|Volume 22 Number 5 May 2020||
Why do we as humans feel the need to always be speaking about something new or interesting and have itching ears that long to hear some alluring piece of information? Maybe that is a question for psychology, but it certainly plays a part in our spiritual walk on this earth as God’s people. One cannot go through a checkout aisle without seeing the gossip magazines the media produces. Maybe as Christians, we are not concerned with that type of gossip as much as the everyday hearsay of a coworker, neighbor or a fellow Christian. Many times, we can get caught up in what others are saying about someone or a particular situation involving another, and even if we do not have all the facts, we feel compelled to give our “two cents” worth. How often do we stop before we speak to think: “Will this help or hinder?” “If the person in question were here, would I say this to his face?” “Am I trying to be sincerely helpful or unfairly judgmental?” In other words, before we join in a conversation about another person who is not present, we need first to examine our own motives. How we use our tongues every day reflects upon the church of which we are a part and the God whom we serve.
The Dictionary of Bible Themes defines gossip as, “Idle talk, which foolishly or maliciously spreads rumors or facts” (“5000-HUMANITY”). Webster’s Dictionary explains it as “information about the behavior and personal lives of other people.” Gossip is anything spoken of about another person that is false or is true, but it portrays him or her in a bad light, or it is something he or she would not want to be spread around.
That brings up some areas of concern. If a person is publicly sinning and we are aware of it, should we keep quiet because we do not want to gossip about him? In that situation we should first speak with that person alone and try to get him or her to turn back to God, and then, if he or she does not repent, we follow the Scriptures and inform the church (Matthew 18:15-17; Luke 17:3). When people are openly and impenitently sinning, the Bible tells us to note them so others will not be led astray (2 Thessalonians 3:14-15). This is not gossip because we would be obeying God’s Word and wanting the best for that person (their repentance). Gossip takes place when we want to destroy someone’s character or reputation (no matter how small of a matter it may be) either with falsehoods or truths.
God’s Word is not silent on how our Maker expects us to use our speech. In both the Old and New testaments, there are examples of gossip (Psalm 41:5-8; John 7:12-13; 3 John 1:9-10), and it is condemned throughout the Bible (Leviticus 19:16; Exodus 23:1; Psalm 101:5; Romans 1:29-30; 2 Corinthians 12:20). The inspired writers of the wisdom books often include the prudence of keeping one’s tongue in check (Proverbs 10:18-19, 18:6-7; 21:23; 29:11; Ecclesiastes 5:2-3). Christians are to follow the example of the Lord, and He never falsely accused anyone or spent His time spreading rumors. Christ told His disciples that one day everyone will give an account for every word uttered (Matthew 12:36-37). This, indeed, is sobering and should motivate us to be all the more diligent in how we use our tongues. If we think that we can say anything that comes to mind, we are deceiving ourselves (James 1:26). Christians are commanded to have “speech that is always with grace” (Colossians 4:6) and “sound speech” (Titus 2:8) so that no one can accuse Christ’s followers of evil. This leaves no room for gossip in the Christian’s life. See also 1 Timothy 5:13, Titus 2:3 and 1 Peter 4:15.
God has blessed each of us with means to communicate, and how we do that is of our own free will. It ought not to be the case that we speak forth “blessings and cursings” or “bless our God” only to turn around and “curse men” (James 3:1-12). As Christians, we must make a conscious effort to check our thoughts before they cross our lips. If we do not, the results can be disastrous (Proverbs 11:13; 16:28; 25:9-10; 26:20). Our purpose on this earth is to serve God and to help as many as we can in our short stay here to do the same. In order to fulfill this, we must think on things that are true and virtuous (Philippians 4:8) and open our mouths with wisdom and kindness (Proverbs 31:26). Gossip is not to be found among the characteristics of a Christian. May each of us pray for strength to “set a guard over our mouths” and “keep watch over the door of our lips” (Psalm 141:3).
Little Samuel’s Coat
But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. (Samuel 2:18-19)
Looking closely at this passage, we see several important things. Primarily, we see Samuel was serving the Lord in the Temple at a very young age. Other passages about the life of Samuel tell us how Hannah prayed earnestly for him and vowed to give him back to the Lord if He would grant her a son. Samuel’s birth, training and life were the direct results of Hannah’s love for God and her faithfulness to that vow made several years before. Not only do we see Hannah’s love in training her son for that purpose, but we also see a further demonstration of a mother’s love in her yearly gift of a coat when she came to offer sacrifices with her husband at the feast.
Samuel wore an ephod, as did the priests with Ahimilech (1 Samuel 22:18). There is no question but that the ephod was at least closely associated with the priesthood. Apparently, it was not limited to the high priest. Later in Samuel’s life, he was a judge, a seer and a prophet, but not a priest at this age. However, as a descendant of Levi through Kohath (1 Chronicles 6:38), the same tribe through which Aaron was descended, Samuel was the priest’s helper (1 Chronicles 6:1-3; 1 Samuel 3:1). His father was an Ephrathite, because he lived in Mt. Ephraim, but not because he was descended from the tribe of Ephraim. Hannah may also have been of the tribe of Levi, but there is no record of it. In any case, Samuel wore the ephod, which shows it was not limited to the high priest or even to the priest. Samuel was a prophet just as David was a prophet (Acts 2:29-30), and therefore authorized as much as David to wear an ephod.
Concerning Samuel’s ancestry, see 1 Samuel 7:9. “And Samuel took a sucking lamb and offered it for a burnt offering wholly unto the Lord: and Samuel cried unto the Lord for Israel; and the Lord heard him.” We know that King Saul was condemned for offering a sacrifice, which only the priests and Levites were authorized to do. Samuel was at least a Levite (if not a priest) or he would have been condemned along with King Saul.
How and when did little Samuel wear the coat his mother made him? It is not generally known, but we may assume he used it to cover himself in cold weather or perhaps even in which to sleep at night. It may have been brightly colored like the coat Jacob made for Joseph, but we cannot say. Nevertheless, it was a gift of love from a mother who never forgot the child she could not redeem (Numbers 18:15) because of her vow. Her faithfulness in keeping her vow was paramount, but her faithfulness in showing love both to her God and to her son was never laid aside.