Samuel had a relationship with God that I envy . . . well, sort of.
The parts I envy are how well Samuel heard from the Lord and how much God confided in him.
But the flip side is that God sometimes confided very unpleasant things with Samuel.
No doubt you know the story about the first time Samuel heard the voice of the Lord. Although Samuel was only a beginner, a mere boy, God gave him a very grown-up message about severe judgement that was coming soon to the priest’s household. To make matters even harder, Samuel then had to deliver this bad news to the priest (see 1 Samuel 3:10-18).
Although that story is probably the more familiar one, it’s not the only time God confided really bad news with Samuel. Years later, when Samuel was an old man, Israel’s first king, Saul, muffed things terribly. He disobeyed the Lord’s clear command, and God was finished with him.
Incredibly, God Almighty told Samuel what He was feeling. He shared the deep pain with the aging prophet: “I regret that I made Saul king,” God confided. “He turned away from me and did not carry out my instructions” (1 Samuel 15:11, GWT).
God does confide in certain people. Psalm 25:14 tells us that “the LORD confides in those who fear him; he makes his covenant known to them.” The New Living Translation says He “is a friend to those who fear him.”
But God’s friendship is the deep, through-thick-and-thin kind of friendship. We can come to Him with whatever we are feeling, knowing that He will listen, care, and stick with us. He’s not a fair-weather friend, and He doesn’t deserve shallow friendship from us, either. If God shares His heart with us, He wants us to share in His joy and grief, hope and disappointment.
So how did Samuel respond to what God shared with him? The Bible says “Samuel was angry, and he prayed to the LORD all night” (1 Samuel 15:11, GWT).
Like the best kind of friend, Samuel shared God’s pain and frustration. He listened to what the Lord said, and then he entered into it with Him emotionally. Samuel didn’t leave the Lord alone in His sorrow—he stayed with God, talking to Him “all night.”
All this makes me introspective. When I long for the Lord to speak to me, am I willing for Him to share hard stuff as well as rainbows and moonbeams? And when God does confide difficult things in me, will I be a good friend to Him and stay with Him in His pain?
Lord, I do want You to speak to me as Friend to friend. But I need Your help to be the kind of friend You deserve. Give me what it takes, Father, to listen to and love You well. Make me trustworthy so I can faithfully receive from You whatever You want to share.