Today's Reading: 1 Samuel 1-3
If given the choice, which would you choose?
Fame, recognition and the heights of life?
Or a lower place of refuge and peace?
Now before you answer real quickly, consider the pros and cons of each. Most young people would choose the first, hand's down. To have success, to be on top, to be the "big man on campus" is the goal of many people. Accolades, honors, people looking up to you; that's pretty big stuff! Imagine not being the peon but the boss.
Of course with success comes responsibility, pressure, stress, and accountability. When you're on the top, you always have to be on the look out for people who might want your position. You have to "guard your turf."
The latter choice is usually chosen by those who are older. They've seen the challenges of fame and comprehend the simplicity of a nice life of peace, free from conflict and controversy. The energy needed to get to the top and then to stay on the top is exhausting. Peace and tranquility? Now that is a very attractive option.
You might be wondering why I'm blogging about these things instead of talking about Elkanah and Hannah and Baby Samuel, all of whom are involved in a miraculous birth and a wonderful Biblical story of call. So let me explain.
In the very first verse of the very first chapter of 1 Samuel, we read about two places: Ramathaim-zophim and Shiloh. I think the names of these two towns foreshadow the truth to be spoken in 1 and 2 Samuel.
Ramathaim-zophim means "a high place where one must watch out and be alert against the enemy." We start with a conflict between two wives, one who is able to bear children but is not favored and one who is favored but barren. In the world's eye, Peninnah, the fruitful wife is high and lifted up. But she is wary of her rival, Hannah. She is on top but must be on the look out to make sure Hannah doesn't take over. She is blessed with children, but feels very precarious in her high position. Even though she has children, she provokes her rival and bitterly irritates Hannah.
Shiloh means "the place of refuge." Hannah, the lower wife, can only find peace in prayer in the town of Shiloh. Despite her husband's favor, she seeks peace and refuge in the LORD.
Later, Eli, the high priest who lives in the place of authority, power, and status, is usurped by a lowly little boy named Samuel who becomes the great prophet for whom this section of Hebrew history is named. Still later, Saul, the first king of Israel, feels jealous and threatened by a lowly shepherd boy.
Status and being on top of the world are powerful and seductive idols. Having everything go right, being at the top of your game, and receiving rewards, honors and kudos is a rush. Living dependently and humbly is not our usual first choice. Thus it is important to learn from the people of these next readings, so we might comprehend their wisdom and walk the road of Shiloh.