GOD WHO CALLED SAMUEL
1 Samuel 3:1-4:1a
Key Verse 3:19
ďThe Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground.Ē
The book of 1 Samuel records the lives of Samuel and Saul, and much of the life of David. At that time Israel was ruled by judges. It was during this part of Israelís history that the nation changed from judges as leaders to having a king as their neighboring nations. The people of Israel chose to be ruled by a king rather than by God himself as their divine ruler. They demanded a king and God granted their request. In this transition period Samuel played a significant role to lay the foundation of the kingdom of Israel as a prophet, priest, and judge. He anointed two kings, Saul and David. Letís study how God called the young boy Samuel and how he served the Israel people in times of war and spiritual darkness. I pray that God may reveal his word to us and show us his vision. May God use our prayers and life of faith to bring his word to all the fifty states in America.
PART I. IN THOSE DAYS THE WORD OF THE LORD WAS RARE (3:1-3)
††††††††††† Look at verses 1-3. ďThe boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was.Ē These verses depict the spiritual condition of Samuelís times. The word of the Lord was rare and there were not many visions. The lamp of God almost was going out. It was just flickering. The last verse of the book of Judges says, ďIn those days Israel had no king; everyone did as he saw fit.Ē (Judges 21:25) When the word of God was rare, there was no vision. As a result, even young men became petty and selfish. For example, when the angel of the Lord came to Gideon, he was threshing wheat in a winepress to keep it from the Midianites. He was using the winepress to thresh wheat. Why? Because he was afraid of the Midianites. When God called him to save Israel out of Midianís hand, he said, ďHow can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am the least in my family.Ē Though he was a mighty warrior in Godís eyes, he made many excuses not to fight his enemies. He thought that he was the least in his family. He did not have any self-esteem. He demanded signs from the angel of the Lord. When he saw signs from the angel of the Lord, he accepted Godís call and defeated his enemies with three hundred men who passed Godís test. Barak was afraid of fighting with Sisera without the help of Deborah. The times of the Judges was very dark and there was no vision. But there was a small sign of Godís hope. It began with Hannahís prayer for a son. It was a small beginning. Hannah had a life problem. 1 Samuel 1:2 says, ďHe had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none.Ē To a woman barrenness was a serious problem. Her rival provoked and irritated Hannah year after year until Hannah wept and would not eat. In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the Lord. She prayed, ďO Lord Almighty, if you will only look upon your servantís misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son, then I will give him to the Lord for all the days of his life, and no razor will ever be used on his head.Ē Her prayers went on for more than ten years because her rival had more than ten children. God answered her persistent prayer and in the course of time Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son. She named him Samuel, saying, ďBecause I asked the Lord for him.Ē The birth of Samuel was a direct answer of Hannahís humble prayer. Hannah did not give up her prayer. Eli who was priest and judge at that time misunderstood her as a drunkard woman (1:12-16). But she was pouring out her soul to the Lord in her prayer. How could God ignore such a persistent prayer? Hannahí s prayer was answered by God. Therefore, the name Samuel means ďI asked the Lord for him.Ē The transformation of the Israel nation from the Judges to the monarchy began from the prayer of one woman, Hannah.† Samuel played a significant role to anoint two kings of Israel, Saul and David. Hannahís prayer ignited a small fire which would soon reach to the entire nation. It was like a small fire that can burn the whole mountain once it was ignited. Her prayer kept the lamp of God burning in those dark times. She said in 2:5b, ďShe who was barren has borne seven children, but she who has had many sons pines away.Ē Though she was barren, God granted her to have seven children because she prayed to the Lord. Hannah overcame her mountain of barrenness through her prayer. Luke 11:9 says, ďSo I say to you: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.Ē Mark 11:24 says, ďTherefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.Ē S. Tinuke Jagun and John Lee are seeking Godís will to get admissions to medical school to become doctor shepherds. As long as they knock the door by prayer, God will open the door for them. At the end of last year we felt like a barren woman who never bore a child. At the end of last year Prince Moses fellowship was the smallest one. But they grew to become the largest one today. Three students graduated from† Prince Moses fellowship. M. Sarah felt like a spiritual barren woman at the end of last year. But she did not give up feeding sheep but prayed earnestly when she came to the Coolfont Bible reading retreat. God answered M. Sarahís prayer in anguish and blessed her abundantly with many growing sheep. She seemed to be very happy at the Bible reading retreat this year. At the end of last year we felt like a barren woman who never bore a child. As our prayer 14 people went to the mountain to read the Bible. It was a small beginning. God gave us a vision to become excellent Bible teachers and fruitful disciple makers. God honored our decision of faith to read the Scriptures and our spiritual revival began last year. God planted the seed of faith. God set a small fire. God raised up more than 20 disciple candidates at the end of this year. YDJ members are growing as influential spiritual leaders. More than 40 members joined this yearís Bible reading retreat so far. Last Friday God gave a fitness test. We climbed the Cacapon mountain,1621 meters above sea level. Many people struggled to climb the steep mountain trail. Last year M. Sarah C. was the last person to reach the summit. The honor of this yearís last person to reach the summit goes to S. Mahmia Richards and Amele. We learned how to help each other while climbing the mountain. S. David B. pulled S. Jay to the top. At the summit we shouted together overlooking three states, ďWest Virginia is our food. Pennsylvania is our food. Maryland is our food.Ē God renewed our vision to pioneer 206 East Coast campuses through mountain-climbing training. I prayed at the summit, ďLord, grant us three hundred tested spiritual warriors like Gideonís three hundred warriors who are ready for the spiritual battle.Ē††††††††††††
