Tuesday, June 10, 2014
Samuel and Eli (1Samuel 1-4)
During the story of Ruth and Naomi, there was a lot going on with the Israelites. They were still battling the Philistines. Remember Samson had killed 3,000 Philistines during a celebration? The Israelites were also grumbling about how all the other countries had a king.... but they didn’t. They really had the best king of all, God, but they didn’t see it that way. So God gave them a king. He had a great prophet named Samuel anoint a king even though God knew that it was not the best thing for them.
So let’s go back a few years to when Samuel was born.
Hannah was a young Israelite woman who did not have any children. Some of the other women would tease her so much, that she would be driven to tears. One day she was very distraught. She went to the temple and prayed. She prayed that if God would give a son, she would dedicate the child and give him back to Him. She prayed with such emotion, that the priest, Eli, went up to her and said. “Excuse me, but if you have been drinking, I must ask you to leave the temple.”
“No!” Said Hannah. “ I am not drunk. I am praying to God for a son.”
Then Eli said. “God has heard your prayer. May He grant you your request!”
“Thank you!” Hanna said as she ran back home with a smile on her face.
Soon afterward Hanna found out that she was having a baby and when the time came she gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel which means “heard by God.” She kept her promise to God and when Samuel was a few years old, Hanna brought him to the temple.
Hanna took the child to Eli. “Do you remember me?” She asked. “I promised God to give my child back to Him. He will now belong to the Lord for the rest of his life.” And she left Samuel there with Eli.
God hears our prayers. If our requests are in line with God’s will, He will give us what we ask. (Psalm 37:4)
Every year Hanna would make Samuel a new coat and bring it to him in the temple. Eli would bless her and tell her that he hoped the Lord would bless her with other children, and God did. Hanna ended up having 3 more sons and 2 daughters. God is willing and able to give us more than we ask or even imagine. (Ephesians 3:20)
Samuel served the Lord with all his heart even though Eli’s sons (Hophni and Phinehas) who were older than Samuel did not. They would steal from the temple. They would treat the servants badly and they did not respect their father. They got fat from feasting on all the best offerings that were supposed to be sacrificed to God.
One night while Samuel, Eli and his two sons were sleeping, Samuel heard a voice. “Samuel Samuel!”
Samuel jumped out of bed and ran to Eli. “Yes? What do you need?”
Eli woke up and told Samuel to go back to bed. It was nothing. Then Samuel heard the voice again. “Samuel Samuel!” He jumped up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. What do you need?” Samuel asked.
I didn’t say anything. Go back to bed. It happened again and the Eli realized that God was calling Samuel. He told Samuel to stay in bed and the next time the Lord called to say. “Yes Lord. Here I am. Your servant is listening.” And that’s just what Samuel did.
The Lord spoke to Samuel. “I have warned Eli about his sons already. He hasn’t done anything, so now I have to do something.”
The next morning Eli asked Samuel what God had said to him. Samuel did not want to tell him, but Eli insisted. So Samuel told him that he and his sons were going to die in the very near future. Eli told Samuel that God was right. He had warned him, but Eli didn’t want his sons to get mad at him, so he let them get away with a lot of stuff. Now God was not going to let them get away with it any more. “Let the Lord do what He thinks is best.” Eli said as he hung his head in sadness and shame.
God has put our parents in charge. Sometimes we think that they are being mean or uncaring, but they want the best for us. We need boundaries now so that we won’t be punished later. (Galatians 6:7)