As we journey through the Bible, I want to give you a brief overview of where we have traveled so far.

We began with the Torah or the Law. Another name for the first five books of the Hebrew Bible is the Pentateuch.

Torah (Law)

The next section of the Hebrew Bible is called the Nevi’im, or Prophets. So far, I have preached on the books of Joshua and Judges. Today, I will preach on Samuel.

Nevi’im (Prophets)

Notice a few things about the books listed above.  These are the books as listed in the Hebrew Bible.  In our Bible, Ruth comes after the Book of Judges, but not in the Hebrew Bible. Ruth is in a different section.

Ruth is in the K’tuvim or writings section, along with books like Job, Psalms, and Proverbs. I’m going to preach the books the way they are ordered in the Hebrew Bible. The Old Testament will make better sense this way.

For example, when we get to the end of the Hebrew Bible, you will discover that it makes more sense for Chronicles to be at the end of the Bible instead of where it is in our Bible, but you will have to wait several months to discover why that is true.

Lastly, I want you to notice that Samuel is only one book or scroll in the Hebrew Bible.  It’s the same way with Kings.

Samuel is divided into two books in our Protestant Bible, so I will preach two separate sermons on Samuel.

To help you understand 1 Samuel, let me introduce you to Luke Combs.

He is a 30-year-old-country singer that grew up in the mountains of Ashville, North Carolina.

Luke has a great country voice, but you need more than just a great voice to become a country music star. You need some great songs. You need memorable songs that people can relate to.

One of his best ones is a song called “Be Careful What You Wish For.”

The song’s got just enough connection to real-life that we can all sing and shake our heads and say, “That ‘ole boy knows what his singing about because we’ve all wished for things that we’ve gotten and discovered that it wasn’t what we needed.”

Here are a few of the lyrics:

But sometimes things ain’t what you think they’re gonna be/

What you want ain’t always what you need.

Don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone and you’re out on your own/

All you want is what you can’t get back/
Once you let it go, then you know what you have/

Don’t hold a candle to what you had/
Sometimes what you think you’ll find/

It ain’t quite what real life has in store/
So be careful what you wish for.

Luke might be surprised “Be Careful What You Wish For,” could be a theme song for the book of 1 Samuel.

This book tells the story of what happens when God’s people, or anyone for that matter, sets their hearts on the wrong things.

1 Samuel should be a warning to all of us. Be careful what you wish for– you just might get it.

If only someone had been around about 1000 years before Christ to sing this song to the nation of Israel.

Oh, wait. There was. His name was – well, you guessed it. His name was Samuel.

Samuel was the son of Elkanah and Hannah. For a long time, this couple was unable to have children.

Every year, when they went to the temple to offer sacrifices, Hannah prayed for God to allow her to have a child.

One year she prayed and asked God to give her a son. She promised God she would give him to the priests to raise in the Lord’s service.

Hannah became pregnant, and when Samuel was old enough, she brought him and gave him to Eli, the priest.

If Hannah and Elkanah had known what was going on at Ramah, they would have been heartbroken, and I’m sure they would have done what any parents would have done.

They would have kept him at home.

There were prostitutes at the door of the temple. The priests were unethical.

They took more meat than was their share from the sacrifices the people brought.

There is no other way to say it. It was a sex and food orgy in God’s temple courts, and the boy Samuel saw it all.

While still a lad, Samuel heard God calling him in the middle of the night, but he did not know it was God.

Samuel thought it must be the priest, Eli, but Eli told him to go lay down and listen again because it must be the Lord.

What Samuel heard was God telling him to speak his first prophetic word. It was against Eli and his household.

He said judgment was coming because Eli had failed to do anything about his sons and the sins they were committing in their roles as priests.

There was an arrogance that had developed among these men and even among Israel because they saw God as a God who would never let any enemy defeat them.

They took advantage of their power and position to please themselves. They didn’t think there would be any consequences.

They believed that God and His power resided in the Ark of the Covenant, a gold-covered wooden chest containing the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments.

As long as the Ark of the Covenant was in their possession, they believed God had a shield of protection around them.

But news came one day to Eli that there had been a battle with the Philistines.

In that battle, 30,000 Israelite soldiers were killed, including his two sons, Hophni and Phinehas.

But this was not the most shocking news. The most surprising news to Eli was that the Ark of the Covenant was captured.

The scripture says that when Eli heard the news about the Ark of the Covenant, he fell backward out of his chair.

The fall broke his neck. He was dead at age 98.

The text says he was a heavy man, which is a subtle way of saying that he’d been helping himself to the extra meat his sons had been stealing that the people brought to the altar.

Now there is a bit of humor in the story about the capture of the Ark of the Covenant.

Remember Luke Comb’s song, “Be Careful What You Ask For?” Well, here is where that theme song begins to play.

They put the Ark of the Covenant in their temple with their god, Ashdod, but the next morning, Ashdod had fallen facedown on the ground in front of the Ark of the Covenant, like he was bowing down to it.

They thought that must have been a fluke, so they set him up, but the next morning he had fallen over again, but this time his head and hands were broken off.

So they moved the Ark of the Covenant, but every place they took it, villagers became very sick. Not only did they become sick, but some people died.

Thinking this must be a coincidence, they moved the Ark again, but every place it went, people got sick, and people died.

Now they begin the think they had a tiger by the tail, and they didn’t know what to do with it.

The last community that the Ark was sent it to, the people were smart enough to say, “We don’t want it. Send it back to Israel.”

Sometimes things ain’t what you think they’re gonna be/

What you want ain’t always what you need.

