Saturday, May 7, 2016

Thankful for Teachers

This is the story of a boy who was taught how to listen to God's voice.

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.

One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.

Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 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.

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.”

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

The Lord called Samuel a third time, 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. 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.

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word. And Samuel's word came to all Israel.

1 Samuel 3:1-10, 19-21

When we were on a train trip to central western China seven years ago, we had a discussion about this passage and I will never forget my friend Sarah's insights. She said that Samuel had to be taught how to listen to God's voice. It wasn't something that came automatically to him. Eli recognized this need, and taught young Samuel how to invite God to speak to him. And from the time that he learned how to listen to God's voice until the day that he died, he was faithful not to let God's words fall to the ground.

Eli also taught Samuel to be bold in sharing God's words, even when they were difficult for the listener to hear. The very first words God spoke to Samuel were not pleasant ones, but words of judgment against Eli's family. The next morning Eli warned Samuel to hold nothing back, and Samuel didn't. (3:11-17)

I am sure that Eli's response left a deep impression on Samuel, "He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes." (3:18) He taught Samuel to trust that whatever God did was right. Not long after, God's prophetic words came true: the ark of God was captured by the Philistines, Israel lost 30,000 men in battle, Eli's two sons lost their lives, and Eli died upon hearing all this tragic news. (4:1-18)

Samuel's lifelong faithfulness to God's word was a precious gift to the struggling nation of Israel. And since this is Teacher Appreciation Week, I want to recognize Eli as Samuel's teacher who helped him to hear, proclaim, and trust God's word.

Which teacher(s) can you thank God for impacting your life in a significant way?

What do you most desire as a teacher (in the many different ways this role can be expressed) to pass on to those under your influence?


  1. Great post. I've never thought of Eli like that.

    1. Thanks for your encouragement Ann



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