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May 19, Day #140 – The Lord Remembers

Today we come to the book of 1 Samuel, in which we will see the transition from the times of the judges to the kingdom period through Samuel the prophet (cf., 1 Chronicles 9:22). The book opens with the birth and dedication of Samuel. Each of the characters in 1 Samuel 1:1-2:26 is colorful, but Hannah is exceptionally beautiful for her commitment to the Lord and her depth of faith in a terrible situation (cf., Psalm 63). Our hearts go out to Hannah “because the LORD closed her womb,” and for her rival’s intentional “provoking her in order to irritate her … year after year” (verses 5-7). Again, we ask, “Who does that? What good purpose is served by such behavior?” “In bitterness of soul, Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD” (verse 10). We see that she “kept on praying to the LORD” (verse 12), but Eli the priest thought she was drunk. Though somewhat perceptive, Eli is old, lazy, fat (1 Samuel 4:18), and he is unable to control his sons. From all this, we see that things are not what they should be with him, but at least he had the grace to bless Hannah’s prayer (verse 17). Elkanah’s claim to be worth ten sons is completely insensitive to Hannah’s needs and interests, and it shows his unconcerned arrogance toward her. We see that “the LORD remembered her, and she gave birth to Samuel “because she asked the LORD for him” (verse 20). God answers faithful prayer. Hannah remembered her vow, and subsequently, she “gave Samuel [back] to the LORD” (verse 28). In chapter 2, we read Hannah’s second prayer – a song of praise - which is similar to Mary’s Magnificat (cf., Luke 1:46-55) and those of other women whose wombs were opened by God (cf., Sarah – Genesis 17;16-19; Rebekah – Genesis 25:21-26; and Rachel – Genesis 30:22-24). Hannah’s song reveals her lovely humility, and verses 9-10 anticipate the establishment of our Lord’s kingdom in the future. In verses 12-36, we see the abject failure of Eli and his “wicked sons who had no regard for the LORD” (verse 12). By contrast, we see Samuel’s ongoing spiritual development “in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men” (verse 26). A man of God came to Eli and foretold the destruction of Eli’s house “for honoring his sons more than the LORD” (verse 29).

In Psalm 63, David expresses his great praise for the Lord and teaches us to honor Him with “our whole being” (verse 1) - wherever we find ourselves. From the sanctuary or the desert - whether on my bed at night or on a battlefield - “I will praise you as long as I live” (verse 4). We can “sing because He is our help, and we are in the shadow of His wings” (verse 7). This should always be our response because His “love is better than life” (verse 3). Anywhere and everywhere, we can and should worship Him alone.

In John 10:22-42, we read that “it was winter” (verse 22), a literary device used by John to signal not only the season of the year, but also (1) the frigid manner by which the Jews opposed and rejected their Messiah; and (2) that the earthly ministry of our Lord was drawing near to its conclusion. Jesus pointed out that He came by direct commission of the Father, Who “set Him apart as His very own and sent Him into the world” (verse 36; cf., Psalm 82). He appealed to His miracles as evidence of His authority and His testimony that “He did what His Father does” (verse 37). The tension between Him and the Jews is elevated, and their hatred toward Him is real. Yet, “many people testified that [although] John never performed a miraculous sign, all that he said about ‘this man’ was true; thus many believed in Jesus” (verses 41- 42).

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