Sermon Notes and Slides
He Restores My Soul
1 Samuel 4-7
Tony Chute, Interim Pastor
Introduction: Israel’s defeat in battle by the Philistines was an act of judgment in fulfillment of the Lord’s declaration against Eli and his sons. The capture of the ark of the covenant symbolized the temporary yet tragic departure of God’s glory from Israel. The presence of the ark in Philistine territory provided unmistakable evidence of the Lord’s power over all other so-called gods and worldly powers. The fact that God’s people were not active participants in retrieving the ark highlights God’s great faithfulness and love towards those who by grace alone belong to Him. Israel’s appropriate response to God’s restoring grace was to repent of their sin and recommit to trusting the Lord in all things.
01. God justly brings about troubling times when we place our interests above His glory. He is holy and will not be used to further our ends.
02. God clearly does not need us in order to demonstrate His glory. He is sovereign and graciously calls us to serve Him.
03. God mercifully restores us when we recognize our wrongs and return to Him. He is loving and His care for us is everlasting.
Questions For Discussion & Discovery
1. What did the ark of the covenant symbolize for Israel? Read Numbers 10:35, Joshua 3:10-17, and Joshua 6:6-20 to shed light on 1 Samuel 4:3. Why was the result in 1 Samuel 4 different than the results in Joshua 3 and 6? Can you think of ways that Christians inadvertently or intentionally seek to use the Lord to further their own ends?
2. Can you recall other instances in the Bible where God allows His people to experience difficulty in their lives in order to bring them back to Himself? See Joshua 7 and Haggai 1:3-11 for examples. In what ways does God communicate His displeasure with His people today? What does Hebrews 12:6-11 offer by way of encouragement during such difficult times?
3. Are you humbled or dispirited by the fact that God can accomplish His purposes without you? What is the appropriate motivation to serve and witness for the Lord knowing that God is sovereign in all things? What are the missional implications of 1 Samuel 5-6? Can other so-called gods save anyone?
4. What is more remarkable about the return of the ark of the covenant—the fact that cows walked straight to Israel without turning aside or the fact that God Himself orchestrated the event as a sign of His covenant love for His people? Read Hosea 11:1-9 and Luke 15:20-24 for additional examples of God’s great love towards those who least deserve it.
5. In what ways is Samuel a type of Christ in 1 Samuel 7:9 (see also 1 John 2:1-1)? How do his actions, and ultimately that of Christ, underscore the fact that forgiveness of sins is an act of grace alone?
6. Do you have a story to tell about God’s amazing grace in your own life? What “memorial stones” have you erected to remind you of God’s faithfulness? What continuing act of remembrance has Christ given to His church to remember His saving work?
For Further Reading: Tim Keller, The Prodigal God (Viking, 2008).