Summary: “Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel answered, ‘speak, for your servant hears” 1 Samuel 3:10.
Theme: Speak Lord, your servant is listening
Text: 1 Sam. 3:1-10; 1 Cor. 6:12-20; Jn. 1:35-42
The letter to the Hebrews begins by telling us “In the past, God spoke to our ancestors many times and in many ways through the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us through his Son, Jesus Christ.” Before the world was created, the Word already existed; he was with God, and he was the same as God. The Word was the source of life, and this life brought light to mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has never put it out. The Word was in the world, and though God made the world through him, yet the world did not recognise him. In other words, the people refused to listen to Him. They didn’t recognise that in the rainbow or sunset God was telling them about himself. Too often, in fact, people began to worship and serve the trees and rocks and flowers that God has made instead of the Creator himself! God is always speaking to us and teaching us the truth but are we listening? He speaks to us through the various tests we face in life. In school we are given lessons and then tested to make sure we have learnt the lessons. The teacher, depending on how well we have performed, then grades us. If we receive a passing grade, we graduate to the next level or grade, one that is more difficult and more challenging. The same principle is evident in life. The only difference is that the tests we do in school will one-day end but the tests of life continue throughout life. God is always testing us and determines our passing grade based on our performance in dealing with the various trials and frustrations we face. When we have passed one course, we move on to the next course, which is more difficult and more challenging. Just as we are rewarded after completing school with many good opportunities, so great blessings come to those who pass the tests of life. And just as the teacher is pleased with his successful students so God is pleased with those who prove themselves faithful. We can only pass these tests when we listen carefully. God will only speak to those He knows are prepared to listen, those who are faithful. ‘Speak Lord your servant is listening’ is the only way we can approach God when we want to hear Him speak to us.
God speaks to us in many ways. We either refuse to listen to Him or we allow sin or greed to get in the way of any communication with Him. Listening to God and responding to Him is vital to a relationship with God. Although God does not always use the sound of a human voice, He always speaks clearly through His Word. Today the written Word of God is the most frequent way God uses to speak to us. God never speaks against what He has written. God also speaks to us by making His Word come alive to in many different situations and conditions especially during times of prayer and worship. Although it is true that praying a lot, praising God and doing other godly things will make us more receptive to the voice of God, it is also true that we cannot force God to speak to us. We can never make ourselves worthy enough by anything we do for God to feel obliged to speak to us. We rather need to be ready to listen and act upon what He tells us. Like Samuel we need to be ready to say ‘speak Lord, your servant is listening’.
The time that the Lord spoke to Samuel we are told that “the word of the Lord was rare in those days and there was no widespread revelation.” The reason was that the spiritual leaders at the time were corrupt and God’s people were not obeying His law. Even the sons of Eli, the priest, paid no attention to the Lord or to the regulations concerning what the priests could demand from the people. They were even sleeping with the women who worked at the entrance to the Tabernacle. Eli knew about this but did nothing about it. Their transgressions disqualified them from serving the Lord in the Temple so why should God say anything new to them? Then Hannah comes along and promises to give and dedicate her son to serve the Lord if He would give her a son. Hannah, I am not sure whether she knew it or not at the time, but I believe she did, was asking God to fulfil His own will by providing a prophet to take the place of Eli. Samuel served in the tabernacle under Eli giving Eli the opportunity to teach him what he had failed to teach his own sons. He did this until God revealed to Samuel that he was ready to lead God’s people. God always has various ways and various means to let those who are not familiar with His voice hear. Samuel was not familiar with the voice of the Lord because the Word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. So God used Eli, the priest who had spent his entire life in service to God. However, God did not speak directly to Eli who was in a position to recognise His voice. This means that it is possible for God to stop speaking to someone who was once very spiritual. When God spoke to Samuel, Eli had enough spiritual knowledge to know what was happening and advised him on what to do for God to speak. Samuel responded to God’s call and became a trustworthy servant of God. Eli was there and the message was about him and yet God would not give him the message. The tragedy of Eli’s life was that he was someone who God used to speak to, who still had enough spiritual knowledge but whose life was no longer pleased the Lord. Our desire to do God’s work should not cause us to neglect our families. If we do our work for the Lord can become a search for money and power and our family and we ourselves will suffer the consequences of our neglect.