1 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
(1 Samuel 3:1)
The events in today’s passage tell us that the boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. The Hebrew word for boy here is נַעַר (pronounced: na`ar) which usually refers to a boy around twelve years old.
This is the third time we’ve read that Samuel ministered before the Lord [1 Samuel 2:11, 18]. This is significant because of the other things that were going on around him at the time. Despite the sin being perpetrated by Hophni and Phinehas, Samuel continued to serve God; he did not take after those around him. Moses (in Egypt) and Daniel (in Babylon) did likewise.
Even though Eli’s sons rebelled against God and their own father, Samuel obeyed and served both. Those mens’ behavior lead to their destruction. But Samuel’s behavior lead him to greater things as we’ll see.
Samuel was surrounded by and in contact with sin every day. Yet he was not contaminated by it. Sin abounds in this world and is becoming more prevalent. There is no escaping it. But we can still be separated from it; we do not have to be influenced by it. We should persevere in serving the Lord faithfully, regardless of what anyone and everyone around us may or may not do in their own lives.
The world does not know God and their behavior reflects it. We should not take after them. But it is also true that professing Christians can be engaging in sinful behavior. We should not be influenced by them either. Our eyes should be on Jesus, not on our fellow man. Our standards should come from God’s word and nowhere else.
Samuel’s duties in serving the Lord were obviously commensurate with his age and abilities. He apparently opened the doors of the tabernacle each morning [1 Samuel 3:15]. Possibly he also lit the lamp stand (i.e. menorah) each evening and kept it burning throughout the night [2 Chronicles 13:11] as we know he was sleeping in the tabernacle itself [1 Samuel 3:3]
Notice that Samuel’s tasks were not complicated. They were capable of being performed by anyone. Yet he carried them out faithfully.
Too often we want to serve God in some grand way like going on a mission trip or writing a book. But God is looking for people who are willing to do the everyday tasks, such as being a greeter at our church or cleaning the bathrooms. Such tasks are no less important than any other, if they are done for God. And make no mistake, God notices all that we do for Him, even if people don’t.
God isn’t looking for superstars. He is looking for humble people who are willing to serve Him where needed. It is the size of our faith that matters, not the size of our responsibilities.
Having said that, if we are willing to serve Him in the smallest way possible He will bless us with more responsibility [Luke 16:10]. As we’ll read, Samuel’s faithfulness in the small tasks led God to use him for bigger things.
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