Speak, for Your servant is listening
1 Samuel 3 from the daily reading in the One Year Bible
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent.
2 It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well), 3 and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was, 4 that the Lord called Samuel; and he said, “Here I am.” 5 Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, lie down again.” So he went and lay down. 6 The Lord called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he answered, “I did not call, my son, lie down again.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor had the word of the Lord yet been revealed to him. 8 So the Lord called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli discerned that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 And Eli said to Samuel, “Go lie down, and it shall be if He calls you, that you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
10 Then the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” 11 The Lord said to Samuel, “Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which both ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. 12 In that day I will carry out against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I am about to judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knew, because his sons brought a curse on themselves and he did not rebuke them. 14 Therefore I have sworn to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.”
15 So Samuel lay down until morning. Then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. But Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 Then Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” 17 He said, “What is the word that He spoke to you? Please do not hide it from me. May God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the words that He spoke to you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, “It is the Lord; let Him do what seems good to Him.”
19 Thus Samuel grew and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fail. 20 All Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord. 21 And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, because the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.
How often do we listen to the voice of people rather than to the voice of God? In today’s text it says: Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli... and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was, that the Lord called Samuel; and he said, “Here I am.” Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he said, “I did not call, lie down again.” So he went and lay down. The Lord called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he answered, “I did not call, my son, lie down again.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor had the word of the Lord yet been revealed to him. Samuel was ministering to the Lord. He was living, working and serving in the temple. He was lying down in the very place of the presence of God, yet he did not know the Lord. Samuel was being trained and was serving in all the religious traditions, but God wanted someone He could talk to, someone who would listen when He spoke. We too, even if we are serving God, even if we are ministering, even if we lie down in His presence, can miss His voice speaking to us, if we don’t know Him. Samuel relied on Eli to be his link to God. That’s why he ran to him when God spoke. Spiritual fathers, pastors, teachers and mentors are important in our lives. But God wants to speak to us directly. He wants us to know Him personally and intimately. God wants to reveal His word to us. Not just His written word, but also His direct word to us for each day, for every circumstance we encounter.
Samuel was not at fault. He was doing all the right things. We, like Samuel need to study God’s written word. We need to dwell, abide and even lie down in God’s presence. Then like Samuel we need to say: “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” The voice of God may come in different forms. It may not be an audible voice as it was for Samuel. It may be an impression. It may come in the form of knowledge or understanding we are given about a situation for which there is no natural explanation. God may tell us to say or do something to or for someone else. It is important that we know God’s written word, because what He speaks to us will not contradict what He has said before. He may give us a new revelation or a deeper understanding than we previously had, but His word like His will does not change.
For us to hear God’s voice, for us to have His word revealed to us, it begins with knowing Him. In John 10:27;30 Jesus says: “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me…I and the Father are one.” To know Jesus is to know the Father. Still it is more than knowing about Him. It is an intimate relationship He desires to have with us. God created each of us uniquely and individually. So our relationship with Him is also unique. Just as Eli could not be the voice of God for Samuel, so we too need to learn to hear God’s voice as He speaks uniquely to us.
In Deuteronomy 8:3 it says: He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. Just like the physical manna, the bread from heaven which God provided for the Israelites in the wilderness to sustain them, God also and more so, provides His daily sustaining word to us. The Israelites were instructed to go out and gather the manna daily because what was left from the day before was no good for that day. So too, God wants us to gather the fresh manna of His word to us and for us daily. We need to position ourselves, as Samuel did, abiding in the presence of God. We need to get to know God intimately by spending time with Him. Very often the reason we don’t hear the voice of God is because all of the time we spend with Him is spent with us speaking. Whether it is in worship or prayer, both of which are good, vital and important in our relationship with God, we are speaking. If all the time that we spend with God, we spend speaking, how will we hear His voice? Samuel became a powerful leader of God’s people. He called and anointed kings. God also has a powerful plan for each of us if we will come to know Him and hear His voice. Like Samuel, we need to say: “Here I am, for you called me… Speak, for Your servant is listening.”
Heavenly Father, Lord Jesus Christ, my shepherd; precious Holy Spirit thank You for Your word given to us in scripture. Help me today to hear Your voice speaking to me. I come seeking fresh manna, a revelation of Your word and Your will for this day. Speak, for Your servant is listening. Amen.