Samuel had been dedicated to the Lord as a child (see 1 Samuel 1). His mother had been unable to conceive and she promised God that her first child would be given to serve him. God answered that prayer and his mother took him to serve in the tabernacle with the high priest, Eli.
One night, as he was going to bed in the house of God, Samuel heard a voice calling to him. He assumed it was Eli – as Eli’s eyesight was failing that was a logical conclusion. He ran to Eli but Eli hadn’t called him; he was told to go back to bed. And it happened again, with the same conclusion.
“Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord; the Lord’s messages had not yet been revealed to him. Then the Lord called Samuel a third time. So he got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me!’ Eli then realized that it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go back and lie down. When he calls you, say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”’ So Samuel went back and lay down in his place” (1 Samuel 3:7-9 NET).
You can imagine how frustrated young Samuel was getting! He kept hearing someone call him, but when he responded he was told that no one had called for him, go back to bed.
Eli, though, was perceptive. Although God’s direct messages to people were rare (1 Samuel 3:1) he concluded that Samuel must be receiving a message from God. So he told him to respond when he next heard the voice calling him. Samuel did and God gave him a message for Eli and the people of Israel.
Although God does not speak to people in this way today (Hebrews 1:1-2), he does speak to us through his son, Jesus the Messiah. Jesus revealed his message to the apostles (2 Peter 3:2) and writers who wrote it down for us. So we have God’s message to us.
Sadly, many are like Samuel: they don’t yet know the Lord because they have not heard that message for themselves. God has spoken but people aren’t listening.
We not only need to hear that message through our own reading and study of the scriptures, but we need to be telling others, as well (Matthew 28:18-20; 2 Timothy 2:2). We need to let them know God’s message so that they begin to listen.
The message that God gave to Samuel was a message of judgment on Eli and his family. It wasn’t a good message. God described it this way: “Look! I am about to do something in Israel; when anyone hears about it, both of his ears will tingle” (1 Samuel 3:11).
Samuel was afraid to give the message to Eli. Eli, though, needed to hear it and he wanted to know God’s message (1 Samuel 3:17). Samuel delivered the message and Eli accepted God’s judgment.
Doesn’t this parallel the message God has given us to tell people? The sad part of the message we have is that God “has set a day on which he is going to judge the world in righteousness, by a man whom he designated, having provided proof to everyone by raising him from the dead” (Acts 17:31). That is a difficult message to give. Perhaps we are afraid that people won’t listen. But there is good news, too!
The good news is that this same man, Jesus the Messiah, died so that we can be forgiven. God requires that we repent (Acts 17:30) and have our sins washed away by being immersed in water in his name (Acts 22:16).
Now that is good news! God wants us to tell others this good news. Are we listening?
Readings for next week:
13 August – 1 Samuel 3-4
14 August – 1 Samuel 5-6
15 August – 1 Samuel 7-8
16 August – 1 Chronicles 8
17 August – 1 Samuel 9-10