According to the narrative, Hannah, much ridiculed by her husband’s second wife about her barrenness, after persevering in prayer and supplication before the Lord, finally conceived and gave birth to her first son, Samuel (see 1 Samuel 1:1-20). We are told that after the child was weaned, Hannah “brought him unto the house of the Lord in Shiloh” (v. 24, KJV) and before Eli the priest she vowed, “as long as he liveth he shall be lent to the Lord” (v. 28) before leaving Samuel with Eli and returning home. From then on, “the child did minister unto the Lord before Eli the priest” (1 Samuel 2:11).
But something was not right in Eli’s house for “the sons of Eli were sons of Belial; they knew not the Lord” (v. 12). Not only that “the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord: for men abhorred the offering of the Lord” (v. 17), but Eli knew “all that his sons did unto all Israel; and how they lay with the women that assembled at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation” (v. 22), and made “the Lord’s people to transgress” (v. 24). Yet in this difficult and somewhat salacious environment, something remarkable was taking place. We are told, “But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod . . . . And the child Samuel grew before the Lord. . . . And the child Samuel grew on, and was in favour both with the Lord, and also with men. . . . And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli” (vv. 18, 21b, 26; 3:1). Do you see what I see? Right worshipping in a difficult place!
As a child, it would have been easy for Samuel to have adopted the ways of the adults around him who were supposed to be his examples of worshipping and serving the Lord. However, we see the opposite; he was in a bad environment, but the environment was not in him! In other words, he did not allow himself to be influenced by said environment. By God’s grace, his heart remained true to worshipping God in the ways he had learned from his worshipping mother. The same can be true for us as well. No matter the negative environment in which we find ourselves – at work, home, school, church, or wherever else – it does not have to influence our behaviour and/or our worship. God’s grace is still able to empower us to “live soberly, righteously, and godly” wherever we find ourselves (Titus 2:11-12). We can still worship the right way. Easy? No! Possible? Yes! Just ask Samuel.