Eli has tucked me in for the night. I’m drifting off to sleep when I hear Eli call for me. I yell to him, “Here I am,” and run to see what he needs. I’m just a boy, but I serve God under Eli’s leadership, and I always want to help when and wherever I can. I run into Eli’s room to ask him what he needs, but he tells me he didn’t say anyting and sends me back to my room. I guess I was just hearing things.
I start to drift off to sleep again and I’m fairly sure I hear Eli calling for me. I run to him, but again, he hadn’t called for me so I go back to my room to lay down. A third time I hear what I think is Eli calling to me so again, I run to his room. But it’s just like the last two times. He reassures me that he’s not calling for me but this time he understands what is happening.
He tells me that God is trying to speak to me and that I need to be ready to answer. I think to myself that I’m just a young boy and we really don’t hear of God speaking to people anymore. He used to, but it just seems rare these days and I wonder, “Why me?” I head back to my room and again, I lay down, ready to drift off to sleep.
I thought I knew what was going on the first few times that I was called for, but now I know for sure! I do exactly as Eli tells me,
“Speak, for your servant is listening.”
I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know what God was going to say to me, and if I’m honest, I really didn’t like the message that God gave me.
Things were not going to end up well for Eli and his sons. I was deeply troubled and saddened by all of this. When Eli asked me what God had spoken to me, I didn’t want to answer him but he convinced me otherwise. In an act of faith that would stick with me for the rest of my life, Eli says, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”
Eli knew things wouldn’t end well for him or his sons but he remained faithful. This would shape me for his years to come. Despite what would happen around me, I would remain faithful to the Lord. My life would continually echo, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
Based on 1 Samuel 3:1–21, John 20:21–23
Commentary on The Call of Samuel
What a way to be called into ministry? With a message of despair for the High Priest of the time. I’m not sure I’ve ever met anyone who was called into ministry without some significant event that had happened in their life, be it good or bad.
I try to do some character development in this retelling to emphasize some points here. Samuel was just a boy when he was called by God. Calling is independent of education, experience, or age.
Calling is a God thing. How we respond to it is an us thing.
Calling is all about God and what God can do. Not about us and what we can do but we have to take two unique postures to honor calling.
Samuel’s calling started with servanthood. He saw himself as a servant of God under Eli’s leadership. Too often we want to jump to being the leader but the right posture isn’t leader, it’s servant. Those who serve well lead well. If we keep this in mind–The towel we carry must be bigger than our words–then we’ll have settled into the right place.
The second posture, listening. Anyone who is in ordained ministry knows it’s easy to get lost in the hustle and bustle of doing and stop to listen to where Jesus is moving, and what he’s up to in the world around us. Speak, for your servant is listening isn’t just a one-liner in a story. It’s a way of life. What would happen if we woke up each morning and that was our prayer? Speak Lord, for your servant is listening. What would he say to us?
How does this story help me love God better? One of the most loving things we can do is to simply listen. Most of us probably use our words alot in prayer. Sitting in silence, waiting for God to speak, is just as much an act of worship as interceding is.
How does this story help me love people better? Samuel continued to serve knowing that something bad had happened with Eli and his sons. It’s easy to give up serving when we’re disappointed by them. Samuel remains faithful regardless.
Why did people find this important to write down? This story reminds us that God still speaks even when it seems there’s no one to speak to. Who would have thought it would have been a young boy that God spoke to instead of the religious leaders of the time?
Why has this passage endured? This passage has endured because it speaks to the heart of all those who find themselves feeling this thing we call called. Some of the best guidance any of us who truly want to serve God can be found in this story. Serve and Listen.
What is that was true for them then that is true for us now? God still speaks to his people and always will (even when it seems rare, just listen).