God Prepares to Deliver Israel
1 Samuel 1:1–7:17
1st & 2nd Samuel Lesson #006
March 24, 2015
We often talk about evangelism; that is with our lips and with our lives. Many of us hope that the witness of our life makes a difference. I have known several Christians, some of whom you know, and the people I am thinking of are men. They are men of great integrity and in many ways they have a tremendous non-verbal witness in their businesses and in their professional life; but because of the nature of their work, they don’t always get an opportunity to communicate the gospel to people as they build relationships. Sometimes they do. I am particularly thinking of about three different examples, and several of you would know the people I am talking about who have told me this. They are involved with somebody, and they will get to a point where somebody they’ve known for five, ten, fifteen years and they get to a point where they can communicate the gospel to them. The people they communicate the gospel to are absolutely flabbergasted that someone as intelligent, resourceful, professional and who excels in their profession like this person does, would believe claptrap like the Bible.
I thought about that and I thought you know, a lot of people I think don’t want to put ourselves out there too much in terms of what we believe because we might get a response like that. But the reality is, a witness with a life only goes so far. We need to have the courage to be challenging people with the truth of God’s Word and truly believing it. This last week I was looking at a posting on Facebook where Bob Bolender, who is the pastor of Austin Bible Church, had posted something about a video that was out on the Internet somewhere of a video from the Pre-Trib Rapture Study Group. He was relating on his Facebook post to a variety of very negative and critical insulting responses that were posted from people who just couldn’t believe these idiot Christians who believe some book that was written 3,000–4,000 years ago and spend all their time talking about what could happen in the future. There comments were so nasty and so insulting. You can’t take offense at it because they’re spiritually dead. They don’t know any better, but what I’ve seen is the level of hostility and disdain that the world has for Christians in America. It wasn’t that way or at least they didn’t voice it 20 or 30 years ago, maybe because they didn’t have anonymous social media or the Internet to post their comments. It just didn’t get posted.
But today we live in a world that is really hostile to biblical truth, and that’s not any different from the world in which we find ourselves at the beginning of 1 Samuel. As we look at 1 Samuel (slide 2), we recognize the depravity of the Israelite culture at the end of the period of the Judges: that in that culture they had given themselves over completely to moral relativism. They had given themselves over in many ways to idolatry where they were worshiping the gods of the surrounding nations, the gods of the Philistines, the gods of the Canaanites, the gods of the Amorites, and the gods of all of the fertility religions. Their lives weren’t discernibly different from the culture around them, but in some cases they were worse. I have often asked the question, because a lot of times in Christianity as I’ve grown up there is a level of disdain and a negativism that is expressed by Christians about unbelievers, that all unbelievers don’t have any morals, as if all unbelievers lack integrity, as if all unbelievers are untrustworthy; and that is not true.
There are many, many people in this country who are unbelievers but have levels of integrity that far surpass, sadly, a lot of Christians. I often wonder if within the framework of evangelical Christianity that truly believes in grace, if we live our lives on the basis of grace, but do we live them in a frivolous manner that doesn’t really demonstrate what we think we’re demonstrating to the unbelievers around us? Obviously, in the relativistic culture of the Israelites in about 1100 BC there was not any difference between those who were Israelites, who were God’s covenant people, God’s chosen people, and the people that surrounded them. It is a culture that was completely given over to some of the most horrific practices, like child sacrifice. You see evidence of that with Jephthah back in the book of Judges; and where the leadership of Israel was exemplified by someone who had such low morals as Samson who treated women with such disrespect, who treated his parents with such disrespect, who was violating the Law of Moses every time he turned around.
When we get into those last episodes of Judges that I talked about last time, we see the perversion and apostasy within some of the members of the priesthood, the Levites, and how they led the nation into apostasy and into idolatry. We wonder, can there be any hope? They are just at the very bottom. If the Lord had let them go a little further He would have had to remove them from the land in 1100 BC instead of waiting until 722 BC or 586 BC because they were just so perverse. Yet what we see in Samuel is as bad as it was in Israel at the time it changed completely within a couple of generations due to the grace of God and due to the leadership of just a few individuals. The culture changes, so by the time we get to the end of 1 Samuel, which is a period of about 100 years after the beginning of the book, there is this tremendous shift that has occurred within the Israelite culture, not unlike the shift that occurred in places like Britain during the Protestant Reformation; the shift from the beginning to the middle of the 1500s to the beginning to the middle of the 1600s. Just a tremendous shift as people became focused and immersed in the study of God’s Word and its application in their lives.
So we see that the same God who delivered Israel in the Old Testament (OT) is the same God who delivered Britain during the 16th and 17th centuries, and is the same God who can transform things in our culture. Things radically need to be transformed. The hostility to biblical truth is palpable, and you can almost cut it with a knife in many areas of this county. You go to the northeast, the northwest, the left coast; it is horrific to be a Christian and to take a stand for biblical Christianity; and that’s just a preview of coming attractions. We’re protected to a large degree in the south and in the Bible belt, but the residual impact of biblical truth in our culture is rapidly eroding. When we look around us and we look at the culture around us, the hostility toward biblical Christianity, sometimes people want to give up. They just think it is hopeless.
