Compare the prophet Samuel to John the Baptist. Both were born to mothers who had been barren until their miraculous conception. Both were transitional figures, ushering in a new era. Samuel closed the period of Judges and served as Israel’s first prophet while John the Baptist closed the Old Covenant and the Law. Samuel anointed David, the great king. John the Baptist introduced the Lamb of God, the Son of David, the King of kings. Both stand tall among the greatest of Biblical figures.
When we first meet Samuel, he’s a young boy serving as an intern in the tabernacle. Early one fateful morning, we find little Samuel sleeping in the Holy Place, the outer room in the two-room sanctuary. Just before the golden menorah’s oil-burning candles fizzled-out, Samuel was awakened by the Lord’s voice. He suspected that it was Eli, the priest. “Here I am; you called me.” Eli hadn’t called. The lad returned to his pallet and tried to find sleep, but he heard the voice again. “Once again the Lord called, “Samuel!” Samuel got up, went to Eli, and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Nope. It wasn’t Eli that had spoken, so for the second time, Samuel returned to bed. When Samuel heard the voice a third time, he dutifully presented himself to his mentor and priest. “Then Eli understood that the Lord was calling the boy. He told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down. If he calls you, say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” ’ ” (1 Samuel 3:9, CSB).
“The Lord came, stood there, and called as before, ‘Samuel, Samuel!’ Samuel responded, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening’ ” (1 Samuel 3:10, CSB). Remember! He was just a boy. He’d never before heard the voice of God!
“The Lord said to Samuel, ‘I am about to do something in Israel that will cause everyone who hears about it to shudder. On that day I will carry out against Eli everything I said about his family, from beginning to end. I told him that I am going to judge his family forever because of the iniquity he knows about: his sons are cursing God, and he has not stopped them. Therefore, I have sworn to Eli’s family: The iniquity of Eli’s family will never be wiped out by either sacrifice or offering’ ” (1 Samuel 3:11–14, CSB). In other words, “Hey little Sammy, go tell the old priest that it’s the death sentence for he and his boys.” It was a tough assignment, but Samuel was faithful to God and honest with Eli.
This epic event occurred during an era when “the word of the Lord was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread” (1 Samuel 3:1, CSB). There hadn’t been a legitimate male prophet in Israel since Moses. The idea that God would speak to a human was nearly inconceivable.
But God did speak to Samuel. In fact, “Samuel grew. The Lord was with him, and he fulfilled everything Samuel prophesied. All Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a confirmed prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear in Shiloh, because there he revealed himself to Samuel by his word. And Samuel’s words came to all Israel” (1 Samuel 3:19–4:1, CSB).
The Lord continues to speak to those willing to listen. Today, “the word of the Lord is NOTrare!” In fact, the Spirit of the Living God lives within every believer, and His faithful children can read His Living Word.
“Speak, for your servant is listening!”