Lesson Forty Six


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Memory Verse: Jeremiah 1:7
Further Study: 1 Samuel 2:12-3:21; Patriarchs and Prophets, 575-582; The Story of Redemption, pp. 183-185; The Bible Story, vol. 3, pp. 149-154

The midnight call to Samuel is a favorite story. One can easily picture the young boy eagerly obeying the elderly man, only to find out that it isn’t Eli calling his name, but God. Consider these four important takeaways:

My oldest daughter attended an Adventist college. What wasn’t known at the time, but discovered by the end of the year, was that the college chaplain had left, and they were still searching for a replacement. There was little spiritual leadership on the campus for that year, and it showed. What we had thought would be a great Adventist experience, was not. A bit disillusioned she left for another Adventist school. Interestingly that first college is now thriving—it was simply an off year. But I never forgot the importance of spiritual leadership whether on a school campus, in a church, home, or office. Israel also learned this lesson when Eli was spiritually absent in his role as High Priest.

One can’t read Samuel 3 without recognizing “the call” and then wondering how it applies in our own life.

One can’t read 1 Samuel 3 without recognizing “the call” and then wondering how it applies in our own life. All of us are called at some point by God, but it may take several times as it did with Samuel, and it may take time to recognize the Voice. What I find most intriguing is when there isn’t a call. Is it possible that one doesn’t get called? I think about the words from the hymn, “Live Out Thy Life Within Me,” (#316 in the Seventh-day Adventist Hymnal) that references members who are “ready to have Thee use them or not be used at all.” Being called can be scary, but not being called can also be challenging.

Being called can be scary, but not being called can also be challenging. 

The Bible records Samuel does not “know God yet” when the call arrives. This makes an interesting point for all of us. God knows each of us intimately—our very hairs are numbered. But we don’t know God. Our daily experience and relationship with God is all about discovering Him in our lives. Thus, listening intently for where we are needed, praying for direction, and resting contentedly in His plans is all part of “knowing God” and learning more about Him.

Last, in the story, Eli is the superior spiritual leader and Samuel is the child who has been lent to God for Eli to mentor and teach. Eli is the older, wiser, more experienced Christian. Samuel is the younger, less practiced, first learning of spiritual things. By the end of this story, things have shifted. Samuel, even in his youth, is called directly by God. God does not call Eli, but the inexperienced child. A time comes when the more experienced must give way to the younger less experienced. God has a need for them and a place, but it often means that the more mature must recognize their time of service has ended or lessened and allow others to take the lead.

It often means the more mature must recognize their time of service has ended or lessened and they must allow others to take the lead. 

Practice these four lessons: the importance of spiritual leadership; listening for the call, but content if there is none; learning of God each day through our daily walk with Him; and mentoring youth but knowing when to relinquish leadership to them. These are and will be challenging, but I promise, if practiced, you will find strength and be renewed.

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Digging Deeper 

An unfortunate element in this story is Eli and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas. We learn that the sons are not following God’s ways, but their own. This becomes even more damaging when we realize they are priests, the spiritual leaders of Israel. While everyone, including Eli, recognizes what they are doing is wrong, there is no correction. Ellen White, in Patriarchs and Prophets, gives some very serious counsel regarding the raising of children for God:

“Those who follow their own inclination, in blind affection for their children, indulging them in the gratification of their selfish desires, and do not bring to bear the authority of God to rebuke sin and correct evil, make it manifest that they are honoring their wicked children more than they honor God. They are more anxious to shield their reputation than to glorify God; more desirous to please their children than to please the Lord and to keep His service from every appearance of evil” (p. 578).

“Eli did not manage his household according to God’s rules for family government. He followed his own judgment. The fond father overlooked the faults and sins of his sons in their childhood, flattering himself that after a time they would outgrow their evil tendencies. Many are now making a similar mistake. They think they know a better way of training their children than that which God has given in His word. They foster wrong tendencies in them, urging as an excuse, ‘They are too young to be punished. Wait till they become older and can be reasoned with.’ Thus, wrong habits are left to strengthen until they become second nature. The children grow up without restraint, with traits of character that are a lifelong curse to them and are liable to be reproduced in others” (p. 578).

“When parents regard every wish of their children and indulge them in what they know is not for their good, the children soon lose all respect for their parents, all regard for the authority of God or man, and are led captive at the will of Satan. The influence of an ill-regulated family is widespread and disastrous to all society. It accumulates in a tide of evil that affects families, communities, and governments” (p. 579).


Making it Real

Knowing God is key in hearing or answering His call. Make a list of the characteristics you know about God. What experiences in your walk with Him have helped you to learn these traits?

Respond & Share

Has God called you? How did you know? How did you respond? Share with us in the comments below!


Merle Poirier writes from Silver Spring, Maryland, where she works as the operation manager for Adventist Review and Adventist World magazines as well as the designer for KidsView, a magazine for 8-12-year-olds. She enjoys spending time with her family including being the grandmother of two active little boys, who greatly enjoy Starting With Jesus.


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