Samuel, Israel’s repentance and God’s deliverance. 1 Samuel 7:3-17

The literary structure of 1 Samuel 4-7

The literary structure of 1 Samuel 7:3-17

We are in 1 Samuel again today, chapter 7 if you would like to turn. We have come now to the concluding story of a set of five stories that began in chapter 4 and most of which have to do with the ark of the covenant.

  • In the first, the ark was taken to the battle of Aphek-Ebenezer, thinking that God would help them if the ark was there, even if they didn’t deal with their sin and unfaithfulness.
  • In the second, the ark was captured and the high priestly family of Eli was judged.
  • In the third, Yahweh took matters into his own hands and defeated the Philistines and their gods by means of the ark until they begged for it to leave.
  • In the fourth, the ark came back to Israel, but the Levites of Beth-shemesh were judged for their disrespect to the ark and so the ark ended up in Kiriath-jearim.

At the very end of this fourth story it says, “a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord” – 7:2. After judgment on their high priests and Levites, after Philistine oppression year after year, after seeing God’s power displayed through the ark, but not for them – they hit rock bottom. Things were so bad, for so long that they knew something had to change. And so they reconsidered their ways and began to long for the Lord God.

Well, Samuel saw this godly sorrow, which leads us to –

The story of God’s salvation

3And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only.

baal
Baal

The phrase, “foreign gods” covers a lot of ground, but Baal and his female consort Astarte (Ashtar) here named as Ashtaroth are specifically mentioned. He was the storm god and a god of fertility. She was the god of war, love and fertility. (The name “Ashtaroth” is plural for Ashtoreth, which is a deliberate distortion of her name so that it is to be read as “shame” or “abomination.” The vowels for this word are added to the consonants of her name.)

In these verses we have a beautiful portrait of what repentance looks like. It means turning, or in this case, “returning to the Lord with all your heart.” Negatively this involves putting away idols, those wrong systems of belief and practice that go against God’s will for us and which harm us and others. And positively it means relying on the Lord alone and doing his will.

You have to realize, Israel’s temptation was seldom not to serve Yahweh. Rather, it was to place Yahweh as one of many gods who can be served for their various specialties and help, depending on your particular life crisis or need. So let’s say you want a husband, then you pray to Astarte. This is what she does. And if you want rain you pray to Baal. And then in a national crisis you might pray to Yahweh as a tribal god.

This is why the call is to give God all your heart, not part; and to serve him only, not along with other gods. Samuel is calling Israel to trust God for everything, because he can take care of everything.

We also see here that repentance is something that comes from the heart, or the very center of us – our will; it has to do with a choice of life direction.

What are our idols? I can tell you how to find them. When you are in a crisis what do you turn to for security, help and comfort? Is it wealth, social status, inappropriate sexual expression, drug or alcohol abuse, overeating? It could be anything. What do you turn to? 

Here the repentance is communal, the whole community of Israel is returning to God. How might we need to repent as a community?  Where do we allow sin in our midst as a church?

5Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel at Mizpah, and I will pray to the Lord for you.” 6So they gathered at Mizpah and drew water and poured it out before the Lord and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the Lord.” And Samuel judged the people of Israel at Mizpah.

It’s not clear why they poured out water, but it is a part of their repentance, as is the fasting. Notice that confession, and intercession on behalf of Israel by Samuel, was also a part of their repentance and restoration to God. This is most likely a covenant renewal ceremony.

When it says Samuel judged them, it means that he taught them once again God’s will and called them to accountability to practice it, as well as decided difficult cases. (e.g. 1 Samuel 12:23).

7Now when the Philistines heard that the people of Israel had gathered at Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel.

The Philistines still exercised dominance over Israel, so a gathering like this would have been provocative – most likely indicating a rebellion. So they come to reassert their power.

And when the people of Israel heard of it, they were afraid of the Philistines. 8And the people of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry out to the Lord our God for us, that he may save us from the hand of the Philistines.”

God allows them to be tested in a big way, right away. Will they remain faithful and trust God to deliver them?

Their call for prayer is the right response. They have put all their eggs in Yahweh’s basket. In a practical way they are fully relying on him.

Do we commit to serve the Lord only and then run back to our old idols? Do we go back to our old life patterns when things are bad? Or do we trust fully in God and God’s promises as we pray? Israel is an example to us here.

9So Samuel took a nursing lamb and offered it as a whole burnt offering to the Lord. And Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him.

(For Samuel as an intercessor see also Jeremiah 15:1; Psalm 99:6; 1 Samuel 12:19-23)

The story goes on to give the details . . .

10As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel. 11And the men of Israel went out from Mizpah and pursued the Philistines and struck them, as far as below Beth-car.

God himself fought for them. They only took action after God gave the victory. The Lord’s thunder here shows that Baal, the storm god, who often used thunder, was a pretender – Yahweh is the true God and rules in the heavens. (It is also a partial fulfillment of Hannah’s praise in 2:10).

12Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen and called its name Ebenezer; for he said, “Till now the Lord has helped us.”

Ebenezer means “stone of help.” The idea is that God has helped by saving them. “Till now” means, OK, you have decided to rely only on Yahweh, and see, he has helped us thus far. God is faithful! The stone monument is a reminder to them and later generations of God’s great work here. God can be trusted.

Do we remember how God has worked in our lives? What stones of remembrances do you have that build your faith and the faith of others as you share your testimony of God’s faithfulness? 

Notice how in the first story of this set of stories Israel was defeated under the leadership of Eli, as Israel thought they could win just because the ark was with them, despite their sin and unfaithfulness. And this happened at a town called Ebenezer. But here in the last story, Israel defeats the Philistines under Samuel’s leadership after they have turned wholly to the Lord and this is memorialized by an Ebenezer stone.

13So the Philistines were subdued and did not again enter the territory of Israel. And the hand of the Lord was against the Philistines all the days of Samuel. 14The cities that the Philistines had taken from Israel were restored to Israel, from Ekron to Gath, and Israel delivered their territory from the hand of the Philistines. There was peace also between Israel and the Amorites.

During Samuel’s days as the leader of Israel God gave Israel peace. The Philistines were defeated, Israel’s land was restored and the other Canaanites didn’t bother Israel. This was a gift from God; a blessing that they could receive because of their repentance and trust in God.

Finally, our story ends –

15Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. 16And he went on a circuit year by year to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. And he judged Israel in all these places. 17Then he would return to Ramah, for his home was there, and there also he judged Israel. And he built there an altar to the Lord.

Here we have a summary of Samuel’s life work, carried out in the cities of this central region of Israel. There isn’t much detail about what else happened during his time as a judge, but he continues to show up in the stories of Saul and David which come next.

I want to end with a few thoughts on what I think is the chief message of these five stories.

No repentance, no blessing

I’m not saying that all people aren’t blessed by God in some ways, because God gives mercy even to his enemies. What I am saying is that to receive the fullness of God’s blessing – his salvation – we have to repent and trust God.

We have seen Israel try to have it both ways. They want God’s best for them while clinging to their sin and unfaithfulness. They seek after God’s best by pursuing it according to their own wisdom; by doing what they wanted; by not serving God alone.

But here in this story they get it! They turn to God and receive God’s blessing, deliverance and salvation. The title for this sermon could be, “Finally, they get it!!!” This is the way it was always supposed to be. Finally, they put away their sin and experienced all that God wanted for them – life, peace and blessing.

Well, I think, we are just like Israel. We want it both ways. We want God’s best for us, but we want to make our own choices and do things our own way, also relying on our idols. But it doesn’t work that way. You can’t have your cake and eat it too. If we want God’s blessing, deliverance and salvation, like Israel we have to repent and trust God. We have to submit ourselves to God and God’s ways. We have to serve God with our whole heart and him only. There are no shortcuts.

