The story of Samuel contains several parallels to the life of Jesus, which is the bible’s way of cluing us in to an important message.
The first parallel deals with their mothers, both of whom experienced miraculous pregnancies. When Samuel is born to his barren mother, Hannah, she dedicates him to the service of the temple. As she does, she proclaims a prayer very similar to Mary’s Magnificat.
Hannah says, “My heart exults in the Lord, my horn is exalted by my God...The well-fed hire themselves out for bread, while the hungry no longer have to toil”. Mary says, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty”. This parallel, which takes place while Hannah is handing over her son to serve God’s people suggests that Mary, too, is handing over her son to serve all of us, even before he is born.
When Samuel and Jesus are older, both proclaim their roles after having spent quiet time with God. Samuel, after sleeping in the temple by the Ark, hears a voice call out to him and he says, “Speak, for your servant is listening”. Similarly, Jesus, after withdrawing from the crowds to pray tells his apostles, “Let us go on to the nearby villages that I may preach there also. For this purpose I have come”. Both men act in service to God, with the end goal of bringing others closer to Him.
But neither's mission is easy. Samuel’s first mission is to tell his mentor Eli that his family will be condemned for their sins. Later, in response to the Israelites who demand an Earthly king, he is tasked with warning them of the dangers of their demand. The words he passed on from God were sometimes hard to hear.
And we know this to be true about Jesus’ preaching, as well. He told his followers, “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division” (Lk 12:51). He challenged the Jews and made them feel uncomfortable, even to the point where they demanded his death. But Jesus did not agitate people for the sake of agitation. Rather, he did so out of love so that the scales would fall from their eyes and they would see Truth and change their ways.
God calls each one of us to serve Him and His Kingdom. Our individual tasks may take many forms, but they all have at their foundation the mission to join Him in Paradise, and bring as many souls with us as we can. This service to God can be unpleasant, uncomfortable, or even downright painful. But our roles, like Samuel’s and like Jesus’, are so essential to the ultimate salvation of souls. Our participation is critical! This can be scary, but also so fulfilling, as we are a part of something that truly matters.
Today, spend some quiet time with God, listening to His call. And when you hear His voice, say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening”.