Consecration vs. Corruption
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Consecration vs. Corruption

1 Samuel 2:11–26  (ID: 3351)

Shiloh was the scene of extreme corruption when Hannah left her consecrated son at the temple to serve the Lord as she’d promised. In sharp contrast to Eli’s sons, who incurred God’s wrath for their defiant contempt and immorality, the boy Samuel stood out as a ray of light, growing in favor with God and men. As Alistair Begg reminds us, even when the odds against us seem overwhelming, God remains unfailingly at work, shining His light in the darkness.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in 1 and 2 Samuel, Volume 1

The Life of Samuel 1 Samuel 1:1–7:17 Series ID: 109011

Sermon Transcript: Print

If you’re visiting today, we’ve embarked on a series of studies in 1 Samuel, and we have reached 1 Samuel 2:11, and we’re going to read from that verse through to the end of verse 26. So I invite you to follow along as I read 1 Samuel 2:11 and following:

“Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. And the boy was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli the priest.

“Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord. The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest’s servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, and he would thrust it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot. All that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest’s servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, ‘Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you but only raw.’ And if the man said to him, ‘Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,’ he would say, ‘No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.’ 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.

“Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy clothed with a linen ephod. And his mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, ‘May the Lord give you children by this woman for the petition she asked of the Lord.’ So then they would return to their home.

“Indeed the Lord visited Hannah, and she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord.

“Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. And he said to them, ‘Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the Lord spreading abroad. If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?’ But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.

“Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with man.”

Thanks be to God for his Word.

We know, gracious God, because your Word tells us, that the entrance of your word brings light,[1] and so we pray that you will shine into the darkness of our world and into our often darkened hearts with the truth that is ultimately discovered by us in the Lord Jesus Christ. Beyond the voice of a mere man may we hear from you, the living God, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.

Well, we pick up our study at the eleventh verse. Hannah has gone home, leaving Samuel behind. She leaves behind, if you like, a consecrated boy living in corruption. And if you want a heading for our study, we could simply call it “Consecration and Corruption,” or perhaps better, “Consecration vs. Corruption.” You remember in Hamlet that, I think, it’s Marcellus who remarks upon seeing the apparition of the ghost of Hamlet’s father; he says, “Something is rotten in the state of Denmark.”[2] And as I read this passage during the week, I found myself saying, “Something—actually, a great deal—is rotten in the city of Shiloh.”

And what makes it so staggering is the fact that we’re not learning here about the impact of a surrounding pagan culture intruding upon the righteousness of the people of God, but we’re actually discovering that those who represent God at the very heart of the religious practice of the time are themselves guilty of the most willful and dreadful sins. And during the week, I thought this is a classic opportunity to use what I thought was the accurate phrase “We have met the enemy, and it is us.”

When I wrote that down in my notes, I thought, “Well, I should check that,” because it’s not actually the original statement. The original statement came, interestingly—a little history—at the Battle of Erie in 1813, when the commander of the naval fleet, the American commander, a fellow called Oliver Hazard Perry, had beaten the British somewhat decisively and had captured Royal Navy ships. And he then issued the statement “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.” “We have taken them over.” That then became “We have met the enemy, and it is us.” That was in 1970 on the first Earth Day, if you care to know, and a poster was created to highlight the fact that apparently we are responsible for destroying everything, and so the corruption of the statement from 1813 then became “We have met the enemy, and it is us.” Well, it may be a corruption of the original statement, but it is an accurate and most applicable acknowledgment of these worthless fellows and their somewhat inept father by the name of Eli.

If, like me, you read narrative with music in your head and seeing it come alive in your mind because of just the way you’re put together, then I think you will agree that the balance of this chapter is dark. It would be, if we were providing music, in a somewhat discordant and probably minor tone. And against that there come these little shafts of light where, if you like, the melody line now goes to the major key, and you have these little shafts of light that penetrate the darkness. You’ll find them—one of them begins our reading in verse 11, where the light shines on this boy “ministering to the Lord.” You go down to verse 18, and once again you find the same thing: “a boy clothed with a linen ephod,” and in verse 21, this same boy growing “in the presence of the Lord,” and then in verse 26, growing “in stature and in favor” and so on.

Many a child has gone on to be greatly used of God because of the care, the compassion, the diligence that has been shown to them in their infancy.

