“So Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. He went from year to year on a circuit to Bethel, to Gilgal, and Mizpah, and judged Israel in all those places. But he always returned to Ramah, for his home was there…”
1 Samuel 7:15-17
Oh my soul! The life of God’s servant Samuel is in many ways a monument to and manual upon the subject of successfully serving the Lord. Even from his youngest years he was actively engaged in his prophetic profession. “But Samuel ministered before the Lord, even as a child…” (1 Samuel 2:18) His whole life could in some ways be summarized by his obedient answer to the outcry of the Almighty “speak Lord, for your servant hears” (3:9). Our text today also provides something of a summary of his service, and maybe something of the secret of his success. May my heart have this habit of Samuel’s humble hearing also!
Perseverance: “So Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life.” Not just some days, convenient days, delightful days, or particular days….ALL days. Samuel was a persevering prophet. There must have been many a day when all his efforts seemed empty and without effect. Would he not have awoken many mornings without the wish or will for this work? Perseverance is the grace of God to go on in obedience in spite of every obstacle and against all odds. Samuel persevered when it was unpopular. The book of Samuel follows, historically, the period of the Judges, when “everyone did what was right in his own eyes (Judges 21:25).” But not so God’s servant Samuel. He persevered. He went against the tide of his time. And what about you, oh my soul, and you dear reader? Are you an “all the days” disciple of Christ? What about this day? Will you persevere through the pressure, remain diligent in disappointment, carry on in spite of criticism, keep going though the trials keep coming, tarry though tempted and tested, and bear up under every bane and burden? Remember the words of our Savior who said “he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:13). God has given you, in Christ, all the years of eternity, and should you not give unto Him “all the days” of this life?
Planning: His ministry was not mindless. There was nothing slipshod in Samuel’s superintendence. “He went from year to year on a circuit (1 Samuel 7:16).” He had a plan and program for the progress of his people. There was orderliness to his oversight. Do I have a purposeful plan for the progress of my soul? What about the reading of Holy writ? Will you only be found frequenting the most prominent provinces of this blessed Book? Or will you make a point to also become familiar with the Bethel’s of the Bible, the Gilgal’s of God’s Word, the Mizpah’s of this magnificent manuscript? What about your plan for prayer and for fellowship and for worship and for charity? How many soul-nourishing books will be left unnoticed and untouched for the lack of a proper plan? Your God makes plans, so shouldn’t you? “The counsel of the Lord stands forever, the plans of His heart to all generations” (Psalm 33:11). Samuel went on “from year to year.” What do you hope to accomplish this year, oh my soul? God’s providence may overrule your plans (Proverbs 16:9), but that is no excuse for not making them.
Prayer: And here I think is the greatest of all the secrets of Samuel’s success: he went home. “But he always returned to Ramah, for his home was there.” God's house was to be a house of prayer (Matthew 21:13), and Samuel's home was a place of prayer as well, for "there he built an altar to the Lord" (7:17). Ramah was the place of Samuel’s birth, and heaven is the place of every believer’s birth, for we are “born of God” (1 John 4:7). And we go there, to this heavenly home, in prayer. “Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name.” The name “Ramah” literally means “height” and likewise our prayers ascend to a high and holy God who inhabits eternity. The Christian’s heart is in heaven, and he visits there now upon his knees. Samuel, according to our text, “always returned” to his home. Oh my soul…are you likewise “always returning” to the Lord in prayer? This blessed banquet we call prayer was characterized by one Christian as “God’s breath in man returning to his birth.” Samuel would return to the place he was born, and every believer returns to his birthplace in prayer. Would you see you labors rewarded, your heart refreshed, your soul renewed, and your life revived? Then be no stranger to thy Savior, but rather be in His frequent fellowship by journeying home to His heavenly palace in prayer.