1 Samuel: Eli’s sons were seducing women who came to serve at the tabernacle. Eli told them to stop this and the other practices but they didn’t listen. The Lord sent a man of God to prophecy to Eli that because of his sons and because he didn’t stop them, all of his descendants would die relatively young. This would not remove God’s promise that there would always be a priest to serve before him. His two sons would die on the same day as a sign this would happen. In addition, God would raise up a priest who would always serve before his anointed one.
Samuel was growing in favor of God and man and the word of the Lord was rare in those days. Eli and Samuel were sleeping in the tabernacle and the Lord spoke to Samuel. Samuel didn’t recognize the Lord’s voice so he thought Eli called him. So, he went to Eli thinking he called. Eli told him he didn’t call. After it happened three times, Eli understood the Lord was calling so he told Samuel what to say. The Lord told Samuel he was about to fulfil the prophecy against Eli and his sons. In the morning, Eli made Samuel tell him what the Lord said.
As Samuel grew, he became a reliable prophet. Israel recognized him as a prophet and the Lord revealed himself through Samuel at Shiloh.
The Philistines attacked Israel and defeated them. The people wanted to know why but didn’t ask the Lord. Instead, they brought the Ark from Shiloh so it would save them from their enemies. Eli’s sons took the Ark to the battle lines and the people raised a great shout so that the ground shook and the enemy believed they were in big trouble because Israel’s God was in their camp. However, the Philistines rallied, defeated Israel, killed Eli’s sons, and captured the Ark.
When Eli heard that his sons had been killed and the Ark captured, he fell out of his chair, broke his neck because he was old and fat, and died. Eli’s daughter-in-law was pregnant and went into labor at the news. As she died from her labor, she named her boy Ichabod. Ichabod means no glory. She named him Ichabod because the glory of the Lord departed from Israel.
Psalm: We are called to praise the Lord and give thanks to him for his love endures forever. Yet, there is no way we can completely tell all his deeds or adequately praise him. But we will be blessed when we act justly and righteously.
We should ask the Lord to show us favor so we can see him save others and prosper his nation. We should rejoice at seeing that.
The Psalmist confesses his sins and those of his ancestors who were living in Egypt. Even though they sinned, he saved them out of Egypt for his name’s sake. He brought them through the Red Sea but drowned their enemies.
Proverbs: Be at peace with what you have because it is good for the body but envy rots your bones.
Be kind to poor people because it honors the Lord rather than being mean, which disrespects the Lord.
John: Jesus continues to teach the Jews who want to kill him. He tells them that hearing and believing Jesus brings eternal life and avoids judgment. Jesus has life in himself and he will resurrect everyone, those who have done good for life and those who have done evil for judgment. Jesus will be the perfect judge because he does the Father’s will.
Jesus isn’t the only one who testifies about himself. John the Baptist did. Jesus doesn’t need human testimony but he allows it so that his listeners will be saved. His testimony is also from the Father and it is shown in the works Jesus will complete. The Father has testified about Jesus but they haven’t received it because they have never seen or heard him. Since they don’t believe in Jesus, God’s word doesn’t live in them. Even though they search the Scriptures to gain eternal life, they miss out because the Scriptures point to Jesus.
Jesus comes in the Father’s name but they don’t accept him because they are looking for approval of others and not from God. Jesus isn’t going to accuse them because Moses does. If they don’t believe what Moses has said they won’t believe Jesus.
What Stood Out
1 Samuel: “Let us bring the ark of the covenant of the Lord here from Shiloh, that it may come among us and save us from the power of our enemies” (1 Sam 4:3).
Psalm: “Yet he saved them for his name's sake, that he might make known his mighty power” (Ps 106:8).
Proverbs: “Whoever is kind to the needy honors God” (Prov 14:31 NIV).
John: “If you believed Moses, you would believe me; for he wrote of me” (John 5:46).
1 Samuel: Israel is in a bind with two priests who are doing horrible things in their office. Eli is putting the welfare of is sons ahead of obedience to the Lord. It is implied by the sons taking meat by force, that Eli could have rallied some Levites to punish his sons but he didn’t. The Lord also accuses him of growing fat on the best of the offerings, so he would lose out on his choice steaks also. And the word of the Lord is rare in Israel.
So, what happens? The people are not being taught well. When the Lord’s punishment comes on the whole of Israel because the priests are going the wrong way, they do what they think is right by taking the Ark to the battle. They didn’t ask God what was wrong, they acted presumptuously. The result was disastrous for them, but it was God’s way of bringing about his punishment on Eli and his sons by having them all die in one day.
When the word of God is rare today it is because we don’t know the Bible or put it into practice; we suffer the same fate as Israel. We treat God like a magic genie asking for things we have no business having. We put anything and everything ahead of our devotion to the Lord. When things go wrong, we don’t look at our own sinful behavior but blame God.
Psalm: There isn’t any way that we can adequately praise God. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t praise him. One of the biggest reasons to praise him is because he doesn’t treat us as our sins deserve. As the Psalmist points out, God saves us despite our sins. He doesn’t save us because we are righteous or just, because we aren’t. He saves us for his own name’s sake. This is a reoccurring theme in the Bible. God does things for his glory because there is nothing greater that his glory. It makes us realize that God’s infinite glory is something that we really can’t understand. However, we can rest in the knowledge that what brings glory to God is also best for us.
Proverbs: How we treat poor people tells a lot about what we think of God. If we take advantage of them or oppress them, then we demonstrate that we don’t really think much of God. God made them just as he made us. If we aren’t kind to them, then we reject God’s word that repeatedly tells us to be kind to the poor and open our hands to their needs. When we are generous to poor people we honor the Lord because we are obeying his word. It also acknowledges that we could be in the same situation just as easily.
John: We can have assurance of our salvation because of what Jesus told his enemies. If we believe Jesus, then we are also believing in the Father who sent Jesus. We will not be condemned and have passed from death into life. That’s straightforward and something we can rest on. Some don’t have assurance of salvation because they are looking for the wrong solution. They may be looking in the Scriptures, just as the Jews were, but they are not looking for Jesus. They are looking for the rules and regulations to perform to make sure they have done all the works needed to gain God’s approval. They don’t realize that all that was written to point to Jesus. Our salvation isn’t based on doing the right things but in a relationship with Jesus.
Jesus makes it plain that salvation isn’t going to be given to everyone. It may sound like salvation by works when he talks about doing good or doing evil, but the clarification is in coming to Jesus for life. Once we’ve come to Jesus we can do good. We don’t do good so we can come to Jesus. If that were the case, then none of us would ever come to him because we are all sinners.
Living a godly life means being in the word and looking for Jesus there. If I don’t do that, then it is easy to live a life without recognizing God in all parts of my life. I can end up like Eli, knowing about God, even instructing others, but putting my own comfort above obedience to him.