The third chapter of 1 Samuel tells the tale that we grow up hearing about in children’s church: God calls to the young Samuel four times. The first three times Samuel thinks that Eli is the one calling, and runs to the bedside of the priest. Finally Eli figures out what’s going on, and tells Samuel what to do. When God calls to Samuel again, Samuel replies, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” The LORD tells the boy some serious news: that because Eli did not restrain his sons’ vileness, his line will be forever judged and their sins shall not be atoned for.
What struck me the most from this chapter when I read it this time was verse 7: “(Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him.)”
What’s ironic to me is that first phrase – “Samuel did not yet know the LORD.” His entire existence was a direct result of a prayer that God had answered! His first job description was to “minister to the LORD before Eli” (vs. 1)!
In modern terms, he was probably the equivalent of a pastor’s kid. Maybe an adopted pastor’s kid, to be more specific – whose story is nothing short of a miracle, and who’s practically growing up in the church.
And yet – in spite of that great, spiritual background – he did not yet know the LORD.
Obviously Samuel would have known about God; his whole young life was wrapped up in serving Him.
But he didn’t really know Him. Until one night, when God called to him, and Samuel (after several misunderstandings) responded to the call. And a relationship was begun – a personal and legendary relationship. “So Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and let none of his words fall to the ground” (vs. 19).
And when Samuel knew God, then “all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the LORD” – they knew that Samuel knew God. What a contrast with the sons of Eli, who were known throughout Israel for their hypocrisy and sinful ways!
This is the message that I hope to spread with my life: that knowing about God is not the same as knowing Him. And that when you do know Him, then your life is going to show that. Other people will be able to know that you know Him.
So do you know Him?