1 SAMUEL 1:1 – 3:21 and LUKE 12:1–34
1 Sam 1
Israel is about to enter into a whole new era. The cycle of serving God on man’s terms is about to come to an end. It was God’s intention from the beginning to have a kingdom of priests who would help to pave the way for a godly rule of kings. Of course, the Lord fulfilled both roles in His earthly ministry. In the Old Testament it was meant to be a separate function due to the fact that Christ had not yet come to embody and perfect the dual ministry. The call to each of us is to be made like unto Kings and Priests of the most high God (Rev 1:6). So far in Israel’s history we have yet to see a king reigning. This will soon take place in our progression through 1st Samuel. We have seen the call for all of Israel to become priests (Exo 19:6) however they failed to qualify due to idolatry in addition to their not keeping of the commandments. The ministry was given to the Levites in response to the cry of “Who is on the Lord’s side” (Exo 32:26). We must also remember that the picture of the first king/priest is seen in the person of Melchizedec (Gen 14:18). Through our devotionals in these commentaries I have become more aware as to how the priestly role prepares the way for reigning. We have cited this millennial verse on several occasions in previous studies.
Rev 20:6 Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years.
The emphasis in today’s Christianity often seems to have this reversed. The focus comes upon kingdom living with little or no regard to the true priestly role. This little background is essential as we prepare to press into the Book of 1st Samuel. The condition of the church at this time is very similar to what is seen today. We will see examples of a true priest and king while simultaneously seeing the opposite. God is about to birth something new and fresh and there is much that we will be able to take away from our study in 1 Samuel.
God needed a consecrated vessel to bring forth a man-child who would be used to help facilitate this transition. We come to appreciate the fruits of a consecrated prayer life through Hannah, who was experiencing a God ordained barrenness (1 Sam 1:5). Why would God allow for this? Did Hannah do anything wrong? To make matters worse she was provoked sore by her seemingly fruitful rival in Penninah (The other wife to her husband Elkanah).
We need to stop here and make an observation. God has ordained barrenness in the life of Hannah who is being provoked by her adversary. There is a spiritual context taking place. It is also a picture of what will take place in the Book of Revelation when the man-child company goes up (Rev 12:5). The adversary is working through Penninah to try and get Hannah to move out of the spirit. He is trying to get her to be bitter and upset which would result in a hardened heart. To make matters worse for Hannah she is being misunderstood by her husband and the high priest (vs 8, 12-14). Here is a picture of the barren church, a picture of whom Isaiah refers to in Isa 54. She is being attacked; being denied something that is common and natural to women as well as being misunderstood by those closest to her. What is God after in Hannah? Simply, He is after a prayer of consecration. He is looking to bring forth a man who would be dedicated to the purposes of God so as to help bring about change to an idolatrous nation. The current priesthood under Eli is certainly not up to the task. This is the quality and beauty of Hannah. In spite of all these challenges she comes before the Lord and makes this dedicated prayer. This is a prayer that will find its mark resulting in the changing of Israel’s destiny.
1Sa 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.
Hannah had to be brought to this level of consecrated prayer so that God could work through a man (Samuel) who would come forth to introduce Israel to a new order of priest and king. God will no longer tolerate the cycle of spiritual behaviour that they had been living under. The Lord makes clear that He would rather have a people hot or cold towards Him (Rev 3:16). There is no room for middle ground. The earth is crying out for the manifestations of the sons of God. There is a crying out for “Samuels” who will bring a whole new order into the church. Hannah represents the price that is paid for such a man. If there was not the sacrifices and commitment of a barren woman there would not have been a Samuel. Do we recognize those periods of barrenness when they come? Are we able to continue to worship the Lord in Spirit and Truth while going through such travail? Hannah did as seen in the following verse:
1Sa 1:19 And they rose up in the morning early, and worshipped before the LORD, and returned, and came to their house to Ramah: and Elkanah knew Hannah his wife; and the LORD remembered her.
This is a similar picture we saw in Abraham and Isaac as well. They took on the posture of worship even before God answered. This manner of unconditional worship and love brings such pleasure to God. We are indebted to this very godly woman. Who are the modern day Hannah’s? They can be people or churches who are travailing to bringing forth the purposes of God. They are those who experience seasons of barrenness while confronting the taunts and attacks of the enemy. The adversary is well aware of the potential of today’s Hannah’s so we must be watchful and prepare.
1 Sam 2
This chapter portrays the sad state of the priesthood that existed at this time. We are introduced to the two sons of Eli the high priest. Their names are Hophni and Phineas. We will soon understand why God can no longer tolerate the stench of a corrupted representation of priests. Let’s review a little history of the priesthood. Aaron was the first appointed high priest at the beginning of the Levitical order. He had 4 sons, 2 of which died as they were offering strange fire (Lev 10). The two remaining sons (Eleazar and Ithamar) continued on in their priestly functions. A bit later on we saw Phineas (not the one mentioned in this chapter) execute God’s judgement upon the sin of Balaam in the camp. He was given the promise of an everlasting priesthood (Num 25:13). Which of the two remaining sons of Aaron was Phineas linked to? He was a son of Eleazar. Throughout the reign of the Judges it was the priestly line of Ithamar that was in the ascendancy. Eli and his sons are of the lineage of Ithamar. This foundation will help better understand what is about to take place.
