Summary: Seldom even in Scripture do we meet men who served God all of their lives. But Samuel is such a man. Introduction to a study of the life of Samuel.
A Study of the Life of Samuel
¡§Living a Life of Great Consistency¡¨
Seldom even in Scripture do we meet men who served God all of their lives. But Samuel is such a man. 1 Samuel 2:26, we read of Samuel that he ¡§continued to grow¡K in favor with the Lord and with men.¡¨ From the time that he was just a child until he went home to be with the Lord at a ripe old, he served the Lord. There is no evidence that Samuel experienced the teenage rebellion or that he had a mid-life crisis.
To really understand Samuel we must endeavor to understand the times in which he lived. Samuel was born into a time in the history of his nation in which confusion reigned. Just before Joshua died, Joshua had warned the people and challenged them to ¡§fear the LORD¡¨ and ¡§to serve Him in sincerity and truth¡¨ (Joshua 24:14). Even more specifically he had exhorted them with these words: ¡§and put away the gods which your fathers served on the other side of the River and in Egypt. Serve the LORD! (15) And if it seems evil to you to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell¡K.¡¨
Joshua concluded this very pointed message with a word of personal testimony regarding his own decision: ¡§But as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.¡¨(v. 15b)
Though the children of Israel responded very positively to Joshua¡¦s words and personal example they failed to follow through. Turn with me to Judges chapter two. The good news was that they ¡§served the LORD all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the LORD which He had done for Israel¡¨ (Judges 2:7). The bad news was that after that generation had died out, another generation had come on the scene ¡§who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.¡¨ (Judges 2:10). The phrase describing this generation as those ¡§who did not know the LORD¡¨ has to be understood in the sense not acknowledging him. It was not they were ignorant of God it was that they chose to ignore Him and his word. It is more a case of indifference than one of ignorance.
Four Principles for us today.
1. Every Generation Must Choose God For Themselves
Some of the saddest words in all of scripture are recorded in Judges 2:11, ¡§Then the children of Israel did evil in the sight of the LORD, and served the Baals; (12) and they forsook the LORD God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; and they followed other gods from among the gods of the people who were all around them, and they bowed down to them; and they provoked the LORD to anger. (13) They forsook the LORD and served Baal and the Ashtoreths.¡¨
In only one generation the whole nation had gone from worshipping the one true god to the worship of idols. After Joshua¡¦s death, his generation served God as they said they would but not so their children. This generation was changed by the pagan culture that surrounded them, rather than reaching their pagan culture with the truth. This new generation did not pass on the religious heritage to their children. They did rehearse for their children all that God had done for them, they did not instruct their children in God¡¦s word. In only one generation the children of Israel went from serving and worshipping the one true God to be immersed in the pagan culture around them living lives of open sin. The second generation has a natural tendency to accept the status quo and to lose the vision of the first generation. The second generation has at best has a lukewarmness toward the things of God and perhaps a complete abandonment of the principles that guides the previous generation. All to often the second-generation also has a second hand experience with God.
Every Generation must choose God for themselves and
2. Any Society That Rejects God¡¦s Standards Is Headed For Ruin.
Samuel was born in this period in which confusion reigned. The last verse of the book of Judges is a pretty clear summary of the whole time period: ¡§In those days there was no king in Israel; everyone did what was right in his own eyes.¡¨(21:25). Because Israel had rejected God¡¦s standard; there was no standard. It seems obvious that this also speaks to our day as well. Look how far this nation has fallen in one generation. We have removed God from our schools, we have forbid our children from praying, we have rejected God¡¦s word as a standard for our society.