Samuel

Judged - 1 Samuel 15:1-23

1.      When you are looking for someone to hire to do a particular job what qualities do you look for in that person? (A person who will do the job exactly as I want it done. They may have their own idea of how to do it but I have reasons for doing it the way I want it done.)

2.      When God seeks someone to fulfill a task or role, what qualities does He desire? (Willingness to work, integrity, teachable, humility, faithfulness, obedience.)

3.      The Israelites asked for a king. Did they get what they asked for? (Yes! King Saul led them into military battles and won many victories over their enemies. Read 1 Sam. 14:47-48.)

4.      When someone mentions King Saul’s name what are the first thoughts that come to your mind, successful warrior king or utter failure?

 

Saul’s son, Jonathan was a great hero of Israel. In a remarkable Israelite victory over the Philistines near Michmash, Jonathan proved to be a great warrior, almost singlehandedly striking panic into the hearts of the Philistines. His complete confidence was in the Lord, evidenced by his bold declaration: “Nothing can keep the Lord from saving whether by many or by few.” (1 Sam. 14:6) Would that Saul had that faith and character.

            God entrusted Saul with leading the Israelite people. However, just as Saul ascended quickly to the throne, he also descended quickly because of his disobedient actions.

The Amalekites had been the proverbial “thorn in the side” of Israel ever since they came out of Egypt. They now threatened to divide the western half of Israel right in the middle so that the north and south would find it difficult banding together in battle against the Amalekites.

Read 1 Samuel 15:1-6 to set the situation.

Note: Some might question why everything—men, women, children, animals—had to be destroyed. The Amalekites, nomadic tribesmen and descendants of Esau, had been enemies of Israel since the time of the exodus from Egypt. They had continued to wage war with the people of Israel using barbaric methods. God had been patient with the Amalekites for a long time while they continued to reject Him. Their promised punishment had finally come due. Any of them left would be like a person keeping back a little sin in their lives; it would always be a hindrance to moving forward with God.

Saul’s Disobedience! Read 1 Samuel 15:7-9

 

1.      What compromises did Saul make?

2.      Keeping the best animals after the battle was won seems like a smart idea, so why was it wrong? (God had commanded Saul to destroy everything and everyone! Saul thought he knew what was best, not God.)

3.      What makes settling for partial obedience so tempting?

4.      In what ways could a believer keep the “best” back for themselves in his or her obedience to God? (Tithes, time, total effort in a task, etc.)

5.      Is partial obedience really obedience? Why? Or Why not? (Some might argue a little obedience is better than no obedience at all. For the Israelites, destroying “all the worthless and unwanted things” required no great sacrifice on their part. Saul decided that they could pick and choose what they wanted to obey.)

Partial obedience is disobedience!

 

Samuel’s Confrontation! Read 1 Samuel 15:10-11

 

1.      What do we learn about Samuel from these verses? (Samuel’s heart was broken by Saul’s disobedience. He laid his burden before the Lord all night, perhaps because he knew what he would have to do in the morning.)

2.      When has your heart been broken because of another’s disobedience? What did you do?

 

Read 1 Samuel 15:12-15

3.      What do you find astonishing here about Saul’s actions? (See 1 Sam. 10:21-22. What had happened to Saul?)

4.      When Saul said he had followed God commands, what was Samuel’s response?

5.      How did Saul attempt to justify his disobedience? (He tried to blame it on the troops first. Then he tried to justify his disobedience by saying he kept the best animals to sacrifice them to God.)

6.      In what ways do we try to justify our disobedience? (Sometimes our disobedience is simply an unplanned wandering down a slippery slope away from God. Other times it is a deliberate choice toward disobedience. Both are wrong.)

7.      What makes confronting someone about his or her disobedience a challenge?

8.      What risks are involved when confronting someone?

9.      What risks are involved when we don’t confront someone?

10.  When we see a fellow believer choosing disobedience, how can we approach that person redemptively, showing them grace? (God did not appoint us a judge or critic over each other. We should be models of God’s grace in approaching someone living in disobedience. That person must know, beyond question, that we love them unconditionally, that we have their best interest at heart and desire only God’s best for them!)

