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for the glory of God

15 July 2019

1 Samuel 3

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.
Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”
Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”
15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”
Samuel answered, “Here I am.”
17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”
19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.The Lord Calls Samuel
The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.
Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”
Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”
15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”
Samuel answered, “Here I am.”
17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”
19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.

God’s call to Samuel is a well-known story – the boy asleep in the sanctuary, and the voice of the Lord coming to him three times. It must have been a dreadful moment for Eli when he realized that God had chosen to speak to Samuel and not to him, and even worse when Samuel confirmed God’s words of judgment against the house of Eli. The priest knew of his own son’s terrible misconduct and how they had abused their positions at the tabernacle – they were described as base and worthless, dishonest and without any regard for the Lord. True to their hardened hearts, they ignored Eli’s rebuke, and he did nothing to restrain them. A man of God had already warned Eli that his priestly line would be cut off (1 Samuel 2:27-36), and the word delivered by Samuel confirmed this.

The sins of Hophni and Phineas were blatant and obvious, but these men were not regenerate – “they did not know the Lord” (verse 12b). Eli, however, knew the Lord, and even though he was old and feeble, he was well aware that his sons were blaspheming the Lord in the most grievous way, and he allowed them to carry on unrestrained. In this way, it could be said that Eli was willfully disobedient to God. Even though Eli seemed like a kind man and a fatherly figure to Samuel, God was greatly displeased that he chose not to act against his wicked sons.

Are we entertaining any sin in our lives? Is there something we know displeases God, but we persist in it? Maybe we’ve convinced ourselves that we have a right to hold onto anger or bitterness against someone who has offended us, maybe we go along with some unjust scheme because we’re afraid to confront those involved, maybe there’s a secret sin that holds us, and we imagine that we’ll deal it later, but for now we’ll just silence our conscience.

The writer to the Hebrews says, “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness, no one will see the Lord.” (Hebrews 12:14). We know that holiness isn’t sinless perfection – John says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). But a holy person, in the words of JC Ryle, will “endeavor to shun every known sin and keep every known commandment”.

The Pharisees tried this and failed, and left to ourselves we would too – but praise God, we have a Saviour, Jesus Christ the righteous one, who fulfilled the prophecy of Ezekiel, “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.” (Ezekiel 36:25-27)

Prayer: Father God, we thank You for Your love and mercy in sending Jesus to bear away our sins on the cross, and thank You Lord Jesus for sending Your Spirit to live in our hearts. O Lord, help us today to listen to the voice of Your Spirit, speaking to us through the scriptures, through the sound advice of godly friends, and through our own consciences. Help us not to willfully sin against You, or hold onto anything that we know displeases You, our loving and merciful Father. In Jesus name, we pray. Amen