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.
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.
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.
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.