1 John 1:9 was written to believers! God’s desire is that everyone repent and turn to Him in obedience—that should be our goal in all our conversations and actions.

 

Read 1 Samuel 15:16-21

 

God’s Rejection! Read 1 Samuel 15:22-23

 

Greed is a terrible taskmaster!

1.      How does accepting partial obedience or religious practice as a substitute for full obedience show disrespect for God? (We either ignore what God says or we simply think we know best and either is deadly spiritually.)

2.      The original language of verse 22 could be translated “obedience surpasses sacrifice”. Why does God want our obedience more than our sacrifices? (The greatest evidence of our obedience to God is a life lived by His commands. Your tithe on Sunday doesn’t cover your disobedience Monday through Saturday!)

3.      What is the connection between disobedience and idolatry?

4.      What was the result of Saul’s disobedience? (God had rejected Saul as king.)

5.      How does our disobedience contribute to our being set aside by God? (We did nothing to earn our salvation, and we cannot lose it. Yet our disobedience can result in our being removed from useful service to God. We discard our usefulness through our disobedience.)

People who struggle with repeated, ongoing disobedience against God and His people should evaluate whether they ever really made a true commitment to God in the first place. Read 1 John 3:9 and 5:18. The best translation is those who continue a life of sin. We all sin but those who belong to God will turn in repentance when we do sin and claim 1 John 1:9, which, by the way is written to believers.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

First Samuel 15:22-23 essentially summarizes chapter 15. God expects our obedience rather than our partially obeying and offering sacrifices as a substitute.

1.      How do we know what God wants us to do? (Study His Word.)

2.      What are some ways we can choose to fully obey God?

3.      Review your life, looking for areas of partial obedience. What actions do you need to take to complete your obedience to God?

4.      How can we encourage each other toward complete obedience to God in every area of life? (Sometimes we are more inclined to criticism than encouragement in our relationships. Let’s be each other’s best cheerleaders—praying, encouraging, and lifting each other up so we are all stronger in pursuing total obedience to God.)

 

Personal Challenge: Evaluate your words, thoughts, and actions this week. Ask yourself if God is getting your best. Make total obedience to Him your goal in every situation!

 

Feared - 1 Samuel 12:12-22

1.      What is it that strikes the greatest fear in you? Or of what are you most afraid? (For me it has to be snakes!)

There are almost countless phobias. I saw a list of 200 this week, everything from fear of the navel to fear of heaven to fear of beards.

Some fears are healthy while some are destructive. In the Old Testament we find many passages talking about the fear of God.

2.      What does it mean to fear God in the Biblical sense? (The Holman Bible Dictionary has the following on the subject: “The fear of God is not to be understood as the dread that comes out of fear of punishment, but as the reverential regard and the awe that comes out of recognition and submission to the divine. It is the revelation of God’s will to which the believer submits in obedience.” “Fear protected Israel from taking God for granted or from presuming on His grace. Fear called to covenant obedience.”   This fear of God will accomplish the same in the life of a believer!)

 

Every time we read about someone in Scripture who has an encounter with God they are filled with this reverential fear and awe that spawns confession, repentance and obedience!

In today’s study, we’ll discuss God’s character and the place fear has in our relationship with Him.

 

Since last week’s study, Saul has been anointed king; he has been received by the people as king, delivered Jabesh-Gilead from the hands of the Ammonites, and finally Saul’s confirmation as king. Today’s Scripture text is part of Samuel’s final public speech, and his longest recorded speech.

The Covenant Revisited! Read 1 Samuel 12:12-15

 

1.      What caused the people to demand a king? (They were under attack by the Ammonites and they thought they needed a king to lead them into battle. In 1 Sam. 8:19-20 the people state that they want a king so they will be like the other nations surrounding them.)

The ultimate end here is evident! When we apply this principle to our lives we realize that when we want to become like the world around us we forsake God for our own selfish desires. We drift further away from God and His will for our lives.

2.      In whom were the Israelites placing their trust? (Their earthly king not God their ultimate King. They had rejected God as their King.)

3.      What three directives do we find in these four verses? (“Fear the Lord, worship the Lord and obey the Lord.”)

4.      How does obeying these directives show trust in God?

5.      What would happen if they did not follow these three directives? (God’s judgment would fall upon them.)

6.      How would having a king change the relationship between God and His people?

7.      How would it be different?

8.      How would it be the same?

9.      How do you see God at work in your life despite the times when you have failed to follow Him?

It is important for us to remember the fact that even though our circumstances may be different from that of other Christians in other places, the core of our identity and of what God expects of us remains the same!

 

Note: The last phrase in verse 15 is difficult to interpret. However, the Leader’s Guide states the following concerning this phrase: “The old Greek version says, “and against your king,” and in this case the old Greek could be correct. Samuel makes the same point in verse 25. If the Israelites failed to keep the Sinai Covenant, having a king would make no difference. Both king and people would be destroyed for their sin.”

 

A Sign Delivered! Read 1 Samuel 12:16-18

 

1.      How did God demonstrate His power before the people? (God sent a thunderstorm.)

2.      Why would a thunderstorm at this time be considered an act of God? (This was the dry season in Israel. It was very rare to have rain during harvest time. Also the fact that Samuel prayed to God and it happened just as Samuel said is another indication that it is an act of God and not a happenstance.)

Because of the thunderstorm, the people realized they had offended God, and they “greatly feared” Him. This fear produced both reverence and unease in the people.

3.      Is fear of God a positive or negative thing? (Fear of God can involve many things—terror, honor, submission, dread, astonishment, and awe. People who are enemies of God might feel terror in their fear because of His unlimited knowledge and power, for God is consistent in His judgement based on His righteous character. For believers, the same “fear” is used to describe the proper attitude toward God. But this carries the ideas of respect, reverence, or awe. Christ has satisfied God’s wrath once and for all, so we do not fear condemnation, but we are still accountable to a holy God.)

4.      What does the “fear of the Lord” look like on a daily basis in the life of a Christina?

 

God’s Mercy and Grace! Read 1 Samuel 12:19-22

 

It isn’t necessarily a sin to have a king but when we trust the king rather than God to deliver us we have sinned.

1.      Samuel warned the people to turn away from “worthless things that can’t profit or deliver you” (v. 21). What “worthless things” do people follow after today, hoping that these things can deliver them? (Anything that receives higher priority than God in our lives becomes a “worthless thing”. Our possessions, our jobs, our education, our skills—these may enrich our lives, but they can never deliver us.)

In turning from worthless things, Samuel called on the people to follow and worship God. In the end, only our relationship with God remains. We should invest wisely in that relationship.

2.      How can we avoid succumbing to the fear of the unknown?

3.      What did the people beg Samuel to do?

4.      What words of hope did Samuel offer the people? (Even though the Israelites had sinned in asking for a king, they could still choose to follow God and to worship Him. Samuel promised the people God would not abandon them.)

God is unchanged, still full of mercy and grace today. We can count on His faithfulness to His promises.

 

5.      How would you describe the balance between God’s judgment and His grace?

6.      When can God’s judgment and His grace complement each other?

7.      When do we see both working simultaneously?

8.      What hope do you find for yourself in verse 22? (God will not abandon you. He will work on you until the day He calls you home so that you can be the person of God He designed you to be. It may be painful at times but it is all for our good and His glory!)

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

Samuel called the Israelite people to have a healthy, reverential fear of God. He encouraged them to avoid being scared or having an unhealthy fear of God. Samuel reassured the Israelites that, despite their sins, God would graciously continue to lead His people if they would obey Him. The same is true for us; God is ever-faithful and deserves our reverent fear.

