1 Samuel 2:21-23 NIV
‘Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the LORD. Now Eli, who was very old, heard about everything his sons were doing to all Israel and how they slept with the women who served at the entrance to the tent of meeting. So he said to them, “Why do you do such things? I hear from all the people about these wicked deeds of yours…”’
We were reminded yesterday of God’s special purpose for Samuel even before he was born. But 1 Samuel chapters 2-3 tell us that his childhood in the temple was a study in contrasts: even as he served in God’s presence each day, the adult sons of his ‘foster father’ Eli treated God’s offerings with contempt, satisfying their own greed and sexual desires, ignoring the dire warnings to repent and seek forgiveness. Could there have been a worse place for a child to grow up, than with this family: the elderly Eli, too weak to discipline or control his sons; Phinehas and Hophni, abusing their priestly roles, whose arrogance, sin and rebellion earned God’s strong judgement and the punishment of death.
Yet amazingly, in the midst of all this, Samuel “continued to grow in stature and in favour with the LORD and with people” (1 Sam 2:26), words later echoed in Luke’s gospel: “And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Lk 2:52). If there was perhaps one good thing Eli managed to teach Samuel, it was the response we find in 1 Sam 3:8-10.
_Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel !” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”_
“Speak, Lord…” To be honest I often pray these words, but what follows might be:
“…but first let *me* tell *You* what I want…”
“…though I’m too busy/distracted to listen right now.”
“…and I’ll consider whether or not I want to obey.”
Two things kept young Samuel on track as he grew to become God’s faithful priest, and they are vital for us today: the grace of God, shielding us from the sin and temptation which lures us; and an earnest desire, honed and nurtured, to ask God for His word and direction, listen with humility, and obey with a servant heart.
“Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” What is He saying to each of us today?