18 Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy clothed with a linen ephod. 19 And his mother used to make for him a little robe and take it to him each year when she went up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice. 20 Then Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, and say, “May the Lord give you children by this woman for the petition she asked of the Lord.” So then they would return to their home.
(1 Samuel 2:18-20)
In contrast to the sons of Eli, who we read about yesterday, Samuel was ministering before the Lord. Eli’s sons did not know the Lord [1 Samuel 2:12]. But Samuel, who was just a boy, did. Samuel was in the tabernacle because God wanted him there. God needed someone who believed in Him and who was dedicated to Him to serve in the tabernacle. Despite his young age and inexperience, God chose Samuel to be that person.
Here we see that God can use anyone. We don’t have to be experienced. We don’t have to be knowledgable. Samuel had no experience and very little knowledge when he started serving in the tabernacle. All we have to be is available and dedicated. God will teach us all we need to know, as we’ll see Him do with Samuel in the upcoming passages.
Also note that Samuel was well below the minimum age of twenty-five required to serve in the tabernacle [Numbers 8:24]. Nevertheless, he was considered to be on par with the priests who served God as noted by his being clothed with a linen ephod which was an official priestly garment [Exodus 28:2-4]. Even though he was just a boy, he was accepted by God to be one of his priests.
The priests had various duties. They were to maintain and operate the tabernacle [Exodus 27:21; Leviticus 24:1-7; Numbers 18:1-7], including maintaining the altar. They were to remove the ashes after a sacrifice and to keep the sacrificial fire burning [Leviticus 6:8-13]. Although they had other duties as well, such as inspecting various maladies to determine if they were infectious or defiling [Leviticus 13:1-3 et. al] and judging the people [Deuteronomy 17:8-13; 33:8-11], Samuel was certainly much too young and inexperienced for these. His tasks at this point were more menial.
Notice that even though Samuel was far from home, his mother was still an influence in his life. Each year she would sew a little robe (which was also an official priestly garment) for him. Each year when she sent up with her husband, Elkanah, to offer their yearly sacrifice she would take the robe to Samuel.
Hannah was a dedicated daughter of God who served Him by serving another who served Him. She provided Samuel not only with the clothes he needed but in doing so also provided him with support and encouragement.
Eli noticed and appreciated the support Samuel’s parents gave their son. In return he asked the Lord to bless them and give them additional children. That prayer would soon be answered [1 Samuel 2:21].
It’s easy for children to stray from God when on their own (e.g. college). Even though their children may no longer live a home, parents can, and should, continue to influence their lives. This is what Elkanah and Hannah did and for that they were blessed.
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