 

Identify the sins that come between you and God. Spend time in prayer, asking God to forgive you and empower you to live a god-honoring life.
If you have never placed your trust in Jesus, review the information on the inside front cover of you guide, or talk to the pastor or some other leader.

We honor God and show our gratitude in the way we live. Hebrews 13:15 reminds us that our lives should be “a sacrifice of praise to Him.

Father, may we approach worship this week with fresh eyes—with an attitude of respect, reverence, and awe!

 

King? - 1 Samuel 8:4-9, 19-22

  Last Sunday we studied 1 Samuel 5 and 6 to understand who or what is worthy of our worship. We found that idols can be physical items worshiped as well as items taking the place of God in a person’s life. When the ark, which represented God’s presence, was placed alongside an idol, God caused the idol to topple. The people understood the event as Dagon being defeated. Because the people of Ashdod failed to recognize God as holy, they experienced a divinely-initiated plague. After 7 months of tumors and rats, the Philistines sought guidance for the return of the ark. When the ark arrived unexpectedly in Beth-shemesh, the people worshiped God by offering sacrifices. Through this lesson we saw (1) that anything we place before or equal to God will fail and topple, with us taking a fall as well. (2) Since God is holy, we should follow His directions completely. (3) God is worthy of our very best in worship.

   Today we move on to 1 Samuel 8 where we find the Israelites have decided they want to be ruled by an earthly king. This desire will transition them from a theocracy (government ruled by God) to a monarchy (government ruled by a king).

 

Read “A King Demanded” 1 Samuel 8:4-5

   Why did Israel want a king?

   What reasons did the Israelites give Samuel for needing a king?

   Was Samuel’s age and his son’s dereliction of duty reasons or excuses for wanting a king?

   How can wanting to be like the people around you lead to trouble? God wants us to be more like Him in every area of our lives. The people we want to be like may not be trying to be more like God.

   How can peer pressure be a problem? With the Israelites, wanting to have a king like their neighbors was a sinful choice. They were rejecting God’s lordship in their lives.

   Look at the question on pg. 46 of your PSG: How does a desire to be like other people impact a person’s values and character? We all want to “fit in” but sometimes we forget God wants us to “fit in” with Him. Fitting in with others may require us to lower our values from God’s standard.

   What does it mean to live set apart for Jesus while still living as a member of society?

  

   Moses gave instructions and regulations for future kings in Deuteronomy 17, but having a king was not God’s ideal plan for the Israelites. Israel was privileged in being different from other nations because God was their King. These regulations limited the power and splendor of the future king. He would not be dependent on military power and riches. He was exhorted not to entangle the nation in political alliances that would expose Israel to pagan worship. Instead, he was exhorted to guide the nation into obedience to God’s law. The true king would not be a tyrant, but a king who ruled in accordance with God’s revealed will. By reading and obeying God’s law, the king would be reminded that he was to be a man of the people. He was no different than anyone else, except that God had chosen him to guide the nation in righteousness.
It seems God was anticipating a request for a king by the Israelites and here He is warning them what will happen.

   So, we see the Israelites wanting to take matters into their own hands.

Do we ever want to take matters into our own hands instead of letting God lead? Patience! When will we learn to wait and listen for God to speak to us? God’s timing and directions are worth waiting for.

 

Read “Rejection Declared” 1 Samuel 8:6-9

   What was the Israelites’ request? “Give us a king to judge us”.

   What did Samuel think of their demand and what was his response? He thought it was sinful so he prayed to the Lord.

   What did God think of their desire to be like their neighbors? God saw this as a rejection of His lordship and Samuel’s leadership in their lives.

   Do you think God acted with grace in verse 9? He did give them a warning.

   How can we distinguish between God’s perfect will and His permissive will? We know God’s will for our lives by studying His Word, praying and seeking the counsel of mature believers. God causes some things to happen. Some things He allows to happen. Nothing happens apart from God’s will.

God is willing to allow His people to make their own decisions, even if those choices are poor and lead to pain and regret.

 

Read 1 Samuel 8:10-18 to see Samuel’s warning of what would happen if a king ruled over the people.

   Basically the king would have the power to confiscate persons and their wealth, as well as the power to give favors to some people while crushing others. The end result was that the Israelites would discover they had no rights at all. Obviously, not every king would follow the principles governing kings as we just reviewed in Deuteronomy.

   Pg. 48 of PSG has an intriguing question: What does a believer lose by relying on a human authority more than Christ? How does this relate to today’s world?

 

Read “Rebellion Determined” 1 Samuel 8:19-22

   What was Samuel’s role in Israel’s demand for a king? Samuel was faithful to seek the Lord’s guidance and delivered an unpopular warning. Remember he gave an unpopular warning to Eli a few Sundays ago.

   What is the people’s response in verse 19? The people heard Samuel’s warning describing what life would be like with a king instead of God as a leader. Still, they refused to take the next step and heed Samuel’s warning. They were determined to have their own king. What about the times we are determined to have our own way?

   What do the descriptions of the desired king reveal about their hearts?

   What does God’s allowing Israel to have a king teach us about God? We can hear God’s instructions for living but neglect to take the next step and follow those instructions in daily living.

 

Conclusion:

·         God desires His people to be distinct from others, trusting Him in all matters.

·         When we reject God’s leaders and their warnings, we are rejecting God in the process.

·         We can trust God to provide godly leaders even when we are tempted to take matters into our own hands.

·         Ask yourself what is keeping you from giving God full control of your life today.

 

Close with prayer asking God to bring all areas of your life under His control. Pray for our government leaders to have God’s wisdom in decision making.

 

Worthy! - 1 Samuel 5:1-6:16

(Create a display of items that can become idols: a football, a guitar, a credit card, a family photo, picture of children, money, etc.)

1.      What do these items on the table have in common? (These are things that are common in all of our lives, to some extent, that we use and love.)

2.      How would you define the word “idol”? (1-An image or representation of a god used as an object of worship. 2-a person or thing that is greatly admired, loved, or revered.)

I would add this definition: Anything or person that is placed above God in our lives.

3.      How can each of these things become an idol in our lives?

Anything we put before God has become an idol in our life! In today’s study, we will discuss the importance of putting God first by giving Him the respect He deserves.

In Isaiah 48:11 God says: “I will act for My own sake, indeed, My own, for how can I be defiled? I will not give My glory to another.”

 

Last week we studied about Samuel’s formal call by God to be His prophet. In 1 Samuel chapter 4 the Philistines killed 4,000 Israelites at Aphek in a resounding victory. So the Israelites decided to take the Ark of the Lord into the next battle with them, thinking with the Ark of the Lord they would be victorious. But they suffered an even greater defeat and 30,000 Israelite soldiers died along with Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas! And if that wasn’t enough, the Ark of the Lord was captured and carried off by the Philistines. When Eli received the news, he fell over backwards out of his chair, broke his neck and died!

The wife of Phinehas was pregnant and when she heard the news, she went into labor, gave birth to a son and then died herself. It was indeed a dark day for the Israelites!

4.      In what had the Israelites placed their faith? (The Ark of the Lord, not in the God, whose presence it represented!)

Let’s see what happens to the Ark in the hands of the Philistines, or better yet what happens to the Philistines in the hands of God!

 

The Holy God! Read 1 Samuel 5:1-5

 

1.      What did the capture of the ark signify for the Israelites?

In the Old Testament, the ark was God’s dwelling place on earth. It is where God met with the High Priest to give instructions for the people. The ark itself was not God, like other nations had man-made idols, but God used the ark to display His power and glory.

2.      How would you explain the taking of the Lord’s Supper to someone not familiar with this ordinance?

3.      How can its significance be exaggerated?

4.      How can its significance be understated?

5.      Should people regard the church building or a physical copy of the Bible as sacred?

6.      How might such ideas become dangerously exaggerated?

7.      How would you explain what happened when the ark was placed in the temple of Dagon?

8.      How would you describe to a friend the destructive effect of worshiping a false god instead of the God of the universe?

9.      How easy is it for us to be lured into actually worshiping something or someone other than the one true God?

 

Judgment Experienced! Read 1 Samuel 5:6

 

1.      By placing the arkat the feet of their idol Dagon, they were trying to say their god was superior. What happens when the holy things of God are treated as common?

2.      What does the glory of God mean to you?

3.      How would you explain the balance between God’s kindness and judgment?

4.      The ark was moved to three of the five major cities of the Philistines. By the time it was moved to the third city the people were trembling with fear. Do we have an appropriate fear of the Lord when we are disobedient to His laws?

5.      How would you explain the balance between God’s kindness and judgment?

We have seen terrible, horrific acts of violence in our own nation with increasing frequency. It is not for us to say that God is bringing judgment on any particular group of people. The violence that occurred in Orlando, FL this past week should be heartbreaking for all of us. While we don’t agree with the lifestyle of those involved, we are called to act with the love of Christ toward all people. The right to bring judgment on people is God’s and His alone. We also stand as sinners, and while we may try to live a holy life we too fail at times. The Baptist Pastor in California who basically said that we should not feel pity for those people and we should wish more had died was wrong! I am embarrassed that he calls himself a minister of the Gospel. He certainly does not show the love of Christ! We are to pray that somehow those people will hear the Gospel and respond positively by turning to Jesus.

 

The Philistines cried out to their leaders to send the ark back to the Israelites. So their diviners devised a plan that would determine if their problems were caused by Israel’s God or if it was just a coincidence. A cart pulled by two milk cows which had both just had a calf and had never been yoked to pull a wagon would pull the ark. If they went back to Israel then it was a “God” thing.

Instructions Followed! Read 1 Samuel 6:11-12

 

Living with God’s judgment and punishment, the plague of tumors for seven months, was long enough!

1.      In what ways have you witnessed God display His power in unlikely situations?

2.      What about us! We know God desires our obedience, so why do we sometimes choose to disobey? (At times disobedience might seem to be the easy road. Taking a stand against the culture and standing up for God can be a hard choice.)

Sometimes the shiny, sparkling enticement of sin seems to be fun. But it’s a short-lived pleasure that reaps a harvest of sorrow long term.

 

 

Worship Offered! Read 1 Samuel 6:13-16

 

1.      What was the people of Israel’s response to having the ark back in their possession?

2.      What does our attitude toward the holiness of God reveal to a lost world around us?

3.      Do you think the Philistines had a greater reverence for the God of Israel?

4.      Read John 4:24. What does it mean to worship God in spirit and truth?

5.      Why are both elements of worship important?

6.      The Israelites were overjoyed when they saw the ark coming. How do we reflect the joy of salvation in our worship? (Emphasize that God deserves our very best in worship.)

One of the testimonies that believers give to a watching world is the heartfelt and dynamic worship of their Savior, Jesus Christ. Unbelievers’ exposure to true worship of God can plant seeds that have eternal impact on them.

 

Summarize and Challenge!

 

1.      How can we guard against idols in our lives today? (Carved idols are easy to avoid. Remember that idols are anything or any person whom we place above God in our lives.)

2.      If someone were to watch you closely from a distance for one month, what would they say you worship?

3.      Think about the ways you worship God. What step could you take to make your worship more joy-filled and meaningful?

 

There is a hymn written by Julia Cady Cory in 1902 called “We Praise You, O God, Our Redeemer.” The first verse is below:

We praise You, O God, our Redeemer, Creator

In grateful devotion our tribute we bring.

We lay it before You, we kneel and adore You,

We bless Your holy name, glad praises we sing.


Consider closing with the Doxology!

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!