God wants to speak to you. And he will. That is good news indeed. Through your daily times with God and in the gatherings of your faith community, you should expect to receive a word from the Lord. God desires to speak to you, and that should be the ongoing experience of both your personal and corporate Christianity. If it isn’t, you are missing out on one of the glorious benefits of being a New Testament believer.
Going Deep // Focus: 1 Samuel 3:1
Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.
I Samuel 3 introduces the Bible reader to Samuel. It is also the introduction to what will be one of the greatest periods of spiritual awakening in Israel under Samuel’s leadership. He will be the last and arguably the greatest of Israel’s judges. We actually met Samuel in the first chapter of this book that bears his name when the Lord granted his previously barren mother Hannah’s request for a son.
In fulfillment of a vow that Hannah made that dedicated Samuel to the Lord’s service, when the boy was weaned she took him to Eli the high priest so that he could serve as an assistant in the tabernacle. Samuel would grow up hanging around the holy. Our story today occurs most likely when Samuel is around twelve, and Eli is well into his nineties.
While the time of Samuel’s leadership will bring Israel back to God, it begins because of very dark conditions in Israel. Not only had the nation drifted from its spiritual moorings, Eli was a bad High Priest, and his sons, Hophni and Phinehas, were thoroughly wicked. Eli was lazy, and he had neither controlled his sons nor held them accountable for their immoral behavior. And the sons were so corrupt that the Lord has determined to slay them.
All of what I have just described will unfold in intriguing detail over the next few chapters. Samuel will be uniquely dialed in to the voice of God. But in this chapter, he wasn’t. We could excuse his initial spiritual dullness because he was so young. And throughout his life he would regularly experience the voice of the God like few ever have. Yet on this occasion when God spoke, Samuel didn’t have a clue it was God.
So let’s focus on that very thing, and extract an application from it. We are told in the very first verse that Samuel was serving the Lord in the daily duties of the tabernacle. He was the high priest’s assistant. We are also told that any word from God was rare in those days. People were not receiving revelations—the prophetic voice calling Israel to repentance had been silenced. So rare was it that God spoke that when he finally did, Samuel was clueless that it was God. He actually thought it was Eli messing with him.
How sad. That anyone could hang around the holiness of God, administering his holy things, yet never hear the voice of the Holy Spirit—and in fact, not even be aware of the Spirit or crying out for a word from the Lord or expecting God to speak—that itself is a spiritual indictment of the worst order.
You and I live in a glorious time when the presence of the Holy Spirit is continual. We don’t need a priest to mediate the Lord’s presence or a tabernacle to be the place where God’s voice can be heard. Through our daily times with God and in the gatherings of our faith community, we should expect to receive the voice of God. God desires to speak to us, and that should be the ongoing experience of both our personal and our corporate Christianity. If we are not hearing from God; worse, if we are not even expecting God to speak, then something is amiss in our spirituality. If our kids are clueless about the voice of God, then we—and they—are missing a vital piece of what it means to be part of New Testament Christianity.
Few people arise in the morning as hungry for God as they are for cornflakes or toast and eggs. (Dallas Willard)
God wants to speak. If he isn’t, that is not his fault, it is ours. We have moved away from him. We have put distance between the Almighty and us. We have programmed the Spirit right out of our daily lives and our weekend gatherings. We are hanging around the holy yet never hearing from the Holy Spirit. When you think about it, how terribly sad is that!
If you are not hearing from God, the good news is, he wants to speak. So come before him with a repentant heart, realign your life to give time to hear his voice, get into his Word, begin to ask him to talk to you and then listen on a consistent basis, and he will speak.
You and I need a word from God, and he longs to give it. May God grant us a hearing of his voice!