Samuel was one of the great men of biblical times. He served the Lord from his youth until his death. He brought God’s Word and God’s words to the nation of Israel, never fearing to give them God’s truth. He also stood as a mediator, similar to Moses, between God and the people, bringing messages to and from both sides. Sadly, he watched the nation reject God’s leadership because they wanted a human king as the other nations had.
Samuel also is one of a very select few who heard God speak his name twice. Samuel listened and obeyed God from his youth, and God honored him to his last days.
The text comes from 1 Samuel, chapter 3, but the main verse is verse 10:
“Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said,’“Speak, for Your servant is listening.'”
Samuel’s Birth Was a Miracle
First Samuel 1 tells the story of Samuel’s miraculous birth. Hannah, his mother, wanted a child badly and prayed to the Lord for a child. To show her sincerity, she vowed that her firstborn son would be returned to the Lord all the days of his life (1 Sam. 1:28), and she kept her promise. First Sam 1:24 says that when she had weaned Samuel, she brought him along with other provisions to the house of the Lord in Shiloh.
Only a mother could know the feelings Hannah encountered as she took Samuel to the tabernacle at Shiloh, knowing she would come back alone. Samuel, too, must not have completely understood what was happening, in that he soon would realize he had a new home. Regardless, though, Hannah did exactly what she told God she would do and brought Samuel to the house of the Lord. One major benefit or reward came to her as a result of that obedience: God gave her three more sons and two daughters. God honored Hannah because of her faith!
Samuel Served the Lord as a Minister
Samuel didn’t have the best environment in which to grow up. Eli, the high priest, was an old man (very old, according to v. 1:22) and his sons were wicked! The writer of 1 Samuel said Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s sons, were “sons of Belial and knew not the Lord” (1 Sam 2:12). It’s sad to read how they were immoral thieves, stealing the offerings and demanding more than what God had commanded.
We can rejoice that Samuel decided to follow God instead of Eli’s sons and do wrong. One wonders how much suffering and verbal abuse he must have endured by not going along with them. Following the Lord completely is never easy—and never has been—but the rewards are worth it in the end. Samuel must have realized this.
All of this lead up to the point when God called Samuel by name one night. The writer said, “the Word from the Lord was rare in those days…” and that’s very true. Take a look at the Book of Judges and see how seldom God spoke to Israel and how less frequently Israel obeyed God. Samuel didn’t know the Lord during this time, but God called him anyway.
There were two times when God called to Samuel and he thought Eli was calling. Eli said, “No, that wasn’t me. Go back to sleep” (paraphrased). Then there was a third time, and Eli realized God was calling Samuel. Eli then advised Samuel to respond by saying, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.” So Samuel went and lay down, according to 1 Samuel 3:9.
Some time after this, the Lord called Samuel. This time, according to verse 10, we’re told the Lord “stood nearby,” something that apparently didn’t happen before this event. The other times, He merely called Samuel. This time, He stood nearby, and Samuel was one of the few people in history who saw the Lord! Besides, how else would Samuel or the writer know it was truly the Lord unless they could see Him?
Samuel then replied just as Eli had told him to, and he received a message in four verses that he must have wished he didn’t have to deliver.
Samuel Was God’s Messenger
We just saw that God gave Samuel a brief, terse, message to Eli. This was not a pleasant message. Rather, it was a message of judgment. I remember a hymn we used to sing a number of years ago, called “Look and Live,” which said in part, “I’ve a message from the Lord, hallelujah, the message unto you I’ll give.” Samuel wasn’t eager to deliver this message. He was afraid to do it, according to verse 15!
Eli must have sensed God had spoken to Samuel and demanded to know the message. When Samuel repeated God’s message, Eli, strangely, did nothing. We don’t read that Eli repented, warned his sons, or anything else. Samuel must have been heartbroken, knowing what God was going to do.
Samuel Was Manifested to the People
Verse 19 of chapter 3 tells us that Samuel grew and the Lord was with him. Doesn’t that remind us of Jesus Himself, who would come to our earth and dwell among His own people? Luke tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom, stature and favor with God and man. We would do well to follow these examples of Samuel and Jesus Himself during our earthly lifetimes. Eventually all Israel knew Samuel was not only a minister but a prophet of the Lord. We can read more about Samuel and how he served the Lord in the remainder of 1 Samuel.
Samuel was a special child, the child of prayer, and one who was given up for God’s service. He didn’t have the best of environments, but he followed the Lord. When the Lord called him one evening, Samuel replied, “Speak, for Your servant hears” and didn’t fail to deliver the message God gave him. God blessed him and established Samuel as a prophet, one who brought God’s message to the nation of Israel.
We may not have the same circumstances as Samuel did, but we face many of the same challenges. We also live in a world where the Word of God is precious. True, we have many churches and many versions of the Bible to read, but few people live as though they believe God’s Word. May we be like Samuel and give God’s message to as many as possible.
This message is brief, but if others can take the idea/s here and expand it further, God bless. I hope everyone who reads this is blessed, too. Amen.