This week, we get into Samuel’s life and testimony and Israel’s demand for a King despite the warnings given to them.
Today, I want to pull open these chapters with you and help us flesh out what we can take away from this week’s reading.
The Sovereignty of God in Choosing Whom He Will Save and Send
In 1 Samuel 3:1-10, we read the testimony of the call of the Lord on Samuel’s life and the beginning of Samuel’s prophetic ministry. While the narrative is simple, the take-away is profound. The Lord is calling to Samuel, and yet Samuel doesn’t discern God’s voice, thinking is it his elder, Eli. It says in 1 Samuel 3:7, “Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” This is another reminder that it is the Lord who must reveal Himself to us, for in our sin, we are not spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). When we have this understanding of how God saves and sends us, it is a solid rock under our feet. WHY? Because if it was our own doing, our own inclination to follow and obey God, what security or lasting hope would we have if it is simply up to me to unravel it at any time?
No, instead, it is God who saves His elect and sets us on His path of righteousness and obedience for Him.
1 Peter 1:3 … According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead
Honest in Love with Those Above You
In 1 Samuel 3:11-18, Samuel is immediately faced with hearing God’s righteous judgment for an elder in his life.
Not only that, but Samuel is the one God instructs to bring God’s word to Eli. How hard is it when God uses us to bring admonishment to someone who ranks above us in life? A parent or a boss or teacher or an older brother or sister.
In this interaction, Samuel didn’t hold back in speaking honestly. We need to love each other enough to speak honestly with each other and not hold back if that person needs to hear something, even if it’s hard to hear. We don’t help them grow or change or improve if we simply leave it alone.
In 1 Samuel 3:19-20, we read, “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 was established as a prophet of the Lord.”
Samuel is now established in all of Israel as God’s mouth piece and His chosen prophet.
1 Samuel 7:3 And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.”
We are to honor God and worship Him alone. This means we must put away our false idols and worship and serve God only. Samuel reoriented the Israelites to these truths, and God promised to deliver them.
Confession and Repentance
1 Samuel 7:4-6 So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only. Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 6 So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah.
They were obedient and did as they were told. This is confession and repentance. Confession and repentance are needed in all of our lives if we are to honor God and grow in our faith.
Repentance is taking up a new course in light of God’s will. It is turning form sin and turning to obedience and honoring God. This is not always easy, as we are guilty of making excuses or delaying real repentance in our sin.
Confession is the needed first part of repentance
Confess means “to agree together with.”
God understands and knows all our sin, but it is key that we fully confess and understand our sin before Him. Confession sets the heart up for true repentance.
Confession is simply acknowledging I have sinned:
“This was sin: you call it sin, and I am calling it sin. I am saying out load to you, God, ‘I sinned!’”
1 John 1:8-9 (NLT) If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness
Now, there is much we know we have done in sin, but there is much we are not tuned into, also.
So, one of the keys to repentant prayer is to sit is silence.
To be still and quiet before God. Why? Because the Holy Spirit will reveal to us things we don’t think of, like sin that we need to acknowledge.
Psalm 19:12-13 (NLT) How can I know all the sins lurking in my heart? Cleanse me from these hidden faults. Keep me from deliberate sins! Don't let them control me. Then I will be free of guilt and innocent of great sin.
Confession leads to repentance. So what is repentance, exactly?
It is commonly used in church circles, but do we really understand what it is?
If confession is admittance (to agree together with God who knows already what really happened), then repentance is new direction! It is surrendering your current wrong path to get on the right one.
In 1 Samuel 7:7-17, we read about God delivering the Israelites form the hand of the encroaching Philistines. He helped drive them back and brought the Israelites great victory. God endured Samuel to rule over and be a faithful judge of Israel all the days of Samuel’s life (1 Samuel 7:15).
The Demand for a King
In 1 Samuel 8, Samuel has become old, and he has made his sons judges over Israel. The problem is his sons did not walk in his ways but took bribes and perverted justice.
I Samuel 8:4-6 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord.
It is amazing how quickly we grow inpatient with God and feel the need to cling to our own wisdom. Notice with me where this goes next:
The Rejection of God as King and the Problem with a Human King
Let’s read again:
I Samuel 8:7-18 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.” So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves. And in that day you will cry out because of your king, whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the Lord will not answer you in that day.”
God is so faithful, and the people forget so quickly. May we never lose sight of who God is and how much He has abundantly blessed us in Christ.
Who Are We to Think Our Way Is Better Than God’s Way
Let’s read again:
I Samuel 8:19-22 But the people refused to obey the voice of Samuel. And they said, “No! But there shall be a king over us, that we also may be like all the nations, and that our king may judge us and go out before us and fight our battles.” And when Samuel had heard all the words of the people, he repeated them in the ears of the Lord. And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey their voice and make them a king.” Samuel then said to the men of Israel, “Go every man to his city”.
God’s ways are better than ours. We are foolish to think that our ways are better than His.
Romans 11:34 “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?”
No one can counsel God and give Him insight He doesn’t already have.
Let me ask you, what is the thing you tend to offer to God more than anything else? More than Worship, more than obedience, more than respect, more than trust, more than honor?
We offer Him counsel. “God, I think, you should, how could you… God, why would you?”
This is like when a four-year-old in the car seat is asking his dad if he knows where he's going.
Or worse: tells him which way he should go!
We have to realize that nobody gets to counsel God. Nobody gets to give God advice.
Nobody gets to straighten God's path--no one.
Despite the people’s rebellion and lack of hearing the warnings, God is at work in His plan to bring forth the King of kings.
Next week we will study Saul--Israel’s choice to be king, and why he failed to honor God and his new position.