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Posts Tagged ‘Eli’


1 Samuel 3: Familiar with the Lord

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Eli and Samuel

This is such a frequently heard story that we might be tempted to read it quickly and assume that we know what it means.  It may be valuable to spend more time with these words to let their full weight and measure sink into us and speak.  God calls us just as surely as he called the innocent boy Samuel.  God has work in mind for us, just as surely as he did for the earnest young man Samuel.  God loves us fully and always, just as he does the constant prophet Samuel.

Samuel is dedicated to the Lord by his mother Hannah – and we can read this story in the opening chapters.  So that we are not tempted to believe that Samuel has some sort of advantage over us by his living in the Temple, we will want to look closely at verse 7: At that time Samuel was not familiar with the Lord.

George Tinswell: Hannah bringing Samuel to Eli

When we seek God’s wisdom by reading scripture, searching for spiritual reflections that open the word to us, we too seek as the young Samuel sought.  One detail of this story which we may overlook is the corruption of Eli’s sons about which we can read in Chapter 2.  When we consider this carefully, we will no longer have excuses to offer for the reasons we are not always faithful to God.  Our defense of a complicated childhood, a difficult workplace, or a prickly family or neighbors will no longer hold water.  When we see Samuel grow to his potential despite the weeds among which he grew, we come to understand that there is no reason we cannot begin to grow in God . . . in order that we become familiar with the Lord.

When we turn to others to share the good news we have heard about God’s revealed word to us, we too prophesy as Samuel did.  Samuel grew up and the Lord was with him, not permitting any word of his to be without effect.  We may frown at this simple statement and wonder why some of our words fall on deaf ears and some of our actions are scoffed.  Rather than preoccupy ourselves with these anxieties, we might better want to place all of these worries at God’s feet and remember that only God can cure impossible people and mend impossible situations.  As we read the Story of Samuel as a grown man in later chapters we will see the struggles he encounters with the stiff necked people who clamor for a king.  Samuel will confess to God that he has been a poor messenger and God will reply: It is not you they reject, they are rejecting me as their king.  As they have treated me constantly from the day I brought them up from Egypt to this day, deserting me and worshiping strange gods, so do they treat you too. (1 Samuel 8:7-8)  We ought not be surprised when others reject the words we speak in God’s name, we are told.  These people reject God himself.  Like Samuel, all we need do is remain faithful to God and continue to walk in God’s way . . . knowing that we are learning to become familiar with the Lord.

Georges De la Tour: Awakening Eli

When we stand firm in God at the expense of our comfort, when we witness faithfully and run the risk of losing some of what we are in the world, we too will be familiar with Lord . . . just as Samuel grew to be.  The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh: he manifested himself to Samuel at Shiloh through his word, and Samuel spoke to all Israel.  We may wish to hear God’s voice more distinctly.  We may want God to touch us more obviously.  We may long for stark clarity from our God.  Yet let us consider these facts.  We are created in God’s image.  We are dearly loved.  We are accompanied by angels, saints and even God himself.  We are sustained, harbored, cajoled, wooed, healed, restored and saved by God.  We are even given the freedom to return this love . . . or to reject it.  We are given the opportunity to deeply, intensely and even passionately become so familiar with our God that we are able to wake in the night and respond to that quiet call of our name: Here I am!

When we begin to doubt, when we begin to frown at what we believe we do not have from God, let us consider what it is we do have.  And let us grow as Samuel grew, to become ever more familiar with the Lord.


A re-post from December 12, 2011.

Images from: http://my316notes.blogspot.com/2010/12/i-samuel-316.html and http://firstlutheranbp.wordpress.com/2009/01/17/u-pick-the-prayer/

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Psalm 89: A Hymn in Time of National Struggle – Part I 

James Tissot: Saul Meets Samuel

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Finding the Servant

The Old Testament readings in last week’s liturgies reminded us of the story of Samuel, Saul and David. There is so much to ponder that we are easily lost in the story. Samuel is born of a woman thought barren and then lives his childhood at the Temple with the priest Eli. In 1 Samuel 3, when The word of the Lord was rare in those days, visions were not widespread, we read the familiar words in the familiar story, Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening. If we can make time today, we will want to linger with this chapter as we consider Psalm 89 and all it might mean to us. How and when do we hear God’s voice?

Jan Victors: Hannah Giving her Son to the Priest

In the following chapters of 1 Samuel, the Philistines capture the Ark of the Covenant; panic and conflict ensue. The Ark returns, Samuel begins a ceremony of gratitude, and when the Philistines attack again, the Lord intervenes on Israel’s behalf. The people are grateful and so Samuel judged Israel all the days of his life. Again, we consider our role as servants to God’s people. When and with whom do we share our gratitude that God is present in our lives?

In Chapter 8, Samuel prays to the Lord when the people demand a king of this world and God replies, Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them . . . Listen to their voice and set a king over them. In tenderness and compassion, the Lord assures Samuel that he has done nothing wrong. With authority and kindness, the Lord works with Samuel as he moves forward in service to both God and God’s people. And we consider, are we willing to do as God asks of us, even when the plan does not appear to make sense?

When we use the scripture links and the drop-down menus to explore these verses, we discover that national turmoil when the word of the Lord is rare and visions are scarce is an ancient story. 

