Wednesday, 9 April 2014

(100) April 10: 1 Samuel 1-3 & Luke 12:1-34

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read note what we learn about Samuel and his family.

To ponder:
Like Boaz and Ruth, Samuel’s parents are not just loving (1v4-8), but righteous, travelling to the place of God’s presence every year with a gift (Deut 16v16-17). Nevertheless, Elkanah’s second wife Peninnah would “provoke” and “irritate” Hannah because “the LORD had closed her womb,” causing Hannah to weep before the LORD, unable to eat. Hannah therefore represents the righteous person who suffers whilst the wicked prosper - an encouragement to all who have done so since.
             On one visit, Hannah wept and prayed in “bitterness of soul” for a child at the tabernacle, vowing that any son the LORD gave would be given to his service for life, not shaving like the Nazarite. One wonders whether another judge like Samson is on his way. Hannah’s manner encourages us to fervent prayer (1v14). However Eli assumes she is drunk. But after Hannah explains and stresses her “anguish and grief,” he blesses her, and “no longer” being “downcast” we see she must have believed God would then grant her prayer.
The phrase “the LORD remembered her” is that used when he comes to deliver his people (Deut 9v27). The name “Samuel” emphasises the answered prayer. So Hannah’s cries to God are a model of what the nation should be doing in affliction. And Hannah’s subsequent praise reflects this. After weaning Samuel, she fulfils her vow by giving him to God’s service, to live and worship at the tabernacle. Her righteousness is seen in giving a greater sacrifice than required (Lev 12v6). She then rejoices in God’s deliverance over her enemies, in how he feeds the hungry, exalts the poor and needy, “guards the feet of his saints” and shatters “those who oppose him.” She even looks to the special king Israel were already awaiting (Gen 49v8-12. Num 24v17-19, Deut 17v14-20). Hannah therefore encourages us all in our sufferings, to rejoice in the coming of Christ who will deliver us from all hardship and injustice when he raises us from the dead. 
            We read then how God graciously blessed Hannah with more children, and Samuel “grew up in the presence of the LORD,” wearing an ephod like the priest and growing “in stature and in favour with the LORD and with men.” He is destined to be far fitter a leader than Samson. But contrast Eli’s sons. They had “no regard for the LORD,” taking the fat from offerings that belonged to the LORD for themselves, sleeping with women serving at the tabernacle, and ignoring their father’s rebuke - for the LORD intended “to put them to death.”
            And so a “man of God” (ie. prophet) declares that Eli’s descendents would die in the “prime of life” and his sons die on the same day. Moreover, he prophesies a “faithful priest” who will “minister before my anointed one (ie. Messiah) always,” and who Eli’s descendents will come to for provision. This was fulfilled in Zadok ministering before David, but ultimately in the church as the priesthood of all believers serving Christ.  
            The second prophet and witness against Eli and sons is Samuel himself. Asleep in the room adjacent to that containing the ark, God “stands” and calls to him. This is a “vision” in which Samuel seems to see God’s form. God reiterates that he will punish Eli’s family because he “failed to restrain” his sons. Samuel eventually tells Eli who submits to God’s will. However, the point is that Samuel is then recognized as a prophet to whom God “appeared” continually, “revealed his word” and let none of his words “fall to the ground” and so fail.
After Israel’s so fallible leaders, God is therefore raising up an exemplary judge like Moses, who will fulfil the role of both priest and prophet. And in this, he is a pattern of Christ. Indeed, Mary’s payer is patterned on Hannah’s, and Jesus’ growth described like Samuel’s (Lk 1v46-55, 2v52).

Praying it home:
Praise God for his readiness to hear our prayers. Pray that you and others would not despair in suffering, but bring it to God in prayer and rejoice in the deliverance that is the believer’s in Christ.

Thinking further:
Congratulations on completing 100 days! Keep going. To read the NIV introduction to 1 Samuel click here.

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