The LORD said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided (or seen) for myself a king among his sons.” (1 Sam. 16:1)
When I read this passage, I would be remiss if I didn’t think about the different spiritual mentors who help shepherd me to the place where I am. I don’t think of them because they’ve been rejected by the LORD in any way, but because they often held the role of the prophet in my life. They spoke to me on behalf of God. The gave me the good news and the bad news God had for me that day (or Sunday.) They often played the Samuel character in my life.
I wonder if you have those persons in your life too. Maybe they were a particularly good pastor growing up. Maybe it’s an author who always is speaking to your soul whenever your eyes gaze upon ink. Or maybe there’s a relative who showed you how to pair prayer and action so faith might come alive. Over time, these people might turn into something MORE than a person, but one who is “holy” (at least to you.) They become venerated for their faith and we think, “I can’t possibly be as faithful, prayerful, holy, justice oriented, active, [insert positive description for Christian here] as they are.”
Basically, we think these people know what God is doing more than we do.
But this is hogwash when it comes to Samuel. Samuel was a miracle child to Hannah. He heard the voice of God speaking to him in the Temple when he was a child. He grew up to be the leader of Israel and anointed the first ever King on behalf of YHWH. Even with all this he still could not perceive the direction in where God was going.
God said, “I’ve seen to it there is going to be a king in Bethlehem, go and give him the holy seal.” But Samuel couldn’t get what God was doing. Even with the close relationship, Samuel still picked the wrong son.
When I think about Samuel this way I’m both distraught and hopeful. If YHWH’s prophet cannot recognize when God is doing a new thing, what chance is there for me? But on the flipside, Samuel was only a man trying his best to be in relationship with God. I know I can do that. I can pray, sing, read scripture, and serve others. I know I can try my best. I know I can be like those people we all look up to.
You can too.