Year 2 Day 198
Read - 1 Samuel 3:1
Message - Alan Burke
I hope you’ve noticed as we work our way through the book of Samuel the repeated emphasis on Samuel. How in chapter 1:28 ‘Samuel worshiped the Lord there’, in chapter 2:11 ‘the boy minister before the Lord under Eli the priest’, then verse 18 ‘But Samuel was ministering before the Lord’, then verse 21 ‘Meanwhile the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord’, then verse 26 ‘the boy Samuel continue to grow in statue and in favour with the Lord and with men’ and now after the judgement upon the house of Eli comes we are told in chapter 3:1 ‘The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli’.
Samuel, Samuel, Samuel! Everything in the book so far has been preparing us for what would now happen as the Lord calls Samuel. But just so we the reader don’t miss how bad things were, we are also told here, how ‘In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions’ (1). The scarcity of the word of God is compared to a famine in Amos (8:12), this is a famine far worse than of bread or water things that we perceive as the necessities of life. To not have the word of the Lord is worse than physical starvation and dehydration. In Eli’s days the word of the Lord was rare.
Here’s the thing, in the book of Samuel we have seen lots of religious activity, people came to worship the Lord at Shiloh, there were sacrifices made. Samuel makes clear that the worship of the Lord continued although the worship of the Lord was treated with scorn (2:29). What existed in Shiloh was the institute of religion, the business of religion, the vestiges of religion, these things remained, they continued on unabated, pomp and ceremony remained but there was nothing of depth or of worth and the Lord’s word as a result was rare.
Looking in from the outside, everything seemed like it was hunky dory, they were still the people of God, the were doing the religious stuff, the were active in what they were ‘supposed’ to be doing but it was contemptible to God, because they had rejected God and his word. There is one thing that you can’t say about Northern Ireland and that is there aren’t enough churches. Yet the word of the Lord can still be rare. There are many places across this land that have the institute of religion, the business of religion, the vestiges of religion, these things remain, they continued on unabated, pomp and ceremony are there but what is missing is the Gospel. It can also be rare in places where the Gospel of Jesus Christ, Crucified Risen and Ascended is preached because we are not wanting to hear it and we try to exclude our children from it. Our hearts want less Bible, less singing God’s word, less praying the word, less reading God’s word, and instead of God’s word preached we can want sermonette’s but preferably more special services.
But we should want more more Bible not less, more singing God’s word, more praying God’s word, more reading of God’s word, more of God’s word preached, and we should want our children to hear it. When the word of God is welcomed, it is God’s grace to his people, when his word has free course among his people, when the preaching of the word of God stands at the heart of the church’s life where the pulpit ministry is where the word of the Lord is clearly accurately and helpfully preached then we are rich in the grace of God. In Samuels day the Lord was breaking through the famine of his word, it is God’s word that they as well as we are dependant on for by it he will work.
Q79 Which is the tenth commandment?
The tenth commandment is, Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’ s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’ s wife, nor his man-servant, nor his maid-servant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’ s. (Exod. 20:17)