Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Why Should I Study I Samuel?

The book of I Samuel is one that marks a great change in the history of Israel as a nation. This book is probably known for many of its significant events and thus fairly well studied. One might assume though that being a book of the Old Testament though does hurt how often this book is studied by many who might view the Old Testament as of little to no importance. Despite this thought by many, I Samuel proves over and over again to be a book of the Bible that needs to be studied still in this present time.

Early in this chapter, the Ark of the Covenant is taken by the Philistines. When the Jews could not overcome these people in battle, the sons of Eli decided to take the Ark into battle believing that it would give them the ability to win. In doing this though, they put their trust in something other than God, leaving the Father out of their mind. The Ark was a sign of God’s covenant with the people, and important for sure, but without God it meant nothing. Many today will put their trust in things other than God, such as money, jobs, family, etc., and sometimes even in spiritual things such as obedience, the church or the Bible while forgetting the source of all things, God. What was the result of the battle? The Israelites lost and the Ark was taken away from them. Not only that, the sons of Eli died, Eli died when he heard the news and his daughter-in-law went into labor from shock and died. Tragic consequences occur when one fails to trust in God and puts more trust in anything else than God, even if it is God given. Whether on a national or individual level, a trust in God is the foundation for stability.

Another big event in the book of I Samuel is the people’s desire for a king. Taking note that the surrounding nations had kings to rule over them, the Israelites too desired a king to rule over them. At the end of Deuteronomy, God used Moses to describe the events that would occur if they decided to place a king over them. The results were not good either. In their time of desire, God warned them once again through Samuel of what would occur with having a king. Despite this warning, the people wanted a king. Samuel, feeling rejected, was reminded by God that he was not rejected, but God was rejected. As one continues through Hebrew history, he sees the prophecy of Moses fulfilled. What should we take from this? First, we must remember to heed the warnings of God. If God says something will be the result of a specific action, we must believe Him. Second, we must remember that simply because the world does something, does not make it compatible with godliness, or that it will work with His goodness. Many might go to the world looking for ideas of how to bring others to Christ. Many ideas might be good, and might fit within the authority we have from God, but let us test all things before God’s will before implementing them and be willing to give them up if they go against Him.

This book also gives a picture of the result of parenting. Hannah dedicated her son’s life to that of serving God. As one watches Samuel grow, he sees the fidelity to the relationship between God and Samuel. In contrast, both the sons of Eli and Samuel grew into wicked men who perverted their duties to God to serve their own bellies. We do not know what happened, but at least with Eli we are specifically told that it was his fault they ended up that way. The role of a parent is essential in cultivating godliness in a growing child (Deut 6).

I Samuel, like any book of the Bible, is a book that should not be overlooked. It paints the depressing picture of a nation that is slowly departing from God’s plan for them. Instead of being as God wanted them to be, the nation followed after other nations. Indeed this is a lesson that needs to be studied.

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