In the course of a twenty-four hour period we make gobs of decisions. Some of these we make with a serious amount of forethought and prayer. Others we make spontaneously with little or no thought as to the consequences or impact our decisions will have—not only for ourselves, but for the many others whose lives are intertwined with ours.

Have you ever thought much about how a single decision can change your life forever? For better or worse?

In these blog posts I’d like to look at the one good decision that some people in the Bible made that changed the course of their life for the better. By looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word I hope we’ll all take comfort, courage, and hope in the fact that, despite the mess we’re presently faced with, we can still turn things around. A lousy past or dismal present doesn’t have to give us the same future. By God’s grace, our future and life can be changed for the better…if we only make the right decision today. May God help us do that on a daily basis!


Many of you are familiar with the story of Samuel, the renown prophet, priest, and judge of Old Testament times. He was one of the most important transitional figures in the Bible. Transitional because he was the last of the Judges. After him, and ever afterwards, the nation of Israel would be ruled be Kings.

In fact, when the people asked him if they could have a king to rule over them, Samuel at first objected (1 Samuel 8). He saw it as the people’s rejection of the Lord as their ruler. As far as the prophet was concerned, Israel was asking to be like the rest of the nations of the world. Every other nation had kings and it just seemed natural to the Israelites to have a king also. But to Samuel, Israel wasn’t like the rest of the world. She wasn’t supposed to be like everyone else. She was unique. She alone worshipped the one true God. God was her Ruler. Israel was a theocratic nation and that’s the way Samuel wanted it to remain.

But God intervened and persuaded Samuel to accede to the people’s request. The people wanted a king and that’s exactly what God would give them. So God had Samuel begin the search for the man who would be Israel’s first king. This man, it turned out, would be Saul (1 Samuel 9). He was truly a handsome man. Head and shoulders taller than any man in Israel. He came from a fine stock and was a marvelous specimen of manhood. He would be a good military commander and king. So Samuel summoned the entire nation to Mizpeh, which was the ancient capital of Israel at that time, and there in the sight of the people he anointed Saul to be King over Israel.

Well, Saul was doing great as a King and General of the Army. For a time it seemed as if the nation had done good by getting themselves a king. But the honeymoon would eventually end. It always does when you’re outside of God’s will.

God told the King to utterly destroy the Amalekites (1 Samuel 15). No one was to be spared alive. Not even the women and children. Even the Amalekites’ animals and livestock were to be killed. God wanted that entire race of people to be extinct from off the face of the earth. The Lord’s instruction was pretty clear and straight forward. There was no mistaking the Lord’s order.

But the King failed to obey the Lord. The army wanted to keep some of the spoils of war for themselves. Besides, we could use all these sheep and oxen and sacrifice them to the Lord! We know what we’re doing! Let’s not kill them, Saul. So the King listened to the army. He even went one step farther and saved the King of the Amalekites alive.

Well, it wasn’t long before the man of God came along. The bleating of the sheep and the lowing of the oxen told him the story: the King had disobeyed the Lord’s order. It was this single act of disobedience that spelled the end and downfall of the King. God would henceforth reject him as Israel’s King. So God told  Samuel to go out and search for a new King for Israel.

The prophet’s search ended with David (1 Samuel 16). Of course, you know the rest of the story. The entire nation was changed by David’s Kingship and Israel became a regional superpower.

So, in hindsight, Samuel was a truly pivotal and landmark ruler in Israel during his lifetime—both politically and spiritually. He galvanized the nation behind him. The people looked to him for guidance. And even in an hour when the nation turned its back on God, Samuel continued to serve God’s people and direct them in the knowledge and obedience of God. Israel’s history was forever changed by the lone and solitary voice of God speaking and working through this one man named Samuel.

Like I said at the start, many of you know the story of Samuel. He got his start in the priesthood because his mother, a woman by the name of Hannah, was barren. She was so distraught with her inability to conceive and have children that she finally had a meltdown with God at the Tabernacle in Shiloh (1 Samuel 1). She made a deal with God. God, if you give me a child, a boy, I’ll give him back to you. I’ll bring him back to this Tabernacle and leave him here for you, to serve you all the days of his life. You can have him, dear Lord. Only let me have him first for a few years, then I’ll give him back to you (1 Samuel 1:11).

Well, God heard her anguished cry and gave her a son. She named him Samuel, which means asked of God. Hannah asked. And God gave.

As you can imagine, Hannah cherished every day with her son. Samuel was the answer to her heart’s cry. He filled a void in her life that only a child could fill. She was thankful to God and you can be very sure she savored every moment of every day with her son. She knew a day would come when she would have to give him back to God. After he was weaned (which most scholars believe took place when a boy was 3 to 5 five years old), she’d have to take him to Shiloh and leave him there for the rest of his life—just like she vowed to God.

