This is one of those defining moments in the life of Samuel. He is faced with the difficulty of anointing a new king over Israel, all while Saul is still alive and still holding the reins of power. Samuel is faithful to God, but wrestles with God about his assignment. His response to God is telling, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” The amazing thing about Samuel was his faithfulness in doing what God said, and with such little detail. All he had from God was the name of a contact in Bethlehem. God would provide the second step only after Samuel took the first one. And step he did, as described in the phrase, “Samuel did what the Lord commanded . . .”
The rest of this text describes his selection of David to be the king. It is a preaching portion full of content about leadership, leadership selection, and the vital ingredient of heart vs. appearance. What I think is most significant here, though, is Samuel’s keen awareness of God and his sensitivity to the direction of God. He acts here not as an unquestioning automaton, but as free-willing servant.
God still puts leaders in the place of decision-making, with the responsibility of carrying out God’s call. God still gives assignments out with staggered steps. God still allows for argument about his plans, even when the excuses presented come from fear or ego. And God still looks for people like Samuel, who have the right stuff on the inside.
If you are preaching from this text on Sunday, there are plenty of applications here for Father’s Day, for leadership development, or for faithful service. How will you use it?