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February 3, 2022 3:00 am
Today in Truth for Life begin a brand-new study book of first Samuel, this historical narrative dates back about 3000 years the people and places all fuel worlds away but as were about to discover their story still gives us hope all these years later. Here's Alister big introduce us to a series titled give us a king. There is a small town southwest of England in Somerset called Weston super Mayor. I've been thinking about it a lot as I have been preparing this particular study this morning and it is a coastal town. It is on the Bristol Channel. We took our children they are when they were very tiny before ever we came to live in America and the thing that they were most excited about was how they were going to the seaside that they were going to the ocean they were going to the shore and so were we.
I little did we realize though that one of the unique features of Weston super Mayor is that little tirade is a significantly low tide and puts the ocean itself, approximately 1 mile from the shore and saw the dreadful experience as daddy of walking with these little creatures and then constantly saying are we ever going to get to the ocean and the answer is.
Oh yes we will definitely get there while you say, why have you been thinking about this I so I've been thinking about it because although I've called our study this morning introducing first Samuel.
The further I went in my preparation I decided that this was really an introduction to the introduction so I say all this just to whet your appetite and to acknowledge that you will be saying in relatively short order. Are we ever going to get to the text. The answer is yes, we will, but you're going to have to be patient my approach this morning is purposeful.
This is not filler and you know me well enough to know that that is not part of my approach to things, but as we begin a new series of studies it is important for us to affirm before one another what it is we actually believe about the teaching and preaching of the Bible. Let me begin with a definition of preaching by Jim Packer some years ago in Scotland addressing ministers.
He provided us with this definition of preaching. Preaching, he says, is the event of God, bringing to a congregation, a Bible-based Christ related life impacting message of instruction and direction from himself, through the words of a spokesman. What is so vitally important in that is that the subject all of that sentence is God himself, reminding eyes that the message is God's message that that message stands as fixed and true, not on account of the vehemence of the teacher because, in fact, that may come or go Luther on one occasion was confronted by some of his congregation who said they would very much love to hear God himself speak.
They said that they would run to church if it were possible that God would speak in person which Luther replied, you now have the word of God in church and this is God's word as surely as if God himself were speaking to. It would be worthwhile. Beginning in this way, almost every Sunday to make sure that we have absolute clarity about what is going on, but at least about what we pray will be going on in other words, that God's word will be doing God's work by God's spirit in God's people through the words of our frail falling passing spokesman his truth to our lives and in the same way it is vital that the one who is given the privilege of teaching the Bible is buying underneath the same concerns about remains in an earlier generation, said that the manner in which the Scripture is to be delivered by the preacher is quotes out of the inward affection of the heart without affectation. Using a danger for the preacher is that it is a lot of affectation and no affection and the way in which it comes out of the inward affection of the heart of the preacher has to do, not simply with the preachers on preparation in the silent place in the secret place, but it has to do with the preparation of the congregation who in turn are praying through the week. Bless the preacher father, whoever he is, when he comes, and grant that he won't come with affectation, but that what he says will emerge from genuine affection for the word and for those to whom he preaches now all of that is relevant all the time. Every time but I suggest to you that it is particularly important that we give our attention to it.
Given the find there were now turning to first Samuel first Samuel is historical it is a literary piece and it dates back to around 1050 BC.
So in other words, we are now turning this morning to historical material that is 3000 years old by large none of us are paying any attention to anything that is 3000 years old, why would we so much that everybody didn't know 3000 years ago. We know so much now and if we live with the notion that because we have been born later than all these other people.
Therefore, we are different and we are smarter than our temptation will be to save others not very much for us here, but in actual fact, if it is the word of God, and it never errors that it remains absolutely applicable okay were almost there. But if you turn back to pages to the end of judges the very final verse of judges helps to set the context for our beginning for Samuel. In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes the judges.
