Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Think about the following words if you will. Fire and ice…black and white…wet and dry…dirty and clean. What do these words all have in common? Of course, they are all opposites. Well, usually, that is what each of my girls’ rooms is like. Gabbie, my six-going-on-seven-year-old, keeps her room nearly spotless. Every toy is in place, the toy boxes aren’t overflowing on the floor, and he bed is (somewhat) made. Not too bad for someone her age. She’s kind of a neat-freak when it comes to her bedroom. But, she has a big sister who isn’t as interested in a clean room as she is. That would be Machaela. She’s nine, and getting more “teenish” that ever. It is always a fight to get her to clean her room up, usually with my wife or myself standing over her making her clean. I could walk into both rooms right now and most certainly it would be a night and day difference. What a contrast!

The Bible offers up a good number of contrasts, too. I think of Cain’s murderous heart set against the righteousness of his brothers Abel and Seth. What about godly character of Abraham versus the compromised heart of his nephew Lot? Then there’s David and Saul. The Bible gives us lots of people from which we can easily see what seems like very deliberate contrasting of people in its pages.

One example I began re-reading this morning is a comparing and contrasting of Eli and his sons, Hophni and Phineas, against the very young but godly Samuel. Samuel’s mom, Hannah, after having had her miracle baby, when he was old enough, gave him back to the Lord, literally! She took the small boy to Shiloh, and gave him to the high priest, Eli. Samuel began to serve God there at the Tabernacle, and God started blessing him.

Interesting thing is that as I read in chapters 2 and 3, I see that contrast clear as my old Dell monitor. “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the LORD..” (1 Sam. 2:12). The didn’t know the Lord? First, let me off on a rabbit trail for a second. What kind of people would want to be priests to God, yet not have a relationship with Him? (Some things just make you go “hmmmm?”) Yet, that is just what these two guys did. The Word goes on to say of these priests, “Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the Lord , for the men treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.” (vs. 17)

I like the comparison the writer pulls out next. He then shines the light on Samuel, and shows us a picture of a godly boy faithfully serving his God. As I read through this story, what hits me is that Samuel, even as a boy, had a tenderness of heart that would bode well for us. He didn’t allow the corruption he most certainly witnessed in Eli’s sons penetrate his own heart. There was a true purity to Samuel. I’m reminded of something Jesus told us:

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” (Mt. 5:8)

Back then, Israel watched the corruption of its leaders, and the sin they led the whole nation into. As a result, God judged Eli’s house, and the people of Israel. Even the Ark of God had been taken. God’s glory had left. Yet, Samuel continued to serve the Lord. Just like that small, impressionable boy, we need to press on in our relationship with the Lord, despite how those around us live. We may see people live for themselves, soaking in their hedonistic lifestyles, but we must guard our hearts. We must keep serving the Lord, keep praying, keep hiding the Word of God in our hearts. The battle is great, the temptations are real.

Though Samuel is a great picture to point to for one sold out to the Lord, we in New Testament times have a distinct advantage that Old Testament saints didn’t have…we have the power of God’s Holy Spirit living inside us. We have the one who not only gives us the desire to live righteously, but actually works in us to accomplish it. (See Philippians 2:12-13). So, when we see those around us failing, we can rest assured that God hasn’t called us this far to leave us to fend for ourselves. He commands holiness in the face of the world around us, but helps us live it out in the flesh. Praise God for His amazing grace!

God bless!

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