Posts Tagged ‘I Samuel’

Our Memorials

And as Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to battle against Israel: but the LORD thundered with a great thunder on that day upon the Philistines, and discomfited them; and they were smitten before Israel.  And the men of Israel went out of Mizpeh, and pursued the Philistines, and smote them, until they came under Bethcar.  Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.

I Samuel 7:10-12

Today is Memorial Day, a day in which we honor those who made a sacrifice for us and for our freedom.  It is important to remember those who gave something, whether it was their life or even just time and discomfort, so that we might be free.  Today, as every day, we would also like to remember the One who gave the ultimate sacrifice.  He died that we might live.

A memorial is simply something that we set up to help us remember a person or an event that we want to remember.  In these verses in I Samuel, the Lord has just given the Israelites a great victory over the Philistines.  In verse 12, Samuel sets up a stone for a memorial and calls is Ebenezer, which means “Hitherto hath the LORD helped us.”  We could all use some “Ebenezers” in our lives.  I don’t know most of people who read this blog personally, but whoever you are, I know that you can say “the Lord has helped me.” 

We know that the Lord has helped us, but sometimes in the hustle and bustle of life, we tend to forget.  We need some memorials in our lives to the goodness and mercy of the Lord.  So, today, let us stop and remember all that the Lord has done for us.  And let us humbly thank Him and ask that He would help us never forget that we have life (spiritual and physical) only because of Him.


Then Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpeh and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us.

I Samuel 7:12

A Christmas Carol is what generally comes to mind when I hear the name “Ebenezer”.  Old grouchy Ebenezer Scrooge has, I think, ruined the name “Ebenezer” for several generations.  You don’t see many little Ebenezer’s running around.  The only other time I run across the name “Ebenezer” is when I sing one of my favorite hymns, “Come, Thou Fount”.  In it, one of the verses says “Here I raise mine Ebenezer, Hither by thy help I’m come.”  It sounds good, but until today, I really didn’t know exactly what it meant. 

“Here I raise mine Ebenezer” comes from this verse in I Samuel.  The name “Ebenezer” is Hebrew and means “The stone of help”.  It really is a great name!

Samuel put up (raised) a stone and called it Ebenezer because, as the end of the verse says, “Hitherto hath the Lord helped us”.  He put the stone there for a memorial to the fact that the Lord had helped them to that point.  It would remind the Israelites that they had not done things on their own, but were completely indebted to the Lord for all that they had and all that they had overcome.

We should, as the hymn says, be raising some “Ebenezers” in our own lives.  We should recognize that it has indeed been the Lord who has helped us.  We should remember that everything we have and everything we are is all because of Him.  He has brought us this far, and He will take us the rest of the way, too.

Here I raise MY Ebenezer.  He has been my “stone of help”.  I will try to remember that and honor Him for that all of my days.

Distressed, Debtors, and Discontented

David therefore departed thence, and escaped to the cave Adullam: and when his brethren and all his father’s house heard it, they went down thither to him.  And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men.

I Samuel 22:1-2

As I was reading this, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus pictured in verse 2.  The people who were in distress and in debt and discontented gathered themselves to David.  They came and found him in a cave and stayed with him.  It also tells us that he became a captain to them.  These are not men who one would normally think of as being “an army” or “a regiment”.  These were the outcasts of society.  These were not the great men of valour or strength and they were not the rich and powerful men of the day.  They were drifters and debtors and discontented men.  But they saw something in David that drew them.  Maybe no one else would take them in.  Maybe no one else cared about them.  But David became their Captain.

In the same way, the Lord Jesus Christ came to “seek and to save that which was lost”.  He didn’t come to help the people who didn’t want Him and who didn’t think they needed Him.  He came to save and to help sinners.  He came to help those who owed a debt a sin that they knew they could not pay.  He came to help the distressed and the downtrodden.  He attracted the same type of people that David did in this verse.  And He became a Captain to them.  What a great parallel and what a great encouragement to come to Him and join ourselves to Him!

Teaching People the Good and Right Way

Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way:  Only fear the Lord, and serve him in truth with all you heart: for consider how great things he hath done for you.  But if ye shall still do wickedly, ye shall be consumed,  both ye and your king.

I Samuel 12:23-25

If we are Christians, we should be striving to “teach people the good and right way”.  If we have found that way ourselves, we owe it to the world around us to try to teach them the same way.  Samuel here says that he is going to teach the people the good and right way.  And his instruction comes down to two simple points:

1. Fear the Lord
-Proverbs says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of both knowledge and wisdom.  If we have a proper fear of the Lord, the other things in our lives are going to start falling into place.  If we fear Him, we are going to want to follow Him.  If we fear Him, we are not going to want to sin against Him.

2. Serve Him in truth with all your heart.
-Our service to the Lord will naturally flow out of a healthy fear of Him.  Those are the two key components of “the good and right way”.  Fearing Him and serving Him.  Are we doing both today?  If we are not doing both, two remedies are also found in this verse: 1) We need to remember what the Lord has done for us.  Remembering His sacrifice for us and Him mercy and grace to us should help us to fear Him and serve Him.  and 2) If we do wickedly, we will be consumed.  If remembering His goodness doesn’t drive us to repentance and obedience, remembering His holiness and His judgement of sin will bring us to Him.

Fear Him and serve Him.  Are we doing those things and walking in the good and right way?

Sinning by Ceasing to Pray

Moreover as for me, God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you: but I will teach you the good and the right way.

I Samuel 12:23

The people of Israel had rejected God as their king and had clamoured for an earthly king.  In I Samuel 12, God was in the process of giving them the king for whom they had asked.  They realized their mistake in verse 19, when they asked Samuel to pray for them because “we have added unto all our sins this evil, to ask us a king”.  Samuel tells them to “Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord”.  Then he tells the people that the Lord will not forsake them.

He adds in verse 23 that he was not going to “sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you”.  That is an interesting thought.  If anyone did not “deserve” to be prayed for, it was the Israelites, who had just rejected the Lord.  But Samuel said that it would be sin for him to stop praying for them.  In the same manner, it is sin for us to “cease praying for you”.  The “you” in this case being whoever it is that we are supposed to be praying for.  If there is a person in your life that seems “beyond” prayer, that is a person that you should definitely be praying ever harder for.  No matter what the situation, it is never right to stop praying for someone.  Sometimes it is tempting to just “forget about it” when someone seems absolutely bent on destroying themselves.  But, we should remember that, during the times of our lives when we without the Lord and when we were not the Christians we should have been, someone was praying for us. 

Never stop praying for each other.  You never know who desperately needs it.

For His Great Name’s Sake

For the Lord will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people.

I Samuel 12:22

We know that the Bible says that the Lord will “never leave us nor forsake us”.  But sometimes I think that we might get the idea that He isn’t going to forsake us because we are good people.  Sometimes we might get the idea that He isn’t going to forsake us because we are indispensable to His work.  But that isn’t accurate.  Thinking things like that are just different forms of our old, stubborn pride.

The truth is that the Lord is not going to forsake us for “his great name’s sake”.  It is for His own sake that He won’t forsake us.  After the sacrifice he made on Calvary for us, He would be doing a disservice to Himself by forsaking us.  He bought us with His own blood.  He redeemed us.  He is not going to forsake us.  But it won’t be for anything great that we have done.  It will be because not forsaking us will bring honor to His great name!  We should thank Him every day that “it hath pleased the Lord to make you his people”!

Moving Forward

And all the people said unto Samuel, Pray for thy servants unto the Lord thy God, that we die not: for we have added unto all our sins that evil, to ask us a king.  And Samuel said unto the people, Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart; And turn ye not aside…

I Samuel 12:19-21a

In I Samuel 12, the people of Israel have demanded that the Lord give them an earthly king like the rest of the nations.  They rejected Him as their king and wanted a human ruler to rule over them.  The Lord gives them a king, but wants them to understand just what an earthly king is going to do to them.  Samuel speaks to them in chapter 12 and they decide that asking for a king was a bad idea and they want Samuel to pray for them because, in addition to all of their other sins, they have rejected God as their king.

Samuel says something interesting in verse 20: “Fear not: ye have done all this wickedness: yet turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart.”  The people had sinned and they had done all kinds of wickedness.  Yet when they asked for forgiveness, not only was it granted, but they were given instructions on how to keep it from happening again.  What a wonderfully merciful God we serve.

Sometimes we have a tendency to allow past wickedness and sin to keep us from serving and following the Lord.  As Samuel said, “ye have done all this wickedness”.  We are sinners and all of us have done wickedly.  But that is not to keep us from Him.  Instead of blindly continuing on in our wickedness, we are to come to Him, get forgiveness and follow Him!  I John 1:9 still says that if we will confess our sins “He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins”. 

Sin is a terrible thing; when we sin, we must repent and turn back to the Lord, humbly begging for forgiveness and mercy.  But once He has forgiven us, we are to move forward following Him.  As Samuel said, we are to “turn not aside from following the Lord, but serve the Lord with all your heart”.  In light of His mercy to us in forgiving our sins, how can we not want to follow Him and serve Him with all of our hearts?  Psalm 130:4 says “But there is forgiveness with thee…”  How can we not serve and love the One who has forgiven us and made us clean?

Our past sins should drive us to Christ for mercy, not keep us from following and serving Him!

Jonathan’s Faith

And Jonathan said to the young man that bare his armour, Come, and let us go over unto the garrison of these uncircumcised: it may be that the Lord will work for us: for there is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few.

I Samuel 14:6

Three wonderful phrases jump out to me from this verse, and from them comes one great truth about the what can happen when one man has faith. 

The first phrase is “Come, and let us go over…”.  Jonathan had faith.  He was prepared to go up against an entire garrison of Philistines with just his armour bearer.  He didn’t say that he was thinking about going up and he didn’t say that he might go up.  He said “Come, and let us go”.  That should be our attitude for the Lord.  When the Lord puts something in our hearts, we should just do it. 

The second phrase is “It may be that the Lord will work for us…”.  Jonathan realized that it was the Lord who could and would give the victory.  And he realized that the Lord couldn’t work for him if he didn’t go up.  He understood that he wasn’t going to win a great victory for the Lord if he was sitting in the camp.  In the same manner, we aren’t going to do anything great for the Lord if we never get off our couches.  The motto of the great missionary, William Carey, was “Expect great things from God.  Attempt great things for God”.  We aren’t going to get “big” prayers answered if we don’t pray them.  We aren’t going to see people come to Christ if we don’t try to bring them to Him.  We have to go!

The third phrase is “There is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few”.  Jonathan understood that with the Lord, he alone could easily defeat any number of Philistines.  And he understood that without the Lord, all the warriors in the world wouldn’t be able to defeat even a single Philistine.  He knew that it was entirely the Lord that would give the victory.  “There is no restraint to the Lord to save by many or by few”.  The Lord knows none of the restraints that we do.  When something seems to big and daunting for us to handle, it is.  But it is not too big and daunting for the Lord to handle!

What kind of work for the Lord would get done if we had the faith that Jonathan had?

A Band of Men

And Saul also went home to Gibeah; and there went with him a band of men, whose hearts God had touched.  But the children of Belial said, How shall this man save us?  And they despised him, and brought him no presents.  But he held his peace.

I Samuel 10:26-27

These verses made me think of the way we treat authorities who have been put in our lives by God, especially pastors.  God had chosen Saul as king and Samuel had announced this to all of the people in verse 24, “see ye whom the Lord hath chosen”.  God chose Saul.  Samuel announced to the people that God had chosen Saul.  And then we arrive in verse 26.

Saul went home, but along with him went “a band of men, whose hearts God had touched”.  This band of men followed the man God had chosen to lead them.  God touched their hearts and they were willing to help Saul.  Saul wasn’t perfect and neither are any of us, our pastors included.  But they are the ones that God has chosen to lead us. 

The “band of men whose hearts God had touched” in verse 26 are set in contrast with the “children of Belial” in verse 27.  These men questioned both Saul and God.  They said “how shall this man save us?”.  Saul wasn’t going to save anybody,  God was going to save them.  It also says that they despised him.  How often have we despised someone who has been put in a position of authority over us? 

Let us look up to our pastors and preachers whom God has given us and be thankful for them.  Let us be counted with the “band of men (or women) whose hearts God had touched”.  Let us support and encourage those people God has brought into our lives to help us.

The Precious Word

And the child Samueal ministered unto the Lord before Eli.  And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

I Samuel 3:1

In the days of Samuel, the word of the Lord was precious because there was no open vision.  Imagine not having the word of the Lord.  Imagine living in a place or a time where there is no Bible.  Imagine trying to live a Christian life on tiny scraps of the word of the Lord that you had heard from someone else.  Imagine not having the Bible.  The word of the Lord would be very precious.

Fortunately, we do have the Bible.  The word of the Lord is available to us.  We can have as many Bibles as we want.  I was at the Dollar Store the other day and noticed that even they had Bibles.  Not only did they have inexpensive Bibles, they had inexpensive Bibles on CD.  We can have a Bible in our hands, we can read the Bible on the internet, we can listen to the Bible on a CD and we can download the Bible and listen to it anywhere.  The word of the Lord is not rare and scarce like it was in the days of Samuel.  But, in light of the abundant availability of the Bible to us, one question remains: how precious is it to us?  Is it precious to us?  Do we love it and cherish it or does it sit on the bookshelf unread and collecting dust?  How precious is it to us?  Let us be thankful for His Word and let us never forget just how precious of a gift it is.  People of all ages and places have not always had the same access to the Word of the Lord that we have had.