Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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Speak Lord, for your servant hears. 1/15/2012
Today is the first Sunday after the Epiphany. Epiphany, which traditionally falls on 6 January, is a Christian feast day that celebrates the revelation of God the Son as a human being in Jesus Christ. Western Christians commemorate principally (but not solely) the visitation of the Biblical Magi to the Baby Jesus, and thus Jesus' physical manifestation to the Gentiles.

Our text today is from 1 Samuel 3. We could outline this chapter in the following manner.

God calls Samuel

Samuel answers the Lord's Call

Samuel delivers the Lord's Message


Samuel was young boy when the voice of the Lord began to call unto him while he was yet ministering to the Lord under the man of God, Eli. Samuel answered to the voice with "Here am I" and ran to Eli, but was told by Eli that he had not called Samuel. Again the voice came forth and Samuel again went to Eli, but was told to go lay down for he had not called him. After the third time, Eli perceived that it was the Lord who had called the child and this time gave instruction to Samuel that if he hears the voice again, he should answer by saying, "Speak, Lord, for your servant hears."

The Lord called Samuel the fourth time, Samuel answered with the words, "Speak, Lord, for you servant hears," but that which the Lord told unto Samuel was a very grievious message and fear came upon him as a result. Neverthelss, when he was called upon to speak of that which the Lord had revealed unto him, he did so.

May we through hearing of the Lord's calling of Samuel be given insight and instruction as to how He yet reveals Himself today, calls us to Himself through the voice of His Word and Spirit for the purpose that we would be His mouthpiece in our world today.

Young Samuel grew up in a Jewish home, was the child of his mother who prayed fervently to the Lord, with the promise that given a son, she would give him unto the Lord. (1 Sameul 1:11) The Lord heard her prayer and in time she bore her son, naming him Samuel, because "she had asked for him from the Lord." She fulfilled her vow by bringing her son to the Lord to be trained in the house of the Lord in Shiloh, (place of rest)

The mother of Samuel reveals her understanding of the Lord in her prayer in chapter two of this book. We will place that prayer here, for it is a significant part of the beginnings of the ministry of Samuel, the first prophet after the long line

KJV 1 Samuel 2:1 And Hannah prayed, and said, My heart rejoiceth in the LORD, mine horn is exalted in the LORD: my mouth is enlarged over mine enemies; because I rejoice in thy salvation.
2 There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.
3 Talk no more so exceeding proudly; let not arrogancy come out of your mouth: for the LORD is a God of knowledge, and by him actions are weighed.
4 The bows of the mighty men are broken, and they that stumbled are girded with strength.
5 They that were full have hired out themselves for bread; and they that were hungry ceased: so that the barren hath born seven; and she that hath many children is waxed feeble.
6 The LORD killeth, and maketh alive: he bringeth down to the grave, and bringeth up.
7 The LORD maketh poor, and maketh rich: he bringeth low, and lifteth up.
8 He raiseth up the poor out of the dust, and lifteth up the beggar from the dunghill, to set them among princes, and to make them inherit the throne of glory: for the pillars of the earth are the LORD'S, and he hath set the world upon them.
9 He will keep the feet of his saints, and the wicked shall be silent in darkness; for by strength shall no man prevail.
10 The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.

Hannah knew the Lord, she believed in the Lord and she trusted the Lord above everything else. This is the environment that her son was raised in. As he ministered in the house of the Lord, it was in the midst of the evil worship practices of Eli's sons, Hophni and Phineas. We see what the writers says about the contrasting ministries of the two and of Samuel.

" Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.
18 But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded with a linen ephod." (2:17-18)

22 Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation.
23 And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your evil dealings by all this people.
24 Nay, my sons; for it is no good report that I hear: ye make the LORD'S people to transgress.
25 If one man sin against another, the judge shall judge him: but if a man sin against the LORD, who shall intreat for him? Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because the LORD would slay them.
26 And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the LORD, and also with men.
(2:22-26)

In the last part of chapter two, the following words are spoken to Eli by an unnamed man of God.

1 Samuel 2:27Thus saith the LORD, Did I plainly appear unto the house of thy father, when they were in Egypt in Pharaoh's house?
28 And did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to offer upon mine altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? and did I give unto the house of thy father all the offerings made by fire of the children of Israel?
29 Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?
30 Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
31 Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.
32 And thou shalt see an enemy in my habitation, in all the wealth which God shall give Israel: and there shall not be an old man in thine house for ever.
33 And the man of thine, whom I shall not cut off from mine altar, shall be to consume thine eyes, and to grieve thine heart: and all the increase of thine house shall die in the flower of their age.
34 And this shall be a sign unto thee, that shall come upon thy two sons, on Hophni and Phinehas; in one day they shall die both of them.
35 And I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and he shall walk before mine anointed for ever.
36 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left in thine house shall come and crouch to him for a piece of silver and a morsel of bread, and shall say, Put me, I pray thee, into one of the priests' offices, that I may eat a piece of bread.


In these verses we are given insight into the failings of the ministry that Eli was overseeing and for which he bore responsibility. Like so often occurs in messages from the Lord, that which the Lord has done for his people is first explained, and then the question is asked: "Why are you doing what you are doing?" We are reminded of one of this similar instances in the book of Isaiah, chapter five.

