1 Samuel 7
The Ark was taken to the house of Abinadab after the battle of Aphek in 1104 B.C. It stayed there until David brought it to Jerusalem during his first year as king over Israel in 1003 B.C. (2 Samuel 5:5; 6:1-19; 1 Chronicles 13:1-4).
The story in 1 Samuel 7 starts 20 years after the ark had arrived in Kiriath-Jearim. Samuel exhorted the Israelites to turn away from foreign gods and return to serve the one true God!
Who were the foreign gods of the time? Here is a chart of some of the pagan gods and goddesses of the time from The Bible Knowledge Commentary:
Because of Samuel's exhortation, Israel turned away from their cycle of sin by renouncing their idolatry and returning to the LORD. They inaugurated their re-established faith by a meeting at Mizpah. The drawing and pouring out of water was a symbolic act of their need for moral purification of which water was the symbol.
Hearing of the Israelites' rediscovered religious patriotism, the Philistines came to crush it. God's people cried to Samuel, he prayed, and the Lord confused the Philistines so the Israelites could route them. This restored peace to Israel for 20 years.
1 Samuel 8
1 Samuel 8 begins with the sad fact that when Samuel was old (65-70 years), he appointed his wicked sons as judges over Israel starting in the southern district of Palestine (Beersheba). Joel and Abijah did not walk in the ways of the Lord and took bribes.
I will include a background for the remainder of 1 Samuel 8 tomorrow since it has to do with the selection of a king for Israel.
I promised in our discussion of Eli's parenting in 1 Samuel 2 that we would return to it when we read about the results of Samuel's parenting:
There are really only two things you can do with someone else's mistakes: (1) you can learn from them, or (2) you can duplicate them.
Samuel should have learned the necessity of proper parental discipline from observing Eli's failure with his sons. But apparently he did not, because his own sons were equally undisciplined. They were covetous, took bribes, and perverted justice -- just like Hophni and Phinehas! How could Samuel duplicate Eli's folly? How could any generation not learn from its predecessors?
Answer: Neglect. Samuel's circuit-riding schedule (7:15-17) left scant time to spend with his children during their formative years. How about you? Does your schedule reflect that your children are a priority in your life? Make an appointment to take each one to breakfast sometime next week. It will be time well spent -- for each of you!
(The Daily Walk, March 17, 2008, p.22)George and I both did quite a bit of ministry to people outside the home while our kids were growing up. We were really mindful that we could have fallen into the trap of forgetting our biggest job: discipling our two young men. We have seen a few people so dedicated to the cause of Christ that they have left their children alone in their journey; and, like Joel, Abijah, Hophni, and Phinehas, they have lost their way.
Samuel was on a "circuit-schedule." We were asked to be on boards, speak at conferences, go to out of town meetings, but we declined most of them while our kids were still at home. We knew that there would be plenty of time for all that when they were launched into the world, and the time passed so quickly!
While they were growing up, we kept our ministry very close to home, and we did it within earshot of our kids.
Outside ministry is important though. I have seen the danger of going the other way with people who only ministry to their children and that has not been good either. They need to see you modeling outreach, but if you are gone all the time, they cannot see it.
We do know when a "circuit-schedule" has worked. If one parent is going to be away, there needs to be a game plan for the other parent to really pick up the slack. We know of one couple who was not able to avoid a "circuit-schedule," but their kids have turned out wonderfully because his wife concentrated wholeheartedly on investing in the kids, and when he was home, he concentrated primarily on his children. As his boy was older, he would bring him on his international travel, and one time, they all moved to an international location for several months in order to stay together. It can work, but it needs to be intentional.
We know other men who did not have wives that were inclined to invest with pretty sad consequences. As the kids get older, the same sex parent is more important. Since I had two boys, my husband purposely avoided out of town travel as much as possible in those years. Samuel and Eli each had two boys, but they did not invest. So sad.
We always tried to carve out time for the family. In their teen years, we had a Thursday "Dinner and Discipleship" night where we ate a nice, sit-down meal and followed it by a discussion around Discipleship Essentials by Greg Ogden. We guarded that time and sometimes it was very difficult to do that, but we loved it!
We also try to talk with our kids about lessons we are learning from the LORD. We gently ask them about what they are learning too.
Lord, I pray we can learn the balance between ministry outside our homes and ministry inside our homes to the people we live with every day. Help us to build up those closest to us by our love, encouragement, and iron-sharpening exhortation. We ask this in Jesus' name. Amen.