The story of young Samuel is a grace note during the dark days of the Judges when, says the Bible, “Every man did that which was right in his own eyes.”
As the oil in the tabernacle lamp burned low in the dim light of early morning, the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered: “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”
Little Samuel sees things at the tabernacle no little boy should have to see. Hophni and Phinehas, the sons of Eli, are wicked men, sons of Belial, says the Bible. They have turned the tabernacle at Shiloh into a house of ill repute and dirty money. The High Priest, Eli, is of little help. He fails to discipline his sons and remove them from the priestly office. Eli is spiritually weak. He leaves no spiritual legacy.
Tragically timely, isn’t it? Unlike so many of our youngsters who have grown up in Christian homes, many children today see things they should not see. Jesus says there are millstones waiting to be hung around a lot of necks for such spiritual child abuse.
Often enough, when the older generation has sold out, when jaded old sinners have betrayed the baptism once bestowed on them, the catechism they once learned, the confirmation vows they once spoke – God works his will through a new generation.
It is hard for young people who look to parents and grandparents to show some spiritual backbone and find no example to inspire them or challenge them. We do not see it often – but we do see it – some boy or girl coming to God’s house alone, sitting there solo – as though to say: “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.”
Other voices will try to take the place of this throughout our lives, as in, “My favorite celebrity says…,” or “My Facebook friends say…” or “My text message says…” or “My smart phone is ringing…” But there is no substitute for silencing the other voices long enough each day to say, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.”
When the whole world contradicts Christ, may God give to each of us the heart of little Samuel: “Nobody else seems to be listening…but speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.”