Home > Articles > Exhortation and Consolation

One Sunday in our ecclesia, a brother spoke on the topic, “Fun With Genealogies.” The exhortation was rather memorable for several reasons. First, the chapter read as an introductory reading was 1 Chronicles 2 — 55 verses of names. In all the thousands of meetings I’ve attended I’ve never heard one of those chapters read in public. The reader was deservedly complimented on doing a good job.

Then there were a couple of points in the exhortation that stood out. It was noted that Caleb, the Gentile, had twelve gentile sons. This is parallel to Jacob, “Israel,” having twelve Jewish sons. It’s a splendid testimony to the fact that the Gentiles always had an opportunity for salvation even during the 2,000 years of what we might call the Jewish era.

Then the exhorter drew our attention to a number of points involving Heman, the great musician. One of the references cited regarding Heman was 1 Chronicles 6:33-34 where he is identified as a grandson of Samuel (the KJV has “Shemuel” but other versions — NKJV, NIV, NLT, etc. have “Samuel”). This reference set off an interesting line of thought which ended in seeing a great exhortation from Samuel.

Scripture notes two bitter disappointments in Samuel’s life which were followed by a second chance.

Some background

There’s no doubt that the “Samuel” of 1 Chronicles 6:33 and the “Samuel” of 1 Samuel 1, who became the last judge of Israel, are the same person. In both cases the genealogy goes “Samuel the son of Elkanah, the son of Jeroham, the son of Eliel, the son of Toah (“Tohu” in 1 Samuel 1), the son of Zuph.

And there’s no doubt that Samuel was a mighty man of faith. He’s listed in the roster of the heroes of faith in Hebrews 11:32 and he is grouped with another great servant of God in Jeremiah 15:1. Jeremiah is told that, “Though Moses and Samuel stood before me…” to appeal Israel’s case, God would not change his mind about His punishment of the nation.

Failure of Samuel’s sons

Despite his own great faith, however, Samuel’s sons were abject failures. He had hoped that they would follow in his footsteps and was mentoring them to this end:

“And it came to pass, when Samuel was old, that he made his sons judges over Israel. Now the name of the firstborn was Joel; and the name of his second, Abiah: they were judges in Beersheba” [Beersheba was in the far south of the country and would be a good first assignment]. “And his sons walked not in his ways, but turned aside after lucre, and took bribes, and perverted judgment” (1Sam 8:1-3).

Of course each person is responsible for his/her own life, and can’t blame his sin- ful behavior on his parents. But any father, especially a giant of faith, would be heartsick at having such sons. With his wife he would lament: “What did we do wrong? We set them a good example.” Samuel certainly did that for at the end of his life he could say to Israel:

“ ‘Behold here I am: witness against me before the Lord and before his anointed… whom have I defrauded?… or of whose hand have I received a bride?’… and they said, ‘Thou hast not defrauded us, nor oppressed us, neither hast thou taken ought of any man’s hand’ ” (1Sam 12:3-4).

He could perhaps further lament to his wife that: “We surrounded them with spiritual friends.” He could say this because he had established a school of the prophets and lived at it (1Sam 19:18-20). In our day this would be equivalent to seeing that our children were involved in Sunday school, CYC, young people’s gatherings, Bible Schools, and ecclesial activities of all kinds. Yet, despite all of this encouragement, Samuel’s children were abject spiritual failures.

Samuel’s first second chance

But Samuel had a second chance with a grandson and even with his great-grand- children. As we noted, in 1 Chronicles 6 we find “Heman” listed as a grandson of Samuel. In 1 Chronicles 25, Heman is one of the three men David appointed to be leaders of the new order of music that David arranged for worship of the Lord God (1Chron 25:1; note also 2Chron 23:18; Ezra 3:10).

This aspect of service was more than simply directing a choir or leading an or- chestra. They “prophesied” with their music. That is they provided instruction in the commands, statutes, and principles of God through their Psalms and musi- cal accompaniment (1Chron 25:2-3). In fact, Heman authored Psalm 88. So this grandson of Samuel was a prophet used by God to write part of Scripture. Further Heman was the “king’s seer in the words of God to lift up his horn” (1Chron 25:5). What a contrast Heman was to his father and how Samuel must have rejoiced to see his grandson respond to the word of God where his sons had utterly failed.

We also note that through Heman, Samuel had 17 great-grandchildren and “all these were under the hands of their father for song in the house of the Lord” (1Chron 25:4-6). Today we would say they “were all in the truth.”

Given the ungodly attitude of Heman’s father, it was no doubt Samuel, the grand- father, who had a mighty influence on the spirituality of his grandson and through him even on his great-grandchildren.

The lesson for us is obvious: we may fail in the opportunity to mentor our children, but don’t quit. We may well get a second chance with our grandchildren and through them with our great-grandchildren or we may even be able to regain our own children as the years progress. Let us never give up on our second chances.

Samuel’s second second chance

Samuel gets a second chance in another area of his life. Again attention is drawn to it in a comment that seems buried in the genealogies when we read: “All these which were chosen to be porters in the gates were two hundred and twelve. These were reckoned by their genealogy in their villages, whom David and Samuel the seer did ordain in their set office” (1Chron 9:22). As we note from the context, reference is being made to the new arrangements for worship which David initiated during his reign.

When could David and Samuel have worked together to formulate these plans? With a little investigation, we realize that the planning David had worked on with Samuel had to have occurred long before David came to the throne.

At the earliest, David did not physically organize this aspect of worship in Israel until he was king over all the nation and had established a center of worship at Jerusalem. That didn’t happen until David was in his late thirties. In fact the temple itself was not built until after his death; but he had moved the ark to Jerusalem well before that and had probably put the new structure of worship in place in his forties or fifties.

However Samuel died when David was in his twenties, while David was on the run from Saul (1Sam 25:1). This means that Samuel and David were working together on these plans for national worship when David was in his late teens or early twenties.

When and where did Samuel and David get their heads together on these plans? Probably shortly after Samuel had anointed David to be the next king in Israel.

It is perfectly reasonable that Samuel would have mentored David — he had anointed him to be king. Furthermore as a devout servant of God, David would surely have been a frequent visitor at Samuel’s university of the prophets. In fact at one point David lived there: “And he [David] and Samuel went and dwelt in Naioth” which was Samuel’s home (1Sam 19:18). So here was a perfect opportunity for Samuel to mentor David in the things of God; and here was an opportunity for the two of them to plan the expansion of Israel’s services of worship.

Samuel’s first chance was with Saul

What we may not have noticed is that this was Samuel’s second chance at mentor- ing a prospective king of Israel. The first was Saul.

When we go back to Saul’s anointing in 1 Samuel 10:1, we find that Saul was going to be given every chance to succeed as king. Not only was Saul to be given three signs that Samuel’s prophecy would surely come to pass (1Sam 10:2-5), but Saul was also to experience what it was like to be a true servant of God: “And the spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy with them [the prophets], and shalt be turned into another man” (1Sam 10:6).

After these extraordinary events, Samuel wants Saul to go to Gilgal for mentoring:

“And let it be, when these signs are come unto thee… thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal… seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do” (1Sam 10:8).

Unfortunately Saul doesn’t go to Gilgal to receive Samuel’s instruction for several years. His long delay is the background to why he is severely rebuked as recorded in 1 Samuel 13:8,13: “And he [Saul] tarried seven days, according to the set time that Samuel had appointed.” Where had Samuel mentioned a “set time” of seven days? Back in 1 Samuel 10 several years earlier. So Saul had failed to show interest in receiving instruction regarding ruling God’s people.

As we know, Saul ends up being a failure in God’s eyes. This was a tremendous disappointment to Samuel as he greatly laments God’s rejection of Saul: “Samuel did not see Saul again until the day of his death; for Samuel grieved over Saul… Now theLordsaidtoSamuel,‘HowlongwillyougrieveoverSaul…’”(1Sam15:35-16:1). Samuel had tried to mentor Saul but had failed. Being a very godly and faithful person Samuel no doubt felt partially responsible for Saul’s failure.

After Saul, there is David

But Samuel is going to get a second chance — with David. As we have noted, at some point, David and Samuel lived together “at Naioth” and made plans for the future structure of worship in Israel. It’s not hard to get the picture: the religiously inclined would gather at Samuel’s community where they would join together in much enthusiastic worship and instruction in the word of God. This would be completely to David’s liking. He was a man after God’s own heart and rejoiced in learning as much as he could about the law and the testimonies. Furthermore he was an excellent musician as a youth and would eagerly enter into the writing and performing of new hymns and psalms.

Again the lesson jumps out at us — we may fail in one mentoring situation but don’t let that discourage us from trying again. The second time around may result in great success.

The whole idea of a second chance is an integral part of the breaking of bread to which we now look forward. For ourselves personally we would say a synonym to a “second chance” is the forgiveness of sins. In providing for the forgiveness of our sins, the Father has provided us much more than a “second” chance. He provides opportunity after opportunity to regain our spiritual footing and seek to again walk in the footsteps of His Son.

May we do just that in the coming days as we know the time draws near when we will see our Lord Jesus Christ face to face.

Don Styles (Ann Arbor, MI) 

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