Patient One, so often my life is tamper-resistant to you. May your Word break through and make me whole.
Read 1 Samuel 3:1 – 4:1a
The Lord Calls Samuel
3 The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.
6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
“My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”
7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
8 A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.”
Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God,[a] and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”
15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”
Samuel answered, “Here I am.”
17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”
19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.
4 And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.
- 1 Samuel 3:13 An ancient Hebrew scribal tradition (see also Septuagint); Masoretic Text sons made themselves contemptible
New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectTo many people this is a very familiar story, so ask God to help you read it as though for the first time.
‘The word of the Lord was rare’ (v 1). How chilling a statement that is. Presumably, Samuel, while willing to serve God and help Eli in Shiloh, does not expect to hear from God himself. He clearly doesn’t recognize the voice that calls before dawn. Eventually Eli wonders if it is God. Note the actual words he instructs Samuel to say (v 9). But Samuel is more tentative (v 10).
We can only imagine how shocking God’s message is – for Israel, for Eli and his family, and it must also have dawned on Samuel that there might be implications for himself. Only after he has told Eli the full details does Eli confirm that this is indeed God speaking (v 18). From then on, God continues to speak with Samuel (v 21). Maybe Eli helps him to learn to hear from God, or maybe God himself trains Samuel’s spiritual antennae to discern the word of the Lord.
God speaks in many ways to individuals and to his world. Good books and blogs have been written and great sermons preached on how to hear God’s Word today. But just as Samuel hears God speak, God will in his own time train and enable anyone to hear his Word – so long as they genuinely want to listen.
‘Lord, open my eyes to see the truth of your Word! Unblock my ears to hear your Word of truth!’
Gracious God, today I pray for listening ears, eager to hear your voice, and then to obey.
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