Posts Tagged ‘Samuel’

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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1 Samuel 2:18-21The Faithful Mother

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Written on January 16, 2008 and posted today as a Favorite . . .

Gerbrand van der Eeckhout: Hannah presenting her son Samuel to the priest Eli

So often when we hear the Old Testament readings from the story of Samuel we focus on the character of Samuel, the man who becomes the prophet who listens so well to Yahweh that he is able to select first Saul and then David as the first kings of the Israel nation.  Today’s Noontimes selection is focused on Hannah, the faithful mother.

These are the things that strike me about her story:  she withstands abuse from her husband’s other wife, Peninnah, because she is childless, she is thought drunk by the priest Eli for her ardent conversation with God, she is faithful to her pledge to Yahweh, she is well-loved by her husband, Elkanah, and she is rewarded greatly for her fidelity.  We might know people like Hannah, we might wish to be like Hannah.

It is so difficult to stand in our tiny spot on the globe and find our place in God’s plan.  It is so overwhelming to sit in silence for the voice of God to speak in our ears and in our hearts.  It is so tiring to hope for something we know we deserve.  It is so taxing to be immensely misunderstood.

It is so sweet to arrive in the place where we finally feel that we have understood God’s message to us, to know that patience, and waiting, and witnessing will bring us to God’s heart.  It is so filling to read in another’s demeanor that we have done God’s work in a particular place with a particular person.  It is so gratifying to find that we have unwittingly done what we are meant to do.

God is good.  God is faithful.  God is hopeful.  And he wants to reward us.  He will never abandon us.  He will always hope that we reach our true potential.

How was Hannah to know through the tormented years of her barrenness that she would give birth to three more sons and two daughters?  How was she to know as she cried in the temple that she would find favor through her pain?  How did she find the strength to wait and hope and watch?  She relied on God . . . and found favor in God . . . was rewarded by her God.

May we all hope as Hannah hoped.  May we persevere.  May we, like Hannah, live in active patience as we listen, watch and wait.

A re-post from January 24, 2012. 

Image from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hannah_(Bible)

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Sirach 46In Praise of Ancestors

Friday, January 27, 2017familyroots

 A Favorite from January 25, 2010.

In this Noontime we find ourselves in the chapters of the Book of Sirach in which the writer spends time praising the Hebrew ancestors for their openness to God’s message and for their fidelity in following God.  In this particular chapter, we relive the Hebrew transition from nomadic tribe to settled people.  Joshua and Caleb, two leaders who have always been loyal to Yahweh and who have followed Moses from the beginning of their journey out of Egypt, now lead the people into the place of promise – the territory God secured for his people.   The Judges are the leaders who continued to shepherd the Twelve Tribes until the time of the Davidic Kingdom.  Samuel is the last of these and we may read more about this federation at the following site if we are looking for more information.  http://www.jcpa.org/dje/articles/judges.htm

Notes will tell us that Joshua’s name means: The Lord is savior and this is apt since it is through Joshua’s wisdom and leadership that the Hebrew people are able to conquer enemies and receive their inheritance.  The Book of Joshua will give us the details of this story.  Caleb, whose name means wholehearted faith and devotion, is also appropriately named.  Here is a site with a synopsis of the interesting story these men share.  If you like espionage and are intrigued by the seamy parts of life, read about how these two friends who were able to secure a legacy for a people through some very unusual means.  http://www.bible-knowledge.com/Joshua-and-Caleb.html

Samuel’s story is well known and the books named for him will remind us of the story read out to us on Sundays during particular times of the liturgical year.  We will remember that his mother Hannah prayed for children and was rewarded for her fidelity with the birth of this child and others.  We will remember how as a boy he ran to Eli in the temple, thinking that the priest was calling him in the night when all the while it was the voice of God he was hearing.  Eli tells him to respond to this voice by replying:  Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.  Samuel serves God as a prophet, and he becomes the final judge of Israel who ushers in the kingdom by first anointing Saul and later David – all at God’s bidding.

What do these stories mean to us and for us?  They tell us about our spiritual roots.  They remind us of how and why we are created.  They are our link to a past which brings us to this present.  They are an opportunity to re-investigate who we are and what we mean.

These stories also bring another opportunity.  They are the chance to think about our own immediate ancestors – who they were and what they mean to our own lives.  Our forbears may have had a great influence on our spiritual life – either because of their dedication and fidelity to God, or perhaps because of their lack of any spiritual direction.  In either case, our predecessors are the flesh from whom we come, they have given to us the habits and gestures we have inherited.  Theirs may well be the message that we continue.  As we reflect on our roots, we will want to think about whom we praise . . . and why.

Let us take a few moments sometime during this hectic day to reflect on the stories we have heard about the people in our family tree.  What message does the story of their lives leave for us?  And what part of their story do we wish to pass on as part of the great Story of the World?  What or who will our own lives praise?

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1 Samuel 13: The Heat of Self-Knowledge – Part I

Monday, October 17, 2016

Benjamin west: Saul and the Witch of Endor

Benjamin West: Saul and the Witch of Endor

As the political season heats up in the U.S., we consider this important story from one of our oldest scriptures.

This is the portion of the Samuel story in which we watch Saul move away from God to begin his long slide into darkness.  This downward movement happens because he presumes to know best.  Saul takes action on his own without waiting for Samuel, who is designated by God as the judge/leader, to offer sacrifice before battle.  Although his son Jonathan and the rest of Saul’s troops have immediate success, Saul himself is eventually lost.  He becomes paranoid about his fear of David (1 Samuel 18) and forces David to flee the court (1 Samuel 19).  He allows his fears to overtake him as when he orders the priest of Nob to be slaughtered (1 Samuel 22) and continues his frenetic search for David in the wilderness (1 Samuel 23).  In his panic he consults with a seer in Endor (1 Samuel 28); and finally he meets his dreadful end (1 Samuel 31) along with his beloved son Jonathon.  This is a sad ending for a man who had shown such promise but who, in the end, did not trust God.  Today we see the beginning of Saul’s long and terrible journey into the dark.  Unwilling to admit his errors or to seek pardon, Saul gives himself over to the fantastical thinking that he knows better than God . . . that he can do without God.  He sees his troops slithering away before the battle and, thinking that he will keep them from leaving, he steps in to intervene – countering God’s plan.

Today we reflect on Saul’s story and examine our motivations to see if the fire of self-knowledge threatens to consume us. Tomorrow, the fire of battle. Do our conflicts help us to know ourselves better? Or do they send us further into deception and denial? 

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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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jeremiah1Saturday, August 16, 2014

Jeremiah 15

The Grasp of the Violent

The Lord said to me: Even if Moses and Samuel stood before me, my heart would not turn toward these people.

Conditions have reached a dreadful pitch. God’s people have gone so far astray that no one is listening to anyone. They ignore God’s words of warning delivered through Jeremiah and now their very existence is in the hands of the wicked. The Lord tells Jeremiah that he has done with words . . . even from the wisest of prophets.

Then who will guide and protect God’s faithful remnant who suffer because they have obeyed God’s word?

Who will pity you, Jerusalem, who will console you?

Jeremiah sees no reason for his existence and delivers his plaint to the Lord, a plaint that many peoples of the world might lift to God today.

Woe to me, mother, that you gave me birth!  Tell me, Lord, have I not served you . . . I did not sit celebrating in the circle of merrymakers; under the weight of your hand I sat alone . . . why is my pain continuous, my wounds incurable . . .?

Then from the ferocious maelstrom, God says: If you bring forth the precious without the vile, you shall be my mouthpiece . . . I am with you to deliver you. I will free you from the hand of the wicked, and rescue you from the grasp of the violent.  Listen to my prophet Jeremiah for he brings you words of wisdom, words of life, words that will break the fist of the vile, wicked and violent.  

Enter the word remnant into the blog search bar and consider how each of us might bring forth precious acts rather than return violence for violence.

For more information about the prophets Moses and Samuel visit: http://biblehub.com/dictionary/m/moses.htm and http://biblehub.net/searchdictionary.php?q=samuel 

For another reflection on Jeremiah 15, visit the God’s Words post on this blog at:


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Thursday, July 4, 2014

1 Chronicles 10

In the U.S. today we celebrate the founding of our country, a time when our forbearers took action against those who were seen as oppressors. At The Noontimes we return to a favorite reflection as we consider . . . Rebellion.

Mattia Preti: Samuel Anoints David

Mattia Preti: Samuel Anoints David

Thus Saul died because of his rebellion against the Lord . . .

It is difficult to wait for God’s time to unfold and it takes patience to understand our place in God’s timeline. It takes a great deal of trust to rely on God and his economy because there are so many times when we think we have a better solution, a kinder consequence, a more comfortable method for a more sensible solution. In all of this kind of thinking we stray from our true origin, purpose and destination. David and Saul provide us with an opportunity to reflect on who we are and how we interact with God.

David has been anointed by Samuel, the prophet, as the new King of Israel; yet Saul, the present King, still holds the reins of power. The relationship of trust once shared between David and Saul has ruptured and now Saul hunts David down, all the while sinking deeper into paranoia. David might have killed Saul a number of times yet he does not, choosing instead to witness, to watch and to wait. The story of this conflict can be read in the closing chapters of 1 Samuel. What we spend time with today is this: We separate ourselves from God when we anticipate God’s plan and move forward with our own. We divide ourselves into two camps. We split ourselves into two beings . . . and then we make ourselves unhappy and blame circumstances, others and even God himself for our unhappiness.

Rebellion is good when it brings us the strength to take action against abuse or corruption. Rebellion is not good when it draws us into ourselves, and away from common sense and good advice. Rebellion is our ruin when it bolsters pride, inflates our ego and enables narcissistic blindness to our separation from good.

In this Old Testament story, God is a judge standing over all and deciding “thumbs up or thumbs down” on each action. The New Testament expression of God’s love for us, Jesus, moves us beyond this simplistic way of evaluating our behavior. Rather than recommend that we ought not rebel, the new message is: Why are you terrified, O you of little faith? We have in Christ one who rebukes storms, calms seas, heals wounds and shows pity. With Saul, rebellion lured him into the arms of those who bolstered his illness and took advantage of his distress. With David, rebellion moved him away from abuse and toward God.

Rebellion is good when it brings us the courage to speak out against abuse or corruption. Rebellion is not good when it draws us into anger and away from the light. Rebellion is our ruin when it feeds our selfishness. We must decide how to best use rebellion in our lives.

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