Have you come to this point yet? Where you can say, “I get it! If I give myself fully to God he will bless me and be present with me, even when I go through hard times. I know that because of my repentance and trust, God’s blessing and salvation will always define my life.” Maybe some of you came to this realization 50 years ago. Maybe some of you came to it last year. Or maybe some of you are still on the journey.

Let me just say, you don’t have to hit rock bottom first. It’s a choice you can make at any time. I encourage you today, submit yourself fully to God and trust in him and know his blessings.

Israel hits rock bottom: Judgement on the Levites of Beth-shemesh. 1 Samuel 6:12-7:2

The literary structure of 1 Samuel 6:12-7:2

This morning we come to the fourth of the four ark stories in 1 Samuel. It’s been a little while so let’s remember together:

  • In the first, the ark was taken to the battle of Aphek, thinking that God would help them against the Philistines if the ark was there, even if they didn’t deal with their sin and unfaithfulness.
  • In the second, the ark was captured and the high priestly family of Eli was judged; he and his two sons died.
  • In the third, the ark wreaked havoc on the Philistines and their gods, as Yahweh took matters into his own hands and defeated the Philistines. They begged for it to leave because of the plagues on them.
ark-travels
The journey of the ark of the covenant

Today, we have the story of how the ark came back to Israel.

Remember from last time the Philistine test. They were sure that their plagues were from Yahweh, but just to be doubly sure they said – if the cart with the ark on it went straight to Beth-shemesh, that would be a sign for them.

And they stacked the deck against this happening by having no one lead the cart, by picking two milk cows that had never carried a cart before, and by locking up their calves in the barn so that the cows would have to overcome their instincts not to go to them, but to Beth-shemesh in Israel.

And then our story begins . . .

The ark returns to Israel

12And the cows went straight in the direction of Beth-shemesh along one highway, lowing as they went. They turned neither to the right nor to the left, and the lords of the Philistines went after them as far as the border of Beth-shemesh.

Yahweh takes control of the situation and leads the cows to the right city – even though the cows were lowing for their calves. Now the Philistines know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Yahweh was the one who judged and defeated them, since the Philistine lords are sneaking around to see what  would happen, and saw this.

A cause for celebration

13Now the people of Beth-shemesh were reaping their wheat harvest in the valley. And when they lifted up their eyes and saw the ark, they rejoiced to see it. 14The cart came into the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh and stopped there. A great stone was there.

This harvest would have been in May or June. And this is why so many people are out in the fields to see this cart with two cows and the ark on it. Can you imagine? The ark of God pulling up next to your field with no one leading it?

And they gave thanks and gave offerings to God.

And they split up the wood of the cart and offered the cows as a burnt offering to the Lord. 15And the Levites took down the ark of the Lord and the box that was beside it, in which were the golden figures, and set them upon the great stone. And the men of Beth-shemesh offered burnt offerings and sacrificed sacrifices on that day to the Lord.

And then the humorous scene of the Philistine lords sneaking around Beth-shemesh comes to an end.

16And when the five lords of the Philistines saw it, they returned that day to Ekron. 17These are the golden tumors that the Philistines returned as a guilt offering to the Lord: one for Ashdod, one for Gaza, one for Ashkelon, one for Gath, one for Ekron, 18and the golden mice, according to the number of all the cities of the Philistines belonging to the five lords, both fortified cities and unwalled villages.

V. 18 goes on . . .

The great stone beside which they set down the ark of the Lord is a witness to this day in the field of Joshua of Beth-shemesh.

The stone is a witness to these amazing events, of how God single-handedly defeated the Philistines and brought the ark back to Israel.

But then disaster strikes. 

 19And he (the Lord) struck some of the men of Beth-shemesh, because they looked upon/into the ark of the Lord. He struck seventy men of them, and the people mourned because the Lord had struck the people with a great blow.

