We all struggle at times to be sensitive to the still, small voice of God speaking to us through the Scriptures. So did Samuel in 1 Samuel 3, as he listened for the audible voice of God.
Samuel was a young lad probably about twelve years of age, dedicated to the Lord by Hannah and training for the priestly ministry under Eli. Amazingly, God spoke to Samuel, though he mistook the Lord’s voice for Eli’s; thankfully Eli understood who was calling Samuel.
God spoke directly and audibly with people in the Old Testament. Nonetheless, in Genesis he spoke to only a handful of individuals although that book spans 2000 years and constitutes a third of the world’s history to the present day. Also, consider that between Malachi and Matthew’s Gospel there was a 400-year silence from God!
What a privilege then to have God’s words in the Bible! What God says happens in his timing, and we need him to search and examine our ways and lead us (Psalm 139:23-24). We must also examine our own hearts (2 Corinthians 13:5) and be receptive to hear from him.
Although the boy Samuel was inexperienced, God still used him. He was chosen to deliver a sobering message to Eli about Eli’s sons, who were displeasing to the Lord in the way they carried out their ecclesiastical duties.
The Lord will use us too if he chooses, possibly in ways we are not able to comprehend at the moment. Few military tacticians would have designated Moses to confront Pharaoh or appointed Gideon as a trainee, let alone full, leader, yet God used them.
Scripture implores us to wait on the Lord (Psalm 37:7) Do we do that often? Do we actively pray and meditate on his word and desire that he will open our eyes to its wonderful truths (Psalm 119:18)?
Or maybe we are too busy or rushed to hear from God? Interestingly, Samuel wasn’t busy; God spoke to him while he was lying down. As far as we know, he wasn’t distracted and obviously wouldn’t have been watching television.
In Britain, the average household watches over three hours TV per day, though there is never enough time for prayer and Bible study. For a lifespan of between 70-80 years that would mean an entire decade in front of the TV! There are other distractions too that seek to rob us of a richly blessed life in Christ.
Surely Samuel would have wanted any other words to deliver than a stern rebuke for the wicked sons of Eli. Yet Eli warned him, ‘Please do not hide it from me. God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all the things that he has said to you’. But God was faithful and ‘the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground’ (1 Samuel 3:19).
God still speaks today, though we must take time to listen and be disciplined in removing obstacles that jeopardise the quality of our walk with him. We should pray at all times and listen to God’s Word, which is the plumb line of truth.
Furthermore, God has given his children the Holy Spirit as their teacher, who will lead and guide them into all truth (John 16:13). Will he therefore not speak to us wonderful truths and blessings, as we cry, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears’?