The Lord Speaks
1-2Samuel served the Lord by helping Eli the priest, who was by that time almost blind. In those days, the Lord hardly ever spoke directly to people, and he did not appear to them in dreams very often. But one night, Eli was asleep in his room, 3and Samuel was sleeping on a mat near the sacred chest in the Lord's house. They had not been asleep very long 4when the Lord called out Samuel's name.
“Here I am!” Samuel answered. 5Then he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am. What do you want?”
“I didn't call you,” Eli answered. “Go back to bed.”
Samuel went back.
6Again the Lord called out Samuel's name. Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am,” he said. “What do you want?”
Eli told him, “Son, I didn't call you. Go back to sleep.”
7The Lord had not spoken to Samuel before, and Samuel did not recognize the voice. 8When the Lord called out his name for the third time, Samuel went to Eli again and said, “Here I am. What do you want?”
Eli finally realized that it was the Lord who was speaking to Samuel. 9So he said, “Go back and lie down! If someone speaks to you again, answer, ‘I'm listening, Lord. What do you want me to do?’ ”
Once again Samuel went back and lay down.
10The Lord then stood beside Samuel and called out as he had done before, “Samuel! Samuel!”
“I'm listening,” Samuel answered. “What do you want me to do?”
11The Lord said:
Samuel, I am going to do something in Israel that will shock everyone who hears about it! 12I will punish Eli and his family, just as I promised. 13He knew that his sons refused to respect me, and he let them get away with it, even though I said I would punish his family forever. 14I warned Eli that sacrifices or offerings could never make things right! His family has done too many disgusting things.
15The next morning, Samuel got up and opened the doors to the Lord's house. He was afraid to tell Eli what the Lord had said. 16But Eli told him, “Samuel, my boy, come here!”
“Yes, sir!” Samuel answered.
17Eli said, “What did God say to you? Tell me everything. I'll ask God to punish you terribly if you don't tell me every word he said!”
18Samuel told Eli everything. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord, and he will do what's right.”
The Lord Helps Samuel
19As Samuel grew up, the Lord helped him and made everything Samuel said come true. 20From the town of Dan in the north to the town of Beersheba in the south, everyone in the country knew that Samuel was truly the Lord's prophet. 21The Lord often appeared to Samuel at Shiloh and told him what to say.
1Then Samuel would speak to the whole nation of Israel.
The Philistines Capture
One day the Israelites went out to fight the Philistines. They set up camp near Ebenezer, and the Philistines camped at Aphek.
Do you ever wish that God would talk out loud to you? You’d be sitting in a room all by yourself, and suddenly God would speak and give you the answer to some burning issue in your life.
Samuel had finished his duties of helping old Eli the priest, and was tucked up warm in bed asleep when he was awakened by someone calling his name. Naturally, he thought it was Eli. Who else could it be? This happened three times and then Eli realized it was God calling to Samuel. Not having been called by God before, Samuel didn’t recognize God’s voice.
If God spoke, would we recognize his voice? Have we spent enough time talking with him to know what his voice sounds like?
Obedient to Eli, Samuel answered with the words Eli told him to use. More importantly, even though he was scared, when asked, Samuel told Eli what God had said. It wasn’t good news.
Eli had served God all his life. I wonder how this old priest felt about God giving his servant a message, rather than talking directly to him. Miffed or not, Eli still realized that God was in control.
The Lord often appeared to Samuel and told him what to say. Samuel recognized his voice and obeyed. He had been obedient in the small things of serving Eli. Now he was obedient in a larger thing, speaking to the whole nation of Israel on God’s behalf.
Sometimes we look around and see others who are doing great things for God. Maybe we wish it could be us. But we need to be obedient in the small things first whether we are scared or not.
Father God, You have plans for me, just like you did for Samuel. Help me to listen for your voice and then to obey regardless of what you’re asking me to do. Help me to obey in response to your love for me. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.
Denise Budd Rumble
Through her speaking and writing, Denise shares her stories as a woman of faith on the road of life with all its bumps and detours. She encourages others to see God at work in their lives too. Published in various Canadian newspapers and magazines including Faith Today, live (formerly The Link & Visitor), and Focus on the Family Canada, she is also a contributor to A Second Cup of Hot Apple Cider. Denise is the former Executive Director of The Word Guild.