11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’” 15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.” Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.” 19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.
(1 Samuel 3:11-21)
After hearing God say that He was going to carry out judgment against Eli and his family for the sin that he (Eli) knew about, Samuel couldn’t go back to sleep. He lay down until morning. He was obviously pretty shocked.
Samuel certainly knew what was going on in the tabernacle and how Eli and his son’s were mistreating God and God’s people. But this was the first time he had heard from God [1 Samuel 3:1, 7] and the message God had for him was quite intense.
In Samuel’s case, he was going to be the next leader of Israel so he had to be ready for these events. He had to be ready to take over when Eli died, which would be very soon. Whether he realized this or not we don’t know. But God knew. So He was preparing him for that day.
When morning came Samuel went about his usual tasks which apparently included opening the doors of the house of the Lord so that others could come in. He did not suddenly think himself too important to do the menial tasks after hearing from God. Nor did he run directly to Eli and volunteer God’s words. A less mature person would likely do that, and in the process come across as superior (“look what God told me about you”).
Samuel, all of twelve years old, maturely went about his usual business, letting the situation play out. Here we see some of Samuel’s mother’s influence on Samuel. At a young age, he acted with calm reserve and maturity, just like his mother.
Notice God did not tell Samuel to tell Eli what He had said. Nor did He tell him not to. Samuel let God lead.
But Eli, who despite his faults knew God, suspected that God’s message was directed at him. So he convinces Samuel to tell him what God said to him. This is not Eli being nosy. This was a man who understood that he needed to hear from God, even if what God had to say was not going to be pleasant for him to hear. So Samuel told Eli everything, hiding nothing from him even though he was afraid to tell Eli the vision.
This was Samuel’s first test as a prophet. A prophet cannot hold back any part of the message he receives. He has to relay the message exactly and completely no matter how difficult it might be for his hearers to hear it.
Delivering a message of judgment is not easy. No one relishes doing it. But a prophet cannot be fearful. Or at least he cannot give in to any fear. He has to care more about those to whom he is to deliver his message than himself. God wants others to know His will [Colossians 1:9].
This is why Christians need to tell others about Jesus. Those who don’t know Jesus and who do not have their sins forgiven will not spend eternity in heaven. They will spend eternity in hell. This is a message the world needs to hear, as unpleasant as it might be.
As God’s ambassadors [2 Corinthians 5:20] we are to implore people to become reconciled with God. But notice, like Samuel we aren’t to go running to others to tell them their sins. It is not our job to convict people of their sins. That is the job of the Holy Spirit [John 16:8]. But when the situation arises, we should be willing to speak on God’s behalf – that is what an ambassador does – by telling others God’s message.
And we aren’t to water down that message with euphemisms, or political correctness. We aren’t to accept same-sex marriage. We are to bluntly declare it sin. The same with abortion, pornography, homosexuality, corrupt government, and everything else God says separates people from Him.
Anytime Christians “tolerate” sin and don’t speak against it when we have an opportunity to do so we are saying we care more about ourselves than we do about others. Even worse, we are helping to send people to hell.
Comments? Questions? I’d love to hear from you. Please feel free to contact me about this post.