“Now Samuel, though only a boy, was the Lord’s helper. He wore a linen tunic just like that of a priest…And the Lord gave Hannah three sons and two daughters. Meanwhile, Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord.” — 1 Samuel 2:18, 21
An old storekeeper once said, “Give me the help of a boy, and I’ll have the help of a boy. Give me the help of two boys, and I’ll have the help of half a boy. Give me three boys, and I’ll have no help at all.” The storekeeper spoke with the voice of experience! Boys and helpfulness don’t always go together.
It is surprising, therefore, to read that “Samuel, though only a boy, was the Lord’s helper” (1 Sam. 2:18). It is surprising that the boy proved so helpful, but it is more surprising that the Lord accepted help from a boy! After all, he is Almighty God. Why does he need a boy for help?
There is no suggestion here of any deficiency or shortfall in God. He is perfectly capable of running the world he created, and he has no problem managing the universe he upholds by his mighty power. But he does allow human beings to cooperate with him in his purposes. Even more than that, he delegates tasks to human beings that he specifically designed them to undertake.
So Samuel in his early days learned that his young life counted for something important. While he missed out on some aspects of home life because of his unusual life in the temple (visits from family occurred only annually), he experienced the priceless privilege of growing up “in the presence of the Lord” (2:21).
In one sense, since God is omnipresent, we all grow up in his presence. But it is one thing to grow up in his presence and another to recognize it and relate to him. Many people grow up without the conscious knowledge they live under divine protection, are nurtured by divine provision, and are only a prayer away from divine empowerment.
But not Samuel, the Lord’s helper. Even though he was separated from his family and was raised in such abnormal circumstances, he experienced no harm at all–as he “grew taller, he also continued to gain favor with the Lord and with the people” (2:26). He was a thoroughly balanced kid and the Lord’s helper to boot!
There can be no greater privilege in life that to recognize that one is cooperating with God as he works out his eternal purposes. Nothing can invest the mundane with a sense of magnificence quite like understanding that one is functioning as the Lord’s helper!
That being the case, what better time for someone to learn this than when they are young? Lessons embraced in formative years become deeply embedded in the human soul and never leave, even though they may for a time be ignored. What more could you wish for your children…your grandchildren, that to be the helper of God?