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Lenten Devotions from Fourth Presbyterian Church

Friday, June 1, 2018

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

Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, “Samuel! Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am!” and ran to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, “Samuel!” Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

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)

Reflection
The story of the call of Samuel is not just an idyllic account of childlike faith. It arises from a mother’s barrenness and the promise to God that if she conceived she would dedicate her child to God. It also lands at a time when there is tremendous upheaval in the life of the people of Israel. It is to this scene that the call comes in a season of naïveté to a young boy. It asks for a “soul-size” vision, as poet Christopher Fry describes, for to speak for God is often to be summoned to a task that is risky, costly, and challenging. It often comes at times when facing up to all that is wrong brings us to make the “longest stride of soul” we can.

What Samuel didn’t know was that the call would take him into the inner chambers of the heart of a people whose vision was limited, whose trust in the voice, the light, the delight of their guide, Yahweh, fell into silence. Samuel had a thirst for risk and passionate abeyance in his bloodstream—genetic coding from a mother whose courage and strength gave way to hearing a wondrous call.

To be called into a dim time with tremendous cunning, craftiness, calculating, when the word of the Lord seems to be rare if not absent is our reality as well as Samuel’s. There are times, too many times, when we wonder if the lamp of the Lord has gone out in our world. Yet on this day, with heart in hand and ear perked, with flames of fire adorning our robes and the Holy Spirit hovering close, we trust that the voice in that dim chamber millennia ago also comes this day or any day in our life. Will you attend to it? Will you arise and go to it? Will you . . .

Prayer
O God, may we arise and shine when your call comes to us. And may our lives bring your good news to the shadowy places in this dim world. Through Christ. Amen.

Written by Lucy Forster-Smith, Senior Associate Pastor for Leadership Development and Adult Education


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