THE SEARCH FOR GOD AND OTHER LESSONS FROM THE BOOK OF SAMUEL


The books bear the name of the Prophet Samuel, son of Elkanah. Of this Samuel it could be said: last of the Judges, first of the Prophets, and founder of the Monarchy. Samuel was always a “yes man” of God. His name meant ‘asked of God’ and all his life he maintained a good relationship with God that allowed God to always ask things of Him. He was preeminently a man of prayer: he was a child of prayer (1 Samuel 3:1-19); he brought victory to his people through prayer (7:5-10); when the nation wanted a king it was he who prayed unto the Lord (8:6); intercessory prayer was the key-note of his life (1 Samuel 12:19-23).

In the dark and troublous times of Israel we hear the prayer of faith from the lips of a simple trusting woman, Hannah. She asked God for a son whom she would dedicate to him for service (1 Samuel 1:9-19). Although the Priesthood was appalling Samuel was protected and grew as a boy in the fear of the Lord.

THE SIN OF A NATION AND THE KING OF THEIR CHOOSING
In  the nation’s falling away from God they had become restless and asked for a king. They wanted to be “like the other nations around them” when God intended them to be a called out unique nation. God never intended for Israel to have a king so he would send them great leaders who would receive messages from God and pass it on to the nation. When they asked for a king, something which God had prohibited, we find that God granted their request. There’s a lesson here for us – we can either have God’s ideal or our ideal. We are free human agents, who can choose for ourselves; but we may well tremble at the consequences.

Israel’s first king, Saul, was a failure. He died in battle with his 3 sons. Here was a life so full of promise ending in defeat and failure. Saul had not obeyed God absolutely. James says “the person who keeps every law of God but makes one little slip is just as guilty as the person who has broken every law there is” (2:10, TLB). One trouble with us is that we reserve a room for Satan in our hearts and he knows he has his right of way. For instance, if I should sell a thousand acres of land and reserve one acre in the center of it, I would have the right to go over the thousand to get to mine. That was the problem with Saul. God is showing us in this section that He must be all in all; and that man has no blessing apart from Him.

THE MAN AFTER GOD’S OWN HEART
David, the apple of God’s eye was one of the greatest characters of all time. He made a great contribution to the history of Israel both spiritually and nationally. Son of Jesse and great grandson of Boaz and Ruth was born in Bethlehem. He was the founder of the royal line of which the King of kings, Christ, came. In First Samuel he is portrayed as a shepherd and minstrel, armor bearer and captain of the army, the king’s son in law and a fugitive from the king, a writer of psalms and dedicated worshiper.

When David was promoted to the position of commander of the army, his success aroused the jealousy of Saul. Saul made 5 attempts on the life of David but God preserved him (Psalm 37, Romans 8:31). David grew under his trials and afflictions – all as part of God’s training for him as He prepared him for the throne. He not only learnt how to handle men but also how to handle himself. He learnt also in those trying days, to trust God not men. David was a man who always awaited God’s time.

After David was crowned king of Israel and had defeated the Philistines, he decided to move the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem (2 Samuel 6 and 1 Chronicles 13). This was a literal “move of God,” as the Ark, the Old Testament abode of the manifest Presence of God was to be moved from its interim resting place to the place where it belonged. You could say God was waiting to move into His resting place.

Jerusalem is spoken of as a type and shadow of the Church. The apostle Paul spoke of Jerusalem which is above us as the “mother of us all” referring allegorically to the Church (Galatians 4:26). There have been times when God’s glory, His weighty presence, (His Kabod) was moved out of its rightful place through the sin or indifference of men.

THE TALE OF ICHABOD
Eli’s grandson, Ichabod, remains as an eternal testament to God’s absence from man’s worst laid plans. Eli was both judge and priest at that time. From the story we know he had rules for 40 years, was a good priest and judge but an indulgent father who allowed his children do whatever they pleased. Eli, the High Priest of the Lord allowed his children continue in a disgraceful manner without disciplining them as he would have done to other. As a result, there was moral corruption and God warned Eli of the downfall of his house. Phinehas and Hophni, sons of Eli, had their judgment foretold even as they performed their priestly duties, and one day it came to pass.

Fungus growth in a tree is not detected for a long time. Everything seems right outwardly, but when the crash suddenly comes, the state of the tree is seen. Phinehas and Hophni were called and the ark of God was taken by the Philistines. Eli heard the news, fell over and was killed. Eli’s daughter-in-law went into labor when she heard the news of the death of her husband and father in law and gave birth to a boy. As she lay dying, she told the midwife to name the boy Ichabod, which literally means “the glory has departed.”

THE ERA OF HIS SPIRIT
In the 20 years or so that passes after the loss of the ark, Saul the king never showed any interest in bringing the ark of the covenant back to Jerusalem, but David felt differently. He wanted to live under the shadow the of had a burning passion to see God’s presence restored to its proper place. He wanted to live under the shadow of God’s glory. David was saying in essence “the era of Saul, the king of the flesh is over, its now the era for seeking God after the spirit.”

The Saul’s and the flesh have done their part and they have done it for long enough. We need the presence of God in our lives if we’ll please Him. Israel had all the trapping of God but it was all meaningless as they did not have Him.

We can have nice buildings, we can preach and sing well, have all the anointing, have all material blessing, we might even have a tabernacle patterned after the one in Heaven but we still need Him to make it all worthwhile. In David’s day if one wanted to meet God, then the ark of the covenant was the place to find Him.

THE HOLINESS OF GOD AND THE PRESUMPTIONS OF MAN
The ark was still at Abinadab’s house in Kirjathjearm. It had been taken there after more than 5,000 people had died at Bethshemesh. These people were killed because the looked upon the ark as just another common box. Twenty years later, David made a 15 miles pilgrimage to find the missing glory. David and his crew tried handling the holy presence and glory of God with human hands.

David’s problem came when he and his troupe tried to continue as normal past God’s speed bump. God has a way of putting a ‘bump on the highway of man’s reasoning. God never intended for Hid glory to creak along the back of man’s mechanism, vehicle or program. He had always ordained for His glory to be carried by sanctifies human vessels who reverence and respect His holiness.

When David’s procession came to God’s holy shaking place in the road, the oxen stumbled and Uzzah reached out to steady the ark. Uzzah’s name literally means “strength, boldness, majesty, security.” The presence of God never needs the assistance or guidance of man’s strength to hold it in its rightful place. Nor will God allow the arm of flesh to glory in His presence without tasting death. David then decided to cancel the trip to Jerusalem and left the God who had struck out in holy anger at the home of Obededom in Gath. In the three months that the ark stayed with Obededom God so blessed him and his house in all visible ways.

David stumbled – just like the ox pulling the cart. He had done everything he knew in the best most respectable way possible. He was dancing at the head of the procession and around the cart with the rest of the people. He obviously believed God would be pleased with his efforts that day.
They were a happy little Church taking the Ark of God to the place they desired. Then they hit a holy dump in the road at the threshing floor of Nachon, a Hebrew word which ironically means ‘prepared.’ The Israelites were obviously unprepared when Uzzah casually reached out to keep “God’s box” from falling off man’s vehicle. God seemed to be saying “Look, I’ve let you come this far in your own manner; enough is enough. If you really want Me then you have to do things My way.” It would take David three months to recover, repent, research and return for God’s glory.


David trusted God with his heart and leaned not on his own understanding. Like Jesus parents he didn’t stop searching until he had found He whom he sought for. His steps were directed by God because he acknowledged the ultimacy of God in his life. He obtained guidance by asking for it, we are not told how God the answer but we are assured that God did answer (1 John 5:14, 15: Jeremiah 33:3). God never breaks His word.

David’s fall was like an eclipse of the sun. His sins of adultery and murder were a terrible blot on his life. God forgave him, but Scripture says, “The sword never departed from his house.” He reaped just what he had sown, as will we all. Yet we can learn that God will forgive us if we repent



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