Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Abide with me

The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, "Here I am." (1 Samuel 3:1-2)

The moment I read this verse I thought of the hymn 'Abide with me' (Gold!).
What a sensational picture of Samuel as a little boy 'lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was.' I can even imagine him singing as he lay there...'Abide with me; fast falls the eventide: The darkness deepens; Lord, with me abide: When other helpers fail, and comforts flee, Help of the helpless, o abide with me.'
We know Eli to be a good man, a great priest, but we also know that he failed because he failed to lead his own family. And surely Eli's two sons would have been as much an influence as Eli, if not greater, on Samuel as a boy. Today we would say, 'it's not Samuel's fault, he just got caught up in the wrong crowd...the wrong place at the wrong time...' But Perhaps we're too quick to bow to the influences of this world? With an awareness of what was happening around him, maybe Samuel fought to move in the opposite direction? I wondered whether the wisdom of Samuel grew at such an early age because he spent his life in the presence of the Lord. Whether it was that that led him to a place where he could make decisions for himself that would seem to be beyond the level of maturity that his age would suggest? And just maybe there's not only a direct relationship between the silence of the Lord and the silence of Eli, but also between the voice of God and a boy that was hungry to live in his presence? Notice Samuel's response wasn't...'I'll be there in a moment', but rather 'here I am'. So if God called to you right now, and your response reflected the place where you currently rest, would you be saying ...'I'll be there in a moment', or 'here I am'.

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