As we continue to look at stories in the Bible that may have something to teach us during this trying time, we are going to look at the story of Samuel from the Old Testament. You may be familiar with some of Samuel’s story, his story follows the time of the Judges and he ultimately anoints Israel’s first king, Saul and King David.
However, I want to zero in on a specific story that happens when Samuel is very young, probably around the age of twelve or thirteen. Samuel’s mother had made a promise to God that if he were to give her a son, she would ‘return’ him to the Lord. Indeed, she did have a son (Samuel) and at a young age he was brought to work and learn from the priest Eli. When this story takes place, Samuel has probably been working for and learning from Eli for almost ten years.
Samuel 3:1 – 10
“The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
One night Eli, who eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 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. Then the Lord called Samuel.
Samuel answered, ‘Here I am.’ 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.
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.’
Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
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. 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.
The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’”
Samuel was probably around the age of a middle school student when this happens. He was young and it is obvious that he’s a little bit thrown off by the circumstances. Remember, this is not his home and he doesn’t know who is calling him. He’s a bit lost and confused by everything. It takes him three times and the guidance of Eli to figure out that it is the Lord that is calling him.
I think we all feel a bit lost and confused by everything we are experiencing right now; global pandemic, online home school, not being allowed to leave our house, etc. For lack of a better term our ‘normal’ lives have been thrown off course.
I wonder if God is trying to speak to us in a unique way during this time. In the passage above it mentions that ‘In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions’. That sentence resonates right now because it’s hard for some to see God at work right now, you could even use the word ‘rare’.
What if we, like Samuel, are just a bit lost and confused and it may take three times and some advice to see God during this time? However, I can assure you that he is here! Maybe we’re just not catching it. Maybe we are experiencing God and think that it is Eli. What I mean by that is, maybe we are experiencing God and we just don’t know it’s him.
This week I want you to take a moment and think of your unique, confusing life that’s been thrown off course a little bit. Where can you see God at work in your life? Where can you see God at work in the world? How has your new reality hindered or helped you experience God on a day to day basis? He is still there, calling out our name, maybe we’re just looking in the wrong places to find him.
Questions for discussion or contemplation: