June 3, 2011

FAMILY DEVOTIONS

FATHERS

Part Three (B)

SAMUEL:

SONS OF EVIL

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Eternal Life

    Samuel had a wonderful mother named Hannah.  She and her husband, Elkanah, went to Shiloh every year to offer sacrifices and to pay his vow (1 Samuel 1:21).  Please remember that Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, were priests there during this time.  Elkanah’s other wife, Peninnah, had children and would provoke Hannah bitterly “because the LORD had closed her womb” (1 Samuel 1:6).  Even so, Elkanah loved Hannah, gave her a double portion, and was better to her “than ten sons” (1 Samuel 1:8).  Hannah really wanted a son, and if God would give her one, she vowed to God that she would “give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and a razor shall never come on his head” (1 Samuel 1:11; compare the law of the Nazarite in Numbers 6:1-21).  

The Birth of Samuel. One day Hannah was praying before the LORD and Eli watched her.  He thought she was drunk and told her to put away her wine (1 Samuel 1:14). Notice here that Eli had no problem confronting Hannah, but neglected his sons Hophni and Phinehas.  She replied that she was not drunk, but praying because she was oppressed in spirit and pouring out her soul before the LORD.  She spoke out of her great concern and provocation.  Eli comforted her:  “Go in peace; and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you have asked of Him” (1 Samuel 1:17).  As she went away, Hannah’s face lifted.  Shortly thereafter, Hannah conceived and gave birth to Samuel, the child of his mother’s prayer and devotion.  She named him Samuel “because I have asked him of the LORD” (1 Samuel 1:20).

The Ministry of Samuel.  After Hannah weaned Samuel, she and Elkanah went to Shiloh, and offered a bull as sacrifice for the boy (Leviticus 1:5; Luke 2:22-24).  She then presented herself and Samuel to Eli and dedicated him to the service and worship of the LORD (1 Samuel 1:28).  Samuel then ministered to the LORD before Eli the priest (1 Samuel 2:11) and his mother brought him a “little robe” from year to year when she and Elkanah came to offer the yearly sacrifice (1 Samuel 2:19).  The LORD blessed Hannah and she gave birth to three sons and two daughters (1 Samuel 2:21).  Samuel grew before the LORD.  In Hannah, God saw a woman who honored Him by keeping her vow and presenting the child to the LORD for His service.  She had faith that God would keep His word and that her son would prosper in His service (1 Samuel 2:1-11–the Prayer of Hannah).  

 The Prophecy of Eli.  The LORD used Samuel to deliver a message that would tingle the ears of everyone who heard it (1 Samuel 3:11).  But the message was of woe and doom for Eli and his household.  Because Eli had failed to rebuke his sons, and participated in their evil, the “iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever” (1 Samuel 3:14).  Eli took this prophecy from the LORD by Samuel with grace: “It is the LORD; let Him do what seems good to Him” (1 Samuel 3:18).  Samuel had been afraid to tell Eli about that first prophecy, but Samuel obeyed Eli’s urging and did not hide the terrible news from him (1 Samuel 3:15-18).  Samuel grew before the LORD, and the LORD was with him and did not let any of his words fail.  All Israel knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD, and the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, because the LORD revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD (1 Samuel 3:19-21).

Sons of Evil.  As a youth, despite growing up under in the temple with Eli and confirmed as a prophet who spoke for God, Samuel still had problems with his sons.  When Samuel had grown old, all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to him.  They had a simple message: your sons do not walk in your ways and so we demand you appoint a king like all the nations (1 Samuel 8:4-5). The elders and people had great respect for Samuel, but absolutely none for his children.  Samuel’s sons may have had a wonderful father, but even so, they did not walk with God.  A father has no higher duty than to be sure his children walk with God.  With Samuel, the period of Judges of Israel ends and the era of kings begins.  God told Samuel that the people of Israel, by asking for a king, had rejected God as their King. They specifically asked for a “king to judge us” (1 Samuel 8:6).  But really, they also wanted a king to lead them in battle, like the other nations (1 Samuel 8:19-22).  God told Samuel to grant their request, but required Samuel to warn them of the great cost of having a king.  In closing, Samuel declared that because the people had chosen a king for themselves, the LORD would not answer in the day they would cry out because of their king (1 Samuel 8:18).  The point about Samuel as father comes from his wonderful mother and father, and his devotion to the LORD as priest and prophet who anointed both Saul and David king of Israel.  Even so, his sons, like Eli’s sons, did not walk with God.

          So we learn more about fathers and their role in daily devotions.

       ●  Being a father in Christ means that even if you have a great ministry for Christ, be careful to spend time with your children so they too will walk in the way of the LORD.

       ●  Being a father in Christ means that you will always have a duty to your adult children, and to spend time with them, no matter how busy you are serving Jesus Christ.

       ●  Being a father in Christ means if your children stray from walking in the way of the LORD, then other people will not be looking to them for leadership in the same way they looked to you.

Application for Today

        Samuel reminds each of us that serving Christ, even in a powerful ministry, never means that we neglect our duties at home to our families.  People will always inspect the lives of your children, and make their own decisions about them.  Your life and ministry will not replace the need you have to help your children, all of your life, to walk with God all of their lives.  Will you reach out to your children today, and encourage them to walk with God today?