PART II. THE LORD CALLS SAMUEL (3:4-18)
††††††††††† Hannah dedicated Samuel as she promised before the Lord after he was weaned. (1:28) ďSo now I give him to the Lord. For his whole life he will be given over to the Lord.Ē Hannah did not enjoy Samuel herself but gave him to the Lord. So she brought Samuel to Eli. The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. Look at verse 7. ďNow Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.Ē Samuel was very young spiritually and did not know the Lord when God called him. God called him four times. Samuel thought Eli called him three times. He recognized Godís calling through the help of Eli in verse 9. Look at verse 10. ďThe Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other time, ĎSamuel! Samuel!í Then Samuel said, ĎSpeak, for your servant is listening.Ē In this way Samuel received Godís calling. What was the first message God gave to Samuel? Look at verses 11-14. ďAnd the Lord said to Samuel: ĎSee, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family-from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, ĎThe guilt of Eliís house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.íĒ This was very difficult for young Samuel to deliver as his first message to Eli, priest and judge. It was like delivering a bad news to his boss. Why was Eli punished so severely? He failed to restrain the sins of his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. They were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord. (2:12) They treated the Lordís offering with contempt and slept with women who served at the entrance to the tent of Meeting. Eli knew their sins and rebuked them but they did not listen to their fatherís rebuke. Eli failed to restrain them. He failed to perform his parental responsibility. He did not restrain his sonsí sins. Here we learn that parents must play active roles to raise up children in Godís way. Eli played passive roles and did not restrain the sins of his sons. His two sons were killed at the same time by the Philistines later. (4:11) Eli did not raise up his sons with prayer but gave them many privileges as the sons of priest and judge. He failed as a parent and was punished by God. Mosesí parents raised up little Moses by faith. As a result, Moses became a great spiritual leader. Hannah raised up little Samuel with prayer and Samuel became a great spiritual leader. A motherís role is critical in raising up children to become the future servants of God. We have to ask the Lord to change our childrenís hearts. It only comes through the labor of prayer. Samuel delivered God's message to Eli when Eli urged him to do so.
PART III. SAMUELíS WORDS DID NOT FALL TO THE GROUND AND CAME TO ALL ISRAEL (19-4:1A)
In this part we can learn how God raised up Samuel as a prophet of the Lord? Look at verses 19-4:1a. ďThe Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word. And Samuelís word came to all Israel.Ē God raised up Samuel through his words. As we studied before, the word of God was rare and there were not many visions at that time. Finally, the word of the Lord was given to Samuel. Samuel kept the words of God and did not allow any word to fall to the ground. The word of God came to all Israel. Samuel unified the Israel people under Godís rule and paved the way for King David to establish the glorious kingdom of Israel in Godís history. God revealed himself to Samuel through his words. God called Samuel to bless his people Israel to obey his word and live as Godís people. Samuel had a great deal of influence throughout this time period because he had the word of God. He was recognized as a prophet of the Lord because he had the word of God. He said in his farewell speech in 1 Sam. 12:3, ďHere I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these, I will make it right.Ē Samuel was clean in dealing with material matters as a servant of God. He treated others well with Godís grace.
Last year we struggled a lot to overcome adverse situations internally and externally. Instead of falling into fatalism and self-pity and division, we studied the word of God diligently. The word of God revived our ministry. I thank God for your partnership in doing the work of God from the beginning. God protected us from 9-11 terrorist attacks and 9-25 deadly tornado. Islamic extreme terrorists declared war on Christianity on 9-11. They planted fears among American people. How should we fight back? David said in 1 Sam 17:45, ďDavid said to the Philistine, ĎYou come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.íĒ We must fight back in the name of the Lord Almighty. We should not fear but trust God. In the end it is a spiritual battle. God awakened America to come back to him. It is a beginning of the fourth great awakening. We must listen to Godís warning and obey his word. Our spiritual weapons to win the victory are our constant prayers and the word of God. The world mission was possible when 120 people were united in prayer in Acts 1:14. Ephesians 6:18-19 says, ďAnd pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints. Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel.Ē Prayer and the word of God are essential elements to bring the spiritual revival to our nation and to the world. I pray that Godís word may not fall to the ground but may come to many American students next year. May God bless you to pray like Hannah and receive the word of God like Samuel in 2002. Letís read the key verse 3:19.††††