A Tale of Two Parents: Samuel’s coming
(Introduction to the life of David)
Good afternoon! Today, we are going to study 1 Samuel, chapter 1 and 2. You remember that we are trying to get to the life of David. But before we can do that, we need to look at a few people who lived prior to him; who were an introduction, if you will, to David’s life. Last week, we looked for that reason to the Book of Ruth. Ruth follows the Book of Judges. She was a woman who loved tremendously and, because of that love, she was greatly favored by God. Today, we will look at Samuel and Eli and I have entitled the lesson, “A Tale of Two Parents”.
I. Comparison of two parents:
- A Look at Hannah
And the first parent you know well. Her name is Hannah! She is the wife of Elkanah and Elkanah has two wives. This was permitted by the law, as seen in Deut.:21:15. It so happens that he loves Hannah more than he loves the other. But Hannah still has a problem because she is barren. She has no children; while the other wife has many children. And it seems that the other wife is always bothering Hannah. Maybe she constantly makes fun of her. I don’t know what she does, exactly. In v. 7, we are just told she was provoked on a continual basis. But Hannah has this beautiful, sweet spirit. She doesn’t fight back. She kind of melts, in her heart, and she cries. And the husband notices this. But he is like many men, a little insensitive because he looks at her and says in v.8, “….” It’s kind of humorous, if you think about it. The typical male ego is at play. He is saying, “Hannah, you’ve got me; what else do you need? Ten sons wouldn’t compare!” Well, of course, this doesn’t bring her any comfort. I know that because Elkanah is a religious man, every year, he takes his family to Shiloh and he worships God, there in the House of God. And as you read the first chapter of Samuel, you find that Hannah is there, broken-hearted, offering a prayer. Look at v. 10-11, “….” So she asks the Lord to look at her misery and give her a son. And she makes a promise, in return. “If you do it,” she says, “my son is yours, all the days of his life.” That’s also why she says, “No razor will ever be used on him.” See what she does here is, she proves he will take the Nazarene vow, just like Samson. And just like Samson, his vow would start at birth and end at death. Her son would be set apart, solely for the Lord’s use. Remember, the Jews had no other way to commit a person to God, but by the Nazarene vow. And we read in the text that when she prays, her lips are moving; but no sound comes out. She is praying from her heart and Eli, the priest, is watching. And Eli does something we all do too often. He jumps to a conclusion. And sometimes, when you jump to a conclusion, you jump in the wrong place. He assumes the woman is drunk. And he confronts her because of what he thinks and she says, “No…v. 15-16, “….” And when Eli finds the truth, he says in v. 17 “…” And she goes home with her husband and she conceives and she brings forth a son and calls him Samuel, for she says, “I asked the Lord for him.” And Samuel means “heard of God”! Now she keeps the boy with her until he is at the age of weaning. And then, she says to her husband, “I think we ought to take the boy to Shiloh and leave him there in the House of God, to be reared at the feet of Eli. And the husband says in v. 23, “…..” So, when it comes time, she takes the boy to Shiloh and leaves him there. And you remember the story. Every year she would go down to visit him and bring a garment for her son.
Now let me ask you this question. Did Hannah have to take the boy and leave him in Shiloh? Was her vow forcing her to leave her little boy with Eli? See, I always thought so. But now I wonder, after this week of study. Because if you can give a person to God, by making him take the Nazarene vow, why do you need to also give him away to a priest? Can’t you keep him at home and raise him as Samson was raised? I think the answer is yes, you can. Samson was a proof of that. But I think Hannah chose to do otherwise so that her child would be reared in her godly place. Remember, her home was not a great place. Her husband had chosen two wives and the other wife was mean. She had many children who would make life hard on her boy. Maybe she was afraid of their influence. I think what you need to see, though, is Hannah is going a step ahead of what she needs to do. And she does that so her child will be raised in a godly way! Now, let us look at the second parent.
- A Look at Eli
The second parent is Eli, the priest. He is God’s man, God’s judge for that day. He is more than a priest. He is a ruler of the people. And according to the Bible, he has two sons, Hophni and Phinehas. And chapter 2, verse 12 says, “…” Verse 17 says, “…” And the scriptures tell us, exactly, the nature of the sins of Eli’s sons. It says number 1, that they were taking the offering that was to be given to God and they were eating it, themselves. Lev. 7:31-35 and 23-25, “……” In other words, they were stealing from God. Look at the boldness they showed, v. 13-16, “…..” Number 2, it says they were sleeping with women who were not their wives, “…” And so, what you find is the sons of this priest were immoral thieves. And God says, “I hold them accountable!” He said, v. 34, “Both boys will die on the same day.” And that’s exactly what happened! God held those two young men accountable for their sin; but, everyone listen to this. God not only held the two sons accountable, he held Eli accountable for the sins of his sons. For Eli had made two mistakes. You read in Ch. 3, v. 13, “…..” So, he failed to discipline them. And then you go back to Ch.2, v. 29-31 and God, speaking directly to Eli, says, “…..” In other words, He said, “Eli, you didn’t honor me either. See, Eli was eating the stolen food, the stolen fat! And he did that because his sons gave it to him. Maybe he did so because he didn’t want to hurt his kids; but, I think he did it because if he confronted it, he would have had to remove his sons from office and he didn’t want to take away, from them, a good job. Furthermore, he didn’t want to lose the benefits he was getting from their actions – all that extra food! One way or another, the reason was that he honored his kids more than he honored God. He put his sons before God. But see, God only honors those who honor Him. And so, we have the story of two parents today. And I want all of us, today, to learn three lessons from these two stories. The first lesson we need to see is how we can honor God.
II. The Lessons we draw:
- Honor God:
Based on this, you honor God by giving the first and best. I repeat, you honor God by giving the first and best. Do you remember all the way back, in the book of Genesis, in the early part of the book? Cain rose up and killed his brother, Abel. All because God had said to the two, I want you to offer a sacrifice to me. And Abel went out in his herd, for he was a shepherd, and he took the first and best and he gave it to God. Cain went out too. He was a farmer and he took some fruit and gave it to God. And God accepted Abel’s more than Cain’s. That’s what caused the problem. But don’t you see what happened? God honored Abel because Abel honored God and he honored God by giving to God, the first and the best. And now I look at Hannah. Hannah has this boy, her first-born. She’ll have other children; but, she doesn’t know that yet. She takes her first-born, though, and gives him to God in an extraordinary way, maybe even beyond what is required because she wants to be sure he’ll remain with God. And year after year, she came and gave to her son. But she gave to him second and to God, first. Her son was given second. Eli never learned this principle because Eli made his sons first and God, second. He would let his sons take the fatted calf and he would eat it too because he didn’t want to offend them. And God said, “Because you didn’t honor me, I will kill them, take them away from you, and I will also take you away from my house. (Now to honor God means you give your first and you give your best!) Eli fell into the trap many of us fall into in this life. He gave the leftovers to God. Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in ourselves that we use all of our time, all of our money, all of our energy and then, we are forced to give the scraps to God. And God has never, and will never be, honored by way of leftovers. Never! God wants the first and he wants the best and God says, “You honor me that way and I will honor you that way.”
- Raise your children with discipline, don’t spoil them.
It applies, here, to all the parents, particularly if you look in Eli’s life, you find two great mistakes that are so prevalent today with those of us who are parents. Mistake number one is this. He spared the rod and spoiled the child! He did not discipline his children. Children are born into this world with the nature of selfishness and as they grow physically, selfishness also grows. And if, somehow, you don’t curb the selfishness, your children grow into adults with even greater selfishness. That selfishness always leads to destruction. It was that selfishness that destroyed the two sons of Eli. And God has said, “You parents, you discipline those children. Don’t spare the rod! Prov. 23:13-14 and 22:15 and 23:15. Discipline them while they are young; so they will learn to say no to themselves. And the people in this world, who never say no to self, are the ones who are heading quickly towards destruction. If you want to destroy your children, don’t discipline them. Do exactly what I tell you!
Mistake number two is this. Eli spoiled his kids. He gave his children too much. He did like so many today. Perhaps he was so concerned about giving them what he never had, that he didn’t give them what he had. You know, many of you, a generation ago, even as a child, learned to work! And you learned how to wait. You learned what it meant to sacrifice. But children today, I don’t know what has happened. Parents seem to have fallen into this idea that they need to give their kids everything they need now; but more than that, they need to give them everything they want now! And so, we give them too much and they never learn to sacrifice. They never learn to wait! And they, finally, leave home and they want everything mom and dad have – the same kind of house, the same kind of car, the same kind of everything. But then, they don’t want to work or wait for it. That is why welfare is bankrupt! But God holds us accountable as he held Eli accountable. So, don’t spare the rod and spoil the child.
- When you don’t serve God according to your calling, He finds someone else.
This lesson may be a little dissociated from the other two; but it is still as important! I look at the life of Hannah and I look at the life of Eli and I learn that God gives people wonderful opportunities. He gives us the right place at the right time with the right abilities to do a certain job for Him. But I find that when we fail to do what God has asked us to do, God sets us aside and finds someone else who will do the job. Eli is God’s man at this time. And God said to Eli, “You and your descendants will serve me in my house!” But Eli didn’t do the job God asked him to do. He failed. He got mixed up and he started to dishonor God, instead of honoring Him. So God set him aside and brought forth a little boy named Samuel and said, “He’ll do the job!” And a little later, in our study, the Israelites will begin to beg for a king. They will say, “God, we need to have a king to be like all the other nations!” And God agrees and gives them what they want. And God picks the king. He looks all over Israel and He sees this young man, named Saul. Saul has everything going for him. He has everything he needs physically and mentally. God is with him; so he has everything for serving. But, because of selfishness and because of a lack of courage, Saul never does the job God called him to do. Do you know what God did? He took Saul and set him aside and He brought forth another little boy, named David. He said, “David will do the job that I want done!” And so many times, I preach that God has a plan for our life. He has a plan for all of you to do something. But if, because of our unfaithfulness, we don’t do what we have been called to do, be assured, He will set us aside and find someone who will do that job for Him.
And so there are three lessons, today, as we read the story of a mother named Hannah and of a father, named Eli. And I think this lesson applies to every person here. If it does not apply in whole, then it will apply, in part. For some of you, it may be the lesson on how to honor God. Some of you can look and say, ‘I haven’t been giving to God first. I haven’t been giving my best to God. I have been giving only leftovers to God!” You need to repent of that. Some of you, maybe because you are a parent, may find a lesson in the 2nd point. Maybe you know you haven’t been disciplining your child correctly and you have been giving them too much, too fast! Maybe you give to them before you give to God! It’s wrong! And maybe, as a parent, you need to repent. Or maybe the 3rd lesson applies to you because you know that God has something for you, and yet, you have been living unfaithfully before Him. Maybe you realize, today, if you continue, God will set you aside and find someone who will do the job! That’s common sense, people! In this business world of ours, your employer gives you a job to do; he says do the job; he gives you all the tools and he expects you to do it. You do it! If you don’t, he sets you aside and finds someone else. Well, employers are not different than God. Maybe then, this applies to you today. You know, you don’t necessarily need to reply publicly. You are only asked to do so if you want prayers or need to apologize to the body. But, bottom line, all of you are asked to respond where you stand, in your heart, to the message you hear! You are asked to make up your mind and change if you are wrong. God is looking for that! So why don’t you? If you need to respond publicly, do it as we stand and sing!