Tag Archives: Samuel

God’s Ways

God’s ways
are not our ways;
his criteria
are not the ones we use.
He doesn’t look at
age,
status,
looks,
what other people think;
he judges only
by what is in someone’s heart.

Forgive me Lord,
the times I have listened
to the wrong people,
been swayed
by the way someone looks
or the status others give them;
when I have missed
the gifts of others,
because I looked too hard at the outer wrapper
and not what was within.

May I allow myself to be surprised by you
and how you work
and work with you.

1 Samuel 15:34-16:13 (CEV)

34 Samuel went home to Ramah, and Saul returned to his home in Gibeah.35 Even though Samuel felt sad about Saul, Samuel never saw him again.

The Lord Chooses David To Be King

The Lord was sorry he had made Saul the king of Israel. 16 One day he said, “Samuel, I’ve rejected Saul, and I refuse to let him be king any longer. Stop feeling sad about him. Put some olive oil in a small container and go visit a man named Jesse, who lives in Bethlehem. I’ve chosen one of his sons to be my king.”

Samuel answered, “If I do that, Saul will find out and have me killed.”

“Take a calf with you,” the Lord replied. “Tell everyone that you’ve come to offer it as a sacrifice to me, then invite Jesse to the sacrifice. When I show you which one of his sons I have chosen, pour the olive oil on his head.”

Samuel did what the Lord told him and went to Bethlehem. The town leaders went to meet him, but they were terribly afraid and asked, “Is this a friendly visit?”

“Yes, it is!” Samuel answered. “I’ve come to offer a sacrifice to the Lord. Get yourselves ready to take part in the sacrifice and come with me.” Samuel also invited Jesse and his sons to come to the sacrifice, and he got them ready to take part.

When Jesse and his sons arrived, Samuel noticed Jesse’s oldest son, Eliab. “He has to be the one the Lord has chosen,” Samuel said to himself.

But the Lord told him, “Samuel, don’t think Eliab is the one just because he’s tall and handsome. He isn’t the one I’ve chosen. People judge others by what they look like, but I judge people by what is in their hearts.”

Jesse told his son Abinadab to go over to Samuel, but Samuel said, “No, theLord hasn’t chosen him.”

Next, Jesse sent his son Shammah to him, and Samuel said, “The Lord hasn’t chosen him either.”

10 Jesse had all seven of his sons go over to Samuel. Finally, Samuel said, “Jesse, the Lord hasn’t chosen any of these young men. 11 Do you have any more sons?”

“Yes,” Jesse answered. “My youngest son David is out taking care of the sheep.”

“Send for him!” Samuel said. “We won’t start the ceremony until he gets here.”

12 Jesse sent for David. He was a healthy, good-looking boy with a sparkle in his eyes. As soon as David came, the Lord told Samuel, “He’s the one! Get up and pour the olive oil on his head.”

13 Samuel poured the oil on David’s head while his brothers watched. At that moment, the Spirit of the Lord took control of David and stayed with him from then on.

Samuel returned home to Ramah.

I’m Listening

I’m sure we all suffer at times from selective hearing!  We hear what we want to and manage to totally miss, or certainly not absorb, those things we don’t want to.

This is a stunning story if we let it be.  The simple, but by no means simplistic faith and obedience of a child.

1 Samuel 3:1-20 (CEV)

The Lord Speaks to Samuel

1-2 Samuel served the Lord by helping Eli the priest, who was by that time almost blind. In those days, the Lord hardly ever spoke directly to people, and he did not appear to them in dreams very often. But one night, Eli was asleep in his room, and Samuel was sleeping on a mat near the sacred chest in theLord’s house. They had not been asleep very long when the Lord called out Samuel’s name.

“Here I am!” Samuel answered. Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. What do you want?”

“I didn’t call you,” Eli answered. “Go back to bed.”

Samuel went back.

Again the Lord called out Samuel’s name. Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am,” he said. “What do you want?”

Eli told him, “Son, I didn’t call you. Go back to sleep.”

The Lord had not spoken to Samuel before, and Samuel did not recognize the voice. When the Lord called out his name for the third time, Samuel went to Eli again and said, “Here I am. What do you want?”

Eli finally realized that it was the Lord who was speaking to Samuel. So he said, “Go back and lie down! If someone speaks to you again, answer, ‘I’m listening, Lord. What do you want me to do?’”

Once again Samuel went back and lay down.

Samuel was listening, carefully.  He slept that sleep with one ear open in case you are needed, the kind of sleep that all carers know about, ready to spring at any moment.

Maybe it is because he is listening, he hears a voice, a call, his name.  He leaps up, assuming it to be Eli, and goes straight to see what he wants.  Three times this happens, until the penny drops and Eli suggests to Samuel that it is God, and next time he is called to ask what God is wanting of him.

Samuel is waiting for God to speak.  And God does.

Am I waiting for God to speak?  Am I ready to respond when he does?  Am I attentive?  Or am I busy with my own agenda and activity that I can’t, or don’t, hear what God is saying?

Can I be prepared, still, put myself in a place where I will hear his call?  Will I?

But before we get carried away in the romance of it all, we need to read on (though once again the lectionary tries to leave out the ‘difficult’ bits, verses 11-20 are only an additional option).

10 The Lord then stood beside Samuel and called out as he had done before, “Samuel! Samuel!”

“I’m listening,” Samuel answered. “What do you want me to do?”

11 The Lord said:

Samuel, I am going to do something in Israel that will shock everyone who hears about it! 12 I will punish Eli and his family, just as I promised. 13 He knew that his sons refused to respect me,and he let them get away with it, even though I said I would punish his family forever. 14 I warned Eli that sacrifices or offerings could never make things right! His family has done too many disgusting things.

15 The next morning, Samuel got up and opened the doors to the Lord’s house. He was afraid to tell Eli what the Lord had said. 16 But Eli told him, “Samuel, my boy, come here!”

“Here I am,” Samuel answered.

17 Eli said, “What did God say to you? Tell me everything. I pray that God will punish you terribly if you don’t tell me every word he said!”

18 Samuel told Eli everything. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord, and he will do what’s right.”

The Lord Helps Samuel

19 As Samuel grew up, the Lord helped him and made everything Samuel said come true. 20 From the town of Dan in the north to the town of Beersheba in the south, everyone in the country knew that Samuel was truly the Lord’s prophet.

The message God had for Samuel, and for Samuel in turn to deliver to Israel was a shocking one.  In fact it was going to be particularly traumatic for Eli, the man who cared for him and who he in turn cared for.

Allowing God to speak in and through us is not always comfortable.  Some times unpopular truths have to be told.  And that can be painful.  Fortunately Eli heard it.  He recognised that it was God speaking and that what God said was true, but that can’t have made it any easier for Samuel to share it.

Being entrusted with God’s word is an awesome responsibility.  It can be truly scary, but it is what God does.  He speaks in and through his people.  If the message seems at odds or painful, I need to be very careful that it is what God is saying and not my own opinion; but when God asks to speak, we do him a disservice if we don’t listen and pass on the message.

Lord,
help me to listen,
carefully,
ready to respond.

Help me to hear,
clearly,
carefully,
and not what I want to hear.

Help me to be bold,
in your love,
in what you entrust to me.

Give me courage,
and peace,
in your call.

Speak Lord,
for I am listening

Master Speak, Thy Servant Heareth

Can you Hear me Calling?

One of the things that is difficult to get used to, now that my children are all grown up, is being out in public and remembering that is someone shouts, “mum”, it won’t be me they’re shouting.  We get accustomed to being able to pick out our name from a crowd, and responding.

Samuel, beloved and longed for child, is living in the Temple, serving the Lord under the direction of Eli, the Priest.  Eli, is very old and nearly blind and part of Samuel’s role is to care for him.  Eli is asleep in his room, and Samuel is asleep in the Sanctuary.

During the night, Samuel hears his name being called, and assumes it is Eli calling for help.  He rushes to him, but is not Eli calling.  This happens a further twice, before the penny drops with Eli, and he tells Samuel the next time he hears his name being called to respond:

‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’

And that is what happens.  Tantalizingly, the lectionary reading leaves it there.  Samuel inviting God to speak to him.

Infant Samuel by SIr Joshua Reynolds

Samuel invites God to speak to him, with no idea what God might ask of him.  He comes willing, openly, offering himself.

Can we hear God calling to us?  In the noise and the bustle of life?  Can we discern his voice from what we are expecting to hear?

When we hear God’s voice, do we respond?  Or ignore it and carry on with what we were doing, with what we have planned, with what our usual routine?

Are we willing to hear God’s voice where we are.  To stop and let him speak?

Lord,

may I hear your voice,

and listen as you speak.

May I pick your voice out from the crowd,

and hear what you are saying.

May I hear you calling me

from what I’m expecting to hear.

May I discern your voice,

be willing to listen,

and respond freely and wholeheartedly.