Saturday, June 23, 2018

Time and Attention


Note: Set the stage with the account of Hannah praying to have a son after being barren for so many years. She promised God that she would dedicate her firstborn to Him and, “lend Him to the Lord”, as she put it, “all the days of his life.” Hannah conceived and bore a son she named Samuel. She raised Samuel with her commitment and with his purpose in mind. She wanted him to know that he had a special calling on his life. When he was weaned and old enough to serve, perhaps 8 to 12 years old, Hannah took Samuel to Eli, the high priest of the Israelites, who attended the Ark of the Covenant at the Tabernacle of the Lord in Shiloh. There she left her son to serve the Lord under the guidance of Eli the priest.

I encourage you to read the full account of these things in 1 Samuel, chapters 1 & 2. By the time the account gets to the point of our text for this morning, in Chapter 3, Samuel is thought to be about 12 years old. Let’s begin with verse one and I’ll make commentary all along the way and bring us to the points God wants us to ponder for our lives this morning.

As we survey our text today, let’s endeavor to remember two important principles:
1.  The story of Samuel was not written, preserved and handed down to us as a mere history lesson. This record is given to us as a road map for our lives and as such We will all be able to see ourselves somewhere in this account.
2.  As is always the case when we hear the Word of God, today’s lesson is intended to be about you, not about your best friends or worst enemies. So, continue to ask yourself the question, “How does this apply to me … and what should I do about it?”

1 Samuel 3 NKJV
1 ¶  Then the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.

I’ve studied to see what the duties of young ministers in training were in those days. From about the age of 12 to the age of 20, Samuel’s ministerial duties most likely included waiting on the old priest as little more than a servant or a slave would. Eli had two older sons who took complete charge of the things thought to be more spiritual such as sacrifices and services. Samuel's ministry would have been limited to such things as:
·        Opening the doors of the Tabernacle and waking Eli each morning
·        Extinguishing the night lamps
·        Maybe he was allowed to attend morning prayers and then clean up
o   Sweeping the floors
o   Taking out the trash
·        Filling the buckets of coal for the altars
·        Filling the buckets of water for the laver
·        Filling the horns of oil for the ministry
·        Making and baking the bread for the table of the Lord
·        Welcoming the visitors and guests to the tabernacle
·        Noontime prayers
·        Serving and assisting the elderly Priest Eli during his daily duties
·        Attending services
·        Playing of musical instruments – harp; lyre; cymbals …
·        Singing praises to God during the services
·        Filling and lighting the lamps each evening
·        Evening Prayers
·        Cleaning up after the days sacrifices
·        Closing the doors and locking up for the night

Samuel was the usher, greeter, singer, musician, janitor, night watchman, altar boy, maintenance man, baby sitter and all-around servant of the house. Although Samuel’s linage was originally founded in the tribe of Levi, this branch of the family had moved away from ministry in times past and were not considered a part of the current holy priesthood of Israel.

2  And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see,

Eli was old and had poor eyesight. He needed someone to help him …

3  and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the LORD where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down,
4  that the LORD called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!”

This was evidently in the very early morning hours … Samuel heard a voice. He didn’t know it was the Lord … He thought it was Eli.

5  So he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” And he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” And he went and lay down.

It was reasonable for Samuel to believe Eli had called him. The Bible tells us that Eli was a very large man and he was old and near blind. Perhaps he needed help getting up in the nighttime or wanted a drink of water.

6  Then the LORD called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” He answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.”
7  (Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him.)

Samuel was serving in the House of God and close to the priest of God but yet he himself did not know God. Samuel knew about God but did not have a personal revelation of God’s Word … He did not know the Lord.

8  And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. Then he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD had called the boy.
9  Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

Acknowledging the Lord and His call on your life or His voice to you in the nighttime is critical. Job 33 says that God speaks yet man does not know it.

10  Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”
11 ¶  Then the LORD said …

Eli and his sons were in disfavor with God and yet Samuel was called by God to serve them anyway. God often uses people who aren’t perfect and those with problems to open doors for us. God is not afraid of sinners and He will use people who are not right with Him to help those who are. Nonetheless, God waited to speak to Samuel until Samuel was ready to listen.

If God can use a donkey to speak to His prophets, (Balaam in Numbers 22), then He can certainly use some of our friends, and perhaps even our enemies, to speak to us as well. As I said, God is not afraid of sinners.

So, what are some things we can learn from this account today?

1.   If you want to be great in God’s Kingdom, you have to be the servant of all.
o   Not just serving the right and the righteous … but we must serve without respect of persons.
o   If you are faithful in that which belongs to another man, God will give you that which is your own.
o   If we are unwilling to serve sinners, whom will we ever win to Christ.
o   Our light is meant to shine in darkness, not in greater lights.
o   God positioned Samuel in the perfect place to hear His voice … it was a place of service in the House of God.
2.   Knowing about God and knowing God are two different things.
a.   Sitting in Church won’t make you a Christian anymore than sitting in a garage will make you a car. (John Osteen)
b.   Every person must have a personal relationship with God through the LORD … the same LORD who came and stood beside a young boy named Samuel and called out his name.
c.   The Church is not a refrigerator to preserve the things God has done but rather an incubator to hatch the things He yet wants to do.
d.   We must know God … and not just know about Him.
e.   More than knowing what He said and did in times past, we should hear what He is saying and know what He is doing today.
f.    God is a God of the right now.
3.   God does not have a problem speaking … it is we who have a problem hearing.
o   Give God your time and attention and you will hear His voice.

Remember: This word applies to you today. Where do you see yourself in this Bible account? You were also born with a purpose. God has been standing beside you and calling your name. Do you know Him or just know about Him? Give God your time and attention … you will hear His voice.

Close …