Samuel is now weaned and it’s time for Hannah to make this dreaded trip to Shiloh. But in the years since her vow, conditions in Israel have deteriorated badly (1 Samuel 2). Eli the High Priest was too old. And inept in the priesthood. His sons, also priests, were sons of Belial. Which is to say, they weren’t the holy men they were supposed to be. They were as heathen as the priests of a false god. They robbed from the people. They even had the audacity to have sex with women at the Tabernacle! Their sins were so flagrant and irreverent that the whole idea of worshipping God was a mockery. Anytime you came to the Tabernacle you’d be raped or robbed. So, quite understandably, you can imagine how God’s people really hated showing up at the Tabernacle at all.

Now, knowing these things and the despicable conditions in the Tabernacle, place yourself in Hannah’s sandals. You made a vow to God to give your son back to Him if He gave you a son. God keeps His part of the bargain. Now it’s time for you to keep yours. But, quite clearly, the Tabernacle is no place to give your son, much less raise him. God, these sons of Belial are going to teach my son to be a rapist and robber. He isn’t going to be priest of God. He’s going to be corrupted. He can’t serve you if I give him over to these wicked, despicable priests!

So what do you do? Do you keep your bargain? Or do you find a way to conveniently postpone or delay it until conditions improve in the Tabernacle? Surely God would understand! He wouldn’t want a boy growing up in that kind of deplorable, immoral environment!

Hannah’s got a choice. She’s got a difficult decision to make. She’s a mother. And a mother, by nature, isn’t wont to hand over her son to immoral men who would only teach her son the ways of sin. What good would that accomplish? So you keep your side of the bargain, but your son doesn’t become the man of God that you always imagined he would become. He’d be a robber and rapist like the rest of them. So what good is a bargain kept if it’ll only result in a godless priest? Hannah doesn’t have it easy. Not by a long shot.

Of course, you know what Hannah ends up doing. She takes her son to Shiloh and, tearfully I’m sure, she leaves him there just as she promised the Lord she would do. Not an easy thing to do, especially when you’ve got pictures of a beloved son becoming a rapist and a disgrace to the family name. Hannah left her son in God’s hands. God gave him to her. He belonged to God. And Hannah somehow must have found the grace, and courage, and faith, to believe that God would watch over her son and keep him in spite of the deplorably sinful condition of the priesthood.

As it turned out, this was Hannah’s best decision ever. She gave her son to the Lord. And in doing so, she gave the nation the hope of change. The nation was changed—and remarkably so—because her son was preserved by the Lord and he cleaned house. He started with the Tabernacle. He restored the true worship of God. Then he ventured forth out of the Tabernacle and went throughout the nation, teaching God’s laws and bringing God’s people back to the worship and obedience of God. Israel was forever changed—all because a mother kept her promise to God.

So you’ve got a thousand and one reasons not to keep your promise to God. You made Him a promise. God kept His end of the bargain. Will you keep yours? Think of Hannah. And let your promise kept be the beginning of a change that will change your life forever and the lives of those around you.


In the course of a twenty-four hour period we make gobs of decisions. Some of these we make with a serious amount of forethought and prayer. But, if you’re like me, we make many of our decisions spontaneously with little, or no, thought as to the consequences or impact our decisions will have—not only for ourselves, but also for the many others whose lives are intertwined with  ours.

Have you ever thought much about how a single decision can change your life forever? Sometimes a single decision will change us for the better. And sometimes a single decision will change us for the worse.

In these blog posts I’d like to look at the singular decision that some people in the Bible made that changed their lives forever…for the worse. By looking at ourselves in the mirror of God’s Word it’ll give us reason to stop and think about both the long-term and short-term ramifications of the decisions we make. Lots of forethought and prayer, I’m convinced, will save us from the pain and regret of a hastily-made decision for the worse.


Moses had it hard. The desert heat, travels, and deprivations were bad enough. But to make matters intolerably worse, he was constantly having to deal with people who didn’t like his decisions; people who questioned his leadership and his wisdom.

Korah was one such person. He was a rather influential Levite. A big shot as far as Levites went. Anyways, he was disenchanted with Moses’ and Aaron’s leadership. He felt like he needed to be a part of the upper echelon leadership team.  He wanted to be a priest which, by lineage, was not his right or prerogative to pursue. He wanted the laws of priesthood to be changed so that he could become a priest. And if changing the laws meant getting rid of Moses and Aaron, then, by God, that’s what Korah set out to do. So, he gathered 250 of the nation’s most powerful princes and they had themselves a very public showdown with Moses and Aaron.

Numbers 16:1-3 tells the story.  Now Korah, Dathan, Abiram, and On, took men:  (2)  And they rose up before Moses, with certain of the children of Israel, two hundred and fifty princes of the assembly, famous in the congregation, men of renown:  (3)  And they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron, and said unto them, You have gone too far! For all in the congregation are holy, every one of them, and the Lord is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the Lord?

As you can imagine, Moses was rather disheartened by this rumbling of revolt. The rights of the priesthood and leadership were not his to make, but God’s. So here’s what God told Moses to tell Korah and his insurrectionists. “In the morning the Lord will show who belongs to him, who is holy, and who it is that he will allow to come near him. Only the person the Lord chooses will be allowed to come near him.  (6)  Korah, you and all your followers must do this tomorrow: Take incense burners,  (7)  and put burning coals and incense in them in the Lord’s presence. Then the Lord will choose the man who is holy. You’ve gone far enough!”  (8)  Moses also said to Korah, “Listen, you Levites!  (9)  Isn’t it enough for you that the God of Israel has separated you from the rest of the community of Israel? The Lord has brought you near himself to do the work for his tent and stand in front of the community to serve them.  (10)  He has brought you and all the other Levites near himself, but now you demand to be priests (Numbers 16:5-10).

The burning of incense was the priests’ prerogative. Only they could do it and no one else, not even a Levite. So here was Korah’s chance to at least taste a little of the priestly rights and prerogatives that he coveted for himself.

Well, morning came and Korah and his insurrectionists showed up at the Tabernacle as instructed. In fact, the whole nation showed up. Moses then took them on a walk and led them to the tents where Korah, Dathan, and Abiram lived. Moses wanted these men to be with their families. Once there, Moses told the people what to do.

Numbers 16:26-30, Move away from the tents of these wicked men. Don’t touch anything that belongs to them, or you’ll be swept away because of all their sins.  (27)  So they moved away from the tents of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram. Dathan and Abiram had come out and were standing at the entrances to their tents with their wives and children.  (28)  Moses said, “This is how you will know that the Lord sent me to do all these things and that it wasn’t my idea:  (29)  If these men die like all other people-if they die a natural death-then the Lord hasn’t sent me.  (30)  But if the Lord does something totally new-if the ground opens up, swallows them and everything that belongs to them, and they go down alive to their graves-then you’ll know that these men have treated the Lord with contempt.

The scene is emblazoned in my mind. It’s a sad, tragic picture that I cannot erase or forget. Its horrors haunt me. I can see Korah, Dathan, and Abiram at the door of their tents. I can see them gathered with their families. The men have one hand around their loving, beautiful wife; the other, tenderly holding on to the children. A smug look of defiance is on the face of each man, as if to say, Bring it on, Moses. Let’s see what you’ve got. But the women and children look with alarm, eyes enlarged with fear, as the authoritative voice of Moses thunders through the crowd.

Like standing beside the tracks as a train goes whizzing by, the earth begins to rumble. Softly, at first. Then, as the people begin to yell hysterically and run in fear, Korah, Dathan, and Abiram hold their families with both hands, as if to protect and shelter them from a coming calamity. The earth violently shakes and yawns, opening her mouth wide, and swallows the insurrectionists. Entire families, tents, and livestock—everything that belonged to these rebels—were sucked into a black hole. The earth closed her mouth. And the rebels—and everything they owned, the families they loved and held dear—were gone (Numbes 16:31-33).

What a sad, tragic, and dreadful end! It all began with Korah, Dathan, and Abiram moping around one day, wanting to know how they should do about righting a perceived wrong. After some deliberation, a decision was made. Let’s get a bunch of Israel’s most powerful and respected princes and let’s stage a showdown with Moses.

Unbeknownst to them, the decision would be a debacle. It would literally be an earth-shattering decision that would not only kill them, but kill their wives and children also. The insurrectionists saw what they wanted to see: they saw themselves forcing Moses’ hand and forcing him to cede more power to them. But what they didn’t see is what killed them. WHAT THEY WANTED, WHAT THEY COVETED, KILLED THEM. AND THOSE THEY LOVED.

Brethren, think slowly and think twice before you create a scene. Clear your mind and get God’s mind on the matter. YOUR DECISIONS AND ACTIONS AFFECT THE LIVES OF THE ONES YOU LOVE THE MOST. IN SOME WAYS REAL, THEIR LIVES AND WELL-BEING ARE IN YOUR HANDS. If not for yourself, then think of them. And don’t let your foolishness kill them.