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By Faith Samuel...

Introduction: Jim F., who is sick today, has told me a story that haunts me every time I think about it. He talks about a church in town who was not known for preaching the Word of God. However, one day they got a new preacher who did preach the Word. The people began to change and their faith appeared to grow. For five years this continued until the minister left and the people quickly reverted back to the way things had been. They stopped enjoying the Word and seeing the importance of it.

How could this happen? Perhaps these people, like we will see today, had their eyes on this preacher more than they had their faith connected to God and His Word. This is a danger that all of us can fall into. Time and time again we have seen signs of this all around us. Today we will see the faith of Samuel and how attractive it would have been to the people. And yet, when he grew old the people demanded a human king and they rejected the LORD as King. Today’s text might help us avoid this danger and ensure that our faith is in God and in Him alone.

Our text this morning is found in Hebrews 11:32-34, “And what more shall I say? For time will fail me to tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets- who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight.”.

We have been considering the faith of theindividuals who are mentioned in Hebrews 11. This morning we are going to consider Samuel. As we begin, however, I would like to consider the faith of his mother Hannah that she seems to help pass on to her son.

In 1 Samuel 1 we are introduced to Hannah and her husband Elkanah. Hannah was unable to have children (2). We are told that it was the LORD who had kept her from having children (5). Because she is childless Hannah was deeply distressed (10) and she experienced great anxiety and vexation (16). What these things even worse was that Elkanah was married to another woman named Peninnah and she had children. Peninnah, ‘her rival’, would ‘provoke her grievously to irritate her’ (6).

As you begin to read 1 Samuel 1 you discover that year after year this family would travelto worship in the house of the LORD. During this time thatHannah would be provoked and irritated by Pininnah. Mercilessly and this caused Hannah and to be unable to eat (7). I cannot imagine just how difficult these trips must have been for her because of what she experienced at this time of the year.

I had something similar happen to me when I was younger. When I was in high school there was a season when my dad took me to see a family counselor because of my depression. This man was a chaplain at the hospital that my dad worked at. One day when I was sitting in his office he noticed that I had a pretty intense headache and asked, “Do you get these often?” I replied, “No, just this time of the year.” He continued to ask probing questions and asked, “Is there something that usually happens around this time of year that might be causing this?” Then I remembered that our family reunion was coming upand the past few years had been very stressful. We discussed these things and how to handle these things and by the end of our meeting my headache was gone and it did not come back.

Every year Elkanah’s family wouldgo up to Shiloh to worship the LORD and this trip should have been a joyful time but it wasn’t for Hannah.It was at this time when Hannah would be the most provoked and antagonized. This is when she would become the most anxious and her spirit would become the most vexed.

Her husband Elkanah was not in a position to really help Hannah with this problem. He says in verse 8, “Hannah, why do you weep? And why do you not eat? And why is your heart sad? Am I not more to you than ten sons?” If you have read Ray Haas’ book you know that Elkanah’s words to Hannah were not helpful because he did not realize that Hannah’s hope and happiness could not be in him. Hannah had to look to the LORD alone for help.

This week I went to Burger King to grab a quick lunch. I sat in the lobby and noticed a couple sitting in front of me. She seemed upset and very unhappy as she stared out the window. Her husband would occasionally try to say something to her but she did not say anything in response. He was a husband who could not help her in this situation. In fact, like Elkanah, he may have been part of the problem.

Elkanah wants to make Hannah happy and he attempts to do so by saying, “Am I not more to you than ten sons”, but he cannot meet her needs. I would ask you to consider this carefully because we will soon see that this is the very problem that will make Israel demand a king like the other nations. Rather than looking to God as their King they look for a sinful person who will make their lives difficult and hard.

To Elkannah’s credit he does do some good things for Hannah that will help his wife. For example, he gives her the opportunity to go to the house of the LORD and pray. While she was there she wept bitterly and cried out to God saying, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.” (11)

This was not a quick prayer. This was not a thoughtless and faithless vow like Jephthah had made. We are told in 1:12 that Hannah ‘continued praying before the LORD’. {As you read about Samuel’s life you discover that prayer was an important part of it. Like his mother he He prays often.}

Eli, who was the priest over the house of the LORD, observes her in this moment but he does not realize that she is praying. We are told that she was speaking in her own heart and only her lips moved (13). Eli thought that she was drunk and he scolds her. But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the LORD. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.” (15-16) We will see that Hannah is far from being a ‘worthless woman’. No, quite the opposite is true. She is a woman of faith who seeks the LORD for comfort and does not seek it through wine and strong drink. {Like Hannah we need to pray and approach the throne of grace and not seek comfort in temporary things.}

When Eli hears this he responds, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.”(17) {Again, notice that even Eli testifies that it is the LORD who is the God of Israel and the King of His people.}

Hannah takes these words and receives them in faith. She does not dismiss his words by saying, “Those words don’t mean anything significant.” orsay “Eli, it is not that simple, I have been barren for years and my situation is impossible”. Hannah offered her prayer in faith and now she receives Eli’s words in faith.

This ought to encourage us to do the same. When we petition the LORD and seek His help we also need to receive His Word which brings comfort, encouragement and hope. Without faith it is easy tofind a reason to discount and disbelieve. {This happens when Israel demands a king. The LORD warns them that this is not a good thing, He warns them that it is a sin, but the people dismiss it and do not receive His Word and instruction.}

From the very moment that Hannah receives these words by faith she is better. We read, “She went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.” (18) Then we are told, “In due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, ‘I have asked for him from the LORD.’” (20) Hannah’s hope and faith were in the LORD and He responded to her faith.

We have seen that Hannah had a strong faith and we also know that shewill raise Samuel in the faith much like we saw that Moses’ mother had done until he went to live in Pharaoh’s palace (Exodus 2:7-10). When Samuel was weened she brought him to Eli and dedicated him to the service of the LORD from that day on saying to Eli, “Oh, my lord! As you live, my lord, I am the woman who was standing here in your presence, praying to the LORD. For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD.” (1:26-28)

As Samuel is given to the LORD she prays another amazing prayer in 1 Samuel 2:1-10. Hannah is fulfilling her vow to give her son to the LORD but she is not sad, bitter, or angry about the vow that she had made to the LORD (This is contrary to what we witnessed with Jephthah {Judges 11:35}). Hannah praises the LORD and prays a remarkable prayer.

We do not have time to look at this prayer, however, there is one part at the end that we need to mention. She says,

He will guard the feet of his faithful ones, but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness, for not by might shall a man prevail. The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven. The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.”

Samuel was there when his mother said this prayer. He knew that his mother and father were about to leave and I am sure that every word that she said stuck in his mindand he treasured them and pondered them in his heart. I believe, like Timothy, Samuel had learned so much concerning the faith from his mother and he knew the importance of these words (2 Timothy 1:3-5).

One of the things that Samuel would have seriously considered was this section of her prayer. At this time in Israel’s history there was no earthly king over God’s people. God had instead raised up Judges like he will do with Samuel (12:11). Hannah knew that the LORD was the King over His people. The life of Samuel is also characterized by a strong sense of knowing that the LORD was King in Israel and that it would be a great sin to seek a person to fill this position (8:6-9).

After these things Samuel’s parents left and we see that he submits to his mother’s vow(1:11; Samuel submits to this vow like Jephthah’s daughter did in Judges 11:37). In this moment that we begin to see the first expression of Samuel’s faith as he submits to his parents. We read in 1:28, “And heworshiped the LORD there.” (1:28) We also read in 2:11, “And Elkanah went home to Ramah. And the boy was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli the priest.” Samuel did not just stay there physically but he gave his heart and soul to the service of the LORD faithfully (12:2).

Samuel’s gave himself to the Lord as he served Him faithfully. Samuel’s eyes were continually set upon the LORD and he obeyed Him in all things. This was very important because Eli’s sons were worthless men who did not know the LORD (2:12). Yet, Samuel would not become like them. He would be righteous and blameless because he kept his eyes upon the LORD and feared him more than men. We read in 2:26, “Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the LORD and also with man.

{Application: We all live in a sinful world. We often work around godless and faithless people like Samuel did. In Samuel we see that if it is in our heart to serve God and we keep our attention on Him we will not be conformed to this world. But through faith in God and His Word we will be transformed and sanctified despite the godless and faithless people we may be around.}

In 1 Samuel 3we begin to see God begin to reveal His Word to Samuel. Chapter 3 ends with these words, “And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD. And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, for the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.

Many years pass by as Israel enjoys the leadership of Samuel as their judge. By the time we get to 1 Samuel 7 over twenty years have gone by and Samuel calls for all of Israel to return to the LORD and to serve Him faithfully with all of their heart (7:3-4). When the people hear this we are told that they repent and they put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they serve the LORD only. Samuel reminds the people the LORD is their king and if they will serve Him He will deliver them from the hands of their enemies (7:4). Samuel faithfully served God’s people in this way all the days of his life (7:15).

Because of this it would appear that all is going well, however, there is a problem with the faith of the people. Samuel believes and teaches that God is the Sovereign King over His people. Samuel’s life and ministry is characterized by his faithfulness to remind the people of this. And yet, the people really have their hope in Samuel more than the LORD. Throughout these pages of scripture you also see God prophetically speaking to this people about looking to Him as their only King (2:10, 2:35); and yet, their faith is not completely in Him as King.

This defect in the faith of the people of God begins to be seen in 1 Samuel 8 as Samuel grows old and he makes his sons judges but they turn aside after gain (1-3). The people have enjoyed Samuel’s faithful service for decades and they become fearful at the prospect of his departure. They see the sin of his sons and are probably reminded of what life was like under the leadership of Eli and his sons.

Rather than putting their eyes on the LORD, as Samuel had done when he served the LORD under Eli, they commit a great sin in this moment by demanding a king like all the other nations. We read in 8:4, “Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah and said to Him, ‘Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.’

Remember when Jephthah was going into battle and rather that walking by faith he made a foolish vow out of fear. Here Israel does something similar. The LORD’s people are fearful and they demand a king. This request goes against everything that Samuel knew to be true. Since he was a young boy when he heard his mother prophetically say, “The Lord will judge the ends of the earth; he will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed”, Samuel knew that the LORD was Israel’s King.

In this moment Samuel does what his mother often did, he prays. The LORD responds by saying, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them. According to all the deeds that they have done, from the day I brought them out of Egypt even to this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are also doing to you.” (8:7-8)

How serious is this situation? Well, we see the seriousness of this situation when Samuel gives his farewell address in Samuel 12. Samuel is mainly known as a judge and as a prophet who spoke the Word of the LORD to the people. But in this chapter God performs a great sign, a great wonder, a great miracle, to bring conviction to the people concerning this sin and to show them the seriousness of this situation.

1 Samuel 12:16-18 says, “Now therefore stand still and see this great thing that the Lord will do before your eyes. Is it not wheat harvest today? I will call upon the Lord, that he may send thunder and rain. And you shall know and see that your wickedness is great, which you have done in the sight of the Lord, in asking for yourselves a king.” So Samuel called upon the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day, and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel.” {As I sit here and write this sermon there is a thunderstorm happening. At times the thunder is so loud that it scares me. Yet, the fear that these people have is not just because of the noise of the thunder but because this is a miraculous sign from the One they have rejected as King.}

The people are terrified in this moment. They cry out to Samuel, “And all the people said to Samuel, “Pray for your servants to the Lord your God, that we may not die, for we have added to all our sins this evil, to ask for ourselves a king.” (19) This great terror that they are experience is because they feel the conviction of their many sins. They are now aware of their sins; and yet, they have rejected the only One who can show them mercy. Now they are rebels, the are traitors, they have committed treason against the King. They know they need a mediator so they ask Samuel to pray for them. {How much more confidence can we now as we approach the throne of grace through Jesus Christ to find grace and mercy in our time of need.}

Samuel says to these sinners who have committed this great sin, “Do not be afraid; you have done all this evil. Yet do not turn aside from following the LORD, but serve the LORD with all your heart. And do not turn aside after empty things that cannot profit or deliver, for they are empty. For the LORD will not forsake His people, for His great names sake, because it pleased the LORD to make you a people for Himself. Moreover, as for me, far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you, and I will instruct you in the good and the right way. Only fear the Lord and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. But if you still do wickedly, you shall be swept away, both you and your king.

Through this sin that Israel has just committed the LORD would fulfill His prophetic word through Hannah that “He will give strength to his king and exalt the horn of his anointed.” Israel demanded a king like the nations and through this God would send His Son to pay the penalty for that sin and all other sins committed by His people. Because of Jesus we can experience grace and peace.

As we have considered Samuel we have discovered that he was a man who served the LORD faithfully throughout his life. He showed us how important it is to keep our faith in the LORD and our eyes upon Him. Israel has shown us the danger of not doing this. When we do not look to Him and place our faith solely in Him we will seek our comfort, deliverance and help in other people. This was a great sin that they committed. It is no less a sin for us to commit. Yet, there is forgiveness in Jesus and in His salvation we receive all that we need to live faithful lives in this present world.


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