Written by Fiona Monaghan
Samuel is an example of ‘never being too young to follow God.’ Dedicated as a baby he grew up serving God in the temple and he continued to serve God throughout his entire life.
Samuel was born to Hannah and Elkanah after waiting many years for a child. Hannah desperately wanted a child and she prayed a beautiful prayer (found in 1 Sam 1:10-11) promising that if God gave her a son she would dedicate his life to serving him. True to her word she sent him, when still young, to live as an apprentice to the priest Eli in the temple.
One night, when Samuel was still a young boy, he is called by the Lord in the night and he responds, “Speak for your servant listens…”
The Lord tells Samuel that a time of discipline is coming for the house of Eli. Many times God had warned Eli about the actions of his sons (known for being scoundrels and not respecting God or their duties as priests) yet they had persisted in their wayward actions. He had been patient, but now the consequences would follow.
This was the beginning of Samuel deliverying hard to hear words from God. He continued to work through Samuel, speaking to his people through him.
During this time, the Philistines were a force to be reckoned with. In one of the battles between the Philistines and the Israelites the Philistines captured the Ark of the Covenant and tens of thousands of Israelites were killed (including Eli’s sons). Soon the Philistines discovered God’s power, he destroyed their idol, Dagon, and whatever town the Ark resided in people became sick with tumors. Out of fear of the Israelite’s God they returned Ark to Israel- even sending gifts with it in hopes of appease the God of Israel.
Once the Ark had been restored to Israel, they took it and hid it in a hillside home where it stayed for twenty years. The people mourned that God had abandoned them and they continued to turn to other gods. During this time Samuel had grown into a young man, seeing the actions of his people, he challenged the Israelites to change their ways,
“If you are really serious about wanting to return to the Lord, get rid of your foreign gods and your images of Ashtoreth. Determine to obey only the Lord; then he will rescue form the Philistines.” 1 Samuel 7:3 (NLT)
The Israelites listen and destroy the idols they had made. Samuel called his people together and led them in prayer and worship in the city of Mizpah. Here Samuel becomes the last Judge of Israel and the people of Israel recommit themselves to God.
The Philistines, seeing all the Israelites gathered, mobilize their armies to Mizpah. Samuel prays to God to help Israel and the Lord answers! He shows Himself ‘with a mighty voice of thunder from heaven’ and the Philistines were in such confusion that they were easy prey for the Israelites to overcome them.
Israel enjoyed twenty years of peace, as the Philistines were subdued. The land that had been taken was restored back to Israel. The people put their Jehovah back in the center of their lives and all was well.
Samuel proved to be a good and effective Judge, he continued to share God’s word and challenge His people for the rest of his life.
Does this read like a story for today? Maybe not with the Philistines and the Ark of the Covenant, but don’t we often find that we turn away or forget God when things are going well and life is good?
Samuel was dedicated to doing God’s will and listening for His voice and while the Israelites did the same - life was good. If we follow Samuel’s example, saying to God ‘speak for your servant listens’ and then really do it in every area of our lives. We won’t be disappointed.
“God has put you here in your situation for a reason. Samuel was an amazingly gifted man, but even more important than that was his character. He stayed close to God no matter what and changed the world forever. It's our character that determines whether we will be a solution to the problems in our world” - Pastor Ben McCary