Bonus: Samuel’s Calling

I’ve decided to talk about the calling of Samuel for the bonus post.

And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.
And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see;
And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep;
That the LORD called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I.
And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down.
And the LORD called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again.
Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, neither was the word of the LORD yet revealed unto him.
And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child.
Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.
And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle.
-1 Samuel 3: 1-11 (KJV)

Samuel was promised to God by his mother Hannah, who longed for a son and so promised to give him up to God should He give her one.  Samuel grew up in the temple under Eli.  Studying and growing in the Lord.  And we have some insight into how he was called.  I wonder what Samuel thought when he heard God’s voice but mistook it as Eli’s?  Do you think he thought Eli was playing games with him.  Samuel lived with Eli at the temple, so I am surprised he wasn’t able to tell the voice he heard didn’t belong to Eli.  Perhaps Eli and the Lord sound similar, or maybe Samuel was so tired he wasn’t hearing right.  The chapter does begin by telling us that the word of the Lord was scarce in these times, so we know Samuel had never heard the voice of the Lord because it was even absent from Eli.  Yet, each time the Lord called, Samuel lept up, ready to serve Eli who he thought was calling him.

When Eli finally put it together and gave Samuel the proper response, the Lord came to Samuel again, the same way He had before.  God didn’t change anything about His methods of calling, Samuel was just ready to listen this time.  God was still ready to speak, His purpose didn’t change.  Samuel didn’t even know God was calling him, but when he stopped going to Eli, thinking he had called him, and responded instead to God who had called him, it was a very important lesson and message.  We could compare Samuel’s thinking that Eli calling him to those things we take from the world as something God has called us to that He really hasn’t.  In other words, Samuel was listening to the things the world was telling him at first.  Perhaps Samuel was really following Eli up until this point, since God was not speaking during this time.  Eli may have just been keeping up the temple as a duty and not as a servant of the Lord, still teaching, but disconnected from God.  When Samuel stopped answering the world and answered the Lord, ready to listen, God was planning great things for Samuel. (Later verses tell us how quickly Samuel grew in the Lord.)

I think Samuel is a good example of how tough it can be to discern the voice of God against the world, and a great example of what is to come when we listen to God.  I wonder if Samuel felt any embarrassment later for thinking Eli was calling him, and making that mistake 3 times, and for mistaking God’s voice for Eli’s!  He sure did feel dread over waking the next morning and sharing the news he’d received with Eli.  I doubt he was able to sleep!  What a beginning for a prophet called by God!  Look as how awesome our Lord is at using our human nature to bring us near to Him.  Eli probably struggled too, having his student come to him 3 times, and realizing the student was hearing from God and not the teacher…I’m sure he had to humble himself a bit that third time to instruct Samuel in what to say.

Have you had moments where the world has made something look so appealing that you took part in it, maybe it wasn’t even a bad thing, but later discovered God wanted something else for you?  Or better yet, is the world holding you back from something God wants you to do?  Let’s look at a story from Acts 3.  Peter and John are walking to church.  Two brothers, following the Lord, off to the temple in the morning to spend time in fellowship.  They are on their way to the gates called Beautiful.  And sitting outside of these gates is a beggar.  This beggar is special, though.  He is crippled in his legs, and his friends carried him up to these gates because this was the best place for him to be.  Such good friends!  The beggar sees John and Peter walking and thinks they look like people who will help him-give him some change- so he looks to them for help.  And Peter looks back at the beggar.  How many people do you think walked past this man on their way to the temple?  Finding him an inconvenience on their way to praise God.  But Peter sees this man as an opportunity.  Peter tells him he has no money, but he can offer something more.  The beggar was expecting something much less that what God wanted to give him.  The beggar wanted some spare change, but what he got was the ability to walk again!  Samuel wasn’t expecting to be called to be a prophet, but what he got when he gave God his attention was so much more then what he expected!

Be blessed, my loves, and listen to the Lord.

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