God Controls History
1 Samuel 1–7
1st and 2nd Samuel Lesson #032
November 10, 2015
“Father, as we look at the world around us, as we look at what is going on in this nation, we see the trends that have been consistent for the last 30 years, trends rejecting Your Word, trends moving more and more deeply into the quagmire and morass of moral relativism, a nation that continues to become more self-absorbed in the silliest and most vacuous ways, a nation comprised of people who are unaware of things that involve thinking long term about current events, much less eternity.
Father, You have given us truth. You have given us Your Word. I pray that we might be able to take a stand, to boldly, confidently, yet not obnoxiously give the gospel to those who need it, to be a verbal, as well as a nonverbal witness.
Father, we pray that You would help us to reach out. The only hope, the only thing that will transform this nation is to turn back to You. We pray that we might be instrumental in doing that. Father, we pray that You would help us understand what we are studying this evening and that we might be encouraged by Your Word. I pray this in Christ’s Name. Amen.”
Open your Bibles to 1 Samuel.
If you have been paying attention at all to what is going on in the world around us, especially in our nation, you know that it is not positive. We do not wake-up in the morning and hear positive, encouraging news.
Today the big news has been what is going on at the University of Missouri and also at Yale. We have raised another generation of students who are so self-absorbed that they actually think that these imagined hangnails that they are demonstrating against, in terms of social problems, are really significant. They are so self-absorbed that they cannot be around anybody that they think offends them.
I always want to ask the question of someone like that, “how do you feel about the fact that what you are doing may offend a lot of other people? Does that ever register, or are you just so arrogant that you are just concerned about what offends you?”
That is where they are. The trouble is that when we see a culture that has spiraled into the depths of self-absorption like this, it bodes ill for the future of the culture.
Crime is up in this nation. Law enforcement personnel, because of the “black lives matter” movement, and several others (not all blacks go along with that by the way. I want you to know that. There are a lot of blacks who are very pro law enforcement and very much against this), but those radical elements that are involved with that are causing tremendous confusion and despair in the law enforcement community. There are a lot of people in law enforcement who wonder if they need to transition to another job.
Once we get Christians who want to get out of government and good people with integrity who want to get out of law enforcement, and get out of the military, and then who is left?
Then we really have a problem. Some people say Christians who cannot go along with the Obergefell decision need to get out of government. Then we will have a totally secular government. That is a recipe for absolute disaster.
We have a Supreme Court that is forcing a moral shift on the public, which the public does not want. I read a great article yesterday that says there are six or seven counties in Tennessee that are taking a stand on the 10th Amendment to completely resist the Supreme Court decision. More power to them.
Corruption among government officials and corporate leaders is at the highest it has ever been in this country. We have untold thousands, tens of thousands immigrants that are being forced upon us. Not only do we have a flood of illegal immigrants and a government that does not want to close the borders and allow quality immigration, nobody is against immigration. They are just against these hordes coming in who are not assimilated.
Not only is that going on, but we have a huge number of sleeper jihadists that want to come in. Muslims and a vast number of these illegal immigrants are now coming from Mexico and Central America. That is so 1980s and 1990s.
They are coming from North Africa, from the Middle East, and they are coming from a lot of other countries. It is basically a Jihadist invasion.
In Europe, thank goodness there is an ocean between us, it is so bad in Europe, that in fact Sweden, due to the large Muslim population there, which is over 40–45%, pushing toward 50%, it is so bad that they have now become the rape capital of Western Europe.
They have the second highest number of rapes per capita of all nations in the world. Over 70% of the rapes are committed by Muslim immigrants against ethnic Swedish women. The liberalism that dominates the courts in Sweden will not do anything to protect their own women. They let them go.
A report came out last spring that in Norway and Finland, 100% of the rapes are committed by Muslim immigrants against the Norwegian, Finish, and ethnic women. 10% of all women in Norway have been raped by these refugees.
I happened to be reading through Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Isaiah as I was hearing about some of this in the last couple of weeks. And this is what happened when Israel went out under the 5th cycle of discipline. This is how God is bringing judgment on western civilization for turning against Him.
We have a national debt that is more than double what it was seven years ago. It was outrageous then. Somehow the economy still totters along. The vast majority of Americans have so given themselves over to moral relativism that they do not even know it anymore. Most Christians are just as mired in moral relativism as the non-Christians.
The official unemployment rate is now 5%. But if you factored in all of those who have quit looking for jobs, it is probably closer to 8%. Three and a half to four million people have just quit looking for work. That is a conservative estimate. It may be double that.
But still we have a majority of Americans that identify as Christian. The problem is that it is such an insipid, compromised, vapid, vacuous, impotent form of Christianity that it makes no difference whatsoever in their lives. They do not know what true biblical Christianity is. They just know what it is to have a pep-rally for Jesus and a social club.
