Samuel is able to live well for God because he listened to him.
1 Samuel 3:1-4:1a
The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.
6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”
7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
8 A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”
15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”
Samuel answered, “Here I am.”
17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”
19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.
4 And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.
We take many things for granted in life. We don’t appreciate how good these things really are until we lose them—good health, caring family, freedom. As long as these things are part of normal life, we don’t think too much about how important they are. It’s also true that those who have never known these good things might not know how good they are.
One good thing that is taken for granted by some, and remains unknown by others, is the word of God. Having grown up in a Christian family, and being regularly exposed to God’s word, there are times when I do take it for granted. Sometimes, I fail to appreciate how good it is, especially when things in my life are going well. When things in my life are going well, I tend to think it’s my own doing instead of God’s. But when things are going badly, that is when I really turn to God.
Thankfully, Samuel has the exact opposite attitude to me in this passage. He doesn’t take God for granted. When God reaches out, he listens. Amazingly, Samuel ‘did not yet know the Lord’ (v.7a), because ‘the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him’ (7b). This experience of being addressed by the Lord was entirely new to him. And as it says in verse 1, ‘the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.’ Samuel knew God only because God had made himself known. And when God was heard, Samuel listened and obeyed.
What God said was that he was about to bring a terrible judgment on Eli. Eli’s two sons (Hophni and Phineas) whose wrongs against the Lord were beyond a sacrificial offering of atonement, were going to be punished. Understandably, Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the bad news. Eli demands that he tells him, and to Eli’s credit, he listens. He understands that God is not pleased by the conduct of his two sons and he fully expects judgment. He says’ let him do what is right in his eyes’. Eli, like Samuel, is also listening to God’s word and obeying it. Listening and obeying are little skills that we take for granted. Samuel and Eli demonstrate them excellently to follow God’s word.
Head: What can we learn from this passage about following the ways of the Lord? From Samuel? From Eli? From Hophni and Phineas?
Heart: Do you feel like you do a good job at listening and obeying? Or are there certain areas in your life in which you are tempted to ignore and rebel?
Hands: How can you do a better job at listening and obeying? How can you put these into action?
Prayer: Father God, thank-you for the example shown by Samuel and Eli in the book of 1 Samuel. I really hope that we can be able to listen and obey your word. Please forgive us for the times when we fail and sin against you. Thank-you for sending your son to die on the cross for the times when we do stuff up and please help us use this to turn back to you whenever we fall down. In Jesus’ name, amen.
A song to listen to: Fall Before Him
Mick Lather- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina