Summary: An exposition of Samuel's call from God, and an exhortation to listen for God's voice
INTRODUCTION: In the early 1900s, back when the telegraph was the fastest method of long-distance communication, a young man applied for a job as a Morse Code operator. Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the office address that was listed. When he arrived, he entered a large, busy office filled with noise and clatter, including the sound of the telegraph in the background. A sign on the receptionist’s counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office.
The young man filled out his form and sat down with the seven other applicants in the waiting area. After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. They muttered among themselves that they hadn’t heard any summons yet. They assumed that the young man who went into the office made a mistake and would be disqualified.
Within a few minutes, however, the employer escorted the young man out of the office and said to the other applicants, “Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has just been filled.”
The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and one spoke up saying, “Wait a minute, I don’t understand. He was the last to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That’s not fair!”
The employer said, “I’m sorry, but all the time you’ve been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse Code: ‘If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.’ None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. The job is his.”
>> We live in a world that is full of busyness and clatter, like that office. People are distracted and unable to hear the voice of God as he speaks to them. Many voices shout for our attention—deadlines to meet, bills to pay, meetings to attend, phone calls to make, emails to answer, children to care for. What about you? Are you tuned in to God’s voice? Do you hear him when he speaks to you? Are you listening? I’m hard-pressed to think of anything more important. We have to learn how to hear God’s voice. [READ 1 Samuel 3:1-10]
I. SOMETIMES THE LORD SPEAKS EVEN WHEN WE AREN'T READY TO LISTEN (1-10)
A. For centuries God had rarely spoken to His people. “The word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions” (1). The spiritual life of the temple was in disarray due to the wickedness of Eli’s two sons and Eli’s failure to restrain them (more about that in a bit).
B. Two features of the tabernacle are mentioned in v.3, the lamp of God and the ark of the covenant.
1. Both were symbols of God’s presence. Priests were instructed to keep a lamp burning in the sanctuary every night.
2. When Samuel heard God’s voice, the lamp was still lit—i.e. it was just before dawn.