RAF: It is not enough that our children are “our” children in that we know the Lord. It is not enough that they be the children of priests, or even priests themselves. Do they know the Lord? This is the critical thing. This is what we need to raise them to, to know God for themselves.
2 – ” Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all the people. No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.” (1 Samuel 2:22-25, ESV)
RAF: In all of his objections, Eli failed in this chief thing: He DID nothing. He was the one whose responsibility it would have been to have stripped his sons of their priesthood in light of their sins. But in the final analysis, all he did was complain and say what they were doing was bad. But he did, nothing. This is where all discipline fails. It fails to incorporate proper consequences for actions and attitudes.
3 – “Therefore the Lord, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the Lord declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed.” (1 Samuel 2:30, ESV)
RAF: God does not ignore Eli’s failure to reign in his sons. We can be disqualified from His service if we are unwilling to deal with the sins of our children. While he could not save them, he could have stopped them from being allowed to continue. His inaction on their parts will have consequences on both theirs and his.
4 – “So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him.”” (1 Samuel 3:18, ESV)
RAF: What a tragic response. No repentance. No pleading for mercy from the God who reveals Himself as merciful. No rush to plead with his sons that they might be spared. Just dark resignation. God save us from such hearts. God grant to us hearts that will not hear such words as irreversible decrees, but as warnings filled with grace and mercy before the judgment is carried out that we might hear and turn to Him.
5 – “And when the troops came to the camp, the elders of Israel said, “Why has the Lord defeated us today before the Philistines? 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 Samuel 4:3, ESV)
RAF: How common for us it is to ignore the reality that sin brings certain defeat in the face of enemies. The condition of Eli’s sons and the wickedness of what was going on was well known. How could they expect victory? Yet we do the same. Walk contrary to His revealed will, and then wonder why it is we have no power over our sins, and have no impact on the world. But then they retreat to treating the Ark of the Covenant like a good luck charm to give them victory. Again, how much like ourselves. We will get a special person to pray for us, or temporarily seek to return to God’s house, or read the Bible, and treat these things like quick-fix measures. As though they are charms in and of themselves. It is superstitious blasphemy.
6 – “And she named the child Ichabod, saying, “The glory has departed from Israel!” because the ark of God had been captured and because of her father-in-law and her husband.” (1 Samuel 4:21, ESV)
RAF: The problem was not that they had suddenly lost possession of the Ark. The problem was that while God’s glory had dwelt among them in the Holy of Holies, they had long departed from Him in their sin. God had not abandoned them – they had abandoned Him.
7 – ” And Samuel said to all the house of Israel, “If you are returning to the Lord with all your heart, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth from among you and direct your heart to the Lord and serve him only, and he will deliver you out of the hand of the Philistines.”” (1 Samuel 7:3, ESV)
RAF: True repentance is always characterized by a return to singular devotion to God.
8 – “And the Lord said to Samuel, “Obey the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.” (1 Samuel 8:7, ESV)
RAF: God’s preferred means of governance over men is that each live in personal responsibility before Him. When that willingness for each to be responsible before God fails, God raises up human government. When human government grows large and oppressive, the answer is never a change in human government, but a return to individual responsibility before God. This is true both in the Church and in Society.
9 – ” So Samuel told all the words of the Lord to the people who were asking for a king from him. He said, “These will be the ways of the king who will reign over you: he will take your sons and appoint them to his chariots and to be his horsemen and to run before his chariots. And he will appoint for himself commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and some to plow his ground and to reap his harvest, and to make his implements of war and the equipment of his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive orchards and give them to his servants. He will take the tenth of your grain and of your vineyards and give it to his officers and to his servants. He will take your male servants and female servants and the best of your young men and your donkeys, and put them to his work. He will take the tenth of your flocks, and you shall be his slaves.” (1 Samuel 8:10-17, ESV)
RAF: Human government inevitably has these features:
a. It creates class distinction, so that government officials employ people merely to attend them in their office.
b. It will create a standing army rather than a volunteer one responding only to real threats. c. Those involved in it will begin to take their employment by it and use national resources to manage their own estates.
d. It will create an industry around weapons and battle preparedness.
e. It will require more and more support personnel, even to the point of providing luxuries and not just needs.
f. It will seize upon public and private property to compensate those in its employ.
g. It will increase taxes.
h. It will rob the private sector of some of its finest people in accomplishing its ends.
i. It will eventually make everyone its slave in some capacity. Let those who think our own nation’s woes are to be solved by government take heed.
10 – ““Tomorrow about this time I will send to you a man from the land of Benjamin, and you shall anoint him to be prince over my people Israel. He shall save my people from the hand of the Philistines. For I have seen my people, because their cry has come to me.”” (1 Samuel 9:16, ESV)
RAF: Oh the grace of God, who will even use what we have sought in our rebellion to bless us. Is there any way to search out the depths of His love and grace?
11 – “And for whom is all that is desirable in Israel? Is it not for you and for all your father’s house?” Saul answered, “Am I not a Benjaminite, from the least of the tribes of Israel? And is not my clan the humblest of all the clans of the tribe of Benjamin? Why then have you spoken to me in this way?”” (1 Samuel 9:20-21, ESV)
RAF: Saul had no clue, that to be so desired by the people (in their deep desire for a King not for him personally) – that such was a two-edged sword. For their desire for him meant their rejection of God. How he would wish he one day that he had known how to reject such flattery.
12 – “But some worthless fellows said, “How can this man save us?” And they despised him and brought him no present. But he held his peace.” (1 Samuel 10:27, ESV)
RAF: No matter how plainly God establishes His leadership, there will always be those who oppose the man himself.