THROUGH A CHILD’S EARS (1 SAMUEL 3)
In The Last Days Newsletter, Leonard Ravenhill tells about a group of tourists visiting a picturesque village who walked by an old man sitting beside a fence. In a rather patronizing way, one tourist asked, "Were any great men born in this village?"
The old man replied, "Nope, only babies."
Hearing the Lord is about attitude, not age, appearance and even advantages in life, which Samuel did not have since his parents visit him once a year (1 Sam 2:19). God, however, reveals Himself to believers who are willing to listen and learn. Samuel was a boy when God spoke to him. Yes, a boy but never a baby. More like a lad, in old English, or a teen, the age when Ishmael left home (Gen 21:12) and when Isaac was offered (Gen 22:5). A boy his age can quite well choose to do the Lord’s work, dedicate himself to ministry and devote his life to God.
In what ways can a youth, a teen or a lad serve God? Why does God not discriminate on age? Why do some people succeed in ministry and why do others stagnate in service?
Serve with Authority
2:18 But Samuel was ministering before the Lord-a boy wearing a linen ephod. (1 Sam. 2:18)
2:19 Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice.
(1 Sam 2:19)
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. (1 Sam. 3:1-3)
Samuel broke barriers and bore burdens most extraordinarily. Did Samuel come from a priestly family? What tribe did Samuel’s father descend from? His father Elkanah was from the tribe of Ephraim (1 Sam 1:1), not Levi. So Samuel was not a Levite, a priest or an adult but it did not stop him from wearing a linen ephod or serving God with authority. Who gets to wear an ephod (2:18)? A priest like Eli. In 1 Samuel 2:28, God reprimanded Eli, saying, “I chose your father out of all the tribes of Israel to be my priest, to go up to my altar, to burn incense, and to wear an ephod in my presence (1 Sam 2:28). Besides the ephod, each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. What is a robe (1 Sam 2:19)? It is the long-flowing inside garment (Ex 28:4, 31, 29:5) to compliment ephod on the outside, similar to a breastplate. So we can see Samuel was role-playing for real at a young age. Better still, he wore it (2:18) and not waste it every day, come rain or sunshine, nor stuff it in a closet or corner out of embarrassment. It must be a thrill because Samuel’s mother made sure she brought the same thing next year.
I accepted Christ when I was 17. I do not remember any time when I was not serving in some capacity since. In those days, any youth sixteen years and older were to attend senior (adult) fellowship. The church I attended did not have a pastor, which was also what prompted me to ministry three years later.
Less than half a year at church, I was already asked to take turns to lead Wednesday Bible study. I kind of forgot if it was before my decision to accept Christ or getting baptized, which was on October 9, 1977. The group of around 10-12 English speakers rotate a Tyndale (NT) commentary to the next Bible study leader every week, so no one was exempted.
A year later, the church started a Sunday school class for no more than five students aged 10-12. I was the oldest of the teens, so I was asked to lead the class. I was supposed to find the materials at a local bookstore nowhere near my home to buy budget material printed from India! We had no class facility, so I asked everyone to grab a chair and have our class under a tree. I was already involved serving in the choir, the library, and the youth department, and the literature department that produces the yearly church magazine. I felt the call to ministry when I was 19, attended Bible college when I was 21 and began ministry when I was 25.