Read 1 Samuel 3
The Lord Calls Samuel
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.
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.
“Why don’t I get to hear directly from God?” This is the thought that might go through your head after reading 1 Samuel 3. Samuel was so lucky that he got to hear from the Lord! Surely, if God allowed us to have that same experience, our faith would be just as strong as Samuel’s was! This chapter can feel so different from our own lives. We likely want to hear from God, but it can often be difficult to hear Him. But in this chapter, we see the opposite take place. God so badly wants to speak to Samuel that He reaches out three separate times. If only God were that persistent with us!
While we might be jealous of God speaking to Samuel, we need to realize that through this chapter, the Holy Spirit is speaking to us. Through this story, God is showing us the type of person to whom He does speak. It’s clear that Samuel is spoken to because he is available. His life was quiet enough for God to be able to get his attention. Each time God spoke, Samuel heard. On the other hand, our lives are filled with so much noise that God may be trying to get through to us, but we can’t hear Him! We’re too busy rushing off to work in the morning to spend time with Him. Or, perhaps we drown Him out with the noise of the television in the background. Our lives are simply too loud to hear from God.
Another lesson in this chapter is the transfer of communication. God went from speaking with Eli to speaking with Samuel. This would have been a painful exchange for Eli, particularly because of the message given to Samuel. The lesson in this moment is that God wants to speak to someone who will do what He says. Samuel is clearly an empty vessel, willing to do whatever God asks of Him. On the other hand, God cut off communication with Eli because of his disobedience. If we want to hear from God, we need to learn to be both available and obedient. Today, let’s approach God with the words of Samuel: “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
- What characteristics did you notice about Samuel in this chapter?
- How do you think Eli felt throughout the chapter?
- Do you feel like you need to grow in availability or obedience? How can you make changes in either area today?
Did You Know?
One would naturally expect an audible message from God to be given to Eli, the priest, and not Samuel, the child. Eli was older and more experienced, while Samuel didn’t even know the sound of the Lord. But as we see in the Gospels (Matthew 19:14, for example), God moves towards children.
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