Well the Lord is going to come back. What we learn from the Scripture is no situation is ever hopeless, whether it’s personal or whether it’s cultural or national: that God is in the business of changing people’s lives, changing the way they think; and He is in the business of changing culture. But He does that through people who are focused on Him and who are focused on biblical truth and obeying Him, often obscure people, people the world thinks of as fools, people who are irrelevant. That’s what we see at the beginning of Samuel. We see a woman who is barren. She is the “put out to pasture” first wife who was infertile and who could not have children; and yet it is through her and her devotion and focus on God, and she is presented in Scripture as one of the most spiritually focused women in all of the OT, yet it is through her and the son that God gives her that Israel is going to be transformed. It’s by someone who is not a person who is socially respected by everyone. It’s not somebody who is an aristocrat. It’s not somebody who is someone you would expect.
Later on, the great deliverer that everything focuses on in Samuel is first introduced to us as the youngest, most disdained son of a family of sons; and he is like the youngest boy in any family: rejected by his father and his brothers, and he is put out with the sheep. He is virtually ignored by everybody else in the family. God is in the business of taking people who seem to be socially, culturally, politically impotent and transforming societies and cultures through them because of their devotion to the Word. It is that devotion to the Lord and devotion to the Word that is so critical. What we see in this section of Samuel and in Samuel is that God is preparing to deliver Israel. That full deliverance doesn’t come until we get into 2 Samuel. Its beginning begins in 1 Samuel, and as I get into this, we’ll see that there are three basic divisions to 1 Samuel. But just a reminder, a chart I’ve put up several times (slide 3) that gives us the chronological framework for the period of this book: Samuel’s dates are roughly, these are approximates, roughly 1115 BC to 1020 BC. So that covers from the beginning to just about the end of this book, somewhere around 1010 BC. Ten years after Samuel dies is when Saul is killed, and the Israelite army is defeated by the Philistines at Mt. Gilboa. Samuel’s life overlaps that of Samson’s, who he is contrasted to at the beginning of this book, as I pointed out last time. He overlaps a little bit the judgeship of Jephthah in the Transjordan, and he of course overlaps with Saul. He overlaps with the Ammonite oppression coming in from the east, as well as the Philistine oppression coming from the area that is today the Gaza Strip coming in from the southwest. That gives us our little chart. Now what I want to look at is that we are still in this cycle of the judges (slide 4) where Israel is disobedient. That’s what we see here. They are disobedient. They’ve still been disobedient since the beginning of the announcement of the birth of Samson. God brings them under discipline, and the agent of discipline at this time is the Philistines. And then there is a cry out for deliverance.
This is the focal point. It is how God is delivering Israel during this time, how God delivers a nation, and that’s the story basically of 1 Samuel. Then there is going to be another cycle, but the cycle is broken, which means the cycle can be broken. What breaks the cycle is the grace of God. Now you will hear me talk about the grace of God as I set up this first section in 1 Samuel. I’ve done a flyover of the whole book, but tonight I want to do a little bit of a flyover as we narrow down to the first section in Samuel which involves the first seven chapters. As we look at that, we see that grace is the starting point, and there’s a play on words there because the woman who is the focal point on which the deliverance turns, is named Channah from the Hebrew word chen, which is the word for grace. Her name means “God is gracious,” so there’s that emphasis. How does God deliver Israel? Through grace; and the woman He uses is a woman whose name is Grace.
Here are the three divisions (slide 5). I want you to think about this a minute as we look at Samuel itself. The first seven chapters represent the first major division.
I. That God is preparing to deliver the nation Israel from her enemies by grace, 1 Samuel 1–7. God always deals with the human race on the basis of grace, and so this first section, the first seven chapters, God is preparing. He needs to set it up. It takes about 30-40 years to effect that change. Change doesn’t happen quickly. You don’t change to the negative quickly. We didn’t get in this mess in our country just because Barak Obama was elected in 2008. We got in this mess in this country because starting with the post WWII period, we failed to pass the test of prosperity, and spiritually we failed to follow the Lord. There was superficial obedience in the 50s and 60s, but there was an undercurrent of disobedience, which really played out, not with the WWII generation, but with the Baby Boomers.
The Baby Boomers were spoiled rotten, and they were taught wrongly. I always think of the irony that today we think of the golden age of television, and if our kids just grew up on Leave it to Beaver and Ozzie and Harriet, or on some of those family shows, then they would turn out wonderfully. Well the Baby Boomers grew up on that and they didn’t turn out so wonderfully – because there are deeper and more profound influences in the culture; and to change the culture takes time, and it takes energy, and above all it takes a focus on God’s Word by God’s people. God prepares to deliver the nation Israel from her enemies by grace. The second major division is going to come up from 1 Samuel 8–15.