We are not any different from the way Israel was at the time Samuel opens up. Tonight what I want to do is review 1 Samuel 1–7, because it is here that we learn that God controls history. That is the hope that we have.
After I got everybody distressed and discouraged in that introduction, the reality is that we always have hope. No matter how dark it is, there is always hope because the Lord is in control. He is the Light of the world. He is the One who is in control and knows every single detail. He is orchestrating everything to its proper end.
There have been times in history when things have been much, much, much darker than they are here. There are nations, countries, and empires that have gone through much worse times than what hangs over our head. Yet we still have a huge number of believers who are asleep at the switch, who have not been involved. Some of the recent decisions and events of this last year I think, hope, and pray have awakened people.
As we look at Samuel, we see how God transformed Israel from the darkest despair of the period of the judges to the ultimate triumphal period under King David. It did not happen overnight. Their failure and collapse did not happen overnight either.
There was a period of some 350 years during the time of the judges, after the death of the conquest generation, as they deteriorated and got worse and worse and worse through each subsequent generation. That is how deterioration takes place. Recovery does not happen overnight either.
As we will see in our study, from the time of their defeat, that absolutely atrocious defeat, when the Ark of God was captured at the battle of Aphek, which is roughly 1104 BC, until the time David ascends the throne, which is sometime around 1010 BC, you have a period of 95 years. It did not change overnight. It is not going to change overnight with us. But the one thing that will change it is what we have.
We have looked at these in 1 Samuel 1–7. You can remember 1 Samuel biographically. It is Samuel, Saul, and then David.
In 1 Samuel 1–7 you see the emphasis on Samuel as prophet, priest, and judge.
Then you see the rise of Saul and his complete failure because Saul is not any different from the pagan culture around him, although I do believe he was a believer. You see his rise and collapse because he is disobedient to God. He commits the same sin that Satan commits. He is rebellious to God.
We see the rise of David in 1 Samuel 16 to the end of book. Last time, as we came to the end of 1 Samuel 7, I want to point out what we see there.
In the conclusion to this section there is a significant transition to 1 Samuel 8. We read:
1 Samuel 7:15–17, “And Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. He went from year to year on a circuit to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah, and judged Israel in all those places. But he always returned to Ramah, for his home was there. There he judged Israel, and there he built an altar to the Lord.”
This conclusion is bracketed by two statements, “He judged Israel”. Samuel is the first judge that is a universal judge for Israel. The other judges were more regional and more tribal. But he is viewed as judging Israel, even though the places that are mentioned there are all in the central area in the hill country of Samaria.
What we see as we go back and look at this section in 1 Samuel 1–7 from the beginning, is that when a nation turns against God, a nation rejects the grace of God, and a nation rejects the revelation of God, then that nation is doomed to judgment.
Israel has a special kind of judgment because they are a special kind of people. They are under a special covenant with God that is distinct from all other covenants, but nevertheless, even Gentile nations that turn against God will come under divine judgment.
Proverbs 29:18 is a verse we will look at again, says: “When there is no revelation.”
The King James translated it a way that a lot of people hear, “Where there is no vision the people perish.” That is not exactly accurate. It is often misquoted today. It is another one of those verses that is taken out of context.
It is applied to a lot of things like having a vision for a company, having a vision for a church, and things like that—if the leader does not have vision … but that is not what it says.
What it says is “When there is no revelation,” when there is no prophecy.
When God is not speaking to the people and they are not responding, then the people cast off restraint. In other words, they just do whatever they want to do. That is the theme of the time period of the judges. There was no God in Israel. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes.
This is the period of the judges. This is a chart we have seen a number of times in this study showing the last judges: Jephthah, Samson, and Samuel.
The last judges overlapped as they are dealing with two different oppressions. One was coming in from the east, actually taking place in the area we call the Hashemite kingdom of Jordan today. It is across the Jordan in the Transjordan. This is the Ammonite oppression that is coming in from the east.
Then from the west, from the area of the coastal plains, we have the Philistine oppression. Israel is being squeezed. The only place where they can find any sort of protection is in that center spine of hills that runs north and south down through Israel.
If you have been there, this is the area that comes down through Shem, through Shechem, Bethel, Ai, Jerusalem, south of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, on down to Hebron, and then on down further south by Beersheba.
This is what is going on. This gives us a timeframe. The two battles that this section turns on are in 1 Samuel 4. 1 Samuel 1–3 leads up to that battle.
1 Samuel 4 is the battle of Aphek in 1104 BC. Israel is decimated, defeated. The Ark is captured. Then there is a turning that takes place. After 20 years of divine discipline, Israel finally turns back to the Lord, listens to Samuel, confesses their sins, turns to the Lord, cleans out the idols.
