Eli

Called - 1 Samuel 3:1-10, 17-21

      We started our study of 1 Samuel last Sunday with a look at Hannah and her broken heart over her barrenness. We saw her pray consistently and fervently for a son and vowed to give the son to God as His servant. During one of her prayers, she was observed by Eli, the temple priest, who assumed her to be drunk. After Hannah explained her anguish and prayer, Eli encouraged her by validating her prayer with a blessing. After giving birth to a son, Hannah fulfilled her vow by presenting her son, Samuel, to Eli. Eli responded by worshiping God. We learned that, like Hannah, we can approach God with our frustrations and heartfelt desires, knowing we can trust Him to do what is best. We can encourage others by praying with them in agreement, sympathizing with their heartaches.

   Our authors have skipped chapter 2 which starts with a prayer from Hannah as she dedicates Samuel to the Lord and leaves him with Eli. Then we learn of the wickedness and corruption of Eli’s sons, Samuel’s childhood ministry and the yearly visits from his parents. Chapter 2 ends with a prophecy against Eli’s household brought on by his failure to control his sons.

   Today, we are in chapter 3 of 1 Samuel with a lesson titled “Called”, in which we see God call on a faithful follower to deliver His message. As Samuel grew, Eli helped him learn to recognize God’s voice. Today we will be looking at the importance of recognizing God’s voice when He calls.

 

Read “A Voice” 1 Samuel 3:1-10

   How many times did God call before Eli and Samuel recognized the Lord was speaking?

   Why do you think it took three times for Eli to recognize the Lord was speaking to Samuel? Eli was out of touch with God and therefore deaf to God’s voice. Evidently God had not been speaking very often. God was determined to make contact with the boy.

   Why was Samuel confused about whose voice was talking to him? Samuel had never heard God calling him before.

   Why was Samuel lying down in the tabernacle of the Lord? One of his jobs was to keep the lamp burning from sunset to sunrise.

   What are ways God spoke in the Old Testament? The Torah or law of God as revealed to Moses, sometimes audibly or through visions given to prophets. During the time of Samuel, revelation from God was rare.

   Why do you suppose God had stopped speaking as frequently to the Hebrew people? The priest, Eli, had turned from God, his sons, priests themselves, abused the office of priest and lived in complete disobedience to God.

   What do we do if we want to hear God’s voice? We seek his voice and test it through Scripture. We must be diligent in studying God’s Word and listening for His voice.

   When we hear His word and are satisfied it is His word, what must we do? Obey! 

   Do we ever have trouble separating God’s voice from our own desires? We can desire something so much that we come to view it as God’s desire for our lives too. There is God’s will for our lives and our heart’s desire for our lives and God’s will is always the best prayer.

   Where was the Lord in verse 10? He was standing there.

   What was the significance of how the Lord called to Samuel? Read Gen 22:11 and Ex 3:4.

   Why is Samuel’s response, “Speak, for Your servant is listening,” so important: Sometimes we want to speak more than listen. We must listen so we can hear.

 

Read 1 Samuel 3:11-16 to see what the Lord told Samuel.

   Eli’s family would be destroyed because of the evil actions of his sons. These sons, priests like their father, abused the office of priest and lived in complete disobedience to God.

   Eli had heard this same message of judgment from another man of God in 1 Sam. 2:27-34. 

   Eli would be punished because he knew of his sons’ disobedience and did nothing to curb their evil deeds. 

   Why would Samuel not want to share the details of God’s message with Eli, his guardian and mentor? Samuel would have to tell Eli that bad things would happen to his family because of their conduct. Samuel did not know how Eli would respond.

 

Read “A Message” 1 Samuel 3:17-18

   Why is “not hide anything”, in verse 17, an important aspect of a prophetic and preaching ministry? Identifying a false teacher by obvious statements or error and heresy is relatively easy. More challenging are the true but difficult expressions of truth omitted from a preacher’s or teacher’s message out of fear. False prophets are found to be so not simply by what they say, but also what they don’t say.

   How did Eli respond to this hard message? Eli did not protest or reject God’s hard message of judgment that was coming to his family. He accepted that God is Lord and that God’s decisions are right.

   What disqualified Eli from effective leadership in Israel? His lack of faithfulness. Actually there were times he acted with devotion to God: he did pray for and bless Hannah, he evidently was a good mentor to Samuel, he got out of the way so God could speak to Samuel and he did protect the Ark of the Covenant.

 

Read “A Prophet” 1 Samuel 3:19-21

   What must we do to have verse 19 reflected in our life? Samuel was willing to receive and follow God’s Word, so too, must we.

   What does from “Dan to Beer-sheba” indicate? All of Israel, from the northern border to the southern border.

   Was Samuel’s success based on his own abilities? No, God blessed him.

   What is one of the defining characteristics of God in contrast to the false idols of pagans? God spoke, the idols could not.

 

Conclusion:

·         Samuel’s first revelation from the Lord was a difficult message to share. What parts of the gospel message are you tempted to omit when sharing with a friend?

·         What impact does God’s Word have on situations that seem desperate or bleak?

·         How does God use His Word to bring hope and direction?

 

Close with prayer asking the Lord to speak to us

Answered! - 1 Samuel 1:1-28

Today we begin a study in 1 Samuel. Although not included in the book of Judges, Samuel was the last of Israel’s Judges, because the people demanded a king, God gave them what they asked for and Saul became the first king of Israel. So Samuel guides the people of Israel through this transition to a monarchy.

The key themes in 1 Samuel we will see are Leadership, God’s Sovereignty, Sin’s Consequences, Covenant, and Kingship.

Samuel was actually born around 1102 BC, while Samson was the designated Judge. Samson died around 1078 BC. In our English Bible the book of Ruth is between Judges and 1 Samuel. It might be a little easier to understand the time line if 1 Samuel followed immediately after Judges.

 

In our study today there are two main areas of focus: First, the word “Trust”. Second is the word “Entrust”. While they may appear the same we will take a different path to each of them.

 

1.      In what types of situations do we find it hard to trust God? (We usually find it more difficult to trust God when challenges emerge—when it feels like God is silent.)

2.      When do we find it easy to trust God? (We usually find it easier to trust God when life is smooth and easy.)

We know God hears our prayers, and He does answer. In the life of a believer, learning to trust God more is a daily growing experience. I find it amazing in my own life that I can learn to trust God in one circumstance and a short while later I have to learn the same lesson all over again.

 

3.      What is one person or thing that God has entrusted to you?

In our study of 1 Samuel, we will be looking at the lives of several individuals to whom God entrusted great responsibility. Today we will be discussing our responsibilities when God entrusts something to us.

As an introduction read 1 Samuel 1:1-8

 

Hannah’s Prayer! Read 1 Samuel 1:9-11

 

1.      How would you describe Hannah’s emotional state and attitude at this point? (The words “deeply hurt” can be rendered “bitter of soul.” It includes the Hebrew term
“Mara” that Naomi used after her husband and two sons died, as she was grief stricken. Hannah’s prayers were tearful, revealing her broken heart.)

2.      What vow did she make to God? (There is no indication that God required a vow, but when we make a vow to God, He expects us to keep it.)

The indication is that Hanna was Elkanah’s first wife and he married Peninnah when they realized Hanna couldn’t bear children. Hannah was childless in a culture where the condition was viewed with disfavor. Some may even have suggested that her childlessness was the result of some sin on her part.

3.      Why should we be totally honest with God and pour out all of our hurt, bitterness and pain to Him? (First, God already knows but we need to express it to Him. Secondly, God is big enough to handle our anguished, tear-stained prayers. We can bring our deepest hurts to Him, knowing that He cares.)

4.      What is the danger of expecting people or possessions to meet needs that only God can meet?

 

Eli’s Affirmation! Read 1 Samuel 1:12-18

 

1.      What was Eli’s wrong assumption and why? (When Eli saw Hannah praying he wrongly assumed she was drunk, because of her emotional behavior. Remember she had just come from a meal where wine would have been served, although she didn’t eat because of her emotional state, Eli didn’t know that.)

2.      Can we learn anything from Eli’s quick judgment? (We should be good, patient listeners—long to listen and slow to judge—watching out for the needs and hurts of those around us.)

3.      How did Eli encourage Hannah? (When Eli realized what he saw was a sincere, hurting woman, he was quick to give Hannah a blessing.)

4.      How can we support each other in times like Hannah was experiencing? (We can support each other by sharing one another’s prayer burdens, helping to carry one another’s heartaches and tears.)

5.      How did prayer change Hannah’s attitude? Compare with verse 10. (Hannah’s circumstances had not changed. She still longed for a son, but her attitude had changed, and she was no longer so despairing.)

6.      When have you seen or experienced the power of prayer?

The change occurred as Hannah let go of her broken heartedness and trusted God to answer her prayer.

 

Read 1 Samuel 1:19-25

 

Hannah’s Presentation! Read 1 Samuel 1:26-28

 

1.      How did Hannah demonstrate her trust in God?

2.      How difficult do you think it was for her to leave Samuel with Eli?

3.      Where do you see Hannah’s humility? (Her humility is seen in her acknowledgement that all we have and are comes from God. Samuel belonged to God, and she understood that.)

Our prayers will reflect humility when we ask for God’s will in all areas of our lives. By freely acknowledging that all we have comes from God, we can seek His best plans for us.

4.      Merriam-Webster’s definition of the word entrust: “to commit to another with confidence.” What are some ways we can give back to God what He has entrusted to us? (Think about the Spiritual Gifts God has given you. How have you entrusted them back to Him?)

5.      How does seeing an answered prayer encourage the one who prayed?

6.      How does it encourage others who were aware of the prayer?

7.      How often do you joyfully share with others how God has answered your prayers?

8.      What keeps us from sharing answered prayers more often?

 

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      How does knowing that God is in control impact our prayers?

There is great freedom in coming to the point where we realize that our lives rest in God’s able hands. We can find joy in the way that our lives unfold, knowing He loves us, wants the best for us, and is in control of our circumstances.

2.      What can you entrust back to God’s care that, perhaps you have been holding on to?

With God in control, we can always focus our prayers on His will being done in our lives.

 

Evaluate your prayer life. Is it all that it can be?

Are you letting God guide the ways you pray?

Look for new ways to trust God each day. Ask Him to help your trust grow in the moments you feel weak. Be strong in sharing your heartaches with other believers who can support you in prayer.

Look for opportunities to bear other’s burdens as well.

 

Close by thanking God for answering our prayers and ask Him to help us rejoice in Him and His ways!