Isaiah 5:1 Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill:
2 And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes.
3 And now, O inhabitants of Jerusalem, and men of Judah, judge, I pray you, betwixt me and my vineyard.
4 What could have been done more to my vineyard, that I have not done in it? wherefore, when I looked that it should bring forth grapes, brought it forth wild grapes?
5 And now go to; I will tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will take away the hedge thereof, and it shall be eaten up; and break down the wall thereof, and it shall be trodden down:
6 And I will lay it waste: it shall not be pruned, nor digged; but there shall come up briers and thorns: I will also command the clouds that they rain no rain upon it.
7 For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.

Here we see the same pattern that is found in our text today. First we read of that which God has done, then the question as to why the people have gone their own way and of the judgment that will come upon them if they continue in that pathway. Here we see a picture of the heart of God, for He is longsuffering with his people/us, not willing that anyone should perish, but that all would come to repentance and faith. In our text it is clear as to why the judgment has been spoken of and of that which is coming unless Eli repents. He is speaking to Eli here, and not his sons, Hophni and Phineas.

1:29 Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?
30 Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.
31 Behold, the days come, that I will cut off thine arm, and the arm of thy father's house, that there shall not be an old man in thine house.

This is the situation that we find the child Samuel ministering unto the Lord before Eli, in a day when the word of the Lord was precious/rare and divine revelations were quite uncommon. In this backdrop the Lord began to call His mouthpiece through calling him in the night. Verse seven gives a little insight as to why it was difficult for Samuel to know that it was the Lord calling to him.

KJV 1 Samuel 3:7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him.

After thinking three times that it was Eli calling him, Samuel at the instruction of Eli answered the Lord the fourth time with the words: "Speak Lord, for you servant hears."

The young lad was then given a message from the Lord which is as follows:

1 Semuel 3:11 And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle.(quiver)
12 In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end.
13 For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not.
14 And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever.

Now the Lord revealed to Samuel the same message that He earlier had told unto Eli. How did Samuel respond to this? What must have been the thoughts of Eli, who must have known that the Lord had revealed something of divine knowledge to Samuel? Let us read on.

KJV 1 Samuel 3:15 And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the LORD. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.
16 Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I.
17 And he said, What is the thing that the LORD hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee.
18 And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the LORD: let him do what seemeth him good.

Apparently Samuel must have had difficulty sleeping since it is written that he feared to show the vision to Eli. After Eli asked Samuel to tell him what the Lord had said to him in the night, Samuel told him exactly what the Lord had revealed to him. At which Eli responded with the words: "It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good."

Whenever we read biblical history, we time and time again find ourselves identifying with the principle characters in the story. In this text we mainly get acquainted with Samuel's mother, Eli the man of God in the house of the Lord, Samuel and Hophni and Phineas and of course, the main one in the story, Samuel.

Within these stories we see the examples such as Hannah and Samuel who give us insight and direction as to what it is to follow the paths of righteousness for the sake of the Lord's name. Through the blessing of a godly mother and through the training that he received from Eli in the house of the Lord.

We are also given negative examples which warn us of the path that leads to judgment and destruction. Through both the positive examples and the negative examples before us in this account, we are counseled, rebuked, challenged and comforted as we live our lives in this fallen world. There are many things to consider in this story today, so may the Holy Spirit enlighten us by His grace to allow the Word to have free course in our hearts as we consider the beginnings of the life of the Prophet Samuel. He was raised up to be a servant of the Lord, one who the Lord desired to speak that which the Lord called upon him to speak. He did so and as one follows the course of his life one can see that he never wavered from speaking that which the Lord instructed him to speak.

Eli, on the other hand, was a man of God who served in the house of the Lord, but due to not being able to recognize and acknowledge his sin of favoring his family over the Word of the Lord came to an abrupt end as he fell out of his chariot. (1 Samuel 4:18) He was given the opportunity to repent on at least two occasions, (2:27; 3:18), but did not do so.

Today we live in the New Testament era in which Christ has come into the world, made atonement for the sins of the world, and is set at the right hand of our Father, from whence He shall come to judge the living and the dead. The judgment unto repentance was foreshadowed in the lives of those who lived in the Old Testament period, who lived in the hope of the Promise of Christ the Messiah. They were pointed to Christ through the visible means and structures in the sacrificial system of atonement which eventually found their fulfillment in the incarnational/fleshly appearing of the Son of God on earth.

Judgment is nearly always an invitation to turn from oneself unto the Lord within both the Old and New Testament. Christ has suffered the judgment for sin on our behalf and by grace through faith we are living in freedom from both the guilt of sin as well as the power of sin. The judgments for disobedience to the Word of the Lord are given so that we would return to the Lord and not have to experience judgment for our sin for all eternity. He has born the judgment for all.

Those who rejected and despised the sacrifices that the Lord had ordained and instituted were rejecting and despising the revelation that was to come through Christ. Similar words that the man of God told Eli concerning this matter can be seen in the New Testament also. Consider these verses:

KJV 1 Samuel 2:30 Wherefore the LORD God of Israel saith, I said indeed that thy house, and the house of thy father, should walk before me for ever: but now the LORD saith, Be it far from me; for them that honour me I will honour, and they that despise me shall be lightly esteemed.

KJV John 5:23 That all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent him.

May the godly examples of Hannah and her son Samuel direct us and inspire us today as we go forward into the future in a world that lives a lot like Eli and his two sons. May we take the words of the Hebrew writer as encouragement and instruction today:

KJV Hebrews 12:1 Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.

May the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be upon you this day and forever!

Pastor Orval Wirkkala




Posted on 15 Jan 2012 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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