If before they rejoiced about the ark, now they mourn.

According to Numbers 4:15, 20 no one was to touch the ark, and only priests were allowed to look at it. Here it appears that some of the men of Beth-shemesh were looking it over or even looked into it, which would have involved touching it. And so they are judged for failing to obey the Law of Moses.

Now, this might seem harsh but consider this. This was a Levitical town, that is, a place where Levites lived (Joshua 21:16; 1 Chronicles 6:54-59).And not only that, they were from the clan of the Kohathites, which was in charge of transporting the ark and the other holy things of the tabernacle (Numbers 4:4). And they were specifically instructed that the priests must cover the ark, and “after that the sons of Kohath shall come to carry these, but they must not touch the holy things, lest they die” – Numbers 4:15.

So they knew, or certainly should have known that what they were doing was very wrong (For a similar incident see 2 Samuel 6:6-9) (The LXX or Greek Old Testament has an alternative explanation for the judgment. It says, “the descendants of Jeconiah did not rejoice with the people of Beth-shemesh when they greeted the ark of the Lord, and he killed seventy men of them.”) (70, and not 50,070 seems to have been the original number in the text.)

20Then the men of Beth-shemesh said, “Who is able to stand before the Lord, this holy God? And to whom shall he go up away from us?”

Instead of acknowledging their wrong, they blame God, as if God is arbitrary. And then they are like, ‘how do we get rid of this thing?’ And so they look for a new town for the ark.

21So they sent messengers to the inhabitants of Kiriath-jearim, saying, “The Philistines have returned the ark of the Lord. Come down and take it up to you.” 7:1And the men of Kiriath-jearim came and took up the ark of the Lord and brought it to the house of Abinadab on the hill. And they consecrated his son Eleazar to have charge of the ark of the Lord.

As we saw, Kiriath-jearim is 9 miles north of Beth-shemesh. The ark was put in a house, not out in open view. It appears that Eleazar was a priest (it was a common priestly name; 2 Samuel 6:3-4 and 1 Chronicles 13:7-11 portray his brothers as priests), so he could rightly care for the ark.

Then the story ends.

2From the day that the ark was lodged at Kiriath-jearim, a long time passed, some twenty years, and all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.

Things were just really bad for Israel.

  • Despite God’s punishment of the Philistines, militarily and politically they were still dominating Israel and causing great suffering.
  • There was not a functioning high priestly family to lead the people.
  • The tabernacle at Shiloh was destroyed and things were in disarray.
  • And now the Levites of Beth-shemesh, who were the ones who should have known how to care for the ark are judged. Even when God gave them something to rejoice about, they are so disconnected from God that they also offed God, just as the Philistines had done, and were judged.

And so now the ark is in Kiriath-jearim, with Israel afraid of it and it has been there for twenty years and nothing is changing. And this is where they hit rock bottom. They can’t take it anymore. Something has to change.

And so finally it says, “all the house of Israel lamented after the Lord.” They knew what could be from their history as a people when God blessed them. But they saw where they were and they mourned. This is what Paul calls godly sorrow that leads to repentance (2 Corinthians 7:10).

They moved from blaming God, ‘you didn’t help us at Aphek, you judged us at Beth-shemesh’ to taking responsibility for their sin and unfaithfulness. And this is what we will see in the next story, the whole nation repents and begins to follow the Lord under Samuel’s guidance.

Here’s a question –

Why?

Why as individuals or even as a congregation, do we so often have to hit bottom to come to our senses? Why does it have to get so bad before we make the difficult choices that need to be made to set things right? So that we submit to God and walk in his ways? Why are we so stubborn, or as Scripture sometimes calls it, “stiff necked”?

And finally an exhortation –

Act!

 If this is where you are, or where you are headed (you don’t actually have to hit rock bottom) act! Right now! Act to make things right!

Set aside your sin and unfaithfulness and come back to a right relationship with God and serve him with your whole heart. Stop blaming God or others or life circumstances, and take responsibility for your own choices and repent.

Samuel and the word of the Lord. 1 Samuel 3:1b-4:1a

The literary structure of 1 Samuel 3:1b-4:1a

Last week we saw how Samuel and Eli were going in two different directions:

  • Samuel the child, was growing in favor with God and people, getting ready to do great things for God.
  • While Eli the old man, and his house, were told they would lose their place as the chief priestly family in Israel, along with other judgments.

This contrast continues in our story today. The judgment on Eli and his house is confirmed and reinforced, and we see Samuel begin his ministry which offers new hope to Israel.

The setting

As we begin our story, Samuel is anywhere between 8 and 12 years old. (He was 3 or 4 when Hannah left him with Eli. And in the story before this we learn that his mother had five other children. So if she had one a year he might be 8 or 9. But there may have been more space between children, so he could be older. Josephus, the first century Jewish writer thought he was 12 – Antiquities 5.10.5.) And Eli is in his nineties (he dies later at age 98 – 1 Samuel 4:15).

1And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.

 Now we just heard a prophet condemn Eli and his house, but we are told here that such words, as well as visions, didn’t happen very often at this time in Israel’s history. This was, no doubt, a sign of the distance between the people and God due to their unfaithfulness. (Amos 8:11-12; 1 Samuel 14:37; 28:6)

2At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. 3The 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.

We learn several things here. Samuel was sleeping in the tabernacle/temple, although probably not in the holy of holies with the ark, but near to it. (The point is not that Samuel is in the holy of holies but that the ark is in the temple in general. The mention of the ark, prepares us for the following ark stories starting in 1 Samuel 4.). Eli seems to be out of the tabernacle, but nearby.

And it was in the early morning hours, before the lamp of the tabernacle went out at sunrise. Perhaps Samuel was in the tabernacle all night to tend to the Lamp, to make sure it didn’t go out before sunrise, as the Law of Moses instructs, since Eli couldn’t see anymore (Exodus 27:21; Leviticus 24:1-4)

The Lord calls out to Samuel

4Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!” 5and 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.

 We see here Samuel’s eagerness to serve Eli, his adopted father. He goes to him ready to help him with whatever need he might have. But God doesn’t get through to Samuel.

6And the Lord called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.”

So the same thing happens again. Then we have an explanatory word –

7Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

When it says Samuel didn’t “know the Lord” it doesn’t mean that Samuel had no relationship or understanding of God, for as we saw last week he served the Lord and grew in favor with the Lord (2:26). The phrase very specifically explains the situation here – he didn’t yet know what God’s voice sounded like. This is in contrast to later in his life when he heard and recognized God’s voice all the time. (The two phrases “did not yet know the Lord” and “the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him” are synonymous.) (The word for “know” is the same as in 2:12 that describes Eli’s sons, but for them it has the sense of “did not have regard for the Lord.”)

In v. 8 we start to make some progress –

8And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. 9Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

Eli figures out what’s going on and tells Samuel what to do.

10And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”

Finally, on the fourth try a connection is made. It’s interesting that it says, “the Lord came and stood.” This was not just Samuel hearing something, but also him seeing something – it was a vision experience (v. 15). And then we have –

The Lord’s message

 11Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.

“Tingling ears” means that people will be astonished by what they hear; more specifically in Scripture it means astonished by a coming disaster. (2 Kings 21:12; Jeremiah 19:3)

12On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

Once again Eli’s responsibility and sin is pointed out. He did not restrain his sons and their activities as priests. Now, this doesn’t apply to all parents and their kids, where after a certain age children make their own choices. Eli’s situation is different. He was the chief priest and he could have removed his wicked sons from their roles.

But since he didn’t, God did it – for all their house throughout all time. If before, God promised to them that they would be priests forever (2:30), here he says that their punishment will be forever; and their sin will not be atoned for forever. And the Lord seals this with an oath.

