Monday, September 21, 2020

The Faithfulness of God; 1 Samuel 2


Audio Link

The Faithfulness of God

1 Samuel 2, Remsen Bible Fellowship, 09/13/2020


  • If you weren’t here last week, we’re jumping into 1 Samuel

    • This is a book of unknown author, date

    • 3 main figures: Samuel (last judge), Saul (1st king), David (great king)

    • We’re planning to cover this book over roughly 7 months, and so that’s going to require a speed where we don’t always talk about every part of every verse

      • I’d use the analogy of travel: we aren’t going to walk around and see every bush and flower, or we’d be here for years and never understand the lay of the land more broadly; nor are we flying a plane, looking at the big picture with no concept of the particulars; we driving along the interstate noticing some details, stopping at especially important overlooks, balancing speed and scope with attention to certain details 

      • For example, this morning we’ll move through Hannah’s prayer and then more quickly through the narrative

  • Samuel’s story begins in ch 1 with the story of his mother & her prayer for a son

    • She promises to dedicate this son to the Lord

    • The chapter ends with her fulfilling that vow

      • We come to chapter two, and the first thing we encounter is Hannah’s prayer

Hannah’s Prayer; v1-10

Hannah’s prayer breaks into three sections: 

  • Read 1-3, personal salvation

    • Hannah begins with her experience of God’s salvation

    • It’s easy to talk about how God works in big broad terms, but that becomes personal for us when we see his salvation in our own lives

    • Hannnah’s horn, her strength is lifted by God

      • This causes her to see that there is none like him (v2), and that one shouldn’t be arrogant (v3)

  • Read 4-8, how Yahweh works

    • Hannah moves from her personal experience (and doubtless her knowledge of Israel’s history) to see that this God who had helped her in her affliction was acting in a way in line with his character

    • He is the Lord over all things (v6-7)

    • And he pays particular attention to those who are needy (4-5, 7-8)

    • This cuts across the grain of American “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” “God helps those who help themselves” religion

    • God helps those who understand that they are destitute, and turn to him for help

    • John Calvin, after the death of his wife, wrote to a friend: “May the Lord Jesus … support me … under this heavy affliction, which would certainly have overcome me, had not He, who raises up the prostrate, strengthens the weak, and refreshes the weary, stretched forth His hand from heaven to me.”

    • You might notice in v5 the mention of 7 children, whereas if you look at v21, we only count six for Hannah, including Samuel. But this simply drives home the point that she has moved from looking just at her own experience to seeing that God is the God who brings fulfillment. Whatever the particular number of children given to the barren woman, the point in saying seven is that God completes and fills up her desire with ideal number

  • Read 9-10, how he will continue to work

    • In the end, the faithful ones prevail and wickedness is cut off (9)

    • The adversaries of the Lord will, in the end, be dashed to pieces as God exalts the horn (not only of the Hannah’s of the world, but also) of his anointed ruler, his coming king. 

    • God will judge the world and establish righteousness.

      • This is an escatalogical promise: one day it will be the rule for all the earth; the prophets predict such a time, as do Jesus and Paul in the new testament. 

      • But it also burst into the time and space we live in, as is about to unfold in the rest of chapter 2 of 1 Samuel.

Two Types of Servant

The rest of 1 Samuel two chronicles a contrast. The Hebrew word “na’ar” is used throughout this passage, translated in various ways (boy, servant, young man/men), but the contrast is clear: There are the faithless and worthless “na’ar”, sons of Eli, who are headed toward being crushed; and the increasingly faithful “na’ar”, Samuel, who is growing in favor both with God and man. 

Eli’s Sons

  • We see the worthlessness of these two spelled out clearly, along with its source, in v12

  • Liturgical sins: v13-17

    • There are two distinct actions: those in 13-14, and those in 15-16

    • Some take the former to be acceptable and normal, and the latter to be the issue

    • But I think, given that the priests are already given a portion of this offering before it is offered (Leviticus 7:28-36) and that v15 begins with “moreover”, that these are two offenses piled on top of one another

    • These young men don’t see their role as priests (those who minister to God on behalf of the people) as something to be taken with reverence, instead they seek to use their position of power to leverage personal gain. They are seeking their own advantage (see God’s rebuke in v29)

    • This sort of self-seeking is seen as contempt for God (v17)

  • Moral sins: v22-25

    • Not only are the young men making a farce of worship, they are making a farce of their role as “god’s men”. They are sleeping with the young women who serve at the tabernacle complex, acting as if they were Cannanite’s who had temple prostitutes. Their worship is false, and their lives are false.

  • How discouraging it is when even those who are supposed to represent God, the pastors and priests and heads of Christian universities, are exposed in the perversity of their sin

  • Imagine being an Israelite in that day, you couldn’t even offer your praise offering without being harassed by a wicked priest. If only this were harder for us to imagine today

    • Is God silent? Will he allow the perversity to continue forever? V25b

    • 1 Peter 4:17-18

  • God’s judgement: v27-26

    • A man of God comes to Eli with a sobering message: you have been complicit in the sins of your sons. Though I chose you to be my priestly family (v27-28), you have rejected your role by fattening yourselves off my people. So I will cut you off.

    • The only person in your house who will be left (v33) will be left to grieve, and your two wicked sons will die on the same day (v34, cf ch 4)

    • You will be replaced (v35). Who is the faithful priest? Probably Zadok (1 Kings 2), not Samuel (who serves as prophet and judge).

God will not be mocked. The sins of Eli’s house were great, and though it seemed for a time: a long time, like God wasn’t going to do anything, judgement was coming. It is worth observing that God’s time frame is not the same as ours. The people of Israel doubtless would have preferred God to move toward justice more speedily. But he was at work, raising up a faithful man.

Faithful Samuel

  • Note that before we get Eli’s sons, we get one verse of Samuel, v11; ministering

  • Then, between the two sections on their sins, we read, v18-21; ministering, serving

    • Sidenote: the gracious, grateful worship of Hannah and Elkanah is responded to by God (through Eli!) with a blessing, v20-21

  • Finally, before we hear the final rebuke of the chapter, given my the prophet to Eli, we have one final glimpse of Samuel, v26

    • All through this chapter the sins of Eli’s sons are multiplied and compounded: liturgical, moral, hard heartedness

    • Yet we find Samuel, ministering, serving, growing in favor with God and man. These two lines on the graph are heading in inverse directions. V3-5, v9-10

We should read this chapter and take a few lessons. First we should be warned by the consequences of wickedness. The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). We should also continue to see Hannah as a model of faith and of prayer. Last week we saw her turn to Yahweh because she was desperate, and turn to him because he hears. Today we see her turning to him in overflowing praise for his character and his works. We should also see Samuel as a model of growing faithfulness, even when the influences around were certainly not leading in that direction. But before we conclude I want to make a final point.


  • We don’t just have models of good and bad behavior in this chapter: we have a haunting question: v25a, cf Romans 3:23

  • We, according to Romans, are just as implicated by that statement as Eli’s wicked sons. You are just as deserving of condemnation. Have you ever misused your power in a relationship as a parent, perhaps with your spouse or at work. IT’s easy to find yourself manipulating people and situations for no reason other than your personal gain. Or maybe you’ve been guilty of lust. Jesus puts that on par, in terms of guilt before God, with physically following through on adultery. 

    • We need a faithful priest to represent us to God. 

    • V26, cf Luke 2:52

  • Jesus came as our sin bearer, so that in his death all our sins were paid. But he also serves now as our faithful high priest, the ultimate fulfillment of v35, the one who stands before the Father for us today.

  • Hebrews 7:20-28

    • He was the sacrifice, v27b

    • He lives to make intercession for us, v25

The same God who was at work in the time of the judges in Israel, moving to judge sin and bring forward a faithful servant, has brought forward the perfect servant in the person of his Son. Jesus has absorbed our sin, and now ministers to the Father on our behalf, as the perfect and faithful priest who understands our every weakness, our every need. Lean yourself wholly on him.

Hearing God's Voice; 1 Samuel 3


Audio Link

Hearing God's Voice 

1 Samuel 3:1-4:1a; Remsen Bible Fellowship ; 09/20/2020

Introduction: Our Need

  • Do you long to hear God’s voice?

    • Do you desire a word from the Lord?

  • If you do: fantastic. That is a right desire, and it’s our topic this morning

    • If you don’t have that desire, if you feel sufficient on your own, let me lean on you a little here - you have no greater need than to hear the word of the Lord

  • Not having the word of the Lord, not hearing his voice is pictured in Scripture as a form of God’s judgement: Amos 8:11-12, Isaiah 8:16-22

    • Not to hear from God is to be cast about in utter darkness. Contra, Psalm 119:105

  • As we come 1 Samuel 3, the whole nation is seen to be under God’s judgement, as the word of the Lord has become rare

Read the Chapter

God’s Call

  • The Setting of this chapter is early morning in the temple, pre-dawn light, v2-3

    • The lamp was to stay lit-apparently a job for Samuel because he is young and spry

    • Note the description of Eli-eyes have grown dim. Physically and spiritually

    • The whole nation lies in the darkness: but dawn is coming 

  • In v4-10 the Hebrew verb for call, which we have as call or called depending on the tense, occurs 11 times

  • I want to note 3 characteristics of God’s call to Samuel-2 apply to us, the third does not

    • 1) It is personal. God calls Samuel by name

    • Every time God calls to someone in Scripture it is by name. This extends to you today

    • 2) It is persistent. God calls Samuel four times

    • Do you feel like you’ve missed your opportunity to listen to God because you have failed to hear him in the past? 2 Cor 6:2; cf, Ex 3 happens after 40 years in the wilderness for Moses

    • God isn’t going to speak to you in the same form he did to Samuel, but the the call to hear and heed his word remains the same today

      • Note v7, Samuel did not yet know the Lord-why? He hadn’t received God’s word

    • After Eli finally realizes what is going on (how should we feel about this guy?), he gives Samuel wise advice: wait for him to come back, and be ready to listen

    • When God returns the fourth time, we read of what seems to be a theophany (v10a), and the Lord calls Samuel’s name twice (Ex 3:4)


    • 3) the third characteristic of God’s call to Samuel, the unique part, is it’s to a prophetic ministry

    • Samuel receives a direct word from the Lord, and his ministry is to deliver that word

God’s Message

  • In v11-13 the Lord unfolds for Samuel a reiteration of the unnamed prophet’s message from chapter two: the sin is very great, Eli’s sons blasphemed God, Eli failed to restrain them, there remains no sacrifice

  • Is God being too harsh? Number 15:27-31

  • Samuel doesn’t seem eager to deliver this message to Eli (v15)

    • Receiving the word of the Lord is of no value, indeed is dangerous, if we are unwilling to act upon it. Cf Isaiah 8:16-22, God hides his face because they are disobeying

    • This is the message from Eli to Samuel in v17

  • In v18 Samuel delivers the uncomfortable news, all of it

    • This is the task of any messenger of Christ

    • 1) for all of us, sharing the good news of the gospel includes sharing the bad news about sin. 

    • 2) This is particularly true for preachers of the Gospel. God’s kills & makes alive (1 Samuel 2:6) by his word (John 1:2, Revelation 19:11-15)

    • Hold me accountable, and should I die or move (hopefully decades in the future), this is the #1 criteria in a pastor-will he preach in season and out of season? 2 Timothy 4:2

  • This sort of proclamation, whether in a personal conversation or in the public preaching, demands a response

  • Are you willing to hear this kind of uncomfortable word from the lord? v18

Our Response

  • In v19-4:1a, Samuel is established. He grew, none of his words fall to the ground, Dan to Beersheeba (the whole nation) knows that he is a prophet, God reveals himself to Samuel by his word, and all the nation hears it

  • Note the close association with what the prophet says and what God says, 3:21, 4:1

  • But this takes us back to the distinctness of Samuel’s call, and the difference between his day and ours

    • It that day, the word was rare (3:1), and it comes common (4:1) via God speaking to one person, and that person relaying the message to everyone

    • This actually marks a shift in Israel’s history: Samuel is the first in a continuous line of prophets

  • We won’t turn there, but Deuteronomy 18:15ff gives a prophecy of a great prophet like Moses to come, and then the test for any other prophets who come in between Moses & the one to come (their words had to prove true)

  • With Samuel, the word of the Lord goes from being rare and uncommonly heard, to there always being a prophetic presence in Israel, speaking God’s word to his people. This continues to be the case until the close of the OT canon, some 400 years before the birth of Christ. 

  • But then God goes silent-until the last of the OT style prophets hits the scene: John the Baptist

    • But John is not the Prophet (John 1:21)

    • He point to the One who is

  • Hebrews 1:1-4, God has revealed himself perfectly in the person of his Son

  • No longer are visions (v2) needed, Jesus is the vision, the icon, the perfect picture

  • God reveals himself to us through this written word-the Scriptures-all of which (John 5) point to the Living and Eternal Word, the Lord Jesus Christ

  • We receive him by believing all that this book says about him Romans 10:17

  • The great gift of our day is that we are no longer having to wait on God to send a special message through any particular mere human: he sent the perfect man, the God man, to reveal the full character of his nature. 

  • To hear the voice of God in our day no longer requires some out of body experience or a voice from heaven: we can simply open the book and pray, show me Christ

  • We come to church, coming as the body of Christ, and the task of the preacher is to make clear to the gathered body the word of the Lord

    • “God’s word—written, preached, welcomed—is the token [sign] of God’s grace to God’s people.”

    • We come to hear Our Lord whom we are to obey, we come to hear our Savior whom we are to trust, and we come to hear our Bridegroom and closest friend who will comfort us in every affliction.

Brothers and sisters, you need to hear the voice of God. You need to hear the word of Christ.  Pick up the book and read! Turn on your audio Bible and listen! Gather with the church week by week as we come together in submission to his word, to hear from the only One whose words give life. Hebrews 2:1-3a

1 Samuel 8, The King Thing

Audio Link   (Sermon starts around 19:05) The King Thing 1 Samuel 8, Remsen Bible Fellowship, 10/25/2020 Introduction: Open by reading the t...