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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Today’s Scripture Reading | 1 Samuel 3:11–20

Then the Lord said to Samuel, “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering forever.” Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” He said, “Here I am.” Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, “It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.”

As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord. (NRSV)

When I was in those socially insecure days of middle school, I one day sat on chocolate while wearing khaki pants. I walked around the halls and classrooms all day that seventh-grade year until last period. That period was swim class. I discovered the embarrassing truth when changing into my swimsuit. I turned to all my female friends and classmates in the locker room and cried out, “Did you all know that I was walking around school all day long with chocolate all over my behind?” Some girls (my friends!) beside me laughed and said, “Yeah.” From that day forward, I learned an important lesson about good friends: they tell the truth even when it hurts.

This text is not about the friendship between Samuel and Eli, but it does reflect Samuel’s courage to tell a hard truth to Eli and Eli’s healthy way of taking God’s words. Eli doesn’t become angry and defensive towards Samuel—or God, for that matter. He trusts God and adapts to the reality. He learns from it; he grows from this new truth. He makes it seem so easy! Plus, the whole point of Samuel’s message is relating God’s truth to Eli. If Samuel would have been too afraid to speak or if Eli would have been too upset in his reaction, God’s words would have been lost.

As Christians we also are called to tell the truth even when it hurts. We can learn from Samuel’s courage and gentleness, and through Eli we can learn strength in adapting to hard realities—all making space for God’s wisdom revealed.

Holy One, humiliation, defensiveness, and fear are all qualities that can get in the way of your voice. Help us be open to your truth through one another. Amen.

Written by Abbi Heimach-Snipes, Pastoral Resident

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