God is in control. He always wants the best for me. When speaking about worry, Jesus said: But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you (Matthew 6:33).
Worry is an indication that we think God cannot look after us. -Oswald Chambers-
Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, "Thus far the LORD has helped us." So the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore into the territory of Israel. And the hand of the LORD was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel.
1 Samuel 7:12-13
Notice, the Philistines did not come against Israel all the days of Samuel. We see the faithfulness of Samuel. He walked with the Lord all the days of his life, not turning to the left or the right. I like that about Samuel.
The next time we see the Philistines is when they kill Saul and his sons. Isnâ€™t that interesting? Samuel was already dead and the Philistines are back, because Saul was not a faithful servant. The Philistines knew they did not have to fear Saul, because he did not walk right before the Lord.
This is a very important point. The enemy knew they had to fear Samuel, but not Saul. They knew who was faithful to the Lord and who was not faithful. They knew Samuel would seek God before doing anything, and Saul was moved by his emotions. He did not seek the Lord.
If we really want to walk according to the will of God and experience the blessings of God, we have to be in communion with God. We cannot let every emotion sway us to the right or to the left. If we are ruled by our emotions, we are going to fail. If we seek the Lord and His will for our lives, we will be blessed. Our enemies will think twice before coming against us, because we are faithful servants of a most powerful God.
Faithfulness knows no difference between small and great duties. -John Ruskin-
Then the cities which the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath; and Israel recovered its territory from the hands of the Philistines. Also there was peace between Israel and the Amorites.
1 Samuel 7:14
Look at the faithfulness of the Lord. He not only brought back the Ark of the Covenant from the Philistines, but He defeated them before there was even a battle and restored the cities the Philistines had taken from Israel. He did it all.
Whenever there is repentance before God on the throne, there is restorationâ€”fully and completely. From Ekron to Gath, God gave it all back to Israel. God not only restored the land but He brought peace to the land. There was peace between Israel, the Philistines and the Amorites.
In Verse 13, we see the peace continued throughout Samuel's life. Israel was under godly leadership. After Samuel died, the leadership was no longer godly. Remember, Samuel was the last judge, with God leading the nation of Israel.
During the days of Samuel, the people asked for a king like the heathen nations. They no longer wanted God to rule over them. God warned them, but He gave them what they wanted, a king named Saul. Since, the people asked for a king, despite the Lordâ€™s warnings, they suffered greatly.
We can choose to be led by the Lord or led by our flesh. If we choose the flesh, we will suffer, just like Israel.
Where Christ does not rule, sin does. -J. I. Packer-
And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. He went from year to year on a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, and judged Israel in all those places. But he always returned to Ramah, for his home was there. There he judged Israel, and there he built an altar to the LORD.
1 Samuel 7:15-17
Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. Think about it. His parents dropped him off at the temple when he was a small child. Hannah had dedicated him to the Lord, so she gave him to Eli, the priest, as a young child. Samuel grew up in the temple.
After the Lord judged Eli and his sons, Samuel continued the work of the Lord. He was the priest for Israel. He made sacrifices to the Lord, and he judged Israel. He built an altar to the Lord going from city to city. Can you imagine how many altars he built to the Lord, as he travelled throughout Israel? What does that tell you? He had a strong relationship with the Lord. He spent time with God building altars.
How many altars do you have to the Lord? Seriously. How many altars do you have or shall I ask, how many altars do you have to other gods you are worshipping, instead of the true God?
Samuel teaches us an important lesson. We need to build altars to the Lord, which means seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The only way we can build altars to the Lord is by spending time with Himâ€”building a relationship with Him. God has to be Number One in my life so He can speak, He can direct, He can lead and He can send me, wherever He wants me to go.
How divinely supreme is our Lord above all others. -D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones-
"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many."
Today we remember those who pay the ultimate sacrifice and give their lives for this country. They leave their families and friends to defend the lives and rights of the people of the United States and around the world. That is the legacy of our men and women in the armed forcesâ€”their courage and sacrifice.
What an incredible example we have of sacrifice, courage and servanthood. Christ came down from the Father's side, only to die on the Cross, an innocent Man for sinful man. He truly paid the ultimate price.
When Christ died on the Cross, He gave us the greatest giftâ€”eternity with Him in heaven. It was a great sacrifice, but He paid the price for so many. He saved so many lives.
There are many men and women who have paid the price and saved so many lives throughout the many years and many wars. There is always a price to be paid to save lives in war.
I remember the men I fought alongside in Vietnam. I am thankful for those who came home with me and I pray for the families of those who did not. Their sacrifice will always be remembered by me, the men and women they fought side by side with and their families. I also thank God for His Son upon the Cross, who has welcomed so many homeâ€”into eternity. Semper Fi!
For death is no more than a turning of us over from time to eternity. -William Penn-
Seek God's Wisdom
Now it came to pass when Samuel was old that he made his sons judges over Israel.
1 Samuel 8:1
Samuel was making his first mistake, as he put his sons over the nation of Israel. He was old and he could not see who God was raising up to take his place because he was not going according to Godâ€™s will. He did not have his Joshua.
He was entering his twilight years; he would not retire but the Lord was ready to take him. Samuel wanted to continue with the Lord's work, but he could not do all the things he did as a young man. Instead of going to God, he began to rely on his own personal knowledge, and he appointed his children to take his place, just as any father would do. However, he knew their behavior, just like Eli, and yet he ignored their behavior and tried to put them next in line.
It is interesting; Samuel saw what happened to Eli and his sons, and yet he was following in the same footsteps. We will see in later verses, the people did not want Samuel's sons to follow him, because they knew they were not godly men. Again, just like Eli.
That is pretty heavy when you think about it. We can all learn from this lesson. No matter how much you love your family or friends, if they are doing wrong and you do not rebuke them, then you are wrong before God, and you should not be in authority. No matter what job we have, we should always be sensitive to the Holy Spirit and seek wisdom from the Lord, not rely on our human wisdom.
Wisdom must be from God, because it can be found only in relation to Him. -Edmund P. Clowney-
The name of his firstborn was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba.
1 Samuel 8:2
These were the children of Samuel. The name of his firstborn was Joel, which means "Yahweh is God;" the second son was Abijah, meaning "Yahweh is my Father." Samuel gave his sons such honorable names, because he had such great expectations for them to love and honor the Lord in service.
What we have to remember is what was said in Judges 2:10:
When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel.
Samuel's children are a part of that generation in Judges 2:10. They grew up with Samuel as their example, but they were influenced by the people and the culture around them, just like our children today.
Samuel should have known better as a father. He had so many examples in the Bible. Look at Aaron's sons, who God killed because they were not righteous. Eli's sons were killed, because they sinned in the tabernacle and led the people away from God.
Christian mothers and fathers: do not be fooled. Your children are influenced by their friends, television, movies and video games. Samuel and Eli's stories are written for our examples so we do not make the same mistakes.
Man is a creature that is led more by patterns than by precepts. -George Swinnock-
God First Priority
But his sons did not walk in his ways; they turned aside after dishonest gain, took bribes, and perverted justice.
1 Samuel 8:3
The sons of Samuel did not live up to their names: Joel, "Yahweh is God" and Abijah, "Yahweh is my Father." They did not follow the example of their father. Instead, they followed the example of Eli's sons, Hophni and Phineas. They were stealing, taking bribes and perverting justice.
Knowing the behavior or misbehavior of his sons, why would Samuel compromise; knowing they were evil, why would he appoint them judges over Israel? It does not make any sense. He saw the judgment God put upon Eli and his entire house and yet, Samuel did the same thing. He did not heed the warning from the Lord.
It is important to recognize, we are living in a time with so many distractions. Our kids are constantly being entertained and influenced by the world around them. You cannot control them. You can bring them to church and send them to Christian schools, but they are still being influenced by what they are seeing and hearing around them.
As parents, we have the responsibility to teach our children the importance of God's Word in their lives but when they get older, they will make their own decisions. They can choose to make God the first priority in their lives, or they can do evil in the sight of the Lord.
You must still do your part and give them God. You may be broken hearted like Samuel, or you may be blessed as they serve the Lord, but you cannot compromise on God's Word.
Lines of least resistance make crooked rivers and crooked men. -William H. Danforth-
Content in the Lord
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations."
1 Samuel 8:4-5
Notice who came to Samuel. It was not the people. It was the elders! The elders came to Samuel, asking for a king to rule over them, instead of the Lord. The elders should have known better.
They could not have a king like the other nations. They were not like other nations. They were the children of God. What about praying and fasting and waiting upon God. Who does He want to be the judge of Israel? They did not seek the Lord. They sought their own ways. That is why Saul became the king, a puppet king, who would not walk with God.
Then David became the real king; a man after God's heart. While David would be a great king and Solomon would also walk with the Lord after him, this rebellion by the leaders of Israel sent the nation into dark days. Read Kings and Chronicles and you will see the horrible kings who came after David. Many of them led the people into idolatry.
It all started with a rebellious leadership. They were not faithful to the things of the Lord. They wanted to be like all the other nations. They were not content to be the chosen people of God. Imagine that!
We have to remember, we are called to be set apart unto the Lord. We are not called to copy the world. We should not only be content in the Lord, but we should rejoice in the Lord. We serve an awesome God!
Devotion signifies a life given or devoted to God. -William Law-
Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations."
1 Samuel 8:4-5
We know it was not a good thing for the elders of Israel to ask for a king, so they could be like the other nations, but notice, they also recognized the sin in Samuel's sons. They were not godly men. They did not represent the Lord. They were corrupt, and they would have led the people away from the Lord, just like Eli's sons.
The elders knew Samuel's sons could not be trusted to judge Israel. They did not see godliness or leadership in the two young men. But instead of seeking the will of God, they sought the will of man. Instead of asking the Lord to raise up a godly man to judge Israel, a man who would be led by the Lord, they asked for a king.
God was the King of Israel. The judges and priests were led by the Lord. They were to speak to the Lord for the people and deliver God's messages to the people. God did not call out this people to be led by an earthly king. They were to be His people, led by Him and Him alone.
The elders were right to hold Samuel and his sons accountable. They were right to point out the sin. However, they sinned when they asked for a king, instead of God. They were in rebellion to the Lord.
As Christians, if we allow anyone or anything to rule over our lives, instead of God, we are a rebellious peopleâ€”in sin before the Lord!
If we be ruled by sin, we shall inevitably be ruined by it. -Matthew Henry-
"Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you."
Let's examine God's command to Jeremiah. God told him to no longer pray for the children of Israel. He said: "Do not intercede on their behalf, because I will not listen." It was not only that their sin was so great against the Lord, but they refused to believe the prophets God sent to warn them. Because of their hard hearts, they had sealed their judgment and there was no turning back.
This is a tremendous lesson for each one of us today. Remember what the prophet said later in Jeremiah 29:11: For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
God has great plans for every one of us. They are plans for a future and a hope. He wants to bless us. He wants us to walk with Him, so we do not get caught up with the things of the world. Once we turn to the world, we will miss out on all the great plans God has for us. God is trying to save us from ourselves.
It is so important to realize, if we choose to be rebellious and ignore the warnings from the Lord, He will stop speaking to us. He will stop hearing our prayers. We will be on our own, with no leading or guiding of the Holy Spirit, because we chose the things of the world over the Lord.
A wicked man in prayer may lift up his hands, but he cannot lift up his face. -Thomas Watson-
"Do you not see what they do in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem? The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger. Do they provoke Me to anger?" says the Lord. "Do they not provoke themselves, to the shame of their own faces?"
The children of Israel had become idolaters. They were not only sinning in the house of the Lord but in the streets and their homes. They were making offerings to the heathen gods, while still going into the house of the Lord. They thought they could worship the Living God and idols of wood and stone.
In Exodus 34:14, Moses wrote: (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), so they knew better. They knew they could not have a divided heart.
In Deuteronomy 32:16, Moses warned the children of Israel against idolatry and provoking God's anger: They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger.
Think about it. So many people today are just like the children of Israel. They have the full counsel of the Lord, and yet they provoke the Lord to anger, by living their lives with one foot in the church and one foot in the world. We have to make a choice. We cannot live a double life.
An image lover is a God hater. -Thomas Watson-
Fury of God
Therefore thus says the Lord God: "Behold, My anger and My fury will be poured out on this place -- on man and on beast, on the trees of the field and on the fruit of the ground. And it will burn and not be quenched."
This verse begins with the word, therefore. God was saying, "Because of all these things we have just gone over, I am going to judge and pour out My anger and fury on My people."
Notice, God's anger was provoked. He is not an angry God. He does not judge unjustly, and before He judges, He warns; before He pours out His wrath, He tells us why. We are never left in the dark. We can never say, "I did not know." We know. God warns. We ignore the warnings. We provoke the Lord.
Look at our nation today. Look at the world. Do you not see the warnings from the Lord? In Matthew 24, the disciples asked Jesus how they would know it was the end of the age and Jesus said: "And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet" (Matthew 24:6).
These are the warning signs we are seeing today. God is warning the people. He is getting ready to judge, but He wants to give people a chance to repent and turn to Him. He does not want anyone to end up in hell. He desires all come to Him (2 Peter 3:9). America needs to wake up or they will face the anger and fury of the Lord.
The real horror of being outside of Christ is that there is no shelter from the wrath of God. -Eric Alexander-
Wages of Sin
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: "Add your burnt offerings to your sacrifices and eat meat. For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. But this is what I commanded them, saying, 'Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.' Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward."
These are very interesting verses. Look at what God said. From the beginning, He did not set up the sacrifices. All they had to do was obey the Lord and walk in His ways. Then, they would be God's people.
What happened? They did not obey the Lord. They did not walk in all His ways. Instead of growing in the Lord, they went backwards. Because of their sin, God had to set up the sacrifices, as a covering for their sin.
It was the same for Adam and Eve. God gave them the perfect place to live and fellowship with Him, but they messed it up. They refused to obey the Lord, and we all pay the price for their sin.
That is the point. There is always a price to be paid for sin. It may seem fun at the time, but there will come a time when the wages of sin must be paid. You decide whether you allow Jesus to pay the price or you pay it. It always comes down to the choices we make, for God or against Him.
Vices are more costly than virtues. -Thomas Brooks-
Led By the Lord
Since the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt until this day, I have even sent to you all My servants the prophets, daily rising up early and sending them. Yet they did not obey Me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers.
Here it is. God sent His messengers, His servants and prophets, to give instruction to the people and lead them according to the Word of God. He first gave them instruction and then, when they disobeyed, He sent warnings. Did the people listen to God's servants? No, instead they got stiff-necked and behaved worse than their fathers. They ignored the Word of the Lord.
What has God been doing? He raised up men to be messengers to teach people how to walk with Him. We have seen such great messages from Charles Finney, D. L. Moody, Billy Sunday, Billy Graham, Chuck Smith and many others. God sent His people to preach and to teach, but the people in both the past and the present do not hear.
People go to church every week, but they really do not hear the Word of God. If they did, they would act differently. If they really listened to the Word of the Lord, they would have the fear of the Lord. They would have awe and reverence of the Lord.
This is happening in the church. We have to pray for our pastors and leaders. We do not want leaders who do not hear from the Lord. They have to be led by the Lord, if they are going to lead the people according to the Word of God.
Our service cannot be approved of God except it be founded on His Word. -Author Unknown-
Face God's Judgment
"Therefore you shall speak all these words to them, but they will not obey you. You shall also call to them, but they will not answer you."
God was speaking to Jeremiah. He knew the people would not listen to Jeremiah. He knew they would not receive the message Jeremiah had for them, from the Lord. God was giving this great warning through His prophet, knowing it would not be received. Think about that.
Why would God bother warning disobedient sons and daughters? I think the Lord was warning them, because the judgment was so great. Look at what He said:
'Cut off your hair and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on the desolate heights; for the Lord has rejected and forsaken the generation of His wrath' (Jeremiah 7:29).
God was going to reject and forsake an entire generation. Wow! This was a heavy judgment from the Lord. He was done warning them, and now it was a time for action.
I think we have to take the warnings and judgment of God very serious. Imagine what it will be like when God forsakes the United States. We think things are bad now, what will it be like when God no longer has His hand upon us? It will be like nothing we have ever experienced. We can ignore it, but soon we will have to face God's judgment.
In this liberal age we tend naturally to avoid any thought of God's judgment. -David Watson-
"For the children of Judah have done evil in My sight," says the Lord. "They have set their abominations in the house which is called by My name, to pollute it. And they have built the high places of Tophet, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into My heart."
The charges against the children of Israel continue. Simple idolatry was not bad enough for them. They brought their idols into the house of the Lord and set them up. The house of the Lord, which is called by His name, was filled with carved images. They spit in Godâ€™s face!
Then, in the Valley of Hinnom, they had set up the idol Molech. The idol had two arms, outstretched in front of it. The people would heat up the idol until it was red hot, like a furnace and then they would bring their babies and lay them in the outstretched arms. They sacrificed their babies to Molech.
There have been approximately 57 million babies aborted in the United States, from 1973 to 2014. According to the World Health Organization, there are 40 to 50 million abortions in the world in just one year.
It seems we are still worshipping the god Molech today. We call it Pro-Choice and sacrifice our babies to selfishness and pleasure. I think the prophet Jeremiah is speaking to the world today -- and his message is 'Repent!'
Repentance is, fundamentally, a change of direction, a turning from sin to God. -James Philip-
A Matter of Time
"Therefore behold, the days are coming," says the Lord, "when it will no more be called Tophet, or the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, but the Valley of Slaughter; for they will bury in Tophet until there is no room. Then I will cause to cease from the cities of Judah and from the streets of Jerusalem the voice of mirth and the voice of gladness, the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. For the land shall be desolate."
Jeremiah 7:32, 34
Look at the great judgment against Judah. The land would be desolate. It would be deserted, as God would use the nation of Babylon to judge His people. God used a heathen nation against His own people. Once God's judgment came, there would be no more partying. It would be a time of wrath.
Remember, God had already used the Assyrians to take the Northern kingdom of Israel into captivity, because of their idolatry. Judah had been witness to God's judgment against Israel, but they did not take it seriously. They thought they could get away with their sins, but God sees everything. Nothing is hidden from Him.
