Summary: A Narrative Sermon on little Samuel
Someone is Calling Your Name
Second Sunday after Epiphany 2006
Dr. Paul G. Humphrey
A little boy named Samuel lay in his bed one still night when he heard a voice calling out his name. Samuel! Samuel!
Little Samuel was different from other boys. He had never even had a hair-cut. He had been given away by his parents. And an old man named Eli took care of him. Eli was a kind man, but he was old and almost blind. It may have been that Samuel took as much care of Eli as Eli took care of him. Is it possible to be too kind when it comes to raising children, to just turn a blind eye to the evil that they do? Eli certainly spoiled his own children to the point that their focus was upon nothing but themselves. They certainly didn’t take care of Eli, nor did they honor or obey him. But, little Samuel treated Eli with the utmost of respect.
When Samuel heard his name called, he placed his feet on the cold floor and quickly made his way to Eli to see what he wanted.
Samuel’s mother had given him away for a noble reason. Her name was Hannah. Samuel’s father’s name was Elkanah. Elkanah had two wives, Hannah and Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah did not, and she was broken hearted because back in her day, not having children was frowned upon. And, she had to compete with another wife who continually reminded her that she had no children. But, Elkanah loved Hannah more than he loved Peninnah. When they went to Shilo, to the temple to sacrifice, he always gave Hannah a double portion of the sacrifice that he made at the temple.
None-the-less, Hannah wanted a child. In bitterness she made a deal with God, which we find in 1 Samuel 1:11
1 Samuel 1:11 And she vowed a vow, and said, O LORD of hosts, if thou wilt
indeed look on the affliction of thine handmaid, and remember me,
and not forget thine handmaid, but wilt give unto thine handmaid a
man child, then I will give him unto the LORD all the days of his
life, and there shall no razor come upon his head. (Remember, I told you that he had never had a hair cut)
The Lord honored her plea and gave her Samuel, and when she weaned him, she took him to the Temple where he would serve the LORD.
As little Samuel heard his name being called, he went through the temple to the place where Eli slept. He said, “here I am, you called me.” Eli responded, “I didn’t call you, go back to bed.” So, little Samuel went back to bed. On that particular night, the Lamp of God had gone out.
3:3 And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD,
where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep;
Some translations and commentators say that the light was about to go out designating how late in the night that it was. These would have been the lights on the golden candlesticks before the ark. One of the lights would never go out. Yet, Eli is about blind, and has a task of maintaining the light. Eli is the priest in charge.
Eli was blind in more than one way. He was blind to the action of his own children.
As I mentioned before, Eli’s own children were evil, but they ran the temple. They were priests under his charge. They stole by force from the people bringing offerings there.
2:12 Now the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the LORD.
2:17 Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the
LORD: for men abhorred the offering of the LORD.
2:18 But Samuel ministered before the LORD, being a child, girded
with a linen ephod.
Eli had failed in raising his own children. And, in doing so, he had failed in bringing light unto the children of Israel as well.
Yet, I would say to you that little Samuel was his pride and joy.
As little Samuel lay in his bed, once again, he heard a voice calling his name. Samuel! Samuel! The Bible tells, once again Samuel ran to Eli, saying “here I am, you called me.” And, once again, Eli said, I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.
2:22 Now Eli was very old, and heard all that his sons did unto all
Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door
of the tabernacle of the congregation.
2:23 And he said unto them, Why do ye such things? for I hear of your
evil dealings by all this people.