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SAMUEL AND THE SONS OF ELI –
The story of Hannah and her son Samuel is wonderful to me. It has blessed me throughout my life – and I have preached on it several times in the course of my ministry. The story is simple enough – a man named Elkanah had two wives. That was not what God wanted, but this was a very wicked time in Israel. The first wife had children, but Hannah had no children. The first wife provoked Hannah until she wept and would not eat. She was at the tabernacle of the Lord in Shiloh. My wife and I have been there. Nobody goes there. Our guide didn’t quite know where it was. But when we got there, my wife and I were electrified by its beauty. More than that, we literally sensed the presence of God hovering in the air. The only other place where we felt God’s presence was in the wilderness at the foot of Mount Sinai the evening before we climbed the mountain. The place where the tabernacle stood is very awe-inspiring to this day. Now turn to I Samuel 1:10, 11. It’s on page 320 in the Scofield Study Bible. Hannah was at the tabernacle praying.
“And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore. And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no rasor come upon his head” (I Samuel 1:10-11).
Now notice the end of verse 15. Hannah said, I “have poured out my soul before the Lord” (I Samuel 1:15). She poured out her soul in prayer for a son. And God answered her prayers and gave her a son, and she named him Samuel, which means “asked of the Lord.” That is why Dr. and Mrs. Cagan named their first son, John Samuel, because they specifically prayed for God to send him to them. Hannah said, in verse 27, “For this child I prayed; and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of him” (I Samuel 1:27).
I am so blessed by praying with some of our young men in my house. Time after time they have prayed by name for people to be saved. And the Lord has answered them again and again, when the very people they prayed for have been converted. Hannah “poured out [her] soul before the Lord” – and He gave her the very thing she asked for – a little son. I ask every mother here tonight to pray for the conversion of your children. Pour out your soul in prayer, as Hannah did! All of us should pour out our souls for the salvation of the lost young people in our church. Please pray for them by name in your private prayers.
Now when the child Samuel was about three years old she took him to the tabernacle of God in Shiloh. She left him there with the old priest Eli, as she had promised God to do. And the child Samuel “ministered before the Lord” – a boy wearing a linen ephod – a garment worn by the priests. In earlier days in our country, every Christian mother prayed, like Hannah, for a son to be a preacher. No wonder there were so many preachers in America in those days! Every mother should pray constantly for her children to become good Christians. Now look at chapter 3, verse 1.
“And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli [the old priest]. And the word of the Lord was precious [rare] in those days; there was no open vision” (I Samuel 3:1).
The word of the Lord was rare in those days, and there was no vision. It was a time like we live in today. It was very much like today – with churches closing on Sunday nights, with prayer meetings cancelled, with unconverted “church kids” leaving the church to live a life of sin.
Unconverted “church kids” – really? Yes, really! Hophni and Phinehas were the two sons of old Eli, the priest. Look at chapter two, verse 12,
“Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial;
they knew not the Lord” (I Samuel 2:12).
Dr. J. Vernon McGee said, “Eli’s boys were ‘sons of Belial,’ meaning sons of the devil. They were not saved. Here they were, sons of the high priest, hanging around the tabernacle and actually ministering there! There are many folk who send a son to a Christian school and feel very comfortable about it...That boy may be in the most dangerous place imaginable. Other parents feel secure in the fact that their son is in a fine church. My friend, that’s where the devil goes – to those wonderful places” (Thru the Bible, volume II; note on I Samuel 2:12).
I know by experience that many youth groups in the churches are full of young people who are as bad as the sons of Eli. In our church I do my best to try to get lost young people converted – but there are some “church kids” who are bitter and angry with me for being strict. They need to repent and believe the Gospel! But the rebellious sons of old Eli did not repent and seek the Lord. They were stealing the offerings and having sex with women who came to the tabernacle. The old priest rebuked them, but they would not repent. “Notwithstanding they hearkened not unto the voice of their father, because [it was the Lord’s will to] slay them” – which He soon did, and they died and went to Hell (I Samuel 2:25 KJV, NIV). I pray that the few lost “church kids” we have will repent before it is too late. Now look at chapter 2, verse 26.
“And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men” (I Samuel 2:26).
Samuel was disliked by the sons of Eli. They must have made fun of him for being a godly boy. That’s what lost “church kids” do even today.
In the darkness of the night God called Samuel. The Bible says, “Samuel did not yet know the Lord” (I Samuel 3:7). But God called him through the darkness in the tabernacle that night. “And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord” (I Samuel 3:21).
God is calling you tonight, whether you are young or old. I pray that you will hear His voice in your heart, and that you will repent of your sin and trust Jesus, the Son of God. He died on the Cross to pay the full penalty for all your sins. He shed His precious Blood to cleanse your heart from sin. He rose from the dead to give you eternal life. Hear the voice of Jesus calling to your heart. Come to Him and trust Him, and live for Him, and you will never regret it, world without end!
Jesus is waiting; O come to Him now –
Waiting today, waiting today;
Come with thy sins; at His feet lowly bow;
Come, and no longer delay.
Calling today, calling today,
Jesus is calling, is tenderly calling today.
(“Jesus is Calling” by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915) .
If this sermon blessed you Dr. Hymers would like to hear from you. WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at email@example.com (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.
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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: I Samuel 3:1-10.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus is Calling” (by Fanny J. Crosby, 1820-1915).