We have to remember, these things are written for our examples. If God judged His chosen people and led them into captivity, surely His judgment is going to come against this nation. We cannot live with our heads in the sand. As we move farther and farther from God and His Word, we are inviting the wrath of God. It is only a matter of time. Read your Bibles; do not be taken unaware.
Time shall be no more when judgment comes, and when time is no more, change is impossible. -C. H. Spurgeon-
Idolatry Desecrates God
Then the Philistines took the ark of God and brought it from Ebenezer to Ashdod. When the Philistines took the ark of God, they brought it into the house of Dagon and set it by Dagon.
1 Samuel 5:1-2
In 1 Samuel, the people were reaping to their sin. Notice, they took the Ark of God to one of the largest cities on the coast, Ashdod. When they arrived, they brought the Ark of God into the temple of Dagon and set it by Dagon, one of their gods.
Now, Dagon was a god of grain and fish. He was half man and half fish. When the Philistines took the Ark of God into their temple, they desecrated the Ark. They were saying, "Our gods are better than your God." Because they defeated the Hebrews, they thought their gods were better than the God of Israel. They did not know it was God who allowed them to beat Israel.
They lost respect for the Ark of the Covenant, because they thought it had no power. The Ark itself had no power. God had the power and the Ark held the things God told them to keep for remembrance. Inside was the gold jar of manna, Aaron's staff that had budded and the stone tablets with the Ten Commandments (Hebrews 9:3-4), but it could not contain God.
We have to remember, these are just objects. God is omnipresent. He cannot be contained. He cannot be held on a Cross. All those things are reminders, but they do not have any power. If we wear crosses and put up images or statues of the Virgin Mary or saints, we become nothing more than idolaters. Just like the Philistines, we desecrate the Lord.
Where idolatry begins, there Christianity ends. -Friedrich H. Jacobi-
The One, True, Living God
And when the people of Ashdod arose early in the morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the earth before the ark of the Lord. So they took Dagon and set it in its place again.
1 Samuel 5:3
The Philistines were a heathen nation who worshipped false gods, and yet they got up early in the morning to worship their gods. There was no communion with Dagon, but they got up early to worship a man-made idol.
Think about it. How many Christians sleep late in the morning, instead of spending time with God? They begin their day in the flesh, instead of the spirit, so the Lord is not in control for the day, it is the flesh.
The reason you get defeated so often is because there is no communion with God. Look at Jesus. Every day, He started the day in communion with the Father. All He faced was done with the Father. It was not accomplished in His flesh but in His spirit.
Then, we see the power of the Lord. He knocked down their idol. They did not know it was God. They thought it fell down, so they picked him up and put him back up on the shelf. They did not get the message. The presence of God was in their midst and their god was nothing. God was showing them who He is, the Living God.
Sometimes, even Christians need to be reminded who God really is in their lives. If we do not spend time with Him, and only come to Him in times of need, He is nothing more than a genie in a bottle to us, not the One, True, Living God.
Nothing created can ever alter the Creator. -Stuart Olyott-
All in God's Power
And when they arose early the next morning, there was Dagon, fallen on its face to the ground before the ark of the Lord. The head of Dagon and both the palms of its hands were broken off on the threshold; only Dagonâ€™s torso was left of it.
1 Samuel 5:4
This is so cool; God displaying His power as a witness to this heathen nation. Dagon was again on the floor, but now his hands were broken off and his head was removed. All that remained was his torso. It is incredible; they still did not get it. God was showing them the Almighty God.
Their idols were nothing in the presence of God. Why worship other gods when there is only One, True God? Through this whole thing, believe it or not, God was giving the Philistines a chance to know Him, to come to the only Living God.
Think about Jonah. When Jonah, the angry prophet, went into Nineveh he gave an eight word sermon; "Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!" (Jonah 3:4). They repented from eight words. It is not the length of your sermon; it is the power of the Lord.
God can use anything and anyone to show the glory of the Lord. In Ashdod, He used the idol Dagon. In Nineveh, He used a reluctant prophet, Jonah. Both times, it was all about the power of the Lord. God can use a donkey. All He asks is for our obedience, and He will do an incredible work through each one of us. Just be available to the Lord.
When a man makes alliance with the Almighty, giants look like grasshoppers. -Vance Havner-
Therefore neither the priests of Dagon nor any who come into Dagon's house tread on the threshold of Dagon in Ashdod to this day.
1 Samuel 5:5
Again, this verse begins with the word therefore, which takes us back to the previous verses. After the Philistines saw what happened to their god, Dagon, while in the presence of the Ark of the Lord, they refused to enter into the house of Dagon. They feared the Lord of the Hebrews.
When Dagon was knocked down and his head and hands were removed, the Philistines knew they were in the presence of a truly powerful God, more powerful than their wooden god. They found out Dagon was really, truly nothing.
Can you imagine how the Philistine people felt. They had been worshipping their god for so long; they believed he gave them the victory over the children in Israel. In reality, God gave them the victory. God allowed them to defeat Israel, because He was chastising Israel.
It is a terrible thing to come into the presence of God when you have provoked His anger. God will allow us to sin, because we have free will, but it is His desire that we would all come to repentance. That is why He does not judge right away. He speaks to us and warns us, so we will repent and turn back to Him.
Remember what Paul said in Hebrews 12:6: "For whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives."
A God of love who has no wrath is no God. He is an idol of our own making as much as if we carved Him out of stone. -R. C. Sproul-
"Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your King is coming to you; He is just and having salvation, lowly and riding on a donkey, a colt, the foal of a donkey."
Palm Sunday marks the beginning of the Passion Week, the last week of Jesus' life. Jesus will enter the city of Jerusalem on the back of a donkey, just as Zechariah the prophet spoke of more than 500 years before.
The people knew of the prophecy and when Jesus entered the city, they took off their clothes and spread them on the road before Him. Some cut down branches from the trees to lay before Him.
They remembered the words of Zechariah and they shouted out, "Hosanna to the Son of David! 'Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!' Hosanna in the highest!" (Matthew 21:9).
As they entered the city, some in the crowd asked, "Who is this?" and the multitudes said, "This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth of Galilee" (Matthew 21:11).
Zechariah called Him King and said He would bring salvation, but the people saw a prophet, the Son of David, not the Son of God. They missed it. They were in the presence of the Holy God of Israel, and they saw only a prophet, a man.
It is so important for us to really know and acknowledge who Jesus is. He is the Son of God, part of the Trinity of God. He is not a prophet like Zechariah, a man. He is the One who saves -- He gives salvation!
Jesus cannot be our Saviour unless He is first our Lord. -Hugh C. Burr-
Then they spat in His face and beat Him; and others struck Him with the palms of their hands, saying, "Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?"
As I prepare for Easter week, the Passion Week, I like to read through the Gospels, especially the events following Palm Sunday. After Christ entered the city triumphantly, things turned ugly fast. The crowds who cried, "Hosanna, Hosanna!" no longer embraced Jesus.
In these verses, we see how He, the Son of God, was treated by the soldiers who held Him prisoner. They spit on Him. They covered His head and hit Him in the face, mocking Him and asking Him to tell them who hit Him.
They should have bowed down before Him. They should have worshipped Him, but instead they had nothing but contempt and disrespect for the Lord. Think about that.
This reaction to Jesus is not unusual. The name of Jesus brings strong reactions from people. They either love Him or hate Him. I have been asked to pray at civic events, but I decline, because they do not want me to say the name of Jesus. How can I pray without Jesus? I cannot do it.
Jesus came to save the world, but He knew He would not be embraced by the world. He said, "If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you" (John 15:18).
As Christians, we will face persecution, but we have to remember, they hated Christ first and He loved them in return. While they showed Him contempt, He gave them love.
Jesus Christ disturbs everything He confronts. -George Barlow-
Now the blood shall be a sign for you on the houses where you are. And when I see the blood, I will pass over you; and the plague shall not be on you to destroy you when I strike the land of Egypt.
The Passover, Pesach in Hebrew, begins today. It is the first yearly festival found in the Bible, as it was first instituted in the Book of Exodus, as the children of Israel were delivered from slavery, under the Egyptians.
At this time, God was using Moses to deliver the Hebrew from Pharaoh. God sent one plague after another, and while the Egyptians suffered, the Hebrew were not affected by the plagues. The Lord protected them.
In this final plague, God would pass through the land and kill every firstborn, both man and animal. However, God told Moses to have His people kill a lamb and put the blood on the top and sides of the door way. By this, God would know they were His, and He would pass over their house. No one would die in their household.
Again, God delivered them from this final plague. As Pharaoh mourned the loss of his first born son, he saw and heard all the people of Egypt mourning, except for the children of Israel. Pharaoh witnessed the greatness of God, as His hand of protection upon His people.
Pharaoh finally released the people, but in his pride, he hardened his heart. He went after the children of God, and God wiped him out. Who can truly come against God and win? No one can defy God and win. In the end, God's judgment is final and it is just.
As long as there is eternity, God has time enough to reckon with His enemies. -Thomas Watson-
He Bore Our Sins
He was oppressed and He was afflicted, yet He opened not His mouth; He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so He opened not His mouth.
The entire Bible points to the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is there from the beginning to the end. Isaiah the prophet spoke of the death of Christ in Chapter 53. In this chapter, Isaiah compared Jesus to the lamb of the Passover.
Like the Passover lamb, Jesus was led to the slaughter by the religious leaders, and He did not say a word. He did not try to defend Himself. He submitted to the will of the Father and took our sins upon Himself, And the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (Isaiah 53:6).
In Verse 5, Isaiah told of His beating, And by His stripes we are healed. He spoke of Christ dying with the thieves on both sides of Him in Verse 9, And they made His grave with the wicked, but His grave would be in a rich man's tomb, But with the rich at His death.
All through this chapter, we see Christ. More importantly, the religious leaders should have seen Him. They had the Book of Isaiah, and they knew the words, but they missed the Messiah. That is so sad.
In Verses 10, Isaiah said, Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise Him. Why? He bore the sin of many (Isaiah 53:12). Christ bore our sins, so we could be reconciled to God. He loves us so much, He allowed His Son to suffer for us. It is hard to imagine such tremendous love. It is the love of a Father for His children.
A dying Christ is the last resort of the believer. -C. H. Spurgeon-
When Pilate saw that he could not prevail at all, but rather that a tumult was rising, he took water and washed his hands before the multitude, saying, "I am innocent of the blood of this just Person. You see to it."
Pontius Pilate was the prefect governor for Judea. He was appointed to his position by the Roman Emperor Tiberius in 26 A.D. When the religious leaders brought charges against Jesus, He was put on trial and brought before Pilate, who had the power of a supreme judge.
As you read the account of the trial, the chief priests and elders brought many accusations against Jesus, but He said nothing. He did not defend Himself, and Pilate was amazed by His actions. Pilate could not understand why Jesus would not say anything, when He knew the charges were false. He knew they envied Him (Matthew 27:18).
Later, Pilate's wife warned him, "Have nothing to do with that just Man, for I have suffered many things today in a dream because of Him" (Matthew 27:19).
Pilate himself asked the people, "Why, what evil has He done?" Because he could not find anything to convict Jesus for; yet, the people cried out, "Let Him be crucified!" (Matthew 27:23), so Pilate washed his hands of the matter and gave into the religious leaders. He thought he could claim innocence by denying his guilt.
I know so many people who try to deny Jesus. They do not want to hear about Him, because they do not want to be held accountable. It does not work that way. We cannot deny Him and be saved. There is no way!
Sin is like seed -- to cover it is to cultivate it. -Author Unknown-
Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, "He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him."
Today is Good Friday; the day they nailed Jesus to the Cross. The day He willingly went to the Cross to purchase my salvation and your salvation. That is the only reason we are able to call this Good Friday. We are redeemed by Christ going to the Cross.
As He hung on the Cross, the people still mocked Him. They shook their heads in disbelief and contempt for the Man who was giving His life for their sins.
While Jesus suffered agonizing pain on the Cross, the priests and scribes mocked Him and told Him to save Himself. They thought they had won and He could not save Himself. In reality, He could have come down from the Cross at any time, but He submitted to the will of the Father, and He endured the pain and the mocking.
In Isaiah 53, the prophet told the whole story of Jesus going to the Cross. The religious leaders should have seen what was happening and recognized the signs, but in their envy and jealousy, they were blinded to the truth. They hardened their hearts and condemned an innocent man, the Son of God, to death.
On this day, we have so much to be thankful for. At the Cross of Jesus, we find salvation. Do not harden your heart or mock in disbelief. Recognize Jesus as your Savior and the Redeemer of the world.
The Cross is the cost of my forgiveness. -Author Unknown-
So when the centurion and those with him, who were guarding Jesus, saw the earthquake and the things that had happened, they feared greatly, saying, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
In Matthew 27:50, Jesus yielded up His Spirit; He went to be with the Lord. After He died, there was an earthquake and rocks were split apart and the veil of the temple was torn in two, from the top to the bottom.
The torn veil is very significant. It was the veil separating the Holies of Holy from the rest of the temple, the place that held the Ark of the Covenant. It was a place where the high priest would go in once a year to atone for the people. With Jesus" death, the people were no longer separated from the holiest place. Through Christ's sacrifice on the Cross, the people were reconciled to God.
When the Roman centurion and the others saw these things, they realized the truth. Their eyes were opened and they said, "Truly this was the Son of God!"
All week, we have looked at the people who should have recognized the Son of God, but refused to see Him because of their hardened hearts. They were full of pride and envy, so they mocked and denied Him. Now, the Roman guards recognized Jesus, the Savior.
Today, there are so many people with hardened hearts. They deny Christ and they mock Him. They do not want anything to do with Him, but He is the only One who can reconcile us to God. Through Him, we have redemption. I pray they recognize the truth before it is too late!
Christ is the final word about salvation. -G. Campbell Morgan-
God's Greatest Gift
"He is not here; for He is risen, as He said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay."
Today is Resurrection Sunday -- a day of celebration, as the promises of God were fulfilled at the empty tomb of Jesus Christ. We have so much to be thankful for, but nothing more than the salvation Christ paid as He took upon Himself every one of our sins: past, present and future. What a great miracle, what a tremendous gift!
As we went through the Passion Week, we saw how the people were blinded by their envy and pride. So many people turned from Christ. They mocked and spit upon Him, while He willingly went to the Cross for each one of them.
He also went to the Cross for every one of us. He went to the Cross for your brother or sister who is not saved. He submitted to the will of the Father in order to purchase our salvation at the great cost of His blood.
Today, we celebrate because He is risen. He is not in the tomb. The grave could not hold Him and neither could death. He conquered death and provided eternal life with Him in heaven. There is nothing greater we could celebrate than eternal life in the Kingdom of God.
As we see and experience the many struggles and trials people are going through today, the greatest thing we have is our salvation. It is the most important thing we have to share with others -- salvation. I pray you take the time today, and every day, to share the greatest gift ever given to man -- salvation through Christ Jesus. That is why we can celebrate!
Calvary shows how far men will go in sin, and how far God will go for man's salvation. -H. C. Trumbull-
Chastisement of God
But the hand of the Lord was heavy on the people of Ashdod, and He ravaged them and struck them with tumors, both Ashdod and its territory.
1 Samuel 5:6
What was happening in Ashdod reminds me of the plagues God brought against Pharaoh and the Egyptians. God did not bring the plagues immediately; He first warned them. Moses asked Pharaoh to let the people go; then, he warned Pharaoh of the plagues to come, if he did not release the people.
God did the same thing for the Philistines. First, He knocked Dagon over and still they did not get it. Then, God broke off Dagon's head and arms. Even then, they did not release the Ark of the Covenant. After these two warnings, God had to bring on the plagues.
He struck the people with tumors. In the King James Bible, they are called emerods, which means "tumors, hemorrhoids, piles." Some of the older commentaries say along with the tumors, God sent rats which is interesting because rats bring plagues.
It sound like God was trying to get their attention. He warned and then He sent the plagues. He was demonstrating His great power, while showing them their god, Dagon, was a false god, with no power.
I think God does the same thing today. He allows things, because He is trying to get our attention. He warns us time after time, but eventually He has to do something more drastic. He is always motivated by love, whether you are a friend to God or His enemy.
God punishes His enemies but chastises His children. -Alistair Begg-
Sowing & Reaping
And when the men of Ashdod saw how it was, they said, "The ark of the God of Israel must not remain with us, for His hand is harsh toward us and Dagon our god." â€¦ And they answered, "Let the ark of the God of Israel be carried away to Gath." So they carried the ark of the God of Israel away.
1 Samuel 5:7-8
The Philistines recognized they were in trouble, because the hand of God was against them, but they failed to do the right thing. They just passed the problem on to the city of Gath, which was also a Philistine city.
God did not want the Ark of the Covenant in the hands of the heathens; He wanted it returned to Israel. Passing the problem on to the next city was not going to help the Philistines. They would still experience the punishment of God, but the people of Ashdod were only concerned with themselves. They were not worried about the people of Gath.
In Verse 9, we see the plagues followed the Ark of the Covenant to the city of Gath. They were struck with the same tumors. God was not happy with His enemies, and He was punishing them.
I think it is interesting how people think they can fool God. They think they can do things their way, and God will be happy with their compromise. They are the fools. God will not be mocked, He is very clear in His Word. If we choose to disobey God's Word, we will face the consequences.
Remember what Paul said in Galatians 6:7: Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap.
If men refuse to be taught by precept, they must be taught by punishment. -Thomas V. Moore-
So they sent and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and said, "Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go back to its own place, so that it does not kill us and our people." For there was a deadly destruction throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there.
1 Samuel 5:11
In Verse 10, the Philistines of Gath sent the Ark of the Covenant to Ekron and the plagues followed. Finally, the leaders of the Philistines gathered together to take care of the problem, because they could not continue to spread the plagues of God throughout the land.
It is clear, even the heathens recognized the power of God, but they were so hardened by sin, they would not repent. They did not want to accept Him as their God; they wanted to get rid of Him.
I see the same thing happening today. People see the heavy hand of God upon our nation, but they do not want to repent. They have hardened their hearts against God. People do not want to fall into the Savior's arms and accept His grace and mercy. Instead, they want to throw Him out, so they can continue on in sin.
We cannot hide the fact that America is no longer one nation under God. I believe there are many Christians in this country, but they keep silent. All you can hear is the uproar of the non-believer, who wants to take God out of our county. If we remain silent, we will have no one to blame but ourselves, when our churches close and we can no longer pray in public. Think about it.
