Twice called: Samuel, Samuel
by Jonathan S Spurlock
(Holts Summit, MO)
Denomination: Southern Baptist
Text: 1 Samuel 3:10
Samuel was one of the great men of Bible times. He served the Lord from his youth till his death. He brought God’s Word and God’s words to the nation of Israel, never fearing to give them God’s truth. He also stood as a mediator, like Moses, between God and the people, bringing messages to and from both sides. Sadly, he watched the nation reject God’s leadership because they wanted a human king like the other nations.
Samuel, also, is one of a very select few who heard God speak his name, twice. Samuel listened and obeyed God from his youth, and God honored him even to his last days.
The text comes from 1 Samuel, chapter 3, but the main verse is verse 10, given below:
1 Samuel 3:10, NASB Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”
I Samuel’s birth was a miracle
The first chapter of 1 Samuel gives the story of Samuel’s miraculous birth. Hannah, his mother, wanted a child badly and prayed to the Lord for a child. To show her sincerity, she vowed that her firstborn son would be loaned to the Lord all the days of his life (1 Sam 1:28). And she kept her promise: 1 Sam 1:24 says that when she had weaned Samuel, she brought him along with other provisions to the “house of the Lord” in Shiloh.
Only a mother could know the feelings Hannah encountered as she took Samuel to the tabernacle at Shiloh, knowing she would come back alone. Samuel, too, must not have completely understood what was happening, in that he soon would realize he had a new home. Regardless, though, Hannah did exactly what she told God she would do and brought Samuel to the house of the Lord. One major benefit or reward came to her as a result of that obedience: God gave her three more sons and two daughters. God honored Hannah because of her faith!
II Samuel served the Lord as a minister
Samuel didn’t have the best environment in which to grow up. Eli, the high priest, was an old man (very old, according to 1:22) and his sons were wicked! The writer of 1 Samuel stated that Hophni and Phinehas, Eli’s sons, were “sons of Belial and knew not the Lord (1 Sam 2:12, King James Version).” It’s sad to read how they were immoral, and worse, thieves in that they stole the offerings or demanded more than what God had commanded.
We can rejoice that Samuel decided to follow God instead of Eli’s sons and do wrong. One wonders how much suffering and verbal abuse he must have endured by not going along with them. Following the Lord completely is never easy—never has been—but the rewards are worth it in the end. Samuel must have realized this.
All of this leads up to the point when God called Samuel, by name, one night. The writer says that “the Word from the Lord was rare in those days. . .” and that’s very true. Take a look at the Book of Judges and see how seldom God spoke to Israel and how even more seldom did Israel obey God. Even Samuel didn’t know the Lord during this time, but God called him anyway.
There were two times when God called to Samuel and he thought Eli was calling. Eli said, “No, that wasn’t me, and go back to sleep (paraphrased)”. Then there was a third time and Eli realized it was GOD Who was calling Samuel. Eli then advised Samuel to respond by saying, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.” So Samuel went and lay down, according to 1 Samuel 3:9.
Some time after this, the Lord did indeed call Samuel. This time, according to verse 10, we’re told the Lord “stood nearby”, something that apparently didn’t happen before this event. The other times, He merely called Samuel—this time, He stood nearby, and Samuel was one of the few people in history who saw the Lord! Besides, how else would Samuel or the writer know it was truly the Lord unless they could “see” Him?
Samuel then replied just as Eli had told him to, and he received a message in four verses that he must have wished he didn’t have to deliver.
III Samuel was God’s messenger
We just saw that God gave Samuel a brief, terse, message to Eli. This was not a pleasant message, rather, it was a message of judgment. I remember a hymn we used to sing a number of years ago, called “Look and Live”, which had the words, “I’ve a message from the Lord, hallelujah, the message unto you I’ll give” as part of the lyrics. Samuel wasn’t anxious to deliver this message. He was afraid to do it, according to verse 15!
Eli must have sensed that God had spoken to Samuel and demanded to know the message. When Samuel repeated God’s message, Eli, strangely, did nothing. We don’t read that Eli repented, or warned his sons, or anything else. Samuel must have been heartbroken, knowing what God was going to do.
IV Samuel was manifested to the people
Verse 19 of chapter 3 tells us that Samuel grew and the Lord was with him. Doesn’t that remind us of Jesus Himself, Who would come to our earth and dwell among His own people? Luke tells us that Jesus grew in wisdom, stature, and favor with God and man. We would do well to follow these examples, of Samuel and even Jesus Himself during our earthly lifetime. Eventually all Israel knew that Samuel was not only a minister but a prophet of the Lord. We can read more about Samuel and how he served the Lord in the remainder of 1 Samuel.
Samuel was a special child, the child of prayer, and one who was given up for God’s service. He didn’t have the best of environments, but he did follow the Lord. When the Lord called him one evening, Samuel replied, “Speak, for Your servant hears” and didn’t fail to deliver the message God gave him. God blessed him and established Samuel to be a prophet, one who brought God’s message to the nation of Israel.
We may not have the same circumstances as Samuel did, but we do face many of the same challenges. We too live in a world where the Word of God is precious. True, we have many churches and many versions of the Bible to read but few people live as though they believe God’s Words. May we be like Samuel and give God’s message to as many as we can.
This message is admittedly brief but if others can take the idea/s here and expand it further, God bless. I hope everyone who reads this is blessed, too. Amen.
Scripture quotations taken from the NASB. http://www.lockman.org