There’s something about the early life of Samuel that stirs me. Maybe because I see in Samuel’s experience something of a pattern which I think might be true of all believers. Maybe because, in a sense, though not similar in any circumstance to Samuel’s, I can relate to the stages Samuel seemed to go through. And maybe because having been given an insider’s view of how God calls someone to Himself and to His purposes, I’m stirred to wonder and worship. There’s something that encourages the heart through “the growing up days.”
And the young man Samuel grew in the presence of the LORD. . . . Now the young man Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the LORD and also with man. . . . And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. (1Samuel 2:21, 2:26, 3:19 ESV)
That the child Samuel grew is evident. An answer to prayer . . . literally . . . he was given by his mother to the Lord’s work shortly after he was weaned. His early life memories would be that of assisting with the work of the tabernacle . . . the place where the glory of God dwelt. Though as a child he would not fully understand the significance of what he was doing, he grew in the presence of the Lord. And I can’t help but think of how many testimonies I have heard were the testifier recalled, “I can see now how, before I knew Him, God’s hand was upon me. Looking back, I can see that His presence shaped my life even before I knew there was a God who had gone to such great lengths so that I might know Him.”
Beyond Samuel growing in the presence of the LORD, he also grew in favor with the LORD. The young man, by God’s determined grace, responded well to the influence of the tabernacle. Faithful in service, fruitful in understanding of the tabernacles great meaning, he grew better and better while Eli’s other sons grew worse and worse. You sense that with his faithfulness in little, he was being given increased capacity to appreciate and pursue the ways of God. The seed planted, having been watered with obedience, was bearing increasing fruit.
And yet, though he grew in the presence and favor of God, “Samuel did not yet know the LORD, and the word the LORD had not yet been revealed to him” (3:7).
Though He knew much of his God and of His ways, the young intern had yet to know that the same God desired to reveal Himself to men . . . he had yet to know revelation from the LORD . . . he had yet to recognize when it was the LORD’s voice speaking to him. And so God, in His predetermined purposes, reveals Himself to Samuel in a yet more intimate way. They engage in one-on-one communion. The mind of God revealed to the child of God. The Master calls, and the maturing young man responds, “Speak, for your servant hears” (3:10).
And so, Samuel continues to grow. Growing in God’s presence . . . growing in God’s favor . . . growing to hear God’s voice . . . Samuel matured and the LORD was with him. The context of presence becoming the reality of abiding. The shadow of the glory on the other side of the curtain, giving way to the light of glory of God as it abided within. The LORD was with him.
And I think such are the intended “growing days” for all those called of God. What starts as a simple act of faith desiring the ways of God is nurtured by His presence and His favor such that it grows into the reality of knowing what it is to hear the voice of God . . . matures into the confident assurance that God is with us.
Not sure that the growing days ever stop. By the grace of God may we continue to seek His glory . . . and to know His presence, His favor, His voice, and His sweet communion.