Sin begins with our departure from God; it ends with our departure from God. -James Philip-
The Prayer of the Unrighteous
And the men who did not die were stricken with the tumors, and the cry of the city went up to heaven.
1 Samuel 5:15
Look at this little verse. It seems so simple and yet, there is a big problem in this verse. The people were crying out to God, but He was not listening to them. Their cries went up to heaven, but they were not accepted. They were not God's children.
In Exodus 3:7, we see what happens when God's people cry out:
And the Lord said: "I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows."
God hears the cries of His people, and He sees their problems; He has great compassion for their situations, and He does something about it. With the non-believer, He does not hear their prayers, unless they are crying out for salvation.
People today are the same as the Philistines. They do not believe in God, but when they get into an accident, they call out to Him. They want Him to deliver them, but God is not there.
The only way God answers prayer is when you are born again of the Holy Spirit and you are obedient to the Word of God. That is the only way God will work. He is not a genie in a bottle. You cannot just keep Him on the shelf until you need Him. You are either His child or you are not. It is that simple.
The prayer that is faithless is fruitless. -Thomas Watson-
Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
On the Day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit did not come upon a multitude; only 120 were baptized with the Holy Spirit. If you continue reading the Book of Acts, 3,000 were baptized with the Holy Spirit in one day; that is a real revival.
We saw hundreds and thousands of people coming to the Lord during the Jesus People Movement. It was an incredible time, with the Lord raising up Love Song, Gentle Faith and all these worship bands. They came out of the world, out of bars and different places and the Lord began to use them in their bands.
They would go across the country and do concerts and thousands would show up and come to the Lord -- thousands. The Jesus People Movement was the time of the hippies -- they experienced a real revival of Jesus in their lives.
It is really important for all of us to understand; if revival really happens, there has to be a transformation; there has to be real repentance, with a hunger and thirst for the Word of God.
When you have a real revival people want to reach others with the Gospel message. It burns in your heart, just like it did for the Apostles. That is what makes a Jesus Revival! Have you had a real revival in your life?
There never was a real revival that did not produce heartburn and hallelujahs. -Vance Havner-
Immediately he preached the Christ in the synagogues, that He is the Son of God. Then all who heard were amazed, and said, "Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?"
I really like Billy Graham's book The Jesus Generation, about the Jesus People Movement. I have read it many times. It is an amazing book. All the leaders of the denominational churches were wondering what was happening, and they were going to Billy saying, "We wonder if this is a real revival."
In his book, Billy Graham said one of thing that indicates a real revival is when transformations occur and lives are changed. When the hippie movement started things began to happen; people stopped taking drugs immediately. Different events demonstrated a real move of God, but the denominational churches did not believe it was real, because the movement was happening outside of the church.
God is not really concerned whether it is in the church or out of the church. He is more interested in the hearts of people. He wants to see transformation in our lives. When the Holy Spirit is within us, there is a change in a man or woman. That is how God measures true revival.
God moved in such a powerful way at Calvary Chapel more than 40 years ago, and people still do not believe it. A real revival is when the Word of God is transforming and changing people, and He wants to change lives still today.
Revival is not an earthly concoction; it is a heavenly creation. -Arthur Skevington Wood-
"The Lord will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods -- wood and stone. And you shall become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword among all nations where the Lord will drive you."
Sometimes, I wonder if the Lord cares about our nation. I wonder where the United States of America will be in the next 20 years -- the next 50 years. The United States is not mentioned in End Times prophecy, so I wonder where we will be.
I think the reason we are not mentioned in prophecy is because we are becoming a nation without God. We have taken God out of our government, out of schools, and many businesses are being persecuted because of their biblical beliefs.
We are changing into an atheistic country, a country that hates God. We have become a country that does not care about our children or our grandchildren; a country controlled by money and political power. How can any of this be good change?
God is allowing all these things to happen. He is allowing foreigners to come into our country with their gods, their idols, because there is no respect for the true God.
We better learn from the Word of God, or the United States is going to become the tail, in bondage to foreign lands, a byword among nations.
Men must choose between an exceeding great and eternal weight of glory and an exceeding great and eternal weight of wrath. -Thomas V. Moore-
One Foot in the World
Now the ark of the Lord was in the country of the Philistines seven months.
1 Samuel 6:1
The Philistines kept the Ark of the Lord for seven months. Can you imagine that? They moved it from city to city, trying to keep it, but they were having problems.
In order to understand what was happening, we have to look back at 1 Samuel 5. The Philistines had captured the Ark of the Lord and taken it back to their country. They thought they had captured the God of Israel, and He would do for them, what He had done for Israel, but they were in for a big surprise.
They put the Ark of the Lord next to their god, Dagon, and God knocked down and took apart Dagon. Then, He sent the plagues with boils and rats, so they tried sending the Ark to another town. The plagues followed the Ark from city to city. It did not get better; it got worse.
Think about it. We do the same thing. We try to hold onto our sin and ask for the blessings of God at the same time. Maybe we think God does not see the sin or He might forget about it and bless us.
It did not work for the Philistines, and it will not work for us. We cannot live our lives with one foot in the world and expect God to bless it. There is no possible way. God will not listen to your prayers. He will not bless you. He will wait for you to get your life right with Him, and then He will hear you. He will bless you.
God, in mercy, will never allow children of His to be comfortable in sin. -Will Metzger-
And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners, saying, "What shall we do with the ark of the Lord? Tell us how we should send it to its place."
1 Samuel 6:2
After seven months of plagues, the Philistines finally admitted they had a big problem, and they had to do something about it. They knew they had a problem, but they had no wisdom in seeking advice. They were dealing with the things of the Lord, but they brought in cultish priests and diviners to ask for advice. What kind of advice would they get from the priests of Dagon?
They would get the same advice you get when a Christian man or woman goes to their worldly friends and ask them advice. They get worldly advice, based on the morals and values of the society. They will not get godly advice, based upon the Word of God.
I think that is a big problem today. Instead of taking a situation to the Lord and seeking His Word and His advice, we go to our friends or to the world. We want an answer quickly, so we do not want to take the time to wait upon the Lord.
When we take the advice of the world, we are asking for trouble. They are never going to be in line with the Lord and the plans He has for you, so they are never going to give you good advice. It is the same for those in ministry. When people come to you, all you can give them is Godâ€™s Word. If you give them anything else, it is of no value. You have wasted their time. Godâ€™s Word is the best we have to offer people -- nothing else.
Men give advice; God gives guidance. -Leonard Ravenhill-
So they said, "If you send away the ark of the God of Israel, do not send it empty; but by all means return it to Him with a trespass offering. Then you will be healed, and it will be known to you why His hand is not removed from you."
1 Samuel 6:3
Notice, the Philistines recognized the God of Israel was not the same as their god, but Israel did not recognize their God. If they would have known their God, the Ark of the Covenant would have never been stolen away. God would not have allowed it to be stolen, if they had been in tune with Him.
Think about it. Is that what the world is saying about the church today? They see we have a God they do not know, yet we ourselves do not even know our God. How could that happen?
Many Christians do not know God because they have cut communication with Him. Just like you cut a telephone line and there is no connection, so you cannot hear the caller, many people have cut their connection with God. He is on the other end, speaking to them, but they cannot hear Him.
I believe with all my heart, the majority of the church no longer has communication with God. The reason they have no communication with Him is because they do not know His Word. They have never read through the whole Bible, so they do not know God's Word. God gives us hundreds of lessons in the Word. They are written for our example, so we can learn and be victorious in the Lord. If you start reading God's Word, you will be surprised the things you will hear from Him.
The Scriptures teach us the best way of living, the noblest way of suffering and the most comfortable way of dying. -John Flavel-
God's Final Judgment
"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."
1 Samuel 3:14
What was the problem? In Hebrew, the word iniquity means "perversity or depravity." Since Eli ignored the warnings of God, their iniquity could not be atoned for, or covered, by a blood sacrifice or sin offering, now or forever. This means, the judgment was against Eli, his sons and every generation to come. It was a done deal. There was no need to pray for this family. God's judgment was final.
I believe, right now, the church and the world is on the edge of God's final judgment. We are either going to listen to His warning or we are going to face judgment. He is speaking to His church through His Word, and He not only gives us the warning but the consequences of our iniquity.
If you want to be a part of this world and its sin, when the Rapture comes, you are going to be left behind. That is just the way it is. God has said it and He will do it, just as He judged the House of Eli.
Remember what He said in the Book of Revelation, seven times, "He who has an ear to hear, let him hear what the spirit of God is saying to the church."
Listen, God's final judgment came against the house of Eli, but this is a warning to you and me. We do not have to face the final wrath of God, if we have open hearts to heed the warnings of God. He wants us to obey. He does not want to judge us. We choose the judgment.
The power of man can never reverse the sentence of God. -Thomas V. Moore-
Warning of the Wrath
So Samuel lay down until morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision. Then Eli called Samuel and said, "Samuel, my son!" He answered, "Here I am." And he said, "What is the word that the Lord spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the things that He said to you."
1 Samuel 3:15-17
We see the heart of humility in Samuel. He was afraid to tell Eli what God had revealed to him. Imagine how young he was and Eli had raised him. He had to tell him, "God said He is going to kill you and your family."
Samuel was called to tell his mentor the judgment of God was upon him and his entire house, from generation to generation. Samuel was afraid to speak God's truth. He had never heard from God until this time, and the words God gave him were of judgment against the priest who had raised him. He did not know what to do.
Look, Eli knew the message was not good before Samuel said a word. He told Samuel, "Tell me the truth. Do not hide anything God said from me." If it was good news, Samuel would not hesitate to tell Eli, but Eli knew it was not good and he needed to know what God was going to do.
Eli knew it. He knew God was going to judge him, but he never did anything about it. That is the way the church is today. We know what is going to happen and the church has gone to sleep and continues in sin. Do you hear God's warning of the wrath to come?
There is terror in the Bible as well as comfort. -Donald Grey Barnhouse-
Warnings & Consequences
Then Samuel told him everything, and hid nothing from him. And he said, "It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him."
1 Samuel 3:18
This is very interesting. Samuel told Eli the bad news, God was going to judge him, his sons and the entire house of Eli. He told Eli everything God had revealed to him, and it was not good. It was the judgment of God -- the wrath of God.
Then, we see Eli's reaction. He said, "Well, it is of the Lord, so it is good. Let Him do whatever He wants to do." WOW! God was going to judge every member of his family and Eli was not worried. He was not stressing out or pleading for mercy. He accepted the judgment of the Lord.
Eli recognized the character and nature of God. He is holy and righteous. He gave warnings. He told Eli the consequences for the sins of his sons and Eli did nothing. He ignored the warnings from the Lord.
In the Book of Revelation, John wrote of the Last Days. He has given us the warnings. He has given us the consequences, and yet, in Revelation 16:9, he said:
And men were scorched with great heat, and they blasphemed the name of God who has power over these plagues; and they did not repent and give Him glory.
God has given us the warnings and the consequences and still, in the midst of judgment, men will blaspheme God. Think about it and learn.
God's wrath is His righteous reaction against unrighteousness. -J. I. Packer-
Reap What We Sow
So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the Lord.
1 Samuel 3:19-20
Samuel continued to serve in the house of the Lord and the Lord was with him. God continued to speak to Samuel and everything he told the people came to pass. God did not take back anything He told Samuel. God made a promise and God kept His promise.
Think about that. God does not break His promises. We were created in the image of God, but we do not have His character. We are the ones who break promises. We disqualify ourselves from serving the Lord; He does not disqualify us. He gives us instructions to follow, so we can be blessed and bless Him, but we do not follow His ways. The result is that we reap what we sow. Job 4:8 says: Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.
Samuel sowed the seeds of God's Word -- His promises -- and he reaped the respect of the people. Notice how the people recognized that Samuel was a godly man. He did not have to say one word. They recognized his submission to the Lord, and they submitted to him.
This whole chapter keeps coming back to the choices we make in life. We can be like Eli and ignore the commands of the Lord, or we can be like Samuel and sow the seeds of God's Word, walking close to the heart of God. In this chapter, we see the results of both choices. Now, we have to make the choice and reap what we sow.
The reward of sin is more sin and the reward of obedience is the power to obey again. -David Shepherd-
Different Kind of People
We do not see our signs; there is no longer any prophet; nor is there any among us who knows how long.
In the time of Asaph, he wrote these words to the children of Israel. There were no prophets and the Lord was not speaking to the people, because the people did not want to hear the voice of God.
The people did not learn from this. Later, in Ezekiel 7:26, the prophet wrote this: Disaster will come upon disaster, and rumor will be upon rumor. Then they will seek a vision from a prophet; but the law will perish from the priest, and counsel from the elders.
When God got sick and tired of people playing games with Him, He removed His voice from the prophets and from every one of the kings. They would not listen; so they did not hear the voice of God.
Before Ezekiel, the prophet Amos prophesied: "Behold, the days are coming," says the Lord God, "That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord" (Amos 8:11).
Although Amos was speaking of the 400 years of silence, between the Old and New Testament, we see this happening today. People are not hearing the words of the Lord. If we were truly listening to the Lord, we would be a different kind of people. I really believe that with all my heart.
Before the Word everyone must give way. -Martin Luther-
Captive to Sin
They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it.
When the Lord gave the prophet Amos the words to speak, he was prophesying about the 400 years of silence, between the Book of Malachi in the Old Testament and Matthew in the New Testament. During this time, the Lord was silent and did not speak to His people. Amos wrote these words before Israel was taken captive by Assyria in 772 B.C. God's silence began in 400 B.C.
Can you imagine what it was like to live with the counsel of the Lord, and then suddenly silence? There was no instruction, no commands and no prophecies. The nation of Israel was like a ship without a rudder. They did not know which direction to go.
For so long, they ignored the Lord, until He finally stopped speaking to them. He would teach them a lesson. They thought their earthly kings could guide and direct them, but without the Lord, they were lost.
We are like the nation of Israel today. While we have the Word of God, we no longer have prophets who can rightly say, "Thus says the Lord â€¦" and speak for God. And just like Israel, we ignore the counsel of the Lord from His Word. We think our leaders can lead us without God.
We have not learned from the lessons and examples of the Bible. We too have been led away into captivity -- captive to our sin. We must pray for each other and for our nation.
It is impossible to rightly govern the world without God and the Bible. -George Washington-
And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines, and encamped beside Ebenezer; and the Philistines encamped in Aphek.
1 Samuel 4:1
In Chapter 3 of 1 Samuel, the Lord spoke to Samuel for the first time and pronounced judgment against Eli, his sons and his descendants to come. God's judgment was great against the house of Eli, but God was ready to use Samuel.
Samuel had served in the house of the Lord for many years. Although he had been raised by Eli, alongside his sons, Samuel was faithful to the Lord. He did not rebel like the sons of Eli.
As we enter 1 Samuel 4, God will speak to the children of Israel for the Lord and we see how God plans to use the life of Samuel. It says: the word of Samuel came to all Israel. God was speaking to the people through Samuel. He would be Israelâ€™s prophet and priest. God was going to use him to speak, to lead, to discern and judge the people of God.
It is important we see the plans God had for Samuel. This was His plan from the beginning, when Hannah was praying for a son. God wanted a faithful servant to serve His people and He gave Hannah Samuel, as she promised to give him back to the Lord.
Just as God had a plan for Samuel, even while he was in his mother's womb, He has a plan for you and I. He wants to use men and women who are faithful to reach out and speak to those who are lost and perishing. Will you be a faithful servant, just as Samuel was?
God requires not more than faithfulness in our place. -William Gurnall-
The Presence of God
Then the Philistines put themselves in battle array against Israel. And when they joined battle, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men of the army in the field.
1 Samuel 4:2
The Philistines were Israelâ€™s enemy. They moved against Israel in a mighty way. We see them mentioned 150 times in 1 and 2 Samuel. In the Old Testament, the Philistines really represent the enemies of God coming against the Lord constantly. They never gave up.
In the Book of Judges, it says Israel was in bondage to the Philistines for 40 years. God allowed them to be put under the control of the Philistines. Sometimes, God uses His enemy to chastise His people because they have turned their backs against God. God says, "Okay, you do not want Me to lead you, then I am going to allow this other nation like Babylon, Egypt, Assyria, the Medes, Persians, Greece or Rome to rule over you."
God has His ways to get the church's attention, no matter who we are. He has a plan and a purpose; He will not allow us to stand in His way. He will use whatever resources are at hand to accomplish His will.
God was ready to demonstrate His power to Israel. They had put their trust in Shiloh, the tent and the Ark of the Covenant but they forgot about the Lord. God allowed them to be defeated over and over and over until they finally realized they did not need the things; they needed the Lord.
Even today, people think God's power is in the church or in idols. It is not. It is the presence of God, over the people of God; that is the key.
God can do without exception what He wills to so. -R. B. Kuiper-
True to His Word
And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, "Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies."
1 Samuel 4:3
Look at the confusion of the people. They were asking, "Why did God defeat me? Why was I not blessed? Why is God doing all this stuff?" If you go back to Chapters 2 and 3 of 1 Samuel, you can see the answers to the questions they were asking.
You can find the answer in one word -- disobedience. Go back and look at Eli and his sons. They were abusing the ministry of God. They were not godly; they were lying with women, taking the offerings and taking money from the people. God did not approve of their actions. They thought they were getting away with their sins but we are going to see how God deals with disobedience. God does not play games.
The disobedience was not just with Eli and his sons. They had led the children of Israel into sin. They no longer respected the sacrifice unto the Lord. Remember, it said they despised the offering of the Lord in 1 Samuel 2:17, but they still expected the blessings of the Lord. They were trusting in the Ark of the Covenant, even in their disobedience to God.
How many times do we come before the Lord and ask Him to bless something we know is wrong? He cannot do it. He has already spoken to us through His Word. We must trust in Him and His Word. He has spoken and His word is true.
God never needs to change His counsels. -Matthew Henry-
So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God. And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook.
1 Samuel 4:4-5
The people of God had been defeated by the Philistines, so they went looking for a solution -- a quick fix. They did not examine their hearts before the Lord, to see if there was sin. They said, "What can we do to have victory over our enemy?"
In trying to fix the problem themselves, they decided to bring the Ark of the Covenant into the battle. If they had God's Ark, surely He would be with them and they would have the victory. Right? No way! They were trying to do things their way, not God's way.
They brought the Ark of the Covenant into the camp and all of Israel cried out, so loudly, the ground shook. Notice the emotional demonstration. It was all emotions, but their hearts were not knitted to God. They were counting on an object, but not the Lord.
There are many times we can be emotional, but not spiritual. There are many emotional people but that does not mean God is with them. Anyone can become emotional, but only true faith in God can bring us to a place of obedience, so we can and will do what God has called us to do.
True faith commits us to obedience. -A. W. Tozer-
Now when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, "What does the sound of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?" Then they understood that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp. So the Philistines were afraid, for they said, "God has come into the camp!" And they said, "Woe to us! For such a thing has never happened before."
1 Samuel 4:6-7
When the Philistines heard the shout of the children of Israel, they were afraid. Remember, they shouted so loud, the ground shook. The enemy was afraid. They were not believers; they were heathens who worshipped a wooden god -- an idol. They thought, just like the children of Israel, the Ark of the Covenant had power.
Notice, God's people were thinking like the heathen nation. They had put their hope and trust in the Ark of the Covenant. Where were they with the Lord? Were they listening to the Lord or were they simply following Eli and his sons?
This is an important issue. Do we blindly follow our leaders or do we examine their lives to be sure they are right with the Lord? If we follow bad leaders and become just like them, we cannot point the finger at the leaders and think we have no responsibility.
God has given us His Word, and He will hold each one of us accountable for our lives and our relationships with Him. He has called us to walk with Him, and in order to know God, we must know His Word. Do not depend on another person to feed you God's Word. You have to study and pray, so you can be close to the heart of God and not led astray.
Ignorance of the Scriptures is the root of all error. -J. C. Ryle-
"Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness."
1 Samuel 4:8
The Philistines were heathens and they did not know who the Israelites worshipped. They worshipped Dagon, a wooden idol and they knew the other heathen nations worshipped other gods -- other idols -- but they did not know the One, True, Living God.
I find it interesting, although they did not have newspapers, television or computers; the Philistines still knew who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness. They did not know it was Jehovah God, but they knew it was the god or gods of Israel. They knew He was powerful and they were very afraid.
Think about it. They had their god, Dagon, but they recognized the God of Israel was greater than their god. They had heard stories of what God did in Egypt and in the wilderness, and they knew their god was no match; still they came against the children of Israel. Why?
It was God who brought the Philistines against Israel. God would use this heathen nation to chastise Israel and to accomplish His purpose and plan. He was going to remove Eli and his sons, while chastening Israel at the same time.
God does the same thing with us. If we do not want to listen to God and we want to do our own thing, God will allow us, but there will be a chastening. God loves us; He will chasten us, to get us back on the right track.
Chastening is simultaneous wrath and mercy. -R. T. Kendall-
Sowing & Reaping
"Be strong and conduct yourselves like men, you Philistines, that you do not become servants of the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Conduct yourselves like men, and fight!" So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent. There was a very great slaughter, and there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers.
1 Samuel 4:9-10
When you first read this, it appears as if the world defeated the Lord. Notice, heathen Philistines defeated God's people, the Hebrews. Does this mean the world has more power than God? No way. The Philistines were used by the Lord. God allowed them to win. They were not more powerful than God; He just stepped aside and did not assist the Hebrews.
This is a great lesson in sowing and reaping. The children of Israel had walked away from the Lord; even greater, they despised the sacrifice of the Lord. It was as if they had spit in Godâ€™s face, and now they were facing the consequences of their actions.
Remember when they went through the wilderness and defeated their enemies along the way? They were not defeated by Israel's strength; it was the Lord. He went before them in the battles and defeated their enemies, but they no longer had God's strength. They were fighting with just their own mortal strength.
When we choose to do things in our own strength, or we turn from the Lord and He leaves us to face the consequences, we are going to fail. It may be a small failure or a tremendous failure, like losing 30,000 men.
Wrath â€¦ is the expression of God's holy, loving displeasure with sin. -Arthur Skevington Wood-
"For if you remain completely silent at this time, relief and deliverance will arise for the Jews from another place, but you and your fatherâ€™s house will perish. Yet who knows whether you have come to the kingdom for such a time as this?"
The Feast of Lots, Purim, begins today at sundown and will continue until sundown tomorrow. The Jewish nation will celebrate the providence and protection of the Lord, as they read the Book of Esther and recognize God's hand upon His people.
During the time of Esther, the children of Israel were in Persia and Esther, a young Jewish maiden, had been chosen as the new queen. However, neither the king nor his advisors knew Queen Esther was a Jew, so when Haman convinced King Ahasuerus to wipe out the Jewish people living among them, they did not know they had condemned Queen Esther to death.
As the plot to destroy the Jewish people was revealed, Mordecai, Esther's uncle, asked her to go before the king for her people. Because the queen could not go before the king without being summoned, Esther was afraid to do as Mordecai asked. Look at the faith of Mordecai. He knew God would deliver His people, either by Esther or some other means. He knew God would preserve His people, and God had placed Esther in her place for such a time.
God has a plan for each one of our lives, but if we are too fearful to do what the Lord has called us to do, He will use someone else. We will miss out on the blessing. We just have to trust in the Lord, fully and completely.
Why are we so slow to trust an infinite God? -William S. Plumer-
Christ Paid the Wages
For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
The Feast of Purim is a celebration of deliverance. God delivered His people from annihilation, using a young Jewish girl in the courts of King Ahaseurus. She was not just any young girl; she had been selected to be queen. God knew the plans of Haman and He put Esther in the right place to stop the enemy from destroying Godâ€™s people.
Just like the children of Israel, we all have a death threat hanging over our heads. We are all destined for an eternity in hell, but God has made a provision. Just as He knew the plot of Haman, God knows the plans of Satan. He knew from the beginning that man would fall for the lies of Satan, and God would have to provide deliverance.
The decree of King Ahaseurus could not be changed. Once his signet was placed on a decree, it could not be cancelled. It is the same for us. Once Adam and Eve disobeyed God, our death sentence was signed.
Paul said: the wages of sin is death. The price had to be paid. There is no cancelling the debt we have, but God had a plan. He sent Christ to pay the price for all of us. He did what no one else could do; He covered our sins with His shed blood.
Christ provided atonement for us and paid the wages of our sin, all we have to do is accept Him and the sacrifice He made on the Cross. He did all the work. He suffered for everyone. We have the easy part, we just have to believe and give our lives to Him.
Christ assumed every consequence of sin which was not itself sinful. -S. P. Tregelles-
St. Patrick's Day
Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest."
Today, bars will be filled with people celebrating St. Patrick's Day. They will wear shamrocks, drink green beer and eat corn beef and cabbage to celebrate; without knowing anything about the man we call St. Patrick or the real reason we celebrate.
St. Patrick was a missionary. He left his home in England and went to Ireland to tell the people about the hope and salvation we have in Jesus Christ. He knew they were a pagan people, who worshipped the Druid gods and goddesses. He knew they were perishing without hope, and he left his comfortable home to bring salvation to a nation.
It would have been easy for him to leave the work to someone else. Why should he go back to the people who had kidnapped him and made him a slave? Why should he care about these pagan people?
Patrick cared because he received the Lord while he was a slave. In the midst of his great trial, God got ahold of his heart and gave him great compassion for the people who enslaved him. He knew God had called him to witness to the people of Ireland, and he answered the call. He did not wait for someone else to do what God had called him to do.
God has called each one of us. He is just waiting for us to answer the call. People are perishing and the laborers are few. Will you answer God's call?
Since the Lord saved me, I have despaired of no man living. -Henry T. Mahan-
Omnipotent, Omniscient, Omnipresent
Also the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.
1 Samuel 4:11In Verse 10, 30,000 soldiers of Israel were killed, and the consequences for Israelâ€™s sin continue in Verse 11. Because the people were putting their trust in an object, the Ark of the Covenant, God was going to take it away from them. The Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines. It was now in the possession of this heathen nation. It does not end there. Eliâ€™s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were killed in the battle. The judgment God had revealed to Samuel was coming to pass. He had warned Eli and now God was bringing judgment; not just on Eli and his sons, but on a disobedient nation. While the Ark of the Covenant was taken by Israelâ€™s enemy, it had no power. They did not capture the Lord, only an object. With the Ark of the Covenant would come great judgment against the Philistines. Although the Lord allowed the Ark to be captured, He was going to use it to display His power and might to this heathen nation. The Philistines thought the power of Israelâ€™s God was in the Ark, just like their wooden idol of Dagon. God would take this opportunity to show them they could not capture or contain God. He was in control and He could destroy them. We have to remember; we cannot control or contain God. He is not a genie in a bottle; He is omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent. Nothing can contain or control the Lord, which brings both comfort and fear.
As a Christian is never out of the reach of God's hand, so he is never out of the view of God's eye. -Thomas Brooks-
Avoid the Wrath
So the messenger answered and said, "Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter among the people. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead; and the ark of God has been captured." Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.
1 Samuel 4:17-18
God's judgment against the house of Eli came to pass. As Eli was sitting at the gates, the messenger brought the news of the battle to the children of Israel. First, he told of their defeat and the great loss of life, and Eli was not moved. Next, he broke the news of the death of Hophni and Phinehas. Again, Eli does not seem surprised by this news. Now, check this out. He told how the Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines, and Eli has a heart attack. He fell backwards, breaking his neck, and died.
He was the priest. He was supposed to represent God to the people, but he allowed his sons to compromise and sin against God, leading the people into sin. He accepted the judgment of God and the loss of his sons, because he knew it was his own fault, but the loss of the Ark was too great a burden to carry.
Many times, we sin against God and the burden of our punishment is too great to bear. If we had only thought about the consequences ahead of time, we would not have sinned against God. Heed the warnings of God and you will avoid the consequences. God warns us, because He loves us.
The wrath of God does not end with death. -C. H. Spurgeon-
Effects of Sin
Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas's wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, for her labor pains came upon her. â€¦ Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, "The glory has departed from Israel!" because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.
1 Samuel 4:19, 21
The judgment against the house of Eli continued, as Phinehas' wife gave birth, and just before she died, she named her son Ichabod. The name Ichabod means "no glory" in Hebrew. She gave him the name because she realized the glory of the Lord had departed. God's final judgment had come against the house of Eli.
The sin began with Eli's sons, but it was allowed by Eli and, because Eli failed to discipline his children, the consequences were experienced from generation to generation. The Lord had warned him, but Eli had no fear of the Lord, so he did nothing. His sins cost the lives of his sons, his daughter-in-law and generations to come.
God no longer punishes the father for the son's sin or the son for the father's sin, but we cannot think our sin does not affect the people we love. When we sin, it hurts our families and can have devastating effects on our children. If we love our families and friends, we have to deal with our sin. If we ignore it, like Eli, the effects could be devastating and eternal.
Sin pays -- but it pays in remorse, regret and failure. -Billy Graham-
The Glory of God
And she said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured."
1 Samuel 4:22
The glory of the Lord did not just depart from Eli's family; but the presence of God had departed from the nation of Israel. They were on their own, because the glory of God had departed from their lives.
The glory of God represents the presence of God, dwelling in the tabernacle. Look at Psalm 26:8: Lord, I have loved the habitation of Your house, and the place where Your glory dwells.
In the wilderness, the people saw the glory of the Lord descend in the cloud, which covered the tabernacle (Exodus 33:10-11). Then, after Moses met with God, face to face, his face would shine from being in the presence of the glory of the Lord (Exodus 34:29). Everything Moses did in leading the children of God was given to him by the Lord, when he would meet with God. Everything was done according to the Lord.
Now, the glory of the Lord had departed from the children of Israel and they were left to do things according to their own strength and wisdom. They could no longer rely upon the presence of God.
Could this happen to us? Could this happen to America? As we walk further and further away from the Lord, we could be in danger of seeing the glory of God depart from our nation. We will be left to operate in our flesh, without the strength and wisdom of the Lord. This is a great warning to each one of us individually.
The sight of God's glory humbles. The stars vanish when the sun appears. Thomas Watson-
Learn from History
"And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, â€¦ But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord."
Joshua 24:15At the end of his life, Joshua asked the children of Israel whether they would serve the Lord or the heathen gods. They all said they would follow the Lord God. Then, if you turn to Judges 2:10-11 it says:
When all that generation had been gathered to their fathers, another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord nor the work which He had done for Israel. Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the Lord, and served the Baals;
This is one generation after Joshua, and it was downhill from that point on, all the way to the Kings and the Chronicles. There were times when the children of Israel followed the Lord, but they were not consistent. When the king went the wrong way, the people went the wrong way; they did not keep their eyes on the Lord.
As you go through the Major and Minor Prophets, God used the heathen nations to bring judgment against His people. He allowed the Assyrians and Babylonians to take the Hebrews away into captivity.
There is so much history in the Bible to learn from. America has been one of the greatest nations, but right now we are in big, big trouble. I am not a prophet of doom. I am just telling you the truth. If we do not learn from the lessons in the Bible, we are destined to make the same mistakes they made.
Those who do not know history are destined to repeat it. -Edmund Burke-
Lesson Not Learned
And she said, "The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured."
1 Samuel 4:22
Before we enter 1 Samuel 5, we have to look at how Chapter 4 ended. Eli died, his sons died and the glory of the Lord had departed; it was a done deal. The Ark of the Covenant was captured by the Philistines and God began to judge Israel.
Often, when you read the Bible, you come to these stories and you do not have the background, so people get confused. If you do not have the background to the chapter, then you are going to miss a link.
In studying the history of Israel and doing some research on Chapter 5, in order to understand what was going on in this chapter, we have to go to Jeremiah 7.
It is very important to remember, the Bible is God's Word and the books all come together to tell one story. While I was studying 1 Samuel 5, it took me to Jeremiah 7:29:
'Cut off your hair and cast it away, and take up a lamentation on the desolate heights; for the Lord has rejected and forsaken the generation of His wrath.'
Even with God's Word, the children of Israel will disobey the Lord again, and His glory will depart from them. They did not learn. We have God's Word today. Have we learned the lessons God is teaching us? Will we obey the Lord, individually and as a nation? Think about it.
Beware of reasoning about God's Word -- obey it! -Oswald Chambers-
Warning at the Gates
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord, saying, "Stand in the gate of the Lord's house, and proclaim there this word, and say, 'Hear the word of the Lord, all you of Judah who enter in at these gates to worship the Lord!'"
It is important to stop here, at the very beginning of the chapter, because one of the things happening during Jeremiah's time was the practice of religion. They did not have a relationship with the Lord, they were just playing church; and they thought attending church would save them.
The people were coming to the gates of the house of the Lord every week, but this time God called Jeremiah to give them a message. God told him, "I do not want you to go into the house of the Lord; I want you to stay outside, in the front of the building, and meet the people as they are coming into the sanctuary. I want you to give them my heart in my message."
The children of Israel were like so many people today. They were going through the motions, but they did not have the anointing of the Holy Spirit in their lives. It was emotion but not a real, true infilling of the Holy Spirit.
Jeremiah was called by God when he was a young man. God anointed him and used him in a powerful way, to warn the children of Israel to stop playing games with the Lord. There are many people playing church today, and the Lord is calling each one of us, individually, to stand at the front of the church and warn the people. Church attendance does not save, only a relationship with Jesus will save us.
A church membership does not make a Christian any more than owning a piano makes a musician. -Douglas Meador-
Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: "Amend your ways and your doings, and I will cause you to dwell in this place."
Notice the beginning of the verse. Jeremiah started out with, Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel. He was giving all the authority and glory to the Lord, by saying, "This is the Lord speaking, not me. I am nothing."
After establishing who was speaking to them, the first thing God told them was to repent, amend your ways and get your life together. If they wanted to remain in the land and be used by God, they had to repent and come back to the Lord.
After being a pastor for so long, and being on the board with Pastor Chuck Smith, I have seen many things. I have seen so many men being used tremendously by the Lord, turn and go into a life of sin. Then, the Lord has to remove them from His ministries. God cannot use them while they are walking in sin. There is no possible way.
This does not happen just to pastors and leaders. If you are living a life of sin and attending church, God cannot bless you. You may be fooling the people around you, but God sees your heart and He is telling you to amend your way, or He is going to remove you.
If you really want God to use you and you want God to do a real work in your life, you have to examine your life and make things right. Then, God will use your life to the fullest.
The broken spirit and the contrite heart are the abiding marks of the believing soul. -John Murray-
"Do not trust in these lying words, saying, 'The temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord are these.' For if you thoroughly amend your ways and your doings, if you thoroughly execute judgment between a man and his neighbor,"
Notice the problem. They were hearers of God's Word but not doers. That was a big problem. Again, Jeremiah said, amend your ways and your doings. Speaking for the Lord, Jeremiah was telling them to repent. He was telling them they were not saved by the temple or attendance to the temple. They had to live their lives holy and separated unto the Lord.
He went on to tell them to execute proper judgment. They could not compromise in executing judgment, because someone was a friend or had power. He used the word thoroughly, which means "completely or one hundred percent."
Today, we see compromise in the church and in the courts. Our legal system has become very political, and many times, guilty people are getting off with little to no punishment. When they are convicted, they go to prison where they work out, watch television and get three meals a day. They are better off than many people working hard in this country.
It is the same in the church. We cannot compromise. We cannot allow people to practice sin and serve in the ministry. Notice, I said practice sin. We all fail, but we repent and go on. If you practice sin, you are not repentant and you cannot serve in the ministry. There is no possible way. God cannot bless it. We have to be doers of the Word, not just hearers.
Compromise must always be impossible where the truth is essential and fundamental. -C. H. Spurgeon-
Promises of God
"if you do not oppress the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, or walk after other gods to your hurt, then I will cause you to dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever."
He will give them the land to dwell in forever and ever. The promise was with their fathers, but it was not kept because of their fathers' unfaithfulness generations ago. They had to walk according to the Lord's commandments and statutes. They could not live like the heathen nations and receive the promises of God.
This is an important lesson to each one of us. Many times, people give their lives to the Lord, but they still want to keep one foot in the world. They live compromised lives, but they still want the blessings and promises of God.
These same people go to church, and they see the blessings others are receiving, and cannot understand why God does not bless them. They say, "God just does not love me. He does not hear my prayers." Look at what Peter said: "For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their prayers; but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil."
When we truly give our lives to the Lord, He gives us a desire to walk with Him. If we choose to walk in the world, we cannot expect to receive the blessings and promises of God. They are for the righteous.
Upon the two hinges of faith and repentance do all the promises of the Bible hang. -George Swinnock-
"Behold, you trust in lying words that cannot profit. Will you steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, burn incense to Baal, and walk after other gods whom you do not know, and then come and stand before Me in this house which is called by My name, and say, 'We are delivered to do all these abominations'?"
These verses could have easily been written today. That is exactly what is happening in the church and in the world. We no longer trust in the Word of God. Instead, we trust in the lying words of the false teachers and the politicians. The people are so blind and so deaf; they think, Oh man, this is so cool.
Believing the lying words of the politicians and the false teachers is very, very dangerous, for the Christians and for the heathens. When people follow the pastors who no longer teach about sin and the wages of sin, they are putting their eternal lives in danger.
In the same way, when we believe the lies of the politicians, we allow them to lead our country in a direction completely opposed to the Lord. Recently, we have seen so many Christians persecuted for their beliefs, right here in the United States, even though we have the First Amendment.
Now, many people say Christians should not get involved with politics. That is not true. We have the privilege and honor of living in a country where we can vote and have a voice. If we believe the lies, or go along with the lies, we will perish both physically and eternally.
Keep the truth and the truth will keep you. -William Bridge-
A Clean House
"Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of thieves in your eyes? Behold, I, even I, have seen it," says the Lord.
Jeremiah 7: 11
The children of Israel were going to the house of the Lord, the place of worship, which was called by the Lord's name. They called upon the temple of the Lord with unclean lips. They were a people of unclean hands and unclean lips.
God told them, "I see what you are doing and I know you are a bunch of thieves and robbers, seeking refuge in My house." They thought they were alright, but they could not fool the Lord; He saw the wickedness of their hearts.
Think about it. This is written in the Book of Jeremiah and then you go to Matthew 21:13 and Jesus reminds the people of this verse: "It is written, 'My house shall be called a house of prayer,' but you have made it a 'den of thieves.'"
Even with the warnings in the Book of Jeremiah, Jesus went into the temple and found the same conditions Jeremiah experienced in his time. Jesus went right into the temple, overturning tables, and ran the money changers and salesmen out.
Today, we are the temple of the Lord. The Spirit of the Lord dwells in each one of us. Are we living our lives with the knowledge the Lord is with us? He calls us to be holy, as He is holy (1 Peter 1:15). Does God need to clean our house?
The secret to clean living is clear thinking. -John R. W. Stott-
Know the Warnings
"But go now to My place which was in Shiloh, where I set My name at the first, and see what I did to it because of the wickedness of My people Israel."
This brings us into the Book of 1 Samuel, Chapter 5. God was directing the children of Israel to go back to the lessons in 1 Samuel. God's people had turned from the Lord, and they were wicked, so the glory of the Lord departed from Shiloh. Heavy.
That was the warning God gave Jeremiah for the children of Israel. If they failed to walk with the Lord, He would leave them, or He would lead them into captivity. Either way, the Lord would leave them to their wickedness.
I think this is a warning to you and me. For more than 40 years, the Lord has used and blessed the ministry of Calvary Chapel. Pastor Chuck Smith was faithful to the Lord for all those years. He sought the Lord in every decision he made, and the Lord blessed him.
Now, Pastor Chuck is gone. Will the pastors of Calvary Chapel stay the course set by God through Pastor Chuck, or will they go astray? I remember Pastor Chuck used to tell us; the first generation really has a passion, God has touched their lives and they are going for it, by faith. The second generation enjoys the spoils but by the third generation; they do not even care anymore. They just do their own thing.
It is so important to know the Scriptures and recognize the warnings from the Lord. They were not just for that generation. They are for every generation.
It is not mere words that nourish the soul, but God Himself. -A. W. Tozer-
"And now, because you have done all these works," says the Lord, "and I spoke to you, rising up early and speaking, but you did not hear, and I called you, but you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house which is called by My name, in which you trust, and to this place which I gave to you and your fathers, as I have done to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of My sight, as I have cast out all your brethren -- the whole posterity of Ephraim."
Wow! What was Jeremiah saying? The judgment of God was upon them. God had made up His mind. It was a done deal. They had the warning from 1 Samuel, but they did not bother reading and knowing the warnings from the Lord, so they would be chastened, just as the people at Shiloh.
Recently, I have been looking at history, going back to the Old Testament and into the New Testament, putting things together. In the first five books of Moses, the Pentateuch, God established the Law. You can see how the Book of Genesis starts with everything brand new, the beginning of all things created. Then, as you come into the other books of the Bible, from Joshua moving all the way through to the Chronicles, the poetical books and the major and minor prophets moving into the Gospels and ending in the Book of Revelation, which goes into the end times.
God gave us everything, between Genesis and Revelation. He did not leave us blind, trying to figure things out. He gave us everything we needed to have a relationship with Him and be blessed. What happens? We choose, not the blessings but the cursings. We choose, not God. Remember that.
It is by the evil use of his free will that man destroyed both it and himself. -Augustine-
Now the sons of Eli were corrupt; they did not know the Lord.
1 Samuel 2:12
Now, in Verse 12, we leave the prayer of Hannah and we are introduced to the sons of Eli. The Word tells us they were corrupt; they did not know the Lord. Underline this. They were evil, because they did not know the Lord. They were the sons of Eli the priest, and yet, they did not know the Lord. How could this be?
Let me explain. Many Christians have children who do not know the Lord. They grow up in the church, but they never make a personal decision to walk with the Lord. Many pastors have children who do not know the Lord, yet they allow them to be in the ministry. They have never really repented and given their lives to the Lord, but they still get a job in the church. That is not right.
We have experienced this personally. When, my son, Ryan was living in the world, walking without the Lord, we kicked him out. He went out after the world. His mother and I told him, "You want the world -- go ahead, but you will not be a part of this ministry." This is really important to understand. This is what the Bible is teaching us.
Just because you are a Christian and you are walking right with the Lord does not mean your children are right with the Lord. They have to make a personal decision to walk with the Lord. It is not inherited from you. Every person has to make their own decision. If they choose not to walk with the Lord, they have no place in the ministry. That is the bottom line. Without the Lord, you cannot serve in the ministry. It is an impossibility!
Man's will is free to follow his inclinations, but fallen man's inclinations are always and invariably away from God. -R.C. Sproul-
And the priests' custom with the people was that when any man offered a sacrifice, the priest's servant would come with a three-pronged fleshhook in his hand while the meat was boiling. Then he would thrust it into the pan, or kettle, or caldron, or pot; and the priest would take for himself all that the fleshhook brought up. So they did in Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there.
1 Samuel 2:13-14
When we look at the sons of Eli, it is important to understand the rules and customs of the priests. Remember, the priests received no inheritance of land. God was their inheritance, and He provided for them.How did God provide? The priests received from the offerings, but there were rules. When the people brought their sacrifices to the priests, the servant would put a three-pronged hook into the boiling meat. Whatever they took up at one time was for the priests and their families.
Notice, the servant did not take raw meat, but the meat from the boiling pot. It was cooked. Do not forget, in Leviticus, Moses taught the children of Israel about the sacrifices. The fat of the animal was to be burned as a sacrifice unto the Lord. Read Leviticus 3-4. Whether it was the peace offering or the sin offering, the fat of the animals was always burned upon the altar as a sweet smelling sacrifice unto the Lord. It was not given to the priests.
God provided for the priests, but they had to follow the rules of the sacrifice. They could not steal from the Lord and disrespect Him, without consequences.
The man who does not set himself under the law of God sets himself above it. -John Blanchard-
Fear of the Lord
Also, before they burned the fat, the priestâ€™s servant would come and say to the man who sacrificed, "Give meat for roasting to the priest, for he will not take boiled meat from you, but raw." And if the man said to him, "They should really burn the fat first; then you may take as much as your heart desires," he would then answer him, "No, but you must give it now; and if not, I will take it by force."
1 Samuel 2:15-16
In Verses 13-14, we saw what Moses had instructed the children of Israel to do with the sacrifices given to the Lord. The servant of the priest was to take meat from the boiling pot. They were to take only what came up on the tree-pronged hook when it was dipped into the pot once.
The sons of Eli did not want boiled meat. They wanted raw meat, so they could roast it. Not only did they want raw meat, but they wanted the fat of the animal, which was only for God.
They were stealing from God, and they were bullies. They were forcing their servants to sin against the Lord. They were in the house of the Lord, stealing the sacrifices of the Lord and their father allowed it. Incredible! He allowed them to sin against the Lord in the house of the Lord, because there was no fear of the Lord. Instead of disciplining his children, Eli allowed them to sin. He allowed them to serve in the house of the Lord, and yet, they did not know the Lord.
If we do not discipline our children, we do not love and fear the Lord. Without discipline, we are turning them over to Satan.
Reverent fear of God is the key to faithfulness in any situation. -Alan Redpath-
Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.
1 Samuel 2:17
God saw the sins of Eli's sons and He was not happy with them. They were not just stealing the best parts of the sacrifice from the Lord; they were causing the children of Israel to stumble.
Look at what it says, for the men abhorred the offering of the Lord. In this verse, the word abhorred is na'ats in Hebrew. Translated, this verse says the men of Israel despised the offering of the Lord. What God intended for the people to bless Him and cover them became a contemptible thing to the people.
This is a great sin before the Lord. Paul the Apostle spoke about stumbling another believer in Romans 14:21: It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor do anything by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
The sons of Eli were causing the people to stumble. The people were offended by their behavior and they began to despise the offering of the Lord. The same thing was happening in Rome, when the new Christians saw believers eating meat sacrificed to idols. The new believers were offended and some were stumbling in their walks with the Lord.
This is such a great lesson for every one of us. We cannot say and do whatever we want to do. We have to think of others and how our actions affect them. Our actions may not be sin, but if we turn someone from the Lord, we have sinned.
What I live by, I impart. -Augustine-
Obedience to the Call
But Samuel ministered before the Lord, even as a child, wearing a linen ephod. Moreover his mother used to make him a little robe, and bring it to him year by year when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.
1 Samuel 2:18-19
We see great contrasts between the lives of Eli's sons and the young boy, Samuel. While Eli's sons were in the temple, defiling the sacrifices, Samuel was ministering before the Lord. Eli's sons had been appointed by man, but Samuel had been chosen by God. This is an important difference between the two.
Many times, people have a desire to serve the Lord, but we have to look at their motives. Why do they want to serve the Lord? Do they want to get up before the people and be known as great in the minds of the people or do they want to truly minister to Godâ€™s people, without a pat on the back?
I never wanted to be a pastor. I was not a good student and I did not want to stand in front of people and speak, but God called me. The need to tell people about Christ and His message of hope burned in my heart. I could not remain silent. When God called me to go to Baldwin Park High School, I thought I was imagining things, but He kept prompting me until I went.
When I stood up and spoke to the kids at lunch time, it was the Holy Spirit speaking through me. I was obedient to the Lord and He used my life. That is what He wants from each one of us individually -- our obedience.
One act of obedience is better than a hundred sermons. -Dietrich Bonhoeffer-
Motive of the Heart
And Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, "The Lord give you descendants from this woman for the loan that was given to the Lord." Then they would go to their own home.
1 Samuel 2:20
Even though Eli would speak the Word and even give prophecy, his heart was not right before the Lord, because of his sons. When he first encountered Hannah, in 1 Samuel 1:12-18, he said: "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him" (1 Samuel 1:17), and the Lord honored the words spoken by Eli.
This does not mean Eli was in a right standing before the Lord. It means God will still use people, even if they are not walking right with Him, to fulfill His plans and purposes. God will still bring judgment upon an ungodly person, even if He uses him.
We have to remember this lesson when we examine our own lives. Do not assume your heart is right before the Lord, just because God is using you. Remember, in Numbers 22, God used a donkey to get Balaam's attention. God will use whatever is available to accomplish His purposes.
I am one of the donkeys God uses, but I examine my life daily. I know myself and I know my heart is wicked without the Holy Spirit. If I do not spend time in His Word and in prayer, I am wicked in my flesh.
We all know our own hearts and we know if we are walking right before the Lord. Do not be deceived, because God is never deceived. He sees our hearts and knows our intentions.
The test by which all conduct must finally be judged is motive. -A. W. Tozer-
God's Purpose & Time
And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile the child Samuel grew before the Lord.
1 Samuel 2:21
I love this verse, because it shows the faithfulness of God -- His love, grace and mercy towards us. While Hannah's son Samuel grew before the Lord, Hannah was blessed with three sons and two daughters. While one child cannot replace another child, the Lord blessed Hannah with more children, and honored her faithfulness in presenting Samuel to serve before Him.
Although Hannah and Elkanah visited Samuel in Shiloh every year, they missed him, so the Lord provided comfort with additional children. Hannah was no longer cursed with barrenness and Penninah could no longer torment her.
As Hannah went before the Lord with her great anguish, He answered her prayers and blessed her with many children. Having children was a gift of God. Only He could open or close a womb, and God had great plans for Hannah and her son.
Many times, when we are going through a trial and we are experiencing great anguish, we cannot see God's hand. We often think the Lord is not listening to us or He is punishing us. That is not the case. We have to remember, God has a plan and a purpose for each one of our lives. Many times, our plans are not the same as God's plans, but we have to seek His timing and purposes, because they are so much greater than ours.
God's purposes are sometimes delayed but they are never abandoned. -John Blanchard-
Do Not Corrupt Your Children
Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting. So he said to them, "Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people."
1 Samuel 2:22-23
Eli was a father who heard the evil his sons were committing in the temple and yet he did nothing to stop them. They were corrupt and they had no discipline at all. Because Eli never rebuked them, they thought they could get away with what they were doing in the temple of God.
Think about how many children in the church are like Eli's sons. They are sinning in the homes and in the churches and the parents have no control over them. Their children actually rule and reign, not the parents.
I had an experience with Raul Jr. when he was in high school. He used to cut classes and go surfing every day; then one day Sharon called to tell me he was breaking up his bedroom. The first thing I did was call the police, to protect me, because I was going home to take care of things. The police showed up before me, so I packed all his stuff and kicked him out of my house. I told him not to come back until he changed: respecting his mom and our home. He came back two days later, and he was never the same again.
We have to discipline our children. Without discipline, they will become corrupt, like Eli's sons; they will ruin their lives, and your lives. It is really important to understand; God wants you to be strong as fathers and mothers. Teach them God's Word and watch it work in their lives.
If a parent does not punish his sons, his sons will be sure to punish him. -Thomas Guthrie-
Equip Your Children
"If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him?" Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the Lord desired to kill them.
1 Samuel 2:25
Finally, Eli confronted his sons because of the evil they were doing before the children of God. They were not only sinning against the Lord, but they were causing Godâ€™s people to transgress against Him. They were bringing the people down with them in their sin.
Eli knew the consequences of their sin; judgment from God. Then, who would intercede or pray for them? Who would go before the Lord and plead their case? There was no one who could make right what they had done, and they were not willing to repent and plead their own case before the Lord.
We all get the opportunity to make our lives right before the Lord. Each one of us can come before the Lord and be washed by the blood of Jesus Christ, but we have to repent. We have to make that first step towards God.
Our children get an opportunity to be right before God. As parents, we teach them, discipline them and bring them up in the ways of the Lord. Then, if they go out into the world, they will come back. If you do not discipline them and teach them the Bible, they may never come back. God could take them away from you, and you will be to blame, just like Eli. Give your children the tools to walk right with God, and then you will have clean hands before the Lord.
Ideal parenting is modeled after the relationship between God and man. -James C. Dobson-
And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.
1 Samuel 2:26
I think it is important to notice how God is showing us the difference between godly service and ungodly service to the Lord. We see the clear difference between the sons of Eli and Samuel. As the sons of Eli were causing the people to transgress, God provided a godly example in Samuel.
While God was preparing to bring judgment against the sons of Eli, Samuel was growing both in stature and favor with the Lord and with man. His life was an example to the people, as he served the Lord and was obedient to the call of the Lord.
As Samuel was serving at the tabernacle in Shiloh, his heart was to serve and please the Lord. He was not seeking the favor of man, but because he was right before the Lord, the people saw his character and they respected him.
This is the example the Lord is providing for us through the life of Samuel. He did not live a life of privilege. He lived away from his family, serving the Lord. He did not have great possessions, but the Lord provided for all his needs.
When we are honorable before the Lord, we will find favor in the eyes of men. Whether people are Christians or non-believers, they will trust you because you are a man or woman of good character and good reputation.
The fruit of the Spirit is not excitement or orthodoxy: it is character. -G.B. Duncan-
Then a man of God came to Eli and said to him, "Thus says the Lord: 'Did I not clearly reveal Myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house? â€¦ 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?' "
1 Samuel 2:27, 29God sent a man to speak to Eli regarding his sin. He went to speak for the Lord, saying, "Thus says the Lord: â€¦" When Eli heard these words, he knew he was hearing directly from the Lord, and the message was not good. God asked Eli, "Why do you kick at My sacrifice, â€¦ and honor your sons more than Me?"
This was a great charge against Eli. He was guilty of dishonoring the sacrifice unto the Lord and honoring his sons above the Lord. When we read this, we are shocked by Eli's actions. We know this was a very serious charge, and we cannot believe he would dishonor the Lord.
Before we judge Eli too quickly, I think we all individually need to examine our own lives. Have we dishonored the Lord at times? Have we forsaken our offering unto the Lord? Have we put our children and our families above the Lord?
God must be first in our lives. He is a jealous God and we cannot put anyone or anything before Him. If we are going to walk with the Lord, we must honor Him and put Him first.
No man acts with true wisdom till he fears God and hopes in his mercy. -William S. Plumer-
Abraham Lincoln's Birthday
Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.
Abraham Lincoln was the 16th president of the United States. He was elected in 1861 and served the people until his assassination in 1865. As the leader of this nation, he recognized his position as a servant to the people. He was not above the people and he did not lord over them.
Truly, no other president of our country faced such a great division of the people as President Lincoln. The division was so great; it literally split the nation in half. The south seceded from the United States and went to war against the north. Fathers and brothers faced one another on the battlefield. It was a time of great calamity.
