Summary: It is important to "Hear" God clearly. Eli, Israel, and Saul did not. Samuel, the great judge and prophet did.
1. Hearing Test
A former artillery soldier was worried about his wife's hearing. So, during his annual physical exam he asked his doctor what to do. The doctor gave him some simple instructions. He said, "Talk to your wife in a normal voice, first at a distance and then closer. Pay special attention to when she responds to your voice."
The man went home and tried it out. He knew she would be preparing supper; so first, he called to her at the front door, "Honey, what's for supper?" Nothing. He walked a little closer and called again in the living room. Again, nothing. He was worried and thought to himself, "Poor thing, she's getting to be deaf as a post." Finally, he stood right behind her in the kitchen and asked, "Honey, what's for supper?"
The wife turned around and said, "Spaghetti, for the THIRD TIME!"
2. We tend to be uncomfortable with silence -- so we fill the void with talk. There are times when we need to stop and listen; Hear God -- Psalm 46.10
"Be still, and know that I am God.
I am exalted among the nations,
I am exalted in the earth!"
3. Historically, we are still in the period of Judges with the Prophet-Priest-Judge, Samuel
a. Born in answer to Hannah's prayer 1 Samuel 1.9-11
b. Dedicated as a response to the fulfillment of Hannah's vow -- 1.23-28
4. This episode (and throughout the bible) deals with HEARING God
I. Hearing Loss -- Disobedience
A. Eli, Priest of God -- Stopped Hearing
1. They were "worthless" -- 2.12-17; 22-25
2. Did not discipline his sons -- 3.13
B. The People of Israel Stopped Hearing
1. And demanded a King -- 8.6, 20
2. God gave them Saul -- 9. 1ff
C. King Saul Stopped Hearing --
1. Sacrificing after Philistine Defeat -- 13.1-15
2. Failure to destroy Amalek -- 15.1ff (note verse 10)
D. God Gave Them David -- 15.23, 26; 16.11-13
II. Hearing Aids to Obey
A. God Wants to be Heard
1. "Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that you may learn them, and keep, and do them" (Deuteronomy 5:1)
2. "Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one". (Deuteronomy 6:4)
3. "Hear, O Israel the word which the LORD speaks unto you" (Jeremiah 10:1)
4. "Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak... and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth" (Deuteronomy 32:1)
5. Jesus Said: "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27)
6. Jesus Said: "He that has ears, let him hear." (Matthew 11:15)
B. How to Hear God -- Samuel
1. Be Near to Him
a. Dedicated by Hannah to God -- 2.1-10 cf. Luke 1.47-55
b. Developed as a son of God -- 2.26 cf. Luke 2.52
c. Slept near the ark of the covenant -- 3.3
2. Hold Him Dear To Us
a. A Matter of Priority
b. A Matter of Meditation -- Psalm 1.1-2
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
c. God's Great Love Letters
7 The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul;
the testimony of the LORD is sure,
making wise the simple;
8 the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart;
the commandment of the LORD is pure,
enlightening the eyes;
9 the fear of the LORD is clean,
enduring for ever;
the ordinances of the LORD are true,
and righteous altogether.
10 More to be desired are they than gold,
even much fine gold;
sweeter also than honey
and drippings of the honeycomb. Psalm 19.7-10
3. Confirm His Call -- 3 calls and then 3.10
4. With Undivided Attention-- no distractions --
A businessman who needed several million dollars to clinch an important deal and sensing the need for divine help, he went to church to pray for money.
By chance, he knelt next to a man who was praying for $100 to pay an urgent debt. The businessman took out his wallet and pressed $100 into the other man's hand and, overjoyed, the man got up and left the church.
The businessman then closed his eyes and prayed, "Ok, Lord. Now that I have your undivided attention...."
That businessman wanted God's undivided attention. But frankly it isn't God who has the problem ... it is we. We really don't have to work that hard to get God to hear our prayers. He's promised He would listen.
"Son of man, you dwell in the midst of a rebellious house, who have eyes to see, but see not, who have ears to hear, but hear not; Ezekiel 12.2