Desiderate: to feel a keen desire for (something lacking or absent). Hanker: To feel a strong desire for or to do something. Covet, crave, yearn, pine – all of these words have different definitions but in the end, all describe the same feeling. This is the feeling of longing and desire for something. or the pain of not having what you want or need. This feeling was no doubt familiar to many people in the Bible, but one woman specifically was acquainted with the pangs of longing too well. This woman was Hannah, mother of Samuel. 1 Samuel chapter 1 displays Hannah’s broken heart and her cries to the Lord. Unbeknownst to her, her cries would be heard and the response of the Lord would impact many generations to come.
In chapter 1, the text reads, “The Lord has closed Hannah’s womb” (1:5-6). Hannah is greatly distraught by her condition because this meant she was not able to provide any children for her husband. When Hannah was at the tabernacle “weeping bitterly,” she begged God to give her a child and in her prayers, she vowed that if God gave her a son, she would give him to the Lord for all the days of his life. The Lord heard Hannah’s cry and he blessed her with a son, whom she called Samuel.
As promised, once Samuel was weaned, Hannah took him to the tabernacle, the place of worship, so that he could serve the Lord for his whole life. As a boy, Samuel was trained as an apprentice to Eli, the priest. Since Samuel was not a Levite nor a priest, he would not have been involved in any of the sacrifices. When Samuel was just a boy, he received his first calling from God in 1 Samuel chapter 3. Samuel was lying down one night when he heard a loud voice calling out his name. Thinking the voice belonged to Eli, Samuel ran to him and said, “Here I am, you called me” (3:5). Eli answered that it was not him who called Samuel’s name. This same order of events happened two more times before Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling Samuel. Eli told Samuel the next time he heard his name called, he should answer, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (3:9). Samuel did as he was told, and the Lord revealed his first of many prophesies to Samuel.
As Samuel grew older, he acted as a messenger to the Lord and was known by many as a prophet of upright character. One character trait we see displayed by Samuel is his bluntness. He was not one to sugarcoat things when delivering God’s message. We see an example of this in 1 Samuel 13 when Samuel rebukes Saul for not keeping the commandments of the Lord. Christians today could stand to learn something from Samuel’s boldness. “I feel like a lot of Christians now kind of beat around the bush a lot,” comments Kait Matthews, alumna of Greenville University and Pastor at Saint Paul’s Free Methodist Church. ”We’re all called to be prophets and I think now there’s a lot of Christians who try to be politically correct. We’re called to go against the grain of the world and we don’t do it anymore because we’re afraid.”
Samuel was a trusted prophet of strong faith who always sought out what God’s calling for him was. Because of this, the Lord was able to use Samuel to anoint the future king of Israel. This king was David, son of Jesse, who is in the direct lineage of Jesus.
Although Christians today may not physically hear God’s voice calling their name at night or be called to anoint future kings, God’s plan for his children’s lives is just as important as his plan for Samuel’s life was. It is still God’s calling today for Christians to spread his gospel to all the world. Mathews commented to Christians today, ”Be a prophet! Be attentive and be listening to what you feel God is saying to you. We need to be able to differentiate between our plan and God’s plan. God is still calling us today and we need to be attentive to that.”