I’ve been working on a new sermon on 1 Samuel 3, God’s call of the boy Samuel. I came across this little snippet on Samuel’s call from George Matheson’s The Representative Men of the Bible. Matheson was the blind Scottish preacher of yesteryear with an uncanny ability to paint word pictures in the mind’s eyes of his hearers. He also wrote the great hymn “Oh Love that Will Not Let Me Go.”
Here is Matheson on the call of duty as a call to struggle:
Now, although the case of Samuel is an accentuated one, the call of duty is nearly always a call to struggle. The very idea of duty implies restraint or constraint. Duty is the middle term between compulsion and love; it is halfway between Egypt and Canaan; it is the desert. Outward force has passed, but spontaneity has not yet come. I move voluntarily; but I move with a burden, and I move slowly. I have met my angel, but I struggle with my angel; I have seen God face to face, but I halt upon my thigh. Our moments of duty are never unconscious moments, never light-hearted moments. They have always a sense of pressure, always an obstruction at the door.
The life of Samuel is, from the dawn, a life of sacrifice. The path on which his childhood went forth was a path of thorns; and he took it knowing it to be so. All who have followed his steps have had to tread the same narrow way. In all ages Herod has sought the young child to kill it. The Divine life has always run counter to a worldly principle, and has required to make its way in conflict with that principle. With the road of virtue. They will diverge with you as they diverged with Samuel—at the very point where duty calls. The hour of his spiritual promotion was precisely that hour which presaged his material degradation. The experience of the first prophet will be the experience of all Christian seers.