God’s Faithfulness: The Foundation of Hope
1 Samuel 1 & Lamentations 3:20–24
1st & 2nd Samuel Lesson #007
March 31, 2015
“Father, it’s a great privilege we have to come before Your throne of grace. It’s a great privilege we have to have access to your presence through the high priesthood of our Lord Jesus Christ who died on the Cross for our sins, who opened the door or split the veil, gave us direct access to You because we are now justified by His completed work on the Cross. Father, we pray that as we come together this evening as we think about Your Word and reflect upon the broad themes of Scripture and it’s significance within our study of Samuel that we can come to understand in a more focused manner how 1 Samuel fits within the structure of Scripture and the importance of understanding and studying books of the Old Testament (OT) in relation to understanding all of the Bible. Father, we pray that You’d guide and direct our thinking. In Christ’s name. Amen.”
I know some folks who have pretty much done away with listening to the news. The news often sounds pretty hopeless. We look at some of the things that have come out today. You hear that yes indeed, they’ve finally reached an agreement in the nuclear negotiations with Iran in Switzerland. They’ve agreed to talk another day. You read the polls, and you realize that Americans desperately want an agreement to be reached, but on the other hand they don’t trust Iran to keep any agreement that is reached. Thus is the split personality of the American populous. I learned this afternoon that the Iranian government has dispatched their navy to the entry to the Red Sea coming up from the south. On one side you have Yemen, and on the other side you have Somali – a wonderful piece of territory on this earth. They can shut down all traffic through the Red Sea with the Iranian military. We are moving inexorably toward a major war.
In the Middle East an analyst who spoke to our group in Israel, and who writes a regular column in Israeli papers, believes that this is the beginning of a new 100-year war between the Sunnis and the Shia. Not a 30-year war, which if you follow some of the folks who’ve been on Fox News recently that is the view of some – that this is like another 30-years war; the analyst thinks that it is a 100-years war and that this will shape everything over the next 100 years as the Shia in Iran seek to dominate the Sunnis. This lays the groundwork for a massive nuclear arms race simply because we do not have an administration that projects strength and power; and like everybody else in the world we do not look forward to a lot of primitive Arabs running around with nuclear weapons and wanting to kill each other and everybody else at the same time. It looks hopeless. But as believers, we should never give into any kind of pessimism. There is always hope.
When we look at the OT and we look at the things that Israel went through, we know that God always supplies their need even in their darkest hour. We’ve looked at the various dark times in the OT, the darkness that came from the paganism, the moral relativism during the time of the Judges. You can also think about the time of the Assyrian invasion when Sennacherib came down from the north and destroyed the capital of Samaria, defeated the northern kingdom of Israel, and then entered into the southern kingdom of Judah, laid siege to various towns and cities including a very well known one at Lachish, and then laying siege to Jerusalem. But there he was unsuccessful, and the Angel of the Lord intervened and wiped out the army of the Assyrians overnight; and Sennacherib had to flee back to Assyria.
We think of the worse case scenario where cannibalism took place inside of Jerusalem as people were pinned up, and mothers ate their own children to survive during the siege of Jerusalem under the Babylonians. Many tens of thousands were slaughtered by the Babylonians. As Jeremiah looked back at that (slide 2), as he has been in exile in Egypt, he looked back and he writes of that time (slide 3) in Lamentations 3:20, “My soul still remembers.” If you read up to that verse, what you are reminded of is the depths of grief and sorrow that can come into the human soul. Just because we are believers doesn’t mean that we don’t feel that. It doesn’t mean we don’t experience those emotions. I often take people, and it’s good at this time of year, to the time when Jesus is in the Garden of Gethsemane. The language there, His grief, His sorrow; He’s under such emotional turmoil and pressure that He sweated blood. Blood oozed out of His pores, which is a known condition, as a result of the pressure that He was under.
Experiencing these kinds of horrible intense emotions is not sin, but what you do with it may be sin. That’s where sin enters in if you yield to hopelessness. See, this is the kind of situation that Jeremiah was in. He says, “My soul still remembers.” He’s thinking about the horrors of the conquest, the destruction of Jerusalem and what happened to the people he knew, and what happened to his fellow countrymen. He says, “my soul sinks within me.” But it doesn’t stop there. In the next verse he says (slide 4), Lamentations 3:21–24, “This I recall to my mind, therefore I have hope.” Often when we memorize these verses, we start with that verse. But the verse we need to start with is the one before because it reminds us that yes; life can seem pretty overwhelming and hopeless at times. He says, “This I recall to mind, therefore I have hope.” Hope is not based on emotion. It’s not based on something that makes us feel good. It’s not based on sentimentality. It’s based on thinking through the realities of living in God’s world under God’s sovereign control.
