More thoughts on 1 Samuel 3

Calling does not come without some sort of revelation by the Holy Ghost.

Okay, forgive me for saying “Holy Ghost” instead of the “Holy Spirit.”  As a Methodist, I grew up hearing the Holy Ghost mentioned, more than the Holy Spirit, as part of our liturgy.  I still have not broken that habit quite yet.

More ruminations come from 1 Samuel 3.

Consider the following.   Aaron’s family was not give lattitude to be God’s chosen priest until the Lord spoke to Moses.  After that, there was a perpetual ordination on those in Aaron’s house and in certain of the line of Aaron, specifically the line of Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, who demonstrated his zeal for the Lord by thrusting through the Israelite and his Midianite beloved with a spear.

Moses knew nothing of the Lord until He spoke to Moses through the burning bush in His revealed form.

In the days of the priesthood of Eli, there was no widespread revelation.  Maybe the Lord was behaving thus, not only for the reasons I have mentioned previously (see previous entries), but also because He was showing mercy to Eli’s line and giving them space to repent before He revealed Himself afresh, because, as we have seen in the Torah, when the Lord manifested Himself, it was usually along the lines of a pronouncement of judgment (fiery serpents, Korah’s rebellion, Aaron and Miriam’s rebuke of Moses, the people complaining several times in the wilderness).  Now this was not always the case, but it usually was.

Ultimately, we can do no more than speculate, but I would think it had something to do with a number of these reasons.

Now, in the case of Samuel, the Lord, the Scripture says, “called” Samuel.  This was like the Lord calling Moses, or calling the dry earth ground.  It’s the typical word used when God speaks and names something.  Nothing special about this word, or unique in the Hebrew.  And yet, “called” means something.  It means God has named you something, for His purpose.  When God calls something, He is defining that thing’s identity.  If He calls you a prophet to the nations, as He did Jeremiah, then your identity is wrapped up with prophecy to a degree.  If he calls you an apostle to a particular people group, then you are called to establish the kingdom among that particular group of people.  If He calls you an evangelist or teacher, then that means your identity is wrapped up to a degree in evangelizing the lost, or teaching and making disciples.  It says something about you to be called.  It says that, as Bob and Larry would tell us, that God indeed made you special and loves you very much.  

In this case, God, in the silence of the spiritual darkness of Israel, stood by Samuel and called him.  He was called to see (1 Samuel 9:9, 19).  Samuel was commissioned a seer by the Lord.  

Seers may have been pretty common in those days (1 Samuel 9:9).  “What days,” you ask?  Well, 1 Samuel 9:9, which says, “(Formerly in Israel, if a man went to inquire of God, he would say, “Come, let us go to the seer,” because the prophet of today used to be called a seer.)” is a passage for which I can give at least 2 possible interpretations.  I am interpreting the word “formerly.”

1) “Formerly” can refer to the time that 1 Samuel was written. Some scholars have said that the books of Samuel were written after the kingdom divided, since we are given internal evidence, or evidence from the text of 1 and 2 Samuel, that this was the case.  The writer frequently refers to the division of the kingdom by implications (1 Samuel 11:8 mentions the numbers of the armies of Judah and Israel as separate entities). 

2) “Formerly” may refer to the up to the time of Samuel’s ministry, this is the first time our culture, which is skeptical of the gift of prophetic seeing, is given a biblical glimpse into the unique gift and office of a seer.

To an extent, both interpretations yield the same result.  The author, in the context of Samuel’s ministry (1 Samuel 9) and his ordination to that ministry, details the nature of his ministry; its effects on the current priesthood and ministry; and the response of the people to his ministry.

In the next post I will cover the text of the passage, instead of the background matter and context.


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