1 Samuel 3:1-10
Verses 1 – 2
Some time had passed since Hannah kept her commitment and returned Samuel to the temple of Yahweh (God) where Eli and his sons were the priests; Samuel was now a priest-in-training, that is, he ministered before Yahweh in the temple, “a boy wearing a linen ephod” (1 Samuel 2:11 & 18). Under Eli’s guidance, he was learning how to serve and I believe he was a diligent apprentice.
Verse one also says though, that in those days, the word of Yahweh was rare and there were not many visions. In the previous chapters we see that the assigned priests – Eli’s sons – were making a mockery of their duties and chose to desecrate their office and the sacrifices being offered by the people as worship. The word says they were treating Yahweh’s offering with contempt, not with the reverence expected and ordained. They were more interested in filling their bellies with the best portions of the offering and in meeting their personal needs than presenting the best offering to Father Yahweh. They treated people with contempt, and used their priestly office as a position of entitlement.
Does this sound familiar? This is actually a trend I have noticed with some churches today. There is a new (perhaps not so new, but unfortunate) standard of exalting the minister above the ministry. It appears that the goal is to let the minister be seen and heard, lauded and honored and not because they minister the word of Yahweh(God) or because they are being led by the spirit; instead they are recognized for their catchy phrases and antics that are quickly popularized on social media and they may suddenly become more important than the people they serve or the King they represent.
It is my experience from reading the bible that our greatest model, Yahshua the Messiah (Jesus Christ) never glorified himself and he is just one of many examples we can find. In fact anyone in scripture who attempted to gain more attention for themselves rather than point people to Yahweh, were always either brought low, humiliated – like King Nebuchadnezzar (Daniel 4), or they were killed like Eli and his sons (I Samuel 4) .
Yahshua (Jesus) never paraded His greatness around the Sea of Galilee with a puffed up chest and making statements such as: “my birth was prophesied and took place in a miraculous manner, can’t you tell I am the Son of Yahweh?” Neither did he say, “I am going to make your supplies multiply, but first set aside one of those fish and two of the loaves, just for me!” or “The stone I sit on must be much more elevated and larger than the others, and make sure you clean and polish it before I sit there, in fact, please decorate it so others will know that it is my seat.” Yahshua did not leave us any example of Him bringing attention to himself. Indeed, when the people tried to make him king by force, he withdrew himself to the mountainside (John 6:15 NIV), and this was immediately after he had miraculously fed thousands of people with what seemed to be insufficient food. There was reason for him to be proud of himself and his work, but as always he knew that his ministry was not about himself, but rather about His Father. His purpose was greater than any single miracle he performed or lesson taught. We see examples of Him being humble before His father and saying words like: “Our Father… Holy is your Name” and “…the father is greater than I”, and “I only do the works of my Father”. He always points us to His father and that is how we should be also whether we are laymen or clergy, minister or leader, prophet or deacon. It is ever, always, only about Him. Never forget, humility is a necessary ingredient for effective ministry.
So back to the days of Samuel, the word was scarce and the priests were busy looking out for themselves. I am sure Eli’s sons had a lot to say, but THE WORD was scarce. The children of Israel had learned, since they came out of Egypt to wait for the instructions of Yahweh. In Deuteronomy 8:5 & 6 (AMP), Moses reminded the people: “Know also in your [minds and] hearts, that as a man disciplines and instructs his son, so Yahweh your Elohim disciplines and instructs you. So you shall keep the commandments of Yahweh your Elohim, to walk in His ways and reverently fear Him.” The word was their guiding light and as much it was scarce (precious) in the time when this story was unfolding, Samuel was faithful in his service and there was proof of that in his stature and countenance, 1 Samuel 2:26 says …and the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and favor with Yahweh and with people. When we abide in the word and in his presence there is growth and there is favor. Growth (physical and spiritual) is usually evident for all to see, and Samuel’s growth was noticeable. In the physical, he may have been transforming as young boys do, with added timbre in his voice and his sinewy limbs giving way to the shape and bulk of his muscles. The people who came to the temple to worship noticed the difference in his stature from year to year, and as he grew, his personality grew; to paraphrase the scripture: people liked Samuel! As it is in the natural, so too the spiritual: Samuel found favor not just with people, but with Father Yahweh (God). Deuteronomy 8 outlines the promises of favor and prosperity and blessings in observing the commands and there are consequences to forgetting and neglecting the word.
In contrast to Samuel, chapter 3:2 of our main text sets up a contrasting picture – Eli whose eyes were becoming weak so that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. It was where he always slept, and it is called his usual place, (his complacent place, his relaxed place, a place where he was comfortable,). In the midst of a drought of the Word and a lack of visions, the priest was going blind and he was resting in his usual place. That was the state of affairs in Israel at that time.