And God gives them a miraculous supernatural victory at the battle of Mizpah in 1084 BC. But that is 35 years before Saul begins to reign in 1050 BC.
Some of those numbers change a little bit. 1050 BC almost everybody agrees on was Saul. Some of those numbers change, but the relative spacing does not change. You can look in different books, and the authors may come up with a little different view.
We have seen this cycle of disobedience, discipline, deliverance, in the judges all through this period. God is finally bringing this to a close. It has been a period of this kind of action one after another that has lasted for about 300 years, to 1100 BC, when the battle of Aphek takes place, from 1400 BC, when the conquest took place.
The conquest generation might have gone away in 1350 BC, so from 1350 BC to 1050 BC is about 300 years. That would be the timeframe of all of this discipline and anarchy at times, and military oppression, because God is serious about His Word.
The basic breakdown of Samuel is this. I want to remind you of it:
1. The first seven chapters, 1 Samuel 1–7, is God’s preparation to deliver the nation Israel from her enemies by grace.
At the beginning of this, they have not turned to God. They have not cried out to God for deliverance. It is not until we get to 1 Samuel 7 that they cry out to God. God had to work through these first six chapters, as well as the last judgeship in the book of Judges, which is Samson, to bring them to that point.
But even though they are mired in moral relativism and paganism, there are many cases as bad as or worse than the Canaanites. God doesn’t desert them at all. God is the One who, when they turn to Him, God is the One that will rescue them.
2. That will lead to the establishment of the office of the king in 1 Samuel 8–15.
We focus on Saul. He is disobedient. He refuses to obey God. God says you have not listened to me, and that is like the sin of witchcraft. Of course, that fits with the sin of Satan, in his fall, and his arrogance.
3. Then we see the decrease of Saul and the increase of David in the last chapters from 1 Samuel 16 to 2 Samuel 1.
Just reviewing quickly:
1. The Lord graciously prepares Israel for deliverance through the birth of a son, 1 Samuel 1:1– 2:11.
Does that not sound familiar? When is another son born? It is in the beginning of Luke and the beginning of Matthew.
This foreshadows how God will deliver the world. I have often thought that Samuel ought to be called the Gospel of Samuel because it begins with the birth of a son that is going to be the one who is the forerunner of the Davidic Messiah, who is David, who is the anointed king, who is a type of Christ.
How does the Gospel of Luke begin? It begins with the birth of a prophet, John the Baptist, who is the forerunner of the Lord Jesus Christ, the greater Son of David. There are a tremendous number of parallels there. This is the first chapter and a half.
The second chapter, 1 Samuel 2:
2. The Lord prepares Israel for a new era by blessing the family of Hannah, and beginning to judge the house of Eli, 1 Samuel 2:12–36.
God is slow in judgment because He is extending grace, but sooner or later His grace comes to an end and judgment comes.
Then in chapter three, 1 Samuel 3:
3. The Lord initiates Samuel’s role as a prophet to Israel, 1 Samuel 3:1–22.
Then in the fourth division, 1 Samuel 4:
4. The Lord causes Israel to be defeated, allows the Ark to be captured so the house of Eli can be judged, 1 Samuel 4:1–22.
Sometimes God is accomplishing something at the worst time, in the worst cases. In the worst situation, the most depressing discouraging defeats, God is working to bring about something great.
Then the fifth division from 1 Samuel 5:1. This is the largest division of this section, three chapters, 1 Samuel 5–7:
5. The Lord establishes His authority, power, and glory through Samuel’s judgeship, 1 Samuel 5:1–7:17.
That sets the stage for what is going to happen in 1 Samuel 8.
We come to that first division. I want to talk about that a minute. We read through 1 Samuel 1–2. We spent a lot of time in 1 Samuel 2:1–10 because I was focusing on Hannah’s psalm and the richness of that psalm that has so much to it and in it that we learn about God. We learn about His provision. We even learn a little bit about the Messiah.
1. The Lord graciously prepares Israel for deliverance through the birth of a son, 1 Samuel 1:1–2:11.
What we see is a basic introduction. If you remember, we were introduced to two families. There are two families, and each had three people.
- The first family is the family of Elkanah. He has two wives, Hannah and Peninnah.
- Then we have Eli, the fat corpulent priest, and his two reprobate sons, Hophni and Phinehas. That is really captured in 1 Samuel 1–3. It is about the family of Elkanah versus the family of Eli.
Three and three—you just capture that. You are grinning or laughing at the little cartoons up there. Well that is good. That gets it in your mind so you can think through that. It is Elkanah and the two wives, and Eli, Hophni, and Phinehas.
The household of Elkanah represents the situation with Israel because you have got one wife that is oppressing the other wife, just as Israel is being oppressed by the Philistines. The only way that Hannah can be rescued and delivered from her oppression, her persecution, and the profound bitterness that she talks about in 1 Samuel 1:10, the anguish of her soul, is to turn to God.
