1 Samuel 3:15-18

“I have good news and bad news. Which would you like first?”

I’m probably a bad-news-first type of person. What about you? If I know the worst-case scenario, then it is all up from there.

Whether Eli is also a bad-news-first kind of person is hard to judge from one story, but he does know this news already. After all, he heard it in the previous chapter. Having ignored God’s command to correct the injustices that his sons perpetrated, he now seems anxious about Samuel’s encounter with God.

In a way, their roles have been reversed: Samuel now performs the role of priest and prophet, the conduit of God, and Eli is as vulnerable and helpless as a child. The bad news is clear. The consequences for Eli will come to pass.

The good news is that it wasn’t always supposed to be this way. We may find it curious that the priest of God couldn’t recognize God’s voice. It turns out he could and did. He had just grown used to avoiding God’s voice because God’s call was too daunting for him. Sometimes it is our sin, other times our fears, still other times our priorities, but we all have ways of drowning out the still, small voice of God.

First the bad news: like Eli, we are skilled at contorting the teachings of God to align with what makes us comfortable and confirms our biases. Now the good news that you already know: God will be with you, no matter how daunting your situation may seem. Just look at Samuel.


While it isn’t always cut and dry, when you have trouble discerning the way of God, ask yourself this: Does the right thing require the comfort or courage that God will offer me today?


God, help us continue to listen for your voice and respond to you, no matter what you might require of us. Amen.

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