I Samuel 2: A New Life
When a baby is born, a new life begins. Jesus told Nicodemus, “You must be born again.” We exist because God willed for us to exist. We were created by Him, hand-made and knit together in our mother’s womb. We are told we were created by Him and for Him, for His purpose. Samuel, this baby boy born to Hannah and Elkanah was an answer to prayer. We read in chapter 1 after she weaned him, probably at age 3, she took him up to Shiloh to be raised by the priest Eli to serve the Lord.
Now one can imagine how difficult it would be to send off your child, your baby boy to be raised in the tabernacle by the priest. The prayer of Hannah in the first part of chapter 2 is her reaction:
“My heart rejoices in the Lord; My horn is exalted in the Lord. (Horn is a symbol for strength) I smile at all my enemies, because I rejoice in Your salvation.” Have you ever heard- “the joy of the Lord is my strength”? It is a quote from the Bible. The Lord’s delight is to forgive us our sins, to save us. Jesus compared this new life in Him to being “born again.” A baby is a picture of a new life which did not exist before. God’s joy and happiness is in showing His love to all who have believed in Him. Therefore whenever we feel weak, helpless, and hopeless, we need to remember that God loves to step in and deliver us. This gives Him joy. Jesus spoke of the rejoicing in heaven over the repentance of just one sinner. His joy is contagious and it gives us strength, help and hope. For He is the God of all hope. “Put your hand in the hand of the man who stilled the water. Put your hand in the hand of the man who calmed the sea. Put your hand in the hand of the Man from Galilee. My momma taught me how to pray before I reached the age of seven. When I am down on my knees that’s when I am closest to heaven.”
“I have made the earth and created man on it. I- My hands- stretched out the heavens and all their host I have commanded.” (Isaiah 45: 12)
I have put my hand in the hand of President Harry S Truman and George Bush, the elder. But when I pray on my knees to God, the Creator of all things I put my hand in the hand that stretched out the heavens.
“Have you not known? Have you not heard? The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth neither faints or grows weary. His understanding is unsearchable. He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even youths shall faint and be weary and the young men shall utterly fall, but those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength. They shall mount up with wings like eagles. They shall run and not be weary. They shall walk and not faint.” (Isaiah 40: 28-31)
This is where Hannah’s strength and joy come from, knowing she has placed her life and the life of her son in the hands of God Almighty.
She praises Him for His holiness, she affirms the first commandment- there is none besides Him, there is no other God, and there is no other rock like our God. The Rock of Ages. The Cornerstone. The unchanging, everlasting God.
She praises her God for He has all knowledge- who would be arrogant enough to argue with Him. He weighs our motives and actions and His scales are accurate.
He turns the world upside down. Which the enemies of the apostles and Paul said of them: “These are those who have turned the world upside down.”
She explains how the mighty are brought down and the weak raised up and girded with strength. Jesus would tell us: he who is first will be last, and he who is last will be first. And the servant will be the greatest. The poor will be rich and the rich – poor. In Luke 16 Jesus tells us a rich man and the beggar, Lazarus.
Now Hannah and her husband agreed to give this son, this baby boy to the Lord. And we read the Lord gave her back 5 children for the one she gave Him. (Vs 21) In addition, Hannah was able to see her son once per year when she would come up for the Feasts and bring him clothes, robes, she had made for him.
Now the story turns to Eli and his two corrupt sons, Hophni and Phineas.
“They were corrupt and did not know the Lord.” (vs. 12)
They took the meat offered for a sacrifice for their own selves. Their sin was very great before the Lord for they treated the Lord’s offering with contempt.
We read of the contrast between these two wicked sons and this young boy, Samuel. They were wicked and Samuel was faithful.
An unnamed man visits Eli and tells him of his son’s wickedness which Eli knew and did nothing about. He told him both sons would die on the same day. Eli was guilty of not reprimanding them and punishing them. In a court of law this would be called “aiding and abetting” in the commission of a crime. He was therefore guilty by what he did not do as a father and a priest.