And we all, when we read the Bible, bring ourselves to the text, and our own background and everything. And I find myself going to look for a song that we used to sing as children in Scotland, as I thought of Eli and the darkness that pervaded his place. And then it was almost as if I had a picture of Samuel, and he actually lit up, you know. So, he was… I don’t know how you do that, but he was, like, lit. He was shining. And the song goes like this; it was written by a lady in 1870:

[Lord,] make my life a little light
Within the world to glow;
A little flame that burneth bright
Wherever I may go.[3]

And in the providence of God, God has chosen to do that in and through the life of this little boy—a reminder to us, in passing, that we should never underestimate the part assigned to children in the purposes of God; that the work among children, to children, and actually, in turn, through children is significant work. And many a child has gone on to be greatly used of God because of the care, the compassion, the diligence that has been shown to them in their infancy. We can only imagine what Hannah and Elkanah poured into the life of this little boy before they were finally going to leave him behind, as they did. So Samuel is a reminder—to me at least, and hopefully to you too—that the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can’t put it out.[4]

But it is then in verse 12 that we descend into the darkness, into what we can only describe as a quagmire of spiritual and moral corruption. We’ve had a passing reference to these sons of Eli back in chapter 1. We’re told there in chapter 1 that they “were priests of the Lord.”[5] That is significant. They were set apart for sacred purposes: that their position in life was within the framework of the religious establishment of the day, and in this respect they were to follow their father and to follow the Lord. And what do we discover? Well, we discover that they are “worthless men.” “Worthless men.” That adjective “worthless” we’ve already seen in chapter 1, when Hannah uses it, because you remember that Eli in encountering Hannah took her for a drunken woman, and he just missed the point entirely. And it is in that context that she says to Eli, she says, “Oh, please, do not regard me as a worthless woman.”[6] The irony of it was awaiting us, because he now is the father of these worthless sons.

A significant part of the religious establishment, but you will notice there in verse 12 that “they did not know the Lord.” “They did not know the Lord.” It’s not uncommon for people involved in religious life not to actually know God. We may wonder at it, but it is absolutely true. The history of the Bible says it, and the history of church says it. It is clear that that is the case.

Now, what does it mean “They did not know the Lord”? Do you mean they didn’t know who Yahweh was? Well, clearly it doesn’t mean that. It means that they didn’t know him, and they didn’t care about him, and they paid no regard to him. They were involved in his service, but they had no living relationship with him at all. Whatever had been there in the early days has long since gone. They were, if you like, an early version of the religious hucksters to whom Jesus refers in his “woes” in Matthew chapter 23. You remember when he says to them, “You are blind guides. You’re blind guides. You don’t know where you’re going, and you’re prepared to take other people into the same lostness that is yours.”[7]

In many ways, we can be helped by considering Pharaoh in relationship to these boys, on two fronts, the first of which is this: that when Moses goes to Pharaoh and he says, “Let my people go; this is the word of God to you,” Pharaoh—and you can read this in Exodus chapter 5—Pharaoh says, “Why’re you saying that to me? I do not know the Lord. I don’t know the Lord.”[8] That wasn’t an admission of ignorance. That was an expression of defiance. That’s what he was saying: “Don’t come here and tell me what Yahweh says. I don’t know the Lord, and I don’t care!” That is the point that is being made here in relationship to these boys—a reminder to us that scandal in the ranks of the clergy is not unique to the twenty-first century.

They actually are “the adversaries of the Lord” that are mentioned in verse 10 in Hannah’s prayer. If your text is like mine, you can just look up the page, and you will see there in verse 10: “The adversaries of the Lord shall be broken to pieces; against them he will thunder in heaven.” Who would have thought that the adversaries of the Lord would be in the temple of the Lord, would be in the Tent of Meeting, at the tabernacle? And who would have imagined that their sin, verse 17, would be so very great, inasmuch as they “treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.” In other words, at the very place that God has appointed for the expression of forgiveness and for the expression of thankfulness for that forgiveness, you have these two characters, and in the middle of all of that, they do not know the Lord, and they do not care.

