Samuel

Steve Arterburn

Samuel was one of the great men of faith and one of the great leaders in Israel’s history.  He served as priest, prophet, and Israel’s last judge.  Look at what the Bible says about him. ‘As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said was wise and helpful.  All the people of Israel from one end of the land to the other knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord’ (1 Samuel 3:19-20).  

But Samuel was human, and he had blind spots.  Samuel appointed his sons as judges in his place.  The problem was that his sons were not the men of character that he was.  Instead, Scripture tells us they ‘were greedy for money.  They accepted bribes and perverted justice.’  The people tried to tell Samuel, but for whatever reason he had a blind spot when it came to his family.  

We often develop blind spots with regard to someone we love and want to protect.  If Samuel had heard the people’s complaints with openness, he may have seen the truth before it was too late.  Then he could have corrected the problem and held his sons accountable for their actions before it was too late.  If others around you are telling you things you don’t want to hear, maybe you should stop and evaluate carefully what’s being said.  

Do you need to be honest about someone in your life’a friend, child, a family member?  Take your blinders off.

Life Isn’t Fair

Steve Arterburn

When you experience unfairness in life, the examples of the prophet Daniel and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego will give you encouragement and direction. Despite their lives of obedience, Daniel and his friends weren’t protected from God’s judgment on their nation, Judah.  Innocence doesn’t automatically protect you from tragedy.  But you do have the assurance that God is concerned about what you’re doing, and He will honor your faithfulness and obedience.

Daniel and his friends sought to live according to God’s plan, but they found that others opposed their efforts.  This led initially to great danger, but ultimately a great victory.  Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego had to walk through a fiery furnace because they obeyed God. Only the ropes that bound them were burned by the fire.

Then when he was 80 years old, Daniel was thrown into a den of lions because he was faithful to God, but he walked out unscathed.  God used these trials to bring blessings to his servants and glory to himself.  As you seek to be obedient to God, he may lead you into some difficult situations.  But more often than not God uses such trails to strengthen your character and bless you.  

If Daniel and his friends hadn’t believed that God was sovereign, they might have decided that compromise was better than risking their lives.  But then they wouldn’t have experienced the glorious victories God gave them. What an affirmation of God’s faithfulness!  

Faithfulness Amidst Difficulty

Steve Arterburn

Innocent bystanders often get hurt by the mistakes and poor decisions of others.  Disasters happen that haunt us for life even though we have no direct responsibility for the events that take place.  Often the best way to handle these things is to accept them and to make the best of the situation.  

Daniel and his friends were innocent bystanders.  They suffered a lifelong exile to Babylon because of their country’s prolonged disobedience to God.   But they didn’t let their misfortune destroy their relationship with God.  With courage and faith, they faced the realities of exile and lived successful lives.  Their lives offer us insight into how to deal with tragedy.  

After being taken from Jerusalem to Babylon, Daniel and his three friends were trained for service in the Babylonian government.  Their captors often demanded that they do things that stood in opposition to God.  To protect their relationship with God, Daniel and his friends set clear boundaries for their behavior.  They followed God’s plan for their lives, despite its conflict with the command of their captors.  And God protected these faithful men from the foreign laws and unstable tyrants they lived under.

Although Daniel and his friends were exiled to Babylon for the sins of their ancestors, they didn’t use that as an excuse for continued failure.  Instead, they trusted God to redeem their lives, and they were determined to live according to God’s precepts and teachings. You can do the same.