1 Samuel 2:1-11, 27-36
Two quick questions to start the week: What’s the meaning of life? And what’s the message of the Bible?
You might think that these are impossible issues to solve. Surely they can’t be answered with any final clarity or certainty – at least, not in a paragraph.
Well I think they can be answered in less than a sentence. I think they can be answered in a single word. A single Person even.
And I’m not the only one. Listen to these answers given by the Talmud. The Talmud is a collection of the ancient oral traditions of the rabbis. The teachings were written down from the 2nd century AD. But the original sources would have been much, much earlier. And it goes without saying – these are not New Testament influenced opinions but are based purely on the Hebrew Scriptures:
“The world was created only for the Messiah.” (Sanhedrin 98b)
“All prophets prophesied only for the days of the Messiah” (Sanhedrin 99a)
According to these rabbis – the world exists for the Messiah alone. And the Scriptures testify to the Messiah alone.
So then, the greatest question of life is this: Who is the Messiah!?
Well the Authorized Version uses the word “Messiah” only twice – both occasions in Daniel chapter 9. But (as with the vast majority of English translations) it’s the Greek translation of the word “Messiah” that predominates. “Christ” (an anglicized version of Christos) appears 555 times. But both “Christ” (Greek) and “Messiah” (Hebrew) have the same meaning: “Anointed One.”
The Messiah (or Christ) is the Anointed One. He is the Meaning of the world and the Centre of Scripture.
Let’s get a little flavour of that from the book of 1 Samuel.
After rom-com Ruth, 1 Samuel begins with the story of childless Hannah. As she prays for a son, she demonstrates the heart of true Israelite faith:
“The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall he thunder upon them: the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and he shall give strength unto his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed.” (1 Samuel 2:10)
Israel had no earthly King at this stage. But Hannah knew that the LORD has another King. A true, anointed King. And through this King the LORD would judge the earth with justice.
Later in that same chapter a man of God prophesies about the Messiah again. And he testifies to the priestliness of the Anointed One. Speaking God’s word he says,
“I will raise me up a faithful priest, that shall do according to that which is in mine heart and in my mind: and I will build him a sure house; and [it] shall walk before mine anointed for ever”. (1 Samuel 2:35)
I have a slight disagreement with the KJV here – it would make most sense to say that the “house” walks before the Anointed, rather than the Priest. It seems to me that the Anointed is the Priest.
So the true Anointed is both King and Priest. He is the One through Whom the LORD will rule and bless.
But why “anointed?” What does that mean?
Well 1 Samuel 16 gives us a good picture of it. It’s the choosing of David as King. And when he is chosen:
“Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward.” (1 Samuel 16:13)
Where we “crown” our kings, in the Bible they “anointed” them. In fact they “anointed” kings and priests, and occasionally prophets also. To anoint is to pour oil on their heads. Why? Because oil is a sign of the Spirit. And as David is anointed, the Spirit literally rushes upon David and equips him for his royal tasks.
So what does this tell us about the Anointed One?
Well the Messiah is not anointed by men, but by God Himself. This happened before the world began. Not with oil – a symbol. He is anointed with the Spirit Himself. Before there was a universe God has been anointing God with God! The Father is pouring His Spirit onto and into His Son.
So that He can be our righteous King, ruling the nations, protecting His people, executing justice.
So that He can be our faithful Priest, mercifully mediating our life with God.
So that He can be God’s truthful Prophet, bringing us the mind and heart of God.
To see the Messiah is to see the life of the Holy Spirit embodied. And to see the Holy Spirit we look to the Anointed One in action. He is the One filled beyond measure with the Spirit of God.
From the overflow of His life has come a whole universe.
To the overflow of His grace does the whole Bible witness.
And when Christ is at the centre, both the world and the Word start to make sense:
‘The Samaritan woman saith unto Jesus, “I know that Messias cometh, which is called Christ: when he is come, he will tell us all things”. Jesus saith unto her, “I that speak unto thee am he”.’ (John 4:25-26)
The meaning of life and the message of the Bible are one and the same. It’s not a programme or principles but a Person.
Have we minimized Christ in our thinking and outlook? Have other things distracted us from Him? How can we return to the Centre of all things?