In today’s study we see the transitioning of how God speaks to and deals with Israel. Up to this point, as I mentioned in day one of this chapter the nation was a theocracy and had no human leader. God would, at times, send judges to bring Israel back to where they needed to be. God was now allowing the people to have what they were longing for. Even before they asked for a king to lead them God had already begun the process, even though it was not in line with His will. God would soon begin using prophets to speak to the kings and the people of Israel. We need to understand that at this point in time He had not chosen to do so. Samuel will be the first prophet/priest to come about. There is a brief symbol of this transition in the text that is easy to overlook. Early in the chapter it mentions that as Eli (the acting priest) was sleeping, the lamp of God in the tabernacle was about to go out. This lamp was to burn continually and it was the priests job to ensure that it was doing just that. So, I believe, that God was showing the symbol of Eli’s spiritual leadership coming to an end. At this very time, God began calling Samuel.
Samuel was not yet a man, but nor was he a small boy. Josephus (an historian during the time of Christ) states that Samuel was twelve years old. No one can know if Josephus was guessing, or if he had knowledge of this; but it wouldn’t make logical sense for God to call a toddler to act as the first prophet! When God called Samuel, Samuel did not recognize the voice of God. Men much smarter than me have stated that this call is the call of salvation in Samuel’s life and that it is an illustration of the call of salvation in our lives as well. Not all that are called are willing to follow, just as we saw last week in our study in Acts: Fetus had Paul removed when he began feeling afraid of the words of judgement and righteousness. Instead of just commenting on today’s chapter I picked up one of my favorite theologians named J. Vernon McGee and read his comments on the chapter. J. Vernon states that he believes that the first two calls of God were the call of salvation. Samuel served before the Lord, but according to this chapter “Samuel did not yet know the Lord.” So after answering the call the second time, J. Vernon considered the second two callings of God to be the calling of servant hood. I highly respect the late J.Vernon McGee and he may very well be right. But I have trouble with that line of thinking. Because, from what I see in the new testament, the call to salvation is in itself a call to servant hood. But in either case; we all have the opportunity to either answer the call of God when we recognize it or we can not answer the call. Thankfully Samuel answered the calling of God.
We see a great picture of the character of Samuel in this chapter. Even though he knew that Eli had done evil and God was getting ready to remove him, Samuel still realized that until the time that God had chosen to remove Eli; Eli was still in the position of leadership. Samuel did not try and undermine Eli’s authority. Samuel simply patiently waited on the Lord and trusted in God’s time table.
When reading of Eli’s demise in the ministry, it sends a shiver up my spine. We must all be aware that God is very graceful and compassionate. But God will not let our sin go on forever. If we do not repent and turn away from things that are displeasing to Him, He can easily replace us. We need to remember that he called us from nothing, with nothing for no particular reason other than His grace. If He could do that for us, how easy would it be for Him to replace us with someone else.
I hope you are enjoying our study together in First Samuel. God will bless us if we continue in His Word.