During the Lenten season, staff and church leaders will share a daily devotional. Please join us on the journey.
The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. – 1 Samuel 3
Charles Battle –Administrative Council Chair
Our Lenten devotional today is from 1st Samuel, Chapter 3. In Chapters 1 and 2, we are introduced to an Israelite woman named Hannah. Like several of the women prominent in Genesis, Hannah is past her child-bearing years. Her prayers for a child are finally answered with the birth of a son, Samuel, whose name means “He who is from God”. Recognizing the source of this joy, Hannah literally gives her son back to God by delivering him to Eli, the chief priest at “the temple of the Lord” at Shiloh (The setting is years before the Temple was built in Jerusalem).
As Chapter 3 begins, Samuel is still referred to as a boy, with no age given. All we know is that he has been raised by Eli, living in the temple where the Ark of the Covenant resides. One night, Samuel awakens after hearing his name called. He runs to Eli, saying “Here I am”. Eli tells him that he didn’t call and that he should go back to bed. Samuel hears his name called a 2nd time and again Eli sends him back to bed. A third call occurs and this time Eli perceives that God is calling Samuel. He instructs Samuel to respond differently if he hears the call again— “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”. On the fourth call, Samuel responds as instructed. What follows is a vision that, while bad for Eli, cements Samuel’s influential position in Israel through the upcoming years of Saul and David.
If it was hard for the chief priest and a boy raised in the temple to discern God’s call, how hard it must be for us! How do we hear through the clamor and clutter of mobile phones, social media and schedules that never ease? I heard a description of the time we live in as one of “continuous partial attention”. Testing while driving? Checking the market while your son tells you about his day at school? Hearing about your spouse’s day at work while you check on any new Facebook posts? Does any of this sound familiar?
Maybe this Lenten season can be the time to take a deep breath, unplug and listen. Listen during family discussions. Listen to that guy at work who sees things differently—spend time listening, not preparing your response. Listen for God calling. The good news is that He loves us enough to be patient—he called Samuel four times that night. He may be calling you now.
Prayer: Speak Lord; for your servant is listening. Amen