Today we begin new message series entitled “Prophetic Living.” We’re going to be looking at the life of Samuel, the prophet. Samuel lived in a time in Israel that was a spiritually barren and chaotic in many ways. Before Samuel was the time of the Judges, where everyone did as they saw fit in their own eyes, rather than following the ways of God. Samuel was the prophet, raised up by God, to ultimately anoint the first kings of Israel.
1 Samuel 3:1b (ESV) And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.
Because of the lack of people seeking the Lord, they were not hearing from the Lord. And prophets were not seeing visions from the Lord. Eli was the high priest, but he was growing old and his eyes were dim. Even more telling was the condition of Eli’s sons, who served in the temple.
1 Samuel 2:12 (ESV) Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the LORD.
Eli’s sons treated the laws regarding the handling of sacrifices with contempt. They brazenly slept with the women who served in the temple. The nation was in a downward spiral, similar to what is happening in America today. Yet God was still sovereign, He was still working and in difficult circumstances, He raised up the prophet Samuel to serve Him in such a time.
Today, our message is entitled “God’s Call.” We’re going to see how God called Samuel and taught him to hear His voice. As Samuel was called to be a prophet, let’s think for a minute about what a prophet does. First of all, a prophet has to hear God speak to him, he must learn to hear the voice of the Lord. Secondly, the prophet must ben speak God’s words to those God directs him to. In the nation of Israel, Moses was the first great prophet and leader of Israel.
Numbers 11:29b (ESV) But Moses said to him ,“… Would that all the LORD’s people were prophets, that the LORD would put his Spirit on them!”
In the Old Testament, God raised up select prophets to minister to Israel. Yet God’s desire, as prophesied by Moses was that all believers should prophesy. Moses’ prophesy began to be fulfilled on the day of Pentecost when all the believers were baptized in the Holy Spirit and began to prophesy as they spoke in tongues. Peter quoted the prophet Joel in Acts to describe what was happening.
Acts 2:17-18 (ESV) “‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.
Paul in his teaching on spiritual gifts says that all believers, baptized in the Spirit are able to prophesy.
1 Corinthians 14:31-32 (ESV) For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets.
As we read through the New Testament, we see New Testament prophets operating in all the churches of the Lord.
So, no matter what life stage you are in, no matter what your job may be today. If you’re a believer, God wants to speak to you and He desires for you to speak His Word to others, to be His mouthpiece, His prophet in a dark world. When we speak God’s Word to unbelievers through spiritual gifts, it is witnessing. When we speak God’s Word to believers through spiritual gifts, it is for encouragement and edification. So, as we go through this series on Samuel, we’re going to learn about growing in the prophetic and about God’s special plan for each of our lives. So let’s begin by looking at Samuel’s mother, Hannah and the …
Our story begins in 1 Samuel with a man named Elkanah, who was a worshipper of the Lord, but also had two wives, Peninnah and Hannah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none and Peninnah constantly irritated Hannah. This marriage with two wives was certainly not God’s will, but God is still sovereign in all circumstances.
1 Samuel 1:5 (ESV) But to Hannah he [Elkanah] gave a double portion, because he loved her, though the LORD had closed her womb.
Here we learn that the Lord was active in Hannah’s life and He was the one who had closed her womb. It was not just a coincidence. Yet Hannah wanted a son and over the years she learned to …
On one of the trips of the family to worship the Lord in the temple, we learn more about Hannah’s prayer
1 Samuel 1:10-11 (ESV) She was deeply distressed and prayed to the LORD and wept bitterly. And she vowed a vow and said, “O LORD of hosts, if you will indeed look on the affliction of your servant and remember me and not forget your servant, but will give to your servant a son, then I will give him to the LORD all the days of his life, and no razor shall touch his head.”
Hannah didn’t give up on having a son, but prayed for the Lord to grant her desire for a son. She called herself the Lord’s servant multiple times and vowed to give back her son to the Lord. She vowed that her son would be taught to live according to the Nazarite vow, being wholly set apart for the Lord and not having their hair cut. Even though Hannah prayed at home daily, she thought it important to pray her prayer in the temple where Eli the priest served.
As Hannah was praying silently with great emotion, Eli was observing her. He thought that she was drunk and criticized her. Eli did not have great discernment at this stage of his life. Hannah explained to Eli that she had been pouring out her heart to the Lord over years of prayer for a son that had not yet been answered. Eli realized his error and responded prophetically to her prayer in …
1 Samuel 1:17-18 (ESV) Then Eli answered, “Go in peace, and the God of Israel grant your petition that you have made to him.” And she said, “Let your servant find favor in your eyes.” Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.
Hannah believed that Eli’s response was the assurance of the Lord that her request had been heard and would be granted. She had faith that her prayer would be answered shortly after hearing Eli’s prophetic encouragement. Not only did Hannah persevere in prayer, she shared her prayer with Eli, the high priest, who was in authority over her.
Let’s think about Hannah and her prayer life to learn some principles that apply to our lives today. Hannah believed that it was God’s will that she should have a son, but it was not happening. The Scripture indicates that it was the Lord who closed her womb and Hannah may well have understood what was going on. Yet, she was not bitter or angry with God, but continued to persevere in prayer, knowing that only God could answer her request. Finally, in sharing her request in the presence of the high priest, she received assurance that her prayer would be answered.
This morning, think about what issue God has placed in your life. Something that you believe is His will, but has not yet happened. Persevere in prayer in your private life, but also share your prayer with others in the church family. As we join our faith together, God will give you the assurance that the answer is on the way. With the addition of our new Seek God meetings, we now have opportunities for prayer at the church every Wednesday night except the first Wednesday of the month. We encourage you to join us for prayer, especially is you’re not in a Life Group.
