Summary: God often deals with us at night. In the deepest night God brings Israel out of Egypt. At night God wrestles with Jacob. At midnight God looses Peter’s chains. At night Paul hears the Macedonian call. In the middle of the night God calls Samuel to serve.
Night Calls – Part One: “A Call to Serve”
Introduction: God’s word declares that “God is light and in Him is no darkness at all” As such we often equate times of trouble, of difficulty, of spiritual lows with the night. We speak of the thief coming in the night; of death stalking at night. But God is not only God of the day; He is also the God of the night.
God quite often deals with us at night. In the deepest night God brings Israel out of Egypt. At night God wrestles with Jacob. At midnight God looses Peter’s chains. At night Paul hears the Macedonian call. In the middle of the night God calls Samuel to serve.
I. Samuel’s Call to Serve
A. A godly woman named Hannah had prayed that God would give her a son. Hannah vowed that if He would answer her prayer she would dedicate him as a Nazirite to the Lord. God answered her prayer giving her a son, Samuel. When the child was weaned, somewhere between three and five years old, Hannah presented Samuel to Eli, the high priest, in the tabernacle at Shiloh to be raised by Eli in the service of the Lord.
B. When Samuel was about twelve years old, he was sleeping in the tabernacle near the Ark of the Covenant. In the middle of the night he was awakened by a voice calling out to him. Samuel! Samuel!
C. Three times in the passage Samuel is called. But Samuel has little clue as to Who is calling him or why. The young Samuel confused the voice of God for that of Eli, the elderly priest in charge of the worship site.
D. Each time he gets up and goes to Eli asking him what he wants. Eli keeps telling him, ‘I’m not calling you go back to bed.’ Finally the third time, Eli gets it; the Lord must be calling Samuel. Eli tells Samuel to respond to God next time he hears his name being called. God was literally calling Samuel.
E. When God called Samuel responded, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening.”
F. Samuel is told by God that judgment is going to fall on Eli’s family and that he has been called to be God’s spokesman, a prophet.
II. God’s call came while his heart was still tender
A. 1 Samuel 3:1 “And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious (rare) in those days; there was no open vision.”
B. We don’t know for certain; Josephus, the ancient Jewish historian says Samuel was 12 years old at the time of this event.
C. Samuel’s job was to serve the Lord, doing menial jobs like keeping the lamps lit, and probably keeping the place clean.
D. He served during a time when the spirituality of Israel was at a low point – “the word of the LORD was precious (rare) in those days.” But Samuel had not been hardened by sin or worldly concerns and served faithfully in whatever was assigned to him.
E. A hard heart resists obeying God’s word. It is impervious to being stirred and immune to the convictions and warnings of the Holy Spirit.
F. Proverbs 29:1 “He who is often rebuked, and hardens his neck, will suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.”
G. Keep out of your life anything that would crowd Christ out of your heart.
H. Hebrews 3:7-8a “Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says: “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts...”
I. Spiritual growth and understanding is not dependent on having a keen intellect but rather a tender heart! Is your heart tender to the Word of God? Is your heart tender to hear and respond to God’s voice?
III. The call came at an unlikely time
A. 1 Samuel 3:3-4a “and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle[a] of the LORD where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, that the LORD called Samuel...”
B. God called Samuel in the night. The call came as an interruption to his sleep.
C. We can imagine what this wake up call was like. We are all familiar with the phone ringing in the "middle of the night". Having been roused from sound sleep, you look at the clock; your blood pressure goes up as your mind rushes with questions as to what is wrong. You have mixed emotions of anxiety and irritation for the interruption of a quiet night’s rest, especially if the call is not of what you feel is urgent and could wait until the morning.
D. God sometimes has to interrupt our comfortable lives and schedules to get our attention. Sometimes He has to use the night of sickness, death, or some other life storm to get us to hear His voice. Sometimes he has to shake us up to wake us up to His call.