What made Samuel different?
Different from Eli, whose neck broke soon after his heart. Different from Eli’s sons, who died at the hands of the Philistines, but died really much earlier to the work of the temple.
What was his secret?
Why was Samuel chosen, literally called of God?
I know the answer. It’s a simple one, but it will change your life. Your calling will be fulfilled. Your purpose will be lived out.
Wouldn’t you like to come to the end of your life, and look back on it and say, “I’m happy I lived my life that way!”
Here’s how to do it, and here’s the key to what was so special about Samuel:
He gave God his heart.
“And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.” 4 So the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only,” I Samuel 7:3-4.
You see, these people had been under siege by the Philistines, the same ones who had killed Eli’s sons, the same Philistines who carried the ark away. Now, Eli was dead, his scoundrel sons were gone, and the ark was returned…but now what?
Samuel knew. He knew because his mother had lived that way. He knew because he was a child of promise and a man of purpose. He had the call of God forever resounding in his mind, and he knew what must be done.
Return to God. Do it with your whole heart.
Now, here’s the thing. He said this BEFORE defeating the Philistines.
Maybe there are some Philistines in your life. Oh, you don’t call them Philistines. But, they’re out there. They’re big, and they’re scary, and they’ve defeated you in the past. Maybe it’s addiction. Maybe it’s the sin you just can’t seem to put away. But, you’re ready to go to battle. You’re ready to face your enemy. What do you do?
Well, Samuel did three things:
- He declared his faith. He said that what we have to do it give God our whole hearts.
- He prayed.
- He offered a sacrifice.
He did all of this before facing the Philistines.
” And Samuel cried out to the Lord for Israel, and the Lord answered him. 10 As Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, the Philistines drew near to attack Israel. But the Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines and threw them into confusion, and they were defeated before Israel, ” I Samuel 7:9-10.
The Philistines were defeated, and not just that once. God drove them back the rest of Samuel’s life. He gave them back all the cities that the Philistines had taken.
Now, maybe you’re at the point in your life when the Philistines seem to have taken something from you. Maybe it’s something you cherish. Maybe it’s a son. Maybe it’s a daughter. Maybe it’s like the Israelites – it’s whole cities. It’s big…and they won’t let you alone. They keep coming. What do you do?
Well, you remember the story of Samuel, and you remember what happened when they trusted in God. They won!
Back to Samuel.
Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. Here’s how the chapter ends, “and he built an altar to the Lord.” He didn’t forget where his blessing came from. He didn’t forget his praying mother. And, he didn’t forget this. It’s God that defeats the Philistines.
- Whom do you think Samuel learned his faith from?
- What was Samuel’s situation like growing up?
- What was the situation when Samuel became judge?
- What was the military situation looking like at this time?
- Why did Samuel propose a spiritual solution to a military problem? Was it a military problem?
- Why might he have mislabeled the problem?
- Name some problems/struggles you are having right now. Are they spiritual in nature?
- How does turning to God relate to your problems?
- If you turn to God with your whole heart, will he give you what you want?
- What did Samuel want?
- What do you want?
- Why or why not would God give it to you?
- How is Samuel like David?
- How can we be like Samuel?
- Are we guaranteed the promise?