He says, “Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed.” There’s a passion there that we who survived, even though we are now in the diaspora in Egypt, we are not consumed. We are still alive; therefore God still has a plan for our life. It is “through the Lord’s mercies that we’re not consumed, because His compassions fail not.” He is always eternally loving and compassion, mercy flows out of His love. He says, “They” referring back to those compassions “are new every morning.” Each day we experience the grace of God, and that grace of God is based on His immutability, which is exhibited here through His characteristic of faithfulness. God is faithful to Himself. God is always faithful to His covenant. Then Jeremiah concludes by saying, “The Lord is my portion, says my soul, therefore I hope in Him!” Twice in Lamentations 3:21 he reaches a conclusion: “Therefore I have hope.” Positive – it is not just wishful optimism; it is a certainty that God is still on the throne. God is still in charge even though things look terrible. It’s not hopeless because God still has a plan.
The reason I went there is because this is parallel to the kind of situation that we find in the southern kingdom of Judea at the opening of 1 Samuel. I’ve spent the last six lessons going through the circumstances, the background, the overview of the situation at the beginning of Samuel – that this is a hopeless time from a human perspective. It is a time when Israel has so disobeyed God that they no longer are turning to God to deliver them. They have reached a stage of cultural hopelessness. They are not trusting in God. Their leaders are apostate, as exhibited by Eli the high priest, at the beginning of 1 Samuel. There are very few who are focused on the God who made those promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: that He would provide this land for His people, and that He would never desert them. We see a situation where people have just deserted the Lord; but God hasn’t deserted them.
As we begin in 1 Samuel, our eyes go to one individual unknown, unseen. She’s the object of scorn and hatred in her own home, and that is Hannah. We won’t look at her a lot tonight, but she is the focal point here. She has hope. She never has lost hope in the midst of her despair. I pointed this out last time. When you read through 1 Samuel 1:8–18, and we read these terms as she just breaks down bitterly weeping at the end of 1 Samuel 1:7, her husband asked her, “why do you weep?” Why don’t you eat? She’s so distraught that she’s not eating; she’s lost her appetite. I mean this is something that is going on over a period of time. We would say she’s become very depressed; but though she’s depressed, she hasn’t lost hope in the Lord, because what is said about Hannah and her spiritual life is on a high level. It’s higher than what is said about any other woman in the OT. She is given a great deal of positive press here in the first chapter. Her heart is grieved in the third question. Hannah just leaves the table while they are there in Shiloh, and then she goes to the tabernacle to pour out her heart to the Lord.
In 1 Samuel 1:10 we read she’s in “bitterness of soul… and she wept in anguish.” Then as she continues to pray, Eli misinterprets what’s going on and thinks she’s drunk. In 1 Samuel 1:15, after he tells her to quit drinking and go home and sober up, she says to him, “I am a woman of sorrowful spirit, and I have come here to pour out my soul before the Lord.” She then says in 1 Samuel 1:16, it is “out of the abundance of my complaint and grief I have spoken.” Notice how many times it talks about grief and complaint and sorrow and bitterness. She is in extreme distress. But where does she turn? She doesn’t turn to pop psychology.
She doesn’t turn to the latest pharmaceuticals for depression. She doesn’t lash out in anger and hostility and bitterness and violence towards her rival and the source of her misery, Peninnah. She doesn’t do any of these things. She turns to the Lord. She throws herself upon the grace and mercy of the Lord.
So she is a great picture of what Jeremiah states in Jeremiah 3. That is that her hope is in the Lord, that He will be faithful to His covenant. As a result of this as she is turning to the Lord to solve her problem in her little obscure village of Ramah in Ephraim in the northern kingdom there, as she pours out her heart to the Lord, the Lord is not only going to deliver her, but through that He is going to deliver all of Israel.
What we see as we get into 1 Samuel, and I want to wrap up a few things in terms of our introduction and overview, is that this is important history. There are so many folks who don’t understand the significance of history. It is so sad that we live in a world today when history is taught, it is taught poorly. It can’t be taught well because nobody can come in and really teach from divine viewpoint in the classroom. But some people do get their licks in and do a good job, but unfortunately much of history is taught within a very distorted fantasized liberal view of history that rejects any sense of absolutes. What we as Christians need to understand is that history is His Story (slide 5). True history is the story of the outworking of God’s plan. It is His narrative. He’s the One, the only One, who has the right to shape the narrative and define it. There is only One Person who can spin it correctly and that’s God.
That’s what the historical books of the Bible are designed to do. It is to teach something. We’ve lost that sense. The ancients understood this. That history wasn’t just learning facts and figures and battles and names and dates; but that history was designed to teach. It was pedagogical in the hope that people would learn something from history. We know that for the most part the only thing we learn from history is that we learn nothing from history; but that is it’s purpose, and that’s it’s purpose in the Bible – to teach and to instruct so that we do not repeat our past errors and past mistakes. Biblically speaking, when we look at history and the history of the Bible, we realize that it is the Jews who are the real inventors of history. You go sit in any secular classroom on history, and they will tell you that the Greeks invented history. But the Jews invented history.
Herodotus wrote in about the 5th century BC, but it was a thousand years before that that Moses wrote, and about 900 years that Joshua wrote; and Samuel is probably the one who wrote Judges and the author of Samuel. They were writing history in order to teach subsequent generations about the acts of God – that God is the One who rules in history, and God is the One who works out His purposes in history; so that even when the historical circumstances look as dark as they possibly can, we can always have hope and confidence in God and that the writers of the OT were able to write history as an absolute: they are inspired by God the Holy Spirit; and they believed in absolutes.
As we look at history I want to remind us of four things that we have seen:
1. While God controls or oversees history, history is the result of human decisions. On the microcosm, your life and my life are the result of all the decisions that we’ve made in life. Some of these are very small decisions that ended up having great consequences. Some of them were decisions that we thought would have great consequences that actually didn’t. Some of the decisions that we made we thought were good, wise decisions. Later we weren’t so sure. Sometimes God lets us make good, wise decisions but the results aren’t always positive. Always this is a thing to warn yourself against. You can evaluate a set of circumstances. You can seek wise counsel. You can study all the pros and cons and reach a conclusion that a certain course of action is the wisest course of action, and it’s the course of action where I can most glorify God; and as you take that path, you think all the good things are going to happen; and then it doesn’t. Then everything falls apart.
How many times in Scripture have we seen great believers face great opposition? Just think of the Apostle Paul. The Lord Jesus Christ Himself commissioned Paul to a course of action. He didn’t just have some mystical subjective vision and say, “Well this is God’s will because Jesus spoke to me.” I mean when Jesus said, that Jesus really had spoken to him. He made the decision he was going to follow the Lord and that he was going to take the gospel to the Gentiles. But what happened? He was persecuted. The Judaizers followed him: and slandered him. They maligned him. They stirred up riots against him.
He was beaten. He was arrested and thrown in jail; and numerous other hardships he faced. And yet he never said, “Well it’s getting a little rough; maybe this wasn’t God’s will; maybe this wasn’t a wise decision.”
Many times the right decision doesn’t always feel right after you make it, because when we’re doing the right thing in the devil’s world, there’s often a lot of opposition. God controls and oversees history, but history is the result of human decisions. Your life is the result of human decisions, and when we put a bunch of humans together, then we have even greater decisions. God oversees it, but not at the expense of individual human responsibility and human decisions. So when humans make bad decisions, there are horrible consequences. But God is still in control.
2. We’ve learned that the causative factor in history isn’t economics.
It’s not which school of economics you hold to. It is not whether you’re even a capitalist or a utilitarian, or whether you are a Marxist or a Socialist. None of that matters. What matters is your relationship to God. When Israel is told in Leviticus 26, “If you obey Me then these things are going to happen, you are going to have plenty of rain.” In other words, your obedience spiritually is going to impact the environment.
We could almost have a doctrine here related to anthropogenic global disaster. It’s due to sin, folks! That’s what the Bible says. If you walk with the Lord, He is going to provide the right kind of climate, and you’re going to have prosperity. You’re going to win battles, 10,000 will set to flight 100,000. It doesn’t have anything to do with your military theory, your technology, or your military skill and training. It ultimately has to do with that causative reality God sets into the warp and woof of human existence: and that is our relationship to Him. If we’re walking with Him, and this applies nationally as well as individually, God is going to take care of the details. If you’re not, then God is going to take care of your tail. One way or the other, He’s either going to give you a spiritual whipping, or He is going to protect you and prosper you, depending on your relationship. That’s the causative issue, our relationship with God.
That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t focus on learning the best economical system, political system, and all these other things. Certainly we should do that; but the end result is, and the bottom line is, the causative factor: is our relationship to God. It is not fatalistic determinism or materialism or Marxism. History isn’t something that’s purely random; nor is it cyclical like the Greeks thought or the ancient Hindus thought. Even modern Hinduism thinks it’s cyclical, that it just goes around and around and around. We do see that there are cycles in history. We saw cycles in Judges, didn’t we? As it goes in a direction, history always goes forward even though there may be cycles within that history. The ultimate causative factor is how people respond to the revelation of God. We believe, and the Bible teaches, that history has meaning, purpose, and direction that is defined by God. We can’t get to that unless we submit to the revelation of God.
3. Failure in history is the result of rebellion against God. When people rebel against God, it always leads to collapse. There are certain patterns. I’ve gone over these in other lessons, and I’m not going to spend a lot of time on it now; but if you rebel against God’s authority, you put the authority where? Somewhere in creation. Usually that’s right in the center of the human skull, between the ears. The emphasis is on human ability, human mental ability, human intelligence to be able to solve the problems. So we have this cycle in ancient Greece where the philosophers rejected the mythology of the Greeks that religion doesn’t solve anything, so “we’re going to turn to philosophy.” Well, philosophy ultimately couldn’t solve the problems that face the human race, and so the intellectual solution was thrown out and replaced by the irrational solution.
The rational solution is thrown out and replaced by the irrational and the mystical solution. Because what happens when you lose faith in human reason is you become skeptical. We can’t live as skeptics. Skepticism always leads to mysticism. I got a master’s degree in philosophy at the University of St. Thomas, and one of my professors in medieval philosophy was a guy by the name of Father Kennedy. One day in class as my eyelids were about half closed and he was droning on, I heard him make the statement that rationalism always fails and leads to skepticism, and skepticism always leads to mysticism. I shot up bolt right and wrote that down. That was the best thing I’d heard anybody say. That was worth the cost of all those courses because that summed it up in a nutshell. Only a couple of times in history have we been rescued from the collapse that will always come from mysticism.
It happened once before when Jesus Christ came the first time and rescued the Greco-Roman Empire from the collapse that would have come eventually due to the fact that they were mired in mysticism and subjectivism. Well now western civilization has gone through all those cycles. We came out of the Middle Ages. There was a rejection of all religion after the Protestant Reformation and the Enlightenment. There was a turning back just like it had happened in the ancient world. We turned to the Greek philosophers. You had a restoration of rationalism with Descartes and a restoration of empiricism with Locke, Berkeley, and others; and then skepticism from Hume. And that led to the subjectivism of Immanuel Kant. Once you get into the subjectivism of Immanuel Kant in the late 1700s, there’s no longer any hope for objective truth anymore – that which is absolute truth. And all objectivity is going to be lost.
It’s taken about 200 years for that to work itself out, and it has under what is known as post-modernism. Because the enlightenment was thought to be modernism, modern man rejected religion. Once that failed to provide answers, then there is a shift to what comes after modernism: post-modernism. Post-modernism is just as subjective if not more so, and rejects absolutely the existence of absolute truth. You can’t know truth.
Let me tell you how this impacts all of us on an everyday level. You get called up. You get that letter in the mail that your friends and neighbors down at city hall are inviting you to come down and sit on a panel of twelve in order to adjudicate a trial. You believe there is absolute right or wrong, that you can come to a knowledge of right or wrong absolute truth to whether this person did it or didn’t. You believe in truth. But you’ve got probably five or six other people on the jury that don’t believe in truth. They believe that truth is based on just your perception. There’s twelve different views of truth in that jury room, and each one is just as valid as the other because epistemologically – that’s a big word for your theory of how you know truth - epistemologically they’ve rejected reason and data and evidence as the basis for getting to truth. I want you to think about that a minute. If you are sitting in a courtroom, and you’re dealing with a child molester, or you’re dealing with a spouse abuser, and you’re sitting there with people who don’t believe you can truly know what happened, you know what is going to happen? You’re going to get a hung jury. You’re going to get a verdict of five to seven or seven to five, and almost half those people in the courtroom don’t think you can really know what happened because they bought into post-modernism so profoundly that they don’t believe you can know objective truth at all.
Once you get to that point in a culture, your legal system is over. They are just waiting to play taps. That’s where we are in our culture. Our legal system is done because it is based on people being responsible and people believing in absolute truth, and that you can know absolute truth and make decisions. And guess what? We’ve got a culture that as each decade goes by is more mired in mysticism and subjectivism, and the rejection of knowledge of truth.
It’s not just an issue of religious truth and whether or not you believe Jesus died on the cross for your sins. It’s an issue of everyday truth. It’s pounded. How many times do we hear every day about politicians who violate certain regulations or laws, and nobody holds them accountable? They only hold certain people accountable, because once you remove truth and objectivity from the scenario, then all that is left is either emotionalism or power. The person that comes out on top isn’t the person who is right. It is the person who has the best propaganda, who has the best make-up machine, who has the best clothing. It’s the person who can project the right image, and the person who can manipulate the powers that be behind the scenes best. It no longer has anything to do with truth. Once you get to that point in a culture, you’re dead. It’s over with; you just don’t know it yet. That’s where we are as a nation, and that’s where Israel was as a nation by the time we get to the opening of 1 Samuel.
So what would we call this kind of a period? We look in history. There was a period that wasn’t nearly that bad even though the enlightenment folks from the 1600s on wanted us to think that. They look back to what preceded them, and they said that was the Dark Ages. It was dark because they believed in the Bible. They may all not have agreed on the Bible. They may not have really understood what the Bible said, and they may have misrepresented it at times; but they understood that the Bible was absolute, undeniable, unshakeable, objective truth. They couldn’t quite agree all the time as to what that was, but they knew that existed. After the enlightenment, they said “Well God doesn’t speak to us at all. We can’t know what he says. We just have our reason and our experience,” and so people are then going to come up with different views.
That’s called moral relativism. It didn’t work itself out fully that way until we got into the 19th and 20th century because there was a residual impact of absolutes. They tried to hold to absolutes. They saw what would happen if you didn’t hold to absolutes. They tried to hold to absolutes while rejecting the basis for holding to absolutes. It took about 200 years of philosophical thought before that castle in the sky was completely obliterated; and then they gave themselves over completely to subjectivism and to moral relativism. Israel truly did have a dark age, and they had rejected the light of God’s Word and had replaced it with the darkness of human thinking. They had completely given themselves over to moral relativism. Everyone did what was right in their own eyes. Now they find themselves at the beginning of 1 Samuel to be under the complete domination of the Philistines. They had cried out for deliverance. Actually, they didn’t cry out for deliverance from the Philistines, but God did provide them with a deliverer. And that was Samson.
Samson was ineffectual. He was ineffectual because he was disobedient to God the whole time. He was just like the people. They got the leader they deserved that reflected their values, just like we have leaders in Washington D.C. who we deserve because they reflect the majority values in this country. They may not reflect the majority values in this room. They may not reflect the majority values of most of the people in Houston or most of the people in Texas, but they do reflect the majority views of most of the people in this country. Otherwise we wouldn’t put up with it, and we wouldn’t have those people in power. So they are in power, and they are leading us in the same direction as Samson led the Israelites, which is nowhere. They stayed in spiritual blindness, which is exhibited by Samson’s blindness. That reflected the blindness of the people.
You think about it. The Israelites were where they were because God brought it there. Some 300–400 years earlier God had brought them there out of slavery in Egypt. What was God’s promise? God’s promise was that He was going to take them to a land of milk and honey. For years I have heard people wonder what does this phrase “milk and honey” describe? We want to translate it literally. It’s not talking about a literal milk and literal honey. Milk was baby food. Honey was baby food. We don’t always call it baby food now.
We have another term for it. We call it comfort food. This is what you got at home. This is what your mother fed you. Home was a place of security. It was a place of comfort, warmth of your mother, tranquility. Milk and honey was a basic comfort food in the Middle East. It’s just like if you grew up in southeast Texas, then you might think that fried chicken and cornbread and black-eyed peas were comfort food. If you grew-up a little further south in south Texas, then you’d think that enchiladas and tamales were comfort food. Every place, every culture has their comfort food, and that’s what God was saying when He said He said, “I am taking you to a land of milk and honey.”
What God is saying is “I am taking you to a place where I am going to give you peace and prosperity. You are not going to have to worry about things. It’s going to be a place where you can be happy; and it’s going to be a place where you don’t have to worry about your enemies. You’re going to be free from oppression and from fear.” Is that what you find when you get to the beginning of Samuel?
No.They are fearful. The country is in collapse. It has imploded because of their spiritual rebellion against God. There is only one thing that can save them, and that’s God. God has to do it. Why does God have to deliver Israel at this point? Why doesn’t Israel just implode and just get scattered upon the dust of history at this point? Because God made a little promise to Abraham back in Genesis 12 and Genesis 15 and Genesis 17 that God was going to give him this land, and it would be his. Abraham never owned any of that land so God’s got to fulfill His promise. He has to be faithful. In the same way, when God makes promises to you and me in the Church Age as believers, God has to be faithful to those promises. That’s why we can always have hope. No matter how negative the circumstances may be, no matter how dark it appears today, we can always have hope and confidence in God, because God gave us a picture of this in the OT.
When Israel was on the ash heap, when they had failed miserably, if they had been any other people in all of the world, God would have let them just disappear from the pages of history. But God couldn’t do that with Israel. He had to deliver them, and He delivers them in a remarkable way; and it’s based completely upon God’s grace. There’s a precondition for their deliverance, and that is that they had to be humble. They needed somebody who’d express some humility. This is what we see in James 4:6. The principle laid down quoting from the OT, “God resists the proud, but He gives grace to the humble.”
Who do we see in 1 Samuel 1 that exhibits genuine humility? It’s Hannah. She humbles herself before God. I don’t know if she made every decision right, or if she responded to every situation right. But I do know that she recognized in the midst of all of her sorrow and grief and pain and misery, that the only solution was God. She wasn’t bargaining anything with God when she made the vow about Samuel. But she was focused on the fact that God would be the only one who could deliver her from her pain. And consequently, God was going to use her, a truly humble believer, to deliver the nation from their pain.
The lesson that we need to learn from this as we focus, as we look at the broad picture of what is happening in Israel as a nation and narrowing it down, is that no matter how badly we fail, just as no matter how badly Israel failed, no matter how dark it got, God was always going to provide the answers. There is always hope because as long as we’re alive God always provides the solution.
One last thing I want to do as we set the stage for getting into Samuel is to focus on the importance of Samuel in the OT. A lot of people know we can look at a few things in Samuel, and we say this guy is really important. He’s the last judge, the first major prophet that comes on the scene that’s named. He’s the one who’s going to anoint the first king of Israel. We know that Samuel is important. But if you dig a little deeper in the Scripture, you discover that Samuel is exceptionally important. If you want to, you can turn to Deuteronomy. A lot of what happens after Deuteronomy is the outworking of Deuteronomy. But in Deuteronomy 18:15 and Deuteronomy 18:18 (slide 6), I am not going to go through all the section, Moses expresses a divine promise to Israel. It is a messianic prophecy. Make no mistake: this is clearly a prophecy that can only be fulfilled by the Messiah. As it is stated in Deuteronomy 18:15, Moses tells them, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like Me from your midst.”
There are a lot of things to pay attention to in terms of what that meant to be “like Moses.” There are some that came along and said that this was Joshua, but Joshua wasn’t a prophet like Moses. He was different. None of the OT prophets were like Moses. The one that came the closest is going to be Samuel, and Samuel is remarkably similar to Moses, but Samuel wasn’t the prophet. “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear.” So we know that he’s going to be a prophet. He’s going to be Jewish. He’s reared up from among your brethren and you are to listen to him.
Then you skip down to Deuteronomy 18:18 where God is speaking. Moses introduces this in Deuteronomy 18:17 saying, “And the Lord said to me what they have spoken is good. I will raise up for them a Prophet like you from among you from among their brethren.” It’s almost a repeat of Deuteronomy 18:15. When the Holy Spirit does repeats, you better pay attention!
I remember when I first taught school when I got out of college. I would have everybody look at me, pay attention, eyes on me. I’m going to tell you this. I am going to tell you once. Then they would say, “Well, Mr. Dean, would you say that again?” I’d say, “No, I don’t do repeats.” When God does repeats, pay attention.
God said “I will raise up for them a Prophet from among you like their brethren, and put My words in His mouth, and He shall speak to them all that I command Him.” This is the foundation. In the OT they understood that this was a unique prophet that no prophet in the OT fit the bill; and it didn’t refer to the prophets as a collective whole. When you get into the New Testament (NT), you see clearly how the NT writers under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit clearly understood this, and this comes out of the mouths of the people of that time.
In John 1:21 (slide 7) the Pharisees came out to interview John the Baptist, and they asked him who are you? They said, “Are you Elijah?” And he said no. And they said what? “The Prophet?” That’s what they are talking about. They’re going back to Deuteronomy 18:15. Are you that Prophet like Moses that we’ve been looking for? “Are you the Prophet?” And he said, “No”.
In John 1:25 (slide 8) “they asked him, saying, “Why then do you baptize if you are not the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?” See, they understood who that verse was talking about. It was the Messiah. In Acts 3:22 (slide 9), “Moses truly said to the fathers.” This is who talking? Peter. Peter said, “Moses truly said to the fathers.” And then he quotes Deuteronomy 18:25, “The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you.” Peter is applying this to Jesus of Nazareth. He is that Prophet. He is the Messiah.
In Acts 7:37 (slide 10) who’s speaking here? It’s Stephen, and his long indictment of the religious leaders in Jerusalem for which he was stoned. In the middle of that he says, “This is that Moses who said to the children of Israel, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear.’ ” Again he’s implying that this is Jesus of Nazareth. He is the Messiah.
As we wrap up this whole series, I’ve done seven lessons on this introduction. Moses and Samuel (slide 11) are two prophets who foreshadow the Prophet, the Messiah. It’s interesting when you get into the details of Samuel’s life how he mirrors Moses. He’s a prophet like Moses, but he’s not fully like Moses. He doesn’t fit the bill. He’s not the Messiah. But remember, Samuel takes a unique position, and one of my points is that, like Moses, he stands at the crossroads of Israel’s history so that when you look at Samuel, there’s a change, a mammoth change that takes places in the direction of Israel’s history.
Let’s run through these a little bit, and you’ll see from the comparison how significant Samuel really is:
- When you look at Moses and compare Moses and Samuel (slide 12), you discover that they both have remarkable childhoods. Moses’ mother is under threat if she has a male child, so she hides the baby. He’s taken away from his home. He’s put in a little basket and put out on the Nile, and he’s picked up by the daughter of Pharaoh and reared in Pharaoh’s household. He’s taken away from his parents at a young age and reared in the household of strangers. Samuel, when he is weaned, which is probably 3–5 years, is given away by his mother to Eli and he’s reared in the household of strangers. This is seen in Exodus 2:1–2 and Exodus 2:9 for Moses; 1 Samuel 1:20 and 1 Samuel 1:28 for Samuel. Both are taken from their parents and reared by others.
- The second point of comparison (slide 13), both of them as they matured refused to be influenced by the paganism and apostasy around them. In Exodus 2:11–12 we see something of Moses. In Hebrews 11:25, it says he was willing to give up the riches of Egypt to take upon the reproach of Christ. He understood his place in history because the writer of Hebrews says for the reproach of Christ, he understood that he played a significant role in the flow to the Messiah. In 1 Samuel 2:22–26 Samuel doesn’t cave in. He’s not influenced by the apostasy that’s around him through the sons of Eli and all of the apostasy related to temple worship at that time.
- This is an interesting point of comparison (slide 14). This doesn’t happen with anybody else. Both Moses and Samuel receive their initial revelations from the Lord as God speaks to them. God speaks to Moses through the burning bush. Samuel is asleep in the temple, and there is a lamp on, and the lamp doesn’t get consumed. The bush doesn’t get consumed; the lamp doesn’t consume the oil. There is something miraculous in terms of the light, which I think speaks of the revelation that they are getting from God. This is seen in Exodus 3:3–10 and 1 Samuel 3:3–14.
- The fourth area of comparison (slide 15). In both cases we don’t see this anywhere else. Just with Moses and Samuel. “Moses, Moses!” “Samuel! Samuel!” You see that God addresses them by calling their names twice in Exodus 3:4 and 1 Samuel 3:10. So God got their attention. This just doesn’t happen by accident.
- This one (slide 16) is really interesting because the context of how you would translate this into English is different. But if you read this in the Hebrew, the same form of the same adjective is applied to both Moses and Samuel; and this word isn’t applied to any other prophet in the OT. Both are identified by this same adjective, ne’ĕ·mān. The root is aman, which is the word we say when we say amen. It has to do with being faithful, with believing, with confirming something, consecrating something; and in Numbers 12:7 and 1 Samuel 3:20, which I put on the board, you have these statements. In Numbers 12:7, God says “Not so with My servant Moses; he is ne’ĕ·mān.” It’s translated “faithful in all my house.” But then in 1 Samuel 3:20 we read, “And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba know that Samuel had been established.” Samuel ne’ĕ·mān as a prophet to the Lord. The same form of the word used in both places applied to only Samuel and Moses. Interesting.
- The sixth point of comparison (slide 17). Both are commanded by the Lord at the beginning of their ministries to pronounce a judgment on sinful, corrupt leaders who have abused and oppressed Israel. So Moses of course is pronouncing judgment upon Egypt and the Pharaoh. And Samuel, after he gets his initial revelation from God, which reveals the judgment God is going to bring on Eli and the house of Eli; when Samuel got up in the morning, Eli says, “so, what did God tell you last night?” And Samuel told him everything that God had told him. God is going to judge you and your household and your house will be destroyed.
- (Slide 18) Both of them killed an enemy of Israel with their own hands and immediately afterward went into exile. Now the circumstances were different, but it is a similar pattern. Moses sees an Egyptian overseer abusing a Hebrew slave and he steps in and protects the Hebrew slave and kills the Egyptian overseer. Then he is wanted by Pharaoh for murder; and he flees to Midian. It is a little different scenario, but he protects and he kills an enemy with his own hands and then goes into exile. Samuel’s happens later on in his ministry when Saul has been told to destroy the Amalekites: every man, woman, and child – every single man, woman and child and all their sheep and all their goats and all their cattle – and Saul didn’t do it and left them alive and said well I can probably get some ransom money for Agag the king. I can probably sell the sheep and the goats for something, and they’ve got a lot of jewels and everything. I can make myself rich.
So we are told that when Samuel heard the bleating of sheep, he goes into the tent and says, “What’s this noise I hear?” He turned around and reached over and grabbed Saul’s sword, and he turned around, and the King James says he hacked Agag to pieces. That’s what I call being a true minister of the Lord. That’s ministry. It doesn’t fit most people’s concept of ministry, but that was ministry! And then what? We don’t hear much from Samuel after that. We only see him when he pops up to anoint David and that’s it. It is a self-imposed exile.
- The eighth point of comparison (slide 19). They both wrote down regulations or laws, rules, miš·pā·ṭîm in the Hebrew that were deposited before the Lord and were used to guide the nation. What Moses wrote down were the Laws, the Torah. Samuel wrote down guidance for the nation under a king, 1 Samuel 10:25.
- The ninth point of comparison (slide 20) is that both of them functioned as prophets, priests, and judges. Both are called prophets. Both are called judges, and they both judged Israel. Neither are called priests, but they performed the roles of a priest. They built altars and offered sacrifices. The verses that emphasize that are Exodus 17:15, Exodus 24:4, and Leviticus 8:14-29 for Moses; and 1 Samuel 7: 9 and 1 Samuel 7:17 for Samuel. He was, according to the 1 Chronicles 6 genealogy, a descendent from Levi. He was a Levitical priest. He is called an Ephraimite because that’s where his family lived, but he was a Levitical priest.
- (Slide 21) Both stood at the crossroads of Israel’s history. Moses delivers them from slavery in Egypt and takes them to the Promised Land. He has to deal with their griping and complaining the whole way, but he is the deliverer, the promised deliverer who shapes their future taking them out of Egypt. Samuel delivers them and sets the deliverance in motion for the Philistines. In 1 Samuel 7 while Samuel is judging Israel, the Philistines are defeated. So they are no longer oppressing Israel in the land as conquers. They are going to be a pain for the rest of the book, but they’re defeated under Samuel’s leadership. Then Samuel anoints king David who will eventually destroy the Philistines.
- Both of them, Moses and Samuel, had two sons (slide 22). They each had two sons, but their sons had no significant role in Israel after that. Instead their sons were set apart and unrelated non-family members were called by the Lord to lead Israel from that point forward. Exodus 18:2–3; 1 Samuel 8:2; 1 Chronicles 6:28; 1 Chronicles 23:16 cf. Deuteronomy 34:9; 1 Samuel 16:13.
So what do we learn from all of this? Everything that we’ve looked at in terms of this introduction? What are going to be key principles that are going to be hammered through all of Samuel?
- (Slide 23) Everyone, every king, every prophet, every priest, every judge is under the authority of God. That’s what we learned from the book of Judges. When we remove ourselves from the authority of God, then we set our self up as the ultimate authority. And then we have 350 million kings in the United States. Everybody is a god unto themselves. Everybody is a ruler unto themselves, and this just leads to pure fragmentation. What the Bible teaches is that everybody is under the authority of God, and therefore everyone will be held accountable to God at some point.
- The second thing we learn (slide 24) is that the Lord uses the everyday believer. You look back through Judges, and you look at people like Gideon, who seemed to be a nobody; and you look at Deborah and Barak; and you look at the other judges. They were not people who were at the top of the society page. They were not people who were the political dynasties of that time. They were individuals who were willing to be used by God in order to deliver the people. Hannah especially fits that characterization. She is unknown, unseen, abused by another wife in the back water of Israel, and God uses her because of her humility. The point is that God can use every one of us if we will stand our grounds spiritually and be ready and willing to be trained by God and used by God to serve Him. God can do great things through us.
- The third thing we’ve observed (slide 25) is that the God of creation, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, is the God who governs creation and rules in the affairs of mankind, in the affairs of nations, and in the affairs of people. God is still in charge. It’s not Barak Obama. It’s not John Boehner. It’s not McConnell. It’s not Pelosi. It’s not Harry Reid. It’s not the Democrat Party or the Republican Party or the Libertarian Party. It is God who is in control, and God uses people’s bad decisions and people’s good decisions to work out His purposes. When we live in a time of negative volition, then we’re going to see the consequences of that negative volition. And those horrible decisions work themselves out in history; but God is still in charge, and He still is in control.
- The fourth thing that we see (slide 26) is that personal obedience and devotion to God results in blessing first to the individual and second, to the nation. As goes the individual, so goes the nation; and believers still have an impact as the light of the world shining in the midst of a wicked and perverse generation; and the bottom line is where we started.
- (Slide 27) God is always faithful. He’s never faithless. He never goes back on His Word. We can always depend upon Him. We are never to succumb to hopelessness or defeatism. As Jeremiah said, “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 Thy faithfulness,” Lamentations 3:21–23.
“Father, we thank You for this opportunity to study these things this evening and to be reminded of Your faithfulness. As you are faithful to Israel in the midst of their darkest days in the midst of their greatest apostasy and rebellion to You, so You are always faithful to us even when we are walking according to the sin nature. Even when we are letting ourselves be influenced and overrun by the world’s system, there’s still hope because we’re still alive, and you still forgive us when we confess our sins, and you still extend the olive branch of grace trying to get us to return to You – that if we humble ourselves under Your mighty hand, You will exalt us. And Father, we pray that we might remember this lesson of grace and the real principle of advancement and exaltation. That we need to be humble under Your authority. We pray this in Christ’s name. Amen.”