The time came for Hannah to dedicate her son to serving the Lord. Hannah brought Samuel to the temple to live with Eli and work under him. Samuel did whatever Eli told him to do such as clearing out the rubbish, cleaning the tables after every meal, cleaning the floors. It was hard ordinary work but God had a bigger plan for Samuel. God wanted Samuel to be a prophet.
“Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much. And whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much.” (Luke 16:10)
Samuel showed through doing the small things that no one else wanted to do, like his chores, that he had perseverance, spirit and a willingness to serve God whole heatedly. Eli had two sons and they were nothing like Samuel. They were mean and disobedient to both God and Eli.
One night, when Samuel was asleep, he heard someone calling his name, “Samuel, Samuel,”
But Samuel did not know that God was calling him. In those days, God only spoke to chosen people such as priests and prophets and even then, visions were rare. Samuel got out of bed and ran to Eli.
“Did you call me?” Samuel asked
“No,” replied Eli “Go back to sleep”
Three times, Samuel heard his name being called and three times, he got up from his bed.
Now let’s pause the story for a moment. Imagine going to bed, feeling very tired from the day’s work, when a voice calls you. Some people would be too lazy or tired and ignore the voice. Some would get up and go to whoever they think is calling them. But few would get up three times from bed.
Notice how the first time God called him, Samuel ran but the second time, Samuel “went” to Eli. He stopped running because each time he got out of bed, he felt more resistance. But still, he got up. Imagine the self control, discipline and pure willingness to serve it would take to get up from bed the third time.
By the third time, Eli knew that it must have been God who was speaking to Samuel.
So he said to Samuel,
“The next time you hear you name being called, reply;
“Yes, lord, I am listening,”
So Samuel did as he was told. he went back to bed and again he heard God say; “Samuel! Samuel!”
This time, Samuel knew that God was speaking to him and replied; “Yes, lord, I am listening”.
It can be hard to listen to others and even harder to do what they want. But it is important when God has a special calling on our lives or a message, that we don’t ignore him, but we are willing to hear what God has to say and then act on it.
God gave Samuel a special message but it was one that was hard to hear and probably hard to then tell Eli the next day. Samuel probably felt conflicted. Here was the man who has raised him up since he was a young boy and now he was about to predict Eli’s death.
But like everything else he was told to do, Samuel obeyed and told Eli;
“God is going to do something that will shock Everyone in Israel. He is going to judge your two sons because they have been very disobedient to both God and you. God is also going to judge you because you did not correct them when they did wrong.”
It must have been very hard for Samuel to say all this to Eli. It must have been hard for Eli too, to hear that he and his sons will be judged.
But Eli said; “He is the lord. Let Him do what is good in His eyes,”
Sure enough, Eli’s two sons were both killed in battle and when Eli heard the news, he too died from grief.
Even though tragedy had struck, God managed to get something good out of it. He saw that Samuel was a loyal and faithful worker. Samuel “grew up taller and in favor of the Lord”. (1 Sam 2:26)
God made Samuel priest, prophet and judge. Samuel became one of the most well known prophets of the bible.
In order to be a good leader:
Do the small things well first.
You must first be humble and serve others.
Set aside your desires and do what God wants you to do.
Be ready to listen to God. He may speak to you even at night when you are trying to sleep.
Q and A
- Why did Samuel feel happy about going to live with Eli?
Samuel probably felt mixed emotions, a mixture of both sadness and excitement. He was sad because he had to leave his mum, his dad and his home. But he was excited and happy because he knew he had to live with Eli in order to serve and live for God. There is no greater purpose in life.
2. If Eli’s sons were so bad, how did Samuel resist the peer pressure to follow in their foot steps?
Samuel had courage. His mum, Hannah, trained him up from young to obey and serve others. He wanted to live for God and knew that serving and obeying God was more important than what other people thought of him or what other people were doing. When we keep our eyes on Jesus, when nothing and no one else matters, that is when we can resist peer pressure. That is also when God can start to use us. Don’t forget that Samuel had God’s favour. This meant that God was very pleased with Samuel and was always with him. “Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew taller and grew in favor with the lord and with the people.” 1 Samuel 2:26
3. Why was Eli also judged if he was a good person but not a good father?
God told Samuel:
“I have warned him…because his sons are blaspheming god and he hasn’t disciplined them.:” 1 Samuel 3:13
Eli wasn’t a good father and this showed what his character was like. A bad father or parents don’t care what his children do or say, whether they drink or swear, whether they go to church or sleep in on Sundays. A good father disciplines his children and teaches them to love one another and serve God in everything that they do.
4. Was it really Eli’s fault that his sons were naughty? (Because it’s our own decisions)
Why do you give your sons more honor than you give me-for you and they have become fat from the best offerings of my people Israel! (1 Samuel 2:29)
Yes, it was Eli’s fault because his sons were his responsibility. Remember that God is Our Father in heaven. If He is not a good father, it would mean he doesn’t care about us and that is wrong. A good parent corrects and disciplines their children. God is our father and he also disciplines and corrects us when we do the wrong things.
5. What can we do when we don’t want to worship God or when we feel like we cannot praise him?
Remember how Hannah felt at the start of the story. She was upset that she couldn’t have a baby. She probably didn’t feel like worshiping God. She realized that she had to give all her upset and hurt feelings to the Lord by praying. So, when you feel like you can’t worship or praise God, say a little prayer and tell him about all your fears, worries, problems. Pour out your heart on him and he will answer your prayers. When you know in your heart that God is with you and will help you with everything, the feeling is so great and you’ll want to worship Him.
6. I know it’s good to be obedient but disobedience is too much fun to give up
It can feel fun, it can even feel good to be naughty. But remember, when you give your life to Jesus, when you choose to serve Him, you are choosing to follow Jesus. Think of Jonah and the whale. When he disobeyed God by going in the opposite direction of where God wanted him to go, God sent a whale to send Jonah the right way. If you want to serve God, you must put him first before yourself. Being a Christian is not always easy, but I think it is harder to live life without knowing Jesus.
7. How was Samuel able to keep getting out of bed? Why didn’t he just go to sleep?
Samuel set himself apart from others. He was different from Eli’s sons who the bible calls “Scoundrels”. He was different from his brothers and sisters because at an early age, his mother gave him to the temple to live with Eli. He was dedicated to God. And he chose to do things differently from others. You can choose today, to set yourself apart from the world, be different and serve only God.