Samuel, the Man Who Anointed the First Two Kings of Israel (1 Samuel 3 and selected verses)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church in Poland, OH on September 1, 2019
We are going to be turning to 1 Samuel 3 in a minute, if you would like to turn there.
Think with me about hearing:
Mark Batterson describes the amazing ability of the human ear in his book Whisper:
The act of hearing is detecting vibrations of the eardrum caused by sound waves, and the intensity of those waves is measured in decibels. On one end of the sound spectrum is the sperm whale, the loudest animal on earth. The clicking noise it uses to echolocate can hit 200 decibels. Even more impressive, researchers believe that whale songs may travel up to ten thousand miles underwater! Next to the sperm whale is jet engines (150 decibels), air horns (129 decibels), thunderclaps (120 decibels), and jackhammers (100 decibels).
What’s on the other end of the sound spectrum?
A whisper, measuring just 15 decibels.
Technically speaking, our absolute threshold of hearing is 0 decibels. That corresponds to a sound wave measuring 0.0000002 pascals, which causes the eardrum to vibrate by just 108 millimeters. That’s less than a billionth of the ambient pressure in the air around us and smaller than the diameter of a hydrogen atom!
I want to connect that with Samuel in a minute. Samuel heard the voice of the Lord.
When did you know what you were going to do with your life? Did you know that was what God wanted you to do? In the Old Testament there are two books called Samuel. They are named after the prophet Samuel. Samuel was the prophet who found and anointed King David. Samuel was one of Israel’s greatest and most famous prophets. In a second, we will look at God’s call on Samuel’s life.
We will read the passage as we talk about it.
- Samuel is ministering under Eli
- Verses 1-2: Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent. 2 It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well)…
- Twas the night of Samuel’s calling and all through the Temple not a creature was making noise except Samuel.
- Samuel is likely 12 years old at this time, at least that is what the Jewish historian Josephus had written.
- The young boy Samuel was going to bed for the night.
- He would sleep in a room near the Ark of God.
- It was sometime before dawn and we know this because the Lamp of God was still lit.
- In Exodus chapter 27:20-21 God had told them to bring clear oil to keep the lamps burning.The candlestick which was 7 branched was filled with just enough oil to burn through one night.
- The Lord gave the Israelites the instructions to make this candlestick in Exodus 25:31-39.
- Anyways, they were still lit and now God tried to communicate to Samuel.
- In 1 Samuel chapter 1 we have the account of Samuel’s mother, Hannah. She would come to the temple to pray. Hannah was a Godly woman. She couldn’t have children but she wanted to badly. She came to the House of God every year and would sacrifice and pray for a son. She was praying and wept bitterly. She made a vow to God that if He gave her a son, she would give him to the Lord all the days of His life.
- She went home and God gave her a son. This son is now Samuel. Hannah weaned him and then dedicated him to the Lord’s service.
- Now Samuel was ministering to the Lord with Eli.
- Eli is approaching his 98thyear and his son’s are not good men at all.
- This passage says that word from the Lord was rare at that time and so were visions.
- But on this night something miraculous happened.
- Samuel hears from God.
- Read with me verses 2-9:Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent. 2 It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well), 3 and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was, 4 that the Lord called Samuel; and he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6 The Lord called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he answered, “I did not call, my son, lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor had the word of the Lord yet been revealed to him. 8 So the Lord called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli discerned that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 And Eli said to Samuel, “Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
- Now, we see that Eli’s eye sight is not very good.
- We have already talked about the lamp of God.
- Samuel is sleeping in the temple near where the Ark of God was.
- The Lord speaks to Samuel.
- Imagine the sound of Samuel’s feet going to Eli’s room. Imagine Eli wondering what is going on and then Samuel asks what he needs.
- Eli tells him he did not call him.
- Eli should have known this was from the Lord, but it seems that this is making the case that Eli is not close to the Lord as this time.
- Eli is the priest of God, but if you read in 1 Samuel 2 Eli’s sons are wicked and the message that Samuel is going to hear is condemning of Eli and his family.
- So, Eli could have thought this was a dream.
- Have ever dreamed that you heard someone speaking? I have dreamed many times that I hear my children or something else and I get up and look around and all is quiet.
- But Samuel heard it again. Again, Eli hears his feet coming to his room. Eli sends him back to bed.
- Now, notice verse 7 says that Samuel did not know the Lord yet. This means that he did not know the Lord in the way that he would as a prophet.
- No one knew the Lord back then like we do today. They did not have the Holy Spirit then.
- The Lord calls Samuel a third time.
- Let’s read verses 10-17: Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” 11 The Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. 14 Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”15 So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 Then Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” 17 He said, “What is the word that He spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the words that He spoke to you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the Lord; let Him do what seems good to Him.”
- Sometimes it is heard hearing from God. One writes: I neglected to tell my new patient, a little boy, how his hospital room intercom worked. Soon his light flashed. I called his name and asked what he wanted. There was complete silence. I repeated myself. After a long pause he said, “Jesus, I hear you but I don’t see you. Where are you?” I couldn’t wait to get to his room and give him a hug.
- This time Eli knew it was the Lord. Eli instructed Samuel to say, “Speak Lord for thy servant is listening.” Samuel went back to bed and this time the Lord actually came to Him. Samuel could actually tell that His presence was there.
- The Lord said, “SAMUEL!!! SAMUEL!!!” Samuel responded speak, for Your servant is listening.”
- Notice the Lord came and “stood” before Samuel. This is called a Theophany or a Christophany. This is an appearance of God in physical presence in the Old Testament. But I think it is a Christophany, which means this is an appearance of Jesus in the Old Testament. Hebrews 1 and Col. 1 says that Jesus is the visible image of God.
- Notice the message. This young man hears a message condemning. Look again at verses 12-14: In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. 14 Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
- God had already told Eli this message in the previous chapter. Eli’s sons were wicked and Eli did not rebuke them. Eli’s family is going to lose the priesthood and this happens 130 years later. Dr. Constable shares: Under the Mosaic Law the penalty for showing contempt for the priesthood, for disobeying parents, and for blasphemy was death ( 17:12; 21:18–21; Lev. 24:11–16, 23). This would be what Hophni and Phinehas would experience (cf. 4:11). The cutting off of Eli’s line happened about 130 years later (cf. 1 Kings 2:27, 35).1
- Samuel’s first prophetic act was to tell this message to Eli as we see in verses 16-18.
- Interestingly enough, all Eli says is “It is the Lord, let Him do what He sees fit.” Eli could have taken his sons before the elders and had them judged.
- Let’s make applications:
- We must always be prepared to say yes to God.
- We must be listening for God to speak.
- We must be opened to hear from God
- We must be in a place to hear from God. Samuel was a servant. He served and ministered to Eli as a young boy. This put him in a position to hear from God.
- God is the main character. We must allow God to be the main character in our life.
- God speaks:
- In His Word
- Through people
- Through prayer
- As a parent we do not want to be like Eli. Chuck Swindoll makes the case that Eli was so busy in the temple that he failed to be the spiritual leader in the home.
We must be like Samuel. Samuel was a minister already at age twelve. We must be encouraged that God spoke to Samuel. God will speak to us by His word, maybe through people and many other ways. However, I think we may not hear Him if we aren’t ready to hear Him. As you go out today: look for God to speak. Be ready for God to speak and know that if you are not hearing anything maybe it is because you are not paying attention.
Do you know Jesus?
Confess, Believe, trust, commit:
Firmly make the decision to be with Him in order to become like Him and to learn and do all that He says and then arrange your affairs around Him.
Mark Batterson, Whisper (Multnomah, 2017), page 8
Mary Williamson, Kirbyville, TX, Today’s Christian Woman, “Heart to Heart.”