Now the boy Samuel ministered to the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation. And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see, and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the LORD where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, that the LORD called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!” So he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” And he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” And he went and lay down.
Then the LORD called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” He answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” (Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor was the word of the LORD yet revealed to him.)
And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.” Then Eli perceived that the LORD had called the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” (1 Samuel 3:1-10)
There is a lot that can be discussed in this passage, especially when you look at the context of the chapter. However, I want to draw your attention to three of these points to consider.
Number 1: The word of the Lord was rare in those days
First, we are told that “the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation.” God did not speak often during this time. When He did speak it was often a word of judgment. It was not an insignificant thing for God to speak through this young man. In later verses, you can see that Eli recognized and heeded the words that were spoken through Samuel as the word of God.
The word of the Lord was rare in those days; the word of the Lord is rare in these days as well. The word of God is not rare because God does not want to speak to His people. His love is always unwavering. God’s desire for fellowship with His children does not wane. He is always ready and waiting for us to spend time in prayer (conversation) and worship (recognizing His authority in our lives). The word of God is rare because God’s people do not want to listen to their Father. In order to hear from God, we must have a desire to hear the word of God.
John tells us “that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” (John 3:19) It is a sad but important fact that many reject God because they desire to cling to their sins. When an individual chooses to put their own desires ahead of the purpose that God has for them, God grants them the opportunity to pursue life on their own (without God’s blessings and protections). This leads to a fruitless life filled with constant struggles and disappointment.
However, John also tells us “he who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.” (John 3:21) How beautiful that picture is: an individual (or often and entire family) choosing to puts God’s truth into action instead of pursuing their own desires. The result is lives filled with fruit and blessing. This should not be interpreted as a life that is easy or without trials. Jesus made it clear that life would be filled with trials and challenges. This will be true for every individual. Choosing to live a life according to the word of God does mean that we have our loving Father accompanying us every step of the way and that we are taking a path that was prepared for us instead of forging our own path through the wilderness.
Just because the word of the Lord is rare does not mean that we will not hear from Him. God desires to speak to those that are willing to listen. God is willing to share as much as we are willing to hear. We have to prepare our hearts and minds to receive from the Lord. We must choose to pursue the path that God has prepared for us in order to receive the benefits of a path that has been cleared before us.
Number 2: God spoke to Samuel during a quiet time of the day
Second, God spoke to Samuel during a quiet time of the day. “Before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the LORD” indicates “before dawn.” But it is also suggestive of the dark spiritual times of Israel. Israel was in a dark time. Like Israel then, I believe that we are in a dark time today. Samuel was lying down during a quiet time when God spoke to him.
With all of the distractions in the world today, it’s imperative that we are intentional about giving God opportunity to speak. We need to create quiet time in our day (several times per day) to block out all of the noise and allow God to speak to us. This time can be at the beginning of the day, at the end of the day, our lunch break at work, or turning off the phone or radio during your daily commute. Better yet… our quiet time could be all of these times. This time can be an hour or five minutes.
It seems like a burden to carve out some time in a busy day for God, but oh how sweet it is when we hear God speak. It brings a smile to our face and a joy to our heart. In Jeremiah, God said “Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.” (Jeremiah 33:3) This is the antithesis of “fake news”. Only God can reveal what lies ahead. More importantly, God can prepare us not only to survive but to prosper through whatever events lie ahead.
Setting aside quiet time with God on a daily basis should not be viewed as a burden. Time spent with God is an investment in ourselves and our future. Spiritual training at the hands of God is as important as anything else that we can do. God is ready and willing… turn off the noise and turn your attention to Him.
Number 3: Samuel was new to hearing from God
Third, Samuel was new to hearing from God. The first three times that God spoke to Samuel he responded by going to Eli. Eli provided Samuel with good counsel. Samuel lies down the fourth time expecting to hear from God.
If you have given your life to the Lord… you should expect to hear from Him. There should be a constant expectation of God working in your life. Read verse 10 again… Now the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” This should always be our response to God… “Speak, for your servant hears.”
Like the disciples, we should be ready and willing to drop what we are doing and follow the Lord when he calls. Hearing from the Lord and responding to Him should be a natural part of our days. Our relationship with God is not “on again, and off again”. Our relationship with God is constant. We should be in constant fellowship throughout the day. What a wonderful Friend to have by our side always!
Much uncertainty lies ahead. But only from our earthly perspective. We have a Father in Heaven that knows what lies ahead right down to the very second. He has prepared a path for you and wants to be your navigator to lead you through. This requires a relationship with Him. He will let you proceed blind and wandering if that is your desire. But He is willing to be your Shepherd; to guide and protect you. He is calling. Are you willing to respond: “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.”
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. (John 10:27)