INTERESTING FACTS : "I AM PROFITABLY ENGAGED IN READING THE BIBLE. TAKE ALL OF THIS BOOK THAT YOU CAN BY REASON AND THE BALANCE BY FAITH, AND YOU WILL LIVE AND DIE A BETTER MAN. IT IS THE BEST BOOK, WHICH GOD HAS GIVEN TO MAN. "-- ABRAHAM LINCOLN
DAILY READING : 1 SAMUEL 1 - 3
TEXT : 1Sa 1:26 And she said, Oh my lord, as thy soul liveth, my lord, I am the woman that stood by thee here, praying unto the LORD. 1Sa 1:27 For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: 1Sa 1:28 Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD. And he worshipped the LORD there. 1Sa 3:3 And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; 1Sa 3:4 That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.
THEME : PRAYER
As we begin the Book of 1 Samuel, we leave the period of the Judges and enter the time of the Prophets. The entire time of Samuel's life is about 115 - 130 years. Dr. C.I. Scofield gives us a brief outline of the Book.
"This book represents the personal history of Samuel, last of the Judges. It records the moral failure of the priesthood under Eli, and of the Judges in Samuel's attempt to make the office hereditary (1Sa_8:1). In his prophetic office Samuel was faithful, and in him begins the line of writing prophets. Henceforth the prophet, not the priest, is conspicuous in Israel. In this book the theocracy, as exercised through judges, ends (1Sa_8:7), and the line of kings begins with Saul.
The book is in four parts:
1. The story of Samuel to the death of Eli (1 Samuel 1:1 - 4:22).
2. From the taking of the ark to the demand for a king (1 Samuel 5:1 - 8:22).
3. The reign of Saul to the call of David (1 Samuel 9:1 - 15:35).
4. From the call of David to the death of Saul (1 Samuel 16:1 - 31:13).
The events recorded in First Samuel cover a period of 115 years (Ussher)."
The exact time of Samuel's life varies from one chronologist to another. As you can read, Ussher states Samuel's life was 115 years, Albert Barnes 130. Either way, Samuel lived a long time and as Scofield writes, he began the period of time of the Prophets as the season of the Judges ends. Soon Israel will have a king - like the nations around them, and the appointing of Saul as king will be another installment in their apostasy from God. Eventually, during the period of the Prophets and kings, God will have no recourse but to judge them severely. They will lose their land [inheritance] and kingdom as they drift further and further from God.
When Samuel was born, there was already a dearth of hearing from God. [1Sa_3:1 "And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision."] The Aaronic priesthood is severely compromised by the accommodating and indulgent High Priest Eli, who permitted his sons to corrupt themselves and the people of Israel. [1Sa 3:13 For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. 1Sa 3:14 And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.]Therefore, when Samuel hears the voice of the Lord it is an rare visitation as well as a day of judgment.
God did not speak to His people in any form other than the Torah, or the written Word. This means, there was no guidance, reproof, exhortation, etc. with which the people could know the Mind of God. One may say the Torah is enough, yet since God was still producing the written Word - now canonized in 66 Books, the voice of God through Prophets was needed. Yet, in this period, God was not speaking.
It is also interesting to note, the first Word Samuel receives form the Lord to deliver to the High Priest is not one he is enthused about sharing. Being about twelve years of age at the time [according to Josephus in his "Antiquities of the Jews"] we could understand why. Yet, how different is a true Prophet from the false. Often, the Prophets of God in the Bible are raised up during times of apostasy and rebellion against God and His Word. Further, they are called to contradict the deluded promises of the deceitful and fraudulent prophets who use Jehovah's Name for their own gain. True Prophets such as Samuel were entrusted to speak matters hard to utter, since God often announced His judgment through them.
Still, Samuel will turn out to be a faithful man of God whose prophecies never failed. This is the Biblical indication of a true Prophet. [1Sa 3:19 And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.]
TRUTH FOR TODAY : GOD TELLS US TO PRAY AS HE WORKS HIS PLAN OF SALVATION IN THE WORLD!
In the first chapter of 1 Samuel, we meet Hannah Samuel's mother. Being barren, she cries to the Lord for a child. In so doing, she makes a vow to "lend the child to the Lord" if He would be gracious enough to give her a son. In addition, she promises to make him a Nazarite. [1Sa 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.]
Like Samson, Samuel did not take the Nazarite vow of his own volition. Further, Samuel who is a descendant of the Levites would ordinarily only had to give service to the Lord from age 25 to 50. Yet, as a Nazarite, he would be dedicated to the Lord from birth until death. What makes this even more interesting is the fact that the Jews had a tradition that a father could consecrate his son as a Nazarite, but a woman could not. Therefore, we have curious and extraordinary circumstances with the pregnancy and birth of Samuel - somewhat similar to Samson, the difference being here Hannah makes the vow [God does not prophesy] on the condition that God would give her a son.
It is intriguing how God works out His Sovereign plan for salvation in the world, using Man. Whether it is a prophesy to Manaoh and his wife concerning Samson, or a prophetic dream given to an ungodly king [Nebuchadnezzar] about the future of the world, or here, a woman praying and asking for a son whom God will use mightily - it is mystifying. God knows all there is to know about the past, present and future. Yet, He tells us to pray, ask, and believe. It is incredible and amazing.
The power of prayer is found in the fact that it moves the Hand of God to work His will in the earth. God wants us involved in the process of implementing His own work, as this is the only reasonable explanation as to why we are told to pray. If He already knows what things we have need of before we ask [Matthew 6:8] - and we are told to ask, then having fellowship with God in His work is the best reason and justification for why we [must] pray. God wants His people active in implementing His Word in the world.
Prayer is one of the most common features in all religions. Further, it is a common theme in the Bible. Through prayer, God performs mighty feats and wonders. More than that, though we may not know all there is to know about why God insists we pray, we do know He answers. When it seems improbable and even impossible, when we pray, we can still receive an answer no matter how hard the request.
The virgin birth of Christ was an impossibility. Mary knew this. Thus, the Scriptures record -
"Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her." [Luk 1:34 - 38]
Though impossible, it nevertheless occurred. Jesus was born, and the World has a Savior, even as Samuel was born and Israel had a Prophet. We must always pray and never lose heart for it is the ordained method of God in working out His sovereign will in the earth.
Luk 18:1 And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint; Luk 18:2 Saying, There was in a city a judge, which feared not God, neither regarded man: Luk 18:3 And there was a widow in that city; and she came unto him, saying, Avenge me of mine adversary. Luk 18:4 And he would not for a while: but afterward he said within himself, Though I fear not God, nor regard man; Luk 18:5 Yet because this widow troubleth me, I will avenge her, lest by her continual coming she weary me. Luk 18:6 And the Lord said, Hear what the unjust judge saith. Luk 18:7 And shall not God avenge his own elect, which cry day and night unto him, though he bear long with them? Luk 18:8 I tell you that he will avenge them speedily. Nevertheless when the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?