Now as much as we love babies and young children, every parent wants to see their children grow up. And God is no different. He wants to see us grow up. In verse 26, we read: “And the child Samuel grew in stature and in favor with both the Lord and man. “ In Luke 2, we read a similar verse about Jesus: “And the child grew and became strong in the spirit, filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him<”
God wants us who are born again, not to stay babes in Christ. He wants us to grow up in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man.
All of us have wanted to change something, sometime in our lives. It might have come from dissatisfaction in our lives. It might be motivated by guilt. It may come from some bad habit from chewing our fingernails to smoking. We want to change outwardly- we want to lose weight, get on a budget, eat healthier, exercise, and improve something in our lives. These changes done in the flesh usually are short-lived.
Ask an alcoholic why he doesn’t quit drinking, and they will tell you quitting is easy, I have quit a thousand times. It’s staying quit which I cannot do. Paul asked the Galatians why having begun in the Spirit are you trying to complete it in the flesh?
When we fail, we often use the same excuse: “No one is perfect.” Or- “God understands and forgives me.” Yes He does forgive, but there are consequences for sin.
Growing spiritually is a process takes time and effort. The process is called: sanctification. This process is laid out in the Bible, our “how-to manual.” Before Jesus departed he told the disciples and us He would send a “Helper”, the Holy Spirit, because He knew we would need help. Jesus knew we would attempt to live out the Christian life in our own strength. Peter was a classic example.
HOW IT WORKS
“As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him.” (Colossians 2: 6) How did we get saved? By grace through faith and that not of ourselves, it is a gift of God, not of works lest any man should boast.” From the moment we are born again of the Spirit, the Christian life is “by grace through faith” operation.
Paul goes on to write: “…rooted and built up in Him and established in faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.” (Colossians 2: 7)
“Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” I Timothy 4: 7
God uses three main catalysts to change us:
- People- as iron sharpens iron; people are used to change us.
- Circumstances- ‘we know God works all things together for good for those who love Him.
- Spiritual disciplines.
The first two catalysts you have little control over. They also change you from the outside – to inside.
The third catalysts you have control over, for you decide how much time and effort you will put into disciplining yourself. We are told: Study to show yourself approved, a workman who needs not to be ashamed, rightfully dividing the Word of God. This changes us from the inside to the outside.
We live in an undisciplined age. The old disciplines are breaking down. Yet we know the accomplished musician who sits down to play in front of an audience with ease and confidence came as a result of years and hours and hours of practice, discipline. He or she played with confidence, freed from anxiety because of the discipline of practice and preparation. Freedom is a reward of discipline.
You must therefore develop spiritual disciplines in order to grow in wisdom and stature and favor with God and man. Or you will live a life of fear and anxiety.
God has done His part: He has saved you. You have been born again of the Spirit and the Incorruptible Seed, the Word of God. “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” (Phil.2: 13)
God has given us Himself. He has given us the tools- His power, His Word, His Helper. We must work it out with fear and trembling. He also gave us the example of Jesus Christ. If we believe He is who He says He is, then we must believe that Jesus knew how to live. We can through faith and grace become more like Him by practicing the types of activities He did in His life on earth. For in doing those Jesus was able to keep in constant contact with His Heavenly Father while here on earth.
Here is a list of Spiritual Disciplines you must practice from the book: “Spiritual Disciplines for the Christian Life” by Donald Whitney.
- Bible Intake.
- Silence and solitude.
Let me share a word or two about each, but encourage you to get this book.
- Bible intake: the whole purpose of meditating on the Word of God is obedience. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. We are to hear the Word, Read the Word, Study the Word of God, Memorize the Word of God, Meditate on the Word of God. All for the purpose of obedience. But also to come to know the author of the book, the One who is also the author and finisher of our faith. “If you abide in my word, you are my disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free. A disciple abides in the Word, day and night.
- Prayer: we are told to devote ourselves to prayer, to pray continually. Here the Word of God and our “Helper” the Holy Spirit teach us how to pray. Jesus got up early each morning, a great while before daylight to pray and spend the beginning of the day with His Father. Meditation and prayer go together. Meditation is the link between Bible intake and prayer. We take in the Word, engraft it and digest it by meditation; we let it out by prayer. Someone said, meditation is the sister of reading and the mother of prayer. Prayer is also a will alignment as I seek to know and do His will as Jesus did, ‘not my will, but thine.’
- Worship: worship is focusing on and appreciating God. Entering His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise. We are to worship Him in Spirit and in Truth. The word ‘worship’ comes from worth. He alone is the Only One worthy of our worship. Now perhaps you are thinking these disciplines are my duty. Duty sounds like something we do, but do not like. The more you learn about Him and come to Know Him, the more you will love Him. And Jesus said if you love me, you will keep my commandments. It should be not only an honor to worship Him, but a joy to do so.
- Evangelism: witnessing or the telling of the Good News, the Gospel. Let say this up front: evangelism is expected. Jesus commands us in the Great Commission to be witnesses. Evangelism is empowered. “You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you and you shall be my witnesses to the end of the earth. “ In fact, the Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe.
- Service: we are expected to serve Him. He will give you the gifts you need to serve Him. Our service is motivated by obedience. We are told to serve the Lord with gladness. I also serve Him out of gratitude for what He has done for me. You should be motivated by love. “Each one should use whatever gift he/she has received to serve others, faithfully administering God’s grace in its various forms.” ( I Peter 4)
- Stewardship: Our first thoughts usually when we hear this discipline is giving money. We know and acknowledge God owns everything and we are but stewards. Giving is an act of worship. We should give on a regular basis, weekly or bi-weekly or monthly depending how you are paid or receive your monies. God promises if we will be faithful to bring the tithes into the storehouse He will open up the heavens and pour out such a blessing we cannot contain it. If you sow sparingly, you will reap sparingly. If you sow abundantly you will reap abundantly. Give and it will be given to you, pressed down, shaken together, overflowing into your lap, for with what measure you give, and it will be given to you.
- Fasting: Fasting is another spiritual discipline which is expected. Fasting is done for a purpose. Fasting strengthens prayer. Fasting seeks God’s will and guidance. Fasting sometimes expresses grief. Fasting can be to prepare to minister to others. Jesus fasted 40 days after His baptism to prepare for the beginning of his earthly ministry.
- Silence and solitude: Jesus always went off by himself, usually early in the morning before anyone was up to be alone with God. You need silence and solitude to better hear God. Remember how you used to tell you children to turn off the music while they were studying? Same principle- helps us concentrate. I never put on my hearing devices in the early morning hours when I study and meditate on the Word of God.
- Journaling: My father-in-law, Houston Sipes, Gina’s daddy, always used to say: “Get it in writing.” Journaling can keep a record of events; prayers answered, memorable events, because as we know, our memories fade with age. Journaling will also be a legacy in writing to leave your children of your walk with God. So you grandchildren and great- grandchildren will read and learn about a life lived walking by faith. Writing helps us remember; helps us meditate; helps us express our thoughts and feelings to the Lord. Leaves a legacy, a family heritage.
- Learning: continuous learning is the way of the Christian disciple. We need a heart full of the Word of God plus a mind filled with the Word of God. For our thinking must be transformed by the Word of God. A disciple is not just defined as a “follower” but also as a “learner.” Proverbs 9:9 states “Instruct a wise man and he will be wiser still; teach a righteous man and he will add to his learning.” Wise men store up knowledge like it was a treasure. Remember we are commanded to love the Lord our God with all our heart, and with all our minds… If you are not transforming your mind day and night with the Word of God, then you will open yourself to being conformed by the world culture around you. You will lose that burning heart, and turn lukewarm.
So this is quite a list. Do not be overcome. Start with Bible intake each morning and a review at night, perhaps before you go to bed or even as a discussion at the dinner table.
You have a “Helper” 24-7, the Holy Spirit who indwells you. His presence in your life creates a hunger for holiness. His job is to magnify Christ. He is the One who gives you a desire to be like Christ. He provides the power to do His Good pleasure.
God did not give us a spirit of fear (timidity) but a spirit of power, love, and self-discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)
Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.
And you will grow in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and manlike Samuel did. You will grow more like Jesus as the Spirit of God uses the Word of God to make us more like Jesus.