Now, the background to their actions, which are described for us first between verses 13 and 17—the background to that, you will be able to find if you read in Numbers and in Deuteronomy and in Leviticus. I’ve chosen not to go back and prove this to you. I think you can trust me, and a concordance will get you there. When you get there, you will discover that God has laid down, if you like, in a liturgical and sacrificial pattern, the exact way in which he wants these expressions of sacrifice and these expressions of thankfulness for sacrifice to take place. In other words, he has not simply given a suggestion that we can accept and redefine on our own. No, he has said, “This is exactly how it is to be done.” And there are reasons for that, and they’re all purposeful reasons. God has designed it to take place in a certain way.

And what we’re told here is simply this: that Hophni and Phinehas have totally rejected that—“We’re not going to operate on that basis.” Instead, out of their pride, arrogance, heavy-handedness, greediness, they have begun to introduce a whole new program. They don’t even get involved in it themselves; they have a servant. And the servant here goes around, you will see, verse [13], “with a three-pronged fork in his hand.” It’s almost humorous if it wasn’t tragic. So you’ve got this fellow, and he has this three-pronged fork. This is a kind of ancient version of fondue, with a twist to it. But nobody else goes in the pot at this point except the servant with the three-pronged fork.

And so God has established a way whereby the provision for the priests was to be made. When you read in the Pentateuch, you will discover that it came down to the actual pieces of the creature that was in the pot. And so they said, “Hey, don’t worry about the specifics. Just take your three-pronged fork, go in there, and just get as much as you possibly can, and bring it back for us.” And this wasn’t a one-off; this was a pattern. Verse 14: “This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there.” So everybody knew: “If you happen to go there, and you’re making one of these thanksgiving celebrations, look out for the guy with the three-pronged fork, because he’s gonna come, and he’s a servant of these characters, the sons of Eli the priest.”

And if that wasn’t bad enough, they were also, the record tells us, robbing God of that which belonged to the Lord himself. Now, again, Leviticus will help you with this. Again and again, you read that when God instituted these things, the fat was to be burned off as a pleasing aroma to the Lord.[9] All right? So if you think about it, it’s absolutely wonderful, isn’t it, the physicality and the visibility of what God has given to his people in order that they might know what they’re supposed to be doing, how they’re supposed to be doing it, when they’re supposed to be doing it? And as the aroma would emerge from there, then the people were able to say, “And the reason that we’re not diving in right now is because this aroma is a sacrifice of praise to Yahweh, the God who has provided everything for us—not least of all, forgiveness for our sins.”

So Hophni and Phinehas said, “No, we’re not gonna do that either.” And they gave instruction to their servant: “If the worshipper protests when you go at them in this way and ask for the raw meat, then just take them by force. Just manhandle him. Don’t be bothered with it. Use force to secure our greedy, godless ends.” “Thus,” 17, “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.”

Now, at this point the darkness lifts momentarily. The mood shifts. The melody is no longer discordant but tuneful. And what do we have? “A boy clothed with a linen ephod,” wearing the simple garments of priestly function. A little boy shining in the darkness. A little boy, classically insignificant, in contrast to the domineering forcefulness of these worthless men. Another reminder that runs all the way through Scripture: that when the odds seem overwhelming, when the darkness is apparently all-encompassing, God shines his light into the darkness. You think about that as you’re driving away and through the week. You think about how many times we have this kind of intervention.

Do you remember the overwhelming odds that were represented at the time when that great crowd of people had come to hear Jesus speak and to perform miracles? And now it’s towards the end of the day, and so the disciples, with an expressed concern for the well-being of the crowd, come to Jesus and say, “You know, it’s probably a good idea to send all these people home, because otherwise, they’re gonna be stuck here, and there’s nothing at all to eat.” You remember Jesus says, “Well, does anyone have anything to eat?” And they say, “Well, there’s a boy. There’s a young boy here. He’s got five loaves and two fish. But what are they among so many?” To which, essentially, Jesus says, “Just wait and see. Just wait and see.”[10]

When the odds seem overwhelming, when the darkness is apparently all-encompassing, God shines his light into the darkness.

The hymn writer, at a deeper, broader level, captures it when he says,

O loving [mercy] of our God!
When all was sin and shame,
A second Adam to the fight
And to the rescue came.[11]

The hymn writer is picking up on the wonder of Isaiah 9:[2]: “The people [walking] in darkness have seen a great light …. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.”[12] If anybody looked at the situation, they would have said, “What good is some little boy dressed up like a priest in the midst of all this darkness and all this chaos?” You know, my friends, that’s exactly what people do say about the Lord Jesus Christ in our culture: “Who is this?” “What child is this [that], laid to rest, [in] Mary’s lap is sleeping?”[13]—in the midst of all this darkness.

You see, the domestic circumstances of Samuel stand in direct contrast to the domestic circumstances of Hophni and Phinehas. Hophni and Phinehas have a dad who’s AWOL. Samuel has a mom who’s on her game. And I make no apology for loving the intense humanity that is represented in this simple statement: “And his mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year.” Just think about this! She would always go up each year; we know that from chapter 1.[14] But when she went up, it was a time of great bitterness and disappointment and pain, because she was childless, and she hated the thing, and Peninnah gave her the business, and it was a disaster. But she went. Circumstances have changed. She still goes, now in a different spirit.

Now, she didn’t get this at Old Navy. She “used to make [it] for him.” She made it for him! I admire people who can make things—that, you know, there are consumers, and there are creators. You know, I consume. I’m gonna consume my lunch. If you left me to create it, I would be somewhat emaciated. I can’t make anything, except a mess. So I’m in awe of people who make stuff: carpentry, things. And there’s something wonderful about it, because there’s so much thought in it. There’s so much engagement in it. There’s all the conversation that must have taken place: “How much do you think he will have grown this year, Elkanah? Do you think the sleeves are long enough?” “Well, let me see them. Well, we’ll find out when we get up there, because if his sleeves are up to here, we’ll know that you got off the mark last time.”

I could do a whole sermon here on Samuel’s robe, but I’m not going to, because the robe appears throughout, and it gets really quite amazing. And in actual fact, Samuel is gonna wear a robe for the rest of his life and beyond the rest of his life. Because he’s covered over with a robe of righteousness, as in the prophet Isaiah, that is provided only in Jesus.[15] Oh, this is terrific!

And in that context, Eli, he would bless Elkanah and say, “May the Lord give you children by this woman” and do so “for the petition she asked of the Lord.” She didn’t ask for six kids. She asked for a boy. She asked for a child. And in answer to the petition, she discovered that God is no man’s debtor. She discovered that you can never out-give God. She gave her boy back, and she has now conceived three sons and two daughters. She who has described the fact that the barren now has seven,[16] she’s up to six.

Well, that’s the little shining light, verse 21: “And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the Lord.” Do you track with this? I don’t know, this may be terrible, but I can see it now. I see the light is just shining on him, and as the light dims, we descend into darkness once again. So we’ve got this boy who’s growing, and we’ve got this Eli who’s dying. So, Samuel’s growing, Eli’s dying.

“Eli was very old.” How old? I don’t know. He could still hear; we know that. “Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing…” So, that’s good. But what he was hearing was absolutely reprehensible. He was “hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting.” The people that were coming to the Tent of Meeting were supposed to come there to confess sin, not to commit sin. But these boys had turned the tabernacle into a bordello. They had done in 1000 BC what we find is happening in 50 AD when we read the New Testament letters and which we are aware is happening in 2019 AD, today, within the framework of expressions of contemporary religion amongst us. The devil really has only got one or two ways of going at things, but he does it again and again, and very successfully.

I watched The Chronicles of Narnia yesterday afternoon. It’s wonderful having grandchildren, and you can use them as an excuse. But as I was watching, and I was thinking about this and watching that, but then it made me think about Screwtape Letters, and how Screwtape says to Wormwood, you know, “One of the ways we can get at the patients, the followers of our Enemy”—namely, God—“one of the ways we can do this is we will encourage them to take good things that God has given them but to take them at the wrong time or in the wrong place or with the wrong people and in the wrong quantities.”[17] And what do you find? That wholesale greed and gross immorality run like a dark, dark line through the story of the church. So food, gluttony; sex, immorality—you just track down the line. So these boys, these boys, reveal the fact that the wickedness of the human heart routinely expresses itself in this kind of manner. And they were doing this routinely. It was a recurring pattern.

