Praise in 1Samuel
Answering our prayers (1:9-20);
Speaking to us when we listen for his voice (3:1-21);
Defending his people against their enemies (7:10);
Raising up leaders to rally god’s people together (11:6-7);
Looking at a person’s heart rather than his outward appearance (16:7);
Giving us his spirit, who empowers and guides us (16:13);
Delivering us from seemingly overwhelming situations (17:38-54); and
Strengthening us during difficult times (30:6).
Worship in 1Samuel
The story of 1 Samuel revolves around three primary characters: Samuel, Saul, and David. From their actions we see the rewards of obeying God and the consequences of disobeying. When Israel’s worship was performed genuinely and properly, the Lord granted them victory over their enemies. When their worship was corrupted by deceit, greed, and false motives, defeat followed. A host of supporting characters—Hannah, Eli, Jonathan, and others—helped to reinforce this message of rewards and consequences.
The prophet Samuel obeyed the Lord. As a young boy, Samuel was taken to the Tabernacle to serve under the priest Eli. Eli’s corrupt sons had dishonored their priestly office, but Samuel genuinely followed the Lord and became known as his spokesman in Israel. Eventually the spiritual leadership of Israel passed from the aged Eli to the young Samuel. Samuel served as Israel’s prophet, priest, and judge until the people asked for a king.
Saul, anointed by Samuel as Israel’s first king, repeatedly blundered into disobedience. Although Saul was a valiant and skillful warrior, he lacked spiritual discernment. As he waited for Samuel to arrive and offer a sacrifice, Saul became impatient and conducted the sacrifice himself (13:8-14). Against God’s command, he spared some of the spoils of battle, supposing they would be a fit offering to the Lord (15:13-15). Such persistent disobedience forced Samuel to announce the Lord’s rejection of Saul (15:23). Saul’s downward spiral of disobedience, paranoia, and failure finally hit bottom when he consulted a medium for guidance—a practice strictly forbidden in the Law (Deuteronomy 18:10-11). Saul’s life demonstrates what happens when we seek our own gain and seek spiritual guidance from those who do not follow God.
Although David made many mistakes, his heart belonged to God, and so he provides a good model for believers to imitate. The Lord directed Samuel to anoint David to replace Saul as king. Before becoming king, David demonstrated that, in contrast to Saul, he trusted the God of Israel for his success. His first challenge came in combat with Goliath, whom David overcame by the name of the Lord (17:45). Later challenges came when he was pursued by a jealous, unstable Saul. Through these experiences, David grew in his understanding and devotion to God, thus preparing him to assume the throne as king.
Why was the Lord so reluctant to appoint a king for Israel? After all, Samuel was growing old, and no one seemed qualified to take h is place as judge. The nation needed leadership to fight its enemies, the Philistines. To have a king, like all the Canaanite city-states around them, seemed the reasonable solution to their problem.
God granted the Israelites’ request for a king, but he warned them what their kings would do to them. God knew how quickly such leaders would begin to compete for the devotion that belonged only to him. Worse still, these kings would institute a system of worship to reinforce their rule over the nation. With few exceptions, most of the kings who ruled Israel and Judah helped to plunge their nations into idol worship. Other sins and crimes followed in idolatry’s wake, including child sacrifice, theft, adultery, and murder. God knew all these vices would accompany kingship, and so he was very disappointed that Israel spurned his leadership.
Before we question the actions of other believers, we must be certain we understand why they do what they do (1:13-17).
Worship, both corporate and individual, is a heartfelt response to the Lord’s acts of blessing and deliverance (2:1-2).
The mark of a true worship leader is true obedience (2:12-17).
Using the routines of worship for our own gain displeases God (4:3-11; 13:8-14).
God’s name should be treated with respect, and so we should be especially careful in worship settings, where we are made acutely aware of God’s presence (chapters 5–6).
We should seek to purify our worship by putting away those things that compromise our loyalty to God (7:3).
Acts of worship are no substitute for obeying the Lord’s commands (15:22).