1 Samuel 3:1-10
“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 realised 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.”
Samuel grew up to be a great prophet of God, he faithfully served God and had an incredible life of ministry. We get a glimpse in this passage of Samuel as a young boy first learning to perceive and discern the call and voice of God in his life.
This story of God calling Samuel challenges us to listen for His voice in our daily lives. God has something to say to us every single day. The spirit of God speaks into our lives teaching, shaping, correcting, encouraging and comforting us and God wants us to listen.
In verse 1 we read that in those days the word of the Lord was rare. Samuel was called by the Lord in the midst of a spiritual drought. God was not communicating to His people, but not because the Lord had nothing to say but because His people had turned away from Him.
We read that God calls Samuel three times, but he does not recognise that it was God speaking to him. Each time God calls him, Samuel gets up and runs to Eli, thinking it was Eli calling him. And Eli begins to realise that it was God who was calling Samuel.
Let’s first look at the setting of Samuel’s calling. In verse 3 we read that Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord where the ark of God was.
The ark was God’s presence among His people. And Samuel was right there in the presence of the Lord.
In verse 1 we read that Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli.
What does ministered before the Lord mean – when we think about ministering, we think of meeting the needs of people. 1 chronicle 16:4 says “David appointed some of the Levites to minister before the ark of the Lord, to extol, thank, and praise the Lord, the God of Israel.”
Dr. Ed Steele explains this beautifully; he writes
- It was done in obedience to what God commanded
- It was done in recognition of who God is and what He did for them
It was a form of worship
Ministering to the Lord is to praise and worship Him, with an obedience in response to His character, nature and what He has done for us but we may be also called to minister before him with weeping and intercession on behalf of those with burdened hearts (Joel 2:17 “Let the priests, who minister before the Lord, weep and say “Spare your people Lord.”).
As we live in obedience to God, we grow in our understanding of who He is and our need of Him. Ministering to the Lord precedes effective ministry to people.
So, what can we observe about Samuel’s positioning when God speaks to him?
He was in the right position – living with an acute awareness of the presence of God, worshipping and living his life in obedience to God.
If we want to recognise the voice of God in our lives, we have to think about our position.
- Are we positioned in our life to hear the call of God?
- Is our life positioned in such a way that God has the opportunity to speak to us?
We see in the passage that Samuel for himself could not at the time discern the voice of God. It was Eli who does.
Eli enables Samuel to hear and recognise the voice of God. Eli brings clarity and amplification to God’s voice in Samuel’s life.
For us – Who is or are the Eli in our life?
This emphasises the importance of having people in your life that encourage you to hear and pursue God, who give you the courage and passion to hear His voice and follow His leading.
In verse 9 we read Eli offering counsel to Samuel on how to respond
“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
Speak Lord – Desire – to carry the desire to hear from the Lord; what encouragement, what challenge or conviction do you have for me today Lord.
Your servant – the positioning that we have to model; come before Him as humble and obedient servants.
Is Listening – when do you properly listen, when we intend to put into action what was being said. Listen to God with the intent to put into action what HE says to us.
What is God saying to you? We might not always hear Him and that’s ok, don’t try to force it. Find contentment in humbly being silent in His presence where your spirit will be renewed.
Let’s reflect on what God is doing in our life and how we listen and respond to HIM.