Vol. 12 No. 2 February 2010
By Bonnie Rushmore
The phrase “here am I” is used sixteen times in the Bible (KJV) with all the passages appearing in the Old Testament. These words were used to answer when called. Sometimes, mankind spoke to an individual and that person answered, “Here am I,” and other times God called to an individual and that person answered, “Here am I.”
Genesis 22:7 is the first reference to this phrase. Verse one begins with God telling Abraham to offer Isaac as a sacrifice upon the altar. Three days later as Abraham and Isaac neared the appointed spot, Isaac said, “Father.” Abraham answered, “Here am I, my son.” Isaac wanted to know the location of the sacrificial lamb. Abraham told him “God will provide.” A few verses later as Abraham raised the knife to slay Isaac on the altar, God called, “Abraham, Abraham,” and Abraham answered, “Here am I.” God stopped Abraham from slaying his son and provided the appropriate sacrifice.
Esau answered Isaac “here am I” in Genesis 27:1. Jacob used the phrase “here am I” when he deceived Isaac into giving him the blessing instead of Esau (Genesis 27:18) and two other times when replying to the call of the Lord (Genesis 31:11; 46:2). Joseph answered, “Here am I” to his father Jacob, when called to check on his brothers (Genesis 37:13). Moses said, “Here am I” when God called to him from the burning bush (Exodus 3:4). The Book of 2 Samuel twice records the phrase “here am I” with both instances having an unnamed man using the phrase (1:7; 15:26).
The following uses of the phrase “here am I” are probably the ones remembered by Bible students. First Samuel chapter three lists that the young boy Samuel answered, “Here am I” to Eli four times, thinking Eli was calling him, when in reality God called Samuel, and once when Eli called Samuel.
The prophet Isaiah said, “Here am I,” adding the phrase “send me,” when God asked who would go (Isaiah 6:8). The balance of the chapter gives the instructions God gave Isaiah.
As we see from the above listed verses, to answer, “Here am I” seems to imply “Yes, what do you want,” with the added message “I’m ready to do as you say” in reference to Joseph and Isaiah. When Samuel correctly responded to God, his phrase “Speak; for thy servant heareth” (1 Samuel 3:10) also implied, “I’m ready to do as you say.” “Here am I” means that we will react with promptness and zeal when responding to God’s commands.
Although the phrase “here am I” is not used in the New Testament, other phrases implying the same meaning are found. Consider Paul’s reply to Jesus while on the road to Damascus, “Lord, what wilt thou have me to do” (Acts 9:6; 22:10). The Jews asked, “Men and brethren, what shall we do” (Acts 2:37). The Philippian jailor stated, “What must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). Cornelius said, “What is it, Lord” (Acts 10:4).
Can you reply, “Here am I, send me” or “What is it, Lord” as these men have done? If not, what is holding you back?
Sometimes our wavering faith keeps us from saying “Here am I, send me.” We love the Lord, live a Christ-like life, daily study our Bibles, attend all the services of our local congregation, but hesitate to step out of our comfort zones to serve the Lord. We, like Moses did at the burning bush, make excuses for not doing the will of the Lord. God, as He did with Moses, can take away every excuse we devise in our hearts, if we will trust in Him (Psalms 16:1; 18:2).
Perhaps, you have sin in your life that is holding you back from fully serving God. Apparently, Isaiah was aware of the sinfulness within him, and he could not completely serve God until God showed him that sins are forgiven (Isaiah 6). Albert Barnes makes the following observation about Isaiah and his use of the phrase “Here am I.”
[Here am I] This shows at once his confidence in God, and his zeal. He had been qualified for it by the extraordinary commission, and he was now ready to bear the message to his countrymen. In this attitude “we” should stand, prompt to deliver “any” message that God shall entrust to our hands, and to engage in “any” service that he calls on us to perform. (Barnes’ Notes. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1997)
Just as God forgave Isaiah, God will forgive us when we repent of the sins in our lives (Acts 3:19; 8:22). Once those sins are forgiven, we can move forward in our service to the Heavenly Father.
Let us follow the example of Isaiah, Joseph, Samuel and others saying, “Here am I, send me.” Do not let the cares of this world distract us from immediately seizing the opportunities for faithful, diligent service to God our Creator and King.