I Sam. 3:1-18
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.
2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3the 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. 4Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ and he said, ‘Here I am!’ 5and 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. 6The 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.’ 7Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8The 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. 9Therefore 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.
10 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’ 11Then 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. 12On that day I will fulfil against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13For I have told him that I am about to punish his house for ever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering for ever.’
15 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. 16But Eli called Samuel and said, ‘Samuel, my son.’ He said, ‘Here I am.’ 17Eli 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.’ 18So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, ‘It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.’
In this passage, Samuel is a youth who is in the service of Eli, the priest. When God speaks, it is not to Eli the older person who is in charge of the temple, but to Samuel, who is obedient to Eli and to God. This passage presents a role reversal and by the end of the passage, the power is shifting from the family of Eli to the youth, Samuel.
As I read this passage, I am reminded of the many times in Scripture that God appears to and uses those who are younger or weaker to accomplish his ministry. It is not the most powerful, the richest or even the wisest that are chosen to be God’s messenger, but the one who is the most receptive to hearing and the most willing to obey God’s Word. As we continue through the Advent season, we hear the story of the most lowly and unexpected person who is chosen to serve God in the person of Mary.
During this season of rushing, preparing, and all of the noise that accompanies the retail aspects of Christmas, may we seek out moments of quiet time to spend in the presence of God. Maybe, in these moments of silence, we will hear God inviting us to be the messengers of peace, justice, and joy in our world for those who are in need. When we hear these invitations, help us to be those, along with Samuel, who reply, “Here I am, Lord, send me.”