In 1 Samuel 3, we read the account of young Samuel, who was dedicated to the Lord by his mother, Hannah, after she made a promise to God to give Him her firstborn, if He would heal her barrenness. Samuel grew up in the temple since he was a very little boy. He served Eli, the priest, and slept near the Ark of the Covenant, which represented the very presence of God.
But even though Samuel was in the temple daily, He hadn’t encountered God for himself, and didn’t know the voice of the Lord. In fact, we read in 1 Sam 3:1 that the word of the Lord was rare and precious in those days. The heavens had become like brass because of the hardness of heart among the people of Israel and the corruption of the priesthood. But one night God called out to young Samuel, and, as he was inexperienced in hearing God’s voice, Samuel went to Eli three times, assuming it was he who’d called, until Eli realised that God was wanting to speak to Samuel, and he told him how to respond: “Speak, Lord, Your servant is listening.” (1 Samuel 3:10).
Today, in many countries, the Word of the Lord is plentiful and available for anyone to read, and to hear. There are television and radio stations, internet sites, podcasts, and many other sources that carry a Christian message. In fact, in the times we live there are many voices in our ears, many of which may shout, “Thus sayeth the Lord!” The difficulty has become in discerning the truth amongst a mixture of voices – truly hearing the voice of God. The truth is often compromised and watered down, because it challenges many of the ungodly values of our times. 2 Timothy 4:3-4 says, ‘For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables’.
When last have we heard the voice of God for ourselves? Do we know the Lord intimately, and are we able to accurately discern His voice? It’s only when we spend time with someone that we learn to know their voice in a crowd. The danger is that, as Samuel, we can be IN the House of the Lord, and yet not be accustomed to the sound of His voice. We’re often quick to seek counsel from others, before sitting at the feet of the Lord and listening for His counsel. We may even have itching ears that seek out people who tell us what we would like to hear, rather than what we need to hear.
The Word of the Lord – the accurate, pure, unadulterated Word of God – can indeed be rare and precious in the times we live. God doesn’t shout at us to compete with the other voices in our ears. He usually speaks in a still small voice that calls for us to ‘Be still, and know’ (Psalm 46:10a), and His Word is unchanging and steadfast. Because of the Holy Spirit Jesus sent to be our Helper and Counsellor, we CAN hear His voice, but we need to be willing to say, like Samuel, “Speak Lord, for Your servant is listening” (1 Samuel 3:10).
Prayer: Lord, I love hearing Your voice. It is indeed precious, and a comfort to my heart. Help me to never be so busy that I neglect being still, and that I make room for You to speak into my spirit. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
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