Samuel and America
I do not mean to burden my readers with posts three consecutive days. God placed a sense of urgency in my heart this morning. Here it is.
I now have several phrases I’ve gathered from my Bible reading that are waiting development for this blog. They will have to wait because I feel such an urgency about this topic. If you have been following my blog, you know how very much I admired Moses. Samuel was not in my heart as admirable until this morning.
Samuel’s story is remarkable. He had a remarkable birth, and an unusual rearing. Instead of growing up in a normal home, he grew up in the Tabernacle. Samuel was also the last judge in Israel. I do believe that Samuel did know the laws of Moses well and Eli, the priest groomed him well to serve as a priest. Samuel also possessed the traits of a prophet. That is a combination that is rare, even today with all of our seminaries and theological schools of learning. It is one thing to teach a man how to deliver a sermon, it is another thing to have a clergyman deliver a sermon spoken in truth and love.
An attribute that puzzles me most about Samuel is his grumpy spirit. He is grumpy with the nation of Israel because they wanted a King. He must have missed the part in Deuteronomy 17 about the laws regarding kings. Actually, Samuel must have felt rejected himself. We can learn that lesson for ourselves. Another day.
As I read I Samuel 15 and 16 today I saw another side of Samuel. His outspoken delivery of truth to Saul was fearless. Saul, the King, feared Samuel and he feared the message Samuel delivered. Ah, there is the difference. Saul’s carelessness and fear of the people brought him to shame. Samuel knew the truth and he delivered it courageously. Samuel’s demeanor must have been stern, almost to a fault. Well, maybe in fault. There is a line that preachers can cross that turn people away from the Word of God. There is a line that far too many clergy are not even willing to come near because they want to be loved, admired for kindness. Honestly, they fear people.
The Apostle Paul warned the Ephesians to stand strong for sound doctrine. I quote here at length his steadfast doctrine laid out in Ephesians 4:14-15: But henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive, but speaking the truth in love, may grow up into Him in all things, which is the Head, even Christ.” The first century church had problems of diverse doctrines so it is not a new problem. Liberation theology is not new.
So, after reading 14 chapters of I Samuel and having a growing concern for grumpy Samuel, I see him in a better light this morning. We do need stern, firm teaching, preaching, straight from God’s Word by men of God who can take the heat if they need to—but, by all means speak the truth in love at the same time. Our nation will not turn back to God without some Samuels in our pulpits and in the community. The fear of the Lord is steadfastness people must witness when they meet their pastor in Wal-Mart! Our clergy must wear that fear of the Lord as a mantle. How many of our clergy, and those deemed faithful church members pause before leaving the house, “Let Christ me seen in me”?
This may appear to be a rant. Perhaps it is. I can tell you, it comes from deep within my heart.