We are blinded by pride. And often God uses conflict to break us – to bring us low so that He is the one to exalt us. Also, to open our eyes and our hearts to His will.
Like in the story, he sometimes uses our pain to spur on obedience and devotion. The sensitive spots in our lives are where he can grab our attention.
Psalm 147:6 The LORD lifts up the afflicted, but casts the wicked to the ground.
The Story of 1 and 2 Samuel is an extended illustration of humility. We see the low rise up despite circumstances which would normally spell their failure; and we see the proud brought low by their own evil deeds and actions. Multiple times throughout this book there are comparisons made, the humble contrasted against the proud, the strong against the weak; and the steady hand of God through it all, his sovereignty guiding the story and character across the appropriate and just paths.
For some, that is exaltation beyond what they could have ever expected. And for others, it means an early and violent death. The story of 1 and 2 Samuel is a constant war between obedience and desire, self-definition and worth in the eyes of God or man.
The background of the book of Samuel is grounded in the history of judges. For over 300 years the Israelites were ruled by sinning men. Judges records the gradual decay of a society, the consequences of men falling from grace and the rise of women when there are no male leaders willing to stand up.
Also, Judges shows that you can measure the morality of a society by how they treat their women. And through the story of Judges the treatment of women also decays, from disrespect to abuse and even murder.
It is important to keep in mind the whole of the Old Testament is constantly building towards the Messiah. The long drawn out conflicts birth desire for a Savior. The wicked rule of judges and kings should set a desire for a just ruler. Disease and death and betrayal, all tools and devices pointing towards the reality that there must be something better. There must be a hope.
The story of Ruth which follows the book of Judges is a glimmer of hope in the midst of so many trials.
Again the focus is upon a woman. The faith and obedience she showed set the foundation for immeasurably greater things to come. And as we will see next week, Ruth’s obedience ripples into the book of Samuel as well.
1 Samuel takes a similar path at the beginning. In a book dedicated to the founding of the Israelite monarchy, it would seem the natural place to start would be in a king’s court, or in the heat of a fierce battle. But like so many Biblical narratives our story begins with a woman and the trial of a birth.