That is the major lesson—that God is the One who rescues us, even in the midst of this horrible time. Peninnah represents the oppressive power of the Philistines against Israel.
Then we have the family of Eli. We will get into that a little more when we get into the 1 Samuel 2.
What I want to look at as we go through each of these sections by way of review, is to look at areas to see what we learned, to be reminded of what we learned. This is something that is a pattern that you can use when you are reading through your Bible.
I have been encouraged a lot over the last several months as I have been trying to encourage people to read their Bible, to learn from different people that they are actually saying, well, I picked up my Bible. I am starting to read it. I cannot believe what I am learning.
I’ll mention something and people will say that they just read about that last week and it makes more sense. That is what I have been saying for years. If people read their Bible then all of a sudden a lot of things that I say make a lot more sense because you actually know who the people are, where the places are, where the events are, and those of you who have been to Israel can visualize those events. I wish it were not so expensive. I wish everybody could go and that I could take everybody.
When we read Scripture, one way that we can study Scripture is to say, having studied this:
- What did I learn about God?
- What did I learn about man?
- What did I learn about salvation?
It may be temporal salvation or it may be eternal salvation.
- What did I learn about problem solving?
I put problem solving in there because that is part of the spiritual life. In the spiritual life, we constantly have to deal with adversity and difficulties. That is how we grow. That is what we have been studying in 1 Peter on Thursday nights. We have studied it before in James. That’s the kind of thing we are seeing here.
What do we learn about God?
- We learn that God is faithful.
- He is faithful to Israel.
- He has not deserted Israel.
- He has not said you are a bunch of stiff-necked, rebellious mules and I am getting rid of you.
- He is still there.
- He is going to listen to the prayer of this distraught, oppressed, grieving, bitter woman who turns nowhere else except to God to get deliverance from her problem.
This is one thing that happens when we are in the midst of difficulty. It drives us to God, to think about what God is doing in our life.
This built a profound spiritual depth in the soul of Hannah. It is out of that depth that she is able to write this psalm in 1 Samuel 2, which is remarkable because it is the foundation for two or three psalms that are written in the Psalms. The writer borrowed from her language, her terminology.
It also provides a framework and background to Mary’s Magnificat. It is her praise song after she is told that she is going to give birth to the Savior. This is a very significant part of Scripture. We are reminded that God is faithful.
The first thing we are reminded of is that He is our Rock.
The title Rock, as it applies to the Lord, emphasizes God as our Rock. This is what Hannah says at the end of 1 Samuel 2:2, “Nor is there any Rock like our God?” This becomes the term. Rock almost becomes a synonym for God in a number of passages in the Old Testament.
Other passages that you can look at are found in Lamentations 3:21–23, which is a favorite for many people.
Lamentations 3:21–23, “This I recall to mind and therefore have hope, through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness.”
You have other passages: Psalm 36:5, “Your mercy, O Lord, is in the heavens; Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds.” In other words, there is no limit to God’s faithfulness.
In Psalm 89:1, which is a meditation on the Davidic Covenant, David writes, “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord forever; with my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations.”
God is faithful. He is our Rock.
- The second thing we learn as we go through this is that God working out a plan.
Hannah recognizes this in 1 Samuel 2:3–7. She is actually rebuking the arrogant ones. She reminds them that the Lord is the God of knowledge. He knows everything. He will judge in the situation. “By Him actions are weighed.”
Hannah goes on to talk about how He provides and how He rules. The Lord kills. He makes alive. He brings down to the grave and brings up. He makes poor. He makes rich. He makes low and looks up. He raises the poor. He lifts the beggar. All these things indicate that He is working out a plan.
Other verses that go along with that are Deuteronomy 18:15, 18, which shows a prediction that God is going to send a prophet like Moses, a unique prophet. That scene is being fulfilled in Jesus according to John 1:25 and Acts 3:22. God has declared that it is unique. That is what Hannah emphasizes when she says, “No one is holy like the Lord.”
This scene gets picked up when in these seven chapters? That theme gets picked up in 1 Samuel 4–5.
What happens when the Philistines take God into the temple of Dagon?
They are going to learn a lesson that God is unique. He is the only God. God is holy.
Then what is going to happen to the Jews when the Ark of the covenant finally makes its way back to Beth-Shemesh? What happens?
They open up the Ark. They get their grubby hands all over it. A whole slew of them die because they treat the Lord with disrespect. They treat the Ark with disrespect and violate His Law.
God is unique. He is holy. I think unique captures a lot of the nuance of holiness.
- God executes judgment in 1 Samuel 2:9–10. That is another theme that gets developed later on in this chapter.
God is going to announce His judgment on the house of Eli and his sons. It is going to be confirmed in 1 Samuel 3. All of 1 Samuel 3 is about prophecy, of confirmation of the original prophecy of Eli, about judgment on the family by Samuel. That sets things up.
Then there is judgment on Israel by God, because they are going to be defeated at the battle of Aphek.
Then there is going to be judgment on the Philistines because they treat God with disrespect.
Then there is judgment on the people of Beth-Shemesh because they treat God with disrespect.
Finally, Israel is going to turn back to God. God is going to supernaturally defeat the Philistines at the battle of Mizpah in 1 Samuel 7. All of that is related to God’s justice that plays a role all through this section.
What we are doing here is what theologians call biblical theology. For a lot of people you get confused because you think that it is referring to theology that is biblical, as opposed to theology that is Islamic, Koranic, Hindu, or Buddhist.
But this is a technical term that has been developed over the last 200–300 years. It is looking at a book like Samuel and saying, okay, I am going to look at this section of Samuel, or all of Samuel. What do I learn from this book of the Bible about God, salvation, man, and prophecy, whatever? That is called biblical theology.
That is something to add to your vocabulary. Understand that biblical theology is not what you always thought it was. It is a technical term for something completely different.
In 1 Samuel 2:10 the most remarkable statement by Hannah is that she says, “The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them.”
When is 2 Samuel 2:10 seemingly fulfilled? At the battle of Mizpah. God thunders.
We studied that last time. God thunders against the Philistines. They press the panic button. They get scared to the very core of their being. They run. The Israelites slaughter them.
Hannah foresees this, “The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken in pieces; from heaven He will thunder against them. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth. He will give strength to His king.” “His king” is in synonymous parallelism to “His anointed” in the next line, “and exalt the horn of His anointed,” meaning that this is a messianic prophecy.
That is the first division, 1 Samuel 1–2:10. That is what we learn about God.
What do we learn about God? We also learn that God cares about our afflictions. This is what Hannah mentions when she comes to pray, that she is afflicted. She is a woman who has a great complaint. She is bitter of soul. 1 Samuel 1:15, she is a woman of sorrowful spirit. She turns to the Lord to find aid.
We have a number of passages, a number of verses:
Psalm 22:24, “For He has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted.”
Sometimes we think that God took a vacation. He is worried about the Iranians, or He is worried about Israel, or He is worried about something else somewhere on the planet. He has forgotten about me and my problems. But God does not forget the “affliction of the afflicted. Nor has He hidden His face from Him; But when He cried to Him, He heard.” God heard. He pays attention.
Psalm 40:17, “But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinks upon me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God.” David is calling out to God for sustenance.
Another great passage is Psalm 72:12, “For He will deliver the needy when he cries, the poor/afflicted also, and him who has no helper/ezer.”
This is what happens at the end of 1 Samuel 7 at the battle of Mizpah. Samuel sets up a rock and calls it Ebenezer, the rock of my help. This connects the dots there.
One of my favorite psalms of comfort, Psalm 56:8, David says, “You number my wanderings.” In other words, when we are just lost and crawling around in all kinds of directions, not knowing what to do, God is writing down. He is tracking us. He has a GPS down on us. He is tracking all of our permutations as we are trying to figure out what to do with our life. God is paying attention.
David goes on to say, “Put my tears into Your bottle.” In the ancient world they had these little tear bottles that they would take to a funeral. When they wept at the funeral, they would capture their tears in those tear bottles and cap them off. They would keep that as a reminder, as a memorial to their grief for the person that died.
What David is saying is that God is so compassionate, so caring, so concerned about us in our affliction that He is capturing our tears, as it were, to remember our afflictions.
The solution is the Law, Psalm 119:92, “Unless Your law had been my delight, I would then have perished in my affliction.”
There is a good question here for application. How delighted are we to read our Bible and to memorize our Bible, to internalize our Bible, hide the Word in our heart? That is what David says—if I had not made your Law my delight.
That is not just taking notes in Bible class. That is not just reading about the Bible and reading theology. That is internalizing the Word itself into our souls so that we get to the point where our reactions to life are shaped by the Scripture.
What we also learn in the first section is that God’s grace is sufficient. God handled all of Hannah’s complaints and afflictions above and beyond what she could have ever hoped for. She went through a period of several years where she was depressed, where she was grieved, where she was weary, where her soul was under oppression from her circumstances. God sustained her.
We want these bad feelings to go away in 24 – 48 – 72 hours, and that is too long. I am going to have a great story for you on Thursday night. I ran across this a while back. I was going to use it tonight, but I thought no, I need to use it on Thursday night because there are things that I have been saying in 1 Peter.
It is a story about a man who is considered to be the greatest preacher in the English language. He was a Victorian preacher at the largest church in London. His name was Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
Spurgeon would go through bouts of deep dark depression. What brought him out of it always was the Word of God. He always said it is the Word of God that gets me through it. It is not all these other things. People want a solution other than the Word of God. That is called idolatry. That is God.
