After the foul-up that happened the last time I was scheduled to give Sabbath School class , I was scheduled next to give a lesson on Samuel. Now, having previously spoken on Samuel, having written about him on several occasions, and knowing that there was a lot of material to choose from in the narrative concerning Samuel even before the reign of Saul , I decided to make it more of an adventure for the young people by not seeking either to summarize the material too much to allow all of it to be shared in the short time available and allow them to let me know which parts of Samuel’s life they wanted me to tell them. I would hope, at least, that some of the children were familiar with the setup of choose your adventure books , after all.
The first choice in the choose your own adventure is Samuel’s family background. Whether one looks at the family origin of Samuel’s family among the Sons of Korah settled in the hills of Ephraim or one looks at the troubled polygamous family of Samuel’s father, with Hannah being childless and driven to distraction, there is a lot here of interest to young people. Some of the children in class, sadly, will know what it is like when a mother is able to bear a lot of children but still not be loved by their husbands, and some of them are likely old enough to know what it is like to long for a family that they do not have. Let it never be said that the Bible lacked for real or authentic situations, even in its more obscure areas. Besides this area, I figure there to be at least some interest in another choice, namely that of Samuel’s early childhood, where he was raised by his mum until he was weaned, and then was given up for adoption by his mother in fulfillment of the vow that she had given to God. At least one of the children who often comes to class knows what it is like to be given up for adoption by a mother, so that is likely to be particularly poignant as well, and the calling of Samuel as a lad is likely to be encouraging to children who are reaching the age where they are hearing and heeding or avoiding the first stirrings of a calling to follow God’s ways in the example of their parents in a world as corrupt as the age of the wicked sons of Eli.
At that point the Bible skips a great deal of the story of Samuel himself until he is an adult, and there are two rather telling stories that could be shown here. The first is when an adult through miraculous deliverance the Philistines were beaten back without martial effort, as Samuel was no war chief. Here as well we can see Samuel developing a pattern where he spends part of his year running along a circuit from his hometown, Ramah to Bethel, Gilgal, and Mizpah. Here the children may be somewhat familiar with the patterns of their adults. Children often find the repetitious traveling and behavioral patterns of adults to be greatly amusing, and it is a matter I often reflect upon in my own life as someone with fairly regular patterns. Finally, if the children are particularly interested, there is the matter of a look at the end of Samuel’s judgeship over Israel, where the corruption of his sons and the desire of Israel to copy after the example of the heathen nations around them led them to reject God as king and choose a king after the nations, namely that of Saul. One of my fellow teachers has a class scheduled for Saul’s reign next week, specifically the rejection of Saul by God, and I would not wish to interfere with her class by covering too much if anything about Samuel’s life after that point, except for a brief epilogue as the students draw and class is finished.
What do children get out of an example of a life like Samuel’s? There are a few lessons that I hope at least some of the children would be sensitive to. For one, believers come from a family legacy, where there is a history of obedience (or disobedience) to God going back for generations, and where believers leave a legacy that goes on for generations after them. Our lives are but a vapor, a morning fog quickly extinguished by the heat of the sun, but we are part of a chain of history going back many generations, and, God willing, pointing a long way into the future. Samuel’s dysfunctional family background and his early choice to follow God despite the corruption of his times are both good examples for young people growing up among the wreckage of their own dysfunctional families in corrupt times. Likewise, Samuel’s lifelong service and devotion to God despite the fact that he was an imperfect father who, in many ways, sadly followed after the example of Eli in being too lax with sons who did not have his own righteous and godly character, is a cautionary tale to young people that the habits of our parents do not die easily, as painful as that sort of reflection is for some of us. Hopefully, the exercise will be of use to the young people in my class.
 See, for example:
 See, for example: