1Samuel 3-4

Thursday Evening Bible Study

January 26, 2012


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision

Samuel is the last of the “Judges”.  He is the man who will bridge the gap between the time of the Judges and the beginning of the Kings of Israel.

Last week we looked into the birth of Samuel.

From before the womb his mother Hannah had dedicated him to the Lord, meaning he was a Nazirite – a long haired guy who didn’t touch anything to do with grapes.

Samuel’s dedication to the Lord meant that when he was very young, his mother took him to the Tabernacle, and he was raised the by the high priest Eli in the town of Shiloh.

Another side note – Eli the high priest has two sons who are in line to become high priests.  Eli’s sons are wicked men who abuse their authority as priests, mishandle the sacrifices, and even sleep with the women who come to the Tabernacle.

3:1-10 God calls Samuel

:1 Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.

:1  boyna‘ar – a boy, lad, youth

Jewish tradition has it that Samuel was 12 years old at this time.

:1 ministeredsharath – to minister, serve

Samuel was doing his little training, priestly, duties.

:1 the word of the Lord was rare

God’s visions were unable to “break through” to people. Perhaps it isn’t just a matter of God not speaking, but the real issue is, is anyone listening?


How rare?

Is God able to speak today?
Is God able to get your attention?
Are you able to listen?

Even as we sit here today, there are hundreds of voices flying through the air, all around us. We can sit here quietly, but still can’t hear them.

With some voices you need the help of a radio to hear them.  With others, you need a cell phone.  Some voices need a wifi connection.

They’re all here, but without the right equipment you can’t hear.

As believers, we have the first piece of equipment needed that is unavailable to the unbeliever:

(1 Co 2:14 NKJV) But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

You have the Spirit of God, so you have the equipment necessary to receive God’s messages.

Do you recognize God’s voice?
If God were to speak, could you tell the difference between God’s voice and the voice of your stomach, your sin nature, or your wishful thinking?
Recognition comes with familiarity.

The more you hear a voice, the easier it is to recognize.

As a young man, I used to listen to hours of Chuck Smith tapes.  I’ve listened to Chuck teach through the entire Bible while driving to work at the Bank of Newport and then at McDonnell Douglas.

And I have to tell you, that’s a voice I’d recognize anywhere.

For us, we may not have audio recordings of God’s voice, but we do have a record of it – the Bible.

The more time you spend in your Bible, in the whole Bible, the easier it will be to recognize when God is speaking.

:2 And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see,

:3 and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the Lord where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down,

:3 before the lamp of God went out

Every night the priests would light the seven-branched candlestick, the Menorah. It would burn all night, and at daybreak, the priests would enter into the tabernacle to put the lamp out. That places this event somewhere before dawn.

:4 that the Lord called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!”

:5 So he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” And he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” And he went and lay down.

Samuel isn’t used to hearing the voice of God.  He doesn’t recognize God’s voice.

God was speaking, but Samuel didn’t recognize it.

:6 Then the Lord called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” He answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.”

:7 (Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him.)

:8 And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy.

:8 Eli perceived

You have to give Eli a little credit here. He finally realizes that God must be speaking to the boy.

:9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

:9 lie downshakab – to lie down; to rest, relax

:9 servant‘ebed – slave, servant

:9 hears shama‘– to hear, listen to

This is the first part of Samuel’s name, “hearing”. In a sense, Samuel’s name would be prophetic because he, Samuel, would “hear” (shama) from God (el)

:10 Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”

:10 Speak, for Your servant hears


Speak Lord

Can I learn to hear God’s voice? Learn from young Samuel.
1.  Lie down
Be quiet.  Learn to rest a little.
When Elijah was waiting to hear God’s voice, it wasn’t in the earthquake, wind …

(1 Ki 19:12 NKJV) and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.

We need to learn to be quiet and wait on the Lord.

(Ps 130:5 NKJV) I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, And in His word I do hope.

2.  Submit
Are you God’s servant?  Can you honestly say that to God?

Will you do whatever God wants you to do?

3.  Listen
Samuel said “Your servant hears”.  Give God time to speak.  Listen.  Do you listen while you’re reading the Bible?

3:11-14 Samuel’s first prophecy

:11 Then the Lord said to Samuel: “Behold, I will do something in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.

:12 In that day I will perform against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end.

:13 For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows, because his sons made themselves vile, and he did not restrain them.