What do we learn about man? We learn that man is depraved.
We look at Peninnah and the way she is vindictive. She is so petty towards Hannah, rubbing it in that Hannah cannot have any children.
We look at Eli and his laziness and his inability to teach values to his two sons. They run all over him. We look at Hophni and Phinehas and how they are abusing the people. How they are abusing those who come to worship the Lord, how they are turning the women who serve at the temple into temple prostitutes. They have degraded the worship of God in their depravity.
We see that human beings are dependent. We cannot solve our problems apart from God. We cannot solve our problems without depending upon Him and trusting in Him.
- We see that human beings are destructive. When we walk away from the Lord and we are not trusting in Him, it destroys the culture. It destroys the world around us.
If you want to see the difference that Christianity makes, look at the rest of the world, look at cultures. South America is a lot better than many other cultures because it has had an impact from Christianity.
But you look at areas in Africa before Christianity came. Look at how Christianity has changed it. You look at India before Christianity came from the British. Look at China before Christianity came. Look at the transformation that took place when Christian missionaries came and began to change those cultures. You look at Russia. Look at how they are in a godless country now.
Many of those countries under the Islamic countries are dark and terrible. It is abusive to people.
I can never understand why liberals tend to have an affinity for Islam. The Muslims do not recognize any human rights. The only cure they have for feminism is beheading. The only cure they have for homosexuality is beheading. The only cure they have for adultery is beheading. The only cure they have for anybody who disagrees with them is beheading. It is like a broken record.
What we learn from 1 Samuel 1–2 is a positive trusting believer, like Hannah, can change the course of history and can change a nation. There is hope. This is what we see.
What do we learn about salvation?
The salvation that is mentioned here is mentioned by Hannah. It is that God is the One in whom salvation comes, she rejoices in 1 Samuel 2:1. It is a deliverance from her circumstances.
It is not eternal salvation. She understands that man cannot deliver himself from either temporal or eternal adversity. She realizes we have to be completely dependent upon God.
Then we learn about problem solving.
Hannah could have looked to Baal, or the Asherah, who were the gods and goddesses of fertility, to solve her infertility. But she looks to God as the One who alone can solve the problem of her infertility.
We have to learn that circumstances, people and systems can create numerous difficulties. The solution is always to trust the Lord, always to relax in Him.
2. The Lord prepares Israel for a new era by blessing the family of Hannah and beginning to judge the houses of Eli. This is the rest of 1 Samuel 2. It is relatively short.
What do we learn about God here? We learn that God is at work even in the most corrupt and evil circumstances, no matter how dark it became. The sons of Eli are abusing the people. They are turning the women who work in the temple into prostitutes. This is horrible. This is a degraded society because of their moral relativism, their rejection of God, but nevertheless God is working, even in the midst of those horrible circumstances, to turn things around.
We learned in 1 Samuel 2:25, “If one man sins against another, God will judge him. But if a man sins against the Lord, who will intercede for him? Nevertheless they did not heed the voice of their father, because the Lord desired to kill them.”
God is working. He’s got to bring judgment before He brings blessing.
- We learn about God—that He raised up a leader.
God pronounced judgment on the house of Eli in 1 Samuel 2:27–36.
God’s judgment can indeed be awful. God does not wipe out the house of Eli, but they will never serve in the temple again. They are going to become a fourth class priestly family. Everybody rejects them.
1 Samuel 2:34–35 summarizes that. God says, 1 Samuel 2:34, “Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die, both of them.”God is going to wipe out the family, just about.
1 Samuel 2:35, “Then I will raise up for Myself a faithful priest.”First God has to bring judgment. Then He is going to bring a faithful priest.
What do we learn about man?
The next thing we learn about man is that humans often think they can get away with evil and destruction, that we can just somehow get away with it—the fact that God’s grace allows you to continue sinning. And ignoring Him for so long must mean that He is not there, or He does not care, or He is busy somewhere else. We think we can get away with it, but what God shows is that ultimately accountability comes through.
- This is divine institution #1, human responsibility. We are responsible to God. Sooner or later there is a payday.
We learn about God. We learn about man.
What do we learn about salvation?
- What we learn is that God’s plan for deliverance from temporal adversity may take time. It is not going to happen overnight. Whether it is a situation in your personal life, a situation in your family, a situation in your marriage, a situation at work, a situation with your finances, a situation with your education, it may be a situation dealing with national issues or international issues. Though it will take time to recover, God is going to provide the solution.
1 Samuel 2:35, He promised to raise up a “faithful priest.”That is God’s solution. He is going to change the situation through Samuel.
What do we learn about problem solving?