Tomorrow, God always abides. 

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John 16: Glory, Part VII – Trouble

Jan Victors: Hannah Giving her son Samuel to the priest Eli

Jan Victors: Hannah Giving her son Samuel to the priest Eli

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Today’s lesson on Glory: When we experience God’s glory, barrenness is made fertile, mourning becomes joy, and lack becomes surfeit. We must not avoid the deserts in our lives.

In his last evening with his disciples, Jesus leaves with a warning of persecution and he tells them of how the world will hate him and all that he stands for.  Discipleship will be difficult, he says, but there is also good news: a new Comforter will come to them and he himself will rejoin them in a way they have not been able to imagine.  He will return from the dead.  And he will reveal even more to them than he already has.  All of this is too much for them to take in.  It is too much for us to take in. Yet these words lay out the premise that we experience God’s glory through the trouble in our lives.

You will weep and mourn but the world will rejoice; you will have pain but your pain will turn into joy. 

All of this brings us to a basic truth: the difficulties we experience are more than they seem . . . they are opportunities for joy and an insurmountable interior peace. A mini-reflection from MAGNIFICAT reads: What we formerly perceived as barrenness in our life has become filled with a Presence – the Presence for which we were made.  This is in reference to an important story in 1 Samuel 1, the story of Hannah, the barren wife who pleads with God out of her sorrow.  Her request is granted and she not only bears her first son who becomes the great prophet Samuel, she bears even more.  We are told that Hannah weeps from the bitterness of her soul (1 Samuel 1:10).  Peninnah, her husband’s; second wife who is not barren, taunts Hannah about her apparent curse; Hannah persists in her praying.  The priest Eli believes her to be drunk (1 Samuel 1:13); yet Hannah continues in her prayer.  Then Eli tells her that the Lord will hear her petition and Hannah’s face is no longer downcast (1 Samuel 1:18).  She returns home and her grief becomes joy when she conceives and bears this son who is to be an integral part of human history.  It is then that she understands how her barrenness has turned into joy – through the work of God’s plan – and she rejoices that she has been able to participate fully in this mystery.  She sings a hymn of praise (1 Samuel 2): My heart rejoices in the Lord . . . there is no one like the Lord . . . there is no rock like our God . . . the Lord brings death and he makes alive . . . he brings down to the grave and he raises up.  It is not by strength that one prevails; those who oppose the Lord will be shattered . . . He will guard the feet of his saints.

Jesus reminds us of this again today.  He says: I have much more to tell you but you cannot bear it now . . . I have told you so that you might have peace in me.   In the world you have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.

When we find ourselves in a barren portion of our lives, we might come back to these stories and these words to remind ourselves that when misery overtakes us and the pain is greater than we can bear, this may well be an indication that we have entered into the very mystery we have sought. This may be evidence that we are fully engaging in our own transformation.  It may be the opening to a new Presence, a new beatitude which we otherwise cannot experience . . . if we have not found ourselves in trouble with the world.

Adapted from a reflection written on January 11, 2010.

Cameron, Peter John, Rev., ed. “Mini-Reflection.” MAGNIFICAT. 11 January 2010. Print.

Click on the image above for a post from Ecumenical Women at the United Nations

Compare various Bible versions of this story and consider when or how our mourning might lead to our joy.

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Saturday, January 31, 2015

Gerard Seghers: The Patient Job

Gerard Seghers: The Patient Job

Daniel 12:6

How Long?

How long shall it be to the end of these appalling things?

Exodus 10:3: Moses and Aaron went to Pharaoh and said to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me? Let my people go, that they may serve me’.”

Exodus 10:7: Pharaoh’s servants said to him, “How long will this man be a snare to us? Let the men go, that they may serve the Lord their God. Do you not realize that Egypt is destroyed?”

Exodus 16:28: Then the Lord said to Moses, “How long do you refuse to keep my commandments and my instructions?”

Numbers 14:11: The Lord said to Moses, “How long will this people spurn me? And how long will they not believe in me, despite all the signs which I have performed in their midst?”

Joshua asks the men of Israel how long they will delay in moving into the Promised Land. (Joshua 18:3)

The priest Eli asks the barren Hannah how long she continue with her drunken babbling (1 Samuel 1:14) and the Lord asks Samuel how long he will grieve over the loss of Saul as king of Israel (1 Samuel 16:1).

In 1 Kings 18:21 Elijah asks the people how long their will vacillate between the Living God Yahweh and the false gods of the Baals.

Job’s companion, Bildad, asks Job how long he will refuse to acknowledge his sin – which he, in fact, did not commit (Job 8:2). He asks how long Job will put off speaking truth (Job 18:2). To this, Job replies: How long will you torment me and crush me with lies? (Job 19:1)

In these Old Testament verses we read the words we ourselves use when we are overwhelmed. We hear the human and divine plea for understanding; and we feel the urgent desire for resolution in all that seems precarious and unjust. Let us gather our moments of plight and petition, and bring them to the one who holds the answer to our prayers of supplication.

Tomorrow . . . a response.

For an insightful reflection on the Book of Job, click on the image above or visit: http://soulation.org/breakfastreading/2011/03/a-different-look-at-the-man-from-uz.html

For more reflections on the words of this prophet, enter the words Daniel or Apocalypse into the blog search bar and explore.

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