II. God establishes the office of the king, 1 Samuel 8–15. We know that the first king isn’t the king God wanted Israel to have, but He still has to teach them a lesson and give them a king like all the other nations have. That’s ultimately the kind of thing that we voted for in 2008. We wanted a president like they have in Europe. We wanted to have a culture like they have in Europe. We wanted to be more like the Europeans, and we wanted to forget about American exceptionalism and the influence of biblical Christianity on American culture. That is what made American culture – the influence of biblical truth. It wasn’t the influence of the liberal ideas that came out of the enlightenment and bore their fruit in the 19th century with socialism and Marxism and coming out of psychology and sociology and these other ways of thinking that were not based on absolutes. When western civilization gave itself over to these ideas and the foundations of western civilization began to crumble, it took longer for that to impact the United States, but it did; and what happened in 2008 with that election was the fruit of 150 years of the increasing impact of apostasy, secularism, and atheism.
To reverse that takes time. God still had a lesson to teach the Israelites. They had to learn that they weren’t to be like everybody else. God had a distinct role for them. They needed to have a unique king, a king not like all the other nations have, but a king that would be a man after God’s own heart. That took time to prepare the nation and to prepare that individual; and that’s David. David is anointed by Samuel in 1 Samuel 16. So the third division of this book comes up here:
III. God decreases the influence of Saul, who is still the king, and increases David, 1 Samuel 16– 2 Samuel 1.
- God prepares to deliver the nation.
- Then God establishes the king.
- Then God decreases the significance of Saul and increases David.
We see that charted out this way (slide 6); Samuel is the key person in 1 Samuel 1–7. Then we see Saul and the rise of Saul in 1 Samuel 8–15, and then his decline; and then David’s rise in 1 Samuel 16–31. That’s a starting point. What I want to do tonight is look at these first seven chapters so that we understand the flow of what’s going on in these chapters. It is so important to understand not just the individual details, but what the writer of Scripture is teaching and communicating. One of the ways I learned this, in fact I learned this when I taught 1 Samuel about 25–30 years ago, is that you read all kinds of outlines; but in narrative literature, the hero of the story in the Bible is always God. The best way to express that in an outline is not what you’ll find in most outlines; and that is Samuel did this, or Hannah prayed to the Lord for the birth of Samuel, but the “actor,” the One who is in control of history, is the Lord, and He is the hero in the narrative (slide 7).
1. The first division covers 1 Samuel 1:1–2:11 where the Lord graciously prepares Israel for deliverance through the birth of a son. Does that ring a bell? This is a pattern that we have in Scripture, and it foreshadows something. We have the fact that Scripture is great literature, and it is constantly using parallels and foreshadowing in order to teach and instruct things. The Lord graciously prepares Israel for deliverance through the birth of a Son, which is a foreshadowing of the fact that God will deliver the human race from the penalty of sin through the birth of His son, which is announced in Matthew 1 and Luke 2.
2. The second major division in this section is that the Lord prepares Israel for a new era. He’s got to prepare the nation for a new era. That means He’s got to clean out the garbage. He’s got to clean out the evil. It is a picture on a national level of the importance of confession and turning to God in obedience and away from disobedience and sin. There has to be a cleansing; and so this brings judgment upon the house of Eli. In 1 Samuel 2:12–36 the Lord prepares Israel for a new era by blessing Hannah’s family and beginning to judge, bring condemnation on, the House of Eli. Eli is the high priest. His two ne’er-do-well, abusive, pagan sons are taking advantage of the Israelites that are coming to the tabernacle to worship. They’re taking their money. They’re coercing the women to sleep with them in order to be able to worship. They’re turning it into a sex cult, a fertility cult, which was not uncommon, treating the women of Israel as if they were cultic prostitutes, which was very common in the fertility worship of the ancient world.
3. In the third major division, 1 Samuel 3, the Lord initiates Samuel’s role as a prophet. A prophet doesn’t initiate his own role. He doesn’t just stand up and say, “Oh, God spoke to me last night. I’m a prophet.” The Lord initiates that through Samuel’s role as a prophet to Israel and that’s 1 Samuel 3.
4. In 1 Samuel 4 the Lord causes Israel to be defeated. See, they still needed to be disciplined as part of the 4th cycle of discipline in Leviticus 26. They needed to be defeated militarily and under the oppression of a foreign power. God orchestrates that in an interesting way and allows the ark, which is the representation of His Presence, to be captured so that the house of Eli will be judged, because it is in the battle where Israel is defeated that the two sons of Eli are killed; and then when Eli gets the news, he’s 98 years old and is as fat as he can be, and he falls over and lands on his head and breaks his neck. So the house of Eli is judged and ends. Of course Israel is in a state of panic and collapse because now “God’s” been captured.
5. But God is going to demonstrate in 1 Samuel 5:1–7:17 that He is still in charge, that circumstances don’t limit Him. We don’t need to wring our hands when things don’t go the way we think they should. When it seems like God is being defeated, God is still in charge. He’s never defeated, and He has a little fun with the Philistine god Dagon, and demonstrates in this whole episode that He is definitely still in control; and He teaches both the Philistines and Israel that they are not to treat Him with disrespect or to treat Him lightly.
