Hmph! How dark it grows. The boy should be asleep. Hear how he thrashes about. “Samuel?”
“Are you asleep?”
“Um … no.”
“Then lie still. You have many duties to perform tomorrow.”
No response. At least he’s still. The boy keeps forgetting I’m going blind, not deaf. Ah, but then, he’s young, and can’t understand an old man’s pains.
Oof! How rough this mat feels, like a mountain of rocks. You’d think as a priest I could have a decent bed. Hophni and Phineas always seem to have the best of everything, but do they consider their father’s needs? No. Only Samuel cares whether I’m alive or dead. Oh, God of my fathers, where did I go wrong?
“Your sons will die,” the prophet said. “Your house will be in shambles.” I tried to warn them, Lord. You know I tried. I thought they would change. But now the rumors are starting again. Not only are my sons desecrating the offerings, but now they spend their nights sleeping with--
“Eh? What is it, Samuel? Shouldn’t you be in bed?”
“Yes, but I heard you calling me.”
“Calling you? What nonsense is this? I didn’t call you. Go back to sleep.”
Hmph! The boy must be hearing things. Called him, indeed! Could he be lying to me? Absurd! The boy’s never lied to me, not like Hophni and Phineas. I can’t believe a word my sons say anymore. Ah, but you never lie either, God. You promised to destroy my family. If only my sons would honor You, like Samuel does! But they’ve become so stubborn and selfish and--
“Here I am.”
“I see that, boy. Why aren’t you in bed?”
“Because you called me.”
“I DIDN’T call you!”
“Ridiculous! Wouldn’t I hear it too, if someone had called you? But I haven’t heard anything. Go back to bed!”
Ach! The nerve of the boy! He knows I’m not deaf. Why, I can hear his feet padding across the floor now. And there, a crackle of fire. Some light. The lamp of God has not yet gone out. But no voice calling. Has the boy gone mad? Or could it be that he is hearing--
God’s … voice? “What is it now, Samuel?”
“Did you call me?”
“Oh. Because, I DID hear someone calling my name.”
No. It can’t be. Lord? Are you calling this boy?
“Samuel, my son, listen closely. Could the Lord be calling your name?”
“The Lord? Surely not, Eli. Why would He call me?”
“I don’t know. But if it is the Lord, you MUST answer Him.”
“How? What will I say?”
“You must be polite, yes, polite and respectful. If He speaks again, say ‘Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.’”
“Your servant…. Very well, I will do it.”
How quietly he walks, not the least bit afraid. Should he be? Has the boy sinned in his heart, and failed to confess it? Will the Lord strike him down? How will I tell his mother? Ugh! Curse this hard bed! I’ll never get to sleep. So much excitement. Too many questions. Oh Great Jehovah, I don’t understand. After serving you faithfully all these years, why have you never … never once … talked … to….
What? Morning already? I thought I’d never sleep. I feel so relaxed. Who knew this mat could feel so-- Samuel! I missed it! What happened? Is the boy dead? “Samuel!”
“Thank God! You’re alive! But, what happened boy? Did the Lord speak to you?”
“Hmph! What did He say?”
“Well…. Must I tell you?”
“Don’t be afraid, Samuel. Was he very angry with you?”
“No. It wasn’t like that. The message was about you.”
Me? Oh no. Oh no, why me? Lord!
“Give me the message, Samuel! May God punish you if you hide it from me!”
“He said that he will judge your family, because of Hophni and Phineas. You knew they were sinning, but you didn’t stop them. Oh, oh Eli! Don’t cry.”
“I’m … not crying, boy. Just something in my eye.”
“I never wanted him to punish you, Eli. You don’t deserve--”
“Nonsense, boy. What don’t I deserve? He is the Lord. He will do what is right.”
“I know, but I wish you could have heard him. His voice didn’t sound angry, Eli. Instead it sounded … sad.”
I Samuel 2:12 – 3:18 NIV
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