We have defined the role of a true priest on a number of occasions. They have the responsibility of representing God and His ways to the people as well as standing before God on behalf of the people. This is what Jesus accomplished in being our great high priest. What were the sons of Eli like? In verse 12 it says that they were sons of Belial and knew not the Lord. Can you believe that Israel has come to such a place? These priests who are supposedly called to represent God and His ways do not even know Him.
It gets worse as we see them taking the best of the offerings for themselves (vs 16-17). They used their position as priests to enrich themselves. They then committed immorality at the door to the tabernacle (vs 22). These are very raw illustrations of their evil but sadly it can be seen in many of today’s churches. Jesus will say of many in that day “depart for I never knew you” (Math 7:23). There are those who use their ministry for personal enrichment. It is sad that I am able to personally relate of many such stories. We all know the problem of sexual sin amongst church leaders. The sons of Eli are not unique, it is a problem that yet persists.
What about their father Eli? It is clear that he was not guilty of participating in their son’s folly. He warned them that what they were doing was wrong and bringing reproach to the ministry (vs 23-24). Here is the key point! He could have removed them. He should have removed them. Who did he love more, his sons or God? He might verbally say God but in not removing his sons from their office, Eli was actually making allowance for their actions. We can again apply Math 10:35-40 to this example. It is a bottom line question we all must address; do we love God more than people? We will be tested on this in various ways.
God has had enough and he now is signalling a new move and season. He sends a prophet to Eli and makes the following declaration:
1Sa 2:32 And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.
In other words, the day will come when their will no longer be a priestly lineage through Eli’s family line. This means that the promise of the eternal priesthood will not come through Ithamar. What then happens next? Will there be a continuing priesthood? If so, who would it be and what manner of priest will come forth? The prophet continues in verse 35.
1Sa 2:35 And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.
Here we see that the priest and manner of priesthood to come is one that does that which is in God’s heart. This is quite the contrast from what we have seen in Eli, his sons and the Levites throughout the Book of Judges. We will later see that God is also going to have a king that reflects a similar criteria.
1Sa 13:14 But now thy kingdom shall not continue: the LORD hath sought him a man after his own heart, and the LORD hath commanded him to be captain over his people, because thou hast not kept that which the LORD commanded thee.
The common denominator for both the king and priest is a heart that knows the heart of God. This is the model for the king/priest ministry of the last days. There will be much to glean and learn from in our study throughout 1st Samuel.
1 Sam 3
1Sa 3:1 And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.
The spiritual climate was dark and rudderless. In verse 3 we see that the lamp of God went out in the temple. This is a picture of Eli, whose vision was now growing dim. His physical condition was a direct parallel to the spiritual condition of the nation. The child Samuel, who was birthed from a godly mother that prayed a prayer of consecration, is now growing and beginning to discern the voice of the Lord. Remember, Samuel was dedicated by Hannah for the purposes of God. We can now understand why she went through such travail in her seeking to have a son. God needed a man, not just any ordinary man but one who would be given to Him to facilitate change in Israel. He hears the Lord calling out to him and goes to Eli, thinking that he is the one calling him. After three times of coming to Eli, the high priest perceives that it is God speaking to Samuel. It seems that a transition is now taking place amongst the priesthood. This could represent a fulfilment of 1 Sam 2:35 (I feel there are other fulfilments to this verse as well).
God speaks to Samuel as to why the house of Eli will be judged (vs 11-14). The primary sin of Eli was that he did not restrain his sons from their vile acts (vs 13). This is a critical point because there are many violations of this precedent today. It is not enough to be one who does not participate or contribute to compromised or corrupted ministry. If one is in a position of authority whereby one can prohibit such actions then he or she would be accountable. If one is an overseer of a church or pulpit, that person will have to give an account of its stewardship. A church member who sits in the congregation can take license by whatever he or she believes who is speaking. Eli, told his sons what they did was wrong; he told them it was bringing reproach. He did not do the things that they were doing but in the end he was judged for his failure in stopping them. If we are truly jealous for the things of God we will go to any lengths to esteem and uphold Him before the people, even at the extent of family and friends.
God spoke to Samuel and it had to shake him due to the weightiness of what was being conveyed. God was telling him that the house of Eli will be judged and that there will be no offering or sacrifice that will be able to resurrect this lost privilege. He now had the task of speaking to Eli what God had told him. One can imagine the fear and trepidation that Samuel would have in sharing the Word of the Lord but Eli came to know and was prepared that this was coming. What a very sad end to a potentially fruitful ministry. The question is this! Whom do we love more; people or God, family or God? The true priesthood will be defined along these lines (Exo 32:26, Math 10:34-37).
This portion of scripture finds the Lord sharing extensively on the kingdom of God. The summary verse is the following:
Luk 12:31 But rather seek ye the kingdom of God; and all these things shall be added unto you.
The Lord first addresses the subject of the leaven of hypocrisy (vs 2-3). We see through the Gospels that this is something the Lord very much disdains. We live in an age where nothing is secret anymore. Conversations that we think may be private suddenly come out into the public domain. What is happening in the natural will even be truer in the matter of kingdom issues. The Word will penetrate and expose hidden things of the heart. The days we are living in today are becoming increasingly hostile against Christianity; to the point of even costing lives.
The Lord makes the point that the one to truly fear is the one who judges the souls of men (vs 4-5). The Lord then goes on to say how precious and valuable we are in the eyes of God. We take note of the beauty of his creation. If such meticulous care is given to a bird, a flower or other components of creation then how much more is given to us? Why should we worry as to how we will be cared for, provided for etc? We see how people put such an emphasis on material things at the expense of trusting God to meet the need.
The Lord then gives the parable of the man who did well in life and is consumed as to how to preserve his goods. This is the picture of the good life. Live well and store up the abundance for another day. Is this not the way of the world? Is this not the picture of materialism and how many live today? Eat, drink and be merry was seen at the time of Noah. Eat, drink and be merry was seen at the time of Belshazzar’s feast in Daniel 5. We are well aware of how those two events ended up. Eat, drink and be merry is what Jesus warned against concerning the last days, our day. This is accompanied with people being given in marriage and other means of lawlessness.
In these verses the Lord is touching on many different subjects. The primary emphasis is on seeing these things through the lens of eternity. Put God and the things concerning His kingdom first; make Him your priority in all things. He desires to show in how He can be trusted to meet the needs in one’s life. The Lord spoke much on the subject of eternity and how important it was to put the kingdom of God front and center in one’s life. Once this life is past, it’s over. The pursuits and things of this life do not carry over. Can you imagine spending your whole life pursuing and acquiring things pertaining to this life only to find it was meaningless? This very short moment of time that we are given should be focused on the kingdom. Jesus makes clear that all our needs will be met; both in this life and the eternal one to come. Eternity is real, hell is real and Jesus speaks to these things with great passion and zeal. May God help us to hear His heart and truly put the kingdom before all things. Teach us O Lord, to number our days unto wisdom. (Psa 90:12)
The Lord now puts a premium on the need in being vigilant and watchful. The foundation verse is the following:
Luk 12:35 Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;
The Apostle Paul writes to the Ephesian church that their loins are to be girded with truth (Eph 6:14). The Word of God must be observed and embraced to help ensure proper vigilance at such times. One of the tactics of the enemy is to lull a people into complacency; thinking that one day will be like the next. It is like an injection of novacaine that numbs the senses from the awareness of pain and danger. It is happening all round us but somehow we are immune from its reality. This theme of watchfulness has been a recurring one in the teachings of the Lord. The Lord then speaks regarding the role of ministers as a result of a question that Peter put forth (vs 41). He asked if this teaching was meant for them or for all men. Jesus then shares on the topic of wise stewards speaking of those who have a responsibility over households. This seems to be instruction as to how a priest should conduct his office as stewards over the church. The key instruction comes from verse 42.
Luk 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
As ministers and stewards we are entrusted with the richness of God’s Word. How do we handle and administrate His Word? The Apostle Paul makes mention that strong meat is to be given to the people.
Heb 5:12 For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat.
Heb 5:14 But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.
The teaching of good doctrine will help us in our ability to discern that which is right from wrong (Isa 7:15). Good doctrine also aids in our understanding of the times and seasons so that we are not caught unawares (1Chr 12:32). The teaching of good doctrine helps to establish that foundation of the Fear of the Lord which is one of the 7 spirit anointings in the Holy Place of Moses Tabernacle.
This in fact is the primary problem with regard to this theme of watchfulness and vigilance. The majority of the church is spiritually located in the “outer court”. It is the teaching of good doctrine that instructs a people in how to be brought into the Holy Place where there is protection and guidance. The teaching of good doctrine instructs in how we as believers can become priests who are enabled to partake of the Holy place blessings. Remember, only the priests had access to the Holy Place in the Old Testament. It required a change of garments in order to enter in. We are in a New Testament order however the underlying principles very much apply. Jesus said that many are called but few are chosen. Jesus also stated that straight is the gate and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it (Math 7:14). These are New Testament verses. Jesus also said in the previous verse that broad is the way that leadeth to destruction and many there be go in that direction (Math 7:13). This to me makes clear that the majority in the church remains in the Outer Court. The teaching of the priests as good stewards is to present the meat of the Word in an appropriate measure and season that helps to ensure a healthy, vibrant and vigilant church.
The church in these days must not only be alert and vigilant but it also must take the battle to the gates of the enemy. True kingdom living begins with priestly authority that needs to come forth in today’s body of Christ. It all begins with the embracing, teaching and doing of God’s Word. The time is over for manipulated and adulterated postulating of the Word of God. The Lord is not mincing His Words in addressing the people and His disciples, nor should we. Our cry should be to know Him more and to allow the Holy Spirit to implant and teach us so that we can then teach others. May we be found faithful and watching.