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1 Samuel 3:1-18, Samuel's Calling and Prophecies

Narrative Lectionary Key Verse for Today

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
— 1 Samuel 3:7

NL Daily Devotion for Tuesday, October 16, 2018

 word of God hard to hear

by Dr. Kimberly Leetch, Clergy Stuff


Think about it… “Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli,” but “Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” Samuel, who had been living and serving in the temple since he was a baby, did not know the Lord. What were they teaching him in that temple if not the things of the Lord?!

Unfortunately, this story is more familiar than I’d like to admit. In my days as a parish pastor, we spent a lot of time on things that were not really of the Lord. How many discussions did we have about moving sacred objects out of the sanctuary, but were too afraid of upsetting the generous benefactors? How often did our hearts ache over dwindling numbers of member because fewer donors meant a lower budget? Like in Eli’s time, I think we don’t realize how far away we have gotten from the things of the Lord.

When Samuel was finally alerted to the mission of the Lord, it was pretty dire. He wasn’t called to proclaim good news to the nation or to praise God for abundant blessings. He was given a message of punishment on the house of Eli, who were blaspheming God, and Eli did nothing to stop them. It was not a popular message, and Samuel was reluctant to share it with Eli. When he did, Eli received it graciously — he knew he had messed up and was willing to suffer the consequences for his inaction.

Are we reluctant to receive God’s word proclaiming the consequences of our inaction?

In one parish, a mission-minded colleague recognized that there was no easy access from the bus stop at the end of the church lot into the parking lot. On a snowy day, visitors arriving by bus (there weren’t any at the time, but that’s exactly why we were having this discussion, wasn’t it?) would have to walk down the sidewalk-free street to enter the parking lot. My colleague indicated that a few well-placed steps could easily connect the bus stop to the parking lot without walkers ever needing to enter the street. What broke my heart the most was not just that the congregation’s leaders resisted the idea (20 years later, there’s still no easy access), but that they didn’t even have the courage to push back. They simply let it go and ignored my colleague’s attempts to assert change until he finally left for another call.

With a heavy heart, I’ll ask again…

Are we reluctant to receive God’s word proclaiming the consequences of our inaction?


Narrative Lectionary Daily Reading:

1 Samuel 3:1-18

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 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. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.” Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.” Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.”

Related & Recent Posts

 
Earlier Event: October 15
1 Samuel 1:1-28, Samuel’s Birth
Later Event: October 17
1 Samuel 7:3-15, Samuel as Judge