Summary: Principles about hearing God’s voice from 1 Samuel chapter 3.
RECOGNIZING GOD’S VOICE
1 The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions. 2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 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. 4 Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, "Here I am." 5 And he ran to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." But Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." So he went and lay down. 6 Again the LORD called, "Samuel!" And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." "My son," Eli said, "I did not call; go back and lie down." 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him. 8 The LORD called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, "Here I am; you called me." Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, "Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ’Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’" So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening." 11 And 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.
This morning, we’re going to be talking about Recognizing God’s Voice.
If you were here last, week, you’ll remember that we talked about a woman named Hannah. And Hannah was married, but had no children. And, we read where Hannah prayed for a child. And she promised God that if He would give her a son, she would give Him back to the Lord. And the Lord granted her request. And she had a son named Samuel, which means “The Lord Hears.” And as Hannah promised, she gave the Samuel to the Lord to be raised at the Tabernacle by Eli, the High Priest. And so, Samuel lived in the city of Shiloh, the place of peace and tranquility, at the Tabernacle with Eli, and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas.
1a The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.
In other words, nobody was hearing from God.
They were “serving” the Lord. They were making their sacrifices. They were fulfilling their obligations. But there was no life to it.
We might say, “They were going to church. They were singing the songs. They were paying their tithe. But it wasn’t heartfelt. It didn’t mean anything to them. They were just going through the motions.
Do any of you feel like you are just going through the motions? With no reward. With seemingly no effect.
That’s the way the religious people of that day had become. They did their job, fulfilled their duty. But really, it didn’t mean much to them. It didn’t mean much to God either.
2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out…
What does it mean, “3 The lamp of God had not yet gone out…” ?
Well, I tell you, that verse makes for a great sermon point.
I mean, I can just hear it now.
“The light may be dim, but it hasn’t gone out yet. The fire is still burning.”
There are certain things that we, as preachers, hear and think, “Man, that’ll preach.” And this is one of those verses.
And yet, I’m not so sure God is trying to make a point with this verse, as much as He’s letting us know what time it was. You see, the “lamp of God” refers to the oil lamps that were located inside what was known as the “Holy Place” in the Tabernacle. The Holy Place was just outside the room known as the “Most Holy Place”, or, the “Holy of Holies”, which is where the Ark of the Covenant was.
Anyway, in Exodus 27:21, God told Moses,
21 In the Tent of Meeting [that’s just another name for the Tabernacle. And, again, that’s where the Israelites went to worship God. It was their “church building.” That’s where they sacrificed. That’s where they brought their offerings. And that’s where the presence of God lived.] 21 In the Tent of Meeting, outside the curtain that is in front of the Testimony [Or, the Ark of the Covenant], Aaron and his sons are to keep the lamps burning before the LORD from evening till morning. This is to be a lasting ordinance among the Israelites for the generations to come. (NIV)