The story of Samuel begins one chapter before our reading. In the scriptures we first meet his father, Elkanah, and mother, Hannah, and learn that Hannah is barren. Year after year she goes with her husband to the temple at Shiloh and prays to the Lord for a male child, promising, if her prayers are answered, to consecrate her son to God’s service.
The Lord grants her request, and she and Elkanah conceive a son and name him Samuel. As promised, when Samuel is old enough to be weaned, Hannah takes him to the temple and presents him to the old priest Eli to be raised in the priesthood. From that time onward Samuel lives in God’s service, growing “both in stature and in favor of the Lord and with the people” (2:26) and will one day become one of Israel’s most influential prophet-judges.
But today we focus on Samuel’s childhood years, noticing a particular thread that weaves through his story: the author’s repeated emphasis that Samuel’s formation as a servant of God begins at a very young age. Chapter 1 reveals Samuel as barely weaned when Hannah consecrates him to God’s service. Then three times in today’s brief passage, Samuel’s youth is confirmed, twice as a “boy” and once because the robe his mother brings each year is “little.” If we read further, this vein of Samuel’s childhood formation and calling continues, detailing God’s work in the life of this young man.
Scripture affirms God’s commitment to the spiritual value of children who, like Samuel, become an example of faithfulness. Perhaps our task, then, is to grow in attentiveness to the children around us, joining God’s formational work already begun.
God of every generation and age, teach us your ways of wisdom and love that we may serve you all the days of our lives. Amen.
The boy Samuel worshiped and served God from a young age. He grows in stature and favor, the same description that will later be applied to the young Jesus in this week’s reading from Luke. The psalmist praises God for raising up a “horn” for the people. This “horn” is referred to elsewhere in the Psalms as being the True King from the line of David, identified later by Luke (1:69) as Jesus. Paul encourages the Colossians to let love rule in their community and to praise God with songs and hymns (such as the Psalms). The additional readings for this special week focus our minds on the Advent of the Lord, the amazing truth that “the Word became flesh and lived among us” (John 1:14), as the prophets had prophesied long ago.
• Read Isaiah 9:2-7. Where in your world do you see darkness? What lies within your power to dispel it?
• Read Psalm 148. How have you witnessed creation praising the Creator?
• Read Colossians 3:12-17. With what qualities from this list do you clothe yourself daily?
• Read Luke 2:41-52. When has a not-as-usual occurrence generated anxiety in your life? How was it resolved?
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