Read 1 Samuel 3:1-4:11
Samuel is born as the answer to his mother’s prayer. In gratitude, Hannah fulfills her vow and dedicates her son to God. She brings him to the Tabernacle in Shiloh to be trained for God’s work under the guidance of Eli, the high priest. God will use Samuel to display his active presence with his people, a rare thing in those days. God has a role for him to play in his big story. He calls Samuel as a young boy to lead his people and make them a nation that will be a blessing to others.
“The lamp of God” refers to the oil lamp that signified God’s presence in the Holy place of the Tabernacle. Every evening at sunset, the Levites filled the lamp’s seven branches with the best and purest olive oil to burn until dawn. Therefore, God called Samuel sometime before dawn, while the lamp was still giving off light.
Hearing a voice calling in the middle of the night can be startling. Anyone who has heard their name called out while they are sleeping knows how unsettling it is. Samuel, who was twelve or thirteen, remained calm through the situation, not cowering in fear nor running to Eli in alarm. Instead, Samuel went to Eli, asking him if he had called. God still speakers to his people today, but usually in more subtle ways. He may communicate through wise counselors, friends, pastors, or even our dreams. Whatever his method, his peace reassures us that all will be well.