:13 I have told him that I will judge …

God is reminding Eli of the word that came earlier through the “man of God” (1Sam. 2:27-36).

:13 restrainkahah – to grow weak, grow dim, be restrained

It seems that he did nothing to “dim” their evil.


Lack of action

Judgment would come on the house of Eli because of his lack of action.
He knew something bad was going on, and even though he rebuked his sons for it, he did not “restrain” them.
James wrote,
(Jas 4:17 NKJV) Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin.
Edmund Burke (??) said,
All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

:14 And 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.”

:14 shall not be atoned for by sacrifice

(1 Sa 3:14 NLT) So I have vowed that the sins of Eli and his sons will never be forgiven by sacrifices or offerings.”


Change not tears

Some people have the notion that as long as they keep saying “I’m sorry”, that they can just keep doing what they always do.
They will do this with their friends – they are always saying “I’m sorry”, and those of us who are believers will tend to say, “That’s okay”.
They will do this with God.
God’s goal is not tears or the words “I’m sorry”, but change.  In describing the correct response to our iniquity and defining what “repentance” is supposed to look like, Paul wrote,
(2 Co 7:11 NLT) Just see what this godly sorrow produced in you! Such earnestness, such concern to clear yourselves, such indignation, such alarm, such longing to see me, such zeal, and such a readiness to punish wrong. You showed that you have done everything necessary to make things right.
Samuel will one day tell Saul:
(1 Sa 15:22 NKJV) So Samuel said: “Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.

3:15-21 Samuel tells Eli

:15 So Samuel lay down until morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision.

:15 Samuel lay down until morning

Samuel stayed in bed the rest of the night.

Can you imagine how hard it would be for Samuel to give this difficult word to Eli who has become like a father to Samuel?

:16 Then Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son!” He answered, “Here I am.”

:17 And he said, “What is the word that the Lord spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the things that He said to you.”

:17 God do so to you

The idea is that if there’s a bad thing predicted, may God bring it on Samuel as well as whoever the prophecy is for.

(1 Sa 3:17 NLT) …And may God strike you and even kill you if you hide anything from me!”

:18 Then Samuel told him everything, and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him.”

:18 It is the Lord


Judging prophecy

Eli can tell that this is a message from God.
We are to judge prophecy and not just blindly listen to everything someone says.
(1 Co 14:29 NKJV) Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.
I think that in the day that we live, it’s very common for people to want to abuse the idea of prophecy and say they are speaking for God when they are only wanting to make you do what they want you to do.
I think that if you think are have a message from God, it’s best to say, “I think God may be wanting to say …”

That puts the responsibility of discernment on the person you are sharing with.

:18 Let Him do what seems good to Him

There seems to be a sense of submission to God on Eli’s part.

He’s not going to fight what God is going to do.

:19 So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground.

:19 let none of his words fall to the ground

Nothing is spoken by Samuel without coming to pass.

(1 Sa 3:19 NLT) …everything Samuel said proved to be reliable.

One of the tests of a prophet is whether or not the things they say come to pass.

:20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the Lord.

:21 Then the Lord appeared again in Shiloh. For the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

:20 from Dan to Beersheba

All of Israel, from the very northern part to the very southern part.

:21 the Lord revealed Himself

The chapter started with reminding us of the “famine” of God’s Word.

God is now speaking again.


Becoming useful

God wants to work and God wants to speak.
The question is whether or not you are a person who wants to be useful to God.
Are you available?
Are you willing to live a life of sincerity?
Will you walk with God?
Being used by God is not a matter of our good works “earning” the privilege of being used by God.

God will sometimes use a donkey if He has to.

I think God prefers to use those who will walk close to Him.

If you spend time walking with God, you may over hear Him talking about things from time to time.

That means that we learn to walk in obedience, and we walk in honesty.

4:1-11 Ark is Lost

:1 And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. Now Israel went out to battle against the Philistines, and encamped beside Ebenezer; and the Philistines encamped in Aphek.

:1 Philistines

These were the ancient enemies of Israel.  We’ve already seen in Judges how Samson fought against the Philistines.

It is believed that the Philistines were originally a sea-faring people who came possibly from the island of Crete.

They settled mainly into five cities located on the coast of Israel – Gaza, Ashkelon, Ekron, Gath, and Ashdod. Their chief deity was named “Dagon”, and was thought to be half-man and half-fish with the head and torso of a man, and the tail fins of a fish.

:1 Ebenezer – “stone of help”

There will be another incident in 1Sam. 7 where after a victory over the Philistines, Samuel raises up a stone and calls the stone “Ebenezer”

(1 Sa 7:12 NKJV) Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the Lord has helped us.”

These seem to be two different places since their locations are described a little differently.

It’s at our Ebenezer that the Israelites are going to have a famous defeat.
It is thought that 20 years later, after a major victory over the Philistines that Samuel gives the other location the same name to show that the defeat at Ebenezer has been reversed.

:1 Aphek – “enclosure”, a city that was supposed to belong to Judah

Show map video of Aphek and Ebenezer.  Ebenezer is about 4 miles from Aphek.

:2 Then the Philistines put themselves in battle array against Israel. And when they joined battle, Israel was defeated by the Philistines, who killed about four thousand men of the army in the field.

:3 And when the people had come into the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord from Shiloh to us, that when it comes among us it may save us from the hand of our enemies.”

:4 So the people sent to Shiloh, that they might bring from there the ark of the covenant of the Lord of hosts, who dwells between the cherubim. And the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

:4 the people sent to Shiloh

Show map video of Shiloh to Ebenezer.  Ebenezer is about 17 miles from Shiloh.

:3 it may save us



The people want to bring the Ark of the Covenant into the army camp so that the “Ark” can save them.
If you’ve seen “Raiders of the Lost Ark”, you might think that they’ve got a point there – that the Ark is some sort of powerful weapon – at least that’s what the Nazi’s in the movie thought.
Sometimes we think that as long as we “believe” everything is okay, but it’s important to believe in the right thing.
Sometimes believing in the wrong thing is disastrous.
Play “Mouse Miracles” clip.
The real power isn’t in the golden box, but the God that the box points to.
We can see others that fall into superstitious behavior – rabbit’s feet, lucky four-leaf clovers, etc. 
We might even think of people who look to religious things like statues of Mary, statues of saints, rosary beads, etc.
But sometimes even people who ought to know better can fall into a trap of thinking that God is only going to work at certain places, like Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa.
All of this stems from a lack of the real presence of the Lord.
When we’ve wandered away from the Lord, we can fall into thinking that certain “things” will bring back that sense of closeness.
What we really need is simply to turn around and come back to Him.

God is not going to let them think of the Ark as a magic rabbit’s foot.

:5 And when the ark of the covenant of the Lord came into the camp, all Israel shouted so loudly that the earth shook.

:6 Now when the Philistines heard the noise of the shout, they said, “What does the sound of this great shout in the camp of the Hebrews mean?” Then they understood that the ark of the Lord had come into the camp.

The Israelites have worked themselves into a frenzy because their magic “Ark” is in their camp.

:7 So the Philistines were afraid, for they said, “God has come into the camp!” And they said, “Woe to us! For such a thing has never happened before.

:8 Woe to us! Who will deliver us from the hand of these mighty gods? These are the gods who struck the Egyptians with all the plagues in the wilderness.

:8 the gods who struck the Egyptians

There are people who think that the story of the Exodus is all a myth, but here are a nation of people hundreds of years later who are reminding themselves about what had happened in Egypt.

:9 Be strong and conduct yourselves like men, you Philistines, that you do not become servants of the Hebrews, as they have been to you. Conduct yourselves like men, and fight!”

:9 conduct yourselves like men


Strength’s source

You’re going to see a battle fought in natural terms.
The Israelites are fighting the battle by psyching themselves all up into a frenzy with their magic, superstitious golden box.
The Philistines are also going to fight with their natural abilities, except they are a better army and when they psych themselves up with the possibility of losing, they are even better than the Israelites.

It’s kind of like what a football team does before running out onto the field.

The Bible says,
(1 Co 16:13 NASB95) Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.

It is good that we learn to be “men”.  It is good that we learn to be strong.

But there is another strength that passes human ability.
(Eph 6:10 NKJV) Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord and in the power of His might.

This is where we will find our failings – by being strong in our own strength instead of learning to depend on God for His strength.

There’s nothing wrong with being a “man”, or being “strong”.  But understand that you and I face an enemy that fights with more than we can handle.  We need God’s strength.

:10 So the Philistines fought, and Israel was defeated, and every man fled to his tent. There was a very great slaughter, and there fell of Israel thirty thousand foot soldiers.

