Man Of Destiny

Bible Book: 1 Samuel  1
Subject: Godliness; Influence

A little girl was spending the night far away from home. At bedtime she knelt with her hostess to pray, expecting the usual prompting. Finding her hostess unable to help her, she prayed, "Please, Lord, excuse me. I can't remember my prayers, and I'm staying with a mother who doesn't know how to pray."

But there was a mother in Old Testament times who did know how to pray. On her knees in the temple she begged the Lord for a man-child, to be given to His service.

The Lord heard her prayer, and Samuel was born. He became Israel's Man of Destiny: an educator, who founded the School of Prophets; a prophet, who put the Word above the world; a priest, who put prayer above pleasure; a judge, who put integrity above indulgence; a king-maker, who put greatness above glory! Moses was the Deliverer who created a nation. But the nation sinned and went down deep in defeat and despair. Just when Israel's national situation and spiritual condition appeared hopeless, Samuel restored them and recreated them; and he led them on from victory to victory. That's why he's listed in the Who's Who of Faith!

I. Look At Samuel And Hannah

Hannah was the wife of Elkanah. Her name means "gracious," and she was one of the most gracious women of the Bible times. She was childless, and wanting children, Elkanah took another wife. She gave birth to several children, and made fun of Hannah because of her barrenness.

Hannah's heart was full of grief. In their grief, some turn to drink and drugs, but that only deepens their despair. Others turn to lasciviousness and lewdness, but that only lowers them in their lust. But Hannah turned to God. She said in 1 Samuel 1:15, "I have poured out my soul before the Lord." She emptied her soul of her grief, and the Lord enriched it with His grace. What an exchange!

In your grief, go to God and pour out your soul. As you pour out your bitterness, He'll pour our His blessedness; as you pour out your sorrow, He'll pour in His solace. Sighting goes out one door while singing comes in at another. God is a refuge in your grief. In everything, by prayer and supplication make your requests known unto God.

Listen to Hannah as she prayed in 1 Samuel 1:11, "O Lord of hosts, if Thou wilt indeed look upon the affliction of Thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget Thine handmaid, but wilt give unto Thine handmaid a male child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life."

A. Confidence

Her prayer was one of confidence, for she addressed the One to whom she prayed as "Lord of hosts." Being all-powerful, she knew that with Him all things were possible. Owning everything and ordering everyone, she knew He could overpower her barrenness and give her a boy.

B. Consecration

Her prayer was one of consecration. She looked upon herself as the Lord's handmaid. It's not the possession of extraordinary gifts that makes extraordinary usefulness, but the dedication of what we have to the service of the Lord. Hannah gave all that she had for all of time to the Almighty. Have you?

C. Compliance

Her prayer was one of compliance. She said, "If Thou wilt." Submission is the secret of success in supplication. We have a post office box. It has a combination lock. When the appropriate spots on the disc coincide, the lock can be turned, and we can get our mail. Somewhat the same is it in the case of prayer. When our will is brought to the place where it coincides with his will, the lock to His storehouse is opened, and the supply is granted. When "my will" says "Thy will," we may be assured that the Lord will give us His best. As the hymn writer put it, "He gives the very best to those who leave the choice with Him."

D. Certainty

Her prayer was one of certainty. She knew the Lord wouldn't foil her or fail her. She was certain she didn't bring a request too big for Him, or a problem too hard for Him, for He's the God who is enough- great enough, wise enough, understanding enough, and powerful enough for her request. So she went on her way, and according to verse 18, "Her countenance was no more sad."

Thus Samuel's life was an answer to the faithful and fervent supplication of his mother, by whom he was dedicated before his birth to the service of the Lord. For good or bad, for heaven or hell, a mother's influence is very great. It's not surprising to learn the Lord Byron, the prominent poet lived a reckless and vicious life, for his mother was rash and violent. Nero was fourteen years Emperor of Rome. He was one of the most evil of all men; and his mother was a murderess. On the other hand the mothers of Sir Walter Scott, Wesley and Augustine were remarkable for their graciousness, godliness and intelligence. Like mother, like child. That's what led one great man to say, "Give me a generation of Christian mothers, and I will undertake to change the face of society in twelve months."

