The story of Samuel is one of my favorites. Here is a man who both began and finished well. That is a rare feat among today’s leaders and even many of the leaders in the Bible (of course not all the leaders in the Bible are trying to be good). However, Samuel is one whose life is thoroughly committed to God and even more, during a time when it seems God was no longer working with Israel.
Read 1 Samuel 1:1-3:21
It is no wonder that Samuel turned out to be such a great follower of God. Look at the example that was given to him as a child. Hannah’s approach to prayer and praise before God is worth noting and modeling. Fervent in prayer and quick to praise. Many times we are apathetic in prayer and slow to worship. Probably, much faster to complain. We should learn more from Hannah.
Hannah had a severe burden on her heart. In ancient times, being childless was considered a curse, and today it is no less heartbreaking. The Scripture does not hide this reality. In fact, through the many inclusions of this issue, it may be one of the most noted effects of the fall of man. But notice, the Scripture changes tune after Jesus. The last barren woman mentioned is Elisabeth (Luke 1:7 & 36). There was another miracle birth from a couple in their old age. Then, through Mary we see Jesus, and that was a miraculous conception all by itself. But, the picture is painted all through Scripture, that God is greater than any barrenness. I know there are not many words of comfort for someone having difficulty to have children, but remember this, God is on your side. The Lord was able to create a man without anyone else, and he created a woman using only a man. Jesus was born of just a woman. God gave children to couples beyond their childbearing years. I believe God’s message to women is the same thing He told Mary, “For with God nothing shall be impossible” (Luke 1:37). Keep your faith in God, and He will make something beautiful happen.
Samuel received his calling from God amazingly and audibly. The calling is not the only thing I notice. It’s the age of Samuel. He was most likely around the age of twelve. God can and will work with young people. It is also great to see Eli recognize and respect this about Samuel (even when Samuel told Eli that he and his sons would no longer be priests). As a pastor and professor, I am always reminded of the openness youth have in following God’s leading into new methods and areas of ministry. We could shut them down for fear of them getting hurt or messing things up. Or, we can bless and empower them to get things done. I choose to bless and empower.
The last thing that jumps off of the page is that there was no open vision in the land (1 Samuel 3:1). Meaning, there were no prophets with a fresh word from heaven. First, it was as though God was silent. But, we see God is moving and working in the life of Hannah and Samuel. So, we learn that when it seems God is silent, he is still working. Secondly, it could also mean that the teaching of God’s Word was not up to standard. Proverbs 29:18 says, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.” These verses imply there was no available teaching or preaching. We know for sure that Eli’s children were not doing the right thing as priests. However, Eli seemed to be complacent and by his silence and inaction, permitted this dearth of God’s Word. Oh God, do not let us be silent in our words or actions but let us declare you faithfully through our words and deeds!