1. CALLED TO SERVICE
a. What did Samuel do in his new life in the temple? 1 Samuel 2:11, 18. What did Hannah do for Samuel, and how did God bless Hannah? 1 Samuel 2:19–21.
“It was not customary for the Levites to enter upon their peculiar services until they were twenty-five years of age, but Samuel had been an exception to this rule. Every year saw more important trusts committed to him; and while he was yet a child, a linen ephod was placed upon him as a token of his consecration to the work of the sanctuary. Young as he was when brought to minister in the tabernacle, Samuel had even then duties to perform in the service of God, according to his capacity. These were at first very humble, and not always pleasant; but they were performed to the best of his ability, and with a willing heart.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 573.
“When separated from her child, the faithful mother’s solicitude did not cease. He was the subject of her prayers. Every year she made him a little coat, and when she came with her husband to the yearly sacrifice, she presented it to the child as a token of her love. With every stitch of that coat she had breathed a prayer that he might be pure, noble, and true. She did not ask that he might be great, but earnestly pleaded that he might be good.”—The Signs of the Times, November 3, 1881.
2. WITH ELI AND HIS FAMILY
a. What is written about Samuel in his youth? 1 Samuel 2:26. What was the relationship between the child Samuel and Eli, the high priest?
“Samuel had been placed under the care of Eli, and the loveliness of his character drew forth the warm affection of the aged priest. He was kind, generous, obedient, and respectful. Eli, pained by the waywardness of his own sons, found rest and comfort and blessing in the presence of his charge. Samuel was helpful and affectionate, and no father ever loved his child more tenderly than did Eli this youth. It was a singular thing that between the chief magistrate of the nation and the simple child so warm an affection should exist. As the infirmities of age came upon Eli, and he was filled with anxiety and remorse by the profligate course of his own sons, he turned to Samuel for comfort.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 573.
b. Although young Samuel was living on the premises of the high priest, what should we realize about the environment there? What serious warning was given to Eli? 1 Samuel 2:12, 22, 27–31.
“Samuel’s youth was passed in the tabernacle solemnly devoted to the worship of God; yet even here he was not free from evil influences or sinful example. The sons of Eli are described in the sacred word as ‘sons of Belial.’ They feared not God, nor honored their father; but Samuel did not seek their company nor follow their evil ways. It was his constant effort to make himself what God would have him to become. This is the privilege of every youth. God is pleased when even little children devote themselves to His service; they should not be discouraged in their efforts to become Christians. . . .
“The youngest child that loves and fears God, is greater in His sight than the most talented and learned man who neglects the great salvation.”—The Signs of the Times, November 3, 1881.
“Despite the many sovereigns to whom men profess allegiance, all mankind are serving one of two masters—the Prince of light or the Prince of darkness. Samuel served the former, the sons of Eli the latter.”—Ibid.
3. OBEDIENCE AS A MERE OPTION?
a. Explain the problem of Eli and how we might be guilty of repeating the same mistake today. 1 Samuel 2:22–25; Isaiah 3:12 (first part).
“Eli was quick to see and rebuke the sins and errors of the people, sometimes, as in the case of Hannah, even administering unjust reproof; but the sins of his own sons seemed to him less offensive than the sins of others. In his undue affection he was ever ready to find excuses for their perverse course.”—The Signs of the Times, November 24, 1881.
“Eli had instructed his children in the law of God, and had given them a good example in his own life; but this was not his whole duty. God required him, both as a father and as a priest, to restrain them from following their own perverse will. This he had failed to do.”—Ibid., November 10, 1881.
“[Eli] did not enforce obedience.”—The Review and Herald, August 30, 1881.
b. What do we need to realize when we see spiritual weakness in our children? Proverbs 26:2; Deuteronomy 6:6, 7.
“In every earnest Christian heart the question rises, ‘Why, oh, why, in a land of Bibles and Christian teaching, can the adversary of souls exert over our youth a power so mighty, so unrestrained?’ The reason is apparent. Parents are neglecting their solemn responsibility. They are not earnest, persevering, and faithful in the work of training their children for God, restraining their evil desires and enforcing obedience to parental authority, even in infancy.”—The Signs of the Times, November 3, 1881.
“The mother should not allow her child to gain an advantage over her in a single instance; and, in order to maintain this authority, it is not necessary to resort to harsh measures; a firm, steady hand and a kindness which convinces the child of your love will accomplish the purpose. . . .
“Never should they [the children] be allowed to show their parents disrespect. Self-will should never be permitted to go unrebuked. The future well-being of the child requires kindly, loving, but firm discipline.”—Child Guidance, p. 83.
4. WORTHY OF A HIGH CALLING
a. In contrast to Eli’s sons, what can every child learn from the experience of little Samuel at the temple? Proverbs 20:11; Psalm 71:17.
“If children were taught to regard the humble round of everyday duties as the course marked out for them by the Lord, as a school in which they were to be trained to render faithful and efficient service, how much more pleasant and honorable would their work appear. To perform every duty as unto the Lord, throws a charm around the humblest employment and links the workers on earth with the holy beings who do God’s will in heaven.”—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 574.
b. Why can we be inspired by the way Samuel was a tremendous witness to the aged Eli, and how only was this possible? 2 Corinthians 2:14–17.
“While Eli’s heart was filled with anxiety and remorse by the evil course of his sons, he found relief and comfort in the integrity and devotion of the youthful Samuel. His ready helpfulness and unvarying fidelity lightened the burdens of the careworn priest. Eli loved Samuel; for he saw that the grace and love of God rested upon him. . . .
“As Samuel grew older, the anxiety of his parents in his behalf became more intense. Many were the petitions offered that he might not be contaminated by the wickedness reported concerning the sons of Eli.”—The Signs of the Times, December 15, 1881.
c. Relate the amazing story of God’s call to Samuel. 1 Samuel 3:1–10.
“When but twelve years old, the son of Hannah received his special commission from the Most High. . . . Three times Samuel was called, and thrice he responded in like manner; and then Eli was convinced that the mysterious call was the voice of God. What feelings must have stirred the heart of the high priest at that hour! God had passed by his chosen servant, the man of hoary hairs, to commune with a child.”—Ibid.
5. A MESSAGE TO MAKE EARS TINGLE
a. What message did God give to Samuel and how did the boy feel about delivering it? 1 Samuel 3:12–15.
“Samuel had not been ignorant of the wicked course pursued by the sons of Eli, but he was filled with fear and amazement that the Lord should commit to him so terrible a message. He arose in the morning and went about his duties as usual, but with a heavy burden on his young heart. How earnestly did he long for the sympathy and counsel of his parents in that trying hour! The Lord had not commanded him to reveal the fearful denunciation to the priest or to his sons; hence he remained silent, avoiding as far as possible the presence of Eli. He trembled, lest some question would compel him to declare the divine judgments against one whom he so loved and reverenced.”—The Signs of the Times, December 15, 1881.
b. Respectful and obedient as ever, what did Samuel soon have to do? What should we consider as we reflect on the message given? 1 Samuel 3:18.
“In every age, God’s judgments have been visited upon the earth because men transgressed His law. What, then, have we to expect as we behold the wickedness which prevails at the present day? . . . Many of the acknowledged leaders in the church and in the nation, break, and teach others to break that law, as sacred to God as His own throne and name. It is time for the Lord Himself to assert His authority in the earth. . . . He removes His protecting, providential care, and visits His judgments upon the children of men.”—Ibid.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. Although left alone at the temple without his parents, why was Samuel safe?
2. Why was Eli able to appreciate Samuel so much?
3. How can parents be like Eli today?
4. Name some of the keys to Samuel’s purity in the corrupt temple court.
5. What shows the accountability that God expects in all ages?