OT 49 GOD SPEAKS TO SAMUEL
Romans 6:23, ESV
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
1 SAMUEL 2:12-17, NIrV
12 Eli’s sons were good for nothing. They didn’t honor the Lord. 13 When any of the people came to offer a sacrifice, here is what the priests would do. While the meat was being boiled, the servant of the priest would come with a large fork in his hand. 14 He would stick the fork into the pan or pot or small or large kettle. Then the priest would take for himself everything the fork brought up. That’s how Eli’s sons treated all the Israelites who came to Shiloh. 15 Even before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come over. He would speak to the person who was offering the sacrifice. He would say, “Give the priest some meat to cook. He won’t accept boiled meat from you. He’ll only accept raw meat.”
16 Sometimes the person would say to him, “Let the fat be burned first. Then take what you want.” But the servant would answer, “No. Hand it over right now. If you don’t, I’ll take it away from you by force.”
17 That sin of Eli’s sons was very great in the Lord’s sight. That’s because they were not treating his offering with respect.
In the first chapter of this Bible book, we met Samuel. He was the miracle baby God gave to Hannah. When he no longer needed his mother’s milk, Hannah brought her special son to work at the Tabernacle tent with the high priest, Eli. Here in chapter two, we now meet Eli’s sons. They worked with their dad in the Tabernacle. Did you notice the first thing the Bible says about them? They were “worthless” or “good for nothing.” That may sound harsh, but it was true! Instead of helping people offer sacrifices at the tent, Eli’s bad boys mostly used their job to steal the tastiest meat to eat!
+ What threat did Eli’s sons make if people didn’t follow their sinful rules? (vs. 16)
+ What does vs. 17 say about the sins of Eli’s sons?
1 SAMUEL 2:23-26, NIrV
23 So Eli said to his sons, “Why are you doing these things? All the people are telling me about the evil things you are doing. 24 No, my sons. The report I hear isn’t good. And it’s spreading among the Lord’s people. 25 If a person sins against someone else, God can help that sinner. But if anyone sins against the Lord, who can help them?” In spite of what their father Eli said, his sons didn’t pay any attention to his warning. That’s because the Lord had already decided to put them to death.
26 The boy Samuel continued to grow stronger. He also became more and more pleasing to the Lord and to people.
It broke old Eli’s heart to see the sins of Hophni and Phinehas, his two sons. They used the Tabernacle sacrifices to stuff their bellies with delicious food. And they did evil things with the women who worked with them! Eli warned his boys that they were on a path headed straight for destruction. He said, “If you sin against the Lord, who is going to come to your rescue?” Sadly, Hophni and Phinehas paid as much attention to their dad’s advice as they paid attention to following God’s laws. And the Bible tells us exactly why: God planned to punish these two good-for-nothing priests with death!
+ Why wouldn’t Hophni and Phinehas listen to their dad’s warning? (vs. 25)
+ What does vs. 26 tell us about Samuel?
1 SAMUEL 3:1-5, NIrV
1 The boy Samuel served the Lord under the direction of Eli. In those days the Lord didn’t give many messages to his people. He didn’t give them many visions.
2 One night Eli was lying down in his usual place. His eyes were becoming so weak he couldn’t see very well. 3 Samuel was lying down in the Lord’s house. That’s where the ark of God was kept. The lamp of God was still burning. 4 The Lord called out to Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 He ran over to Eli and said, “Here I am. You called out to me.”
But Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.
Samuel was an ordinary kid with an extraordinary life. He lived, worked, and even slept at the Tabernacle, the special tent where God met with his people. In fact, the holy Ark of the Covenant sat only a few feet away from where young Samuel snoozed! The little priest’s unusual life grew stranger still one night when the Lord called out his name! Just a kid, Samuel had no idea the God of the Universe was calling out to him. “Eli must want something,” he thought. But blind, old Eli didn’t know what was going on either – he just wanted to get back to sleep! So sleepy Eli sent young Sam back to bed.
+ What does verse 1 say about how often God spoke messages to people?
+ Why do you think Samuel didn’t know that it was God who had spoken to him?
1 SAMUEL 3:6-9, NIRV
6 Again the Lord called out, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli. He said, “Here I am. You called out to me.”
“My son,” Eli said, “I didn’t call you. Go back and lie down.”
7 Samuel didn’t know the Lord yet. That’s because the Lord still hadn’t given him a message.
8 The Lord called out for the third time. He said, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli. He said, “Here I am. You called out to me.”
Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down. If someone calls out to you again, say, ‘Speak, Lord. I’m listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Three times, Samuel had woken up to the sound of his name. And each time, the boy rushed over to wake up Eli. After his beauty sleep was interrupted for the third time, the old priest finally solved the mystery – God must be calling Samuel! Since the kid didn’t have a clue about what was going on, Eli gave Samuel some instructions: “If you hear that voice again, just say, ‘Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.’” And so the two of them bundled up back in their beds, the boy listening for God’s voice and the old man wondering what in the world God wanted to say to young Samuel.
+ What does verse 7 tell us about Samuel?
+ How many times did God call out to Samuel before Eli figured things out? (vs. 8)
1 SAMUEL 3:10-14, NIRV
10 The Lord came and stood there. He called out, just as he had done the other times. He said, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel replied, “Speak. I’m listening.”
11 The Lord said to Samuel, “Pay attention! I am about to do something terrible in Israel. It will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will do everything to Eli and his family that I said I would. I will finish what I have started. 13 I told Eli I would punish his family forever. He knew his sons were sinning. He knew they were saying bad things about me. In spite of that, he did not stop them. 14 So I made a promise to the family of Eli. I said, ‘The sins of Eli’s family will never be paid for by bringing sacrifices or offerings.’ ”
Samuel may have been the one who listened to God speak, but the message the Lord gave him was meant for old Eli. And it wasn't a good news message, either. For years, Eli's two worthless, good-for-nothing sons had dishonored God as they sinfully served at the Tabernacle. Eli was both the high priest and their father. It was his job to put a stop to their devilish deeds, but Eli had let Hophni and Phinehas run wild. God didn’t sugar coat his message to Samuel: “I am going to punish the family of Eli forever. And when I do, the ears of everyone who hears about what happened to them will tingle!”
+ Why was God going to punish Eli’s sons? (vs. 13)
+ Do you think Samuel was excited to share God’s message with Eli? Why or why not?
1 SAMUEL 3:15-21, NIRV
15 Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the Lord’s house. He was afraid to tell Eli about the vision he had received. 16 But Eli called out to him. He said, “Samuel, my son.”
Samuel answered, “Here I am.”
17 “What did the Lord say to you?” Eli asked. “Don’t hide from me anything he told you. If you do, may God punish you greatly.” 18 So Samuel told him everything. He didn’t hide anything from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord. Let him do what he thinks is best.”
19 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him. He made everything Samuel said come true. 20 So all the Israelites recognized that Samuel really was a prophet of the Lord. Everyone from Dan all the way to Beersheba knew it. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh. There he made himself known to Samuel through the messages he gave him.
God called out to Samuel four times in the night, but it was Eli who called to the boy in the morning. The old priest was eager to learn what God had to say to the boy. But young Sam wasn’t excited to share the bad news with his boss. Who would want to tell someone, “God’s going to punish your family forever?” But Eli directed the boy to tell the truth, so Samuel spilled the beans: all of it.
Sometimes when a person gets in trouble, even if they know they deserve to be punished, they still whine and moan and scream, “That’s not fair!” But not Eli. After Samuel shared the sad news, the old priest said, “Let God do what he thinks is best.” Eli may have not liked the news, but he knew the Lord God always did what was good and right and fair.
Eli’s sinful sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were priests. Along with their father Eli, it was their job to offer sacrifices at the Tabernacle tent. During a sacrifice, innocent animals were killed and their meat was burned in a fire. Each time this happened, it was a crystal clear reminder that sin (disobeying God’s commands) brought death.
Sadly, while Hophni and Phinehas were supposed to be offering sacrifices for sinners, they were stacking up sins for themselves! They used each animal offering as an opportunity to stuff their bellies with meat. Their sin was so serious, God promised that they would soon wind up just as dead as the animals they ate. In fact, these two bad boys didn’t even survive to the end of the next chapter of 1 Samuel!
God’s midnight message to Samuel shows us that sin is serious business – deadly serious! When Eli warned his sinful sons that they were on the road to destruction, they totally ignored him. You and I shouldn’t make the same mistake!
The Bible book of Romans lets us know that everyone (you and me included) have sinned. And in the Bible book of Matthew, Jesus warns us that sinners are headed for destruction – a forever fiery death outside of God’s good kingdom. That’s bad news!
God didn’t give Samuel any good news to deliver to Eli. But God’s word has great news for sinners like you and me! God sent his only Son into our world to save us from destruction. Jesus was as sinless and innocent as the animals offered by the priests at the Tabernacle. By dying on a cross, Jesus became the perfect sacrifice for our sins. By giving his life, he paid the price of death for you and me. And with his Son-of-God power, he came back to life on the third day!
Like Hophni and Phinehas, sinners like you and me are on the road to destruction. But we don’t have to end up like they did. If we believe the good news of Jesus, our date with death will instead lead us to forever life in God’s good kingdom!
+ How did Samuel feel about sharing God’s message with Eli? (vs. 15)
+ What do vs. 19-21 tell us about Samuel as he grew up?