Judges 21:25. In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes.
This the back drop to the story of Samuel
1. The nature of our world.
There is a battle on between my way and God’s way.
A start reminder of this is Donald Trump’s inauguration dance – "I did it my way."
The nation of Israel were lead by the living God, but even so, the wanted a king. In 1 Samuel 8:19-20 the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations.
Samuel is distressed, because he was their leader. But what does God say. 1 Samuel 8:7
God says, they’ve rejected me as their King, not you!
The same words ring out today – people reject any idea of a God who has a say in their affairs. In Luke we read of the parable Jesus told about the talents, just before he entered Jerusalem – predicting the peoples rejection of him,
Luke 19:14 “we will not have this man reign over us.”
A short while after with similar words, the crowd shouted at Pilot about Jesus –
John 19:15 ...we have no King but Caesar.
Just like then our world rejects Jesus as King.
We of course always remember that we were in that position of rejection yet Jesus came to seek and save people just like us.
2. Bringing up children – First Spiritual Responsibility
1 Sam.2:12. Hophni and Phineas. Eli’s sons, were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord.
These men were depriving the people of God of their portions of the peace offerings, but as if that weren’t enough, they were depriving GOD of HIS portion of the sacrifices as well.
Sleeping with the women who served in the temple.
They wouldn’t listen to Eli.
Samuel’s own sons wouldn’t listen to him. Yet Eli was able to teach Samuel what it meant to listen to God. 1 Samuel 3:7-10
It is not automatic that our children will follow God. They need to be trained to follow.
It’s seems that Eli ignored the wrong doing of his sons until it was too late. Children need boundaries – clear consistent directives of what is right and wrong followed up with consequences for not following.
Even then as they get older children can choose to go their own way. They never cease to be our children though and we need to be persistent in prayer and give encouragement to follow the Lord.
Each person must come to a saving faith of their own, appreciating the gravity of their own sinfulness and the need for a Saviour.
3. Revelation – listening to God
A couple of weeks ago Mark encouraged us to be listening to and hearing from God.
1 Samuel 3:1 In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
From that first experience of listening for God’s voice Samuel learnt what it meant to hear from God. As he served in the temple under the direction of Eli he developed a relationship with his Lord.
Are we hearing from God?
We need to keep up the habit of going to God’s word to hear from him and listen to what he is saying to us. Not only to hear but to act accordingly.
So Samuel gets everyone together and they fasted, confessed their sinfulness.
The Philistines hear this and attack but God defeats them and Samuel makes an altar to worship God and calls it Ebenezer. A stone of help.
Thus far the Lord has helped us. 1 Sam 7:12 Up to this point God has helped us.
Will he help us from now on? Well will we be faithful from now on?
The Ebenezer remembrance objects we have this morning are the emblems here on the table.
We remember how Jesus helped us by shedding his blood to save us. An amazing sacrificial act that was effective when it happened but is continuously effective now and into the future. Yet we also come to the table and renew our commitment to him as we bow again at his feet in gratitude knowing that be will do this only until he comes again but until then we commit to work out our salvation daily with fear and trembling.