“But Samuel was ministering before the Lord—a boy wearing a linen ephod. 19 Each year his mother made him a little robe and took it to him when she went up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice. 20 Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to[c] the Lord.” Then they would go home. 21 And the Lord was gracious to Hannah; she gave birth to three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” 1 Samuel 2.18-21
Most kids today grow up in a neighborhood, on a block, with friends. In the summer they wake up later, watch cartoons, play with friends and come in dirty each night for dinner. At least this was my childhood growing up in Wichita Falls. We would play for hours outside on Berkley Street and it was only when we heard our mothers calling that we returned to our homes, reluctant, sweaty but full of adventure.
Samuel had a different experience growing up. Whereas I was outside swinging on streets, he was helping prepare and conduct the daily sacrifice offerings to the Lord. He would gather firewood, prepare the altar, fetch water, say prayers, and repeat this process throughout every day, all day. I imagine being a boy that he did find time to play but his heart and his affections from birth were directed toward the Lord. He himself was an offering to the Lord, dedicated by his mother before he was born. Therefore, it makes sense that whereas other boys his age were outside playing in the dirt, he was “ministering before the Lord.”
This passage describes what Samuel was doing and how his parents would come annually (that is not very often) to see him and make their sacrifice. His mother would make for him a priestly linen ephod for him to wear, and would probably try not to hold him too closely. Can you imagine the sacrifice Hannah made to honor the Lord? Eli must have seen this because he prayed, “May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the Lord.” And God answered the prayer! She had five more kids.
Samuel was unique. His later life reflects this and we know the he was only able to identity the shepherd boy David as a man after God’s own heart because this was Samuel’s heart as well. He was a young boy chosen to serve the Lord for his entire life.
Although not many of us have this type of devotion, me included — but I wish I did, Samuel gave his all to God. He was destined to love, serve and minister to God every day of his life.
And in truth, we are called to do the same. Our focus, affections, finances and faithfulness can and should also be directed to honoring God and spreading his gospel. This life is too short for us to only bask in our own happiness and comfort.
Let’s commit our ways to the Lord each day. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus and keep him first in our lives, just like Samuel did in Shiloh.
“O Lord God, you are good. Thank you for loving me, blessing me and keeping me. Thank you for all that you have done to draw me to your self and into your service. I praise you for your faithfulness even when I have not remained faithful. Come Holy Spirit, fill me with your love and impress upon me a greater desire to serve your name. For you are good and your love endures forever.” Amen