“Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him.” (1 Samuel 3:7)
“When did you come to know the Lord,” I asked a young man several years ago, at a Bible conference. He replied by facetiously telling me that when he was a 2-year old toddler, he repented of his sins and called on the name of the Lord. His stab at a humorous argument against the doctrine of freewill only showed his refusal to acknowledge one plain teaching of the Bible, simply because he was not able in his own mind to reconcile it with another, equally as plain. I should have answered, “I didn’t ask when the Lord came to know you; I asked when you came to know Him.”
Young Samuel, who was an answer to his mother, Hannah’s, prayers, and was dedicated to God before he was even born, was certainly known by God. Yet we are told in this verse in the first book of Samuel, he “did not yet know the Lord.” He may have had godly parents, and he may have been living in the house of God, but when he first heard the voice of God, he did not recognize it (vv.4-5). The significant word here may be the little adverb “yet.” Samuel did not know God at this time in his life, but he was going to.
I learn from this that children, no matter how godly their Christian parents may be, and no matter how biblical their upbringing may have been, are still called upon to recognize their alienation from God because of sin, and acknowledge Him and their Lord and Savior. And the fact that parents have every right (and duty) to pray for, and even claim, the salvation of their children (Acts 16:31) does nothing to diminish this principle. The two ideas may seem contradictory to you and me, but in the revelation of God through His Word, they were spoken in the same breath.
For the first nine years of my life (and even before—Eph.1:4), God knew me; and in the years since then, I have also known Him. God knew exactly what he was getting into when He chose me. I, on the other hand, had no conception of the great Treasure I was acquiring as a young child. Nor do I yet fully comprehend it. I only know that when I hear His voice, my grateful heart cries out, “Speak; for thy servant heareth.”