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.

Suddenly, the Native American said, “I hear a cricket.”

His friend said, “What? You must be crazy. You couldn’t possibly hear a cricket in all of this noise!”

“No, I’m sure of it,” the Native American said. “I heard a cricket.”

He listened carefully for a moment, and then walked across the street to a nearby planter where some shrubs were growing. He looked into the bushes, beneath the branches, and sure enough, he located a small cricket.

His friend was amazed. “That’s incredible. You must have super-human ears!”

“No,” said the Native American. “My ears are no different from yours. It all depends on what you’re listening for.”

His friend could not believe him. “Here, let me show you.” He reached into his pocket, pulled out a few coins, and dropped them on the sidewalk.

In the midst of all the noise, heads turn and people look to the ground to see if the money dropped was theirs.

If we are tune in to God, we will hear Him. Pay attention. Set aside QT with Him.

• If we read the Word with an open heart and expect God to speak, we will receive it from Him. That’s what Samuel did.

It is possible to hear God’s voice and REJECT IT.

God has been speaking to Eli all along. He is a high priest.

• God’s discipline for Eli and his family did not come suddenly. God has given them ample time but they chose not to repent.

• 1 Sam 3:11-13 "11And the LORD said to Samuel: "See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. 12At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family-from beginning to end. 13For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. "

• Look at 1 Sam 2:27 “Now a man of God came to Eli and said to him, "This is what the LORD says: “Did I not clearly reveal myself to your father’s house…"

God has spoken but they were not listening. They were hearing but not listening.

• How can this be? It happens when we harden our hearts towards God.

• Heb 3:7-9 “So, as the Holy Spirit says: "Today, if you hear his voice, 8do not harden your hearts as you did in the rebellion, during the time of testing in the desert, 9where your fathers tested and tried me and for forty years saw what I did.” We can reject what we hear.

Erwin McManus, a pastor in Los Angeles, California, author of SOUL CRAVINGS, shares this encounter with his son.

Aaron went off to his first junior high camp. In the middle of the week, I went up with another pastor to see our kids. Aaron, I learned, had started to assault another kid but had been held back by his friends. He was unrepentant, wanted to leave camp, pulled together his stuff, and shoved it into the car.

I asked him for a last talk with me before we drove away. "Aaron," I asked, "is there any voice inside you telling you what you should do?"

"Yes," he nodded.

"What's the voice telling you?"

"That I should stay and work it out."

"Can you identify that voice?"

"Yes," he said immediately. "It's God."

"Aaron," I said, "do you realize what just happened? You heard God's voice. He spoke to you from within your soul."

I will never forget Aaron's response: "Well, I'm still not doing what God said."

Sensing a teaching moment, I explained to him that that was his choice, but this is what would happen:

- If you rejected the voice of God coming from deep within and chose to disobey His guidance, your heart would become hardened, and your ears would become dull.

If you continued on this path, there would be a day when you would not again hear the voice of God. There would come a day when you would deny that God even speaks or has ever spoken to you.

- But if you treasures God's voice, however it comes to you — through the Scriptures, through your conscience — and responds to Him with obedience, then your heart would be softened, and your ears would always be able to hear the whisper of God into your soul.

Aaron chose to stay on in the camp.

It is possible to hear God’s voice and KNOW HIM MORE AND MORE!

After Samuel’s first encounter with God, he began to recognise the voice of God.

• God continued to reveal Himself by speaking to him –

• 1 Sam 3:19-4:1 “19The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. 20And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD. 21The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.

• God tells him what He wants to say to Israel.

There will be a first time for us, when we come to know Christ. We are new in the relationship and we do not recognise His voice.

• Keep reading, studying and hearing the Word of God, because over time, you will begin to recognise His voice. Tune your heart to Him and you will hear Him.

Two Horses ~ Author Unknown

Just up the road from my home is a field, with two horses in it. From a distance, each looks like every other horse. But if you go closer, you will notice something quite amazing. One of the horse is blind.

His owner has chosen not to have him put down, but has made a good home for him. If you are near enough and listening, you will hear the sound of a bell. It comes from the smaller horse. Attached to his halter is a small bell. It lets his blind friend know where he is, so she can follow him.

As you stand and watch these two friends, you’ll see how he is always checking on her, and that she will listen for his bell and then slowly walk to where he is, trusting that he will not lead him astray. When he returns to the shelter of the barn each evening, he stops occasionally and looks back, making sure his friend isn’t too far behind to hear the bell.

Are you hearing Him? Eli’s sons and Samuel grew up under the same circumstances, but one chose to LISTEN to God. He was greatly blessed.

• Be receptive. Be attentive. Be submissive. Be teachable before God.

• Let our prayer be: “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.” (3:10)