Samuel a young boy, living and serving in the temple, under the priest Eli. We see Eli now as an ageing man, his sight is failing. So Samuel is looking after Eli, as well as helping with His priestly duties.
‘in those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions’ (v1)
The people had not heard much from God, and as this small boy goes to sleep in a place filled with reminders of God speaking to his people:
‘Samuel was lying down in the house of the lord where the ark of the Covenant was’ (v3)
And so God speaks and calls out to Samuel. Samuel thinks its Eli that is calling out to him and so goes to Eli, and this repeats 3 times.
We are told:
‘Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him’ (v7)
No wonder Samuel doesn’t answer the lord. I think we must see this as Eli’s failing, he has had Samuel in the temple for at least a couple of years. Why had Eli not given Samuel any expectation of the presence of God in the sacred space where he lives, works and sleeps?
We see in the chapter before of Eli’s failings with his own Sons ‘Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the Lord’ (1 Samuel 2:12). We also read about how Eli doesn’t try and reign in his sons and lets them get away some terrible things.
But Eli does on the third time of Samuel coming to him realise what’s going on and tells Samuel how to respond.
And then we hear what God says, and this one of my favorite verses in the Bible:
‘And the Lord said to Samuel: “See I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle.’
What must Samuel have thought, when God told him that he was going to do something so big that the ears of everyone who heard it would tingle. Samuel, must have had big expectations from then on.
1st time Samuel speaks: ‘Here I am’ (v4)
2nd time Samuel speaks: ‘Here I am, you called me’ (v5)
3rd time Samuel speaks: ‘Here I am; you called me’ (v6)
4th time Samuel speaks: ‘Here I am; you called me. (v8)
5th time Samuel speaks: ‘Speak for your servant is listening’ (v10)
Servant-hearted, ready to respond to being called, reliable, committed, patient. Are we always ready to respond to the call of God in our lives like Samuel?