:11 Also the ark of God was captured; and the two sons of Eli, Hophni and Phinehas, died.

:11 the two sons of Eli…died

Just like it was prophesied back in chapter 2.

(1 Sa 2:34 NKJV) Now this shall be a sign to you that will come upon your two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas: in one day they shall die, both of them.

4:12-18 Eli dies

:12 Then a man of Benjamin ran from the battle line the same day, and came to Shiloh with his clothes torn and dirt on his head.

:13 Now when he came, there was Eli, sitting on a seat by the wayside watching, for his heart trembled for the ark of God. And when the man came into the city and told it, all the city cried out.

:12 his clothes torn and dirt on his head

This was done out of mourning.  A person that was mourning the loss of a loved one would tear their clothes and put dirt or ashes on their heads.

:13 his heart trembled for the ark of God

In a sense, Eli is the man responsible for the Ark.

On the other hand, we’ll see that God doesn’t need anyone “protecting” Him.

:14 When Eli heard the noise of the outcry, he said, “What does the sound of this tumult mean?” And the man came quickly and told Eli.

:15 Eli was ninety-eight years old, and his eyes were so dim that he could not see.

:16 Then the man said to Eli, “I am he who came from the battle. And I fled today from the battle line.” And he said, “What happened, my son?”

:17 So the messenger answered and said, “Israel has fled before the Philistines, and there has been a great slaughter among the people. Also your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, are dead; and the ark of God has been captured.”

:18 Then it happened, when he made mention of the ark of God, that Eli fell off the seat backward by the side of the gate; and his neck was broken and he died, for the man was old and heavy. And he had judged Israel forty years.

:18 Eli fell off the seat backward

Eli hears of his sons’ deaths.  But it isn’t until he hears the news about the ark that he falls backwards off his seat. 

4:19-22 Glory gone

:19 Now his daughter-in-law, Phinehas’ wife, was with child, due to be delivered; and when she heard the news that the ark of God was captured, and that her father-in-law and her husband were dead, she bowed herself and gave birth, for her labor pains came upon her.

:19 she bowed herself and gave birth

Phinehas’ pregnant wife hears all the bad news and goes into labor.

:20 And about the time of her death the women who stood by her said to her, “Do not fear, for you have borne a son.” But she did not answer, nor did she regard it.

:20 the time of her death

This gal would die in childbirth, just like Rachel died when Benjamin was born.

The women are trying to cheer her up that at least she has given birth to a son.

:21 Then she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.

:22 And she said, “The glory has departed from Israel, for the ark of God has been captured.”

:21 Ichabod – “no glory”

(chabod is “glory”)

She names the child this because the ark has been lost as well as for the deaths of Eli and his sons.

I doubt this kid ever got picked first for lunch time softball games at school.  Who wants the kid with “no glory”?

:22 The glory has departed


It ain’t over

For this gal, it looks as if the end of the world has come.  And the end of her world has come.  But it’s not the end.
Sometimes we don’t understand why we should go through such tragedy or difficulty.  Hold on.  Let God work.  See what God will do.
I’ve watched people in our church go through tremendous difficulty, and I’ve seen it happen in our own family.
Growing up I watched as my older sister got pregnant out of wedlock and we lived through one difficulty and mess after another.

Forty years later, I look back on those times and see how God has worked to redeem what the enemy meant as evil.

We’ve just finished Genesis in our daily reading and have seen how God used the tragedy of Joseph’s life (being sold as a slave by his jealous brothers) to actually save the entire family. Joseph told his brothers years later …
(Ge 50:20 NKJV) But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive.
Paul wrote,
(2 Co 4:8–18 NKJV) —8 We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed— 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are always delivered to death for Jesus’ sake, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. 12 So then death is working in us, but life in you. 13 And since we have the same spirit of faith, according to what is written, “I believed and therefore I spoke,” we also believe and therefore speak, 14 knowing that He who raised up the Lord Jesus will also raise us up with Jesus, and will present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that grace, having spread through the many, may cause thanksgiving to abound to the glory of God. 16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Even though our outward man is perishing, yet the inward man is being renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory, 18 while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

The real “glory” isn’t gone.  The real “glory” is being formed in heaven as we learn to trust God and move on.

For Israel, it looks as if the “glory” is now gone, but in fact, God is simply cleaning house.  It’s time to turn the page.  It’s time to start a new chapter.  And things aren’t going to be worse, things are going to be better.  Much better.