These are the basic five divisions in 1 Samuel 1:1–7:
- The Lord graciously prepares Israel for deliverance through the birth of a son, 1 Samuel 1:1–2:11.
- The Lord prepares Israel for a new era by blessing the family of Hannah and bringing judgment on the house of Eli in 1 Samuel 2:12–36.
- In 1 Samuel 3 the Lord initiates Samuel’s role as a prophet to Israel.
- In 1 Samuel 4 the Lord causes Israel to be defeated, allows the ark to be captured, and brings judgment on the house of Eli, 1 Samuel 4:1–22.
- The Lord establishes His authority, His power, and glory through Samuel’s judgeship in 1 Samuel 5:1–7:17.
Let’s look at each one of these individually. Open your Bibles. You can follow along with me. I’ll point out a few things as we go through this just to get the overview here. In 1 Samuel 1:1 down through 1 Samuel 5:2, we’re introduced to the household of Elkanah. I’ll get into some of the details of this later on. He is probably a Levite. We have his genealogy given in 1 Chronicles 6, but he lives in the territory of Ephraim, which is an area where a number of Levites had taken up residence, according to the book of Judges. He would be referred to as an Ephraimite, not because that’s his tribe, but because that’s his area of residence; but that fits because there’s no problem for Eli to let Samuel live and serve in the temple, and the genealogy in 1 Chronicles 6 confirms that Elkanah is a descendant of a Levite. He’s a Levitical priest. He’s got two wives. His first wife was probably Hannah, the second wife, Peninnah.
Hannah is infertile. She’s barren. She is one of six women in Scripture who is barren, who has not been able to have children; and it’s significant because in Israel under the second or third cycle of discipline, that God would bring barrenness to the wombs of the mothers of Israel. So Hannah is in several ways a picture of Israel at this particular time. She is under oppression within her home from Peninnah. She is barren just as Israel is spiritually barren. She is not able to really accomplish anything in terms of her own purpose. So she is depressed, and she’s grieving, and she is discouraged, and in the course of time, God is going to deliver her from her oppression. The way in which God delivers Hannah from her oppression is the way God is going to deliver Israel from Israel’s oppression from the Philistines. The first twenty verses here, 1 Samuel 1:1–20, the Lord opens up Hannah’s womb. It is interesting how He does this, because unlike an announcement to Samson’s mother from the Angel of the Lord that she would conceive and give birth to a son who would be a Nazarite from birth, it is Hannah who takes the initiative here as a result of her oppression.
You have words that are used here several times: she’s weeping; she’s grieved; she has bitterness of soul; she weeps in anguish; and she is about as depressed and discouraged and hopeless as she possibly can be. God has allowed that suffering to come into her life so that he can accomplish a great purpose in Israel. See, a lot of times we don’t understand why God has brought great suffering or deprivation into our lives because we don’t see the big picture, and we have to learn to trust God. Hannah trusts the Lord, and she makes a vow. We learn that the family is very spiritual, and in the middle of this time period of such moral relativism, every year they would go to the tabernacle and would worship the Lord. They would take animals for sacrifices. You see the spiritual focus and the spiritual leadership in the home for Elkanah. You see his love for Hannah, but since she is unable to give birth, you see that he committed bigamy. He took a second wife, and so what does that remind you of? It ought to remind you, if you were Jewish and reading this, you would be thinking about Abraham and Hagar and Sarah.
The writer brings these kinds of things in there to catch our attention so that we are thinking in terms of God’s plan and God’s purpose. In the first twenty verses, 1 Samuel 1:1–20, we read about God opening up Hannah’s womb and that she conceives; and then she is going to give birth to a son. In 1 Samuel 1:21–28 we read about their response in gratitude. They are not self-centered as many people in Israel were, especially in contrast to Eli and his sons; so that when she gave birth we read in 1 Samuel 1:21, “The man Elkanah and all his house….” (he seems to be a man of some substance and means), they go up to offer the Lord a yearly sacrifice and to make his vow. Hannah doesn’t go up and she says, “Not until the child is weaned.” In our culture that doesn’t seem very old, but in their culture that could be as late as 6–7 years of age. That’s a period of time when she would have a tremendous time of teaching and instruction and spiritual influence upon Samuel before she took him to the tabernacle.
Then she finally brings him to the tabernacle, and she sees Eli and reminds him that they had met before and that she’d prayed to the Lord, and Eli looks at her and says “Are you drunk?” She said no, that she was just praying to the Lord. So she reminds him of all of this, and says that now that she has brought her son and she has loaned him to the Lord that he might serve the Lord, and she worships the Lord. That’s the end of 1 Samuel 1. Then we have this tremendous hymn that she writes in 1 Samuel 2. In fact, she is pictured here as a woman of prayer. We don’t have a prayer. We have a poem of praise by Miriam, but we don’t have a prayer like this expressed from a woman in Scripture. It shows a high view of Hannah’s spirituality in this text. It brings this out, and not only that, but in the course of this hymn she has a messianic prophecy. She understands that the birth of this child, this son, fits somehow into God’s plan of providing his anointed king who will rule over Israel.