1 Samuel 1:20 (ESV) And in due time Hannah conceived and bore a son, and she called his name Samuel, for she said, “I have asked for him from the LORD.”
God answered Hannah’s prayer and opened her womb which had been closed. She named her son Samuel, which means “heard of God.” God heard her prayer and answered.
Remember that Hannah had made a vow to the Lord that when He gave her a son, she would give him to the Lord all the days of his life.
1 Samuel 1:22 (ESV) … she [Hannah] said to her husband, “As soon as the child is weaned, I will bring him, so that he may appear in the presence of the LORD and dwell there forever.”
Hannah cared for Samuel until he was weaned, which was normally 2-3 years, but could be up to six years. In those early years at home, undoubtedly Hannah prayed for and with Samuel and taught him as much as she could about the Lord. Finally, the time came for Hannah to …
When Samuel was weaned, Hannah took him, along with an animal sacrifice to present him in Eli, the priest, in the temple. She said to Eli …
1 Samuel 1:27-28 (ESV) For this child I prayed, and the LORD has granted me my petition that I made to him. Therefore I have lent him to the LORD. As long as he lives, he is lent to the LORD.” And he worshiped the LORD there.
Hannah then released her sacrifice of Samuel to serve in the temple with Eli. Samuel was a very young boy and it must have been very difficult for Hannah to give him up, as well as for Samuel to leave his mother. Yet, as Hannah entrusted Samuel to the Lord, it became an occasion for worship, even for the young boy Samuel and his parents. The next chapter, 1 Samuel 2 contains a prophetic prayer by Hannah about God’s faithfulness and sovereignty in her life and in the whole world. We see what a prayer warrior that Hannah was and the depth of her faith.
This part of the story gives us an important perspective on prayer. Oftentimes, we think of prayer as getting something from God that we need. That certainly is part of prayer, but there is much more. Hannah desired a son and God answered her prayer. Yet, God had another purpose in granting Hannah’s request. God was raising up her son Samuel as a prophet and the last judge over Israel. So, Hannah released the answer to her prayer, Samuel, into God’s greater purpose.
You see, every prayer that we pray is to be prayed in Jesus’ name. Which means that not only may the answer meet our needs, but even more importantly, the answer will be something that brings God glory. So, when God blesses you with an answer to your prayer, don’t just keep the answer for yourself, but entrust that answer to the Lord for His purposes and His kingdom advance. Now, we’re going to switch gears from Hannah to Samuel who is ministering to the Lord under the guidance of Eli the priest. God is teaching Samuel to …
1 Samuel 3:1a, 3 (ESV) Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli. … The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.
Hannah came to visit Samuel once a year and the Lord blessed her with three more sons and two daughters. Samuel was growing and learning to serve the Lord from Eli. Samuel slept in the temple where the ark of the presence of the Lord was.
One night, Samuel heard someone calling his name. He thought it was Eli and so went to Eli. But Eli said that he had not called him. It happened a second time and Eli had not called Samuel. The Scripture records that Samuel had not heard God speak before and so did not recognize His voice. The third time that God called Samuel, Eli discerned that the Lord was calling Samuel and so told him how to respond.
1 Samuel 3:10 (ESV) And the LORD came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”
So we see first of all that Samuel had a willing heart to learn from Eli, even though Eli had many flaws as a priest and as a father. Secondly, Samuel had been faithfully serving God in the temple and considered himself God’s servant, ready to hear what God was going to speak to him. Samuel had prepared himself and God had begun to speak to him. Now, the more difficult task was learning to …
The message the Lord spoke to Samuel was a very difficult word. The Lord said that His judgement was going to fall on Eli and his family for not restraining his sons from blaspheming God. Samuel did not go to Eli but lay in his bed to morning. He was afraid to tell Eli the message. However, Eli knew that God had spoken to Samuel and insisted that he tell him.
1 Samuel 3:18 (ESV) So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the LORD. Let him do what seems good to him.”
The next verses tell us how Samuel continued to hear from God and to speak God’s message.
1 Samuel 3:19-20 (ESV) And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the LORD.
Samuel learned to hear clearly from the Lord and so the things he spoke were true and came to pass. Samuel began to grow and mature as a prophet of the Lord throughout all Israel. 1 Samuel 4, the next chapter, records that in a battle with the Philistines, both of Eli’s sons were killed. In the battle, the ark of the covenant was captured. When Eli heard the news, he fell off his chair, broke his neck and died. So, God’s judgement, prophesied by Samuel, came to pass.
The Bible makes clear that God is still speaking to His children today. Just as Samuel, we need to learn to recognize the voice of the Lord through the Spirit. Learning to hear God’s voice happens as we spend time in God’s Word, time in prayer, both alone and with others. Then we must not be afraid, but have the boldness and courage to speak God’s message to those around us. God will give us words to speak to those who are unbelievers as we witness to them. God desires to give believers words to encourage other believers, in the church service, in Life Groups, in prayer groups and one on one. 1 Corinthians 14:39 commands every believer to “earnestly desire to prophesy.” That begins with learning to hear God speak and then speaking His Word to those He leads us to.
There is much to learn from our study of the first chapters of 1 Samuel. I would encourage you to read 1 Samuel 1-5 this week. God desires for us to make prayer a greater priority in lives and church. He wants to teach us to pray for His will and dedicate His answers to Him. Finally, as we grow in prayer, we will be prepared to better hear God. When we hear God clearly, we will have His words to speak prophetically to those around us. When God’s Word is spoken, it will accomplish its purpose.