God has a call for all of us. In God’s plan, we all have a place and are part of that plan. It’s important to realize that things never surprise God; He either directs or allows to happen every single event which occurs. The call of Samuel the prophet is no different. God called him before he was even born!
If we go back to 1 Samuel 1 we can read the story of Samuel’s mother Hannah, and her encounter with the priest Eli. Hannah was childless and barren, and prayed so intently that Eli thought she must have been drunk. An aside here, but do we actually pray fervently enough that people think something is wrong with us? His mother prayed this:
“And she vowed a vow, and said, O Lord of hosts, if thou wilt indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me, and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a man child, then I will give him unto the Lord all the days of his life, and there shall no razor come upon his head.” 1 Samuel 1:11
God listened, Hannah gave birth to Samuel, and just as she promised she gave and dedicated him to the service of the Lord; this is how young Samuel came to him with Eli at the time of our story. Likely, Samuel was a young teen at the time our events take place. Unfortunately, Eli had family issues, and these are important later. It would have been normal for Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phenehas, to have inherited Eli’s place in the priesthood. They, however, had issues. Read about them here. These young men had forfeited their place in God’s work.
So, our story recommences in 1 Samuel Chapter 3. Eli the priest was back on duty at the Temple, and this time the young Samuel was along. Both had retired for the evening, when God spoke to Samuel. Samuel, not understanding what was going on, ran to Eli to respond to the request he thought came from his mentor and teacher.
Finally, after 4 calls form the Lord, Samuel answered God’s call. Why four?
Well, for one thing, God speaking to the people had become rare in those days. The time of the judges was a rough spot for God’s chosen people, and prophecy was rare. “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.” 1 Samuel 3:1.
For another thing, Samuel did not yet know the Lord. This may be part of the above confusion, but we see, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him.” 1 Samuel 3:7. Most likely it indicates that, even though Samuel certainly knew of God, at this point he did not KNOW God in a personal way.
Some takeaways from this story:
Samuel was ready and willing. Even though he did not yet know the Lord in a personal way, he was receptive and ready for the message. His instant response when he thought it was Eli calling shows this.
Samuel had to know the Lord personally before anything else made sense. Friends, our brains can know everything there is to know about Jesus, but if our hearts are not made right by our repentance, faith and regeneration then it is nothing but a bunch of facts. Facts won’t save us.
Finally, Samuel was ready to do whatever he was commanded to do. The first thing Samuel was asked to do was tell his mentor Eli all about himself. He had to give his teacher the prophecy regarding what was to happen to Eli’s family because of their misdeeds. That must have been hard, but Samuel was willing.
Jesus is calling us each. Are we owners of a mind and heart open to the Gospel? Are we willing to turn to Him and have a personal relationship with Him? Once we have, are we willing to do whatever He asks, even if it seems difficult?