Worthless Men and a Faithful Priest

1 Samuel 2:12-36

January 22, 2023 • Andrew Murch • 1 Samuel 2:12–36

1 Samuel 2:12-36 | Andrew Murch | Last week, our narrative opened with the backstory of Samuel and his miraculous birth. As Samuel is dedicated to service in the temple, we turn to the priesthood and to Eli and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas. In our passage this week, the focus shifts from the faith of Hannah to the folly of Eli’s son and the failing of Eli to properly address and correct his sons as priest and father. The text isn’t shy in describing these sons. It’s short and straight to the point, “the sons of Eli were worthless men” (2:12). These young men were using their position and power amongst the people of God for selfish gain. They used food (sacrifices) and women however they pleased, and God is clearly not pleased. These narratives bounce back and forth from the wickedness of the sons to the development of Samuel before the Lord. The text turns the head of the reader from one to the other and is clearly setting up for the rise of Samuel in the place of the corrupt priesthood. Samuel’s origin story is still in development but this is a critical moment for Israel. Will the priesthood spiral into essentially paganism as it did in the time of the Judges, or will God use this young man to redeem the priesthood? Reports of Eli’s sons’ mishandling of the sacrifices and their appalling behavior with the women at the temple eventually reach Eli. In response, Eli’s less-than-authoritative response to his sons’ behavior stands in stark contrast to his positions of priest and father given to him by God. Eli should have literally stripped them from their priestly garments. Yet with a slap on the hand they continue with business as usual. The reaction from these young men reminds us of the heart of Pharaoh. As they chose to not listen, just as Pharaoh chose to harden his heart, the Lord continues them on that trajectory and their consequence is queued up for the right moment. Turn the head and once again we look at Samuel who continues to grow in “stature and in the favor of God” (2:26) and of men. Samuel’s path stands in sharp contrast to the path chosen by Hophni and Phinehas, and God responds to Eli and his family in a way that affirms in our hearts and minds that we must honor God before men.

Day in Court

March 19, 2023 • Andrew Murch • 1 Samuel 12

1 Samuel 12:1-25 | Andrew Murch | A crotchety old man stands in front of all of Israel, reminds them of their past, and warns them of their future. Have we read this before? The way this book is going, we may see it again. Now, what is it about this message that seems similar? God is good and mighty to save? Check. The people have the promise of a blessing if they obey the Lord’s laws and commands? Check. There is a forecasting of future disobedience and curses because of it? Check. All we are missing is a mountain and a golden calf...how about king? Ah, there is human nature! Instead of a splendid cow, the people of God had dethroned the Immortal God in exchange for a fallen man of flesh and blood.

A Bittersweet Coronation

March 12, 2023 • Will Anderson • 1 Samuel 10:17–27, 1 Samuel 11

1 Samuel 10:17-11:15 | Will Anderson | Where the farmer king fights his transformation, the Lord of All remains sovereign. The bleating of His sheep Israel when Ammonite wolves threaten them stirs the Father to raise a savior for his people. The Lord would not suffer disgrace upon Himself or His people. Saul cannot help but listen to the Spirit and unite the people as a king should. The Lord does this, He is the savior of his people.

Losing Donkeys, Finding Kings

March 5, 2023 • Andrew Murch • 1 Samuel 9, 1 Samuel 10:1–16

1 Samuel 9:1-10:16 | Andrew Murch | Imagine scouring the county for your missing dog only to be told by a smelly, scraggly fortune teller that you’ll one day be President. “You’re going to rule the nation. Don’t worry about your doggy; he’s a good boy. Have a leg of lamb. Mazel tov!” That scenario is similar to what Saul thought happened up until he realized he was talking to the prophet of the Living God. Instead of paying a fee to learn about missing livestock, Saul was receiving a down payment on discovering Israel’s deliverance. Instead of reading the future, the son of Kish was availing himself to the One who writes the future. What happens next to Saul is supernatural and changes his very self into something grander than his donkey-keeping would suggest. Saul may have looked the part of what the people were hoping for in a king: he was a tall man from a rich family in a fierce tribe. These were not enough on their own. The Lord still had to shape this Benjaminite into a leader. In the Lord’s mercy, Samuel played into Saul’s simple desire for fortune telling and tells him the future as a sign. When these come to pass, Saul is anointed with the Spirit and prophesizes amongst the prophets. From these initial moments, the evidence seems to be there. It looks like Saul may have a heart for the Lord and treasure the word of the Lord. Only time will tell what really lies in the center of Saul’s heart.