1 Samuel 3:1-10 (NIV):
The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.
2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 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. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 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.
6 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.”
7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.
8 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 realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 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.
10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
How often do you find yourself saying, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening?” It’s more likely that we find ourselves saying, “Lord, why don’t you just listen to me?” Or, “Hurry up Lord, I’m listening!” We become so wrapped up in ourselves and our own lives that we fail to acknowledge that the creator of the universe knows what’s best for each of us and is more than willing to give us direction for our lives, if we will just stop and listen.
Most people lead very hurried lives and they allow little or no time to slow down and listen for God. Think about how you either begin or end your day. Do you set aside any daily time for God in the morning, at night, or at some other time during the day? I often hear people complain that God seems distant and far away from them. They tend to blame God for this lack of communication instead of their own failure to seek out and spend some quiet time, listening for God.
The text from 1 Samuel makes it very clear that God expects us to “listen” to him. God can and does reveal himself to us in many different ways. God greatly desires to connect with us through the reading of his word, through prayer, being outside enjoying the beauty of nature, and often through other people. God can and does communicate to us in countless ways, but we must be willing to listen.
We see in this text that Eli, the priest, was not listening for God. His sons were doing bad things and treating the offerings made to the Lord with contempt. “Eli’s sons were scoundrels; they had no regard for the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:12). Eli had failed to restrain them and so God reveals to Eli that he and his sons will be judged accordingly. Remember that it took Eli three times to realize that it was God who was calling out to Samuel. It appears that Eli was more preoccupied with other matters rather than listening to God. Is the same true for you in your daily walk with God?
Remember the story of the transfiguration from the Gospel of Matthew? Peter, James and John are led by Jesus up a high mountain and Jesus is transfigured before them. These three disciples were given a unique revelation of His glorious nature. And Moses and Elijah even appear before them and began talking with Jesus. And what does Peter do? He keeps on talking! And then do you remember what happens next?
Matthew 17:5: While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
While Peter is talking, God interrupts him and says, “This is my Son – Listen to him! It doesn’t take a genius to understand that God wants us to listen!
Do you desire a closer, more intimate relationship with God? Do you want to feel God’s presence and sense His direction for your life? If so, the Bible is very clear on how we are able to do that – Listen to him! We can’t listen to God or feel his presence if we push him to the outer part of our lives. You must make God the center of your life, each and every day. And then you must be patient and listen! Are you willing to listen and then follow where God leads you?
Remember the words of Samuel in your own daily walk with God: “Speak, for your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).