Look at 1 Samuel 2:10. It says, “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, and He will give strength to His king.” Now at this point remember, Israel doesn’t even have a king. So she is predicting this. She understands that it is through her son that God’s king is ultimately going to be elevated, and ultimately that relates to a messianic prophecy. Then we read in 1 Samuel 2:11 “Then Elkanah went to his house at Ramah. But the child ministered to the Lord before Eli the priest.” So she leaves Samuel behind.
In these verses (slide 8) from 1 Samuel 1:1–2:11, the Lord graciously prepares Israel for deliverance through the birth of a son. The next division (slide 9) starts in 1 Samuel 2:12 and from 1 Samuel 2:12 down through the end of the chapter, the focus is a contrast between God’s blessing for Hannah and her family, and God’s impending judgment on the house of Eli.
We are told about these evil, corrupt, perverse two sons of Eli and how they treat the Lord contemptuously. The Lord is treated with disdain and is ignored by Eli’s sons. We’re told that the priests’ custom with the people in 1 Samuel 2:13, and this isn’t a Levitical custom by the way, but the priests’ custom with the people was when any man offered a sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come with a three prong flesh hook in his hand while the meat was boiling and just take out whatever it was that they wanted. So they are just using their position of spiritual leadership to abuse the people. By 1 Samuel 2:17, we’re told that “the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord for the men abhorred,” that is the people of Israel, “abhorred the offering of the Lord.” You didn’t want to go there to worship because the leaders were so corrupt and so perverse. We read about the corruption of Eli’s sons in 1 Samuel 2:12–17, and then we’re introduced to Samuel again. We shift back to Samuel as we see him grow.
The language that is used to describe Samuel’s growth is picked up in Luke to describe the growth of the Lord. We see that Samuel is in some ways a foreshadowing or type of the Lord Jesus Christ. He serves the Lord. 1 Samuel 2:18 picks up where 1 Samuel 2:11 ended. “Samuel ministered before the Lord, even as a child, wearing a linen ephod.” Even though he’s never called the priest, he dresses like a priest, and he functions like a priest. Every year his mother would make him a new set of clothes as he grew, a little robe, and bring it to him year by year when they came up; so they had a family connection. They were about 10–12 miles from Ramah up to Shiloh. 1 Samuel 2:20, “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.” In 1 Samuel 2:21 we read of God’s blessing “And the Lord visited Hannah, so that she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters.”
Principle: When we serve the Lord, God is going to provide for us and bless us. Whatever it is that we give to Him, God will take care of us.
Then we are given a progress report on Samuel at the end of 1 Samuel 2:21, “Meanwhile the child Samuel grew before the Lord.” This is going to be repeated again in 1 Samuel 2:26 where we read, “And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men.” Again in 1 Samuel 3: 19, “Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.” Three times this is stated. 1 Samuel 2:26, where it says that Samuel “grew in stature and in favor with both the Lord and men.” This is very similar to what is said about the Lord Jesus Christ in Luke 2:52 that the Lord Jesus Christ “grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with both God and man.” We can see that the Scriptures are definitely connecting Samuel and his role as a priest as a type or foreshadowing of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Then we are told in 1 Samuel 2:22 that Eli is very old and that God announces through an unnamed prophet that he is going to judge Eli and his sons for their sins. This is the sin unto death, and part of the corruption is described in the last part of 1 Samuel 2:22 where we read, “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.” This is like the cultic prostitutes in the Baal worship, the worship of the fertility religions. And Eli, to his credit, is very much against this, and yet he has lost control of his sons, and they are abusive toward him and dishonor him. So we see how dishonorable they are, and that’s the context of 1 Samuel 2:26 when we see the praise of Samuel and his growth physically and spiritually and “in favor with the Lord and men.” And then God sends, in 1 Samuel 2:27, an unnamed man of God. “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?’ ” This would be going back to Aaron.
“Did I not choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be My priest, to offer up My altar,” and He goes on and then eventually God announces judgment on Eli. He says at the end of 1 Samuel 2:30–31, “Far be it from Me; for those who honor Me I will honor, and those who despise Me shall be lightly esteemed. 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.” This is a reference to Numbers 25:13, that the house of his father, his linage of the house of Eli, would not survive the priesthood, that an everlasting covenant was made there with Phinehas, and not the Phinehas that’s his son, but an everlasting covenant had been given with the grandson of Aaron, Phinehas, and that his descendants would be the high priests. That is going to show for us that it is the Levitical priest that will survive and will be priests serving in the Millennial Kingdom of the House of Zadok. The Zadokite priests, or Tzadok as it is pronounced in the Hebrew.
That takes us down through the end of 1 Samuel 2, and there is a prophecy given in 1 Samuel 2:35 where God says, “Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest who shall do according to what is in My heart and in My mind. I will build him a sure house, and he shall walk before My anointed forever.” To whom does that refer? That, of course, refers to the Lord Jesus Christ who is prophet, priest and King. It is not referring to Samuel. It’s referring to a priest who will be anointed forever. There may be an allusion there to the House of Zadok, but ultimately this fulfillment comes in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah who is both the Mashiach, the Anointed One, but He is also a priest. Those two things, the everlasting priesthood and the Anointed One come together in the One Person of the Lord Jesus Christ. Israel is prepared for a new era. You have the blessing of the house of Elkanah and the judgment announced on the house of Eli.
Then we come to 1 Samuel 3 (slide 10). This is when the Lord initiates Samuel’s role as a prophet to Israel. We read of this episode that occurs. This young boy, he’s not very old; he might be 12–13 years old by this time. The boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. That takes us back to 1 Samuel 2:11 as well as 1 Samuel 2:18. 1 Samuel 3:1 “And the word of the Lord was rare in those days.” This means that God has not given any special revelation in a while. He’s not speaking through His prophets. They were rare incidences. We have “the man of God” who is mentioned in 1 Samuel 2:27, who came to Eli. There were a couple of prophetic references in Judges, but that’s it. God is not revealing Himself. There’s a silence of God during this particular time. “And the Word of the Lord was rare in those days; no widespread revelation came to past at that time.”
It's nighttime and Eli goes to bed. Samuel goes to bed. Then Samuel hears a voice calling him, and he runs into Eli and says, “Here I am.” Eli says “Wait a minute; I didn’t call you. Go back and lie down.” Then the second time the Lord calls, and Samuel goes into Eli, and Eli had enough discernment to say, “well I think the Lord is calling you. Go back and lie down, and if the Lord calls you a third time then say, just answer the Lord, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears’,” 1 Samuel 3:9. Samuel goes back the third time and lies down, and then the Lord came and stood and called, and Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” There’s this little note that occurs in 1 Samuel 3:7, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord.” That’s not saying he wasn’t saved. I mentioned this many times that in America an evangelical idiom we often say, “Well do you know the Lord?” as if that means, “are you saved? Have you believed in Jesus?”
What this means is that up to this time Samuel had not been spoken to by the Lord. He had not revealed Himself in this kind of special revelatory way, and so Samuel didn’t know how the Lord communicated to a prophet. He didn’t have that experience behind him. So now he is getting that experience, and the Lord announces that He’s going to bring judgment on the house of Eli, and it is going to shock the nation. It will reverberate. They will be twittering about it; they’ll be announcing it on Facebook. It’s going to be emailed to everybody; and it’s going to be on the whole news cycle for more than just a week or two. That’s basically what the Lord means when he says, “I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.” That’s the idiom. They are going to be talking about it for weeks; it’s going to be so extreme.
He says in that day He’s going to destroy the house of Eli. He’s already announced it to Eli, and now He’s announcing it to Samuel. So Samuel laid down. The next morning Eli says, “Well what did the Lord tell you? Tell me everything.” In 1 Samuel 3:18 Samuel told him everything. It is interesting to see Eli’s response. He says that’s the Lord's will. “Let Him do what seems good to Him.” He recognizes that this is from the Lord. Then we get another progress report on Samuel, 1 Samuel 3:19–20, “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.” You might want to circle that word “established” because it is an interesting word. Then in 1 Samuel 3:21 the Lord appears in Shiloh again, “For the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the Word of the Lord.” Isn’t that interesting? The Lord revealed Himself by “the Word of the Lord.”
How does the Lord reveal Himself by the Word of the Lord? If you read that too fast, you’re going to say well the Lord revealed Himself by speaking to Samuel, but is that what it’s saying? What do we read in John 1:1? “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God.” Here we have an allusion to the Trinity: The Lord, God the Father, is revealing Himself to Samuel through the Preincarnate Lord Jesus Christ by the LOGOS, The Word of the Lord. So it is the Second Person of the Trinity who is fulfilling His role as the Revealer of the Godhead. We come to 1 Samuel 4 (slide 11).
In chapter 4 we see that the Lord causes Israel to be defeated and allows the Ark of the Covenant to be captured by the pagan enemies of Israel for the purpose that the house of Eli can be judged. We see at the beginning of this that Israel is going to go out to battle and encamp at a place called Ebenezer, which means the Rock of Help. Ezer (heazer) means “help.” Eben is the word for “rock” and this is an anachronism because it isn’t named this until we get to 1 Samuel 7, but the Israelites reading this would know where Ebenezer was located. We are told that they set up the camp – the Philistines at Aphek. The Philistines are in battle array. On the first day, Israel is defeated, and about 4,000 Israelites are killed. Then they go back to Shiloh. “When the people were come into the camp the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh to us that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies,” 1 Samuel 4:3–4.
