By Barnabas Piper
When I was a child, I learned many Bible stories in Sunday School, summer camp, and from my parents. I knew the Old Testament adventures and characters through and through. As I’ve grown older, though, I’ve realized that I almost inevitably missed the point of nearly every story and have since had to relearn them. The story of Samuel’s calling is just such a story.
For years I thought of this as the heartwarming story of a naïve and innocent little boy learning to obey God. It is that in part, but like most Bible stories, it’s more than a simple lesson about obedience. When Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10), he wasn’t just setting an example for all the little boys and girls. He was committing himself to God’s will and God’s plan, even though he likely didn’t know it. He was offering himself to the service of God wholeheartedly and with his whole life.
The news and command God gave Samuel wasn’t heartwarming. He became God’s messenger to Eli, the priest, about his certain downfall for the way his family had dishonored God. This boy, this little flannel-graph-and-illustrated-Bible boy, was the mouthpiece of God’s judgment, and he would declare God’s promises and judgments over Israel for decades hence.
This is a story about God’s commitment to Israel and the lengths He went to bind Himself to them. When those who were supposed to be leading the people in obedience failed, God raised up a child to be a mouthpiece of righteousness. And God acted in accordance with the prophecy He gave Samuel; Eli’s family was thrown down for their disrespect of God’s house and His ark. They treated the first like a brothel and the second like a talisman of good luck.
This is no cutesy story about a little boy’s obedience; it is the origin story of a man God used to raise up His king and to lead His people in faithfulness. Samuel’s willingness to listen and to obey was more than just a good example for our Sunday School lessons; it set the course for the house of Jesse to be established. From this house came both the king God intended to rule Israel (1 Samuel 16) and the King God intended to save the world (John 3:17-18).
Written by Barnabas Piper
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11 thoughts on "Samuel’s Call"
Great devo thoughts by barnabas piper. As in Day 1, I’m struck by the passivity of Eli as he resigned himself to the devastating news from Samuel. Could Eli have pleaded with God? Could he have intervened in his sons lives, confessed, and repented? Or was it too late? Either way, I’m reminded of the passivity I can too often choose in the midst of sin or in the midst of dealing with the consequences of my sin.
How often do I , a pitiful man trust in my own strength rather than submit to the Lord and trust in Him? I often try and live the Christian life without deep intimate prayer with the Lord. The Israelites committed this sin time and time again. I often think “these guys are crazy. They witnessed firsthand many miracles yet they still stray.” Well I commit the same sin of unbelief. So many miracles the Lord has made in my life, yet I slowly begin to trust in myself and not in Him. May I be a man who gets on his knees everyday before the Lord begging for His work through me and around me.
Eli, a man who dedicated his life to the Lord had failed to confront his sons sin. My fear with my son is that I fail to intercede for him, I fail to discipline him in the Lord, I fail in my ministry to him. May I diligently intercede for his soul and confront his sin in love with grace. First and foremost, may I be on my knees and beg the Lord to sanctify me more and more. May I be a man that acknowledges my sin before the Lord and humbles myself before Him, that I may minister to my son and exemplify Christ while doing it.
Samuel obeyed God when Eli’s sons failed to do so. So the Lord raised up Samuel to take Eli’s place as judge of Israel. Through Samuel’s faith and obedience, the Lord established the house of Jesse, which would eventually produce God’s chosen king of Israel, David, and God’s chosen king of all Christians, Christ.
Samuel spoke truth to Eli even when the truth was unappealing and speaking the truth was hard to do. Just like the apostles in the passage from Acts, Samuel, empowered by God, spoke truth in a difficult time. This shows the kind of faith and obedience mentioned above. Even when we are being destroyed by our enemies we should have faith in God’s plan because he is wise, sovereign, just, merciful, and loving.
The Israelites tried to use God as a good luck charm and a God-in-a-box for them to use when they were in dire need. God doesn’t want to be seen like that so he let the Philistines kill 30,000 people! Our God is a loving God and will provide for us, but only if we listen and obey him fully everyday.
I want to have the strength like Samuel to say, “speak Lord, for your servant is listening” and put all my plans and wants on hold and give everything I am to God and what he wants me to do. That would be incredibly difficult, but if I’m put in a spot like Samuel, I want to be able to respond just like he did.
The Lord gives, and the Lord takes away. Do not grow complacent in the gifts that God has given.
Would I be able to discern the voice of God if He spoke to me?
Would I as a grown man, be willing to go and pronounce judgement on my mentor, provider, friend?
I am to be like Samuel. Listening for Gods voice. Obedient to His commands. Leading others to follow my God. No matter the consequences.
Today Lord, please give me the ears to hear, the feet to obey and the will to follow no matter what lies ahead.
A couple of passages that stood out to me during the reading were “word of the Lord was rare, there was no frequent vision”.
This is a reminder than even in biblical times there were not always daily visions from prophets or obvious miracles from God like people look for now. God calls to us in other ways, it’s wise to remember it won’t always be so obvious.
The other was “and I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever … because his sons were blaspheming God”.
This specific reading plan stuck out to me right now because I am focusing much of my personal studies on leadership. Leading men I work with through a promotion I am soon to get, leading my wife as we start our family together, and learning to lead myself better. This passage urges the importance of Godly leadership in the home. It drives forward the charge men have as the head of a household. It is not about sitting in a chair on the weekends or after work, it’s about leading by example in all things. Bible studies and growth in a relationship with the Lord obviously included.
God is trying to reach out to us in many different ways, sometimes He uses His own still voice. It’s our duty to say yes and to acknowledge Him. We don’t know where He is calling us, but we do know that we have a calling.
Day 2: I hope and pray for an attitude like Samuels. He was perplexed by the mystery of who was calling him, yet he responded with “Speak Lord for your servant hears”. This attitude can be a beautiful but frightening thing as well. Not knowing what the Lord has in store for us is scary, but when serving him, is the most effective thing we can do for his kingdom.
Samuel committed his way to God. I need to commit my way to God, my whole way and not hold back. I need to myself say and mean “ speak, for your servant is listening.”
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