It is most important dear readers and followers to keep our vows and commitments to the Lord. Samuel’s birth was of no coincidence. Hannah had remained barren for such a time as Samuel. Let’ take a walk into Hannah’s barrenness from a spiritual reality. 1 Samuel 1:3-5
1 There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. 3 Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the Lord Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the Lord. 4 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the Lord had closed her womb.
It was not the intentions of God for Hannah to have children before His time. No, she cannot be compared to Mary the mother of Jesus during the time of her virginity because Hannah was not a virgin. She was simply physically barren by the choice of the Lord. Truth is that Hannah was pregnant long before she became pregnant. She was impregnated with a desire, a wanting, a yearning for a child and day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year the desire of what she was spiritually; burned within her. Hannah may have been the longest pregnant woman on earth unknown to her own self. The year before the manifestation of the child, Hannah was induced by the Spirit of God to go into labor in the spirit. At the feast she had stolen away and went to the altar to pray. There she wept bitterly. There she anguished and travailed before the Lord in pain and sorrow of heart. What she didn’t know is that she was in labor. Chapter 1: 9-10 says: Once when they had finished eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah stood up. Now Eli the priest was sitting on his chair by the doorpost of the Lord’s house. In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the Lord, weeping bitterly. Verses 12-18 says: As she kept on praying to the Lord, Eli observed her mouth. 13 Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard. Eli thought she was drunk 14 and said to her, ‘How long are you going to stay drunk? Put away your wine.’ 15 ‘Not so, my lord,’ Hannah replied, ‘I am a woman who is deeply troubled. I have not been drinking wine or beer; I was pouring out my soul to the Lord. 16 Do not take your servant for a wicked woman; I have been praying here out of my great anguish and grief.’ 17 Eli answered, ‘Go in peace, and may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.’ 18 She said, ‘May your servant find favour in your eyes.’ Then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast. (Samuel was birth at the altar of God in the spiritual realm.)
Samuel grew up in the house of God under the supervision of Eli the priest. The bible says that in those days, the early years of Samuel’s youth, there was a famine of the word of God and there were limited visitations and visions from God even though the presence of God represented by the Ark of the Covenant rested in the house at Shiloh. What this suggests is that even the priest had lost both focus and commitment to the Lord. Their hearts were mixed, and they had become unfit for the service of the Lord. Walking in a mixed heart condition for a long period of time can bring a person to a place where they become unfit for the service of God. Eli’s boys, Hopni and Phinehas were priest also, but they were wicked. Eli knew of his boy’s sins but kept them in office and did nothing to restrained them in God’s house. There is nothing new under the sun. The church today is filled with the same mess and the same way that God’s eyes were not blinded to Eli and his boys is the same way that his eyes are not blinded to what is going on in the church today. In his timing and in his own way, God deals with the sins.
Samuel’s position in the house of God was planned by God. Samuel was to be the mouth of God but first he had to meet God on a personal level and learn his voice in order to speak his word. The third chapter of I Samuel verses 2-19 from the New International Version of the bible says this:
2 One-night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, ‘Here I am.’ 5 And he ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am; you called me.’ But Eli said, ‘I did not call; go back and lie down.’ So, he went and lay down. 6 Again the Lord called, ‘Samuel!’ And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am; you called me.’ ‘My son,’ Eli said, ‘I did not call; go back and lie down.’ 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 A third time the Lord called, ‘Samuel!’ And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, ‘Here. I realize you called me.’ Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’
Let’s hang out at these passages of scripture for a moment. From the second verse of chapter three we see that one of the duties of the priest was to keep the lamp of the Lord burning. Even in the lost focus and mixed heart condition of the priest we see that God has not vacated the house. The lamp was still burning. The lamp also symbolizes God’s eternal presence. Followers; as believers we walk in the priest hood office. We serve in this capacity whether we are in a pulpit, whether we are a door keeper in the house of our God, whether we are a voice crying loud in the streets or actively serve in the high places of this world. The duty of our position is to keep the lamp of the Lord burning. “But how do I do this?” some have asked. Let’s hear Jesus: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. 5:14–16.) Let us hear Psalm 119: 105: “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path.” Let us hear Psalm 119:11 “Thy word have I hid in mine heart, That I might not sin against thee.
The loudest declarations that attest the the Holiness, righteousness, love and mercy of our God dear followers is our lives. Our lives should show the path to right standing with God. Our lives should point to Jesus the author and mediator of our faith. The lamp of the Lord should be burning in our lives. God’s statutes, instructions and expectancy for our lives should be a lamp that guides us consistently and lights the path where we are to walk. These instructions and statutes should be hidden away in our hearts continually working the works that only the power of the Word of God can do to help us to walk in His righteousness and not sin against him.
We see in the passages of Scripture in chapter three that Samuel slept in the house of God where the Ark of God was. Oh, to rest in God, in his presence, to be always before him. This is how we learn God and his word as did Samuel. God calls Samuel and Samuel answered the first call of God and afterwards, ran to man according to the text. When he reached man, he soon learned that his calling was not from man or by man. With the help of Eli, Samuel soon learned that his calling was from the Lord. What I admired about Eli was his pointing the direction of Samuel to God. It took three times for Eli to realize the call of Samuel to be from God, but he eventually got it. A good leader should be able to see God, hear and know the voice of God in reference to those of them who are under his or her care. He or she should confirm the call as did Eli and get out of the way meaning as Peter said in, I Peters 5: 1-5 from the New Living Translation:
And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches. I, too, am an elder and a witness to the sufferings of Christ. And I, too, will share in his glory when he is revealed to the whole world. As a fellow elder, I appeal to you: 2 Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly—not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. 3 Don’t lord it over the people assigned to your care but lead them by your own good example. 4 And when the Great Shepherd appears, you will receive a crown of never-ending glory and honor. 5 In the same way, you who are younger must accept the authority of the elders. And all of you, dress yourselves in humility as you relate to one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”
SAMUEL MAKES THE GRADE
11 And the Lord said to Samuel: ‘See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family – from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family for ever because of the sin he knew about; his sons uttered blasphemies against God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, “The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.”’
