We reach the end of Samuel’s life in our reading today. The text takes up ONE whole verse but his life was SO much more. I want to give Samuel his due. I want to write his eulogy.
I know our reading is very short today and I almost rolled this single verse into the next section. But then I felt Samuel deserved better than that. I felt led to hit the highlights of this man of God’s life. I decided he needed to have a eulogy written for him. Not because the world doesn’t recognize what a might man of God he was but because my heart wants to honor him before moving on.
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I stand before you today to tell you of a man who has touched the lives of people in every walk of life. He started life as an answer to his mother’s heart’s prayer. She pleaded with God for him and promised that she would surrender him back to the Lord if He would only grant her request.
His mother was true to her word and she brought Samuel to live in the Tabernacle of the Lord from the time he was weaned. He would see his mother and father only once a year after that time. He grew up under the watchful eye of Eli, the high priest of the time. He spent his life in service to the priest and the Law of Moses was his constant companion.
Samuel heard the voice of the Lord throughout his life. His first encounter with the Lord’s voice was as a young man. He was charged by the Lord with delivering a message of judgment to Eli, his spiritual father. As difficult as it was, Samuel told Eli the full weight of the message from the Lord. Samuel would never shy away from sharing EVERY WORD the Lord entrusted to him. His comfort with the message or the hearer’s did not stay his voice. He was the unadulterated voice of God.
Samuel was also charged with being Israel’s judge. He was a fair, impartial, and righteous judge. No man who came to him went away without justice. He judged with the wisdom of the Lord. The only sorrow to come from his life is the fact that his sons do not walk in his example in this area. But that is for the Lord to deal with.
Samuel was also given the task of anointing Israel’s first king and being his spiritual guide. Samuel strived with all his heart to lead the king in the ways of the Lord. Samuel was as diligent to speak God’s words to the king as he was to Eli and when those words included judgment Samuel spoke them and stood behind them.
Samuel was tasked with anointing the one who would be king after God rejected Israel’s first king. Samuel didn’t spend a lot of time teaching this king as his task was done in secret as prescribed by the Lord. Samuel did get to spend an abbreviated and intense portion of time with this man near the end of his life. He was able to see the kind of king Israel would be inheriting in the near future.
One of Samuel’s lasting legacies are the prophets he taught during his years after separating from the king and removing himself from life in the Tabernacle. These men will go on to be the voice of the Lord as surely as Samuel was in his life.
Samuel touched the hearts of all Israel. His words and actions will be felt throughout history. He leaves us all a little sadder at his passing but much richer by providing us an example of a life lived well; a life lived for the Lord. We pray we can incorporate even a few of your lessons into our own lives.
Rest well Samuel. You will be missed.
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Looking back over Samuel’s life I see only one area where I would give him a ‘needs improvement’ grade. That area was in his responsibility as a parent. Samuel’s sons turned out no better than Eli’s and we don’t see him calling them out any more than Eli did for his own. I KNOW that NO man is perfect. I’m wondering if this was Samuel’s area of sin. He cannot be held accountable for their decisions in life but he could have removed them from their position as judges. He had that power and right. He possibly even had that responsibility.
Samuel’s life was MORE than his one short coming. His life was a gift from God. A gift first to his mother, then to Israel, and ultimately to the world.
Father God, thank You for stopping me from rushing past Samuel’s death. Thank You for encouraging me to take a moment and reflect on what You accomplished through him. The greatest part of his life was that it was lived for You. I pray that will be said of my life at its conclusion. I know I won’t have touched the world as deeply as Samuel did but I pray I will have shone a light into the dark places and brought Your word to those who may be hurting. I pray the stories You share with me bring Your word to life and inspire others to see the men and women You have used throughout the ages in new ways. I definitely see Samuel different than I used to, thanks to Your insights and imaginations.