August 12: 1 Samuel 2

"Priests guilty of sexual misconduct in the sanctuary"  No, this is not a headline from one of today's sleazy newspapers (though it could well be); it is a headline that characterizes the goings on in Shiloh where Eli two reckless sons (ESV "worthless men" v.12) are having their way with female temple-ancillary workers (1 Sam. 2:22). Worship in the Shiloh-temple is a farce.

And this is the place where Hannah left her son, Samuel, to be reared for the Lord's service. And in the most unlikely place, God places his people to shine as bright lights in the midst of darkness. Stunningly, we read about Samuel: "Now the young man Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the LORD and also with man" (1 Sam. 2:26). Where have he heard this text before? Yes, in a description of the growth of Jesus from boyhood into manhood in Luke: "And Jesus increased in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man" (Luke 2:52). Does this suggest that there was something Jesus-like about Samuel? Yes, for in essence, that is what sanctification means - to be conformed to the image of Jesus (Rom. 8:29). Moreover, it is through the experience of hardship and deprivation, in the contexts of opposition and derision that holiness is forged. In God's workshop in this world, suffering is the raw material out of which glory is forged (1 Peter 1:7; 4:12-13). And sometimes we glimpse them - those upon whom something of future glory seems already to clothe them in the present world. Samuel stood out among his contemporaries as a bright and shining light because he had learned to trust the Lord in dark places.

Much as a godly home and godly parents are to be valued, it does not guarantee godliness on the part of covenant children. And neither does an ungodly environment necessarily produce ungodliness. God may overrule in both instances, as he so evidently does here.