The opportunities that arise from working faithfully (1 Samuel 5-7)

Bible Commentary / Produced by TOW Project

The Philistines fare no better with the ark than the Israelites did, and it becomes a dangerous property for both sides until it is retired from military use and Samuel calls Israel to recommit themselves to the Lord himself (1 Sam.  5:1-7:3). The people heed his call and turn back to worshipping the Lord, and Samuel’s career expands rapidly. His role as priest soon grows to “judge” (meaning a military governor) and he leads the successful defense against the Philistines (1 Sam. 7:4-13). His roll soon encompasses holding court for legal matters (1 Sam. 10:16). Behind all his tasks lies his calling to be "a trustworthy prophet of the Lord" (1 Sam. 3:20).

Skilled, dependable workers who are true to God’s ways often find their work overflowing their job descriptions. In the face of ever-expanding responsibilities, Samuel's response is not, "That's not my job." Instead, he sees the crucial needs in front of him, recognizes that he has the capacity to meet them, and steps in to resolve them. As he does so, God increases his authority and effectiveness to match his willingness.

One lesson we might take from this is to respond to God with a willingness to serve as Samuel did. Do you see opportunities in front of you at work that, strictly speaking, don't fit your job description? Do your supervisors or colleagues seem to expect you to take further responsibility in areas that aren't formally part of your job? These are often chances for growth, development, and advancement (unless your supervisors do not appreciate your taking on additional responsibility). What would it take for you to step forward into these opportunities? Similarly, you may see needs around you that you could help meet if you had the trust and courage to respond. What would it take to develop your trust in God and to receive the courage needed to follow his leading?

The final account of Samuel’s governance (1 Sam. 7:15-17) says that he went on a circuit of the cities of Israel year by year to the cities of Israel, governing and administering justice. The chapter closes with, “And he built there an altar to the Lord.” His civic and military services to Israel were founded on his life-long faithfulness and worship of the Lord.