1 Samuel 3:1-20
Verse 1: “Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.”
This reflects moral and spiritual corruption of the nation at that time. Since the people of God turned their back against God in many ways, God hardly spoke to them. While all these things going on, God decided to speak to boy Samuel. He lived in the temple with the priest, Eli, since he was a baby. When God called him, he was about 12 years old.
Verse 2: “At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; Eli was 98 years old at that time. His eyesight was getting worse each passing day. For many of us, our visions are getting worse and we also need hearing aid as we become older. But there was more serious problem than Eli’s physical eyesight. His spiritual eyesight and hearing ability were getting worse, too. Since he could not hear God’s voice well, he had to depend on the boy Samuel who was his student.
Verse 3 says, “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.” It means that sun had not risen yet. Since it was still dark, they did not turn off the lamp of God. When God called Samuel, it was still dark.
Verses 4-6: Although God rarely spoke to anyone or reveal his plan through visions at that time, God spoke to Samuel and revealed his plan. It makes Samuel’s calling more special. But Samuel could not recognize God’s voice either. Every time God called his name, he got up and ran to Eli since he thought it was Eli who had called him. Our Bible says it like this in verse 7, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.” What does it mean? It means that Samuel did not have a deep and personal relationship with the Lord although he knew about God by learning the Law of God. That’s why he could not recognize God’s voice. We can know about God in our head without having a personal relationship with God. For example, we can know a lot about Grand Canyon without actually visiting there. But one day when you visit Grand Canyon, you will really know the beauty and greatness of Grand Canyon. That’s why Job said in the book of Job 42:5-6, “I had heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now my eye sees you; therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Although Eli was a priest of the Lord, he could not recognize God’s voice immediately. It took him to realize that God was calling Samuel when Samuel came to him third time. He finally instructed Samuel what to do when God would call him next time. So Samuel did exactly what Eli had told him to do. When God called Samuel again, he said to God, “Speak, your servant is listening.” To become a servant of God, one must learn how to listen to God. Samuel could not recognize God’s voice because of his spiritual immaturity and inexperience. That is understandable. He was like a new believer who does not know much about the Bible or how to live a christian life.
But Eli was the one who had a real problem. Although he was a priest of God, he could not hear God’s voice well. He was also losing his ability to listen to God due to his spiritual laziness and sins. Although he knew that his two sons were committing sins in the temple, he failed to discipline them. Eli’s two sons were also following their father’s footstep and were serving the Lord in the Temple (Shiloh) as priests. But they despised the Lord by eating the meats before they were offered to God and also slept with the women who were working in the temple. Eli is like old time church members who have been coming to church for a long time.
It is also important to listen to one another. How well do we listen to each other: young and old; new members and old time members; mature Christians and new believers Listening is one of the essential skills to bridge the generational gab between the young and the old; new members and old timers; church members and non church members.
But listening is not always easy!
Samuel had difficulty. Eli had difficulty. Samuel was afraid to tell the truth to Eli. We can praise Eli for his earnest plea. Eli sincerely encouraged Samuel to share what he had heard from God. So Samuel was able to tell the whole truth although he was scared.
19 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beesheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord.
Why do you think God used Samuel in mighty way? I think because he was always willing to listen and quickly responded to God’s calling. I think because he spoke God’s word–I mean only Words he had heard from God.
My sisters and brothers in Christ,
Let me ask you this quesiton. Are you listening?