II. Look At Samuel And Eli

Eli the priest was old when he's introduced to us in 1 Samuel. He's been sitting at his customary place by the entrance to the temple. And he's always sitting. Doesn't that suggest indolence, not industry! But while he was idle, the devil wasn't. He was busy destroying his sons. For it's written in 1 Samuel 2:12, "The sons of Eli were worthless men; they knew not the Lord."

Grace doesn't run in our blood stream. Unbelieving parents have children who become Christians, and Christians have unbelieving children. But believing parents ought to do their best to lead their children to the Lord. While Eli was praise-worthy as a priest, he was poor as a parent. Because he was a priest, his sons became priests. To them it wasn't a calling, but a career; not a passion, but a position. They remind me of the preacher of whom it was asked, "Was you sent, or did you just went?" These sons "just went."

They weren't interested in the Lord, only lust; for the Bible says they seduced the women who assisted in the temple. They weren't concerned about the Master, only money; for the Bible says they stole from the people they were to serve. They didn't care about the Scriptures, only about self- indulgence; for the Bible says "they didn't know the Lord."

Eli was spiritual, but he was spineless; he was true, but timid. While he reminded his sons of their sins, he didn't restrict them. For it's written in 1 Samuel 3:13, "His sons made themselves vile, and restrained them not."

Many year ago Dr. F.B. Myer wrote, "We are held responsible for our children. Our weakness in restraining them is a sin, which will inevitably be followed not only by their punishment, but by our own. Better do less in the church and the world than allow your children to grow up as a misery to themselves and a reproach to you."

Eli's sons died as they lived-violently. When the message of their death came to Eli, he was found just as he was at the beginning of the story, sitting on the chair. He was very heavy and he fell over backwards on his chair and died instantly.

Eli failed with his sons, but he didn't fail with Samuel. The Bible tells us that he, as a child, ministered before the Lord under Eli the priest. And he continued to grow in stature and in favor with the Lord and with men.

During those days messages from the Lord were rare. And one night, while Samuel was sleeping in the temple, the Lord called him. Samuel answered, "Here I am," and he ran to Eli. But Eli told him that he didn't call him, and he went back to sleep. So urgent was the situation, that the Lord called Samuel four times. Oh, how many times has the Lord stood at the door of your heart and called you!

"Well," you say, "I think I've heard him call me. But how can I be sure of a divine call?"

A. Fervor

First, you may know the Lord's call by the fervor. If an impression comes to your heart, and you're not quite certain it's of the Lord, pray about it, and act on it as far as possible; follow in the direction in which you're led. If it diminishes, give it up. If it develops, go on with it.

B. Foresight

Second, you may know the Lord's call by the foresight of your friends. Eli realized that the Lord was calling Samuel, and he told him to respond to the call. For many years I served the Lord as a songleader and soloist, but it seemed as though the Lord was calling me to be a preacher. While on staff of the Moody Bible Institute I went to Miami to lead the singing for Dr. Will H. Houghton, then president of the Moody Bible Institute. On the first Sunday afternoon Dr. Houghton told me that he would lead the singing and that I would preach. I started to refuse, but he wouldn't let me. He said, "You have fifteen minutes to get alone with the Lord and prepare your sermon." The Lord spoke to my heart, and he lead the singing and I preached. The Lord greatly blessed. Scores came forward to confess the Lord Jesus. After the service Dr. Houghton said, "From now on you're going to preach. I'll get another man to lead the singing for the evangelists."

C. Fruit

Third, you may know the Lord's call by the fruit. Does it lead to humility and holiness, self-sacrifice and service, faithfulness and fruitbearing, the conversion of sinners and the consecration of saints? Whatever is to our humbling, the helping of others and to the honor of God, may be deemed as the call of the Lord.

You may wonder, "Why did the Lord speak to Samuel and not to Eli or to an older person?" Because the Lord seeks the susceptible and the submissive heart, the strong and the stalwart saint, the believing and bold servant. Samuel lived close to the Lord. His heart was cleared for action. That's why he got the call. Are you living where the Lord can speak to you and use you?

One morning a father directed his sons to stay nearby so they could come when he called them for an errand. But one of the boys didn't appear when the father called. The other ran the errand, they ate their dinner, and were enjoying the fellowship when the other boy arrived. "Why didn't you call me?" he asked. "I did," said the father, "but you weren't within calling distance." Eli wasn't, but Samuel was. He got the Lord's message. And what was it?

A word about Eli's fate. The Lord said in 1 Samuel 3:13, "I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knoweth, because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not."

