Grab your Bibles and let’s go deeper into the testimony of Samuel.
God Chooses Samuel
In 1 Samuel 3:1-10, we read the testimony of the call of the Lord on Samuel’s life and the beginning of Samuel’s prophetic ministry. While the narrative is simple, the takeaway is profound. The Lord is calling to Samuel, and yet Samuel doesn’t discern His voice, thinking it’s his elder, Eli. It says in 1 Samuel 3:7, “Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” This is another reminder that it is the Lord who must reveal himself to us, for in our sin we are not spiritually discerned (1 Corinthians 2:14). Therefore, we are desperate for God to awaken our dead hearts and call us to Himself.
1 Peter 1:3 According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.
When we understand that it is God who saves and sends us, this is a solid rock under our feet. Why? Because, if it were our own doing or our own inclination to follow and obey God, what security or lasting hope do we have, our eternity would be uncertain as it was up to us to stay in line. No. Instead, it is God who saves His elect and sets us on His path of righteousness and obedience for Him. It is God who will endure us to the end and lose none of His chosen people. So, Samuel is called by God and commissioned to be a prophetic voice to the people.
Honest in Love With Those Above You
In 1 Samuel 3:11-18, Samuel is immediately faced with hearing God’s righteous judgment for an elder in his life. Not only does he have to hear God’s judgment on someone he loves, but Samuel is the one God instructs to bring God’s word to Eli. How hard is it when God uses us to bring admonishment to someone who ranks above us in life—a parent, a boss, a teacher, or an older brother or sister?
In his interaction with Eli, Samuel doesn’t hold back in speaking honestly. We need to love each other enough to speak honestly with each other and not hold back if that person needs to hear something, even if it’s hard to hear. We don’t help them grow, change, or improve if we simply leave it alone.
In 1 Samuel 3:19-20 we read, “Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord.” Samuel is now established in all of Israel as God’s mouthpiece and His chosen prophet.
1 Samuel 7:3 And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.”
Samuel makes it clear to the people that they are to honor God and worship Him alone—put away your false idols, worship and serve God only, and He will lead you and deliver you. This is surely the command of God on us. We, too, must hear and act on these words.
Confession and Repentance
1 Samuel 7:4-6 So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only. Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah.
The people were obedient and did as they were told. They practiced confession and repentance. This is what we are called to do, in Christ, when we see our sin or are called out on our sin—confess and repent. Let’s look at these closer:
Confession—from the root word meaning “to agree together with.”
God understands and knows all our sin, but it is key that we fully confess and understand our sin before Him. Confession sets the heart up for true repentance. Confession is simply acknowledging I have sinned. “This was sin. You call it sin. I am calling it sin. I am saying out loud to you, ‘God, I sinned!’”
1 John 1:8-9 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Now there is much we know we have done in sin, but there is much we are not tuned into, also. One important thing we must practice is being still and quiet before God. Why? Because, the Holy Spirit will reveal to us the sin that maybe we haven’t seen or acknowledged yet.
Psalm 19:12-13 Who can discern his errors? Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
13 Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless, and innocent of great transgression.
Confession leads to repentance. So, what is repentance exactly? It is a word commonly used in church circles, but do we really understand what it really is?
Repentance is taking up a new course in light of God’s will. It is turning from sin and turning to obedience and honoring God.
If confession is admittance—agreeing together with God, who knows already what really happened, repentance is a new direction. It is surrendering your current wrong path in order to get on the right one.
We must practice, regularly, confession and repentance. It is not enough to say we sinned, in confession. We must turn from that sin and practice righteousness. We must turn, in repentance, and take up a new course or practice that honors God.
Repentance is not something you do one time to be saved. Martin Luther said famously, “When our Lord and Master Jesus Christ said ‘Repent,’ he intended that the entire life of believers should be repentance.”
In 1 Samuel 7:7-17, we read about God’s delivering the Israelites from the hand of the encroaching Philistines. He helps drive them back and brings the Israelites to great victory. Here, we also see that God endures Samuel to rule over, and be a faithful judge of, Israel all the days of his life (1 Samuel 7:15).
The Demand For a King
In 1 Samuel 8, Samuel has become old and he has made his sons judges over Israel. The problem is, his sons do not walk in his ways, but take bribes and pervert justice.
The Rejection of God as King and the Problem with a Human King
In I Samuel 8:7-18, we see the problem with the people’s desire for a human king and the consequences that will come if they choose to have a human king. When we read narratives like this, it is often too easy for us to declare that they were stupid to choose to deny God as King and long for a human ruler in His place. But is this not what we do often in our everyday lives? We must be oh-so-careful not to ever think that a human ruler is our hope or refuge. God, alone, is our King and we are members of His kingdom in Christ. In this, we must carefully navigate the politics of the temporary land in which we find ourselves living.
We must remember that we don’t live for politics. We don’t base our confidence about the future on who gets elected.
Pastor John Piper said this well when he said,
“Let those who vote or do politics do it as though they were not doing it [1 Cor 7:29-31] which means there’s a kind of engagement that is not all consuming. There is a kind of voting, a kind of doing politics a kind of advocacy which is not investing our whole selves in it because we are not here fully. We have a foot in heaven and a foot on the earth, we are citizens of two kingdoms, and this is not our main home. This world is passing away …”
1 John 2:17 And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
We know this system is disappearing. We shouldn’t be so worked up about our opponent getting elected that it undoes our life. What we ought to be saying is, “I am God’s child. Jesus Christ is my KING. I will trust in, and serve, Him all the days of my life.”
Daniel 2:21 tells us that God is the one who ultimately removes kings and sets up kings. So, we vote and engage in all that is before us trusting that God can and will use the upcoming season in the life of our country for His glory and our good no matter who gets elected president. May we avoid doing what the Israelites did, which was to put their hope into human kings, and instead be sure our priorities, thoughts, and hopes are for His kingdom first and foremost.
The Faithfulness of God Despite Our Rebellion and Sin
In 1 Samuel 12:20-25, Samuel remains faithful until the end of his life. God uses him in major ways despite the ups and downs of the people he leads. We can learn a lot from Samuel in that the fact that he remains faithful to God, and those he leads, despite how hard they make it. At the end of the day, we must remember we serve the Lord. We must remember He is sovereign over all things. We are not led nor swayed by our circumstances. We are led by the Lord of hosts.
By His grace and for His glory,
Pastor Joshua Kirstine