Friday, December 13, 2013

Samuel. Courtesy of the letter R

I spoke Wednesday night at Prayer Meeting and Bible Study. The topic was "Standing up to the King" and I was to use Samuel the Prophet as an example. I skipped through the life of Samuel to illustrate his Bold Service to the Lord through his Prophetic Ministry. Yesterday I posted my background information on Prophecy, today I post the meat of the sermon.

Samuel, The Bold Prophet

We analyzed the service of the prophet Samuel. The final judge of Israel. The overseer of a transition in governance from Theocracy to Monarchy. The one who anointed the first two kings of Israel and held them accountable to God. I used words that start with "R" to keep the discussion organized.


1 Samuel 3:1 tells us that when Samuel was young, the word of God was rare. Consider that the Children of Israel may have only had a few books of the Pentateuch at that time. Further, it was certain that the sacred scriptures would not have been accessible for everyone. This environment stands in stark contrast to what we see today. The Bible is complete and has been for centuries. Further, Bibles can be purchased freely or viewed online. The word of God is no longer rare, it is everywhere.

Verse 10 shows the character of God. Even though Samuel did not recognize or heed God's voice at first, God continues to call Samuel. Every man/woman is being sought by God. He wants to reveal himself to every person. But he will not reveal himself until you listen. He does not impose himself.

In verse 15, Samuel learns a difficult lesson that will become a theme in his ministry; he has to uphold God's word even when distasteful. The message he has to deliver to Eli is not a pleasant one, but he does not mince words. Samuel delivers God message, even when he had every right to be afraid of the potential ramifications of that message. There are things in the word of God that we have to uphold even though they may be distasteful to our culture. Remember that the prophet's message is never easy when revealing the darkness of men's hearts. However, remember to uphold God's word alone. We need not add to God's word with our own conventions that may make the message even more distasteful or ignorant. For an example, read this linked post.


Samuel's message, according to 1 Samuel 7:3, is that the Israelites must [a] Turn to God and [b] Abandon their idols. The word "and" is a selective Boolean Operator (as opposed to an inclusive one). In other words, the only acceptable result is an entity that includes both elements. One cannot only turn to God and be acceptable. One cannot only abandon their idols and be acceptable. Both elements must be combined. It is not an either-or situation, it is a both-and demand.

Given this tall task, it is important that Samuel acknowledge the difficulty (impossibility) of perfect obedience to this command. He does so by invoking the power of God in verses 5-6 and 8-9 of the chapter. Samuel invokes God's power by:
  • Prayer—to make requests known to God.
  • Fasting—to declare complete dependence on God's sufficiency.
  • Sacrifice—to acknowledge shortcomings and worship God for his supremacy.
These are the elements that make up Samuel's message. If you look at the previous post, you will see how it harmonizes with the definition of the Prophet. in addition to all this, verses 16-17 establishes the specific routine that Samuel physically followed. His circuit included familiar places and he always returned home. This indicates that he made regular visits to certain places, which would result in strong relationships. Strong relationships engender trust. When a culture of trust is created, it is easier to relay important messages. However, the familiarity (particularly in the home) also leads to more intense relationships. As a result:
  • Their happiness is more satisfying
  • Their needs are more apparent
  • Their rejection stings sharper
These elements are particularly true of the home, which is commonly noted as the greatest mission field.


Verses 20-25 of chapter 12 records Samuel's final address before Saul takes over as the ruler of Israel. in verse 20, he affirms that even though the people turned away from God's plan, all hope is not lost. Remember that individuals can follow The Lord despite past decisions. Nobody has ever sinned too much for God's grace. In verse 22 Samuel goes on to state that God will see his people through to His end. We might fail, He will not. Even when it seems trite, it is true. It is a promise that we can only cling to.

It is also important to realize that The Prophet, though rejected as ruler, does not become dejected. He remains faithful to his calling even when no one seems to listen or respond to God's word. His obligation is to God and not to the people. Sometimes that becomes inverted—it shouldn't.


Samuel took God's word seriously and guarded his role appropriately. Saul, the new king, did not. In chapter 13, Saul takes over Samuel's role as spiritual leader and conducts the sacrifice.
  • Saul was supposed to lead in battle.
  • Saul was also supposed to lead in humility and obedience to God's will.
We find that he only partially completed the first task and does not complete the second. It was a big deal that Saul obey God's commandment. If the king does not honor God, there is no way he can be a godly king. Samuel is not afraid to relay the truth to Saul, even when it is bad news. Sometimes people need to be told they are in the wrong, how else can they be expected to know?

Further, Samuel separates himself from Saul. He does not offer moral support to an immoral man. At some point, we also must separate from people to show a message. That is not to say that we never associate with them. But at times, it may be effective to take a leave of absence from the company of people.


Chapter 15 recounts Saul's final act before God rejects him as king. Samuel must deliver a sound rebuke to him for his disobedience. It is interesting to note that Saul convinced himself that he was actually following God's will when he clearly was not. He thought he was in the right, but Samuel knew he was.

Verse 21 shows how Saul tended to blame the people for his disobedience. Samuel never let the people influence his obedience to God, even when he had the right to. Ministry requires a servant's heart and compassion for the people of God, even when they are difficult to reason with.

Verses 24-31 reveals that Samuel was set to illustrate again the rift between God and Saul's heart by not being seen with him. However, when Saul appeals for the opportunity to worship, Samuel relents. It is interesting that even with his disobedience, Samuel does not refuse to grant the opportunity to present worship before The Lord. Condemnation is not within the scope of The Prophet. They are not to close a person off from potentially redemptive experiences, like worship.

In the end (34-35) Samuel and Saul go their separate ways and never meet again. Notice the grief that Samuel experiences as a result. When we serve others, a genuine bond of concern should be developed. The destruction of which could be devastating. The Prophet should be so invested in his audience that he will be broken if/when rejected. Even if the one that is really being rejected is God.


Samuel is a remarkable prophet living in a remarkable time. He is unique in his experiences, yet those experiences yield valuable lessons that can be applied in our service for the Lord. May we take these lessons and serve the Lord, each other, and the world more effectively because of them.

If you have any more observations I'd love to hear them in the comments section below!

Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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