We learn to wait on the Lord, to focus upon Him, to cast our cares upon Him because He cares for us. God will work it out in His time.
3. The third division, 1 Samuel 3, is when God reveals His plan to Samuel. He is going to authenticate Samuel as a priest.
What we learn here has to do with revelation. That is the main thing that is happening in 1 Samuel 3.
When God speaks in private He validates it in public or with other witnesses. In other words, there is no room for mysticism. There is no room for this idea that God spoke to me, God told me I had a vision last night. God told me I needed to go do “x, y, or z” unless that is confirmed by something objective. If not, then it is something that happened in your mind. It has nothing to do with God.
Another thing we learn about God is that He trains and provides the future leaders. He will provide that which is needed in order to sustain and to deliver Israel.
God is going to validate that leadership —He validated Samuel’s leadership.
We learn about God that He is in control and that God is going to reveal His plan to man.
There is something we learn about man. I am going to relate this to Proverbs 29:18, which I mentioned earlier:
Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no [revelation] the people [run wild]. The people perish. [The people will fall apart], but he who keeps the law, happy is he.”
What man has to learn to do is to trust in God and depend on His revelation. But when he rejects God’s revelation, what this is going to do is lead to chaos and anarchy.
4. The Lord causes Israel to be defeated.
Sometimes when we are defeated, sometimes when we go through the toughest events in our life, it is because God is getting our attention. God is teaching us and God is training us. It may not be directly related to some sin in our life, like it is in this situation with Israel. Sometimes it is that God just has to get us to focus on Him so He can take us to the next higher level of spiritual maturity.
So the Lord causes Israel to be defeated because Israel has not turned back to Him yet. That is the condition laid down in the Mosaic Law in Deuteronomy, that once you are under divine discipline, the only way you are going to come out from it is to turn back to the Lord.
The Lord causes Israel to be defeated so that He will be captured by the Philistines. That is devastating and brings on twenty really dark years in Israel’s history. The Ark is only captured about seven months, but the residual impact of that defeat goes on for another twenty years as they are under the oppression of the Philistines.
What do we learn in this wonderful humorous event with the Philistines putting the Ark in the temple of Dagon, and then coming back the next morning?
Dagon is bowing down to God. The Philistines take Dagon and stand it back up. The next morning they come back in. Dagon is bowing down. Its hands are cut off. They are on the threshold as if it is begging for rescue.
- We learn that God is capable of taking care of Himself. God is not under human control. Even though the Ark gets captured by the pagans, they cannot defeat Him.
- We also learned that God is not predictable, unless it is based on His Word. God does not behave like you think He would. The progress, the situation here is not the way the Jews think. He is in control. He is going to take care of Himself just fine without any help from Israel.
- God fulfills His Word. Remember, He promised that He would ultimately deliver Israel. He is going to do that. He is going to defeat the Philistines without any help from the Israelites. He is going to teach them that lesson.
What we learn about man is that in the battle of Aphek for example, the Israelites try to conduct a battle without God’s help.
- There man is prone to self-reliance, and not God dependent.
- Human beings are prone to religious superstition.
That superstition can be the religion of intellectualism just as much as it may be the religion of some false God. What happens is the Jews are defeated. They say to go get the Ark.
They do not pray. They think that if they trot out their good luck charm that God is going to give them a victory. God does not act the way they think He will. They try to trot out the Ark to give them a victory.
The Philistines have enough empirical evidence, from how God rescued the Israelites from Egypt and defeated all the Canaanites, to where they are pretty much scared to death. They are as surprised and happy as they can be that that is not what happened. Israel is terribly defeated. They lose about 34,000 of their soldiers. The Ark is captured. They are devastated.
- Sometimes what appears to be a defeat to us is necessary to train us and prepare us for the next future victory.
5. This is the longest section, 1 Samuel 5:1–7:17, where God establishes His authority, power, and glory through Samuel’s judgeship.
This is that whole episode where God is going to show that He is more powerful then the Philistines. He is more powerful than anybody else’s god. He is more powerful than any circumstances. He can deliver Israel.
We see the whole episode where the Ark is captures up here at Aphek, near the first Ebenezer. It is taken down to Ashdod where the Ark is put in the temple of Dagon. Then there is the whole episode with Dagon.
Then the Ashdodites do not want Him because they are getting all kinds of illnesses. They are getting these horrific ugly tumors, and also a plague of rats eating up all of the grain. Remember, Dagon is the god of grain. God is doing all this to demonstrate that Dagon is about as impotent and useless as it could possibly be. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is in control.
The Ashdodites say to get rid of Him. They sent the Ark to Gath. The people in Gath do not want Him. They sent Him to Ekron. The Ekrons say what do you have against us?
