What does the Chiasm in 1 Samuel 4-7 Teach us About Victory?

This week I am preaching chapter four of First Samuel, the second of the four chapters that fit together into one section often called the Ark Narrative.  The section is clearly outlined below in the form of a Chiasm.

First Samuel Ark Narrative Chiasm-page-001The Bible sometimes uses a unique writing style known as a chiasm (ki’azem) as seen above.  A chiasm uses a pattern of repetition for clarification and emphasis.  In short, a chiasm is a pattern within a passage in which the second half parallels the first half, but in reverse order.  In the case above, A and A go together, and B and B go together.

With this structure we see that the battle in chapter 4 goes with the battle in chapter 7.  Both of these battles take place close to at a placed called Ebenezer which means rock of help.  This is ironic in chapter 4 because there, Israel receives no help.  It is not until the second battle of Ebenezer that the Lord helps them.  The reason for that is simple and can be seen by comparing these two battles and looking at the context.

In the first battle (chapter 4), Israel had a priest and his two sons who were not following the Lord (1:12, 2:29-30) and most importantly, the people relied on the Ark of the covenant to save them and not Yahweh (4:3).  Therefore, the Lord defeated them before the Philistines (4:10).

The second battle looked quite different (chapter 7).  Much time had passed (20 years, 7:2).  Furthermore, now that the prideful sons of Eli as well as Eli himself have been dethroned, humble Samuel can now lead the people as his mother had prophesied (2:8-10) and as the Lord had promised again (2:34-35) and again (4:13-14).  God brings down the prideful and lifts up the humble.  That is what is clear in the battle.  The text says that under humble Samuel, “the people of Israel put away the Baals and the Ashtaroth, and they served the Lord only” (7:4).  It is then the “Lord thundered with a mighty sound that day against the Philistines” (7:10).

Just as God did not help his people in chapter 4 when they did not humble themselves before him, so also now he will not help us until we humble ourselves before him.  And just as Israel in chapter 7 humbled themselves before Yahweh and were given power and victory, so also we must humble ourselves in obedient faith so that God may win for us the victory.

This is how the churches in Emporium Pennsylvania will rise up. This is how the true gospel will prevail over the dead spirit of this town. Only though surrender to God and reliance upon His great power.

For more on Chiasms see our blog on basic Chiasms and the structure of Daniel here and of a section of Ecclesiastes here.

Check out our sermons here.

Sermon: God Saves the Humble 1 Samuel 2:1-10

Listen to more Sermons Here.


1 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.

10  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.”



The I AM Gives Himself Up

We have before us in John 18 a glorious paradox.  The one who is by nature God and boldly claims the divine name of I AM, delivers himself up to be killed.  We can clearly see in the text that Jesus did not have to be arrested.  He is after all the sovereign Lord of the universe.  Jesus chose to give himself up so that sinners like us can be saved through repentance and faith.  Think about this for a minute.  The one who in Isaiah 48:12 said, “I am he; I am the first and I am the last.  My hand laid the foundation of the earth and my right hand spread out the heavens when I call to them they stand forth together,” he is the one who was willingly delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.  There are several application points that I see in the text.

  1. We are called to humility. Though Jesus is very bold in the way he delivers himself up, he also does it humbly especially considering the fact that he is in his vary nature God.
  2. We are called to service & sacrifice. At the point of his arrest, Jesus was not serving himself but rather his father and his people.  Just as Jesus sacrificed himself, so also we are called to sacrifice our lives to God and to others.
  3. We are called to worship. I think this is the main point of the passage. Jesus is not some cool guy that we like to talk about.  He is our God and we are called to fall down and worship him.

Wash One Another’s Feet

The most important aspect of Jesus washing his disciples’ feet in John 12 is found in v.14-15:

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.  For I have given you an example that you also should do just as I have done for you.” (John 12:14-15)

The application is super clear isn’t it?  Jesus is our Lord, He is our Teacher, and he washed his disciples’’ feet.  If Jesus washed their feet, then we have no room to think we are too important to serve each other.  This text is often used to emphasize the fact that we need to serve other people, but I think the text is much more specific than that.  Jesus says to his disciples, those who are the start of the New Covenant community called the church, “serve one another.  Humble yourselves to one another”.  My point here is that yes we need to humble ourselves before all people and serve all people, but especially those who are brothers and sisters in Christ.  Church people are often good at taking care of the world while they fail to take care of one another.  We can find it easy to humble ourselves before those we don’t know who are outside the church, yet we cringe at the thought of humbling ourselves before our church family.  The text is speaking directly to this issue.  Faith Baptist Church, we need to serve one another.  We need to be washing one another’s feet (figuratively speaking).  We need to not simply have a humble spirit, but a life of humble service.

How Those at Faith Have Walked Worthy

In today’s sermon text we’re told in Ephesians 4:1-2, “Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love.”  I would like to share with you how I have seen you walk worthy of your call.

1.     Humility:  You have humility in droves.  I have seen little to no struggle with pride in most of you.  You know what Christ saved you from; you know that it was all of grace; and you know the thankfulness for His work, rather than the pride that comes with self-effort.  Humility realizes that Christ is the only thing we can boast in (Gal 6:14).

2.     Gentleness: I have heard horror stories from fellow pastors as to how poorly they have been treated.  But whenever you have had a point of contention or disagreement you have shown me the kind of gentleness that Paul calls you to here.  It’s humbling and encouraging to me.  As I see your good example in this, I pray fervently that God would grant me the power to walk in that example.

3.     Patience: You have been so long-suffering with me as you have allowed me the time and chance to learn to be your pastor.  I have not always done right, or what you would like, but you have patiently endured.  We’re on this journey together: sometimes I lag behind; sometimes you do.  Thank you for waiting for me to catch up.

4.     Forbearing Love: I am not always the easiest to get along with: I’m particular; I’m at times immovable; I can be difficult.  Thank you for forbearing with me and with other members of this body, particularly when we act in selfish ways.  Thank you for your gentle and patient reproof as you forbear. 

I daily thank God that He would be so merciful as to me to give me a church family such as you.  Hallelujah and praise be to Him!