Posted in christian life, eli, holy, prophet, samuel

Samuel’s retirement as Judge of Israel and the lessons for us today

Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (1621–1674)
Hannah presenting her son Samuel to the priest Eli

Samuel had been a faithful man of God since his mother Hannah had presented him to Eli in the temple when Samuel was three years old. You might remember Hannah’s prayer. The LORD had closed her womb, and desperately Hannah wanted a child. She prayed in the temple, promising to deliver a child that the LORD gives her, back to Him for His glorious service. The LORD was pleased with this. He opened Hannah’s womb, and the child born was Samuel.

Samuel served for many years as Priest, Prophet and Judge.

The day came when Samuel was going to retire as their Judge. The People had clamored for a King instead, and God acceded to this. So Samuel gathered the People, and spoke to them in farewell.

And Samuel said to all Israel, “Behold, I have obeyed your voice in all that you have said to me and have made a king over you. And now, behold, the king walks before you, and I am old and gray; and behold, my sons are with you. I have walked before you from my youth until this day. Here I am; testify against me before the Lord and before his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Or whose donkey have I taken? Or whom have I defrauded? Whom have I oppressed? Or from whose hand have I taken a bribe to blind my eyes with it? Testify against me and I will restore it to you.” They said, “You have not defrauded us or oppressed us or taken anything from any man’s hand.” And he said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.” And they said, “He is witness.” (1 Samuel 12:1-5)

I find this profoundly beautiful.

When the LORD called little Samuel into service, you’ll remember the scene. Sadly, old Priest Eli was dim of eyesight, and as we’ll see, dim of hearing also. The visions to Israel were rare in those days. The LORD called to Samuel.

Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. (1 Samuel 3:4-5)

Three times the LORD called and three times Samuel answered “Hear I am!” It took three times for Eli to figure out that it was God who was calling Samuel. Samuel opened his service to the LORD with those powerful three words, ‘Here I am’. As a parallel, when the LORD called Isaiah, Isaiah also responded with, “Here I am!” (Isaiah 6:8).

Samuel ended his service as their Judge with the same phrase he began service, “Here I am.” We know that when we are before the people of the Lord, we are before the Lord. (Acts 5:4, Acts 9:4).

Before Samuel spoke last words to prompt them to remember the LORD and all He had done for them, Samuel did something first. He checked his relationship with the People. He asked them if there was any blight in his behavior to cause a stumbling, to cause an offense, to have come between them and him. He would make amends. The People answered, “No”. Samuel had not defrauded, had not oppressed, had not cheated, had not bribed.

Samuel went on with his message, bringing all the Lord had done to the Israelites’ mind. Samuel closed with this-

Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.” (1 Samuel 12:24-25).

It is such a parallel to us today. Now, the Old Covenant and the New Covenant distinguishes us from the OT Israelites and the NT Christians. Further, there are not Priests, Kings, Judges, or Prophets of Israel anymore. However, the principles are the same. For example,

1. Samuel was a faithful servant of the LORD all his days. He was attuned to God’s will, he was diligent to follow His voice, and he was faithful to God’s people. Eli’s spiritual hearing had grown so dim, he failed to hear God calling to Samuel. Yet Samuel was attuned all his days. Are we attuned to the Lord? Are we available to perform service to Him? Do we diligently and actively comply when we do hear His voice (through the scriptures)?

2. Samuel lived a holy life before His people. We are called to do the same.

Source: Elegant Finishes by Gina

Living holy and blameless before the Lord means living holy and blameless lives before His people, too. I’d said a moment ago, ‘We know that when we are before the people of the Lord, we are before the Lord.’ (Acts 5:4, Acts 9:4). I’d used those two verses from Acts to show the truth of my axiom. When Ananias and Sapphira lied about the portion of money they had pledged to the church, they were not lying to Peter. They were lying to the Holy Spirit (who is IN Peter). When Saul was persecuting Christians, he was not just persecuting some people who happened to be living in the Middle East, he was persecuting the Spirit IN the people. That’s why Jesus said, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”

When we are before God’s people, we are before God.

3. Samuel’s call to charge him so he could make amends, before he got to the business of reminding them of what God had done, is similar to today’s New Testament charge to cleanse ourselves before we approach the Lord’s Table for communion. We are not only charged to cleanse ourselves before the Lord but to clear things with any of the brethren. If there are any outstanding sins, we must rectify them first.

Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord. Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup. For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Corinthians 27-29)

It is a call to be reverent, holy, and mindful of all Who God is and what He has done. Attempting to be reverent about what Jesus has done for us though a filter of unconfessed sin or through the muck of grudges and bitterness against one in the Body, is not behaving in worthy manner. Samuel cleared the decks first. We must do the same.

Old Testament or New Testament, we are called to live holy lives.

but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1 Peter 1:15-16, cf Leviticus 11:44, Leviticus 19:2)

Samuel’s call to the people to charge him with any wrong he had performed so as to make amends was not only holy but humble. In that way, it was a beautiful moment. God, grant me the humility and ability to live a holy life as Samuel did and as You call us to do.

Posted in dependence, israel, prophet, repentance, samuel

Always depend on the LORD Jesus

I’m reading through 1 Samuel right now. The Old Testament is such a majestic book.

1 Samuel 8 is the time when all Israel called for a king to lead them. Ole Samuel had been in service to the people since Hannah weaned him at age three and delivered him to Eli at the temple. All his days, Samuel walked before the LORD and served. He was their Prophet. He was their Judge. Yet when Samuel was old and gray, the people grumbled that they wanted a king ‘like the other nations.’ (1 Samuel 8:20)

Of course, the people had the best king there could be, God Himself. He was their King and they were His people. He protected them:

So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. The cities that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath, and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites. (1 Samuel 7:13-14).

He delivered Civil peace:

Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. And he judged Israel in all these places. (1 Samuel 7:15-16).

He instilled spiritual peace: (the people were sorrowful of their sins and repented in deep humility)

From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the LORD. (1 Samuel 7:2)

Everything was orderly and calm. Yet the people weren’t satisfied and wanted a king they could see. The pleaded with Samuel. Samuel warned them and prophesied to them what would happen if they got a king.

And Samuel prayed to the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them up out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you. Now then, obey their voice; only you shall solemnly warn them and show them the ways of the king who shall reign over them.” (1 Samuel 8:6b-9).

The people clamor for a king.

And Samuel told them. A king would do terrible things to them. He would take their maidens, he would take their lands, he would take their men for war. He would take their oxen. He would take their grain. He would make them slaves.

The people still cried out for a king. God granted it. (1 Samuel 8:22)

There are many deep theological lessons in this chapter and in the entire books of 1 and 2 Samuel. The obvious ones are these:

1. Pray to God always for advice and to seek His face. Samuel did. The people didn’t.
2. Be grateful for continued peace in your nation and in your hearts. Israel forgot, and became discontent.
3. Listen to the voice of God, He tells the truth. The people heard Samuel repeat God’s words, that their kings would lead them wrongly. They rejected His word. Today we don’t have a prophet to listen directly to the voice of God to tell us His ways, but we have the bible. Believe it. God tells the truth. He always tells us ahead of time. The axiom still is in force: “If you do this, then this will happen. If you do not do this, then that won’t happen.”

“If… then…” statements are linking words that introduce conditions. For example: “If you obey me, then you shall be my treasured possession” (Exodus 19:5). The condition of being God’s treasured possession, is that his people were to obey him. That of course has massive bearing on the whole OT and God’s dealings with his people. (source)

4. Always depend on God. Always depend on God. Always depend on God. Always depend on God. How many times must we say it and believe it? The Israelites depended on God for many years and for many years and decades peace reigned. To this very day under the New Covenant, depending on God brings the most blessing, the most growth, the most pleasure to God and the most benefit to us.

Our Jesus is our High Priest, deliverer, protector, sustainer, provider, friend. Always depend on Him.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)