is a book about
in which God is
The great contrast in the book of 1 Samuel is between:
– Those who want to use God, and;
– those who want to be used by God.
Hannah: Petition, Devotion, and God’s Answer
– Far from making a deal with God, Hannah actually gave God what he asked—commitment—and in return for her heart’s commitment, God heard her prayer and glorified himself in her life and Samuel’s.
– Hannah’s grief is a great lesson in intercession as she prays indistinctly to the God who made her (as did Charles Finney) and is heard.
Eli and Samuel: God is a Friend (Not a Tool)
– In ch. 2, Eli’s sons used their position as priests, and even others’ devotion to steal sacrifices and seduce devout women.
– In ch. 3, Samuel talks to God for the first time and both comes to know the Lord and becomes a prophet. Despite Eli’s compromise and his sons’ awful sin, God shows that he always has a man he can use, even if there is just one.
– In ch. 4, Eli and his house seek the Ark to help them in battle, but the pronoun they use is telling: “it will save us.” They neither prayed to God nor treated him as person, but tried to use him to help them win. It didn’t work.
David and Jonathan: Fellowship
– In ch. 14, Jonathan and his armor-bearer by their boldness bring panic and defeat on thousands upon thousands of Philistines. When he unknowingly breaks a rule by eating honey, men protect him, saying “he has worked with God today.”
– In chs. 17 & 18, Jonathan, who is also a warrior, sees the fruit of David’s bold love for God and commits himself to him by giving him his best; not just a token, giving his best battle gear showed deep commitment.
– This fellowship of two, although it is broken later in the story, saves David’s life multiple times and is of inestimable value to him. Spiritually, fellowship has the power to save us from our blind spots and point out the enemy inroads that could ruin us.
Jonathan, David, and Saul: Freedom in Holiness
– Jonathan and David seem to have in common a reckless unpredictability, by which they both win many battles and break a few ritualistic rules along the way (see ch. 21) but are approved by God because their motives are right.
– In ch. 15, Saul feigns following the ritualistic sacrifice but in actuality has disobeyed what God directly told him. “To obey is better than sacrifice,” and Saul loses legitimacy in leadership when he rejects fellowship with God for religion and gain.
– Jonathan and David both sometimes seem to proceed (in battle or otherwise) without specific instructions, following what they know to be right. They have freedom because they hold to their fellowship with God and others.
David and Saul: Fruit, Gifts, and the Calling of God
– Saul, like Eli’s sons, had the blessings of God in abundant measure but did not obey him. Saul kept the blessings but abandoned fellowship either with David or God.
– David does not presume superiority because Samuel has anointed him; he continues to honor Saul, even after his death.
– David, unlike Saul, was the forsaken son and the youngest, but he obeyed God and was in the end granted leadership as a result.
– Fruit will always be more important than gifts, and the first thing that God wants to build in us is character. Character, not spirituality, is the mark of a life in love with God; Saul remained spiritual, but David had character.
If you want to learn more about fellowship, I recommend The Making of a Man of God by Alan Redpath.
If you want to learn more about submission & the anointing, I recommend A Tale of Three Kings by Gene Edwards.
For further study, Spiritual Authority by Watchman Nee is also a great study on what David learned with many other biblical examples.