They come up with a plan to make sure this is really God. They put Him on a cart with a couple of untrained, unbroken milk cows that have just given birth to their calves. The cows are going to want to go back to their calves. The cows are hooked up to the cart to see if the cows will carry the cart with the Ark on it back to Israel. If the cows do, then that is obviously a miracle. And that is exactly what happens.
When it arrived in Beth-Shemesh, the people show how ignorant they were of the Law. They think this is a great curiosity. The Ark has come back. Let us look at it.
They take the top off. They put their fingerprints all over it, and they all die because God is not a creature. He is not under man’s control. God is holy and distinct. He must be treated as such.
In this episode we learn some things about God:
- God can take care of Himself (and there is a great sense of humor here.)
God can take care of Himself and He doesn’t need us to bolster Him and help Him up.
- God is not a respecter of persons.
Peter says this in Acts 10:34, God is not a respecter of persons. God shows no partiality.
- God is Holy; and must be treated as such.
Leviticus 11:44–45, God says, “Be holy, for I am holy.”
Psalm 86:2; 1 Peter 1:16 all emphasize the holiness of God.
- Both Israel and the Philistines learned this lesson the hard way. God is not under your control.
The next thing that we learn about God:
- God can control the circumstances. He manages to get Himself home just fine.
He does not need the Israelites to come and get Him. He does not need to be rescued. He does not need to be stabilized. He does not need any of those things. He can get home just fine, thank you very much.
- God is faithful to His Word. He shows that when Israel turns to Him—this is in 1 Samuel 7—He is waiting all this time for Israel to just turn to Him.
As soon as they get the message from Samuel. We studied this last time in 1 Samuel 7:3 where Samuel said,“Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, ‘If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only; and He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.’ ”
As soon as they confessed their sins and did that, all of a sudden, thunder, massive supernatural thunder breaks out in the heavens. It scares the Philistines to death. They scatter. The Israelites pursue them and just about destroy them. We learn that God is faithful to His Word and will rescue Israel.
What we learn about man:
- Man has to learn that He cannot manipulate or maneuver around God. All of man’s false gods and erroneous philosophies cannot provide truth.
- Judges 16:23, “Our god has delivered into our hands Samson…”
Remember when the Philistines captured Samson, their enemy. Little did they know God had to teach them a lesson that their god did no such thing.
We also learn about salvation:
What do we learn about problem solving?
- That Israel could do nothing to rescue God. They had to learn that for God to rescue them, they had to learn to wait on the Lord.
When Israel follows God’s directives, God delivered them. What did they call that place when they did that?
- When they were rescued by God Samuel sets up a rock. 1 Samuel 7:12, “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far the Lord has helped us.’ ” God has been faithful in preserving us.
This is a line in a well known hymn, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” written by Robert Robinson back in the late 1700s.
We are not going to sing it tonight, but the second stanza begins “Here I raise mine Ebenezer …”
This is an emphasis on God’s faithfulness. Robert Robinson is saying that there is this, even in his life, that God has been faithful to Him. He is being the One who helps him, and has sustained him to that point in his life.
Robinson’s father died when he was very young. His mother died when he was a teenager. He had to go to London. He fell in with a gang, a bunch of thugs. When he was 17 years old he heard George Whitfield preach the gospel. He trusted Christ as his Savior, and within two years he was a preacher of the gospel. Robinson recognized that what sustained him was the Lord.
Later in life the story is told that one day, when he was much older, he was riding a stagecoach, and there was a young woman who was studying a hymn book on the stagecoach. (I wonder when the last time was that any of us got on an airplane, train, bus, or any public conveyance and saw somebody studying a hymn book. This is how great the spirituality was during that period of time in England.)
This young woman was reading this hymn book. As they talked, she was humming this hymn that he had written. She asked Robinson what he thought of the hymn. He started to weep. He said, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago. I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.”
He understood that weakness he had that caused him to turn away from the Lord, that he had penned into that third verse.
“O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness like fetter bind my wand’ring heart to Thee …”
He knew he was prone to wander.
“Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it – prone to leave the God I love; here’s my heart – O take and seal it; seal it for Thy courts above.”
Next time we sing this, I want you to remember what that means when he says, “Here I raise my Ebenezer.” It is a mark that God has sustained him and helped him, and that God is faithful. Let us close in prayer.
“Father, thank You, for this time to study Your Word, to reflect upon how You began to transform Israel, and how You were faithful to them throughout this extremely dark time in their history.
Father, we may have much darker days ahead of us in this country. Much more difficult times personally, but we know that You are still the same faithful God. You are the God who has the power to turn this nation around if people will turn to You. You have the power to sustain us, even in the midst of horrors that might come because of the rebelliousness of this nation.
Father, we know that the only hope for us, the only way that we will be sustained and survive is to trust in Your Word, because You are our Ebenezer. You are the Rock who helps us. You are the faithful One. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”