Saturday 13 December 2014

Bible Book:
1 Samuel

“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” (v. 9)

1 Samuel 3:1-9 Saturday 13 December 2014

Psalm: Psalm 81


The historian Josephus suggests that Samuel was 12 years old atthis point of the story. This is the same age as Jesus when hestayed in the temple at Passover (Luke2:41-52). We are told that in those days prophecy and visionswere rare (verse 1) and this probably explains why even Eli tookthree attempts before he realised what was happening. Perhaps Eli'slack of vision is mentioned in order to symbolise the lack ofvisions and the general dimness of sight of the nation of Israel.Yet despite this, we are told that the Lamp of God had not yet goneout. This lamp is (according to Leviticus 24:2-4) meant to be maintained by thepriests from evening until morning, and it is perhaps mentionedhere in direct contrast to the dimness of Eli's vision. Theseevents therefore happen in the middle of the night.

We should notice that the voice calls Samuel's name but does notexplain who it is that is calling. This is left for the listener towork out and it requires more than one individual to discern God'svoice. For Samuel, it is Eli that is able to help him because hedid not yet know the Lord, despite the fact he was ministering inthe temple (verse 1), growing in stature (1Samuel 2:26) and sleeping next to the Ark of the Covenant(verse 3). It is clearly not enough to simply minister before theLord in order to know the Lord.

Eli is a rather ambivalent figure. In many ways he representsthe old order which is about to be overthrown. His sons are corruptand immoral and we already know they are destined to be killed (1Samuel 2:31), whilst Eli has failed in his attempts toinfluence or control them. And yet he also acts as an intermediarybetween Hannah and God, affirming her prayers and asking that Godwould bless her (1 Samuel 2:20); and again in this story betweenSamuel and God. We should notice as well that Samuel's growth takesplace as he serves under Eli in the temple. It is perhaps noaccident that Eli calls him his son in verse 6.

To Ponder

  • Samuel needs Eli to help him discern God's voice. What doesthis teach you about discernment?
  • How do you feel about Eli?
  • Samuel did not yet know the Lord even though he ministered. Thesame was true of John Wesley. What might this say to you?


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