Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Daily reading assignment: 1 Samuel 1-5

Our “Read-thru the Bible” schedule brings us to one of my favorite Old Testament books…1 Samuel!  The history, personalities, and principles found in 1 Samuel are too rich to summarize in brief devotional commentaries; but alas, that is my challenge.  Please do not rush through your reading and overlook the treasure trove of spiritual truths found in 1 Samuel 1-5.

Several historic names come to the forefront in our study of 1 Samuel:  Elkanah (1 Samuel 1:1), whose favored wife Hannah was barren (1:2-8).  Samuel, born in answer to Hannah’s prayers and her promise to dedicate her son to the LORD (1:9-18), who would become a great prophet and judge in Israel.  Eli, who served Israel as High priest and judge, but whose sons, Hophni and Phinehas were so wicked they brought disrepute upon the priesthood in Israel.

Samuel’s birth and his dedication to the LORD is recorded in 1 Samuel 1:19-28.  No doubt Hannah’s heart for the LORD and the dedication of her son has resonated with the hearts of godly mothers down through the centuries.  I will step back in my commentary and allow Hannah’s words to speak for themselves:

1 Samuel 1:27-28 – “For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of him: 28  Therefore also I have lent him to the LORD; as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the LORD…”

Hannah broke into a song of praise and thanksgiving (2:1-10) after dedicating her son to the LORD.  She and Elkanahah, Samuel’s father, went home to Ramah leaving their son to serve the LORD with Eli the priest (2:11).

Chapter 2 takes on an ominous tone when we read of Eli’s sons, they “were sons of Belial [lit. wickedness; worthless; ungodly]; they knew not the LORD” (2:12).  Hophni and Phinehas abused their father’s priestly office, not only provoking the people who brought sacrifices (2:12-17), but eventually leading to the prophecy that Eli’s lineage would be “cut off” from the priesthood (2:27-34).  Never to leave His people in want, God was preparing Samuel to be His servant (2:26; 3:1a).

Still in his youth, Samuel’s heart was tender to the LORD, and when God called him he was ready to hear… “Speak; for they servant heareth” (3:1-10).  God announced to Samuel that the wickedness of Eli’s sons and his failure to rebuke and remove them from the priesthood necessitated His judgment (3:11-18).

The closing verses of 1 Samuel 3 remind us God honors and rewards faithful servants (3:19-21).  What an incredible insight God’s Word gives us regarding Samuel’s character when we read:

1 Samuel 3:19 – “And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of His words [words and instructions of the LORD] fall to the ground [perish or be despised].”

Fulfilling the prophecies against Eli and his sons, tragedy struck the house of Eli and all Israel when the people paraded the sacred “ark of the covenant of the LORD” onto the battlefield (1 Samuel 4:1-9) and the Philistines took the ark in battle and Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were slain (1 Samuel 4:10-11).  Hearing the news that the ark had been taken in battle and his sons slain, Eli fell, breaking his neck and died (4:12-18).

I close this devotional with the tragic observation of Eli’s daughter in law who died giving birth to a son whom she named “Ichabod, saying, The glory is departed from Israel” (4:21-22).

All seemed lost to Israel; however, God had raised up a man to serve Him; that man was Samuel and the LORD was with him!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith