A Messenger of Bad News


And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.” Then the Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”

Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” And Eli said, “What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.” So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him.”

And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord. And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

And the word of Samuel came to all Israel. I Samuel 3:10-4:1 ESV

Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it—the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. Roman 3:19-25a


Have you ever heard the phrase, “Shoot the messenger!” It means to get angry with someone who tells you bad news. Jennifer was looking forward to going to a movie with Andrea, but then Andrea decided to do something else instead. She didn’t tell Jennifer, but she told another friend, Linda, instead. When Linda gave Jennifer the news, Jennifer got really mad at Linda. This really wasn’t fair. Linda was only the messenger, not the person who had hurt Jennifer. Sometimes in the past, a messenger who gave a powerful king bad news might have been punished or even put to death for bringing news the king didn’t like.

Samuel was a messenger from God with bad news for old Eli, who had been like a father to him. He didn’t want to tell Eli the bad news. He probably wasn’t afraid of being punished, because Eli wasn’t the kind of person to punish even his own sons. But he certainly didn’t want to hurt Eli’s feelings or make him angry or upset. It was very hard for Samuel to tell Eli what God had said, but Samuel was beginning to be a prophet for God, and being God’s prophet sometimes means telling people things they don’t want to hear. Samuel began his faithful service to God at this very young age by telling Eli the truth.

We all have both bad news and good news from God to tell others. People often don’t want to hear the bad news that they are sinners and need a Savior. We ourselves don’t always like to be reminded of that, but it’s necessary. If we don’t see that we are sinful, we won’t realize that we need forgiveness. It might not be too hard to admit that we do wrong, but we still like to think we can fix things ourselves. Because Eli’s sons had no faith in God, the sacrifices and offerings they made as priests were useless. God has given us the one way that our sins can be forgiven, and that is through Jesus and his perfect sacrifice on the cross. What Jesus has done for all people everywhere is the good news that we have the privilege of sharing.


Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the good news of Jesus, who died to take away our sins. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.