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-
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-
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-
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-
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-
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-
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-