1 Samuel 3
Samuel was raised by Eli from the age of three and Eli would have taught him the Torah as a father-figure. We read in this chapter that Eli was reliant upon Samuel, this is indicated when Samuel asked him what he needed, we also read that Eli was blind and this would imply that he needed assistance in getting around the Temple. When Samuel thinks that he hears Eli calling in the night he jumps up and runs to Eli’s bedside, this gives us an indication as to the dedication and servant-heart of the young boy.
In verse 1 the Scripture tells us that Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. This shows that not only is Samuel dedicated in serving but he is obedient and assists Eli daily. We read that Eli’s sons were rebellious in the way that they lived and that Eli had turned a blind eye to their sinful ways, which most likely left Samuel to help Eli with everyday living. It is interesting to read that Samuel served the Lord by assisting the priest, in other words there is no indication of a living-relationship between God and Samuel. In fact in verse 7 we are told that Samuel ‘did not know the Lord yet’ and it is for this reason that he did not recognise the voice of God. Samuel would have been very aware of who God was and through learning the Torah and serving in the Temple he would have had a good knowledge of what God had done for his nation, yet this knowledge had not translated into a relationship with Father God. The knowledge translated once Samuel recognised the voice of YHWH. In John 10:27, Jesus said, “My sheep will recognise My voice; I know them and they follow Me.” The words recognise and follow indicate that there is a relationship, to follow someone you would know them, and for Jesus to say that His sheep recognise His voice points to a personal knowledge of what His voice sounds like and the fact that He has been able to get to know the sheep.
Eli realises that Samuel is being called by the Heavenly Father, YHWH, and he instructs the youngster to go back to bed, to lie down and to respond with the words, “Speak, Your servant is listening”. You see every single time Samuel heard the calling he jumped up and ran off to serve, Eli told him to lie down and listen.
How often do we hear, jump up and run off? Samuel was so busy getting in and out of bed, so busy rushing around from one room to the other that he did not stop to listen. We are all guilty of this, when often all that is required of us is to lie down and listen. It is by lying down that we are preparing ourselves to serve, by enabling our ears to listen.
There is a distinct difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is a verb that is used to describe what happens when your ears capture a sound. You hear a noise/sound but unless you listen you do not engage thinking by stopping to focus on the noise/sound and make sense of what it means, what action it requires you to take. As a mother and teacher I would often ask, “Did you not hear me?” The answer often given was yes, and this would annoy me as I would want to know why the required action to the statement or question had not been taken. I should have asked, “Did you listen to what I said?” I can assure you the response would have been different. How often do we hear Father, but because of our busyness we jump (to human conclusions) and run off with our own agenda? Should we not take more time to lie down, be still and listen?
When you listen it means you are making sense of the sounds, noises you hear. You recognise the source and allow your brain to translate the sounds into meaningful phrases. Listening involves understanding and even questioning if you are not sure. One of the best ways to listen is to paraphrase what you heard, do we lie down and do this with Father God? Or do we jump up and run off thinking we have listened when we may have heard?
In verse 15 we read that Samuel lies down and listens, he listened to Eli and because he listened he is able to be obedient. He answers the call with , “I am listening.” This implies that he has nothing to distract him, he is in a place where he can focus on the Lord. In other words, I am all ears, speak to me so that I can take in what You are saying, clarify it so to understand and accept it, make it part of me. This takes a servant-heart, to listen so we can obey and serve. We read that even after Samuel received the prophetic words, he did not jump up and run to Eli, no the Bible tells us Samuel stayed in bed, he stayed lying down, still and quiet. It was only when Eli directly asked him what God had said that Samuel spilt the beans.
There is a lesson to be gleaned from this, a lesson about attitude. Samuel had a servant-heart, he was obedient and he listened by lying down and being still. We are told at the end of this chapter that Samuel received many more messages from God and that he became known as a man that heard from the Father.
Eli was told by God that he would loose his sons on the same day because of their sinful ways. However Eli heard but did not listen. I am of the opinion that if he had listened he would have heeded the warning and taken steps to rectify the wayward behaviour. Eli was not only physically blind but he was spiritually blinded as well, even spiritually deaf. I think that his sons became so wrapped up in the life of the world that they stopped listening to Father and to Eli, they became deaf and this caused their death. Life bombards us with noise and sound. We have voices coming at us from screens, radios, music, peers and life. It is so hard to listen to all of these voices telling us how to dress, how to eat, how to exercise, what to drive, buy and be….We need to choose which voice we are going to listen to, which voice we are going to trust and seek to hear. We need to become quiet, lie down and listen to the beautiful voice of YHWH. I am reminded of the scripture, where Elijah listens for the voice of the Lord God Almighty. The voice of Elohim is not in the windstorm, earthquake or fire but in the gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:11-13). To listen to a gentle whisper you need to be still, lie down and listen.
Ask Father God to speak to you, take time to build up a relationship with Him, where you recognise His voice, one where He is close and knows you. Know the voice of the Shepherd (shepheard) above all else and you will find peace, grace and loving-committment. You may still need to jump up and do something but it will be because you have been told to jump up, because you have listened to His voice and you are following His plans.
Be still and know that I am God.
Abba Father, I wish to serve you without distraction, I wish to hear from You and know intimately the sound of Your voice. I ask that You would help me to unblock my spiritual ears from the worldly noises, to atune my ears to Your Set-Apart Spirit of Truth so that I may recognise the voice of my beloved Saviour.