The story of Samuel begins as the answered prayer of his mother, Hannah, who prayed for Samuel and then gave him to the Lord to use. A thought unimaginable to me as a mother, who labored 8 hours for one and 4 hours for the other, and wanted my girls as much as Hannah wanted Samuel. I can’t imagine at just a few years old, taking that child to the temple and handing him over to a Priest to raise. Hannah’s name actually meant grace. A gift God had no doubt blessed her with in order to do what she did.
The characters in the story of Hannah would have also caused a mother of lesser faith to second guess her decision. Eli the priest had done a terrible job of raising his own sons, they were heathens, making a mockery of their role at temple and God eventually tires of it and kills them. And now Samuel is growing up under the guidance of Eli. I think I might have hung out at the temple a lot! Looking to see if my son was cared for. But Hannah didn’t. She trusts God and eventually had three more sons. Who no doubt took up much of her time.
Samuel grew up just fine, as we know from the scriptures, but what if the story went another direction. What if the story of Billy Graham had gone another direction and he hadn’t have accepted God’s call on his life, how many millions would have gone to Hell? How do we know that we’re not the next great soul winner in God’s plan? What if we only win one soul, but that soul wins millions, and what if we neglect so great a calling because we didn’t take the time to hear it?
A Study from Samuel 3:1-18
1 And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision.
Right out of the gate in the life of Samuel we learn that children are not excluded from the call and service of Christ. We also learn that there is no “open vision.” Meaning that God was no longer communicating with the way He once did. Probably because of the behaviors of Eli’s sons, which likely affected the rest of the nation, who had never needed any help falling into sin in times past.
2 And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see; 3 And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; 4 That the Lord called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I. 5 And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down.6 And the Lord called yet again, Samuel. And Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And he answered, I called not, my son; lie down again.7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him.
Samuel thought that he was hearing Eli. He was young and had never experienced the Lord working in his life before. I was 34 before I ever experienced the Lord working in my life. That brings us to the question, how are you to know that God is talking to you?
KNOWING THE VOICE OF GOD
8 And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. And Eli perceived that the Lord had called the child.
We understand through the word of God how we hear from Jesus: when the scripture says in John 10:27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:” Over time we begin to distinguish the voice of God from the voice of the world that constantly pulls us in different directions. But not without a relationship that is constantly growing in Christ. Thinking that Sunday morning Christianity is enough… isn’t. A loving relationship isn’t open for conversations 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. It is for certain you won’t hear if you don’t spend time with Jesus and listen.
9 Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if he call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Lord; for thy servant heareth. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 And the Lord came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for thy servant heareth.
This time Samuel responded.
Hearing and understanding that it is God requires more. It requires:
KNOWING THE CHARACTER OF GOD
11 And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. 12 In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. 13 For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. 14 And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever. 15 And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.
God tells Samuel that He’s going to bring Judgement on Eli and his sons. What does that tell you about the character of God and has He changed? Of course not! Malachi 3:6a tells us “For I am the Lord, I change not;”
So in knowing and understanding the character of God we can for certain weigh what we’re hearing against what we know to be the character of God. Would God personally do what you believe you heard? Anyone who says that God told them to do something immoral or unjust didn’t get that word from God.
Another all telling sign “can” be that the word you received makes you uncomfortable. Samuel didn’t want to have tell Eli that God was going to bring judgement upon them. When God told me that I needed to speak, that thought was way outside my comfort zone, but it wasn’t way outside my thoughts. I’d always desired it, but the world had convinced me that I could not. Preaching and teaching the word of God isn’t a popular thing to do in this day and time.
KNOWING THE DIRECTION OF GOD
16 Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I. 17 And he said, What is the thing that the Lord hath said unto thee? I pray thee hide it not from me: God do so to thee, and more also, if thou hide any thing from me of all the things that he said unto thee. 18 And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. And he said, It is the Lord: let him do what seemeth him good. 19 And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground.
A most amazing statement when we read “None of his words fall to the ground.” Everything that Samuel ever said, came to pass. Would to God, that I had such a relationship with the Lord, that everything I said came to be. I’m pretty sure that every single time I said “God said.” He didn’t. Because if He had said it, it would have happened and it did not.
I need to listen closer, draw closer and never fail to hear an assignment from God.