Samuel 3:1-18 | Luke 2:25-33
The life of Samuel spans a period of transition for the people of Israel. At the time of his birth Israel was established as a nation, through the military conquests of Joshua, united by the worship of one God, but still twelve tribes, each with their own boundaries, their own patriarchal leaders. They have been led by a series of judges – popular, charismatic leaders, taking on the role of civic and military leadership as and when need arose.
Samuel emerges in this divine anarchy as the last of the judges, and first of the great prophets who will shape the nation’s future. By the end of his life he will have anointed that first king, Saul; seen his brief success and tragic failure, madness and death; and then anointed king David, and seen him, too, mix greatness with great failings.
But in our reading today, he’s just a boy, living and working with the priest, Eli, tending the tent that served as the Temple of God. And it’s that relationship, Eli and Samuel, that I want to explore today.
For though Samuel was not Eli’s blood, he had grown up knowing only Eli as a parent. And perhaps, for Eli, Samuel represented another chance. For Eli was an older man, with grown sons of his own, disreputable men, who abused their positions as sons of the priest. Continue reading