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Daily Bible Readings

It's Not You, Samuel, It's Me - Says God

Posted by Dan Sullivan on

1When Samuel became old, he made his sons judges over Israel. 2 The name of his firstborn son was Joel, and the name of his second, Abijah; they were judges in Beersheba. 3 Yet his sons did not walk in his ways but turned aside after gain. They took bribes and perverted justice.
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah 5 and said to him, “Behold, you are old and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now appoint for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” 6 But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, “Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the Lord. 7 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 8:1–7 Read More

Samuel is now old enough that the people are asking about his succession plan. Like Eli, his sons have turned to their own desires and are using their power for themselves. Eli’s sons were sexually immoral and craved food that was intended for God. Samuel’s sons are judges, which means they decide controversies on behalf of God, and allow those decisions to be made according to who pays them the most. Eli’s sons showed disdain for the Lord by not honoring Him. Samuel’s sons showed disdain by taking Him out of the decision process altogether. 

When Samuel is confronted with what the people want, it says he prayed to the Lord. It doesn’t say he fought back or beat his sons. He prayed. That closeness to God is what really made him a judge. His sons were made judges but lacked that closeness. They were given religious power without having spiritual depth, so they handled it poorly. 

God almost comforts Samuel in this time, by doing the very thing that God does the best. He comforts us by drawing our attention off of ourselves and onto Him. God says, “It’s not you they are rejecting, Samuel, it’s me.” That means that it’s not Samuel who has failed here, as his sons go astray and the people he has led make bad choices. God hasn’t failed, but He is being rejected. No, as sad as it is, the fault is all on the people. 

Throughout the Old Testament, the people of God are the people of God by His grace towards them. They are continually making the choice to go away from Him since Adam and Eve. God has helped preserve this history in the scriptures because it really is the story of every one of us. So many times, unsatisfied with what the Lord has given us, we prefer some other short-term tangible thing. Too often, we exchange the glory of God for some lesser thing that is really pointing toward the glory of ourselves. 

The kings that God would eventually give to Israel would do their best when they focused on the Lord too. When they focus on themselves and their cravings or expectations, the whole kingdom suffers. It is the same with Dads, Bosses, and Moms. 

The positive version is also true. To not reject God and to turn with Him with all of your might reveals that He really is better than the earthly glory, or even the king, we were once seeking after. 

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Tags: apostasy, discipleship, focus, glory, idolatry, submission