1 Samuel 3-4
Many a man has given into the perennial temptation of gathering to himself counselors who will only tell him what he wants to hear. God once said of Israel, “This is a rebellious people. . . Children that will not hear the law of the LORD: Which say to the seers, See not; And to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, Speak unto us smooth things” (Isaiah 30:9-10).
Such are our times. We build safe rooms on college campuses to keep us from speakers who say things that trigger. We have gone so far down the rabbit hole that some want to replace the word mother with “birthing people.” Mother is apparently too hard on some, far too binary a word, and a bit narrow. We do this kind of thing because we hate God and His standard. And God appears to be giving us over to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done (Romans 1:28).
There is hope. But we have to learn to receive God’s Word when it hits with a thud—”Is not my word like. . . a hammer that breaketh the rock in pieces” (Jeremiah 23:29)? 1 Samuel 3-4 tells of a time when God’s Word struck like a thunderbolt.
The Text – A Summary
The boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. He heard someone calling him while he was lying in the tabernacle by the ark of God. He ran a number of times to Eli before he realized that the LORD was calling him. God spoke to Samuel in that place, which was significant being the Word of the Lord was rare in those days (3:1).
But, the word was bitter. God was about to do a thing in Israel that would make everyone’s ears tingle. Eli’s house would be punished forever for the blasphemy they committed.
The fulfillment of the word came as Israel battled the Philistines at Aphek. The Israelites brought the ark to the battle. Hophni and Phineas went, too. The Israelites shouted as the ark entered the camp. But, the Philistines heard and took courage. The Philistines won, took the ark, and killed many Israelites including Hophni and Phineas.
A Benjaminite then ran to Shiloh to share the news. All the city cried out. Eli was sitting by the road eager to hear about the battle. Upon hearing the ark was captured and his sons dead, Eli himself fell over and died. His daughter-in-law gave birth and died herself. Before dying she named the child Ichabod saying, “The glory has departed from Israel.”
Heeding God’s Word
Eli failed to heed God’s word. Heeding involves more than hearing. You must hear, believe, and obey. Anything less brings judgment. God told Samuel, “I have told [Eli] that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not” (1 Samuel 3:13). Eli made a weak attempt, but he did not restrain his sons. The father was to speak words that went thwack. God the Father had done so. And Eli did not heed that Word.
Prophets of God
The Christian Church serves a prophetic function—”Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God” (2 Corinthians 5:20). We are to be an aroma of life to life to those who are saved, and an aroma of death to death to those who are perishing. But, a good measure of the church in America refuses to serve that assigned function. It is nothing short of refusing to go and teach the nations to obey Christ (Matthew 28). We have trimmed God’s Word.
We have also relegated God’s truth and reign to the hearts of the elect. Much like the hyper-calvinists are we. They would only preach the gospel to those who in some way evidenced election. Most evangelicals rightly and wholeheartedly reject that error. But, many of these same evangelicals are running the same play when it comes to the law. They simply will not preach it to the world. They hold to the Lordship of Christ over His church, but not the Lordship of Christ over all things.
A Gracious Warning
Modern man believes that Eli was loving his sons when he “took it easy on them.” We have bought the lie that there is no such thing as a gracious warning. We assume grace lines up with encouragment and condemnation lines up with warning. But what if someone is encouraging you to go to hell?
Genuine love speaks hard words. And those who love the truth and people must do so. In Ezekiel’s prophecy, we hear that it is the watchman’s duty to sound the alarm when the sword comes upon the land. If he does so, and people do not heed, then the blood of the slain shall be upon their own heads. But, “If the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand” (Ezekiel 33:6).
I have known a few Reformed and Evangelical Leaders to get a bit out of sorts with the way some fellow ministers sound the alarm about the sword coming upon our land. These leaders agree that we have problems, but they shift around in their chairs when a fellow preacher uses a word to describe the situation that goes thwack. I encourage those leaders to give a moment’s reflection to the following very short list of our folly and abominations:
- We have a man who pretends to be a woman serving as an Assistant Secretary for the U.S. Department of Health.
- The Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine has issued guidelines encouraging the use of terms like “chestfeeding.” And in place of the antiquated moniker “breat milk,” we are now to use the more gender-inclusive “parent’s milk.”
- Our nation is actually considering the viability of drafting women: mothers, sisters, daughters, and granddaughters into the military to fight our enemies.
- Drag Queens now teach the kids down at the public library.
- And let us not forget the millions of little babies we have slaughtered in this land in the worship of Molech.
We do not have problems. We have unqualified rebellion against the Creator. The sword is coming. Now is manifestly not the time to be picky about the way a faithful watchman is sounding the alarm.
Whatever your position on the wall, you do not want to be like Eli who failed to restrain those under his care. It’s high time to blow your horn.