Summary: It is possible to hear God’s voice and not know it, to hear it but reject it, and to hear it and know Him more and more.
A man was concerned about his wife’s hearing, so he consulted a doctor.
“It’s getting really bad,” he said.
“How bad?” asked the doctor.
“I don’t know,” the man said.
“Help me find out,” and the doctor suggested this: “When you get home, call to her from the front door. Then go nearer to the room where she is, call to her from outside the room. Finally, you go up to her and speak to her up close, and see what happen. That way, we will know how bad her hearing is.”
When the man got home, he stood at the front door and called out, “Darling, is dinner ready?” Nothing.
So he went nearer to the kitchen where she was and called out, “Darling, is dinner ready?” Still nothing.
Finally, he went up to the wife and spoke into her ears, “Darling, is dinner ready?”
The wife looked at him and said, “For the third time, YES!”
What the man thought was his wife’s problem was actually his.
• This is true also of our relationship with God. We are not hearing Him.
• Jesus says in Matt 13:15 that the people’s ears are dull of hearing (KJV). God has spoken through the prophets but they are not hearing it.
Think for a moment, in times of our struggles with God’s silence, could it be that God has already spoken but we are not listening?
• We thought the issue is on God’s side, but in reality, it is actually ours.
• We are going to look at Samuel as he learns to discern the voice of God.
Samuel was set apart to be a prophet of God. He has to listen to what God says and proclaim it to the people. We see how God prepares His servant – 1 Sam 3:1-4:1.
Samuel grows up in the Lord’s house and trains himself to serve the Lord under the priest Eli.
• He was placed in a similar circumstances as Eli’s sons, but he has chosen to honour God and not defile himself.
• It was by God’s grace and I believe very strongly, through the prayers of his mother (which I’m convinced of looking at 1 Sam 1), that Samuel was kept safe.
• 2:17-18 “This sin of the young men was very great in the LORD's sight, for they were treating the LORD's offering with contempt. 18BUT Samuel was ministering before the LORD-a boy wearing a linen ephod.”
• 2:26 says he “continued to grow in stature and in favour with the Lord and with men.” Parents, keep praying for your children.
• John Bunyan: “Prayer is a shield to the soul, a sacrifice to God, and a scourge for Satan.”
As a prophet of God, Samuel would need to HEAR the voice of God.
• He needs to be trained to DISCERN His voice and KNOW His words.
It wasn’t until the FOURTH time God spoke that Samuel understood God was speaking to him. He thought it was Eli who was calling him.
• This was understandable because as a boy growing up and learning about God, Samuel “did not yet know the Lord” (3:7).
• What do you mean by he does not know God – the verse explains itself: “The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.”
• 3:1 says in those days the word of the Lord was rare. And it was rare likely because men aren’t LISTENING.
There is no other way. The knowledge of God can only come through His speaking. God speaks to reveal Himself, and He did.
• We see eventually how Samuel moved from not knowing God (3:7) to knowing all that God will do – to Eli family and to Israel (4:1 “Samuel’s word came to all Israel.”)
• But first, Samuel needs to LISTEN. He could HEAR but he wasn’t LISTENING.
Eli tells him that it is the Lord that is calling him. The next time he hears God calling, Samuel says, “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” (3:9)
• That’s what we need to say to God. Each time we come before Him, in worship, in our QT, in our bible reading… Tune in to God’s Word and you will hear Him.
• God speaks. God speaks today, through His written Word. “All Scripture is God-breathed…” (2 Tim 3:16). ESV: “breathe out by God…”
• We are able to know Him because God reveals Himself. Search the Scriptures and you will find Him.
Samuel’s experience tells us it is possible to hear God’s voice and NOT KNOW IT.
• We do not know it’s Him. And this is partly because we do not know Him or know Him well enough. We actually tune Him out.
A Native American and his friend were in downtown New York City, walking near Times Square in Manhattan. It was during the noon lunch hour and the streets were filled with cars and the pavements packed with people.