Mighty God, through Your Spirit You can enable me to do and be more than I can ever imagine. Thank You.
Read 1 SAMUEL 3:1—4:1a
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, 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.
The Philistines Capture the Ark
Now the Israelites went out to fight against the Philistines. The Israelites camped at Ebenezer, and the Philistines at Aphek.
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness’” (2 Cor. 12:9). How does this apply to you today?
Who doesn’t love the familiar verse we find in this passage, “Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth” (9, KJV)? That’s the universal call to worship for Encounter with God readers around the world. Charming though it may be, our passage deals with a very important issue, one that’s key to a living faith today: how can we actually hear the voice of God? A careful look at Samuel’s experience reveals three parts to the answer.
First, hearing God requires a childlike faith. Samuel’s immediate response to the whisper in the night was, “Here I am” (4). Then he trotted over to Eli, assuming that he was the caller. I like Samuel’s first instinct: ready to listen. That’s more difficult for adults and it is why Jesus challenged us to be “like little children” (Matt. 18:3). Second, hearing God takes discernment. We need to be cautious about claiming “God spoke to me!” Eli became a spiritual coach for Samuel; God spoke three times and then Eli realized what was going on (8). When we think we’ve heard the voice of God we need to check our impressions with a spiritual mentor before we go public with them.
Finally, hearing God requires listening (10). That sounds easy, but is it? I once took a silent retreat at the Abbey of Gethsemani, the Trappist monastery where Thomas Merton lived. Throughout the facility little signs were posted that read, “Silence spoken here.” For three days I didn’t say a word and discovered that quieting the external noise is much easier than quieting the internal noise—my worries, concerns and frustrations. To hear the “still small voice” of God today (1 Kings 19:12, KJV), we may need to shut off both the external and internal noises we live with every day.
Make a list of the external and internal noises in your life. How could you turn down the volume this weekend so that you can hear God better?
Lord, I know I need more than just hearing from You; I need to obey Your voice, to “trust and obey.” Empower me to walk in obedience to You.