Summary: Samuel is called by God and responds in faith, “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.”
One of the most difficult theological concepts to comprehend, I believe, is that of call—that the Lord calls us to a specific vocation. Most Christians can accept the idea that pastors and other church professionals have received some sort of a call—why otherwise would they willing choose such a job. Yet, few Christians understand that the Holy Spirit moves in their lives in a similar way to pastors and calls them, also.
Today we read the story of the Prophet Samuel’s call. In doing so, we can learn a great deal about how God moves in our lives and calls us.
The book of Samuel is part of the historical or narrative books of the Old Testament. These books begin at the Israelite’s occupation of the Promised Land and continue through the Exile, or as some call it, “The Babylonian Captivity.”
These books record the actions of an increasingly rebellious people. Instead of destroying the inhabitants of the land, which the Lord had given them, the Israelites allowed them to live. The Israelites began to adopt their ways and to worship their gods. It isn’t surprising that the main theological theme of these historical books is how to keep the first commandment, “I am the Lord your God, you shall have no other gods before me.”
It is to a rebellious, faithless, selfish, unjust people that Samuel is called to serve. Samuel is to speak God’s word to the people, to call them to faith and to a renewed relationship with God.
If the truth be told, Samuel was called into a situation that isn’t all that different from the one we are in. In an increasingly secular society, fewer and fewer people seek to live in a relationship with God. Most people follow after their own gods, and their world revolves around themselves. The time in history and the geographical location may be different, but the people are the same.
Samuel had been dedicated to the Lord by his mother Hannah. He had been raised in the temple by Eli the high priest. One night Samuel heard a voice. A first, he thought it was Eli calling to him, but Eli denied it. Finally Eli realized that the Lord was speaking to Samuel, and Eli advises Samuel to open himself to the word of the Lord. Sometimes we don’t hear or understand our calls. The Lord doesn’t appear to stop calling to us, though, until we answer the call.
The call came to Samuel at night. Night has been given a bad rap. It’s the time of boggy men, violent attacks, and scary storms. The nighttime hours are also at times of quiet, of reflection, and of listening. Samuel had to be quiet in order to hear the voice of the Lord. If we are to hear the voice of the Lord and hear our call, it is necessary for us to turn off our MP3 players, televisions, computers and all the other noise making devices in our lives.
The Lord called Samuel to a specific task. Samuel was faithfully obedient to the Lord and to the call he had been given. Samuel came to be known as a trustworthy prophet of the Lord. Not all of Israel’s problems were solved. Israel continued to be a rebellious nation, but the people did hear the word of the Lord through Samuel, who was faithful to his call.