Summary: Samuel, Pt. 3
SHAPE UP OR SHIP OUT (1 SAMUEL 3)
As I was sitting in my van in a parking lot a month after my 42nd birthday, a strand of hair dropped onto my shirt before my very eyes. Instinctively I picked up the hair to see its color, length and texture. Negative questions immediately arose: Is it gray? Am I losing hair? To my relief, the hair was black, everything was fine. I realized that was the first instance I was conscious of a falling hair’s color. Actually, I shouldn’t be glad that black hair was falling but it was better than gray hair falling!
Yahoo Health says that the average scalp contains about 100,000 hairs and, on average, about 100 hairs are lost from the head every day. Each individual hair survives for an average of 4.5 years, during which time it grows about half an inch a month. Usually in its 5th year, the hair falls out and is replaced within 6 months by a new one. Genetic baldness is caused by the body’s failure to produce new hairs and not by excessive hair loss.
Experts tell us teenagers rarely lose their hair; only adults over 30 do. The problem with hair loss is not because new hair is not growing; it is, but they are not growing as quickly as before, whereas old hair are falling at the same rate.
The development and rise of Samuel as a judge coincided with Eli’s failure as a priest, parent and person. Eli had become a religious, cultural and national symbol in Israel, but Samuel was the one actually growing in faith, learning about God and growing in maturity. Eli had the status, knowledge and honor, but Samuel had the revelation, insight and progress. Eli had hit the brakes, hit the ceiling and hit a wall, and Samuel was about to eclipse, overshadow and replace him.
How should we keep a fresh and growing relationship with the Lord? What are the barriers that hinder us from the Lord and what are the factors that endear us to God?
Lean Childlikely on Him
3:1 The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. 2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” (1 Sam 3:1-4)
A wise Chinese proverb says it all: “A good beginning is half the job done.”
Robert Fulghum in his wildly-popular book, “All I Really Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten,” states that the basics a child learns will shape his or her philosophy of an adult. These fundamental life-changing kindergarten rules, principles and advice include: “Share everything. Play fair. Don’t hit people. Put things back where you found them. Clean up your own mess. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Say you’re sorry when you hurt someone. Wash your hands before you eat. Flush. Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you. Live a balanced life -- learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some. Take a nap every afternoon. When you go out into the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands, and stick together.”
Samuel had a good, if not great, start. He had a childlike relationship with the Lord and an innocent dependence on Him. The boy Samuel’s childlike obedience to the Lord was everything Eli was not. Eli was high, high on top; he was the leader of religious affairs and he was set for life. He was God’s representative, the top dog and the head honcho and Samuel was the priest’s apprentice, aide or assistant. Eli had the title but Samuel had the training, and his training was basic, valuable, and straightforward. Samuel ministered before the Lord as a toddler, a child and a youth. The verb “ministered” is not the usual word for “served” but the Hebrew word for “attended.” The same word describes Joseph as Potiphar’s “attendant” (Gen 39:4) and how he later also “attended” the chief cupbearer and the chief baker (Gen 40:2-4). The word has no negative connotation, but it is serious, earnest and adult stuff. It could even mean helper or handyman. The word describes the way Joshua ministered to Moses (Ex 24:13) and how Aaron (Ex 28:35) and the Levites (Deut 10:8) ministered in the temple.
There was nothing Samuel wasn’t asked, expected, or ready to do. He was busy with the odds and ends, from top and bottom to the ins and outs of the temple. Menial work was expected, although not necessarily experienced. The youngster was up on his feet, down on his knees, and active with his hands. Nothing was too lowly for him to do: cleaning the restroom, moping the floor, washing the dishes, wiping the tables, locking the doors, emptying the thrash, chopping the wood, cutting the grass, tidying the sanctuary, watering the flowers, or helping in chores.