Call to Worship April 4, 2021
Expository Thoughts on 1 Samuel 3 thru 4:1a
The people of Israel lived in difficult times and not just economically or politically. The word of the LORD was rare in the days of Eli. Israel spent time worshipping false gods with little consideration of their idolatry and hypocrisy. Samuel would be the one to call them to repentance (1 Samuel 7:3-4). Before Samuel would rise to this task it was the Lord who would call upon him to deliver more immediate news of judgement. What God had previously pronounced, He made more personal through his servant Samuel. Calamity was coming soon to Eli’s house. Eli could only submit to the judgment and providence of God (3:18).
The scripture teaches that Eli had confronted his sons, but he had not rebuked them (2:22-25, 3:13). Everything that had been reported about his sons was known to be in violation of God’s prescribed word or commands for His people and some matters specifically for His priests. Eli had only spoken to the sons, but there was no discipline. So God made Samuel his final spokesperson concerning the matter. It is important to confront sin in our lives and understand that God will discipline us for our sin. This is one way we know that we are His children (Hebrews 12). We must not lose heart in confronting our own sin according to scripture through Christ alone by the Spirit alone. When we sin we have an advocate in Jesus the Son. When we keep sinning we have a heavenly Father who will discipline us for our good and His glory. Eli was being disciplined as a child of God and his sons were being judged according to their own desires. They did not listen to God’s word or heed it.
The word of God is a light to our path in enjoying God forever. The people of Israel were only different in the context of their receiving and hearing the word of the LORD. God had provided His word or confirmed it through Moses, the judges, and the prophets. Yet, Israel still worshipped other Gods. So God made his word to them infrequent. It is concerning to think that God would rarely speak to His people, yet Christians today do not consider this much of an issue. “Some may think,” according to D.R. Davis, “’Yes, but the word of God can’t be ‘rare’ anymore because the church has his complete word in writing…’” (Dale Ralph Davis, I Samuel: Looking on the Heart, [Christian Focus Pub., 2014], pg. 44). Especially since an estimated 2.5 billion bibles were printed worldwide between 1815 and 1975 and over 100 million bibles are estimated to have sold or been given away each year, no one would think the issue is with the availability of God’s word. Bibles through digital media have increased as well each year, yet fewer people are reading the bible. There is the problem-people are not reading and listening to God’s word. Davis wrote, “Yahweh’s word can become rare because of the problems on the receiving end…people have no ears to hear (Mark 4:10-12). We may have the scriptures but suffer from deafness, and so the word is rare.” (Ibid.) Are we like Israel? Have we heard the word and still followed the world?
The rarity of God’s word is not an excuse for disobedience in our day, especially in America. We need to be those who continue to read it, hear it, and listen to it, so that we will seek to obey God and delight in Him according to the commands of Jesus Christ. As Davis stated, “God’s word – written, preached, welcomed – is the token of God’s grace to God’s people.” (Ibid.) We must pray that the Lord would grant us, and those around us, ears to hear His word according to His will alone. Soli Deo Gloria!