Let us look at 1 Samuel 3:1, “The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.” The word in this verse is called ‘dabar (דָבָר)’ in Hebrew. It simply means ‘word or speak’. The word means ‘lead flocks or herd to pasture or direct people.’ The word ‘dabar’ leads us from chaos to truth. It also leads us from the world to God. Here the word of the Lord includes God’s word coming from prophets to God. And vision is called ‘hazon (חָזוֹן) in Hebrew’ meaning originally coming from God. A vision helps his people to see God and thus this message originally comes from God’s prophets in visions or/and in revelations.’ In this verse, we are told that the word of the Lord was rare and there were not many visions. So it came about that many people were ungodly and disobeyed God.
Many years passed, and the lessons of God were forgotten by many of the Israelites. In the time of Samuel, there was a priest named Eli. He had two children. And sadly they and many people disobeyed God. In those days, there was a woman named Hannah, who obeyed and prayed to God. He answered her prayers. Hannah made a promise to God that she would give her son Samuel to God. Samuel came to God and was called by him.
Let us read 1 Samuel 3:2, “One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place.” Eli was 98 years old and his eyesight was very poor. Also Eli could no longer hear God’s voice. Instead, he relied upon Samuel his assistant. Eli was the priest and he should have delivered God’s word to his people. However, we are told that Eli did not obey God and thus he was unable to understand God’s will and plan.
On the other hand, Samuel was known to be a man of God, because he was obedient to God and gave his life to God in that evil world. 1 Samuel 3:3 says, “The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.” Samuel was brought up to serve God in the temple. Inside the temple, there was the lamp of God. This lamp was used to shine a light in the darkness. It was used between sunset and sunrise. This passage tells us that Samuel received a call from God at night. Samuel was a young boy, but he was grown to become the servant of God.
Our God calls his people in his time and in his ways. Each person is given different kinds of gifts. All of us are called to live and work for God. God called Samuel to deliver his plan. Let us read 1 Samuel 3:11-14, “And the LORD said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something… I would judge His(Eli) family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible ..The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering. ” 1 Samuel 3:19 says, “The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground.”
As God was with Samuel and he was used by God in great ways, so God is still with us today. He will use us in great ways. As children of God, we are called by God to obey him at all times. May God continue to be with you, guide you, and bless you. Amen.
Rev Dr Je Cheol Cook