1 Samuel 2 & Romans 2

1 Samuel 2

    And Hannah prayed and said,

    “My heart exults in the LORD;
        my horn is exalted in the LORD.
    My mouth derides my enemies,
        because I rejoice in your salvation.
    
    “There is none holy like the LORD:
        for there is none besides you;
        there is no rock like our God.
    Talk no more so very proudly,
        let not arrogance come from your mouth;
    for the LORD is a God of knowledge,
        and by him actions are weighed.
    The bows of the mighty are broken,
        but the feeble bind on strength.
    Those who were full have hired themselves out for bread,
        but those who were hungry have ceased to hunger.
    The barren has borne seven,
        but she who has many children is forlorn.
    The LORD kills and brings to life;
        he brings down to Sheol and raises up.
    The LORD makes poor and makes rich;
        he brings low and he exalts.
    He raises up the poor from the dust;
        he lifts the needy from the ash heap
    to make them sit with princes
        and inherit a seat of honor.
    For the pillars of the earth are the LORD's,
        and on them he has set the world.
    
    “He will guard the feet of his faithful ones,
        but the wicked shall be cut off in darkness,
        for not by might shall a man prevail.
    The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces;
        against them he will thunder in heaven.
    The LORD will judge the ends of the earth;
        he will give strength to his king
        and exalt the horn of his anointed.”
    
        Then Elkanah went home to Ramah. And the boy was ministering to the LORD in the presence of Eli the priest.

    Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the LORD. The custom of the priests with the people was that when any man offered sacrifice, the priest's servant would come, while the meat was boiling, with a three-pronged fork in his hand, and he would thrust it into the pan or kettle or cauldron or pot. All that the fork brought up the priest would take for himself. This is what they did at Shiloh to all the Israelites who came there. Moreover, before the fat was burned, the priest's servant would come and say to the man who was sacrificing, “Give meat for the priest to roast, for he will not accept boiled meat from you but only raw.” And if the man said to him, “Let them burn the fat first, and then take as much as you wish,” he would say, “No, you must give it now, and if not, I will take it by force.” Thus the sin of the young men was very great in the sight of the LORD, for the men treated the offering of the LORD with contempt.

    Samuel was ministering before the LORD, a boy clothed with a linen ephod. And his mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the LORD give you children by this woman for the petition she asked of the LORD.” So then they would return to their home.

    Indeed the LORD visited Hannah, and she conceived and bore three sons and two daughters. And the boy Samuel grew in the presence of the LORD.

    Now Eli was very old, and he kept hearing all that his sons were doing to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who were serving at the entrance to the tent of meeting. And he said to them, “Why do you do such things? For I hear of your evil dealings from all these people. No, my sons; it is no good report that I hear the people of the LORD spreading abroad. If someone sins against a man, God will mediate for him, but if someone sins against the LORD, who can intercede for him?” But they would not listen to the voice of their father, for it was the will of the LORD to put them to death.

    Now the boy Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the LORD and also with man.

    And there came a man of God to Eli and said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Did I indeed reveal myself to the house of your father when they were in Egypt subject to the house of Pharaoh? Did I choose him out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, to wear an ephod before me? I gave to the house of your father all my offerings by fire from the people of Israel. Why then do you scorn my sacrifices and my offerings that I commanded for my dwelling, and honor your sons above me by fattening yourselves on the choicest parts of every offering of my people Israel?’ Therefore the LORD, the God of Israel, declares: ‘I promised that your house and the house of your father should go in and out before me forever,’ but now the LORD declares: ‘Far be it from me, for those who honor me I will honor, and those who despise me shall be lightly esteemed. Behold, the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father's house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever. The only one of you whom I shall not cut off from my altar shall be spared to weep his eyes out to grieve his heart, and all the descendants of your house shall die by the sword of men. And this that shall come upon your two sons, Hophni and Phinehas, shall be the sign to you: both of them shall die on the same day. And I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who shall do according to what is in my heart and in my mind. And I will build him a sure house, and he shall go in and out before my anointed forever. And everyone who is left in your house shall come to implore him for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread and shall say, “Please put me in one of the priests' places, that I may eat a morsel of bread.”’”

(1 Samuel 2 ESV)

Romans 2

    Therefore you have no excuse, O man, every one of you who judges. For in passing judgment on another you condemn yourself, because you, the judge, practice the very same things. We know that the judgment of God rightly falls on those who practice such things. Do you suppose, O man—you who judge those who practice such things and yet do them yourself—that you will escape the judgment of God? Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God's righteous judgment will be revealed.

    He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality.

    For all who have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and all who have sinned under the law will be judged by the law. For it is not the hearers of the law who are righteous before God, but the doers of the law who will be justified. For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them on that day when, according to my gospel, God judges the secrets of men by Christ Jesus.

    But if you call yourself a Jew and rely on the law and boast in God and know his will and approve what is excellent, because you are instructed from the law; and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness, an instructor of the foolish, a teacher of children, having in the law the embodiment of knowledge and truth—you then who teach others, do you not teach yourself? While you preach against stealing, do you steal? You who say that one must not commit adultery, do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples? You who boast in the law dishonor God by breaking the law. For, as it is written, “The name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you.”

    For circumcision indeed is of value if you obey the law, but if you break the law, your circumcision becomes uncircumcision. So, if a man who is uncircumcised keeps the precepts of the law, will not his uncircumcision be regarded as circumcision? Then he who is physically uncircumcised but keeps the law will condemn you who have the written code and circumcision but break the law. For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter. His praise is not from man but from God.

(Romans 2 ESV)

Something to Consider

Romans 2: If we ever find ourselves feeling as if we’ve accomplished or achieved a higher level of spirituality than others, we’ve lost sight of the gospel. Paul warns that we need to be cautious of setting ourselves up as the judges of God’s standard. We must certainly not approve of the sinfulness of others, but we aren’t to look down on others either in a way that magnifies their sin while minimizing ours. 

When we condemn others, we are expressing our awareness of the wrongness in their certain behaviors. So then, when we go and do these same things, we are basically admitting that we know its wrong, but we’re going to do it anyway. It’s one thing to act wrongly. It’s a greater thing to show acute awareness of what’s wrong (by condemning others) and then go and do it anyway.

In Paul’s day, there were many Jewish people who falsely assumed that their covenant relationship with God would shield them from final judgment. They thought that blessings such as God’s kindness, forbearance, and patience towards them proved obedience to His standard and so they condemned those who failed to look and act like they did. 

Today, there are many of us in the church who make the same false assumptions. We assume that since life is going well we must be right with God, and others should be more like us. We think “Surely, we aren’t going to have to worry about the wrath of God. That’s only for the really bad and irreligious people like the type of people Paul described in chapter one.” 

Relying on our obedience to God for salvation is the same kind of self-centeredness and rejection of the gospel as utterly ignoring obedience to God at all.

The Jews of Paul’s day were morally decent and religiously active, but Paul makes clear that neither of these things makes us righteous. We may call ourselves Christians and study our Bibles and have strong feelings for God and memorize verses and know answers to tough questions and lead others to Jesus through Bible studies that we lead and yet still find ourselves misplacing our hope and worship in the idolatry of our own morality and goodness.
   
Hearing the gospel doesn’t save the Christian moralist and never hearing the gospel doesn’t excuse the immoral secularist. If you’ve heard the gospel, be thankful that you have! The Rescuer has extended His hand to you; let go of your goodness and embrace His grace. Jesus is the only Way of escaping the judgement and wrath of God. We need the gospel more than we need our goodness.