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God Doesn’t Expect More From Us Than We Are Able

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2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. 6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”. Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
(1 Samuel 3:2-10)


Yesterday we began to study the story of God calling Samuel to be a prophet. Samuel would be the first prophet of God [Acts 3:24]. We saw how God called Samuel in the middle of the night, when Samuel was sleeping and was not expecting to hear from Him.

As we learned yesterday, Eli was old and could not see very well any more. It is certainly likely that he would call out to Samuel on occasion in the middle of the night for some sort of assistance. In today’s passage we see that Samuel did not know that it was God calling him. Instead, Samuel thought it was Eli calling him. This happened three times.

Each time Samuel heard his name called he appropriately answered by saying “Here I am.” Samuel was ready to serve his boss. This is an important trait of a servant.

Servants serve. Whether they be a waiter/waitress, administrative assistant, or some other profession the point of being a servant is to be ready and willing to do what ever is necessary for their client. Samuel understood this. Even though it was the middle of the night and he was woken out of a sound sleep, he was ready to serve without complaining.

Notice that not only was Samuel asleep but Eli was too. Three times Samuel mistakenly woke up Eli. Yet notice that Eli did not get angry with Samuel.

Eli had his faults, as we’ve learned. But he was a good man who taught Samuel well. The patience he demonstrated this evening was a lesson in itself. He did not chide Samuel or get angry when Samuel made the same mistake three times.

Eli also did not get upset once he realized that God was calling Samuel, not him. He was, after all, the high priest. Yet God was bypassing him for a young boy. Eli saw the writing on the wall. He knew his days were numbered, both physically and spiritually. He knew he had sinned against God and therefore God would be less inclined to use him. He could have resented God for calling Samuel. Instead he understood it and accepted it and taught the young boy what he needed to know.

But also notice that God did not get angry with Samuel either. God called Samuel three times. Each time Samuel mistakenly went to Eli instead of responding to God. Yet God did not give up on him after his first mistake, or second mistake, or third mistake.

At this point in his life Samuel did not yet know the Lord. The Hebrew word for “know” here i יָדַע (pronounced: yada) which means to know by experience.

Samuel was only about twelve years old here. And while he had been serving in the tabernacle for about seven years he had not yet had the experience of talking directly to God.

God knew this was the first time Samuel had heard from Him. He was patient with Samuel’s mistakes and did not chastise him or give up on him.

God knows our abilities. He knows where we are at, spiritually speaking. He knows what we know and what we don’t know and doesn’t expect more from us than we are able. He knows we are at times ignorant. And at times we simply make mistakes.

So He stays with us, continuing to teach us until we learn. If at first we don’t hear or respond to God when He calls, He’ll keep calling. He’ll never give up on us.

Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.

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