1 Samuel 3:1-10
The boy Samuel served the Lord in Eli’s presence. In those days the word of the Lord was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread. 2 One day Eli, whose eyesight was failing, was lying in his room. 3 Before the lamp of God had gone out, Samuel was lying down in the tabernacle of the Lord, where the ark of God was located. 4 Then
the Lord called Samuel, and he answered, “Here I am.” 5 He ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “I didn’t
call,” Eli replied. “Go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. 6 Once again the Lord called, “Samuel!” Samuel
got up, went to Eli, and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “I didn’t call, my son,” he replied. “Go back and lie down.”
7 Now Samuel had not yet experienced the Lord, because the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 Once again, for the third time, the Lord called Samuel. He got up, went to Eli, and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli understood that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 He told Samuel, “Go and lie down. 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, stood there, and called as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel responded, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”
Are we really listening?
1. The spiritual condition of Israel 2. Samuel’s response to God’s call 3. God calls people to serve him
What do you know about Samuel? Samuel was the bridge between the chaotic period of the Judges and the monarchy, especially King David. Samuel was the first prophet in Israel. His mother prayed for him and when he was born dedicated him to service to the Lord.
He spent his youth serving the High Priest, Eli, at the tabernacle. Eli, a large, portly man was losing his sight. He had two sons who were wicked. They took sacrifices from people that they weren’t supposed to take. They assaulted the women who came to worship. They were wicked men and Eli, their father, did nothing to stop them.
No wonder it’s recorded here, In those days the word of the Lord was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread. “When Martin Luther was a student at the University of Erfurt, he found a copy of the Bible in the school library. As he paged through the Scriptures, he happened upon the words [of our text] and read them with great interest. How he wished he could be like Samuel and hear God’s voice! The great discovery of Luther’s life was that on the pages of the Bible God does speak to us as he once spoke to Samuel.
“In Samuel’s day, as in Luther’s, ‘the word of the Lord was rare.’ People had little interest in hearing what God had to say. The five books of Moses were kept in the tabernacle, but even the priests neglected them. Not since the death of Moses had there been a great prophet in Israel. And prophetic visions were not widespread.
We are not like the Israelites of Samuel’s day, who could say the word of the Lord was rare. The truth is, God has spoken to us finally and fully in the person of his Son and in the Bible. The problem today is not that God has not spoken but that men are no listening. No wonder we hear Jesus say often, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.”
Is the Word of the Lord rare in your life? How often do you listen to the Word of God? How often do you come to public worship? What about in your own private life? Is the Word of the Lord rare in your private life? Are you too busy to have a private devotional life with God? Are you too proud, too self-reliant? Do you read God’s word but without any real thought, doing it just because you are supposed to?
It’s interesting that when I talk to people who are drifting away from God, one of the most common things they say is: “But I pray all the time.” Do you realize what a one-sided conversation that is? Now, prayer is a good thing, don’t get me wrong. We can talk to God all we want, but if we are not listening to him speak to us in his Word, how can our relationship with God grow? How can it survive? If you are not listening to God speak to you, do you think he is going to listen to you for much longer?
“No greater judgment can fall upon a nation than when it suffers the loss of God’s Word. When people do not appreciate the gospel, God often takes it from them. Are we aware that by our repeated neglect we can bring about such a famine of God’s Word?” (John Mittelstaedt, Samuel, The People’s Bible pp. 19-20)
There was a famine of God’s Word in Israel, but God was about to change that through Samuel. Before the lamp
of God had gone out, Samuel was lying down in the tabernacle of the Lord, where the ark of God was located. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel, and he answered, “Here I am.” 5 He ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “I didn’t call,”
Eli replied. “Go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. Samuel was used to waiting on the old, rotund, nearly blind priest. Most of his duties were custodial, opening the doors, trimming the wicks on the lamp just outside the Most Holy Place, filling them with enough oil to last the hours of darkness.
Early one morning, shortly before dawn, Samuel heard his name being called. Assuming that Eli needed something, Samuel hurried to be of service. But Eli didn’t call. He probably thought the young man was dreaming so he sent him off back to bed. Three times, Samuel heard his name being called. Three times he ran to Eli. Three times Eli sent him back, but the last time with a realization that this was no dream. Once again, for the third time, the Lord called Samuel. He got up, went to Eli, and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli understood that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 He told Samuel, “Go and lie down. If He calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
Eli may have been a weak High Priest, but he did have age and wisdom. He realized that God was making an appearance in the life of Samuel. The Lord came, stood there, and called as before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel responded, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” He didn’t question. He didn’t demand answers. He simply listened. Isn’t it interesting that when the Lord looks for someone to speak for him, the very first qualification is that the person be willing to listen when God speaks. The secret of Samuel’s success as a prophet was not that he excelled in speaking but in listening!” (Mittelstaedt, p. 22)
God still speaks. He says to you as he did to his ancient people, “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; your are mine.” (Isaiah 43:1) We hear his voice calling us in the gospel as the Apostle Paul stated in the New Testament lesson today, “But we must always thank God for you, brothers loved by the Lord, because from the beginning God has chosen you for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and through belief in the truth.
14 He called you to this through our gospel, so that you might obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14) God wants you to share in glory. He has called you in the gospel. There we hear words of forgiveness and life which is ours through the crucifixion, death, and resurrection of our Savior. Are you really listening to his call?
But doesn’t it seem harder to listen today? There are conflicting voices screaming more loudly than ever before for our attention. Those voices lure us to other philosophies, beliefs and morals. They appeal to our pride, selfishness and sinful desires. It can be hard to hear the voice of God sometimes. Yet, it remains true that faithful servants listen to God. Jesus himself said, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” (John 10:27-28)
God wants us to listen as he calls us by the gospel. He wants us to believe in the forgiveness we have in Christ and share his glory. But he also calls us to service. In the morning darkness, God called Samuel to a lifetime of service as his prophet to Israel. And what was Samuel’s response? “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” He didn’t say, “I don’t want to.” He didn’t tell God to get someone else. He didn’t argue that he was too busy or that wasn’t what he wanted out of life. He simply said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”
Young people and their parents, I am addressing you right now. Children, God may be speaking to you in the voice of a teacher or relative, who says that you would make a good pastor or teacher. Don’t dismiss that message. Like Samuel, begin with the humble response, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.” It may not be what your are planning for your future, but give it some thought and some prayer. Parents, like Samuel’s mother, we need you to encourage your children to consider full time service to our Savior.
And now I speak to everyone. In order to train and support pastors and teachers, we need your support. Moving the Legacy Forward is an opportunity for us to increase our giving to synod, besides supporting our local ministry. So often we like to hear God’s call of the gospel to believe his love and forgiveness, but we don’t really want to listen to his call to discipleship. “Let someone else do that,” we say. “I’m busy; I’ve got other problems to worry about; the church is always asking for money.” We have all kinds of excuses not to listen, but support of the work of the ministry is not an option for any Christian. It is God’s will for you and it is the commitment you made when you joined the church.
God is calling on you today to make a difference in this community along with your brothers and sisters sitting with you this morning. Let’s listen to God’s call. Together, let’s make a difference.