(What God told Samuel here is pretty much the same as what the unnamed prophet told Eli. But this second message serves to confirm the first word and it makes it irrevocable [Birch]).

Now, put yourself in Samuel’s shoes. He is anywhere from 8-12 years old, and God has just told him that his adoptive family will be severely judged. What would you do?

15Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli.

 I would be hesitant and afraid too.

16But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” 17And Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.”

Eli knows it’s bad. He knew the sins of his sons and that he did not stop them. And he has already heard the word of judgment from the unnamed prophet in chapter 2.

18So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him.

Samuel comes through. Despite his fear he tells Eli everything.

And he said, “It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him.”

I don’t know whether Eli’s response is a good one coming from submission to God or whether it is mere resignation that he knows there is no way to avoid his judgment at this point. Either way he accepts it.

Our final verses focus on –

Samuel’s ministry as a prophet

– going into his adult life.

19And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord. 21And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord. 4:1And the word of Samuel came to all Israel.

Just as Deuteronomy 18 predicts, God has raised up a prophet like Moses. Samuel is like Moses in that he held three offices at once. He was a Levite with priestly privileges, he was a political leader (a judge, as we will see) and he was a prophet. And he is also like Moses, or any true prophet in that all his words came true (Deuteronomy 18:22). None fell to the ground.

And this means that there is a new hope in Israel. God is once again speaking to them through Samuel. From Beersheba to Dan means from the southern-most point of Israel to the northern-most point. God is speaking to all Israel once again, through Samuel.

This leads me to my first reflection on what we should learn from this story. Even in the most difficult times, when peoples’ ears are tingling it is so bad –

1. God gives hope to his people. Things are really bad. The house of Eli, the chief priestly family in Israel will fade away due to their sin. But there is new hope for Israel in Samuel, the prophet.

And even when things seem bad for us as his people today, God is still working and so we can have hope as well, that God will accomplish his purposes through us.

 2. God works in the lives of children. Already, last week we saw Samuel growing in the presence of God. But here there is more.

  • God speaks to a child/young person and gives him a specific message to deliver to an adult.
  • God called him as a child/young person to serve him as a prophet and this continued on throughout his life.

We need to be attuned to what God is doing in the lives of the children and young people around us so that we can help, just as Eli helped here, to connect them to God.

A question. 3. Is God trying to talk to you? I’m not suggesting that it is something as dramatic as with Samuel here, or an audible voice and a vision. But God does seek to speak to us and his Holy Spirit lives within each one of us as believers in Jesus. Well, Eli and Samuel teach us how to listen.

  • In v. 10 Samuel said, “speak,” Lord. This is an invitation for God to speak to us. Do we ever invite God to speak, or take time to listen for what he might say? Or are we always talking at God with our needs and concerns. Invite God to speak to you.
  • In v. 10 he also says, “for your servant hears.” This indicates that you are not just willing to hear it, you are his servant and so you are willing to do what God says. It is an obedient listening that opens the door to God’s voice in our lives.

Another question. 4. Is God calling you? As we know, God calls various ones to special roles of service among the people of God. And this can happen as here, when you are a child/young person or as with Moses when you are 80 years old. For myself I was 14 years old when God called me.

What about this morning – is there anyone here who is sensing that God is calling you?

And then finally today, 5. We should be brave and do God’s will. Bravery doesn’t mean you don’t have fear. It means that you act despite your fear. And the child Samuel here is an example of bravery to us. Yes, he was afraid, but he spoke out the message anyway; all of it.

  • Even though it was a negative word of judgment.
  • Even though it was to his adoptive family.

If you want to do God’s will it’s not just about encouraging people and making them feel better. It also involves dealing with sin and brokenness in people’s lives and sometimes this is not well received.

But just as Samuel obeyed anyway, so should we when God tells us to act.