Today’s Reading: 1 Samuel 2:23-7:17
Am I so relaxed that I have become lazy?
Has comfortable slowly turned into sloppy?
Have I become apathetic to the needs of others?
Do these blessings make me look fat?
There were some treacherous things going on at the place of worship where Samuel was now living and growing. Eli’s sons had no respect for the Lord or for the sacrifices God’s people were coming to Shiloh to offer. Eli went to his sons saying, “I have been hearing reports from all the people about the wicked things you are doing. Why do you keep sinning? You must stop, my sons!” (1 Sam. 2:23-24).
But Eli did not remove his sons from their place of honor when they continued sinning so the Lord sent a message to Eli through a man of God: I have revealed myself to your ancestors, I chose your family for this ministry, I assigned you to something VERY holy. Why do you scorn all of this by giving your sons more honor than you give me? You and your sons have become fat from the best offerings of my people Israel! (2:27-29). In essence, God was saying – they are sacrificing while you are indulging; with my blessings you have made yourself comfortable instead of making yourself useful.
Eli’s sons were sinning against God by what they did. Eli was sinning against God by what he did NOT do. All were disobedient and all were punished by God. God had placed Eli in leadership within the people of Israel and his failure to be the spiritual leader God had called him to be caused his death, the death of his two sons, the death of 30,000 Israelite soldiers and the capturing of the Ark of the Covenant by the Philistines (1 Sam. 4).
Our sin and disobedience to God can destroy our lives and destroy those around us. God has a plan to use us in the lives of others but what happens when we choose our own ways instead of His? What happens when we disobey or delay our obedience rather than respond as Samuel did? What happens when we keep God’s blessings for ourselves instead of passing them on and using them as He directs?
Hannah knew the joy of giving God’s biggest blessing back to Him. God generously responded to Hannah’s prayers and she responded back with a generous heart toward God. God blessed Hannah for serving Him in this way. Eli had also been blessed by God but became comfortable in his leadership position, and did not take action when he should have.
What happens when we recognize God’s voice and respond in submissive obedience? One night, Samuel was lying in bed and heard a voice call out, “Samuel!” He went in to check on Eli, but Eli had not called to him. Samuel returned to bed and heard the voice again. Rushing in to Eli, Samuel said, “Here I am. Did you call me?” The third time this happened, Eli gave Samuel very good advice: “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening” (3:4-9).
Samuel had never heard the voice of God, but Eli knew how to recognize a moment when God is calling us. When the voice called out as before, Samuel’s response to the voice of God was, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” – 1 Samuel 3:10
Samuel’s obedience resulted in the Lord continuing to speak to him, giving messages for Samuel to repeat to the people of Israel. They would, in turn, repeat the message and God’s message would go out to all the people of Israel because of Samuel’s obedience (3:21).
Samuel knew the purpose to which God had called him and his heart’s desire was to live out that purpose. He knew he had been given to God – he knew where he came from and Samuel knew to whom he now belonged. Because Samuel was obedient and willing to be used by God in the lives of others, the Israelites got rid of their images of Baal and Ashtoreth, and worshiped only the Lord (7:3-4).
Samuel prayed for God’s people and led them in confession and fasting. His humble servant attitude led the people of Israel to know that it was not Samuel who could save them, but the God to whom Samuel prayed.
“Don’t stop pleading with the Lord our God to save us from the Philistines!” they begged Samuel…He pleaded with the Lord to help Israel and the Lord answered him. – 1 Samuel 7:8-9
Samuel was Israel’s judge for the remainder of his life (7:15). He served God faithfully and his leadership helped God’s people to return to Him.
Dear Jesus, I desire to have a servant heart as Samuel did. God, show me any disobedience in my life – disobedience by what I am doing or by what I am NOT doing. May I not get fat on your blessings but know that I am saved to serve, that I have been chosen by you for a role in the lives of others. Lord, use me and hear my prayers on the behalf of others as I plead for their salvation and healing. Forgive me and empty me out of anything that is me so that I may be filled with You and You only today. May I always know to whom I belong. Amen.