Today, we see a great division in our nation. It is a division of ideals and culture. At each election, we see the great division, as the red and blue states are put up on the map.
Division has come to our country because the people we have elected have forgotten their position. They are bondservants, like Paul the Apostle. They have been elected to serve the people -- all the people -- not just a small segment of the people.
I pray our nation and our people will come together once again. I pray our leaders would look at the life of President Lincoln and realize what made him a great leader -- his humility and servanthood -- and copy him.
I freely acknowledge myself the servant of the people, according to the bond of service -- the United States Constitution; and that, as such, I am responsible to them. -Abraham Lincoln-
"Therefore the Lord God of Israel says: 'I said indeed that your house and the house of your father would walk before Me forever.' But now the Lord says: 'Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed.' "
1 Samuel 2:30
Again, this is continued from Verse 27, when the man of God came to Eli and said, "Thus says the Lord: â€¦" This is a judgment from the Lord. Although it was written in the Old Testament, this is not just for Eli and his family; it is a warning to all of us, today.
When Moses brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, the Lord set up the priesthood. He chose the people who would serve Him in the temple and promised they would serve before Him from generation to generation. However, because of their disobedience, God would no longer allow them to serve before Him.
It is important to remember, when God made His promise to Moses and Israel, He told them He would bless them as they walked in obedience to His statutes and commandments. When they chose to walk according to the world, God would curse them.
This is what God was telling Eli. He saw the actions of Eli's sons and the lack of discipline from Eli and He was bringing judgment. They would no longer walk before the Lord.
It is the same for you and me. We can choose the blessings or the curses. It is always our choice. Do we choose God or the world?
If you are not seeking the Lord, judgment is at your heels. -C.H. Spurgeon-
And above all things have fervent love for one another, for "love will cover a multitude of sins."
1 Peter 4:8
Valentine's Day, the day when couples will buy flowers and chocolates, go out to dinner and do all kinds of things to make their wives or husbands, boyfriends and girlfriends happy. That is how the world celebrates love -- with things and romantic gestures.
I am not really romantic. I hate the pressure to remember this day and do something extraordinary for my wife. It is not because I do not love my wife. It is because I believe I need to love her and cherish her every day. I should not treat her special just one day of the year.
I like what Peter said in this verse. We are to love one another with a fervent love. In the Greek, the word fervent means "stretched out." It is a love that goes on and on.
He went on to say, "love will cover a multitude of sins." When love goes on and on, there is no stopping it, and with it comes forgiveness. When we love fervently, we do not pick on every little habit the other person has that makes us crazy. In our fervent love, we love them with their habits, good and bad.
If we truly love our wives, husbands, girlfriends and boyfriends, we will have a fervent love for them. We will love them and show them love during the good times and bad times, not just one day a year. I pray we would all seek to love with a fervent, forgiving love!
Of love there be two principal offices, one to give, another to forgive. -John Boys-
Behold, the days are coming that I will cut off your arm and the arm of your father's house, so that there will not be an old man in your house.
1 Samuel 2:31
Look at the tremendous judgment of God on the house of Eli. The sons of Eli affected not just themselves but generations to come. The house of Eli, the genealogy of Eli, would be cut off, because of their great sin against the Lord and His people.
Eli's sons were not the only ones responsible for this judgment against the house of Eli. Eli, himself, was to blame. He did not discipline his children. He allowed them to serve in the house of the Lord while they were sinning against the Lord.
Now, we do not know if his sons would have made things right with the Lord, so we cannot blame him for their sins, but Eli was responsible for not removing them from the house of the Lord. Instead, he turned a blind eye and allowed his sons to sin against the Lord and lead the people into sin. That is the greater sin.
We all have liberties, but if we practice our liberties in front of others and it causes them to sin, we are in sin. Our liberties should be done in private, so we do not stumble a weaker brother or sister.
All we have to do is look at the judgment against the house of Eli to determine if our liberties are more important than the spiritual lives of others. Certainly not! We need to live our lives in such a way as to bless God and bless others, not be a stumbling block.
My liberty is controlled by my love for my brothers and sisters. -Author Unknown~
Face the Consequences
Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die, both of them.
1 Samuel 2:34God had given His judgment against the House of Eli; they would be cut off, from generation to generation. In Verse 33, it says, And all the descendants of your house shall die in the flower of their age. They would all die at a young age.
With the judgment proclaimed, God gave a sign to Eli, that the judgment was from God and it was coming soon. It was not just future generations who would die in their youth but the judgment would begin with the sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas. They would both die in one day.
God's judgment was just and quick. Once it was set, it was carried out. There was no time to try and bargain with the Lord. The judgment was settled.
It seems harsh, but we have to remember, God is holy and just. We cannot live our lives in sin and think God is going to turn a blind eye. He is full of grace and mercy, but the time comes when we have to repent and get our lives right before Him.
If we willingly choose a life of sin, we choose the consequences that come along with the choices we make. God gives us every opportunity to turn to Him and away from sin, but once the judgment is set, it is a done deal. Those who choose sin will face the consequences.
That which a man spits against heaven shall fall back on his own face. -Thomas Adams-
For exaltation comes neither from the east nor from the west nor from the south. But God is the Judge: He puts down one, and exalts another.
Before we begin 1 Samuel 3, I think we really need to understand what ministry means, because too many people change once they get in the ministry. I wish we took a video of people when they first got saved, when they were called and then years later, after being in the ministry. They could look back and see what happened. They could go back and retrace their steps. Did they get puffed up? Did they remain faithful to their call?
Each one of us has to go back and look at our mistakes. Did we get prideful and arrogant? Nobody is great. If you are looking for center stage, you are in the wrong place. That is not the ministry; you can be prideful in the world, not in the ministry. Remember, promotion does not come from the East or the West, the South or the North; it comes from the Lord. The Lord lifts up one and He puts down the other.
There is a beginning and an ending. Pastor Chuck always told us, "It is not how you start; it is how you finish the race that counts." Anybody can start, but how many can really finish well?
Think of all the funerals you attend for both non-believers and Christians. When you hear the pastor speak, does he talk about a servant of the Lord or someone who fell short? When I go, I want the pastor to say, "God received one of His faithful servants home to Him." What will be said of you?
Faithfulness to God is our first obligation in all that we are called to do in the service of the Gospel. -Iain H. Murray-
Follow God's Examples
"He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. â€¦"
In 1 Samuel 3:1-9, we see a big problem. The priest does not have a listening ear. I think that is a major problem in the church today and in the world. The people do not have an ear to hear at what is being taught.
This has been a problem with people from the Old Testament to the New Testament, and will continue on to the Last Days. Look at what John wrote in the Book of Revelation. Not just once but seven times.
I will admit; I am so bad about reading instructions. When I get something new, I open the package and forget about reading the directions. I would rather explore and do it my own way, seriously. My wife likes to read all the instructions and I hate reading them. I just get the package and put it together as best as I can, but if I would just follow the instructions, it would be easier and it would be done right.
Imagine how the Lord must feel about us. He is probably frustrated. He has given us His Word but, many times, we do not follow the instructions and we get ourselves in trouble. We hear what the Spirit is saying, but we do not listen.
Eli is a great example to us. He was given the capacity to be a leader, to be the priest of the nation of Israel, but he did not follow the instructions, so God had to remove Him. We can be the leaders God wants us to be or we can ignore His Spirit and be removed. We choose.
We must surrender ourselves to the authority of Holy Scripture, for it can neither mislead nor be misled. -Augustine-
God's Perfect Timing
Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.
1 Samuel 3:1
God raised up Samuel and was going to speak through him. Samuel was ignorant; he did not know what God wanted. He knew he was in the Temple to serve the Lord, which his mother had promised God. For 12 years, God had him there to be molded and shaped for such a time as this.
Samuel had been in the house of the Lord in preparation for him to become a prophet of God. He was going to become God's voice. It was the same for Paul the Apostle. He went to Saudi Arabia to wait on the Lord. It was about 12 years before he came back to be used by the Lord.
This is a lesson for all of us. People get save and they want to serve the Lord right away. It should not be like that. We have to know God's Word. We have to hear the heartbeat of God before we can serve Him.
God molded and shaped me for many years. I was going to Shepherd's School in Costa Mesa, and the Holy Spirit was teaching me. That was when God spoke to my heart and called me to teach and preach. I heard from the Lord, and I stepped out by faith. For four and a half years, we were small.
Sometimes we want to rush things and God does not want to rush. God's plans are perfect. He is never ahead; He is never behind; He is always right on time.
God is never in a hurry, but He is always on time. -Author Unknown-
Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.
1 Samuel 3:1
Underline this, And the word of the Lord was rare in those days. People did not know what was going on. They did not know the Word of God, and Eli the priest did not know what was going on. He was not listening to the Lord.
Think about it. If he was hearing from the Lord, he would have known what was going on. He would have known God was not pleased, and he would have disciplined his children. If he really had the fear of God, he would have removed the leaven from the temple, even though it was his own sons.
These same words could be spoken today. The Word of the Lord is rare, which means not everybody is teaching and not everybody is listening. That is the bottom line. That is what is happening today.
It is all about entertainment. They want to show you something to shock you. It is happening all over the United States right now. The Word of God is no longer the main thing. People no longer come to church to hear from the Lord. They come to be entertained. They do not come to be convicted by the Word. They come to feel good.
Just as God removed Eli and raised up Samuel, He will remove those who do not know His Word and put His priests in His pulpits.
The Bible is not an entertainment. It was never designed to amuse. -J. I. Packer-
Called to Lead the People
and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the Lord where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, that the Lord called Samuel. And he answered, "Here I am!" So he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." And he said, "I did not call; lie down again." And he went and lay down.
1 Samuel 3:3-5
One of the things I love reading about in the Book of 1 Samuel is what God saw in the nation of Israel. Like we see today in the church, He saw there was no leadership in the nation of Israel.
As we come out of the Book of Judges and enter into the Books of 1 and 2 Samuel God begins to teach us His purpose for leadership; His purpose for the nation; and His purpose for the church. He wants people who are available and willing to count the cost in serving Him, loving Him, fully and completely, because it is not easy to serve the Lord.
Samuel was just a little kid, only about 12 years old and the Lord had not spoken to him. This would be the first time God spoke to a young person. He did not speak about Samuel. God spoke about the leadership and the behavior of the nation of Israel.
Many times, God calls people out of their work in the world to build His church and to make up a leadership to lead the people to the heart of God. In order to lead people to God's heart, you have to have the heart of God. If you do not have the heart of God, you cannot lead people to the heart of God. Samuel will teach us how to have the heart of God.
A man should only enter the Christian ministry if he cannot stay out of it. -D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones-
George Washington's Birthday
Stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free, and do not be entangled again with a yoke of bondage.
As the first President of the United States, George Washington is a role model for the men who have come after him. The Bible tells us God raises one man up and sets another down. Clearly, the Lord raised him up to be President and Commander-in-Chief.
Washington proved to be a great leader, as he understood his position. Having just won freedom from the powerful King of England, he knew the people desired liberty. They did not want to be in bondage to a king again.
Just as we were set free from the bondage of sin, by the blood of Christ; our nation was set free from a monarchy by the blood of the men who gave their lives for our freedom. President Washington saw this sacrifice first hand on the battlefield.
Understanding this great sacrifice the people made for freedom, he made sure our new leadership respected the life and liberty of the people. While the king treated the people as children, who could not make their own decisions, this new government would be run according to the will of the people.
The world has changed since Washington was president, but the will of the people to govern themselves has not changed. Today, we must take time to pray for our leaders and the direction they are leading us.
It will be found an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition he may abuse it. -George Washington-
Seek Him Unceasingly
So he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." And he said, "I did not call; lie down again." And he went and lay down.
1 Samuel 3:5
This is the second time young Samuel heard the voice of the Lord calling him, but he did not know it was the Lord, so he ran back to Eli. He knew he heard the voice and he assumed it had to be Eli, even though the priest kept sending him back to bed.
I like the perseverance of Samuel. He kept going back to Eli. He did not give up. There is one thing you cannot do with most young people, discourage them. They do not get discouraged easily and will continue to move forward until they find out what is going on.
We get discouraged as we get older, because of different problems and circumstances. We allow the things of this world to wear us down. We are no longer curious and become easily discouraged by life.
You think Samuel is going to give up, but every time he hears a voice, he gets up and runs to Eli. Instead of listening to the true voice of God, he could have listened to Eli's voice, who was not a spiritual man. He had major problems in his call before God. He did not hear the voice of the Lord, so God was going to speak to Samuel.
I wonder how many of us would have gotten up every time we heard the voice of the Lord. It is so important to seek the Lord without ceasing, be sensitive to His voice and not allow the noise of this world to drown Him out.
The will to persevere is often the difference between failure and success. -Donald Sarnoff-
Age of Accountability
(Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him.)
1 Samuel 3:7
As I said before, many believe Samuel was around the age of 12 when he first heard the Lord. This is in alignment with the Jewish tradition of the Bar Mitzvah and Bat Mitzvah, which mean "son of the commandment" and "daughter of the commandment," in Hebrew and Aramaic.
A young Jewish boy celebrates this coming of age ceremony at the age of 13 and the girls celebrate at the age of 12. After this ceremony, they are accountable before the Lord for keeping His commandments. Their parents are no longer accountable for their actions.
As Gentiles and Christians, we do not have a coming of age ceremony for our children, but I think it is very important to recognize a childâ€™s accountability. I do not know if we can put an age to it, but I think it is when a person knows what is right and what is wrong. Then, you are accountable before the Lord and before the world.
Today, parents are held responsible for the actions of their children until they turn 18 years old. If they vandalize a house or steal a car, the parents can be sued for the damages, because their teenager does not have the money to pay.
I like the Jewish tradition of accountability, because a teenager does know the difference between right and wrong and should be held accountable for their actions. I think we would see less juvenile crimes if young people were held accountable.
Responsibility walks hand in hand with capacity and power. -John G. Holland-
And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you did call me." Then Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, 'Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!â€ And Samuel answered, â€œSpeak, for Your servant hears."
1 Samuel 3:8-10
We see the Lord called to Samuel a third time. The Lord was waiting for two things to happen. First, he wanted to awaken Eli spiritually. At first, Eli, did not realize the Lord was calling Samuel. He thought Samuel was hearing things. Now, Eli perceived is it the Lord calling Samuel, and He is not calling Eli. Eli should have woken up spiritually by then and asked, "Why isn't God speaking to me? I am the leader."?
The second thing the Lord wanted to happen was for Samuel to answer Him. He called and called until Samuel answered back. God is persistent with us. He calls out with a desire to have a relationship with us, but sometimes we are too busy or distracted to hear and answer Him.
We have to realize, when we lose the anointing of God, God has to speak to somebody else, because we are not listening. We do not accept God's chastisement or His direction. Pastor Chuck always told us, "If you are no longer teachable, then God cannot use you." He will find someone else. He will raise up another Samuel, who is open to the prompting of the Holy Spirit.
Without God, we cannot. Without us, God will not. -Augustine-
Listening to God
And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, "Here I am, for you did call me." Then Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy.
1 Samuel 3:8
I find something very interesting in this chapter. I ask myself, Why would God call Samuel and talk to the boy, instead of speaking to the priest? Think about that for a minute. Why did he not speak to the leader, the priest? Eli was the one appointed to speak to the people for the Lord. God would speak to him, and he would speak to the people.
The reason God had to go to Samuel was because there was no communication between God and Eli. It was cut off, because Eli was not listening to the Lord. God was looking for someone who wanted to hear and speak truth.
Eli had the position, like so many pastors and people in ministry, but they do not have the authority -- they do not have the authority of God. They do not even know who God is, because they do not hear Him.
This insight made me stop and examine my own personal life, because this is pretty heavy. When Eli realized it was the Lord, he did not ask himself, "How come He did not speak to me? How come He spoke to Samuel? If I am leading, why would He speak to somebody else?"
God will speak to somebody else when you are no longer leading. When you are no longer listening to God; He will speak to somebody else. He will use someone else, when you are no longer obedient to Him.
Whoever strives to withdraw from obedience withdraws from grace. -Thomas Ã¡ Kempis-
Therefore Eli said to Samuel, "Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, 'Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.' " So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
1 Samuel 3:9
Finally, for the first time, Samuel is going to hear the voice of God. The Lord is going to speak to Him and reveal His plans to this young boy. If Eli had not experienced this with him, who would believe Samuel had really heard from the Lord?
This reminds me of a movie I watched when I was about 7 years old. I always remember this movie; it is called Marcelino Pan Y Vino, a Catholic movie. It was about this little boy and the Virgin appeared to him, but nobody believed him. Eventually, God gave him a miracle, so they would believe. I never forgot that movie.
When God comes into our lives, and we really hear the voice of God, people are not always going to believe us, because they have not heard the voice of God. They think we are dreaming or making it up. We do not have to worry about people believing. We just trust in the Lord and wait for Him to bring things to pass. Then you will see people believe.
I believe God wants to speak to each one of us. He wants to use our lives. He wants to anoint us to serve Him. He is just waiting for us to say, 'Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.' It always comes back to our choices. We choose whether we are going to walk with the Lord and listen to His voice or walk in the world, following the prompting of our flesh, Satan and the world. Think about it and seek the anointing of the Lord.
Divine work must be divinely initiated. -Watchman Nee-
Faithful & Just
Then the Lord said to Samuel: "Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end."
1 Samuel 3:11-12
The message the Lord gives to Samuel is not for Samuel; it is for Eli and his house. It is a message of coming judgment against the house of Eli. God had warned Eli, but there had been no repentance. Eli's sons, Hophni and Phinehas, did not stop their evil ways and repent, and Eli did nothing to stop them, even though God warned them.
God revealed the judgment to Samuel in Verse 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.
Notice, his sons were vile before the Lord, and Eli did not restrain them. It was his responsibility to restrain his children. God placed the responsibility of training up children on the parents. It is not God's responsibility to restrain our children; it is ours.
God is faithful and just. That is His character. He gave the warning to Eli, and He gives us the warning when we are walking in sin and have become vile before Him. It is our responsibility to heed the warning and make a change. We cannot blame God. He is always faithful and just!
