ELI AND SAMUEL
1 Samuel 2:22–26; 3:7–10, 15–18
Eleanor Roosevelt once stated, “Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.” The story of Eli and Samuel bears witness to this quote.
Their story is a cautionary tale of what can happen when God is not revered, and at the same time, it reveals to us the blessing of obeying the Lord even when it may be unpopular.
Samuel’s parents, Elkanah and Hannah, had long prayed for a child and were unable to have one. The Bible is not specific on how many years they appealed to God for a son, but some scholars estimate close to 20.
This reveals both Hannah’s faith in God and her persistence. In her plea, Hannah promised the Lord if He would bless her with a son, she would give the child back to Him for His service. When Hannah became pregnant, she kept her promise and presented him to Eli at the temple.
Not everyone listens to wise counsel. (2:22–26)
Eli’s biological sons were wicked, with the Bible calling them the personification of evil. While Eli’s own sons were blasphemers of God and had no respect for His commands, Eli raised Samuel to be a godly person.
This is made even more complex when we remember that Eli himself is implicated in being an evil person. Eventually, God would punish all three. He would take the life of Eli’s two sons, and Eli would meet a tragic death.
Through it all, Samuel served the Lord faithfully. The difference between Eli’s two sons and Samuel was the choice to submit to God’s Word.
Help others discern when God is speaking to them. (3:7–10)
When Samuel was still young, the Lord spoke to him while in the temple. At first, Samuel heard a voice he believed to be Eli’s, but after the third occurrence, Eli discerned that God was wanting to speak to Samuel.
Eli was wise when he instructed Samuel to respond to the Lord with the words, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” As we mature in our faith, God will allow others to seek us out for spiritual direction. This is a key part of mentoring and discipleship. God may impress on your heart to say many things, but none can be greater than to tell someone to wait, listen and obey the Lord.
God’s Word, however painful it may be to hear, must be shared. (3:15–18)
Scripture is filled with examples of God’s messengers sharing the truth and the listeners becoming enraged or rebellious. The prophecy given to Samuel by God was disturbing.
Samuel revealed to Eli that the Lord was about to punish him and his two sons and there was no opportunity to avoid it.
God shared that neither sacrifice nor offerings could thwart what He was going to do. Far too many pulpits in our world have chosen to be places of compromise rather than conviction.
When we share the Word of God in our churches, we must do it with boldness and passion. Do you feel as if there is a void in your church or community for biblical truths? Could it be God is calling you, like Samuel? Are you willing to obey?
By Bobby McKay
Pastor of New Liberty Baptist Church in Morton, Mississippi