Was a period of chaos. It was a period of instability, both spiritually and in the same time socially and politically and the circumstances are right when I put it that way for a big shift in the structure of the leadership of the people of God and the word that is out there on the part of some is, you know, if only we could have king like some of these other nations have a king, then I think we would be in a far better position that of course was going to give rise to conflicting perspectives as we will see. But if you grasp this, then you will then you will have a helpful sense of what is going on and first Samuel essentially gives to us three key figures in the in the entire 31 chapters. First of all, basically.
Chapters 1 to 7 are the focus is on Samuel, the last of the judges of the prophet of God then on Saul who is anointed king and then on David, who is going to succeed Saul with all that said, it is now time to talk in the water.
The birth of Samuel.
There was a certain man of remedy for himself in of the hill country.
While there is a start doesn't adjust doesn't just grab you. Well actually you see it.
Shoot in a funny kind of way, because this actually is a book that is able to hold children spellbound with stories. If you been brought up in the church you like me have often gone to bed at night wondering as a child wherever you would get a call in the middle of the night I liked Samuel got a call and he ran through the Eli's bedroom and so on and then had to come back again in that wonderful amazing year drama that is contained there in the minds of a youngster so rich and full. This all in here, but this is exactly what you call a dramatic beginning as it is here is another sort of parenthetical statement when we study the Bible, we study the Bible as the Bible is given to us. So studying a letter like the letter of Paul to the Ephesians is different from studying the narrative that is given to us in for Samuel.
It is different in its style is different in the way in which truth is conveyed and if we do not put ourselves underneath that and understand it. Then we will be tempted to teach the Bible in the same way matter where we are in the Bible so we have to put ourselves underneath the authority of the Scripture in the literary framework in which it is presented to us and it is presented to us. Here is a narrative is a story so that the way in which you read her stories are different from the way would you read the textbook right if you you read a textbook look for definitions you don't look for definitions in the story so therefore what we have to do as we come to this study is related. Our story hat on is aware we are reading real history, real people in real time given to others in a narrative that should cause us to ask questions in a way that leads us to the truth that is being conveyed what we ought to find quite amazing is that this man, L Canada, is essentially an unknown individual.
He's an unknown individual or are four generations of his family mentioned so that gives them some kind of stature but beyond that, we know very little.
Furthermore, drama themes all theme is not exactly the center of the universe so immediately introduced to the obscurity of a man to an unknown man in a town that doesn't really seem to present very much at all, causing us to say.
While this is interesting. Does this mean that the man of God's appointing, namely Samuel comes not from among the powerful and the prominent in Israel, but from the obscurity of this house and the answer is yes, in actual fact from the point of view of social standing or if you like theme notoriety power within the nation of Israel L Canada and his family were nobodies, nobodies, what is significant about while we were told what is significant.
Verse two he had two wives. Now the story is really hot in all business. What were supposed to be saying is I wonder why the two arguments in the two wives another two wives important over going to discover that the two wives are fundamentally important because if one hadn't been such an aggravation of a nuisance. The other one would perhaps not of praying to the extent that she prayed therefore may not absently become the mother of Samuel. So in other words, the bad stuff that is introduced into the framework of this dysfunctional family by Nina contributes in the providence of God to the good result of the birth of this child, but we jump ahead. Presumably, Hannah. The name means grace at being his first wife had been unable to produce for L Canada, a son and an air as a result of that idea taken to himself.
A second wife, Nina, in order to keep the family life alive and as we discover from the text. She had obviously been blessed in this way I would not uninstall on this issue of polygamy or multiple wives in the Old Testament, except to acknowledge this that this kind of arrangement which we find in reading the Old Testament is clearly tolerated, but it is never commended.
It is never introduced. If you like from God sign and it is never described for us in a favorable light.
If you track these occasions, you will discover that it is always an expression of conflict as it is here and of chaos and of disappointment and of pain. A tear of my old friend and Old Testament teacher.
When I asked him on one occasion, as it will and what why do we have all of these things because it is very difficult.
I said Alec your teaching the Bible you come across something like this and how can I had to wife's well.
He said I think it is only there in the Scriptures, in order that it serves as a dark backdrop against which to show up. The reality of God's perfect plan for marriage. Suffice it to say that the domestic circumstances.
Although Canada's whole and what was actually a kind of dysfunctional family brings to the forefront. Hannah, who then becomes the central figure in these opening chapters, and that in turn ought to cause us to wonder again what we've said is that this transitional period is of huge significance. It is of great significance to the people of God in terms of their structure of leadership their obedience to his law their relationship with the surrounding nations so politically and socially and in and in every other way it is.
It is a matter of great significance. Well isn't it strange that the way in which this should be introduced to us is to have the spotlight. Focusing not if you like on the palace but the spotlight is turned on.
A lady called Hannah who had no children.
What are we to do this comes by doing a bit, say to you earlier, the theology in force and Satan. Samuel is to be discovered by the reader, not by definition innate in a textbook way but is to be discovered by the reader as it is revealed in the extra ordinary ordinariness of the life's of these individuals so that we are supposed to read this material to reflect upon it in order that we might learn lessons from the text in order that we might be able to say that although this is 3000 years ago.
These are as I've said to you real people in a real place and they're dealing with real hopes and real fears real aspirations and real failures that are to immediately be a point of contact for some of us because all of us as we live our lives dealing with hopes and fears, aspirations and failures in the fact that we leave 3000 years.
Beyond this, is not removed us from that realm, we may be more conscious of it than ever. So what we need to understand is that the problem the feast. Hannah just to actually of the problems of a size that Hannah's problem was not just personal in her barrenness, but it was also theological or why do you say will because the promise of God to his people and you can read this in Deuteronomy 75 make sure that it is there but in Deuteronomy 7 and in verse 14 is God lays out his concerns foreign plans for his chosen people. He says to them. At one point you shall be blessed above all peoples. There shall not be male or female, barren among you, or among your livestock, you're going to be blessed and will be no barren among you, so Hannah wakes up in the morning and the next morning and the next year and the next year and she has the issue. The predicament is that she has no children and she's in the house with a lady who asked the children to that we will come by the real predicament is how do I understand this in theological terms. If God is made this promise where I fit in this but think about it is not true for all of us in all kinds of ways God has said this and here I am. Is this the end of this discussion is there more to come. It would seem that I am absolutely hopeless. It would seem that I am absolutely helpless if we had had occasion to speak to Hannah and we had said to her regular contemporary question and so how do you feel what was she upset.
I feel wretched I feel confused unless God does something have been no so hope her predicament was not just a personal predicament, but it was theological and finally her predicament was not unique to her was not unique to her. If you are a Bible person. You will find yourself saying, but wait a minute. This is a familiar story. Haven't we seen this already a lot you said yourself, but is not the story of Abraham and Sarah, and the birth of Isaac. Yes is another story of Rachel who was barren and the birth of Joseph, who was to be the savior of his people in Israel during the famine. And isn't it also took him far more up-to-date true in the judges that it tells us that there was a certain woman who was barren and she became the mother of Samson, reminding us of what well in each case in each of these women. Each of them shared Hannah's sad experience and in each case a child was born who is going to prove to be God's answer to the crisis of the time, but it was to be said against the background of obscurity it was to be said against the context of whose L Canna where is this place. Who is she, if you come even further on your in the realm of Elizabeth and Zachariah would to which we just spent time at Christmas's Elizabeth cannot give birth God provides for. In fact, were immediately in the realm of Mary and Joseph.
Mary was no barren, but she was childless and when the angel came to announce God is with you your highly favored.
You have a baby.
She doesn't say yeah that makes sense. She's is how can this be, since I know not a man can James, how can it be the answer is God the Word of God is light in the darkness of L Canna school that the word of God is hope for the hopelessness of Hannah's heart and the word of God is the answer. In Jesus not only to the crisis of that time, but to the crisis of every time and the answer to whatever your crisis is as you come here this morning as we begin together, these studies enforce a listing to Alister bag Truth for Life as he introduces our brand-new study in the Old Testament book of first Samuel, this is the first time the series is being heard on Truth for Life, your neck and want to miss a single message back if you don't already own the Truth for Life app now's a great time to download it it's free.
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