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Samuel: Circuit Riding Prophet

May 31st, 2009 by Vic

1 Samuel 6-16

Last week we ended with the death of Eli and his daughter-in-law.  Before she died she named her son Ichabod, which means the glory is gone.  But it was not gone.  The Ark had been captured, but the glory of God was present in the life of Samuel and in the presence of the Ark.  The Ark was a trophy for the Philistines 7 months.  They discovered that the God of the Israelites was hard to control.

To tell the story of Samuel is not easy because his story is part of other stories.  What does his story tell you about God?

Chapter 5 is the story of God’s activities surrounding the Ark.  The Philistines put it in their sacred shrine where the idol of Dagon was worshiped.  Dagon was half fish and half man.  The first night Dagon fell flat on his face before the Ark.  The next morning he was propped back up where he was supposed to be.  The next night he again fell flat on his face before the Ark.  His head and both arms were broken across the threshold.

Do you see what God is doing?  He’s getting out of His box.  He is not going to stand still where they put Him like Dagon does.  Having God in your life and trying to hold on to idols, causes problems.  God is going to make it know that He is God above all others.

If you were looking at those events, what would you be thinking?  They decided the threshold was now special because Dagon had given his head and arms to it.  They could have chosen the real God, but they could not control Him.

God tried another means of displaying His glory.  He inflicted the people with hemorrhoids and rats.  Many died of an apparent plague.  The leaders of Ashdod quickly decided that their pain was connected with the God of the Ark.  This God is not happy with us.  Let’s send the Ark to Gath.

Right away the men of Gath were inflicted with hemorrhoids and rats.  Rich and poor were affected.  And there seems to have been mass confusion.  So they decided to send the Ark to Ekron.  But the people of Ekron protested and feared for their lives.  God was apparently killing Philistines right and left.  The word had gotten out that the Ark was a curse and not a trophy or blessing.  Somehow it represented the God of the Israelites and He was not pleased with how they were treating the Ark.

Chapter 6 tells how the religious professionals, priests, and experts in supernatural things decided to return the Ark to Israel.  These foreigners are spiritually inclined.  They are close to the truth when they recognize a sacrifice is required to honor God.

6:6 They know history, but wanted to confirm that it was really the God of the Israelites inflicting them.

It is interesting to note that they placed the Ark on a cart.  They touched the Ark.  They may have looked in the Ark, but they were not struck dead because they did not know any better.  They did not know the commands and God was gracious to them because they were honoring Him.  To whom much is given, much is required.  They were doing what they knew.

6:12 The odds against cows leaving their calves is great.  The odds against cows going straight to a neighbor’s barn is even greater.  Cow trails are not straight.  Cows know where the grain is.  Here they act totally against their nature.  Animals seem to obey God better than we do.  The Ark is getting closer to Jerusalem.

6:19 The Ark came to Beth Shemesh.  The people rejoiced and worshiped God all day.  But maybe they really were not honoring God?  Some men looked in the Ark and God said, “Boo!”  50,070 men died.  (The Message says 70 died.)  Rather than seeking God’s word, doing things God’s way, and honoring God, they decided to quit going to church.  It was too dangerous to pray or come into God’s presence.

Chapter 7 tells us that Abinadab received the Ark gladly.  He dedicated his son to take responsibility for honoring the presence of God represented by the Ark.  This is what God has been trying to tell us.  He wants to be honored.  This is the first step to spiritual revival and restoration.

1. recognize you have not treated God’s will and ways properly.  He wants your exclusive attention.

2. repent.  Get rid of your idols even though everyone else has idols. Stop doing what displeases God even though everyone else is doing it.

3. clean up and clean out.  Draw from the well and wash.

They did not know it, but they were being prepared for ministry.  The enemies were about to attack.

7:8 Notice the people asked Samuel to pray to our God.  In a few years when they start doing their own thing and seeking their own ways then God becomes your God and no longer our God.

Note too that sacrifice is part of prayer.  Victory is won at the place of sacrifice.  Later Samuel says it is a sin not to pray.  He prays and God answers by fighting for them.  Samuel raises up a memorial rock and calls it ‘Ebenezer’ which means ‘rock of help’.  God fought the Philistines during the lifetime of Samuel.  One holy man and God brought peace throughout the land.

Samuel does not move to the city where the Ark is.  He does not move back to Shiloh.  He does not seek celebrity status.  He does not seek a leadership role.  The Ark was in Abinadab’s home and Samuel makes his own home a chapel.  Our homes should be chapels.  Jesus said as often as you eat or drink, remember my sacrifice.  I think it is proper for dad’s and mom’s to serve communion.

Chapter 8 is a reminded how well things are going.  There was peace in the land, but the people were not satisfied.  They used the preacher’s kids as an excuse.  They could have asked God to raise another prophet like Samuel.  They could have asked Samuel to correct his sons.  They could have killed his sons if they did not like them.

8:1 They just wanted to be like everyone else and neither Samuel nor God was pleased.  When people want to do their own thing, they are rejecting God.  When we fail to see what God is doing for us through holy men, we are rejecting God.

8:6 Samuel was disappointed so he prayed.  God explains the difference between His permissive will and His perfect will.  He says he can work through a king, but it will hurt a lot more than what they have been experiencing.

8:10  Samuel delivered God’s word and a warning to the people.  Your sin can separate you from God.  He will always hear the prayer of confession, but you will not repent.

8:19 The people replied, we don’t care what the consequences are, we want a king.  We know what we are asking for is probably wrong, but we want it anyway.

“Sin is not bad because it is forbidden.  It is forbidden because it is bad.

8:22 Samuel tells the people to go home and wait for God to identify the king.

Chapter 9 is the story of God identifying the king to Samuel.  Samuel was expecting a visitor during a religious celebration in his home town and had a special meal ready for him.  Samuel had a reputation that everything he said would come to pass.

Saul was the most handsome young man in Israel.  He was not who they needed, but he would please them.  In fact he became too concerned about pleasing people and God left him.  Judas was probably handsome and smart too.  Saul started with some good character traits.

1. Saul was willing to take on a lowly task of finding donkeys.

2. Saul is willing to take advice.

3. Saul is willing to listen to the voice of God.

4. Saul is willing to be humble.

When he becomes king, he loses all these characteristics.  Promotion leads to pride.

Saul thought he was looking for donkeys, but the Lord was directing his life.  God is directing our lives and we are often unaware.

Chapter 10 Samuel anoints Saul and tells him what is going to happen on his way home.  The Spirit of the Lord comes on Saul, but he did not look any different to his uncle.  He did not expect Saul to be spiritual.  Why didn’t Saul tell him about the anointing?  He was unsure of himself and his calling.

Samuel reminds the people that God has been a fantastic deliverer.  But they shout we don’t care, we want a king.  Some people know God has blessed them, but they want a different kind of help.

Samuel identifies Saul as king through the casting of lots.  He’s hiding in the luggage.  Why?  He was unsure of himself or his calling.

The people wanted a man rather than God.

Chapter 11 tells about Saul’s first military victory with God.  He put Samuel’s name on the invitation to the troops.  After the victory the troops wanted to destroy the critics, but Saul still realizes that it is God working with him.

Chapter 12 is Samuel’s last public appearance.  He reminds them he has been faithful to listen to their requests and never taken advantage of them.  He says he has never taken a bribe or distorted God’s laws.  He reminds them that God has been faithful.

12:9 They forgot the Lord in their comfortable Promised Land.

12:13-17  [read]  You replaced your king with a man.  If you obey I can work with your king.

12:19 Note that God is now Samuel’s God and not ‘our’ God.

12:20 We all have sinned and come short of God’s perfect will.  Just don’t turn your back on God.

12:23 “Far be it from me that I should sin against the Lord by ceasing to pray for you.”  Not praying is a sin.

Chapter 13 tells of Saul’s desire to please people and Samuel tells him God is now going to look for his replacement (13:14).

Chapter 14 tells the story of Jonathan defeating the Philistines, eating honey, and criticizing his father Saul for his rash curse.

Chapter 15 Samuel tells Saul that God wants to use him to punish Amalek for ambushing Israel when they came out of Egypt.  Samuel makes it clear that everything connected with Amalek is under a holy ban (like Jericho was).

Deuteronomy 25:17 tells us that Amalekites had hid in the bushes and attacked the women, children, the weak, and lame.  The soldiers were out front, but the Amalekites attacked the rear.

Utterly destroying Amalek was like killing a rabid dog.  They were already dying and God says destroy everything before others are infected.  Does anyone remember the story of “Old Yeller”?

1. The command of God was clear

2. The compromise of Saul and the people was sin.  Selective obedience is sin.

3. The conceit of Saul built an image in his likeness

4. The confession of Saul was insincere

Samuel grieves over Saul’s sin all night.  He gets a direct word from God.

[read 15:19-35]  To obey is better than sacrifice.

Chapter 16 Samuel is depressed about the sin of Saul.  God calls him for a special assignment.  David is anointed as king and the Spirit of the Lord left Saul.

Two antidepressants:  1. God gives Samuel and assignment.  16:1; 2. Advisors give Saul music.  16:16

Although Samuel’s death is reported in 1 Sam 25:1, he makes one further appearance in 28:15 as a ghost.  What does this story of Samuel’s life tell you about God?

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