Last week as I went through those closing events in Judges, we saw something similar happen in Judges 20:26ff. This was in the middle of that civil war with the Benjamites. Remember, I said that the first day that there was a battle with the Benjamites, and the Benjamites killed about 20,000 Israelites. I don’t remember the exact number. The second day they killed about 25,000; and then the Israelites went back to Shiloh and what did they do? They did something very different from this. Here they are treating the ark like it is a good luck charm. If we just go get the ark and put God out there in front of us, like some people wear a cross or a Star of David – God’s going to protect me; I’ll just hold up my Bible and the vampires won’t get me. It’s just a good luck symbol. What happened in Judges 20 is that the Israelites pulled back to Shiloh, and we’re told that they sat before the Lord. They fasted. They offered burnt offerings and peace offerings; and then they inquired of the Lord what they should do the next day. The Lord said, “Go into battle and I will give you victory.”
So we see that they humbled themselves under the hand of God, and God gave them victory. But that is not what we see in 1 Samuel 4. In 1 Samuel 4, we see that they sent to Shiloh to bring the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord of Hosts; and the two sons of Eli, Hopni and Phinehas, came with them. There’s no humbling of themselves. There’s no repentance. There’s no confession. There’s no offering of burnt offerings or peace offerings. There’s nothing spiritual at all. They just think the ark is a good luck charm, but God allowed them to be defeated that first day so that knowing that they would do this, it would draw Hopni and Phinehas into the battle zone. So the next day, when they go into battle with the Philistines, the Philistines are going to slaughter the Israelites. They are going to kill Hopni and Phinehas, and they are going to capture the ark.
It is interesting how this is described. When the Philistines hear that the ark is coming they are scared to death; and one of their motivational speakers got up and basically told them to “man up,” and if we’re really tough we can win the battle; and God allowed them to win the battle. When Eli heard about this, a messenger came, Eli heard that his sons were killed and the ark was captured. The Bible says that he was fat and he was old, 98 years old, and he, 1 Samuel 4:18 “fell over off the seat backward by the side of the gate; his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel for forty years.” And then to conclude it, his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child to be delivered when she heard the news. She gave birth, and then she dies. And she named the son before she died Ichabod, meaning “no glory.” The glory is taken from Israel. The glory of God has departed.
Then we come to 1 Samuel 5–7. Chapters 5–7 depict the demonstration of God’s power and glory through Samuel’s judgeship. God’s character, God’s power, the fact that He is the Sovereign Lord, is demonstrated through Samuel’s judgeship (slide12). He demonstrates His sovereignty and His power over the God of the Philistines. See, what we see in Israel is that they are always at the heart of a spiritual conflict. Whenever Israel is being attacked militarily, there’s always already something going on within the angelic conflict; within the realm of the angels, there is something going on because Satan hates the Jewish people. He lost out at the Cross and the Lord Jesus Christ the Messiah, defeated him at the Cross. The only recourse he has to defeat God is to keep God from fulfilling His promises to the Jewish people. If He can wipe out the Jewish people, then God can’t fulfill His promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. And if He doesn’t fulfill His promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, then Satan thinks that he can claim the victory. That’s why Israel is always at the focal point in the angelic conflict. That is why Satan is always raising up his nations to hate Israel. What other group of people has experienced anything close to the hostility that the Jewish people have?
That is a great witness to the existence of God and the truth of the Bible. You don’t find the Japanese people hated like this. You don’t find the English hated like this. You don’t find the South Africans hated like this. You don’t find any other ethnic group in the world hated like the Jews are hated. We ought to ask that question – why? It is like the question that Frederick the Great of Prussia asked his chaplain, “Give me one reason why I ought to believe the Bible.” His chaplain said, “the Jews” (Israel).* Now his chaplain was talking about the fact that the Jews always manage to survive, and that’s because of God’s promise, but it is not only the survival of the Jews; it’s also the survival of anti-Semitism. It is an evidence of the truth of the Bible. God is going to protect Israel no matter what, and there’s always this religious dimension, because whoever hates Israel, hates Israel’s God and wants to defeat Him, and the gods of the enemies of Israel are always seen as doing battle with the God of Israel.
Allah, the god of the Muslim, is not the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Allah is the god of Abraham and Ishmael. It is not the same. Allah is hostile to the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This is the battle. Allah vs. Yahweh. Yahweh is always going to win. Therefore, there may be a lot of bad things that happen because of Islam, but ultimately Islam is going to be defeated and eradicated because it is the religion of Satan, which I believe, is personified in Allah in the Koran. That’s not politically correct, by the way, but I think that’s the truth. If you just read your Bible and study it, you’ll come to understand that. All other gods are false gods, and all false gods according to the Bible are empowered by demons and Satan. So God is going to poke fun at this god. This is not politically correct either. God is going to ridicule the god Dagon, and we go through this whole episode where they put the Ark of the Covenant in front of Dagon, and the next morning they come in, and Dagon is bowing down to the Ark of the Covenant. They stand him back up, and the next day he’s bowing down, and his feet and his hands are cut off so they can’t stand him up again.
Then the people start getting these diseases. They get a bad case of hemorrhoids, and they’re overrun with these. They probably think that these are tumors related to bubonic plague because they also are overrun with rats and mice. They make these little gold images that they think will placate the God of the ark and they will survive. That’s the basic story of 1 Samuel 5. Then finally the Philistines say, “We’ve got to get this ark out of here or it is going to kill us all.” So they take it back to Israel. But not only does God demonstrate His power over the false gods of the Philistines, but He’s going to demonstrate His power over the irreverent and apostate Israelites.
Initially it looks like the Israelites know what they’re doing because when the cart that’s carrying the ark (that’s not how it was supposed to be carried), but when this cart that’s carrying the ark stops in this field, they go out and kill the two cows that are pulling the cart, and they take the wood from the cart and burn it up to have a burnt offering of the two cows. But in order to take the cart apart they have to take the ark off; but they don’t handle it correctly. They open it up. They look inside, so as a result, God is going to slaughter a bunch of the men from Beth Shemesh because they have treated Him blasphemously. So after that happens, the men of Beth Shemesh send a message to the men a little bit further down the road. Beth Shemesh is about 15 miles west of Jerusalem, and Kirjath Jearim is about 10 miles. Kirjath Jearim is now the location of an Arab village called Abu Gosh. If you’ve been with me to Israel, the last night we go to this great little restaurant in Abu Gosh on the way to the airport. That’s where Kirjath Jearim is located. This is where the ark is going to stay for approximately 100 years. When you read in the text in 1 Samuel 7:2 it says “that the ark remained in Kirjath Jearim a long time; it was there twenty years.” What it is saying is that it was there a long time, but 20 years after it first got there, this is when Samuel came and spoke to the house of Israel. And what does he say? This is in Deuteronomy 30. “If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashteroths from among you,” 1 Samuel 7:3. In other words turning to God means you’ve got to get rid of the idols. You’ve got to quit going to these fertility services at the local pagan cult. You’ve got to turn to God, which means you clean up your life. You get rid of all the other stuff and then God will deliver you from the hands of the Philistines.
What’s the Israelites response in 1 Samuel 7:4? They “put away the Baals and the Ashteroths.” They got rid of the fertility cult, and they worshiped the Lord. They served the Lord alone. Then Samuel gave them instructions to go to Mizpah, and there God would meet with them. When they go to Mizpah, the Philistines heard about it and said, “Well, we’ve got them all in one place: let’s go attack them.” So they go to attack Israel, and God sends this thunderstorm where the thunder is so extreme it just confuses the Philistines to no end. They start fighting each other; and then the Israelites are able to defeat them; and this ends the occupation of Israel by the Philistines. It doesn’t end their oppression. The Philistines keep harassing them until David finally defeats them, which occurs in the early part of 2 Samuel, but the occupation of Israel by the Philistines is going to end.
We’re told in 1 Samuel 7:13 that the Philistines were subdued, and they did not come anymore into the territory of Israel; and the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. So even though they kept fighting, the Lord gave Israel victory.
Then we have the final statement here summing up Samuel’s ministry to this point, (slide 13) 1 Samuel 15–17, “And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. He went from year to year on a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah and judged Israel in all those places; but he always returned to Ramah for his home was there. There he judged Israel and there he built an altar to the Lord.” That gives us a summary, a focal point, of the beginning of 1 Samuel 1–7, and we’ll come back next time and start to look at the initial episode as God graciously prepares to provide a deliverance for Israel through Hannah.
“Father, we thank You for the opportunity to study these things this evening and to reflect upon Your grace and Your goodness and how You work in history to bring about deliverance. But the ultimate causative fact in history we see has to do with people’s spiritual relationship with You. It’s not about having the right political system. It’s not about having the right political theory or the right economic theory. It is ultimately about having the right relationship with You; and although there are temporary political and economic solutions, the only solution that's going to count is a solution that includes a turning back to You and a focus upon You and Your Word as the center of our lives; and that must be our ultimate focal point as believers in this nation – is to bring people’s attention and their focus back to the gospel and to You as the source of life. And we pray this in Christ's name. Amen.”
* “Near the end of the last century Frederick the Great, the king of Prussia, was having a discussion with his chaplain about the truthfulness of the Bible. The king had become skeptical and unbelieving, largely due to Voltaire, the famous French rationalist skeptic. He said to his chaplain, “If your Bible is really true, it ought to be capable of very brief proof. So often when I have asked for proof of the inspiration of the Bible I have been given some enormous volume that I have neither the time nor disposition to read. If your Bible is really from God, you should be able to demonstrate the fact simply. Forget long arguments. Give me the proof of the Bible’s inspiration in a word.” The chaplain replied, “Your Majesty, it is possible for me to answer your request quite literally. I can give you the proof you ask for in a single word.” Frederick looked at the chaplain skeptically and asked, “What is this magic word that carries such a weight of proof?” The chaplain answered, “Israel, your Majesty.” Frederick, the story goes, was silent.” –James Boice, Psalms, p. 1131.
“Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth”— let Israel now say— “Greatly have they afflicted me from my youth, yet they have not prevailed against me.” Psalm 129:1–2 ESV