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Archive for August 20th, 2019

About Samuel:  Samuel, last of the Old Testament judges and first of the prophets (after Moses), lived during the eleventh century BC. The child of Elkanah, an Ephraimite, and his wife Hannah, Samuel was from early on consecrated by his parents for sacred service and trained in the house of the Lord at Shiloh by Eli the priest. Samuel’s authority as a prophet was established by God (1 Samuel 3:20). He anointed Saul to be Israel’s first king (1 Samuel 10:1). Later, as a result of Saul’s disobedience to God, Samuel repudiated Saul’s leadership and then anointed David to be king in place of Saul (1 Samuel 16:13). Samuel’s loyalty to God, his spiritual insight, and his ability to inspire others made him one of Israel’s great leaders. (From The Treasury of Daily Prayer, Concordia Publishing House.)

Almighty God, in Your mercy You gave Samuel to courage to call Israel to repentance and to renew their dedication to the Lord.  Call us to repentance as Nathan called David to repentance, so by the blood of Jesus, the Son of David,  we may receive the forgiveness of all our sins;  through Jesus Christ, our Lord

Reflection:  Samuel’s mother was Hannah.  Hannah was grief stricken that she had no children.  The Lord opened her womb and she gave birth to a son whom she named, Samuel, literally, “God hears”.  Hannah had no choice in the matter of his conception and birth. (1 Sam. 1)

In thankfulness for her son’s birth, she devoted him to the priesthood in Shiloh, under the priest Eli.  The infant Samuel had no choice. (1 Sam. 1: 11, 24.

When serving in Shiloh, in the middle of the night, while Samuel was sleeping, he heard his name being called.  Samuel thought it was Eli calling and Samuel ran to the priest and said, Here I am, you called, but Eli said it wasn’t him.  When this happened the third time, Eli realized that it was LORD calling the lad.  Then, the LORD laid out His plans for the immoral priesthood in Shiloh and Samuel was called to be the LORD’s prophet. Samuel was not angling to be a judge and a prophet. Again, Samuel had no choice. (1 Sam. 2)

Samuel was born into a time in Israel in which it was under the overpowering threat of the Philistines. The Philistines captured the Ark of God (1 Sam. 4: 1ff).  Eli’s sons, also priests, were immoral:  they stole the sacrifices for their stomachs and for their lust, hooked-up with women who came to worship in Shiloh.  Samuel had no choice in being born into this time.

It seems that in all of this, this was the Lord’s choosing, His will for Samuel to change the times in which Samuel was called by the Word of the Lord. Samuel would be a kingmaker as he anointed the first Kings of Israel:  Saul and David.  This too was the LORD’s choice.

We live in a time in which we think we have sovereign choice in so much of life.  We  think we are pro-choice in so many ways, but we cannot choose our families, our DNA, our sex, our intelligence nor our natural abilities.  We think we can choose our friends but even they are given to us. Like C. S. Lewis wrote,

“In friendship…we think we have chosen our peers. In reality a few years’ difference in the dates of our births, a few more miles between certain houses, the choice of one university instead of another…the accident of a topic being raised or not raised at a first meeting–any of these chances might have kept us apart. But, for a Christian, there are, strictly speaking no chances. A secret master of ceremonies has been at work. Christ, who said to the disciples, “Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you’”

The secret master of ceremonies was at work in Israel and Shiloh in Hannah and her son. We think we can re-invent ourselves, when it is the LORD re-orienting us to Himself as He did with Hannah and Samuel. Only the sovereign LORD has sovereign choice. Maybe the only choice any one us can make is what kind of toothpaste we want. Yet, we do make choices and they tend to be sinful, and even evil.  Pro-choice today means killing a child in the womb.  We are very pro-choice in breaking the 10 Commandments. And so, our perversion and illusion of choice, in the bondage of the will goes viral these days:  that I can choose my sex (downgraded to “gender”).  We rail against who we are which is no choice of our own.

We do not like the choices that have been given to us by the secret master of ceremonies.  When the Apostle Paul was called, still going by the name Saul, the Lord said to him by Paul’s testimony:

“And when we had all fallen to the ground, I heard a voice saying to me in the Hebrew language, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me? It is hard for you to kick against the goads.’

“It is hard for you to kick against the goads”.  What is a goad? An ox goad was a stick with a pointed piece of iron on its tip used to prod the oxen when plowing. The farmer would prick the animal to steer it in the right direction. Sometimes the animal would rebel by kicking out at the prick, and this would result in the prick being driven even further into its flesh. In essence, the more an ox rebelled, the more it suffered. The LORD was pushing a reluctant Saul by His sovereign choice and Saul resisted.  When we do not like, don’t understand nor care for the LORD’s choices for us, we too kick against the goads and the more we do, the more we hurt and are exhausted. I have a tendency to kick against the goads.  So did Jonah, and so did Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15:10). Maybe this is reason I like quote from The Lord of Rings when Frodo was despising the task set before him to bring the Ring to the Land of Mordor:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

And the Lord is our help and our salvation to do just that to do with the time as the LORD has called us. We resist who the LORD has chosen us to be as His own and where and when He has called us to serve and we only hurt ourselves. Hannah did not like being barren and the taunting of her husband’s other wife who had children.  She did not resist the wife and try to harm her.  Instead, Hannah took it to the LORD in prayer. Can we do any less?  And the Lord heard, “Samuel”.    

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