What about Eli? With Eli, it’s a case of too little, too late. He had the power to remove them; he was the one in charge, but he didn’t have the will to remove them. Before we criticize him too quickly, it is very easy, isn’t it, to allow our natural human affection to triumph over the call of God? It’d be very hard for him to throw them out. He should have. It’d still be very hard. Sometimes true love has to do the really hard thing, and it is a false love that fails to do the hard thing.

They wouldn’t listen to the voice of their father. He had spoken to them. He had explained to them in verse 25a that “if someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him.” I think what is in mind there is what you have in terms of the law of God—and again, you can read this, for example, in Exodus. In the law of God, God has made provision for dealing with the sins of people against one another. So there’re all kinds of mechanisms written into the law to deal with this: if you stole an ox, or if somebody did something, and so on, all of that is there. I think that is what it’s about. If someone sins against a man, God has created a place for mediation. “But if someone sins against the Lord, who can intercede for him?”

Sometimes true love has to do the really hard thing, and it is a false love that fails to do the hard thing.

Well, some of you are going to immediately say, “Well, of course, Christ himself will intercede.” Yes, we know that. That’s not the point that is being made here. The point that is being made here is that these fellows showed contempt—showed contempt—for the very means that God had given for dealing with their sins. Right? So, here is the way in which God deals with sin; they said, “We don’t care.” In that respect, they were similar to Pharaoh, once again, in terms of their defiance. Because you remember that when Moses goes to Pharaoh, the record makes clear that Pharaoh hardened his own heart.[18] But it also says that God hardened Pharaoh’s heart[19]—that the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart was not only an expression on the part of Pharaoh himself, but it was an expression of the judgment of God on Pharaoh himself. And the one truth doesn’t exclude the other. And the final verse, the final section of verse 25, should be read in light of the complete Bible: “They would[n’t] listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the Lord to put them to death.” It doesn’t say, “Because they wouldn’t listen to their father, God decided to put them to death.” No.

Now, our time is hastening by, but in terms of cross-reference in the New Testament, let us make sure that in considering this we turn to Hebrews 6 and to Hebrews 10. And in Hebrews 6, talking about this amazing and mysterious reality of those who “have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come,” and they have then “fallen away,” “it is impossible … to restore them again to repentance.” Why? Because “they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.”[20] They “treated the offering of the Lord with contempt.” The one basis upon which they might find forgiveness, in which their repentance might be real, they then turn their back on that.

And we won’t turn to Hebrews—well, I will. Because in Hebrews 10 you have the statement… What is it? In verse 26: “If we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury … that will consume the adversaries.” They were the adversaries of God. And in her song she says, “The adversaries of God will be broken to pieces.”[21] Loved ones, this is not easy material to convey or to ponder, but you read it in the psalm this morning: “The wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous.”[22] And that is what is here before us.

Blaikie, who was a Scottish theologian in the nineteenth century and also a friend to D. L. Moody, this is what he writes concerning this:

[Hophni and Phinehas] experienced the fate of men who deliberately sin against the light, who love their lusts so well that nothing will induce them to fight against them; they were so hardened that repentance became impossible, and it was necessary for them to undergo the full retribution [for] their wickedness.[23]

So their hardness was both their own choice and at the same time God’s judgment on them for that choice.

Dale Davis, who’s a wonderful Old Testament commentator and a terrific help to me and I think to my colleagues, too, he says when we come to this, we have to beware of either becoming a critic, whereby we call in question the mercy of God, as if it were deficient, or whether we simply decide to be intellectually curious.[24] And this almost inevitably happens when the subject comes up. I guarantee you that within a matter of minutes, somebody would want to come, if they don’t get to me, to say, “Well, Alistair, at what point, then, in sin’s progress does it become impossible to repent?” If there is a point in the progress of sin where repentance is no longer possible, where the Spirit of God no longer strives with man, the curious says, “What’s that point?” And often the reason they’re asking is because they want to get as close to that point as they possibly can.

And that is why I say to you always: “Today, if you hear [God’s] voice, do not harden your hearts.”[25] Because Pharaoh hardened his heart. Again. Got another chance. Again. Got another chance. Again. Again. Again. And done! The Bible says that. It is the mercy of God that that is the case. Says Davis, what we ought to do is not find ourselves the critic or the curious but “tremble before a God who can justly make sinners deaf to the very call to repentance.”[26] He can justly make a sinner “deaf to the … call of repentance.” The person says, “I don’t care. I don’t care.” “Do you realize…? “No, I don’t care.” They don’t care!

That’s why the person says, “Well, I think I maybe have then blasphemed against the Holy Spirit.” If you’re worried about that, I guarantee you, you haven’t done it. If you want to become a Christian, you’re not on the wrong side of this divide. If you want to forsake wickedness and trust Christ, do it. Because a day will come when you won’t even care about doing it. And that is what had happened to these characters.

That’s dark, isn’t it? Then the light shines again. The light turns onto our boy. He continues to grow in stature, in favor with God and with man. It should make you think of Luke chapter 2 and the description of Jesus as he grows[27]—a reminder that God is at work, shining his light into the background of chaos and corruption and decay. God is always at work in the darkness.

God is at work, shining his light into the background of chaos and corruption and decay. God is always at work in the darkness.

J. C. Ryle, the bishop of Liverpool, has written a wonderful book on some of the folks in eighteenth-century England whom God raised up to preach, and the opening chapter in the book is entitled “The Religious and Moral Condition of England at the Beginning of the Eighteenth Century.”[28] And the religious and moral condition of England in the eighteenth century almost defines darkness, defines the morass, the quagmire of man’s superficial religion and multiplied sin and disinterest in God. And then he just gives to us a whole series of fellows who were born: Wesley, 1703. Whitefield, 1714. Grimshaw, 1708. And Daniel Rowland in Wales—if you read Lloyd-Jones, you know he was a huge fan of Daniel Rowland—and Daniel Rowland, 1713. “Well, look how dark and empty and over Christianity is in England,” people would have said. “What are you doing, God?” Well, there was a boy, John. There was a boy, Daniel. There was a boy.

And in actual fact, that’s the story of the entire Bible, isn’t it? “For unto us a child is born,” and “unto us a son is given.”[29] But if we reject that boy, if we spurn that love, if we turn our back on the expression of God’s mercy which is revealed in the prospect of judgment, we remain without God and without hope in the world.[30] And that would then mean that we spend eternity in hell.

Let’s pray:

God our Father, look upon us in your grace. Grant that the words of my mouth, the meditation of our hearts, may be found acceptable in your sight.[31] Draw us, Lord, unreservedly, each of us, to living, childlike faith in your dearly beloved Son. For we pray in his name. Amen.

[1] See Psalm 119:130.

[2] William Shakespeare, Hamlet, 1.4.

[3] Matilda B. B. Edwards, “God Make My Life a Little Light” (1873).

[4] See John 1:5.

[5] 1 Samuel 1:3 (ESV).

[6] 1 Samuel 1:16 (paraphrased).

[7] Matthew 23:16, 24 (paraphrased).

[8] Exodus 5:1–2 (paraphrased).

[9] See, for example, Leviticus 3:16–17.

[10] See John 6:5–10. See also Matthew 14:13–18; Mark 6:35–39; Luke 9:12–14.

[11] John Henry Newman, “Praise to the Holiest in the Height” (1865).

[12] Isaiah 9:2, 6 (KJV).

[13] William C. Dix, “What Child Is This?” (1865).

[14] See 1 Samuel 1:3.

[15] See Isaiah 61:10.

[16] See 1 Samuel 2:5.

[17] C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (1942). Paraphrased. See, for instance, chap. 22.

[18] See, for example, Exodus 8:15.

[19] See, for example, Exodus 9:12.

[20] Hebrews 6:4–6 (ESV).

[21] 1 Samuel 2:10 (paraphrased).

[22] Psalm 1:5 (ESV).

[23] W. G. Blaikie, The First Book of Samuel, The Expositor’s Bible Commentary (Toronto, 1888), 45.

[24] Dale Ralph Davis, 1 Samuel: Looking on the Heart (Fearn, Great Britain: Christian Focus, 2000), 34.

[25] Hebrews 3:15 (ESV).

[26] Davis, 1 Samuel, 34.

[27] See Luke 2:52.

[28] J. C. Ryle, Christian Leaders of the Eighteenth Century (1885; repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1978).

[29] Isaiah 9:6 (KJV).

[30] See Ephesians 2:12.

[31] See Psalm 19:14.

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.