It’s a classic biblical call story: the young boy Samuel’s growing awareness that the call he has heard in the stillness of the night is real. While the call in the story is auditory, its very quietness and subtlety would have spoken to its ancient readers of a private, inner experience. Also worth noting is the fact that God is calling Samuel to a difficult, perhaps even dangerous mission: to bring a word of judgment to Eli, exposing him for the unfaithful priest he is. Samuel will of course grow to become one of the greatest transitional figure in Israelite history, leading the people across the divide between the era of the judges and the era of the kings. Possible preaching points are that God’s call is often subtle, is typically sustained over time, and sometimes leads us to go to places we would not otherwise be inclined to travel.
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