1 Samuel 3-4

After Eli is given the bad news of his children’s judgment and impending death, we again switch scenes to Samuel in the temple with Eli and God. Chapter three shows us how far gone the Israelites were.

After Eli is given the bad news of his children’s judgment and impending death, we again switch scenes to Samuel in the temple with Eli and God. Chapter three shows us how far gone the Israelites were. In verse one we are informed that Samuel was serving God under the training of Eli, the one who raised the children who just rebelled, and that God did not speak with people during those days. Prior to Judges, God spoke, it seems, daily to Moses and Joshua. Now, He rarely speaks. We know in these days God does not speak as He once did. This, however, is not in judgment against the world but because He finished speaking in His Son (Hebrews 1). He speaks to us daily through His Word and the indwelling Holy Spirit. His Word gives us direction and His Spirit convicts us of sin and gifts and strengthens us to carry out His work in this world. Our prayers are kind of like reporting back to the commander, talking with Dad, and pleading before our King.

However, in those days, until chapter three, there was little communication by God to His people. In this chapter and the following ones, God communicates with and through Samuel to bring hope, judgment, discipline, and a future to God’s people. God calls Samuel three times, which is significant. When God says something three times, what follows is of great importance. He calls Samuel the first two times and neither he nor the priest Eli understood what was happening. Finally, Eli realizes that God is calling Samuel. He instructs Samuel in what to do. When God calls, do we have the heart as Samuel does? “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.” This third time that God called it was intimate. When God speaks a name twice it is as a father would speak to his son. He calls “Samuel, Samuel.”

God calls him to a difficult first job. He must inform his mentor of the quickly coming judgment. He obeys and Eli agrees with the judgment and relieves Samuel by telling him it is of the Lord. This is significant because of what we read in chapter four. When God judges us, are we more like Adam and Eve or Samuel and Eli? Do we blame the other or do we give the word and accept the discipline?

The end of chapter three and the beginning of chapter four stand in apposition to the opening of chapter three. God is now speaking to Israel on a regular basis, the whole of Israel knew that Samuel was God’s prophet, priest, and judge. In 1 Samuel 3.4-21 he is set aside as prophet. God called Samuel as he had called other prophets. Samuel would bring God’s word to Eli and to Israel. In 1 Samuel 3.1 he is consecrated as priest. Samuel ministered before the Lord in the temple at Shiloh. In 1 Samuel 7, we will see, he rules as “king” after the manner of the judges. Samuel did not serve as a king in Israel, but he did serve as a judge. He brought the people to God and victory over the Philistines. He was never crowned as king, but he, unlike the other judges, judged over all Israel. He also anointed Israel’s first two kings.
Chapter four the judgment comes in the defeat of the Israelites in battle, the deaths of Eli, the sons of Eli, the daughter-in-law of Eli, and the most significant loss was that of the loss of the Ark of the Covenant.

In the first few verses God’s judgment comes against Israel, Hophni and Phinehas, and the priests (the Ark being taken). The people considered the Ark as an idol; as God not a representation of His presence. Much like Samson and his hair. The Philistines also believed this. They were disheartened but became victorious because God had allowed it to occur as His judgment/discipline of His people.

After Eli’s sons are killed, the same day in battle, he receives the news. He was quite old, ninety-eight years old, he could not see, could not hear to well, and he was quite overweight. He fell backward and died. He is considered a judge in that he ruled for forty years.

Eli s daughter-in-law dies in childbirth and names her child Ichabod meaning “no glory” or “the glory has departed,” for the Ark of the Covenant had been captured by the Philistines.
In these four chapters there is quite an emotional rollercoaster ride. We have the lows and highs of Hannah, Eli, Israel, and Samuel. This is like our lives. We go through great times and hard times. What would our lives be like if we accepted direction like Samuel, plead our cause like Hannah, and accepted discipline like Eli? Would we change our way of living, our way of thinking?

Have a great day at the place God has placed you (Acts 17.26).  And, remember, wherever you are the presence of the God who indwells you is there. This means the glory will never leave, although we can cover it with our sinfulness. How bright is God shining today?