Luke 5:16 NCV
The final difference between Samson and Samuel involves prayer. The Bible only mentions two occasions when Samson prayed. The first was when he thought he was dying of thirst and needed water: ‘Because he was very thirsty, he cried out to the LORD’ (Judges 15:18 NIV). The second was in the last moments of his life when he’d lost everything and ended up in prison. ‘Then Samson prayed to the LORD, “Sovereign LORD, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more”‘ (Judges 16:28 NIV). Sometimes our prayer life can end up like this. We only pray when we’re in need or in a desperate situation. On the other hand, Samuel had a strong prayer life. The Bible tells us that people realised he ‘was a true prophet of the LORD’ (1 Samuel 3:20 NCV). This is the kind of prayer life that God wants us to have. He wants us to be able to recognise His voice and to listen when He has things to tell us. Prayer shouldn’t be one way. We shouldn’t be only talking to God when we need something, we should be listening to Him too and using prayer to develop our relationship with Him. The Bible also talks a lot about Jesus’ prayer life. Sometimes He prayed all through the night; other times He was up praying before dawn. The Bible says: ‘Jesus often slipped away to be alone so he could pray’ (Luke 5:16 NCV). It was the secret of His effectiveness in ministry. By taking the time out to pray and connect with God, He was empowered to do God’s work on Earth. And when we also take the time out to pray, we’re empowered to do what God’s calling us to do too.
Exo 20:7; Isa 29:22-24; Matt 6:9; Phil 2:5-11
Jeremiah 15:1 NKJV
Difference five: Prayer. The Bible records only two occasions when Samson prayed: first, when he thought he was dying of thirst and needed water (Judges 15:18); second, in the last moments of his life when he’d lost everything and ended up in prison (See Judges 16:28). He was like the little boy who was asked, “Do you say your prayers every night?” He replied, “No; sometimes I don’t need anything.” On the other hand the Bible says, “Samuel called to the Lord, and the Lord sent thunder and rain that day; and all the people greatly feared the Lord and Samuel” (1 Samuel 12:18 NKJV). One of the greatest tributes given to anyone in Scripture was spoken by God concerning Samuel’s prayer life: “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Even if Moses and Samuel stood before Me, My mind would not be favorable toward this people.'” Such is the “clout” Samuel had with God! The Bible also has much to say about the prayer life of Jesus. Sometimes He prayed all through the night; other times He was up praying before dawn. It was the secret of His effectiveness in ministry. He made regular deposits in prayer so He could make regular withdrawals of power when He needed it. And you’ll notice that He seldom prayed for anyone He healed. Why? Because He’d already spent time in prayer. Old-timers in church used to refer to this as “staying prayed up.” And it’s the secret of victorious Christian living.
Soul food: Exo 20:7; Isa 29:22-24; Matt 6:9; Phil 2:5-11
1 Samuel 7:12 NCV
Another difference between Samson and Samuel can be seen in their accountability. Samson had an independent attitude and refused to be accountable to anyone else. He was a ‘lone ranger’ who refused to work with others. ‘This time I have a right to get even with the Philistines; I will really harm them’ (Judges 15:3 NIV). The word ‘I’ shows how independent Samson was. God had sent him to help free the Israelites from Philistine rule but he was more interested in his own personal revenge. Samuel, on the other hand, worked alongside others. When he prayed and God gave Israel a spectacular victory over their enemies, he refused to take any of the credit. ‘After this happened Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpah and Shen. He named the stone Ebenezer, saying, “The LORD has helped us to this point.”‘ Samson was ‘me’ focused, but Samuel was ‘us’ focused. The psalmist said, ‘How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity…for there the LORD bestows his blessing’ (Psalm 133:1, 3 NIV). The secret of walking in God’s blessing is not to operate alone, but cooperate with others. That’s how the New Testament church did it. ‘After further threats they let them go…on their release, Peter and John went back to their own people (Acts 4:21, 23 NIV). When the apostles came under attack, they ‘went back to their own people.’ They had relationships in place with those who knew how to advise and guide them, strengthen and encourage them, pray and share God’s Word with them. We need relationships like this too.
Dan 5-7; Matt 8:28-34; Ps 89:1-14; Prov 2:20
1 Samuel 7:12 NKJV
Difference four: Accountability. Samson had an independent attitude and refused to be accountable to anyone else. He was a “lone ranger” who refused to work with others. And his erratic attempts at deliverance caused the Philistines to tax God’s people more and make their burdens heavier. Samuel, on the other hand, worked in consensus with others. When he prayed and God gave Israel a spectacular victory over their enemies, he refused to take any of the credit. “Then Samuel took a stone and set it up between Mizpeh and Shen, and called its name Ebenezer, saying, ‘Thus far has the Lord helped us.'” Samson was “me” focused, but Samuel was “us” focused. The Psalmist said, “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity…for there the Lord commanded the blessing” (Psalm 133:1, 3 NKJV). The secret of walking in God’s blessing is not to operate alone, but cooperate with others. That’s how the New Testament church did it. “When they had further threatened them, they let them go…And being let go, they went to their own companions” (Acts 4:21, 23 NKJV). When the apostles came under attack, “they went to their own companions.” They had relationships in place with those who knew how to advise and guide them, strengthen and encourage them, pray and share God’s Word with them. You need such relationships too! And you can’t afford to wait until trouble comes before you establish them. Do it now, in the good times, and they’ll be there for you in the bad times.
Soul food: Dan 5-7; Matt 8:28-34; Ps 89:1-14; Prov 2:20
1 Samuel 12:12 NKJV
Samson and Samuel also had differing motives. Samson repeatedly dishonoured God by his actions and his lifestyle. That’s because he had no regard for God’s honour. In contrast, honouring God was Samuel’s highest priority. When Israel wanted a king in order to be like all the surrounding nations, it upset him. He said to the people, ‘The Lord your God was your king.’ His respect and honour for God is also shown through how he instructed the people: ‘But be sure to fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart; consider what great things he has done for you’ (1 Samuel 12:24 NIV). We need to be assessing whether our lifestyle and actions are honouring God. We need to ask ourselves whether our aim is to make God look good or make ourselves look good. When we live in respect and honour towards God, we live the way He wants us to live. When we live for ourselves, our own motives and glory, we become focused on what we can gain, and can easily be more influenced by the culture we’re living in. Or we may keep up the Christian lifestyle and be tempted to think that everything we’re doing is in our own strength. But the truth is that without the power of God’s indwelling Spirit, none of us have what it takes to live as God calls us to. We need His strength. So let’s make sure we’re staying humble, seeking only to glorify God and living in a way that honours Him.
Dan 3-4; Matt 8:18-27; Ps 84; Prov 2:16-19v