As you prepare to read this day’s Bible passage, pray Samuel’s words: “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.”
Read 1 Samuel 3:1-4:1
 The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.  One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place.  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.  Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.”  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.  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.”  Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.  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.  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.  The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”  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.  At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family-from beginning to end.  For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them.  Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.'”  Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the LORD. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision,  but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.” Samuel answered, “Here I am.”  “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.”  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.”  The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground.  And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD.  The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.  And Samuel’s word came to all Israel. Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek. Scripture taken from the THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION, NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectHow would you describe the Lord's relationship with Samuel?
God is a God who speaks. Sadly, though, at this point in Israel’s history, “the word of the Lord was rare” (3:1). This was because hardly anyone was listening. But God was still looking for someone whose ears were open. That “someone” was Samuel. Though he was unfamiliar with the voice of God, he positioned himself in the presence of God (3). When God called, Samuel heard his voice but didn’t recognize it. Even Eli, who had no doubt heard God speak before, took time to recognize the identity of the speaker (5,6,8). God’s voice today is similarly hard to identify. Sometimes this is due to unfamiliarity. We don’t usually hear God speak audibly nowadays, but he can speak through natural events, through Scripture, through dreams or prophecies. Sometimes our deafness may be due to our disobedience, which gets in the way of hearing God’s voice clearly. In John’s Gospel, Jesus says he is the Good Shepherd; his sheep confidently follow him because they “know his voice” (John 10:2-5). Other voices vie for our attention; the Holy Spirit can help us discern God’s voice and obey it.
How do you accurately recognize the voice of God speaking to you? How can you filter out competing voices?
Lord, I’m one of Your sheep. When You speak to me, I want to recognize Your voice and obey it.
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