The story of little Samuel responding to God’s word is well known to anyone with just a cursory understanding of the Bible. However, why did God give his word to Samuel in this way? It seems that God was about a renewing work and Samuel was to be a central figure. God’s truth was to be revealed to him and he was to speak it to the people of Israel so that they were informed and transformed.
Today we have prophets. Prophets are those who speak God’s word so that we are informed and transformed. The Bible provides us with transforming truth that can serve as prophesy for everyone. Also, some people have a gift for speaking the truth into situations. They provide insight and they explain the need for change. The inability to change has sometimes been a definition of pride. Pride says that we have arrived and we become callused and unable to move deeper with God. Eli’s response to Samuel sounds like submission, but it has no plan for change.
As God’s word is revealed to you from others and from the Bible, are you able to make changes? What changes have you made recently to move closer to the life God wants for you?
1 Samuel 3:1 – 4:1
1The 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 house of the LORD, where the ark of God was. 4Then the LORD called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5And 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.
6Again 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.”
7Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.
8A third time the LORD called, “Samuel!” 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. 9So 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.
10The 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 about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God,[a] and he failed to restrain them. 14Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’”
15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the LORD. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.”
Samuel answered, “Here I am.”
17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the LORD; let him do what is good in his eyes.”
19 The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD. 21 The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.
1 And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.
- What is said about the word of the LORD in this passage?
- How is it ironic that Samuel hears God’s word and Eli does not?
- What does the passage reveal about who God chooses to speak to and through?
- How can we develop a posture in reading God’s word where it leads to real change?
- How can we distinguish God’s voice from the many other voices that are in our lives?