Summary: In order to hear the voice of God we must have the right: 1) Closeness (1 Samuel 3:1-6), 2) Confirmation (1 Samuel 3:7-9), 3) Center of attention (1 Samuel 3:10-15), and finally: 4) Compliance (1 Samuel 3:16-20)
On Thursday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad spoke at the United Nations in New York returning to his usual cursing Israel, and threatening it with extinction. Indeed, his hatred is obsessional, and dominates his view of the entire world. He even went so far as to blame America for the slaughter of its own citizens — and to do so in a speech on American soil. The speech resulted in the delegates from Canada, the United States, and other nations to leave. It is difficult to make any sense of practically anything that Ahmadinejad says.
In 1 Samuel 3, Samuel received a message from God. God rejected the sinful Eli, yet used Eli to help Samuel receive God’s message.
For different reasons, it can be difficult to discern God’s voice, His direction for our lives at some critical juncture. Questions like what to do about a relationship, which job to take, how to deal with a problem, or what to do with our lives are often made clearer by someone with spiritual wisdom who helps us to hear God’s voice in the familiar and encourages obedience as the best way. These people come to in the form of professors, pastors, aunts and uncles, parents, classmates, spouses, and even my children. In a contemporary way, we can play the role of “Eli” by trying to give wise counsel to others who need a little help in interpreting the voices they hear" (Chafin, K. L., & Ogilvie, L. J. (1989). Vol. 8: The Preacher’s Commentary Series, Volume 8 : 1, 2 Samuel. The Preacher’s Commentary series (42). Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson Inc.).
In order to hear the voice of God we must have the right:
1) Closeness (1 Samuel 3:1-6),
1 Samuel 3:1-6 [3:1]Now the young man Samuel was ministering to the LORD under Eli. And the word of the LORD was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel, and he said, "Here I am!" and ran to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call; lie down again." So he went and lay down. And the LORD called again, "Samuel!" and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, "Here I am, for you called me." But he said, "I did not call, my son; lie down again." (ESV)
In order to hear the voice of God we must be Where God Speaks and ready to hear what God wants to say to us.
Josephus (Antiquities v.10.4) preserves a Jewish tradition which says that Samuel had just completed his twelfth year when the word of God came to him. In other words, he had attained his religious maturity. We are here reminded of Jesus’ visit to the temple when he was twelve years old and his discussion with the teachers of Scripture there (Luke 2:42, 46) (Robinson, G. (1993). Let us be like the nations : A commentary on the books of 1 and 2 Samuel. International theological commentary (22–23). Grand Rapids; Edinburgh: Eerdmans; Handsel Press.).
1 Samuel 3:1 explains the relationship between Samuel and Eli and the negative situation with regard to the word of the Lord. The name Samuel appears 24 times in this chapter; thus, for the first time Samuel becomes the major figure. Yet Eli still appears 17 times, and the Lord 19 times, though the Lord appears in person only to Samuel. The term ministering is a key word for explaining Samuel’s relationship with the Lord (also 1 Sam. 2:11; 2:18).
The rarity of the word of the Lord might be construed as a sign of divine disfavor (see Ps. 74:9; Lam. 2:9; Amos 8:11; Mic. 3:6f.). The time of the judges was a period of extremely limited prophetic activity. The few visions that God did give were not widely known (MacArthur, J. (2006). The MacArthur study Bible : New American Standard Bible. (1 Sa 3:1). Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers.)
• In the midst of all this discussion on "Discerning the voice of God" I want to be clear about what I am saying and not saying. I am not saying that we should expect to hear the audible voice of God. Even at this time, that was a rare thing.
• Be very careful and clear as to using the phrase "the Lord spoke to me". As we will see, in Scripture this referred to an audible voice that could be confirmed by exact events consistent to what God has previously said.