Samuel is the last in the line of prophet judges. He also serves as a transition figure between the confederacy (time of the Judges) and the monarchy (when the kings are appointed).
- Samuel is a priest: he is in the shrine. He offers sacrifices. He builds altars.
- He is also a seer and a prophet—he receives the word of the Lord. And as a prophet he will be anointing kings.
- He is also a judge in a sense that he leads Israel to military victory. But he also travels a circuit acting as a judge in a judicial sense.
Samuel is an asked-for child. His mother, Hannah went yearly to Shiloh to offer up sacrifices with her husband Elkanah. At one of those festival times, the Lord heard her prayer and the Eli, the priest, who at first misunderstood her state, asked God to fulfill her request. God fulfilled that request and gave her Samuel. She weaned Samuel, and as promised goes again to this once-a-year festival in Shiloh and leaves Samuel with Eli to live at the shrine!
12 Now the sons of Eli were corrupt;[a] they did not know the LORD. 17 Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the LORD, for men abhorred the offering of the LORD. (1 Samuel 2:12, 17)
Total craziness: Eli’s sons were wicked; they were intimidating God’s people as they come to sacrifice; they were taking their pick of the offerings as people came to sacrifice; they were taking their pick of women as they came to work in the shrine, and they refused to repent. Hophni and Phinehas had become hard-hearted—they were living completely on the “sensory” level. Everything was about them.
18 In the midst of all this, Samuel, a boy dressed in a priestly linen tunic, served God.
- Smackdab in the middle of Shiloh (a veritable Sodom-Gomorrah), this young kid was loving and serving God with all his heart.
- Eli’s sons are playing loose with God and with His people, and right in the center is a kid whose heart is on fire for the things of the Lord.
- The rumor mill is filled with stories of wickedness and the gross sin of Eli’s sons and right in the heart of the shrine is a kid who is hungering for the Almighty!
- Ungodliness to his left; intimidation on his right…it did not matter how others were living their lives dishonoring God; right at the hub, was a kid who was not living by what others did.
- Evil circumventing the entire landscape of his life, and this heart-toward-God kid zeroes in on what’s really important—being true to God!
Why is Samuel a hero? In the most formative years of his life (just a child) he is taken to live (boarding-school style) at the home of Eli (whose sons are the pre-cursors of Jersey Shore) — and Samuel refuses to be identified with the wicked and wild behavior of Hophni and Phinehas. Sin is sin and it will be judged. The Lord will not tolerate sin. The environment in which Samuel grew up was not the best, but he did not use it as an excuse for going in the way of sin; he served the Lord and not the environment.
God is calling us to full-fledged integrity before Him. It’s time to stop intending, pretending, and defending. It’s time to lay aside all the nonsense and get right with God so that our lives become lives of destiny and lives of purpose! It’s time to grow where we are planted! It’s time to stop making excuses for where we are planted and refuse to grow! God expects us to be fruitful.
What did Samuel do?
1. He was open to the Word of the Lord.
2. He was honest about what God was telling him.
3. He was obedient with the instructions the Lord gave him.