|Samuel lay 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.
God called Samuel and Samuel listened.
It would be lovely to be able to say that Samuel's first message from the Lord was a warm fuzzy feel-good message, but it wasn't. It was a tough critique and pronouncement of judgment on Eli and his sons.
It meant that Samuel would have to speak out against Eli who had taken him in, nurtured him and mentored him. This must have been tough: the little clues that we have in the Biblical text suggest that there was a close relationship between Eli and Samuel.
And so Samuel was afraid.
The learner had to enlighten to the teacher.
The youngster had to confront to the elder.
The inexperienced had to condemn the experienced.
Eli, to his credit, recognises the strain Samuel is under and instructs Samuel to "spit it out". This prompting helps Samuel and "told him everything, hiding nothing from him" - no soft-soaping, no editing, no compromising.
Samuel faces the critical test - does he respect God more than he respects people?
The passage tells us that he does.
Eli, unfortunately, responds to the revelation with passive resignation rather than radical repentance. He fails his test. Sadly, this signals the end of his family's significance and the certainty of their decline and demise. It is a sad moment.
The text goes on to tell us that "The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD." (1Sam.3:19-20)
When God speaks to us, the test will often follow. Will we take the first step, and will we be completely faithful?
Thankfully, just as in Samuel's case, God will provide people and circumstances to prompt us and get us going.
Also, unfortunately, people don't always respond as we hope they would....