Do they hear
At that time Samuel was not familiar with the LORD, because the LORD had not revealed anything to him as yet. The LORD called Samuel again, for the third time. Getting up and going to Eli, he said, “Here I am. You called me.” Then Eli understood that the LORD was calling the youth. So he said to Samuel, “Go to sleep, and if you are called, reply, Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.”
A little background for today’s Old Testament reading: Eli is the high priest of Shiloh, the second-to-last Israelite judge. He held the highest and most responsible position among the people of God.
While high priest and judge, he fails with his children. His sons are abusive and wicked. Eli knows what’s going on, but does not properly correct his sons. He is supposed to be govern over Israel but cannot properly govern his family. As a result God judges Eli and his family. Eli and his family were supposed to be an example to the people of God much in the same way we are called to be examples to the world. It is good to reflect on Eli’s failings and his lack of proper judgment, to measure how well we carry out God’s will and what kind of example we set.
Samuel is the son of Hannah. She prayed that God would give her a child and pledged that she would offer her child back to God. Her prayer was answered. Samuel is brought back and he is dedicated to the Lord and to be trained by Eli.
What’s interesting is that for all the training Eli was to impart to Samuel, at the time of God’s call Samuel was not familiar with the LORD. Did Eli fail to teach Samuel about the Lord, to help him hear the Lord’s voice? Did he fail as an example and witness to God’s presence for Samuel too?
The child Samuel remained true to Heaven and God came that night to call him as His witness. God went right past Eli to charge Samuel as a faith witness to His reality.
We have an important charge and choice. We are charged to witness to the Lord, to follow His word as the truth, and to judge rightly. We are to make the Lord’s truth known through our words and actions, the way we live our lives. Will we choose to witness faithfully to the Lord, will we say with confidence that we have heard the Lord’s voice and take His word seriously? Will we let others know about the Lord so He doesn’t have to pass us by in order to relate to those who do not know Him? In short, will we be an Eli or a John the Baptist. John understood Eli’s failure. John heard God’s voice and pointed Him out to everyone: as he watched Jesus walk by, he said, “Behold, the Lamb of God.” People will not hear or see unless we remain true, witness, and like John and true disciples we make Him known to the world. They must hear from us.