I have a few thoughts I’d like to share with you regarding 1 Samuel and 2 Corinthians today.

The Lord Revealed

The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.

1 Samuel 3:21 (NIV)

We just read earlier in this chapter that Samuel didn’t know the Lord, so when he called Samuel, Samuel thought it was Eli calling him from another room (cf. 1 Samuel 3:1-8). Here in the last verse of chapter 3, we are told something important. God revealed himself to Samuel through his word. We know that the Bible, as we know it, was not yet written at this time. While Samuel had access to the book of the law and such, that’s not what the text is necessarily saying to us here. We can presume that the word spoken here in verse twenty-one was spoken to Samuel while ministering before the Lord. However, this doesn’t diminish the fact that Samuel had to spend time with the Lord for him to be revealed to him, and we would be wise to realize what this means to us today. 

Isaiah 55:6 states, “Seek the Lord while he may be found; call on him while he is near” (NIV). This implies that there will be a time when the Lord cannot be found, not by the Israelites, to whom Isaiah was speaking, and to us today. Isaiah’s call here in this verse is a call to seek the Lord and turn from wicked ways. 

Jeremiah the prophet spoke these words to the people:

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13 (NIV)

Here we see that seeking the Lord is conditional on the state of our hearts. It’s a choice we have to make because God isn’t going to intrude on us, forcing us to get to know him. The prophet Amos gave this message to Israel, “This is what the Lord says to Israel: ‘Seek me and live'” (Amos 5:4 NIV). Finally, at the beginning of John’s Gospel, we are given this intelligence. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.

John 1:1-4 (NIV)

All of these verses suggest that if we want God to reveal himself to us, there are things we have to do.

  • Spend time with Him.
  • Seek Him while he is near.
  • Seek Him with all of our hearts.

The vehicle that has been given to us to accomplish these three tasks is found in the person of Jesus Christ who is the word of God made flesh. The same Jesus inhabits the Bible, which is the inspired word of God. Praying and going to church is great. However, God reveals himself to us through his word, which is the Bible. Therefore, we must read the Bible.

1 Samuel 4:1

1 Samuel 4 is where we see the end of Eli and his sons and the beginning of a new passage in Israel’s history. However, 1 Samuel 4:1 begins with a rather odd sequence of language. 

And Samuel’s word came to all Israel. Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek.

1 Samuel 4:1 (NIV)

This might not seem so odd in itself. However, as we read on, we discover that the Israelites not only lose this battle but the ark of God as well (cf. 1 Samuel 4:10-11). The problem with this reading is that verse 1, in this context, appears to credit Samuel with being the one who delivered this word to Israel. That’s to say, he called the Israelites together to fight against the Philistines. However, this doesn’t ring true to me. Not so much because they lost the battle but rather the poor choice to send the Ark into battle. In addition, these verses below indicate that it wasn’t Samuel who chose to send the Ark into battle. 

When the soldiers returned to camp, the elders of Israel asked, “Why did the Lord bring defeat on us today before the Philistines? Let us bring the ark of the Lord’s covenant from Shiloh, so that he may go with us and save us from the hand of our enemies.” So the people sent men to Shiloh, and they brought back the ark of the covenant of the Lord Almighty, who is enthroned between the cherubim. And Eli’s two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were there with the ark of the covenant of God.

1 Samuel 4:3-4 (NIV)

These verses tell me that it was the people who made the bad call while Hophni and Phinehas, in Shiloh, supported it by going with the Ark. 

Some translations try and deal with this issue by starting a new paragraph after the first sentence in 1 Samuel 4:1. However, the King James Version and several other versions have no such separation. Other versions like the Septuagint, Douay-Rheims Bible, and New American Bible don’t include anything about Samuel’s word going out to all of Israel. The New Living Translation (NLT) presents an even odder solution by stating, “And Samuel’s words went out to all the people of Israel” and saying nothing else in verse one or subsequent verses about the Israelites gathering to fight the Philistines. Instead, the NLT includes this text before verse one! A verse zero, if you will. 

As I’ve said, how we read this verse gives us insight into the beginning of Samuel’s career. Does it start with the deaths of 30,000 Israelites and the loss of the Ark of God, or does it start with the fulfillment of the Lord’s prophecy concerning Hophni and Phinehas?

The Mysterious Brothers

In Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, he mentions two brothers who are going to be visiting the Corinthians. 

And we are sending along with him the brother who is praised by all the churches for his service to the gospel.

2 Corinthians 8:18 (NIV)

In addition, we are sending with them our brother who has often proved to us in many ways that he is zealous, and now even more so because of his great confidence in you.

2 Corinthians 8:22 (NIV)

Who are these brothers that Paul talks about? No one living knows, and we have no record of who they were. I did do some research into the identities of these men and wasn’t planning on talking about these verses until I read this version from the Amplified Bible. 

But we are sending along with him that brother [Luke?] whose praise in the Gospel ministry [is spread] throughout all the churches; 2 Corinthians 8:18

(AMPC)

I like the Amplified Bible. It’s a great tool to have around when you can only compare verses and don’t have commentaries to read because the added clarification in it is often commentarial in nature. However, that’s all that it is. Someone’s opinion on what the text might mean. This is why we should never read the Amplified Bible as a primary text. Again, I am not bashing this version. However, we might easily forget the question mark and think it was Luke.

The truth is this person could have been Apollos, Mark, Tychicus, Trophimus, or any other person we have or have not heard about. What’s important isn’t the man but the message. For no other reason, this is why I believe Paul didn’t mention the person’s name because the Corinthians tended to give more credit to the man instead of the Gospel message. This was the first point Paul brought up to them in his first letter. Some professed to follow Paul, Apollos, or even Peter when all of them should have been following Christ. 

And we’re no different from the Corinthians. We have our favorite preachers and pastors as well as those we’d rather not see or hear from. We would all be wise to remember Paul’s declaration of how we ought to view those who bring us the word.

This, then, is how you ought to regard us: as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the mysteries God has revealed.

1 Corinthians 4:1 (NIV)

Do you know God? God knows you, and he loves you. He sees you as significant because you are. No one is insignificant to Him. He’s with you today, and he wants you to know him. Jesus died for your sins and mine so we could be free of guilt, be free from death, and live eternally with him. Eternal salvation is just a prayer away. 

Pray this prayer with me to accept the gift of salvation today:

Lord Jesus, forgive me for all my sins. I repent from my ways. Wash me in your blood and cleanse me from all unrighteousness. I believe that you died on the cross, were buried, and on the third day, God the Father raised you from the dead. Right now, Lord Jesus, I open the door to my heart, and I receive you into my heart as my Lord and personal Savior. Amen.

If you prayed that prayer, then congratulations! You are on the first step of a brand new life. Allow me to be the first to welcome you to my family, the family of God. There are abundant resources available online for new Christians. You can visit here for more information on what to do next. You can also leave me a comment, and I’ll do my best to help you on the next step of this incredible journey.