Short Take: Here Am I

When Samuel heard his name one night, he thought Eli was calling him. He answered, “Here am I.” Eli had not called; he sent Samuel back to bed. It happened again and again. Finally, Eli said it must be the Lord, and Samuel should say next time, “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth.” Samuel obeyed, and marvels followed. (See 1 Samuel 3:1-10.)

Long before Samuel, Abraham, Jacob, and Moses answered in turn, when the Lord called: “Here am I” (Exodus 3:1-4; Genesis 22:11; 31:11; 46:2).

In the Hebrew Bible, what Samuel, Moses, Abraham, and Jacob said, when the Lord called, was “hineni” (pronounced “hee-NAY-ee” or “hee-nen-EE,” depending on which rabbi is reading which verse).

Besides mere presence or location, hineni suggests devotion, service, and determination. Hineni implies what Samuel said the fourth time: “Speak, Lord, for thy servant heareth.” Samuel was listening, and he was the Lord’s willing servant. I’m told that hineni also suggests, “This is where I take a stand. This is what I stand for.”

So I ask myself, and you could ask yourself, Is the Church just a nice place to spend time on Sunday? Or do I present myself there, as God’s willing servant? What of my prayers, my neighborhood, my home? Am I just there, or am I the Lord’s willing and obedient servant there?

My neighbor and I are writing short columns for our monthly ward (congregation) newsletter, focusing on the Old Testament and related scripture in 2014. This is one such column, as previously published there.

Short Take: Old Law for New Times

Author's Note
My neighbor and I are writing short columns for our monthly ward (congregation) newsletter, focusing on the Old Testament and related scripture in 2014. Here’s one of my “short takes,” as previously published there.

The Law of Moses is a lower law, compared to the Gospels’ higher law, but the higher law’s highest principles are in the lower law, as well.

Jesus identified the two greatest commandments (Matthew 22:35-40; see also D&C 59:5-6), quoting the Old Testament: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might” (Deuteronomy 6:5). “Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself” (Leviticus 19:18).

Other Mosaic verses add helpful insight.

“The Lord your God proveth you, to know whether ye love [him] with all your heart and … soul” (Deuteronomy 13:3). God also helps us to love him that much, “that thou mayest live” (Deuteronomy 30:6).

Besides loving our neighbors, we are to treat strangers and outsiders as our own. In Exodus we read, “Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him” – and, as if to show us that he doesn’t just mean fellow believers from out of town, the Lord continues, “for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (22:21). Leviticus adds, “The stranger that dwelleth with you shall be as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (19:33-34).

These ancient commandments would surely serve us well in the 21st Century.