1 Samuel

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“Immediately Saul fell full length on the ground, and was dreadfully afraid because of the words of Samuel. And there was no strength in him, for he had eaten no food all day or all night” (1 Samuel 28:20 NKJV).

May 20, 2017

King Saul, the first king of Israel, who had begun so well, finished in fear and dread, ultimately committing suicide. The young, tall and awkwardly humble Saul (remember him hiding among the baggage), had grown to be the old, prideful and painfully paranoid king. Yet here, when he saw and heard from the shade of Samuel, we see the humbled and broken man as he was.

When Samuel asked why Saul had “disturbed” him, Saul stooped with his face to the ground and replied, “God has departed from me and does not answer me anymore.”

How tragic it is to see the decline of one who was blessed of God, but took his eyes off of the Lord that blesses, to put them on the blessings themselves. It is a heartbreaking reminder to keep our eyes on the Lord, especially as we grow older. It is good to begin well, but even better to finish well for the Lord!

“Then Samuel died; and the Israelites gathered together and lamented for him, and buried him at his home in Ramah” (1 Samuel 25:1 NKJV).

May 19, 2017

Samuel was the last of the judges and with his passing, Israel transitioned from the time of the judges to the time of the kings. Samuel was the greatest Israelite leader since Moses. He was a forerunner of the Messiah, bearing the threefold titles of prophet, priest and judge. He served the Lord faithfully from his childhood until his death. Both he and Jesus were described as growing “in stature and in favor with God and man” (1 Sam. 2:26, Luke 2:52). No shortcoming stains his biblical record.
But Samuel died and was buried. All Israel “lamented for him.” And their lament continues as they continue to await the coming of the Messiah.
Yet, the Messiah has already come. For Jesus is the fulfillment of Samuel’s threefold ministry and every other prophecy and foreshadowing in the Old Testament. One greater than Moses and Samuel has already come. He died, but was raised up on the third day and lives today!
Oh, that all Israel, and all those far from God, would cease their lament and recognize the One who has conquered sin, death and the grave. Jesus Christ is the Messiah. He is our Prophet, Great High Priest and King of Kings!

“And Abiathar told David that Saul had killed the Lord’s priests” (1 Samuel 22:21 NKJV).

May 18, 2017

Abiathar, son of the high priest, Ahimelech, must have been left behind to care for the sanctuary when Saul called for his father’s attendance. When he heard that Saul had killed all the Lord’s priests, he fled to David.

Saul had falsely accused Ahimelech of “inquiring of the Lord” to aid David against him. But now by killing the Lord’s priests, he had actually driven Abiathar to David’s side, bringing the ephod, with the Urim and Thummim, with him (1 Sam. 23:6).

Saul’s killing of the priests was one of the most heinous acts of any Israelite king. It revealed his heart’s rejection of the Lord. Saul’s foot soldiers, who ran beside his chariot, refused to carry out his order to murder the priests. They feared the Lord, but Saul knew one who did not. So, Saul called on Doeg the Edomite to kill them. Doeg turned and killed not only the 85 priests, but went to their city and killed every living thing including women, children and nursing infants. That Saul would stoop to instruct an Edomite, to even touch the Lord’s priests, showed the insane hatred he had for the true king, David.

Centuries later, the son of an Edomite named Herod became king over Israel as a vassal of Rome. After hearing of the birth of the prophesied Son of David from the Magi, he murdered every baby boy under 2 years of age in Bethlehem attempting to kill Jesus. But he failed, for the Lord protected Jesus, just as the Lord protected David.

“So the priest gave him holy bread; for there was no bread there but the showbread which had been taken from before the Lord, in order to put hot bread in its place on the day when it was taken away” (1 Samuel 21:6 NKJV).

May 17, 2017

As David and his men fled from Saul, they stopped by the Tabernacle to ask the priest for bread. However, the only bread the priest had was “showbread,” which was the twelve loaves that were to be continually kept on the Table of Presence in the Holy Place. When fresh bread was baked to replace the twelve loaves, the older loaves were to be divided among the priests and their families to eat. The showbread was not to be given to those outside the priestly tribe.

Yet, the priest gave the bread to David and his men because it was all he had to offer. He decided that his moral obligation of hospitality toward God’s man overrode his ceremonial obligation to God’s house.

When the Pharisees accused Jesus of breaking the Sabbath, He referred to this story of the priest allowing David to have the showbread as a better understanding of the Sabbath’s purpose. Jesus told them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27).

We cannot rightly understand and follow God’s law without the Spirit of Christ to indwell and lead us. For Christ is the “Lord of the Sabbath” (Luke 6:5).

“Then the Spirit of the Lord will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man” (1 Samuel 10:6 NKJV).

May 11, 2017

Samuel anointed the young Saul to be king over Israel as the Lord had commanded him. Saul had sought the prophet’s help in finding his father’s donkeys, instead he found his true identity.

When Samuel began to tell Saul of his God-given identity, he resisted, saying, “Am I not a Benjamite, of the smallest of the tribes of Israel, and my family the least of all the families of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then do you speak like this to me?” (1 Sam. 9:21).

Saul’s identity was tied to his tribe, race, and nation, as all traditional identities are formed. Yet, God wanted to give him His Spirit and turn him “into another man,” the man who would rise above his former self and lead Israel as king.

Traditionally, identity has been formed by external cues, as Saul’s had been. Today, our modern culture encourages people to look within to find their identity independent of external realities, relying on whatever dreams or desires they possess. However, both of these approaches are poor mirrors of discovering the true self.

The true, Creator-given self can only be found in Christ. Come to Christ and He will give you a new name and a new identity. Looking to Christ, you will find your true self reflected in His face.

As the apostle John wrote, “Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is” (1 John 3:2).

“Tomorrow about this time I will send you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him commander over My people Israel, that he may save My people from the hand of the Philistines; for I have looked upon My people, because their cry has come to Me.” (1 Samuel 9:16 NKJV).

May 10, 2017

The way God spoke to Samuel concerning the anointing of Saul was both relational and revealing. The instruction included what time, what family, for what purpose and even what moved God to do it. When Saul arrived the next day, God whispered in Samuel’s ear, “There he is, the man of whom I spoke to you.” Oh, what a wonderful relationship Samuel had with the Lord, that God would speak to him in such a way!

Not only did God speak, but notice what motived Him to anoint Saul–– it was the people’s “cry” that had come up to God. Not only does God speak, God hears. His relationship with Samuel was so close that He even revealed how what He heard from the people’s prayers moved Him.

Does God still reveal Himself as He did to Samuel? Is such a relationship with God possible today? Yes! And even more for those who are in Christ and seek His face.

‘But Hannah answered and said, “No, my lord, I am a woman of sorrowful spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor intoxicating drink, but have poured out my soul before the Lord”‘ (1 Samuel 1:15 NKJV).

May 7, 2017

Hannah was barren. At her family’s annual visit to the Tabernacle at Shiloh to worship and bring offerings, she was so stricken with grief that she could only mouth the words to her prayers. Her lips moved, but no sound came forth. She cried out from her heart that the Lord would give her a son. She promised to give him back to the Lord all the days of his life, if only she might bear a male child.

Eli, the priest, was sitting at the door of the Tabernacle watching Hannah. He saw her lips moving without sound and wrongly assumed that she was drunk. He admonished her to put away her wine. But Hannah corrected him, explaining that what he had seen was not the result of wine being poured in, but from the sorrow in her soul that she was pouring out. So, Eli blessed her, asking the Lord to grant her petition.

Have you seen one like Hannah at your worship services or small group meetings? Don’t be like Eli and assume that you know what motivates her behavior. Wouldn’t it be better to ask what troubles her and offer to pray with her first? Eli ultimately makes it right. But only because of Hannah’s humility in answering.

Would those who are hurting like Hannah find a place of blessing and acceptance in our/your church?

“Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, ‘Till now the LORD has helped us.'” (1 Samuel 7:12 ESV)

May 9, 2016

Samuel called the Israelites to Mizpah for an assembly of repentance and recommitment, but the Philistines heard about their gathering and attacked. God fought for Israel and they overcame for the first time in a generation. There, Samuel set up a large stone to remind them of God’s help, calling it “Ebenezer,” meaning “stone of help.” Samuel understood that we are a forgetful people and need reminders. Some of us journal, writing it down when God rescues. Some carry a chip to commemorate their years of sobriety. Some keep a photo or certificate. Others compose a song, like “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” singing: “Here I raise mine Ebenezer; hither by thy help I’m come; and I hope, by thy good pleasure, safely to arrive at home.” Do you have an “Ebenezer” to remember what God as done for you?

“Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with man.” (1 Samuel 2:26 ESV)

May 8, 2016

This verse about how Samuel grew is very similar to the one in Luke 2:52 that described how Jesus grew. Samuel was a wanted child. His mother, Hannah, had been barren, but she prayed to God for a son, promising to give him back to the Lord. And God heard her prayer. When Samuel was weaned, Hannah presented him to the priest, Eli, to raise. So, Samuel grew up serving in the Tabernacle of the Lord (1 Sam. 3:1). In contrast to Eli’s own rebellious sons, his adopted son, Samuel, was called of God. It’s amazing how God used a mother’s love and prayers to bring forth a deliverer in Israel like Samuel, a man who grew up like Jesus did. Hannah’s love and faith should still inspire mothers today!
Happy Mother’s Day!

“So David went up by the Ascent of the Mount of Olives, and wept as he went up” (1 Samuel 15:30 NKJV)

May 30, 2015

When David was betrayed, he fled from Jerusalem going East towards the Mount of Olives. As he climbed the Mount he wept and prayed that God would have mercy on him. God heard David’s prayer and restored him to the throne. Centuries later, Jesus, Son of David, left Jerusalem to pray on that same Mount. Weeping he prayed, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will” (Matt. 26:39). God prevented David’s betrayer from succeeding, but Jesus’ betrayer found him there on the Mount of Olives and turned him over to the authorities to be crucified. God showed David mercy, but poured out the judgment that belonged to us all upon His Son, Jesus. Jesus took the wages of our sin, so that God could show not only David, but all of us His mercy.