Summary: The message examines the example of Samuel’s faith.
Growing up Christian is not as easy a task as one might think. There are dangers and temptations unique to growing up within a Christian family and within the church and sadly these difficulties are often downplayed or misunderstood by those who have been converted later in life. "Church kids face some unique challenges...Though surrounded by the things of God, we can still be drawn to sin and live double lives. We can easily assume that we are saved even if we are not; or we may be driven by a desire to be popular more than a desire to live according to biblical values. While it is a great blessing to grow up in a Christian environment, if we are not careful we can make some dangerous assumptions about ourselves, which have serious consequences". If you are like me and grew up in a Christian home, there were definitely some advantages that you should be thankful for. I know from my own perspective I have seen both the advantages and disadvantages of growing up in a Christian home. I am so thankful that I had the privilege of being raised by Godly parents who had a concern for our families spiritual well being. But as often as I have seen this type of blessing, I have seen the opposite, where the children of Christians fall away or live lukewarm at best, living with the mistaken assumption that they are somehow saved through their parents faith or guaranteed salvation by the decision they made years earlier. Please do not get me wrong, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages, but we need to make careful note of both. Today we meet a man by the name of Samuel; he grew up in a Godly home and faithfully answered God’s call at an early age. In the great judge and prophet we see someone who exemplifies the idea that when God calls faith answers.
I. The advantages Samuel enjoyed by being raised by God-fearing parents.
A. Samuel was blessed to be raised in a Godly home.
1. Elkanah was a Levite who lived in Ramathaim-zophim (Ramah) in the hill country of Ephraim.
2. While basically a godly man, he had taken two wives. The notation that Hannah had no children suggests that her infertility had driven Elkanah to marry a woman (Peninnah) who could produce an heir.
3. Elkanah would take his family each year to the annual feast at the Shiloh tabernacle some eighteen miles north of Jerusalem. The trips were most painful for Hannah. Her husband showed his greater love for her by giving her an extra portion at the sacrificial meal. Peninnah, however, made life miserable for Hannah, using her fertility to lord it over her rival.
4. While at Shiloh on one occasion Hannah finished the ritual meal. Near the entrance to the temple she wept and poured out her heart to “Yahweh of hosts.” She approached him reverently as can be seen in her threefold reference to herself as “handmaid” of the Lord. She vowed that if the Lord would give her a son, she would dedicate him all the days of his life as a Nazirite.
5. The Lord “remembered” Hannah, and granted her petition. She conceived and bore a son. Hannah named the child Samuel, which means “name of God.” She knew that this baby was truly an answer to prayer.
6. Hannah elected not to go to the sanctuary until she had weaned the child and could present him to the Lord. Elkanah agreed that this would be the wisest course.
7. Eastern women nursed their babies up to three years. When the child was weaned, Hannah took him and a generous offering to the sanctuary.
8. The family first offered their sacrifice. Then Hannah presented the young boy to Eli.
B. Samuel was blessed with having a Godly mentor.
1. Eli was not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, he was greatly overweight and apparently he was not a very good father.
2. When one looks at the original Hebrew you discover that the adjective used to describe Eli’s sons (Belial) meant worthless or good for nothing.
3. The boy Samuel was quite a contrast to the sons of Eli. He wore a linen ephod and ministered before the Lord. Each year his mother would make him a little robe and take it to Shiloh. Eli would pronounce a blessing on Hannah for having given Samuel to the Lord.
4. Eli encouraged Samuel to be faithful to the Lord’s call although it meant unpleasant circumstances for his own family.
5. While the priests were declining, Samuel was increasing. Theirs was an evil reputation, while Samuel’s was favorable. The boy Samuel was growing up to be the kind of spiritual leader that God desired and the people needed.