A chapter on Samuel - a servant to God through chores and bores. Yet God multiplies all the work he does for Him!
So this chapter begins off with the story of Samuel – a great man of faith. Samuel’s mother Hannah is desperate for a child, and while being constantly mocked by her husband’s other wife, she can’t take it anymore. Rightfully so, she feels quite gipped. Why didn’t she get a son? What’s the deal? She’s so upset by it that she stops eating and drinking, and becomes very depressed and upset. Her husband asks the question, isn’t he enough for her, but she pretty simply can’t accept this.
But instead of only moping and complaining, she brings all her frustration and confusion to God. She levels with Him, saying Lord, I’m miserable. She begs God for a son, promising that if he does give her one, she will commit that boy to the Lord for the rest of his life. It wasn’t uncommon to vow your kid to God’s service temporarily in this time, but the thought of completely giving up his entire life was pretty big. She prayed so hard and so deep that Eli, who was in the temple, thought she was drunk, since she wasn’t praying out loud!
But God is an awesome God, and sure enough he gives Hannah Samuel! Can you imagine how much she would love that child? How special and important and absolutely invaluable that kid would be in her life, and yet she still follows through with her promise to give him to God. She says goodbye after he’s weaned (we are talking 3 or 4 years old!) and Samuel goes to live with Eli in the temple. And because when we give to God, he doesn’t take it and leave it but is a generous God, he blesses her with 5 more children!
So Samuel grows up serving God, and experiences his presence first-hand. A key verse that stood out to me was this: The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and He let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground.
We can feel pretty useless as young Christians sometimes, with a lack of much to offer or give. Even as we mature in our faith, we might not be able to see the fruits of what God is doing in the lives of the people around us. When we worship, we might feel no difference, and when we pray, we might see no power in our words. But like Samuel, God has appointed us all to have meaning in our lives. And when we pray for wisdom, He will never let the words he gives us fall to the ground.
So Samuel grows up as a faithful follower of God. God leads the people through Samuel, but Sam eventually gets to a point where he can’t do it anymore. He appoints his sons to take his place, but they are pretty useless, so the people come to him and basically demand a king. Their hearts and their intentions, however, scream that they don’t trust God, and that they haven’t even considered God as the leader – only Samuel.
Samuel speaks this over them, explaining what will happen if they simply have someone random appointed to King, without trusting in God, but they don’t listen. Eventually, Saul is appointed to rule over the people. The people think that this is great. What was Samuel talking about before? Nothing bad is going to happen!
But, although Saul talks and hears God, and is coached and guided by Samuel, he doesn’t listen. He is impatient and jealous and simply wants to do things his own way. The end of the chapter speaks of the final straw for Saul, as Samuel can’t stand him as king anymore. Saul is told to go into battle and destroy everything. Every single thing. Usually with battle, after the men were killed, they would keep what was good for themselves – the livestock, food, supplies etc. But God specifically instructed him to destroy it all. Saul disobeys him, and keeps a good chunk for himself, leading the people to do so also.
Samuel is an incredible man in the bible. He was appointed before birth and brought up to do no other than serve God in everything he did. He was in the church from such a young age, but God wasn’t using him then to preach or study. Instead, Samuel was serving God through his every day chores. He’d clean, tidy, and run errands for Eli – yet all of this was service to God. We don’t need to be sitting still, praying, reading the bible, praying some more, reading some more bible, being more still, 24/7 in our lives. Sometimes we need to just get out there and start serving God now. As young Christians, maybe still in school or uni, there’s this awkward time where all we do is plan for what we are meant to do next in life. And unfortunately, we can take this over into our faith too. We can plan to be better Christians in the future, or plan to go on mission trips, or plan to lead in church in the future.
But let’s be proactive! Let’s go! Get up, serve God, and praise him in whatever your doing NOW. I’m sitting here with 3 essays to write, and 4 lectures in the backlog, and a ton of notes to take – I’m going to praise God anyway! Maybe you are on dishes tonight – praise God anyway! Maybe you have to do sport practice in the rain – praise God anyway! Maybe you are really struggling at home, or with your friendships – praise God anyway. It can be hard sometimes, and let’s be honest, I’m not sure how much praising I’m actually going to be able to do, but it’s a challenge we need to take on to keep growing in our relationship with God.