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  • Writer's pictureGCI Auckland

An ear, heart and mind of Samuel

Responding to God like Samuel

Some of you may have heard of Samuel, and some of you may know nothing about him. He was a boy that was given by his mother to the priests of Israel - to raise for service to God. He had been adopted out, if you like, but not abandoned. His mother still cared for him, and had raised him when he was very young, but he went to live in the House of the Levites, to learn about God, to learn the scriptures, and to serve in the Temple.

As a young boy, we don't know how old, he had a close encounter with God. He didn't know at first that it was God, but thought it was Eli, the blind priest he was living with. How Samuel responded to the voice of God has become an example and moral tale, and used by many to teach children about obedience and responsiveness. But one wonders whether the example of childlike faith and responsiveness is better addressed to adults.

I came across an old hymn for children, published in a Methodist hymn book, which I share below. It was written by James Drummond Burns (1823-1864).

Hushed as the Evening Hymn


Hushed was the evening hymn, The temple courts were dark, The lamp was burning dim, Before the sacred ark: When suddenly a voice divine Rang through the silence of the shrine.

The old man, meek and mild, The priest of Israel, slept; His watch the temple-child, The little Levite, kept; And what from Eli's sense was sealed, The Lord to Hannah's son revealed.

Oh, give me Samuel's ear. The open ear, O Lord, Alive and quick to hear Each whisper of Thy word! Like him to answer at Thy call, And to obey Thee first of all.

Oh, give me Samuel's heart. A lowly heart, that waits Where in Thy house Thou art, Or watches at Thy gates! By day and night, a heart that still Moves at the breathing of Thy will.

Oh, give me Samuel's mind. A sweet, unmurmuring faith, Obedient and resigned To Thee in life and death! That I may read with childlike eyes Truths that are hidden from the wise.

One recent rendition of the hymn on YouTube, which you can listen to while reading the words above.

Perhaps we should not relegate this "story" to Sunday school, and perhaps we should think harder about our own approach to life and to God.

God used a young boy to deliver a message, and it wasn't a message of fun or good times! Samuel listened,

he trusted, and he obeyed. He told Eli, when asked, what the vision was about. Samuel did not shrink from the truth, and he did not hide from God's voice. He surrendered to whatever he was told to do, and showed humility. (Read the full story in 1 Samuel 3)

Is there something God is telling you to do? Have you heard his voice, or have you shut it out?

Give God a chance to speak to you, and allow your heart and mind to truly hear what he says.

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