1 Samuel 3
Preached Jan. 15 at First Baptist Church (Belleville, IL)… in pajamas
*yawn* I am SO tired.
Oh, I’m sorry. Mr. Eli keeps telling I’m supposed to cover my mouth when I yawn, but I always forget. I’m sure you all know Mr. Eli, the priest. EVERYONE knows him. I’ve lived here with him since I was about a year old. My name’s Sam.
My Mom was really sad that she had no kids, so she made a promise to the Lord, that if the Lord would give her a son – that’s me! – she would give him to the Lord as a… oh, what’s that word? Na… Nazir… oh yeah, a Nazirite, which basically means that I can’t eat or drink anything made from grapes, and I can’t cut my hair. Can you imagine how long it will be when I’m old? I’ll be like Rapunzel!
Living here in the temple can be fun. I get to help Mr. Eli keep the temple clean. He says that when Moses built the place, it was made of mostly curtains, but now we even have some walls. The place takes FOREVER to clean. And now that I’m getting older and Mr. Eli is mostly blind, I have to fetch stuff for him. But he can walk all over the temple without running into things. Sometimes, when no one is around, I try walking with my eyes closed – nowhere near the Ark of the Lord, of course – but I run into things. I guess Mr. Eli has been here so long that he knows where all the turns are.
I try to stay away from Mr. Eli’s sons. They are bad news. Really bad news. They would steal the meat that people came to give as an offering to the Lord. They were also causing problems with the women who served at the entrance of the tent. Every time I would try to figure out what was going on, I was told that it wasn’t for little kids to worry about. But there are lots of whispers. Anyway, I try to stay away from them.
Do you want to know why I’m so tired? Are you even listening to me? Ha! That’s actually what my story is about. I was deep asleep by the Ark of God. I like it there because that’s where the Lamp of God is – oh, do you not have one here? The Lamp of God is this oil lamp that is lit in the evening and stays lit until morning – God commanded it. It is never dark in there – not that I’m scared or anything. I’m not scared of the dark – I just don’t like it, okay?
So anyway, I’m sleeping and all of a sudden, I hear someone calling my name. So I jump up, run into Mr. Eli’s room and ask what he needs. I couldn’t see the look on his face, because it was dark in his room, but I’m guessing it scrunched up, because he sounded like he didn’t know what I was talking about and sent me back to bed.
So I lay back down and fell asleep and was having the coolest dream that I was flying and could see ALL of Israel when I heard my name again. So I climbed back up and walked back to Mr. Eli’s room. And I ask what I can do for him, and again he says that he didn’t call me.
I knew it had to be the sons trying to mess with me. Those bullies always think they can pick on me because I’m littler than them. But I was didn’t want to get into trouble and wanted to get back to my dream and maybe fly over my mother’s house. Or the Dead Sea.
So I went back to where I was sleeping and am almost to sleep when I hear it again. This time I leap up, knowing I’ll catch Mr. Eli’s sons, but I don’t see anyone. I went back to Mr. Eli’s room and said “Here I am, you called me?”
And this time Mr. Eli told me that it must be the Lord calling me. Isn’t that crazy? The Lord calling ME? I’m just a kid – I didn’t even know the Lord yet. But I trust Mr. Eli, so I did what he said. I went back to the place I had been sleeping and waited. Then I heard it! “Sam, Sam.” The Lord was standing there in front of me, calling my name. I think Mr. Eli’s sons would have been scared – but not me! I did as Mr. Eli told me and said “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
The Lord started with something really funny – the Lord said “I’m about to do something that will make both ears of anyone who hears it tingle.” The Lord is going around tingling ears – that’s a good one! I got so excited, I had to know what it was.
But…what the Lord said next wasn’t funny. It wasn’t even good. The Lord said that Mr. Eli had been warned that his house was about to be punished because of the terrible things his sons did – and because Mr. Eli hadn’t stopped them. The Lord said that the wickedness of Mr. Eli’s family would not be made right with sacrifice or offering forever.
After that, I couldn’t get back to sleep. I knew I was supposed to tell Mr. Eli – but I just couldn’t. What would he do? Would he be mad? Would I get in trouble? Would the sons get in trouble? Or worse – would he cry?
I’m just a kid, I can’t tell a grown up something like that. I’m supposed to be quiet and listen to what the grown ups say to me. That’s what they always tell me. But this was a message from the Lord.
In the morning, I opened the doors to the temple and tried to stay hidden. But Mr. Eli knew I was there and called me to him.
I think he knew that I was afraid and that I had bad news, because he called me son and told me not to be afraid. He even asked that God curse me if I didn’t tell him everything that the Lord had said.
So I took a deep breath. And I told. I spoke so fast trying to get it all out that I don’t know how he actually heard me, but he did. I closed my eyes hard and waited for the reaction. What was going to happen? A few seconds had passed and I didn’t hear a thing. So I cracked one eye open just a little bit to peak and see if it was safe – or if Mr. Eli had suddenly been frozen or melted or just plain disappeared.
But Mr. Eli was just standing there, looking at me – or at least looking in my direction. It is always hard to tell what he can see and what he can’t. After what seemed like YEARS he said “It is the Lord; let the Lord do what seems good.”
I about fell over backwards – but good thing I didn’t, I would have pulled a whole row of curtains down. He was okay with this? His family was going to be destroyed, but he was okay?
I always like Mr. Eli, but I always just thought of him as the old man who took care of me and the temple. I see why everyone comes to him – he is really brave.
I don’t know anything about God, but Mr. Eli seems to trust God with everything. Even now, he is preparing the altar for the day’s offerings. If Mr. Eli can trust, even after the news I gave him, maybe, just maybe the Lord is okay. After all, the Lord did see just how mean those sons are and isn’t gonna let them get away with it. Maybe the Lord really cares about how people are treated and looks out even for little guys like me. I kinda hope the Lord will wake me up and talk to me again. *yawn* but maybe not tonight. I’m still tired.