So be careful what you wish for.

The Philistines just thought they wanted the Ark of the Covenant, but once they got it, they decided that it wasn’t what they needed.

The Philistines put the Ark of the Covenant on a cart, hitched it up to a couple of cows, and set it back to the Israelites.

How many times has that happened to you?
Now let’s be honest.

You thought you wanted that job until you got it.

You thought you wanted to date that person until you dated him or her.

You thought you wanted to purchase that item until you bought it.

You thought you wanted to engage in that activity until you did it.

You thought you wanted to put that substance into your body until you drank it, smoked it, or ate it.

That reminds me of an Alka Seltzer commercial years ago. After eating way too much, the man would say, “I can’t believe I ate the whole thing.”

You thought you wanted to be with that person until you hurt someone else and discovered that you were lusting after what God said was not yours.

You thought you wanted to look at what could never satisfy you because you always have to look some more.

You thought you had to say what you said to get what you wanted but was it worth it?

Sometimes the things people wish for will satisfy them for more extended periods than others.

Their gods stay propped up for more extended periods.

But sooner or later, everyone’s gods come crashing down, and they realize that even though they got want they wanted, it does not last, and it’s not enough to fulfill the emptiness in their souls.

Eventually, what we wanted will lie broken or will lead to our brokenness if God is not in it.

This is not only true for pagans like the Philistines. It was also true for God-fearing people like the Israelites.

After the moral leadership failure of the priests at
Ramah, Israel came to Samuel and said, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have” 1 Samuel 8:8 (NIV).

There is always a price to pay when religious leaders fail to lead lives of integrity and moral responsibility.

One price is the loss of trust people place in them, but even worse, many people lose trust in God, too.

Israel lost trust in both their religious leaders and in God.

Until this time, God had appointed people to lead Israel, but God was always their king.

God just used others to speak through them. Moses was the first one.

Then it was Joshua. Then there was a series of Judges. Then it was Samuel.

But now, the people looked around and saw that other nations had a king, so they came to Samuel and said, “We want a king like other nations.”

Samuel fretted on their request. This is what he heard God saying to him:

“Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king.

As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you.

Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do” (1 Samuel 8:7-9 NIV).

So Samuel was very plan spoken. He told them that if they crowned a king, the king would lord over them, and he would make decisions that would not have their best interests at heart.

He would take advantage of them, take their land, their family members, and their resources to use for himself.

He said they would be subject to the king and have to fight for him. He tried to warn them, but the people thought they knew best.

Isn’t that just like us?

We think we know best.

We want what we want when we want it. I hear Luke Combs singing,”

Be Careful What You Wish For.” The lesson here is that we better be careful what we wish for because we just might get it.

So the people were given a king, and his name was Saul. Samuel chose him.

Samuel chose Saul at God’s direction. Yet Saul became a colossal failure.

One author looked at it like this.

He said that sometimes God might give us what we want, and the discipline that comes our way is our own choice.

We end up learning by the folly and the wickedness of the thing chosen. He said that is the principle on which Saul was appointed.

God knew Saul wasn’t going to work out. He tried to warn the people.

They wouldn’t listen. So God gave them what they asked for, and hopefully, they would learn a lesson from their poor choice.

In Jesus’ story of the two sons and a loving father, the younger son asked for his inheritance because he did not want to work for his father anymore.

His father gave it to him, and the son left home.

His father knew what the son was asking for was not good for him, but he also knew that if his son stayed, he would only remain angry and rebel, so he gave his son what he wanted.

His son left and wasted all his money.

During a famine, his son realized how good he had things working for his father. He ended up feeding swine and being so hungry that he wanted to eat the same food he was feeding them.

He realized that what he wanted was not what he needed.

The good thing is that he realized he made a mistake, and he had the humility to make his way back home to a father that was loving and forgiving.

The father was still looking and hoping for his son to return and gave his son what he needed, which was grace.

Israel got what they wanted and deserved with Saul, but God was still looking out for what they needed, so even before Saul’s kingship ended, God directed Samuel to anoint another person to be the king of Israel.

This time, instead of finding a person that looked impressive in appearance, God directed him to look at the person’s heart.

He chose a shepherd boy named David.

The rest of 1 Samuel compares the king that God rejected to the king that God selected, and we are left to ponder the reasons Saul’s leadership failed, and David’s began to grow.

Part of what we discover is that Saul wanted to be king more than he wanted to follow God.

David wanted to follow God more than he wanted to be king.

Because David had his priorities in line, He became the king that Israel needed. Because Saul didn’t, He died as the king that they asked for, and unfortunately received.

Campbell Morgan says that 1 Samuel shows us that you can reject God, but you cannot dethrone him. (“The Unfolding Message of the Bible,” p. 129)

Are you rejecting God in your life?

God is ruling and working in this world and even in your life.

God will allow you to make choices and even let you lay hold of some of your dreams.

However, if those wishes and desires do not include God, remember, you heard it today:

Sometimes things ain’t what you think they’re gonna be/

What you want ain’t always what you need.
Be careful what you wish for.

Why not invite the Lord to journey with you?

In the words of David, why can’t you learn to say these words:

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.”

Why not say, “I don’t want anything else but God’s will in my life?”

Why not ask for the right things so that that it can be well with your soul.

If you have been asking for the wrong things this morning, Jesus is like the loving father in the story of the Prodigal son.

He’s waiting for you to come to Him and acknowledge that you need him and not the other things you have been choosing in His place.

Why not do that right now?

(Place Commitment Slide on the Screen)

Photo credit: