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Second Sunday after the Epiphany

Our devotion today focuses on the Old Testament Reading and comes from Concordia Commentary: 1 Samuel.

Scripture Readings

1 Samuel 3:1–20
Psalm 139:1–10
1 Corinthians 6:12–20
John 1:43–51

Read the propers for today on lutherancalendar.org.

Introduction

In a time when prophetic visions were rare, God chose Samuel as a new prophet, called him by name, and used him to deliver the Word of the Lord. In these last days, God has spoken to us through His Son. In Him, we receive the promise of forgiveness and life eternal.

Devotional Reading

1 Samuel 3 depicts Samuel’s rise and Eli’s decline.

Three times we are presented with God calling (to) Samuel and Samuel reporting to Eli. After the second time Eli sent Samuel back to lie down, the author informs us that Samuel did not yet know Yahweh ([1 Samuel] 3:7). At first one might think that he had this ignorance in common with Eli’s faithless sons (2:12), but the author explains that in Samuel’s case it means that Yahweh had not yet directly revealed his Word to Samuel. Samuel was not yet a prophet—a circumstance that would change quickly.

The third time Yahweh called, Eli finally realized that Samuel was being summoned by God. He instructed Samuel as to the proper way to respond, and the pious boy followed Eli’s directions. The fourth time Yahweh came and stood before calling; presumably he stood beside the place where Samuel was lying. Since only the high priest could enter the tabernacle’s Most Holy Place, we can only assume that Samuel was lying in the Holy Place where the lamp was. God, however, normally dwelt enthroned on the cherubim over the ark, which was kept in the Most Holy Place (Ex 26:34). But in this case God moved toward Samuel in the Holy Place. This movement to communicate with humanity would culminate in the incarnation, the Word made flesh (Jn 1:14), as God now speaks to us through his Son (Heb 1:1–2; cf. Jn 9:37).

The double “Samuel! Samuel!” (3:10) evokes the call of the apostle Paul with “Saul, Saul.” Paul invoked his divine call to assert his apostolic authority, not for self-aggrandizement, but to verify the authenticity of the Gospel he preached: justification by grace alone and through faith alone. Pastors today are called as servants of the Word. They receive this call not directly from God but through the church, and they preach the Word of the Scriptures, not any claimed private revelation. Ministers exercise the authority of the One whose Word they faithfully proclaim (e.g., Mt 28:19–20; Jn 20:21–23).

The next morning Samuel continued to serve. He opened the doors to God’s house (3:15). Attending to his work may have been a way of avoiding Eli, since he was understandably afraid to bring such a stern prophecy to the high priest. Nevertheless, Eli not only prevailed upon the boy to tell him what Yahweh had said, but he also placed him under oath (3:17). Eli acquiesced to God’s will (3:18). Throughout 1 Samuel 1–4 Eli is always a dedicated priest. He himself never displays contempt for God, dereliction of duty, or unbelief. His personal faith was not in doubt. Instead, he was held responsible as a leader who failed to execute the responsibilities of his office. In the same vein, James warned his readers that not many of them ought to seek positions of authority in the church as leaders, since God will judge such leaders more strictly than others (James 3:1). James was teaching only what Jesus had taught earlier: those who are put in charge of others have a greater responsibility to God (Lk 12:42–48).

The last verses of this chapter depict Samuel as Yahweh’s prophet. All Samuel’s prophecies were fulfilled (3:19; see also 9:6). Throughout Israel he was recognized as a true prophet of Yahweh (3:20). He continued to serve in Shiloh and to prophesy Yahweh’s Word there (3:21).

Devotional reading is adapted from Concordia Commentary: 1 Samuel, pages 113–15 © 2016 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Hymn

Hymn is “God of the Prophets, Bless the Prophets’ Sons,” hymn 682 from Lutheran Service Book. Video © 2017 Concordia Publishing House. All rights reserved.

 

Written by

Anna Johnson

Deaconess Anna Johnson is a marketing manager at Concordia Publishing House. After graduating from the deaconess program at Concordia University Chicago, she continued her studies at the University of Colorado—Denver in education and human development. She has worked as a church youth director and served a variety of other nonprofit organizations, such as the Lutheran Mission Society of Maryland. Anna loves playing video games and drinking a hot cup of tea almost as much as she loves her cat and her husband.

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