As the last judge of Israel, Samuel led a fascinating life spent listening to God's voice. He was dedicated to God by his mother before his conception and grew up at the temple. Recognized as a prophet while still young, Samuel served the people tirelessly. He retired when Saul was anointed as Israel's first king.
Seniors who want to read about him in their assisted living apartments will find records in 1 Samuel chapters 1-25. Looking deeper into his story reveals many pearls of wisdom that believers can apply to life.
The first two chapters of 1 Samuel record his birth and dedication to God. Many seniors of faith have heard the story of Hannah, Samuel's mother, who was barren and prayed for a son. In exchange for God answering her plea, she promised to give him back to God.
When God answered her prayer, Hannah raised Samuel until he was weaned and then took him to the temple and left him in the care of the head priest, Eli. Scriptures record that every year she made him a new coat, and when Samuel left the temple to work as a prophet, he frequently returned home to Ramah, the town where his parents lived.
Hannah's life is a beautiful example of Philippians 4:6 ESV, which tells us: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God."
When Christians need or desire something, they can turn to God about the things in their heart. Jesus promises that if his followers seek him first, he will give them the desires of their hearts (Matthew 6:33).
By seeking God wholeheartedly, seniors of faith can more easily be able to discern his will. Then, their heart's desire becomes what God wants, and they'll be able to understand his answer, whether yes, no or wait, regarding their prayers.
The first time God spoke to Samuel was during the night after everyone had gone to bed. Upon hearing his name called, Samuel quickly hurried to Eli's room, thinking the older man needed him. After this happened twice, Eli recognized what was happening and told the boy to wait and answer God's call.
It took God calling three times because Samuel had never heard his voice before and didn't know it (1 Samuel 3:7). It took time for him to know the Lord's voice.
Jesus tells us in John 10:2-14 that he is the good shepherd and Christians are his sheep. As a flock, they'll know his voice and follow his call. Like young Samuel, believers must learn to recognize God's voice and how he reveals himself to his beloved children. It takes time and practice, but seniors can find peace, comfort and guidance in doing so.
For most of his life, Samuel was surrounded by corruption and disbelief. The head priest who raised him didn't honor God. Instead, Eli turned a blind eye to the wrongs his sons committed. Even when God warned him that his entire family would suffer judgment, the old priest did nothing to repent or change (1 Samuel 2:27-35 and 1 Samuel 3:15-21).
The people of Israel worshiped idols (1 Samuel 7:3) and rejected God as their king, eventually asking for a human king like the countries around them (1 Samuel 8:4). Even Samuel's own sons proved corrupt, just as Eli's sons had been (1 Samuel 8:1-3).
However, Samuel remained faithful to God. He knew the ultimate reward of knowing the Lord and living to please him alone. In 1 Samuel 15:22-23, he tells Saul that God desires obedience and submission more than any gift, sacrifice or religious ceremony.
Though he was against Saul replacing God as king, Samuel tried to counsel and guide him. When Saul disobeyed and turned away from God, Samuel mourned for him (1 Samuel 15:35).
When Samuel retired, he encouraged the Israelites that God would not abandon them though they had sinned. He urged them to be faithful to God and remember the many blessings given to them. Although stepping down from his official role, Samuel promised to continue to teach and pray, as he had always done.
There are many ways residents in our Bethesda Gardens communities can join Samuel in reaching out to those around them. Seniors of faith can attend the worship services held in their community. They can also take time to get to know and encourage their campus chaplain as a thank-you for his efforts.
Seniors who want to start a study or prayer group can use their apartment or one of the common areas and patios to hold their meetings. They can also arrange sing-alongs with worship music and hymns.
For ministering chances outside their community, residents can use their life experience to mentor their family members. If distance or health issues make it difficult to visit their children and grandchildren, older adults may wish to arrange virtual meetings through their phones or computers.