This morning I’m excited to get us started into a new sermon series. I’ve been wanting to do another character study for some time now – the last one we did was back in May of 2019 when we went through the life of Joseph.
So I’ve been eager to do another one – and originally, my intention was to do a series on the life of David. I’ve preached a few sermons on David – but I’ve never systematically gone through his whole life. And so in preparation, I started looking at the beginning of David’s story – which begins by the prophet Samuel anointing David as the future King of Israel when he was just a young boy.
However, as I started reading about that in 1 Samuel chapter 16, I ended up flipping back a few pages – reading more and more about the prophet Samuel and all that happened before David was even the scene. And eventually, I ended up right back at 1 Samuel chapter 1 – which describes the events around Samuel’s birth. And there was so much good stuff in all of those chapters that I wanted to share all that stuff with you as well!
So as it stands today, I’m not entirely sure what this series is going to be about! Maybe this will be all about Samuel. Maybe we’ll eventually get to David too? Maybe we’ll throw King Saul in there somewhere – I’m not entirely sure yet. All I know is that we’re going to start in 1 Samuel chapter 1 – and we’ll see where we go from there.
But, before we jump into our text, let me first give you a very quick run-down on exactly where we are in the greater story of the Bible.
The book of 1 Samuel begins right at the end of the era of the judges. By this point in time, the people of Israel had conquered the Promised Land led by Joshua and had been living there for some time. But during this time they really failed to be the “holy nation” that God intended them to be – they neglected to follow God’s commands and instructions and instead they just did whatever they wanted.
In fact, the very last verse in the Book of Judges says this:
25 In those days Israel had no king; all the people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. Judges 21:25
And as you can imagine, when people do whatever seems right in their own eyes, things go off the rails pretty quick. The book of Judges contains some of the most horrific stories in the entire Bible as people did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. We’re going to see in a few weeks that even the priests at God’s tabernacle had abandoned the ways of God and and were living selfish and sinful lives!
So because of that, God had allowed many different enemies around them to invade and oppress the Israelites. This would continue for several years until the Israelites turned to God and God would then send them a deliverer – or a judge. You remember guys like Ehud (the left-handed man who stabbed the fat King Eglon), or Samson and Gideon, Deborah – those people were all judges of Israel. They would rescue Israel from their enemies and lead the people to again follow God. This happened over and over again many times during the time of the judges.
And Samuel, as we’re going to find out later, is actually the very last of those judges. In fact, he’s considered to be the last judge and the first of the prophets. I suppose Moses would technically be the first prophet, but he’s kinda in his own category. But Samuel would be the first of a long line of prophets who would faithfully declare the Word of the Lord to the people of Israel. That’s something that didn’t really happen during the time of the judges. In 1 Samuel 3:1 we read:
“Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.” 1 Samuel 3:1b
In the time of judges, we see very little prophetic revelation from the Lord – but from the time of Samuel onward, we see nearly a constant presence of prophets in Israel – and of course, their prophecies make up a large portion of our Old Testament.
But this was the world into which young Samuel was born. It was a time when God seemed to be silent. The people of Israel had no king and everyone did whatever seemed right in their own eyes. There was constant danger from enemies who would invade and oppress Israel.
Overall, it was a fairly dark time. But it wasn’t all bad. Despite the many who did evil – there were still those who loved and obeyed God. And Samuel’s parents were among those people.
We are introduced to them in 1 Samuel chapter 1. So if you have your Bibles, feel free to turn with me to 1 Samuel chapter 1, and we will begin at verse 1.