1 Samuel 1:1-2:26; John 10:22-42; Psalm 63:1-11
“Eli’s sons were wicked men; they had no regard for the Lord” (1 Samuel 2:13). They “sinned against the Lord” – “they did not listen to their father’s rebuke” (1 Samuel 2:25). God is calling us back from this way of living. He is showing us the better way – “the boy Samuel continued to grow … in favour with the Lord” (1 Samuel 2;26). It’s the way of listening to the Lord – “Speak, for Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10). In Proverbs 29:1, there’s a very challenging word of warning: “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” Such words of warning are also found in the New Testament. Jesus said, “whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin” (Mark 2:29). Our response to such words is not to attempt to give ‘the perfect answer’ to the question, “What is the blasphemy against the Spirit”? We are to “walk in the Spirit” (Galatians 5:16). John the Baptist warned his hearers to “flee from the coming wrath” (Luke 3:7). Once again, the goal is not to gain “a perfect understanding” of “the coming wrath.” We are to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (Luke 3:8). Hebrews 2:3 says “How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?” Here, the emphasis is on God’s great salvation. This is what changes us – “The Lord opened her heart to respond to Paul’s message” (Acts 16:14). Are there people who have hardened their hearts so much and so often that they have committed the sin of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit? The Word of God says that this can happen to any of us. It also says that there’s a better way of living. God’s way is beautifully summed up in the words of the chorus: “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face; and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace.” We can harden our hearts when we persist in sinning against the Lord. We cannot soften our own hearts. We can only pray, “Soften my heart, Lord.” It’s His love which changes us. In Jesus’ day, there were people who refused to listen to Him – “the Jews picked up stones to stone Him” (John 10:31). Jesus shows us a better way -”My sheep listen to My voice; I know them, and they follow Me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28). In Psalm 63: 11, there’s a word of warning – “the mouths of liars will be silenced.” Once again, there’s a better way – “rejoice in God.” Romans 3:4 says, “Let God be true, and every human being a liar.” What’s God saying to us here? – Don’t believe the devil’s lie. He tells us that we can live any way we like. That’s the way of book of Judges ends – “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25). How can we be delivered from a life of “ungodliness and unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18)? – Paul gives us this great answer – “I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16).
1 Samuel 2:27-4:22; John 11:1-44; Psalm 64:1-10
In the days of Samuel’s youth, “the word of the Lord was rare” (1 Samuel 3:1). Nevertheless, “the lamp of God had not yet gone out” (1 Samuel 3:3). God began to do a new work, with Samuel at the very heart of it. This new work was like a “resurrection”, out of the ashes came life – “Jesus called in a loud voice, ‘Lazarus, come out!’ The dead man came out” (John 11:43-44). This is the kind of thing that God was doing in Samuel’s day: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle” (1 Samuel 3:11). The results of such a mighty work of God are described in Psalm 64:9-10: “All people will fear; they will proclaim the works of God and ponder what He has done. The righteous will rejoice in the Lord and take refuge in Him; all the upright in heart will glory in Him!”
1 Samuel 5:1-7:17; John 11:45-12:11; Proverbs 12:18-27
In Samuel’s day, there was conflict between the god of the Philistines (Dagon) and the God of Israel. It was no contest – “there was Dagon, fallen on his face on the ground before the ark of the Lord!” (1 Samuel 5:3-4). In Jesus’ day, there was conflict between the religion of the Jews and the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Jewish religious leaders were concerned about their place and their nation. They didn’t see the most important thing – the glory of God. God was being glorified in the ministry of Jesus (John 11:47-48). “Truthful lips endure forever, but a lying tongue lasts only a moment” (Proverbs 12:19) – when the Philistines and the Pharisees have been silenced, “every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:11).