Bible Stories for Grownups -

Samuel's Call


1 Samuel 1:1-23, A Miracle Baby
1 Samuel 1:24-2:1-3, 11-36, Hannah gives Samuel to God.
1 Samuel 3:1-21, Samuel's call
1 Samuel 7:3-17, Samuel the Judge and Prophet


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1 Samuel 1:1-23, A Miracle Baby (8/10/2009)

Quick! Where did the Jews make their sacrifices in Old Testament times? If you answered "at the Temple in Jerusalem," that would be the truth, but not the whole truth. Jerusalem wasn't even a Israelite city until the time of David, and the Temple didn't exist until the time of Solomon. Prior to that time, sacrifices could be and were made in a variety of places. One center of worship was Shiloh. Elkanah, his two wives Peninnah and Hannah, and the children of Elkanah and Peninnah used to go to Shiloh every year to worship. Over the years, this became a trial for Hannah, because she had no children, which was the second-worst fate a woman could have in those days. (The worst was to die unmarried.) She took her trouble to God, who heard her prayer and gave her a son. She named him "Samuel," which means "heard by God." God heard more than just her prayer for a son; He also heard her vow that if she had a son, he would "appear in the presence of the LORD and dwell there forever." That's a pretty fair description of Samuel's life.


1 Samuel 1:24-2:1-3, 11-36, Hannah gives Samuel to God. (8/11/2009)

Naturally Hannah was excited to have a baby, but she did not forget her vow. When Samuel was about two or three, she took him to Shiloh and dedicated him to the service of the LORD. God was a little fed up with the younger priests at Shiloh, so Samuel's arrival there was timely.

Now, I didn't put in all of Hannah's Song (1 Samuel 2:1-10), because I wanted to get on with Samuel's story. I do want to comment on it, however. I have read at least one commentary saying that Mary's Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) is just a reprise of Hannah's Song. I read them side by side tonight, and I really don't see it. Both Hannah and Mary think God is great, but that seems to me to be about where the resemblance ends. Mary does quote a number of OT scriptures, but only one from Hannah's Song. So let's all chant together: Don't take my word, or the pastor's word, or anybody else's word, for what the Bible says – read it for yourself!


1 Samuel 3:1-21, Samuel's call (8/12/2009)

Whatever happened to Scotty Beckett? He was a big star, best known for being one of the littlest of "Our Gang." He made a few movies in his teens and died young after a life of depression and drugs. What became of Shirley Temple? Probably the biggest child star of all, Shirley Temple was tremendously successful as a child movie star, and then she turned out to be tremendously successful as an adult, too. Shirley Temple Black was, among other things, U.S. Ambassador to Ghana and Czechoslovakia, a delegate to the United Nations, Chief of Protocol of the United States, and a member of the board of directors of such disparate enterprises as Del Monte and the United States Commission for UNESCO.

Today we read about the part of Samuel's life that is important to children: his call by God when he was a na'ar or boy-child – this can be any age from infancy to adolescence. Some translations use "young man," but I think most English translations use "child" or "boy." I suspect that's because the Greek OT uses a word that means "little child." Children need to understand that they can talk with God, and this is a good Sunday School story for making that point. We tend to leave out the information that the first thing God said to Samuel was that Eli and his sons were doomed – that's too gloomy and complicated for children.

Samuel was recognized as a prophet from childhood. From the time he was young, the whole country recognized that God spoke to him with messages for Israel and for individuals. In adulthood, he was the last of the judges and the first of the Prophets. He was active in this ministry through the entirety of King Saul's reign and much of King David's reign.

Samuel was like Shirley Temple. He was a child star who was successful all his life.


1 Samuel 7:3-17, Samuel the Judge and Prophet (8/13/2009)

Samuel was the last of the Judges and the first of the Prophets. The prophets as a whole had an uphill battle against idolatry. All throughout the time of Joshua and the Judges, the Israelites cycled between the worship of God alone and the worship of foreign gods along with God. While Samuel was judging Israel and the Philistines were threatening the borders, the Israelites were faithful. Whenever prophetic leadership weakened or political conditions improved during the next several hundred years, the Israelites fell into apostasy. Sadly, this is still true of God's people today. Our idols are more modern, of course. Instead of foreign gods and Ashtaroth, we have material things and movie stars. These are just as important to us as the Israelites gods were to them.

God is astonishingly patient with us, but apostasy is one of His least favorite sins. Who will be our Samuel?
More Bible Stories for Grownups

Old Testament Stories

New Testament Stories

Introduction

Creation

The Tower of Babel

Noah's Ark

Jacob and Esau

Stories About Joseph

Moses Parts the Red Sea

Joshua Parts the Jordan

Samuel's Call

David and Jonathan - Part 1

David and Jonathan - Part 2

The Lost Tribes of Israel

Hezekiah's Reprieve

Ruth, Jonah, and Divorce

Feeding of the 5000

Three Parables of Jesus

Six Short Stories About Jesus

Zacchaeus


Copyright 2009, 2012 by Regina L. Hunter. All rights reserved. This page has been prepared for the web site by RPB.

Opinions expressed on this page are solely those of the author, Regina Hunter, and may or may not be shared by the sponsors or the Bible-study participants.  Thanks to the Holy Spirit for any useful ideas presented here, and thanks to all the readers for their support and enthusiasm.  All errors are, of course, the sole responsibility of the author.

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