Eli knew the Lord had spoken to Samuel, this twelve-year-old boy. So he demaned, "What did the Lord say to you? Don't hide it from me!"

What a difficult situation! Eli was like a father to him as well as a friend, an inspiration as well as an instructor. And he was asked to declare his doom! But Samuel had faith, and faith makes one fearless. His faith enabled him to be dependable in spite of his feelings, and to be obedient in spit of the obstacles. Faith enables the believing soul to treat the future as present. It's as much at home in the realm of the impossible as of the possible, for it relies on the Lord with whom all things are possible.

III. Look At Samuel And Israel

During those dark and dreadful days when Samuel was growing up, every board in that country was cracking. The nation was galloping to destruction at a dizzy pace. On every hand there was religious wrongdoing, moral corruption and intellectual weakness. The people went from trouble to tragedy, from war to war, and the earth echoed with the groans of the suffering. But Samuel grew in stature, in wisdom, in grace and the knowledge of the Lord. He stood out like a lily in a bed of tar! The Lord was with him, and all Israel listened carefully to his words. In 1 Samuel 7:3 he gave them four R's for a revival.

A. Repentance

First R, repentance. He said, "If ye do return to the Lord with all your hearts." Real repentance thinks the Lord's thoughts about sin, and hates it. It takes the Lord's side against self, and dies to it. And it turns to the Lord Himself, and serves Him with a whole heart. Half heart is no heart. You see a beautiful illustration of this in 1 Thessalonians 1:9. There Paul said, "Ye turned to God from idols, to serve the living and true God." It doesn't say they turned from idols to God, but to God from idols. It wasn't reformation first, but repentance first. It wasn't feelings first, but faith first. There must be the faith in Christ first; and that's followed by a forsaking of idols. And that's a deliberate choice, a definite choice, a once-and-for-all choice.

B. Renunciation

Second R, renunciation. He said, "Put away the foreign or strange gods and Ashtaroth from among you." The Israelites turned from God to the worship of Baal and Ashtaroth, the male and female devilish divinities of the pagans. Every man has a god. Even the atheist. He believes in No-god. The real question isn't whether or not a man believes in God, but what kind of a God does he serve?

Today one serves the god of plenty, or position, or popularity, or pleasure. But the more he gets the more he wants. Enough is never. And it takes more and more to get less and less satisfaction. It's true in our day and it was true in Samuel's day. How one lowers himself when he turns from God!

C. Reformation

Third R, reformation. He said, "Prepare your hearts unto the Lord, and serve Him only." The word "reformation" means "that method of preparation whereby one is made better by putting a stop to abuses and malpractices." Real repentance always produces reform in one's life. The sot becomes sober; the dishonest, honest; the crooked, straight; the impure, pure; the unkind, kind. Must there be a correction of malpractices in your life?

D. Restoration

Fourth R, restoration. The Lord promised, "I will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines." Instead of the fetters there will be freedom; instead of the sighing, singing; instead of the trouble, tranquility; instead of the raging, rest! Have you lost out with the Lord? Why don't you take the divine road to restoration?

Here's an interesting thing. When the Philistines heard of the restoration, Samuel wrote in verse 7 of chapter 7, "The Philistines went up against Israel." What's true in their case will be true in yours. The devil will never permit any restoration without resisting. Think of our Lord. After His baptism came His battle. He was tested by the devil, but He triumphed over him. And if you trust Him, He'll triumph over the devil in your life. That's what the Israelis did. They said to Samuel, "Cease not to cry unto the Lord our God for us, that He will save us out of the hand of the Philistines." He made supplication, and the Philistines were subdued!

"Then," it's written in 1 Samuel 7:12, "Samuel took a stone, and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and called the name of it Ebenezer, saying, Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."

For many years television viewers thrilled to "Mission Impossible," a fascinating story about an intelligence team and their mighty deeds. In the story Jim would step into the phone booth, find a tape and play it. The tape would tell him of a dangerous assignment, and then he'd hear the voice say, "Jim, in case you choose to accept the assignment, please remember we deny we every knew you. In five seconds this tape will self-destruct." That doctrine of "deniability" is practiced by our government and many others. But it's not practiced by our God. Whenever He sends His servants on a mission He stays with them to provide for them and to protect them. He never leaves us in a lurch. That's why Samuel said, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us," and why we can say with Annie Johnson Flint:

Hitherto the Lord hath helped us, Hitherto His hand hath led, Hitherto His arm protected, Hitherto his bounty fed;

Will His love desert us wholly,

Will His heart our need forget,

Will His presence clean forsake us,

Who hath never failed us yet?