What God is to one saint He is to all saints. -William S. Plumer-
New Yearâ€™s Day
Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
I love the Book of Jeremiah and the words he has for us. Remember, Jeremiah is known as the weeping prophet. Throughout his entire ministry to the nation of Israel, not one person repented. He saw no fruit from his ministry, to comfort him in the great persecution he faced. Yet, he provided these comforting words to a rebellious people.
This is a great lesson for every Christian, especially as we enter into a new year. God has called each one of us to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ to a lost and dying people. He has called us to provide hope in the face of despair.
There are many people facing great trials. They have experienced tremendous loss: emotionally, physically and financially, and they were not prepared. They were trusting in themselves, their possessions and the people around them.
As we have walked with the Lord, we have come to the realization that hope can only be found in Jesus Christ. Without Him, we are all a hopeless people. We would have eternity in hell without Him.
As the nation of Israel went into captivity, Jeremiah gave them this message from God. He told them to call upon God, and He would listen. He said when they sought God with all their hearts, they would find Him. No matter how we begin this New Year, or the trials to come, we can find hope in the Lord. Outside of Him, we are truly a hopeless people.
Hope is grief's best music. -Author Unknown-
Rebellion Against God
"After that He gave them judges for about four hundred and fifty years, until Samuel the prophet. And afterward they asked for a king; so God gave them Saul the son of Kish, a man of the tribe of Benjamin, for forty years."
We are going to start the New Year with the Book of 1 Samuel. There is so much for us to learn in Samuel. I think it can help us in these last days, as we see the wickedness of the world becoming acceptable behavior.
When we look at the country today, and the church, we see evil prospering. It is important to recognize, sinful living is no longer confined to the non-believer. Sinful living has become the norm for the Christian. How can this be so?
As we study 1 Samuel, we will study three major stars: Samuel, Saul and David. These are men who need to be studied in-depth, because they were each very different, with three different jobs.
The first person we will learn about is Samuel, who was called to be, not only a prophet, but also a judge. He was the last judge for the children of Israel, before they asked for a King. This is important, because this request from the nation of Israel was open rebellion against the Lord. They were not rejecting Samuel; they were rejecting God as their King.
Think about your own personal lives. How many people are being led by their emotions, because they do not want to be under authority? How many think the principles of Christian living, given in the Bible, need to be changed to align with the culture of today? Be careful, you are falling into the same sin as the people of Israel -- the desire to be like the world.
If I walk with the world, I can't walk with God. -D.L. Moody-
Repent & Cry Out
In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
As we enter into the Book of 1 Samuel, we have to look at the state of the nation of Israel. In the Book of Judges, we see Joshuaâ€™s generation passed away and another generation came along who did not know the Lord (Judges 2:10). They did not remember the things of the Lord or how He had delivered them from their enemies.
Now, as we open the Book of 1 Samuel, we see the Israelites were doing their own thing; they did what was right in their own eyes, even though God had given them judges. Every time they went deep into sin, they were defeated by their enemies. The judge would cry out to God for them; but the moment there was peace, they went right back into the sin. It was a cycle of apostasy.
Look at the United States of America -- where are we today? Are we witnessing the judgment of God? We have sunk so deep into sin; we are falling so far from being a world leader. We are living in a time when so many do not know the Lord. It is a time of apostasy.
In many ways, we are living in the same conditions as the children of Israel during this time, but we are too blind to cry out to God. We continue to do what we think is right in our own eyes. I am talking about the church, not just the world.
It is time for the church to repent and cry out to the Lord. We cannot run towards the sins of the world. We must stop and make a stand. We must be like Samuel and stand in righteousness.
To do so no more is the truest repentance. -Martin Luther-
Now there was a certain man of Ramathaim Zophim, of the mountains of Ephraim, and his name was Elkanah the son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite.
1 Samuel 1:1
Beginning in Chapter 1, we begin with the life of Elkanah. It is a story about a divided home. Elkanah was from Ramathaim Zophim, which is near Ramah. It is about 50 miles north of Jerusalem.
Elkanah's name in Hebrew means "acquired of God." God acquired this person to be the father of Samuel, whose name means, "asked of God." We see how God was establishing the base, the foundation. Coming into 1 Samuel, there was no one to lead the people. There was no leader, and the people were concerned.
Again, in the Book of Judges, everybody did what was right in their own eyes; so God was not giving them the victory over their enemies. They had no leadership to follow, and God, was not only aware of it, He was listening to the people and He already had a plan. The people did not know it, but God had an amazing plan.
God has a plan for each one of our lives, yet so often, we do not understand what He is doing, but He always has a plan and a purpose. He always knows what He is doing.
If you want God to do amazing things with your life, do not question the works of His hand. See where His Spirit is moving and jump in.
God watches and weeds us, and continues His labor upon us, till He brings us to the end of His promise. -Richard Sibbes-
Be a Blessing or a Curse
And he had two wives: the name of one was Hannah, and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had no children.
1 Samuel 1:2
Now, we begin to see the source of the family division. Elkanah had two wives. One was Hannah, which means "grace," and the other, Peninnah, meaning "jewel," but she was no jewel or treasure. She was a mocker. She loved mocking Hannah, because Hannah could not have babies.
People often ask why God allowed men to have two or more wives in the Bible. It was never God's intention. In Genesis 2, God instituted marriage, and it was one husband with one wife. Polygamy came about, because it was the custom of the land, but not Godâ€™s custom.
During this time, if a woman could not have babies, then a man could take a second wife to bear children. The one who could not have a child was considered cursed. In Deuteronomy 7:13-14, Moses said having children was a blessing, so people thought barrenness was a curse.
This is the reason Peninnah was able to mock and torment Hannah. She believed she was blessed by God and Hannah was cursed, but she was wrong. Later, we will see how the Lord blessed Hannah.
Peninnah should have been a jewel. She should have been a treasure, but she was a thorn. She could have comforted Hannah but instead she was a curse.
We can be a blessing to others or a curse. It is not about our name, but who we are -- Christians.
If we are not very kind we are not very holy. -Author Unknown-
Fear of the Lord
This man went up from his city yearly to worship and sacrifice to the Lord of hosts in Shiloh. Also the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, the priests of the Lord, were there.
1 Samuel 1:3
Elkanah and his family went to the city of Shiloh every year, to worship the Lord and offer sacrifices. At this time, the tabernacle was in Shiloh, not Jerusalem. When the children of Israel came into the Promised Land, God had them assemble the tabernacle in Shiloh. This was before the permanent Temple of the Lord was built by Solomon in Jerusalem.
Shiloh was about 50 miles north of Ramathaim, where Samuel was born, and Elkanahâ€™s family traveled there every year to worship the Lord. Imagine that. For us, 50 miles is nothing, but for them it was a great distance to travel, especially with your entire family.
Why did they make this journey every year? They went to worship the Lord of hosts. Now, this is the first time in the Bible we see the words, the Lord of hosts, which means, "the Lord of the armies," or "Lord of all creation."
Look at the great reverence Elkanah had for the Lord. He recognized who God is and went to the tabernacle yearly to offer sacrifices and worship the Lord. It was not easy, but he made the journey with his family, because He had the fear of the Lord. He was not afraid; He had great awe and reverence for God.
When we sleep in on Sunday, what is our excuse? Do we have awe and reverence for who God is?
The fear of God is the soul of godliness -John Murray-
And whenever the time came for Elkanah to make an offering, he would give portions to Peninnah his wife and to all her sons and daughters. But to Hannah he would give a double portion, for he loved Hannah, although the Lord had closed her womb.
1 Samuel 1:4-5
He does not say anything about loving Peninnah, but he obviously loved Hannah more, even though she could not have babies. If not, he could have divorced her, but he loved her too much.
Elkannah felt bad for Hannah, and knew she suffered greatly, because she could not have babies. In his great love for her, he gave her a double portion to present to the Lord as an offering. He tried to ease her pain.
Although we know God closed her womb, I wonder if Satan used this to torment Hannah. Did he whisper words of condemnation in her ears and make her think she had done something awful, and the Lord was punishing her, by denying her children.
That is how Satan harasses people. He says, "You cannot have children because of what you did in the past." Satan always brings up our pasts to try and discourages us and make us turn from the Lord.
When we get harassed or condemned by Satan, we have to be like Hannah and come before the Lord. She brought her offering to the Lord every year. She did not walk away from God but she pursued Him.
Satan, the hinderer, may build a barrier about us, but he can never roof us in, so that we cannot look up. -J. Hudson Taylor-
And her rival also provoked her severely, to make her miserable, because the Lord had closed her womb.
1 Samuel 1:6
Verse 6 gives us insight into the problem. The two women were rivals. They both sought Elkanah's attention. It seems Peninnah knew he loved Hannah more, so she used her barrenness as an instrument to harass her. Look what it says. Peninnah provoked Hannah to make her miserable. She harassed Hannah constantly.
While Peninnah worked so hard to make Hannah miserable, it was really the Lord who closed her womb. He was not trying to make her miserable. It is really important we understand; whatever God does, He has a purpose for it. Also, it is not our time but God's time. Remember that; it is always God's time.
When we want something, we get desperate. We get impatient. We start flipping out, and God says, "Well, go ahead do it, but I am not going to be with you." We step out of God's perfect will.
I think this is something for all of us to understand; whatever we do, we have to make sure we are aligned with God's purposes and God's perfect time. If not, it will fail and then who do we blame? God? No, blame yourself. You did not wait upon God.
Like Hannah, we have to wait on God. His perfect time is complete and on time. If we want to walk in His perfect will, we cannot be swayed by others. We have to allow God to do whatever He wants to do in our lives.
Nothing lies beyond the power of man if it is within the will of God. -James E. Crowther-
So it was, year by year, when she went up to the house of the Lord, that she provoked her; therefore she wept and did not eat.
1 Samuel 1:7
Peninnah did not harass Hannah for a short time. This went on and on for years. Year by year, Hannah would go up to the house of the Lord and Peninnah would provoke her. Finally, Hannah had too much and she broke down in tears. She was so tired of the constant harassment; she started weeping and stopped eating.
I really believe, at this particular moment, God was putting it in her heart to pray and fast. It was time for Hannah to really get serious with God. She had allowed the enemy, her rival, to harass her long enough. She had to bring it all before the Lord and allow Him to handle the situation.
I believe God allows things to happen in our lives in order to draw us closer to Him. Many times, we try to handle things on our own, in our own strength, when they are things requiring the power of God. We are unable to resolve them without the empowering of the Lord.
There are also times when God wants us to show our faith. Are we going to crumble under the threats of our enemies, or stand strong in the Lord, knowing He is our defense?
As Christians, this is an important lesson for each one of us. When people come against us, we have to rely upon the Lord. He is our defense. We can stand strong in Him -- our strong tower.
That my times are in God's hand is a fact, whether I realize and experience it or not. -E.F. Hallock-
Peace with God
Then Elkanah her husband said to her, "Hannah, why do you weep? Why do you not eat? And why is your heart grieved? Am I not better to you than ten sons?"
1 Samuel 1:8
Elkanah thought his love for Hannah should be enough, but it was not about him. The situation she found herself in was distressing. She could not have children, and it broke her heart. Not only was her heart broken but she was reminded of her lack of children every day.
I love the way God works. Once God sees you breakdown; once He sees your humility and you separate yourself from everybody, start weeping, praying and fasting, results will come. I promise you. If you are not honest in your commitment to God and your devotion to God, then God will never answer your prayer.
God answers prayer according to His will, not according to your will or my will. This is important. Many times, we say, "God answered my prayers." Did He really? How do you know?
The only way I know God answered my prayer is the peace I find. There is peace in my life, and I do not have to struggle. When I do not have peace, I am worried. I am concerned, because I know something is wrong, and I cannot sleep or do anything until God gives me peace.
Hannah loved her husband, but she had no peace in her life. She was miserable. It was time to turn everything over to God and seek peace with God. It may be time for you to turn everything over to God and seek peace with Him.
Peace comes not from the absence of trouble, but from the presence of God. -Alexander Maclaren-
So Hannah arose after they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh. Now Eli the priest was sitting on the seat by the doorpost of the tabernacle of the Lord. And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish.
1 Samuel 1:9-10
When Hannah went out, she did not know Eli was there. He was on one side and she was on the other side. She was so consumed with her grief, she did not see him. She was blinded by her tears and grief.
Hannah did three things we need to look at. She was in bitterness of her soul. She was weeping in anguish; and she was praying to the Lord. First, she was in bitterness of soul; does this mean she was angry with the Lord? No. In the Hebrew, the word for bitterness was mar and it means "of pain." She was in great pain, because she could not have children.
Next, it says she wept in anguish. Hannah longed for children and she wept in great pain, because the Lord had closed her womb. Because of her great pain and anguish, Hannah turned to the Lord in prayer. She knew it was the Lord's wilI, so she went before Him in great humility. She poured herself out to the Lord.
Her actions tell us so much. She did not go before God with a quick prayer, like we often do, "Jesus bless this food. In Jesus name. Amen." She went before the Lord in brokenness. She recognized her need for the great healer and physician; the Lover of her soul. Only God brings us deliverance in the midst of pain and suffering.
Calvary is God's great proof that suffering in the will of God always leads to glory. -Warren Wiersbe-
Raise Up a Child
Then she made a vow and said, "O Lord of hosts, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your maidservant and remember me, and not forget Your maidservant, but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, and no razor shall come upon his head."
1 Samuel 1:11
Hannah came before the Lord and she told Him her great affliction. She was barren. She asked the Lord specifically for a child, but not just a child, a male child. Why? I believe the Lord had already shown her He was looking for a man to be a leader in the temple. Here was a godly woman praying for a godly son; he would be the leader of Israel.
How do you know what your children will be like? It all depends on us; the way we live. There is a time and age when they will make their own choices; but, if they have had a godly influence, like my son Ryan, they come back to the Lord. Why? The Word of God.
When parents brainwash their children with the Word of God, showing love and not condemning, they remember the love of the Lord. If they have never witnessed God's love, grace and mercy, what do they have to come back to? Nothing.
Hannah prayed for a son, to give back to the Lord. What an example. Our children are gifts from God. As godly parents, we have to raise them in the Lord and give them back, so they can serve the Lord.
What we desire our children to be we must endeavor to be before them. -Andrew Combe-
Love & Comfort
And it happened, as she continued praying before the Lord, that Eli watched her mouth. Now Hannah spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard. Therefore Eli thought she was drunk. So Eli said to her, "How long will you be drunk? Put your wine away from you!"
1 Samuel 1:12-14
Hannah did not notice Eli, but he saw her, as she was mumbling, praying to God. Now Hannah did not pray out loud. She spoke in her heart, and her lips were moving, so Eli thought she was drunk.
Eli did not ask her what was wrong. He did not go up to her to minister to her. He asked her if she was drunk. He misjudged her and made an accusation against her.
It is important to remember, in Verse 10, it said Hannah wept in anguish when she left the table and went outside. Eli was at the doorpost and he saw her come out, weeping in anguish. Instead of ministering to her in her time of torment, he accused her of being drunk.
How many times have you been misjudged, because someone did not know your heart? How many times have you been in the middle of a terrible trial and someone came against you and made you feel worse?
This is what happens in the House of the Lord and it should never be. It should never be. We are to love and comfort one another (Philippians 2:1-2).
If a man says he is a Christian but has no love he is simply deluding himself. -Geoffrey Thomas-
Poured Out Soul
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. Do not consider your maidservant a wicked woman, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now."
1 Samuel 1:15-16Underline these words, poured out my soul before the Lord. Hannah was broken before the Lord. She was pouring out the anguish of her spirit to the Lord. Hannah did not just pray; she wept and fasted before the Lord. God saw the heart of Hannah, and He knew she sought Him in all things.
Then she said, for out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken until now. This was not the first time, she had cried out to the Lord. She had been doing this for many years. This was her life; praying, weeping, asking and waiting. She prayed continuously for a child, and God knew it was her greatest desire. This year, everything was going to change and it would be according to God's purposes and divine timing.
Hannah is teaching the church a very important lesson. I think this attitude of prayer is lacking in churches today. We have to really pour out our souls before God. We have to come before Him in brokenness, seeking the will of the Lord.
When we come before the Lord and He sees the desires of our hearts, He will answer our prayers, but not always the way we think it should be. God answers our prayers according to His will because He knows what will build us up and what will destroy us.
God's heavenly plan doesn't always make earthly sense. -Charles R. Swindoll-
God's Promises Bring Peace
Then Eli answered and said, "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him." And she said, "Let your maidservant find favor in your sight." So the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
1 Samuel 1:17-18
Eli was a priest in the House of the Lord, not a prophet, but the Lord used him to speak to Hannah. He told Hannah not to grieve anymore, because God was going to grant her petition. God was going to answer her prayer and give her a child. There was no need for her to weep any longer.
When Hannah heard these words from Eli, she believed him. She did not doubt God would answer her prayer and give her a son. It says she stopped fasting and went away happy. She did not have a sad face.
With these words from Eli, there was no more condemnation, no more anguish; there was peace. She had peace because her hope and faith were in the Lord. She no longer had to face the shame of being barren.
Hannah went away trusting in the Lord. Her faith was not in Eli. He told her the God of Israel grant your petition. Eli did not take credit, he pointed to the Lord. He told her God would give her a child.
In the Bible, God has given all of us His promises. They are there for every believer, so we do not lose hope. The problem with us is we do not always believe the promises. If you want the peace Hannah had, you have to hold onto the promises of God.
Faith and promise meeting make a happy mixture, a precious confection. -John Trapp-
God's Plans & Purposes
Then they rose early in the morning and worshiped before the Lord, and returned and came to their house at Ramah. And Elkanah knew Hannah his wife, and the Lord remembered her.
1 Samuel 1:19
There are two important things to notice here. First, they rose early in the morning to worship the Lord. Every place you read in the Old Testament and the New Testament, God's people always started their day by worshipping God.
I agree with the Bible. It is so important to start your day with the Lord, and then you will be able to walk in the spirit throughout the day. If you do not take time for the Lord first thing in the morning, you risk walking in the flesh.
The second thing I notice in this verse is that the Lord remembered Hannah. That is so cool. Hannah had prayed to the Lord. She had worshipped the Lord, even when she was sad, and God remembered her.
He had never forgotten her, but He was working in His time. It was God's perfect timing for Elkanah to go into her, so Hannah would get pregnant with Samuel. It was not just God's perfect timing for Hannah to have a baby. It was God's perfect timing for a new judge to be born. God gave Samuel to Hannah, because He knew He was going to use Samuel tremendously.
We have to remember, God has a plan for each one of our lives. We just have to worship and wait upon Him, and He will use our lives in a great way.
God knows what He is going to make of us. -James Montgomery Boice-
So it came to pass in the process of time that Hannah conceived and bore a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, "Because I have asked for him from the Lord." Now the man Elkanah and all his house went up to offer to the Lord the yearly sacrifice and his vow.
1 Samuel 1:20-21
One year after Hannah poured out her heart to the Lord and Eli the priest prayed God would grant her petition, Elkanah and his family returned to Shiloh to worship the Lord and offer their yearly sacrifice. This time, Hannah did not go with them to Shiloh, because the Lord had answered her prayers.
Hannah had a child, a little boy and she named him Samuel, which means "asked of God." Hannah had petitioned the Lord for a child and God answered her prayer.
Only one year earlier, Hannah had been in tears, in anguish before the Lord. Now, her sorrows had turned to joy, as she bore her son. It may have seemed like an eternity before the Lord had answered her prayer, but it was not.
Isn't it funny how we can get so caught up in our wants and desires? There are things we want badly, and we think the Lord is not listening to us, or He does not love us, because He is not giving us our wants. That is not the case. God knows what is best for us and all things are done according to His perfect will. He has our best interest in mind; we can wait upon Him and not be stressed out. Do not waste your time worrying.
Worry is an indication that we think God cannot look after us. -Oswald Chambers-
Fully Trusting God
But Hannah did not go up, for she said to her husband, "Not until the child is weaned; then I will take him, that he may appear before the Lord and remain there forever."
1 Samuel 1:22
Hannah was a woman of her word. Remember what she told the Lord back in 1 Samuel 1:11: â€¦ but will give Your maidservant a male child, then I will give him to the Lord all the days of his life, â€¦
Can you imagine what she said to her husband? She finally had a child but she was not going to keep him, so she told Elkanah, "Honey, I am going to take this baby and leave him in the house of the Lord. I am not going to bring him back. I am going to give him to the Lord."
Think about the heart of Hannah. She was not leaving the baby for a short time. She told Elkanah Samuel would remain there forever. Elkanah did not argue with her. He told her, "Do what seems best to you; wait until you have weaned him. Only let the Lord establish His word" (1 Samuel 1:23).
Both Hannah and Elkanah were trusting in the Lord. Their faith was fully and completely in Him. They recognized the Lord gave them Samuel and they stood by their promise to give him back to the Lord.
We perform baby dedications, where we dedicate the babies unto the Lord. We present them to God, but we do not physically give them away. People do not leave the children at the church to be raised by the pastor. When parents dedicate their children to the Lord today, they must be trusting in the Lord to keep them. More importantly, they must keep their word to raise their children in the Lord.
Children need to be trained, not just in the facts of life, but in the ways of life. -Author Unknown-
Now when she had weaned him, she took him up with her, with three bulls, one ephah of flour, and a skin of wine, and brought him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh. And the child was young. Then they slaughtered a bull, and brought the child to Eli. And she said, "O my lord! As your soul lives, my lord, I am the woman who stood by you here, praying to the Lord."
1 Samuel 1:24-26
Once Samuel was weaned, Hannah fulfilled her promise to the Lord and took him to the house of the Lord in Shiloh. She took him to Eli, so she could show him how the Lord had heard her prayers and given her a son.
One year earlier, Eli had rebuked Hannah, because he thought she was drunk when she was praying to the Lord. Then, after she explained her anguish to him, Eli told her, in Verse 17, "Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition which you have asked of Him."
As the Lord was faithful to Hannah, she was faithful to the Lord. She brought her sacrifice to the Lord, along with Samuel, and she gave them to the Lord. She left her son at Shiloh to serve the Lord all of his days.
When I look at my sons, I cannot imagine how Hannah was able to leave her son behind. I am sure it was the hardest thing she ever did, but God was first in her life. She did not put anyone before Him.
Is God first in your life? Can you give up possessions or people, if the Lord asks you to? Learn from Hannah. When you put God first, He will give you the desires of your heart.
God requires no more than faithfulness in our place. -William Gurnall-
Martin Luther King Jr. Day
He who says he is in the light, and hates his brother, is in darkness until now. He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.
1 John 2:9-10
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. is best known as a man who had a dream. Although he died in 1968, people still recognize him as a great leader, a great speaker and a man of peace. He chose love over hate. He encouraged people to solve problems through peace and not violence.
I find it interesting; every year, when this devotion comes out for the national recognition of Dr. King, people write in to tell us what a horrible person he was. Every year, someone has to write in with hate against a man who is no longer here and cannot defend himself.
I never knew the reverend, but I know he studied God's Word. I know he was a shepherd to the flock at the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama. Most importantly, I know he loved the Lord. He loved Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior.
I think it is so important to think before we speak hateful things about another brother or sister in the Lord. Why? John told us. Those who hate their brother or sister live in the darkness. They are not walking with the Lord. They are not in the light.
Remember, we are all flawed. We are all sinful by nature, but when we come to Christ, we must step into the light and leave the darkness behind. If we choose to walk in darkness, we cannot call ourselves sons and daughters of God.
Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that. -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.-
Trust Through Sorrows
For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him.
1 Samuel 1:27
We need to learn to give God the glory and keep our promises to Him. Look at what Hannah said, "I prayed and I am giving him back to the Lord; that is the covenant God and I made. If You give him to me, I will give him back to You Lord. I will give him back to You, because Lord I love You more than I love my child." That is so cool.
Think about how many mommies love their children more than they love the Lord. The children become idols and when idols are built, God takes them away. He will not put up with idols in anybody's life. It is very important for us to understand what takes place.
I remember when my little brother died. Imagine what it must have been like for my mom, knowing her child was gone forever. I have never lost a child; I do not know the feeling, but I have watched my friends go through it and it is a tremendous loss.
Hannah did not lose Samuel to death, but she willingly gave him back to the Lord. It was still a great loss in her life.
It is hard to lose someone you love and yet, God is in control of our lives. God knows what we can handle and what we cannot handle. If we do not trust in the Lord, we are going to point a finger at God. We will get angry and bitter with God. Either God is in control or God is not in control. If we fully trust the Lord, we must trust Him during our sorrows, as well as our celebrations.
Better to have a Christian's days of sorrows than a worldling's joys. -C. H. Spurgeon-
Blown Away By God
"Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord." So they worshiped the Lord there.
1 Samuel 1:28
I love this verse, because Hannah gave Samuel to God and she was not taking him back. Hannah would visit, but she would not raise her firstborn child. Samuel was given to the Lord for his entire life. He belonged to God.
This could have been a day of great sadness for Hannah and Elkanah. There could have been weeping and anguish of heart, but what happened? They worshipped the Lord. They gave their child to the Lord, and then they worshipped Him.
How could this be? Why would they worship at this time? They recognized the blessings of God. They knew Samuel was a gift from the Lord and Hannah had made a promise to God, to give him back. Hannah was blown away by God and the awesome gift He had given her, so she worshipped Him, just like anyone of us would do when blessed by the Lord.
When you look at your life today, are you blown away? Look how far you have come in the Lord and what God has done in your life. You might not think about it, but He has blessed you and will continue to bless you, as long as you remain open to the Holy Spirit. When you are humble before God and listening to what the Spirit is saying God will use your life. He will bless you. He uses people who are simple, humble and have a desire and a passion to serve Him, fully and completely.
The more we are humbled in grace, the more we shall be exalted in glory. -C. H. Spurgeon-
Salt & Light
Help, Lord, for the godly man ceases! For the faithful disappear from among the sons of men.
In the Book of 1 Samuel, the Lord revealed the great need for a righteous man to make a stand. He needed to make a stand not just for himself, but for the nation of Israel. He had to stand for righteousness and holiness.That was God's purpose when Hannah, through prayer, became pregnant. The Lord blessed her and opened her womb to receive a child. She delivered her baby, and named him Samuel, which means "asked of God." She prayed, and God answered; giving Israel a righteous leader.
Israel was in big trouble. Not only did they need righteousness, but they needed to be salt and light to the heathen nations. In the Book of Judges, God gave Israel opportunity by raising up judges to lead them righteously. Every time the judges were called upon, they would deliver the people, but then the people would go right back to their vomit -- just like the people today, they go right back to the vomit.
How are we going to get the message out to the people who do not know the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ? How are we going to raise up Samuels, who will stand in righteousness and not compromise? If we constantly walk in the darkness, we cannot lead people into the light.
In the second chapter of 1 Samuel, we are going to see the difference between Eli's family, an unrighteous priesthood, and the righteous priesthood of Samuel. We will learn to be salt and light to the world.
No candle which God lights was ever meant to burn alone. -J.C. Ryle-
Salvation through Christ
And Hannah prayed and said: "My heart rejoices in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation."
1 Samuel 2:1
In Chapter 1 of 1 Samuel, Hannah was blessed by the Lord and given a child, who she dedicated to serve the Lord for his entire life. Now, in Chapter 2, we have Hannahâ€™s Song of prophecy. She not only became God's choice to bring forth Samuel, but she gave us the prophecy of future salvation, through Jesus Christ.
The significance of salvation is that it is a gift -- a free gift -- you do not have to pay for it. In Ephesians 2, Paul the Apostle explained how the gift of God is free. We are saved by the grace of God not by works. It is the grace of God, given to each one of us individually.
Jesus Christ was not yet born, but Samuel's mother was speaking about what was happening in her time and the Holy Spirit came and gave her this incredible prophecy.
In the New Testament, Luke 2, before Christ was born, we have Mary's Song, when Mary exalted God for giving her the baby Jesus. Just like Hannah, Mary exalted the Lord for the salvation we receive through Christ Jesus.
Do you exalt God? Do you recognize where your salvation comes from. The greatest gift we will ever receive is our salvation and, while it is free to us, it cost the Lord greatly. He gave His only Son, so we would be saved. Think about it and give God the glory.
God does not owe you salvation. You deserve damnation, but He provides salvation. -Billy Sunday-
Rejoice in Salvation
And Hannah prayed and said: â€œMy heart rejoices in the Lord; my horn is exalted in the Lord. I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.â€
1 Samuel 2:1
As I read the Scriptures I see nothing but simplicity. I see the power of God. I see the exaltation of God. This is what Hannah was doing in her prayer. She was praising the Lord, and she went even further by saying, "I smile at my enemies, because I rejoice at Your salvation."
Hannah lived with her enemy. Remember, Peninnah was Elkanah's other wife and she tormented Hannah day and night. She could not get away from her enemy, because she was in the same house.
What God did for Hannah is so cool, because He shut down her enemy. Peninnah tormented Hannah, because she could not have children, so the Lord gave her Samuel and then more children. God took the enemy's weapon away from her.
Now, Hannah was able to smile at her enemy, because she was rejoicing in the Lord. She rejoiced in the salvation of the Lord.
What can your enemy do to you, when God is on your side? Nothing, but you can go before God, fall on your face and pray. When we bring our petitions before the Lord, we can truly trust He is going to take care of it. People can do things to you physically, but emotionally and spiritually, you have to rely upon the Lord. He is your protector -- yours. If you are being defeated the problem is not with God, the problem is with you. Rejoice in your salvation and let God take care of your enemies.
If God has said, 'I will never leave,' we may well say, 'What shall man do?' -John Brown-
Rock of our Salvation
"No one is holy like the Lord, for there is none besides You, nor is there any rock like our God."
1 Samuel 2:2
Hannah began her song unto the Lord with praise and adoration. She recognized who God was in her life. He is like no other God; He is holy, like none of the heathen gods.
Hannah lived surrounded by heathen nations. She saw their idols and their gods but she did not worship them, because she knew those gods were nothing more than manmade idols. They were not holy and had no power.
Hannah not only recognized the holiness of God, but she also saw Him as her firm foundation -- her Rock. Throughout the Old Testament, the Scriptures point to Jesus Christ as the Rock of my salvation. From Deuteronomy 32:15, through the Psalms and into Isaiah 17:10, the Scriptures declare Christ as the Rock of our salvation.
The people of Israel recognized the Rock of their salvation, but at times, they turned from Him, as in Deuteronomy 32:15:
"But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; you grew fat, you grew thick, you are obese! Then he forsook God who made him, and scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation."
In our own lives, we must not only recognize Christ as the Rock of our salvation, but we must treat Him as the Rock -- esteeming Him higher than all other and walking with Him, day by day.
The sea ebbs and flows, but the Rock remains unmoved. -Robert Murray M'Cheyne-
Weighed & Measured
"Talk no more so very proudly; let no arrogance come from your mouth, for the Lord is the God of knowledge; and by Him actions are weighed."
1 Samuel 2:3
Notice, once you recognize who God is -- holy and the Rock of our salvation -- we have to put aside our pride and arrogance. How can we be prideful before the Lord, when we know what retched people we are? We know who we are inside and how we act when we are alone, so we cannot be arrogant before our holy God.
We are not the only ones who truly know us from the inside out. Look at what Hannah said, God has all knowledge and He weighs or measures our actions. What does it mean to measure our actions? God looks at the intent of our heart and determines whether our actions have been done with the right motive.
We can pray every day, but if we are doing it to be seen by man, they are worthless. We can serve in the church or go out and take care of the homeless, but if we are doing it for a pat on the back or to look holy, there is no reward in heaven for it. That is how God weighs our actions.
It is so important to remember who we serve. We can do all kinds of things to impress people but those things will never impress God. He looks at our hearts and sees our motives. He alone knows if we are serving because we love Him and we want to bless others.
It is so cool to serve the Lord and bless others, not just to be blessed by God, but to bless the Lord.
The best past of all Christian work is that part which only God sees. -Andrew Bonar-
All Glory to God
"The bows of the mighty men are broken, and those who stumbled are girded with strength. Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread, and the hungry have ceased to hunger. Even the barren has borne seven, and she who has many children has become feeble."
1 Samuel 2:4-5
Remember, in Verse 3, Hannah told us God weighs or measures our actions. He looks at the intent of our hearts to determine whether what we do is done to glorify Him or bring attention to ourselves.
In Verses 4 and 5, she gives examples of what happens when God weighs our actions, including her personal situation with Peninnah. When our motives are not right before the Lord, the mighty are brought down, the rich are made hungry and the person who has many children will become feeble.
Clearly, Hannah was speaking of Peninnah. While she was blessed with many children, she did not comfort Hannah in her barrenness; she tormented her. Then, in 1 Samuel 2:1, Hannah did not retaliate against Peninnah. She smiled at her enemy, so she was kind to her and her motives were pure. We know this because God blessed her.
God is in control of all things. Look at Verse 6: "The Lord kills and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and brings up."
We do not have to worry about those who come against us. We have to guard our own hearts and be sure we bring glory and honor to the Lord.
A concern for the glory of God is the ultimate motive for Christian living. -Author Unknown-
"The Lord makes poor and makes rich; He brings low and lifts up. He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the beggar from the ash heap, to set them among princes and make them inherit the throne of glory. For the pillars of the earth are the Lord"s, and He has set the world upon them."
1 Samuel 2:7-8
Promotion does not come from the East or the West, it comes from the Lord, the Lord is the one who raises one up and takes down others. It all comes from the Lord, because He has set the earth on its path. He has placed every star in the sky and He holds the universe in the palm of His hand. It is an awesome thing to realize the power and might of the Lord. He truly is the giver of life.
There are many men and women in this world who believe they have become successful on their own. They are self-made men and women. However, the Scriptures tell us a different story. It is the Lord who raises a person out of poverty and makes him to sit among princes.
Now, I am not saying you should sit back, be lazy and wait for the Lord to give you a job or promote you in your job. God expects us to use our minds, to be productive and use the gifts and talents He has given us to serve Him and serve other. In doing this, He will promote you. He will bring you to the attention of the people in charge.
We cannot get caught up in success, as the world defines success. God raises up and God sets down. He looks at our hearts -- our desires and our motives -- and He works things to accomplish His purposes.
God's providence leaves room for our prudence. -Matthew Henry-
Walk Confidently with God
"He will guard the feet of His saints, but the wicked shall be silent in darkness. For by strength no man shall prevail."
1 Samuel 2:9
This is a very important verse. If we want to walk through this life with confidence, we have to memorize this verse, because in ourselves, we cannot be confident. Look at what it says, God will guard the feet of His saints. He will keep us from falling. This is a promise from the Lord.
Then, it says man will not overcome with his own strength. The strength of man is weak in comparison to the strength of the Lord. That is why the wicked will be silent, because they cannot prevail in their own strength.
What is so cool about this verse is the promise God has given us. We do not have to rely on our own strength, because the Lord will keep us from falling. He guards our footsteps.
I experienced this when I had flashbacks for the first time since I had been in Vietnam during the war. I had been healthy and strong all of my life and suddenly, I was struck down. I was laying on the floor facedown before the Lord in prayer. I had no strength in myself. I was dependent upon Him, fully and completely.
The best thing about my experience was realizing I was strongest when I was resting in the strength of the Lord. When we are weak and realize we cannot do it on our own, we place our trust completely in the Lord and He does not fail us. We can walk with confidence, as He guards our steps and gives us strength.
It is better to be as low as hell with a promise than in paradise without one. -John Flavel-
Judgment of God
"The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth. He will give strength to His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed."
1 Samuel 2:10
In Verse 10, Hannah ends her prayer. In Verses 1 and 2, she praised the Lord and recognized Him as her Protector and the Provider of her salvation. She spoke of His holiness and how no one compared to the greatness of God.
As she continued through her prayer, she spoke of the mightiness of the Lord and warned those who would come against Him. She said all things are done by Him, men are raised up and they are brought low, but those who come before Him humbly will be blessed.
As she closed her prayer, she spoke of the future. She spoke to those who would come against the Lord and be His adversaries in the Tribulation Period. They will face the judgment of God in the last seven years of world history.
It is important to realize, those who choose to be enemies of God will not prevail. It may seem like they are prosperous right now, but in the end, they will face judgment. Whether they die now or go through the judgment, all who come against the Lord will be broken in pieces.
While God will give strength to those who follow Him and exalt His anointed, judgment will come against God's enemies. The judgment of God is a powerful thing!
God will give the rebel what he chooses and what he deserves. -Simon Austen-