“Thus Samuel grew and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fail. All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the LORD.”1 Samuel 3:19-20
When you think about courage and personalities in the Bible, you might not immediately think of Samuel. After all, young David slew the giant Goliath and carried only five small stones and a slingshot, Daniel was thrown in a den of lions, and Joseph was sold by his brothers and found the courage to persevere as a prisoner to become ruler of the land…not to mention the countless we read about in Scripture who were martyrs, displaying the ultimate level of courage.
But what if we look at courage in a different way, not necessarily that grandiose act of valor that saves the day, but a steady determination to accomplish with significant courage that is directly related to our relationship with God. This courage results in the kind of person we are and is more important than anything we might do. It boils down to the relationship we have with Jesus Christ through prayer. This is the type of courage that defined Samuel. Samuel’s courage grew out of his reliance upon the LORD and his obedience to listen to God’s direction and follow, even when it was difficult.
I love the story of young Samuel and sharing with children how God can use them for His purposes as they listen carefully, obey, and respond with courage. Certainly, this is a lesson for both children and adults.
As a young boy, Hannah took her son to the tabernacle to serve under Israel’s chief priest, Eli (1 Samuel 1:22-25). One night, the LORD called Samuel. Samuel responded, thinking it was Eli’s voice: “Here I am, for you called me.” But Eli answered, “I did not call my son, lie back down.” Three times Samuel thought Eli was calling him. After the third time, Eli realized it was God calling Samuel and instructed him to listen and respond to God by saying, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” In this moment Samuel heard the voice of God.
The message Samuel heard from God was one that required great courage, especially for a young boy. He was to deliver a message to Eli, the authority in his life, that God would judge the house of Eli forever for the wickedness in the lives of his two sons and Eli’s failure to correct them. As this young boy stood before his priest, God gave him the courage to share this vision that would ultimately include the death of Eli’s sons.
Scripture tells us that, “Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground” (1 Samuel 3:19). God continued to reveal His word to His people through Samuel and was faithful to give Samuel a courageous heart as his allegiance was to God first (1 Samuel 3:20-21).
Following the Philistine attack on God’s people, Scripture indicates Eli’s sons were killed and Eli also died. The Israelites called out to God for help, and God used Samuel’s courage again. Samuel instructed the Israelites to denounce the false gods they had been worshipping. Subsequently, the Philistines were overcome, and there was a time of peace (1 Samuel 7:9-13).
God shaped the heart of Samuel from the very beginning, developing great courage in him and ultimately allowing Samuel to become a prophet, to anoint the first two kings of Israel, and become the last and most effective of Israel’s judges.
Throughout his life, Samuel displayed the courage to pray and was ready to accept the counsel of God and obey, even if it was against his own desires.