Let the Past we know assure us

Of the Present's certain aid,

Till the Future'd dark forebodings

In the light of faith shall fade;

Still He hears our supplications,

As our days our strength shall be;

And His grace is all sufficient

For the needs of you and me.

IV. Samuel And Saul

Samuel retired in his old age, and he appointed his sons as judges. But they weren't like him. They were greedy for money. The leaders went to him and said, "Give us a king to judge us!" Samuel was upset, and he prayed about it.

Samuel was born of prayer, he was named for prayer, for his name signifies "asked of God;" he was nurtured by prayer; trained in prayer; and after he started a School for the Prophets he taught prayer. So it's no wonder that he did nothing without prayer.

The Lord told Samuel to listen to the people, for He said, "They have not rejected thee, but they have rejected Me." Obedient to the Lord, Samuel prayed and planned for a king and a kingdom. Under the direction of the Lord he chose Saul.

Saul was impressive. He stood head and shoulders above his countrymen. He was handsome and humble, strong and tall and every inch a king. When the Israelis saw him they shouted, "God save the king!" God tried to, but Saul interfered.

He started well. But one day after he defeated one enemy after another, he did a terrible thing. The Philistines had recruited a mighty army, and when the Israelis saw the Philistines they lost their nerve. But they realized their only hope lay in a mighty intervention by the Lord, whose prophet, Samuel, was due by set arrangement to join Saul on the seventh day.

The morning of that day came and Samuel hadn't arrived. When he saw his troops slipping away he decided to sacrifice the offerings himself. Just as he was finishing Samuel arrived. Saul went to meet him and receive his blessing. But Samuel asked, "What have you done?" Saul answered in 1 Samuel 13:11-12, "Because the people were scattered...and thou camest not...I forced myself, and offered a burnt offering." And Samuel answered in verses 13 and 14, "Thou hast done foolishly...thy kingdom shall not continue."

It was a test, and Saul had failed. No offering can take the place of obedience, and circumstances shall never affect our compliance.

You and I must learn to wait upon the Lord. He may not come until the last moment, but He'll come as He promised. And in the meantime, He'll not allow the enemy to hurt us. Our safety is secured. So wait on the Lord. Never act in panic. And don't allow others to dictate to you. When you're most eager to act, without the Lord's permission, you'll make your most pitiable mistake. So wait on the Lord.

There was another time when Saul made a miserable mistake. Amalek was Israel's first foe after leaving Egypt, and they were the fiercest. The Lord had commanded that His people should execute His judgment upon them and blot out their remembrance. For He had already given them five- hundred years to change their ways, but they went deeper in their sins. Now they had crossed the deadline. And God chose Saul to carry out the judgment.

Hear the command that's found in 1 Samuel 15:3, "Go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not."

But 1 Samuel 15:9 says, "Saul and the people spared Agag and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not destroy them; but everything that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly."

But partial obedience is positive disobedience. It's either submission or sedition, duty or mutiny, obedience or disobedience. So Samuel said to Saul in verse 26, "Thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, and the Lord hath rejected thee from being king over Israel."

Was Saul delighted with his disobedience? Oh, no! He was distressed. He became a wretched man; without hope, without peace, without vision. And a man who has lost these things suffers the very pains of hell.

Hear him as he cried, "I have played the fool!" What an exchange. The robes of royalty for a cap and bells, the king's crown for a fool's garment; and he who was the Lord's king became the devil's fool.

His deathbed was a battlefield. Rather than let the enemy kill him, he fell on his own sword, and he died a suicide! And a boy with a slingshot and a pebble got his crown and kingdom!

What of Samuel? The old man of God, with tears in his eyes and a tenderness in his heart said to the king of Amalek, "As the sword hath made women childless, so shall thy mother be childless among women." Brandishing the keen blade of the Lord's vengence, and with unflinching obedience to the Lord's command, he put Agag to death before the Lord.

Isn't it better to be a Samuel than a Saul? King-maker, prophet-teacher, national unifier, governmental centralizer, prayer warrior, dispeller of decadence-Samuel. There walked a man of God!