TODAY’S READING: I SAMUEL 1-4
God gives Samuel to Hannah; Hannah gives Samuel to God; Samuel gives himself to God; God gives Samuel to Israel; Eli misappropriates the tabernacle by permitting his sons to disobey; Eli misses God’s message; Eli misuses the Ark of the Covenant; Samuel lives; Eli dies.
HIGHLIGHTS & INSIGHTS:
The Book of I Samuel begins at a time when “the word of the Lord was precious” (3:1). It was precious for the same reason platinum is such a “precious” commodity today: because it is incredibly rare! God’s people were in the place He wanted them, (the Promised Land), but they hadn’t actually “possessed their possession” the way God had intended. God had repeatedly warned them in Deuteronomy 8 and 9 of the danger of forgetting Him after He had brought them into the land. The warning had gone totally unheeded, however, resulting in two extremely unfortunate realities in I Samuel: 1) God’s people were not bringing Him the honor, respect, fear, and glory He deserved and/or demanded; 2) God’s people were not experiencing the “abundant life” He had designed for them to enjoy in the “land that flowed with milk and honey.” Once again, Israel is a picture of believers who are “in Christ,” but live lives beneath what God intended life in Christ to be.
Enter Samuel, the miracle child given to a mom who surrendered him to God before he was even born. He was to be the first of the prophets, the last of the judges, and the man that would usher in Israel’s earthly kings. He was born into a time when God’s perfect will was largely ignored. He would faithfully serve God and His people, and yet ultimately be rejected by the people. Though Israel rejected Samuel, God was clear that it was actually Him that they were rejecting (8:7). Because of their rejection of God’s leadership, they sought out kings to lead them as had the other nations of the world. The kings are all ultra-imperfect pictures of Christ, whose kingdom would nonetheless be ushered in at God’s perfect time.
The Book of I Samuel is fast paced and layered with historical and spiritual significance. One of the most intriguing lessons repeated throughout the Book of I Samuel is the way that God always provides a “new perfect will” for His people, even as they mess up the “perfect will” He had them working within the day before. In Chapter 1, it is out of a sticky marital situation that Samuel is born to Hannah. Hannah is one of Elkanah’s two wives who prayed that God would give her some relief from her “adversary” (the other wife with whom she could not get along). Elkanah loved Hannah, but his acceptance of what was culturally acceptable (bigamy), while not in God’s perfect will, was the backdrop for God’s “new perfect will” – Samuel. (Random note – Over 30% of live births in the U.S. are now outside of marriage altogether, which is obviously not in God’s perfect will, and yet God has a “new perfect will” for each of these souls.)
In Chapter 2, when Hannah presents back to God His present to her, she is handing Samuel over to a priest who has long departed from God’s perfect will. He is a carnal, obese (I Sam. 4:18) old man who has allowed his own sons (who are the sons of Belial!) to run the tabernacle. And, run it they did. Right into the ground! Out of this, God’s “new perfect will” emerges. And even with the loss of the Ark of the Covenant in Chapter 4 in a battle improperly fought by Israel, the “new perfect will” of God will emerge. Lamentations 3:22 & 23 says, “It is of the LORD'S mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not. They are new every morning: great is thy faithfulness.” Hallelujah for God’s unending mercies and unfailing compassions for Israel, and US!
CHRIST IS REVEALED:
We see Christ in all that Samuel was meant to be – judge, priest, and prophet. John 5:30; Hebrews 7:26 and Acts 7:37.