Summary: Looking at the differences between Eli and Samuel we shall see how to break free from spiritual apathy and live a life of destiny as Samuel did.

Title : Overcoming Spiritual Apathy.

Text : 1 Samuel 3:1-10


The boy Samuel lived at a crucial time for God’s people as we do today. It was a time of a famine of God’s word and revelation and a time when the enemy was about to strike. A time of crisis. But it was also a time just before ushering in the King! We are at such a time: the ushering in of King Jesus’ second coming. We must be like Samuel and not Eli.

God’s people were in a state of spiritual apathy (as seen in verses 1-3)...


See Judges 21:25 - Leaders and people did what was right in THEIR OWN EYES. See also 1 Samuel 2:29-30


1. Dim spiritual vision and lack of the Word of God (v1)

2. Enemy comes in to remove presence/anointing/glory of God (Chapter 4 – Ark taken by Philistines).

3. Removing of old leadership and raising up of new generation, alive to God (starting with Samuel).

(2) ELI Versus SAMUEL:

Though both started off sleepy and not hearing God’s word (see verses 2,3,7), Samuel differed considerably. We’ll look at 3 areas he differed.


Eli – The Priesthood was passed down to him. He was moving out of mere duty, not really understanding the purpose or function of his role. This reminds me of a true story I heard about a couple who went to see the Queen’s guard in London, England. There was a team of six men who were preparing the cannon for the salute. Five of them were industriously going about their tasks, but one stood to attention nearby doing nothing. They later asked why this was so but no one know, not even the guards themselves. After much study they found out that originally horse pulled the cannon and the sixth guard’s job was to stand and hold the horse! On that day a vehicle was used to pull the cannon and there were no horses to hold – but still, out of blind duty, the sixth guard stood doing nothing because he was merely assigned to do so!

Samuel - Acts 3:24-25: Samuel was dedicated to the Lord’s service by his mum and had a keen sense of destiny and an understanding of the purposes of God. As a prophet, he ushered in a brand new era of Israel’s history (that of the Kings) that prophetically looked forward to King Jesus. His life also was aligned to Abraham’s seed and the blessing that was promised through it.


Eli - 1 Samuel 1:4; 2:20; 3:9 – These passages show that Eli knew all the correct ‘traditional’ words to say at the appropriate times. However, he lacked real spiritual discernment. When Hannah was seriously crying out to God he thought she was drunk! When God was calling Samuel it took him three times to figure it out!

Living tradition is the living faith of men now dead, dead tradition is the dead faith for men now living!

Samuel - Verse 10 – Samuel, however, was not paralyzed by dead tradition. He was teachable in the things of God. Even when God called him twice and still Eli denied it was he, Samuel didn’t give up but was willing to learn the truth.


Eli - 1 Samuel 2:29-30; 4:18 - As a result Eli had no living faith in his religion. He was unable to properly bring up his children and died eventually due to being overweight (not disciplined even in his own well being!). He had failed to teach Samuel how to hear God and was supposed to be God’s voice to his nation, Israel.

Samuel - 1 Samuel 2:26; 35 – Samuel was the initial ‘faithful prophet’ that marked an end to the spiritual apathy that had clouded the nation of Israel. He faithfully sought for and heard the word of God, which he obeyed till his dying day.


Eli moved out of blind duty and tradition and was seen as faithless before God and spiritually asleep. God removed him and made way for Samuel and those that would come after him. Samuel moved with a sense of destiny and was teachable before God. Therefore he was found faithful and impacted his generation and those to come greatly. It was Samuel who ushered in the King for his people. God looks for such people today. Are you one?



1. Read Judges 21:25 and 1 Samuel 3:1-10 together. Ask everyone: "Are you spiritual asleep or awake?" - discuss what it means to be both.

2. Eli failed to take care properly of himself, his family (read 1 Samuel 2:22-25,29) and the peoples under his care due to spiritual apathy. Is this true of your life?

3. List all the good qualities Samuel had that enabled him to break free from the spiritual apathy of his people - Pray for each other to have these qualities.

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