What God had spoken to Samuel referencing Eli and his house was spoken to Eli through a prophet that God had sent to Eli. 1 Samuel 2:27-36 (The Voice Bible)
27 A man sent by the True God came to Eli. Man: This is the message of the Eternal One: “I made Myself known to your family when Israel was enslaved under Pharaoh in Egypt. 28 I chose your ancestor Aaron from among all the tribes of Israel to be My priest: to serve at the altar, to offer incense, and to wear the priestly vest in My presence. And I repaid your family by presenting them with all the offerings made to Me by fire from all the people of Israel. 29 Why do you look with such greedy eyes on all the sacrifices and offerings I have directed the people to bring to My house? Why do you honor your sons more than you honor Me by feasting on the choicest parts of every single offering made by My people Israel?” 30 Therefore the Eternal God of Israel declares: “I promised that your family would go in and out of My presence forever. But now I surely declare, those who honor Me I will honor, but people who choose to despise Me, I, in turn, will consider contemptible: those who hate Me will not matter to Me. 31 Look, the time approaches when I will cut away your strength and the strength of your family, so that none of you will live to old age. 32 Then, in agony, you will see all the good things I do for Israel; there will be great distress, and no one in your family will live to old age ever again. 33 “Any of your family not cut off will grieve continually and will cry their eyes out. All the other members of your household will die violently in the prime of life. 34 The fate of your sons Hophni and Phinehas will be a sign of the future. Both of them will die on the very same day. 35 I will raise up a faithful priest who will do what I desire and purpose in My heart and mind. I will build him a secure house, and he will go in and out before My anointed one continually. 36 Those of your family who survive will come to him and bow down for a piece of silver or a loaf of bread, and they will beg him, ‘Please make me a priest so at least I can have a morsel of bread.’”
After God had confirmed his word to Samuel spoken through the prophet to Eli: 15 Samuel laid down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, ‘Samuel, my son.’ Samuel answered, ‘Here I am.’ 17 ‘What was it he said to you?’ Eli asked. ‘Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.’ 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, ‘He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.’ 19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground.
The first word of the Lord that came to Samuel that established him as the prophet of God that he was, was not a word of wealth and prosperity for himself and others. It was not a word of fame and fortune. It was a word of impending judgement and punishment for sin. (Please see our discourse on The Prophets). Samuel’s first sit down in the presence of God with knowing now the voice of God, was to hear what was about to happen to the man that raised him. Wow, what a hard blow right? Samuel’s sit down with God opened an insight into the truth about the mess that was going on in the Lord’s house and showed him the heart condition of the people in God’s house. Samuel’s sit down with God showed him the rejection of God for people that served in his house. His sit down showed him a people who with their lips they praised God, but their hearts were far from him. Eli was shown to be divided in love where he put his family before the reverence and the righteousness of God. His boys were shown to have no love for God at all in that they defiled the house and sought the gain of the house and not the honor and reverence of God. Samuel would be put to the test not for the purpose of God’s knowing but for the knowing of self. Samuel’s test for his own knowing was the test of divided love. Would he love his spiritual father; so to speak, more than God? Would he fear man more than God?
Prophets, priest, and leaders in the house of God cannot and must not reference man more than God. In doing so they will find themselves unfit for the Master’s usage. Fear of people gives people a place of power that they should not have. God created people. People did not create God. People answer to God. God does not answer to people. We should weigh the cost of our allegiances and loyalties.
Eli knew that Samuel had a sit down with God because what God had already spoken to Eli was confirmed again through Samuel. Samuel made the grade as a prophet of the Lord on the very day that he told all that God had spoken and kept nothing hidden from the man who faced impending judgement from God. The fear that he had in the beginning to tell Eli the words of the Lord against him and his family was immediately dissolved. Being in an awkward and hard place in an entrusted ministry proved beneficial for him in his choosing to sell out fully to the usage of God. The bible declares that the Lord was with Samuel as he grew up and God let none of the words spoken through Samuel fall to the ground or not come to pass. All Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. God again continued to appear at Shiloh and there the Lord revealed himself to Samuel through his word. (I Samuel 3: 19-21) Samuel’s heart was not in a mixed condition from the beginning of his speaking what thus saith the Lord until the time he was buried with his Fathers. In his farewell speech to Israel after they had rejected God and wanted a man (not God) to be a leader over them, Samuel addressed the people.
Samuel said to all Israel, “I have listened to everything you said to me and have set a king over you. 2 Now you have a king as your leader. As for me, I am old and gray, and my sons are here with you. I have been your leader from my youth until this day. 3 Here I stand. Testify against me in the presence of the Lord and his anointed. Whose ox have I taken? Whose donkey have I taken? Whom have I cheated? Whom have I oppressed? From whose hand have I accepted a bribe to make me shut my eyes? If I have done any of these things, I will make it right.”
4 “You have not cheated or oppressed us,” they replied. “You have not taken anything from anyone’s hand.”
5 Samuel said to them, “The Lord is witness against you, and also his anointed is witness this day, that you have not found anything in my hand.”
“He is witness,” they said.
In his faithfulness to his service to God, Samuel was also faithful to the people of God. To this the people also attested. Samuel was not mixed in his heart to the Lord nor to the people of God.