1 Samuel 2:22-4:22
Imagine being the High Priest of Israel and your sons are serving in ministry as priests along side of you – but – they’re stealing from the offering AND engaged in sexual sin with the women who came to the Tabernacle. It’s a horrible thought, but that was the reality of Eli’s world.
Now, let’s delve further into that situation – what would you do about it? There may be many approaches, but one thing’s for sure, as a father of a family and High Priest of the nation, surely you could not allow it to continue! Surely you would not permit such men, even if they were your sons, to continue in ministry! But that’s exactly what Eli did – he spoke words of correction, but did nothing about it. Even when God warned him of a coming family catastrophe, Eli did nothing different, he simply resolved to accept his fate.
God was taking him down, but behind the scenes, God was also raising up a replacement, preparing little Samuel. The Word of the Lord was rare in those days (due to sin), but the Word of the Lord was sent to Samuel. God called him by name, repeatedly. God spoke to him audibly, sharing once again the coming judgment upon the household of Eli for honoring his sons above the Lord (1 Samuel 2:29).
Eli commanded Samuel to tell him everything, which Samuel did. The High Priest’s sins would not be forgiven, the iniquity of Eli’s house would not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.
God began to raise Samuel up as a prophet with prominence from one end of Israel to the other.
1 Samuel 3:19 (NLT) “As Samuel grew up, the LORD was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable.”
God spoke through Samuel, so much so, that the Bible says, “…the word of Samuel came to all Israel.” (1 Samuel 4:1)
And then the day came…Israel is engaged in a fierce war with the Philistines. They’ve been defeated so they call for the Ark of the Covenant to accompany them. If it was genuine faith in God it may have been the key to victory. But for Israel it was more of a superstitious religion, and to make matters worse, Hophni and Phinehas accompanied the Ark (these guys were in sin). Israel got loud and emotional, as a matter of fact they made so much noise that the earth shook (1 Samuel 4:5), but emotion, excitement, and noise are not the same as conviction, holiness, and faith – and Israel was soundly defeated. It’s heartbreaking to read that thirty thousand foot soldiers fell in the ensuing battle. Eli’s two sons died, Eli died, and Eli’s daughter-in-law…died but not before she named her son with the tragic news of the day, “The glory has departed.” (Ichabod)
As we consider the following section in the Gospel of John it’s helpful to have Jesus’ words in the forefront of our minds:
John 5:34b (NKJV) “…I say these things that you may be saved.”
Saved from the power and penalty of sin (Matthew 1:21).
Make no mistake about it, the motivation behind all Jesus is saying is the salvation of His hearers. If they would only hear His Word and believe, they would not experience judgment, but pass from death to life. All who hear and believe would receive the power of the resurrection, the life that only God can grant – not merely physical life, but spiritual life, eternal life.
Jesus speaks frequently of His Father, because it is the Father who sent Him. We need to know that. Jesus did nothing of His own volition, but only the will of the Father. What beautiful submission the Son demonstrated, if only the religious leaders would have caught this and believed in Him whom the Father sent, but they refused the four-fold witness.
1. The Witness of John the Baptist (John 5:33)
2. The Witness of His wonderful works, miracles, and signs (John 5:36)
3. The Witness of His Father (John 5:37)
4. The Witness of the Word (the Scriptures) (John 5:39)
John 5:39 (NKJV) “You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.”
The Law required only two or three witnesses, but Jesus had these four – and more witnesses. The religious leaders, however, were more interested in the honor of men, than the honor of God (which makes absolutely NO sense).
They had no love (John 5:42) and they did not believe Moses, which is another way of saying they did not believe God’s Word, the Bible (John 5:47). They were not willing to come to Jesus in order to have eternal life (John 5:40).
The evidence is overwhelming that Jesus is the Christ, the Savior of the world.
And life can be overwhelming, so much sin, struggles, and heartache.
If we open the Bible we’ll read about Jesus, we’ll see it’s all about Him (Hebrews 10:7).
If we open our hearts, we can receive Jesus, experience Him and have eternal life. Are you willing to come to Him? I pray you would. Jesus gave that very invitation in:
Matthew 11:28-30 (NKJV) “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
This is another one of those historical Psalms in which the writer wants God to move, again, as He had done in the past. He mentions the mighty acts of the LORD, in order to praise Him, thank Him, and plead for divine intervention once again.
Notice his prayer in:
Psalm 106:4–5 (NKJV) “Remember me, O LORD, with the favor You have toward Your people. Oh, visit me with Your salvation, 5 That I may see the benefit of Your chosen ones, that I may rejoice in the gladness of Your nation, that I may glory with Your inheritance.”
The Psalmist longs for the Lord to move once again, that he would see God’s hand, spiritually, nationally, and even globally, with his believing family (inheritance).
It was written in a time when Israel had committed some sort of iniquity (Psalm 106:6), just as Israel has done throughout the ages. He takes us back to that moment in Exodus 14 after God had redeemed them from Egypt with the ten all-powerful plagues, but the Egyptian army was on the attack. What did the people of Israel do? Did they do good? Did they trust God? No! They attacked Moses. They had absolutely no faith in the LORD. They were convinced they were about to die and that they would have been better off if they had stayed in Egypt (Exodus 14:11-12).
But what did God do? We read of His gracious intervention in:
Psalm 106:8–10 (NKJV) “Nevertheless He saved them for His name’s sake, that He might make His mighty power known. 9 He rebuked the Red Sea also, and it dried up; so He led them through the depths, as through the wilderness. 10 He saved them from the hand of him who hated them, and redeemed them from the hand of the enemy.”
We don’t deserve it, we cannot earn it, but Lord, please intervene, and show us that same power in our lives today. The power You’ve shown countless times in the past.
V. 30 – A good heart that God has changed is rare but rewarding. Ponder those words there in v. 30 “Life to the body!” (when we’re healthy spiritually it benefits us emotionally and even physically)
A sound heart is when we’ve cultivated God’s heart (Acts 13:22). A sound heart is that heart that cheers for others – esteems others better than ourselves. The flip-side is envy; so ugly, how it eats you up on the inside – it’s rottenness to the bones.
The dictionary defines envy as, “A resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another; not just jealous, in wanting what they have, but not wanting them to have anything good at all.” It’s very, very ugly.
James 3:16 (NKJV) “For where envy and self-seeking exist, confusion and every evil thing are there.”
Mark 15:10 (NKJV) “For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.”
1 Corinthians 13:4 tells us that love does not envy. God help us to have a healthy heart, that would love and never, ever envy.
V. 31 – All people are created in the image of God and loved by our Creator. If we honor God, we’ll have mercy on those He loves, on those in need. It’s tragic to think that there are some who are so desensitized and calloused, that they not only ignore the poor, they oppress the poor.
We need to take this into consideration – if we oppress the poor, we oppress God Himself! But if we honor God, we’ll have mercy on the needy.
Jesus said, if we are kind to those in need, we are kind to Him (Matthew 25:31-46). I would venture to say that many of you have a heart to be kind to Jesus.
If you have any questions or comments on today’s reading, or you’d like to share something the Lord showed you, feel free to leave a reply below. I’d love to hear from you as we grow forward in 2021.