Answering God's Call
We’ve talked several times about how people are great at coming up with excuses. We make excuses to not pursue holiness or to not stop treating women like visuals, or for not being in the Word daily. We may have even made excuses for not answering God’s call. “God doesn’t really speak to anybody anymore” or “I’m no prophet, God wouldn’t speak to me” or “I don’t really know God, how would I know if He was talking to me?” or “I’m too young. God only calls older, experienced people.” In 1 Samuel 3, we are going to see God speak to Samuel, a boy who could have made all of those excuses.
“Suddenly the Lord called out, ‘Samuel!’
‘Yes?’ Samuel replied. ‘What is it?’” (1 Samuel 3:3)
Notice that Samuel didn’t dismiss the Voice. He didn’t roll over and ignore the Voice. He didn’t say “Hang on a minute,” or “It’s late, I’m trying to sleep.” He didn’t complain about being woken up; he pursued the Voice—he investigated. Samuel got up and went to ask Eli what he wanted. Samuel was sure he heard something so he went to the logical source, the only other person in the Tabernacle. Eli told Samuel that he didn’t call him and sent him back to bed. The Lord called to Samuel again and again Samuel went to Eli and was sent back to bed.
“Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before.” (1 Samuel 3:7)
Surely Samuel knew the Lord in some respect—he was serving the high priest and living in the Tabernacle! The Hebrew word for “know” in this passage is the word yada, which has several meanings. This particular usage is the same we see in Jeremiah 22 when Jeremiah is rebuking the King of Judah.
“‘But a beautiful cedar palace does not make a great king! Your father, Josiah, also had plenty to eat and drink. But he was just and right in all his dealings. That is why God blessed him. He gave justice and help to the poor and needy, and everything went well for him. Isn’t that what it means to know (yada) me?’ says the Lord.” (Jeremiah 22:15-16)
Jeremiah is rebuking Jehoiakim because his actions were proving that he did not truly know (yada) God, and at this point in Samuel’s life, he didn’t truly know God either. Don’t miss this: we can be serving the high priest and sleeping in the tabernacle and still not truly know God, but that will not stop Him from calling out to us.
Finally God called a third time and Samuel went back to Eli. It is then that Eli realized it was God speaking to Samuel.
“So he said to Samuel, ‘Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”’ So Samuel went back to bed.” (1 Samuel 3:9)
Samuel nearly missed the voice of the Lord but he sought out the advice of someone wise. This is something we should do more often. We need to surround ourselves with wise people, people we can talk to about biblical and spiritual issues because sometimes we can hear God’s voice and mistake it for someone else’s.
“The way of a fool is right in his own eyes, but a wise man listens to advice.” (Proverbs 12:15)
Now you may be trying to reason God’s voice away even as you read this. “Well that was in Bible times, God doesn’t speak to us anymore, especially like that.” Look at verse 1.
“Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.” (1 Samuel 3:1b)
That statement could be made today, couldn’t it? Samuel could have made any number of excuses to not answer God’s call that night, but he didn’t. See, even though Samuel did not know the Lord and even though messages from God were very rare, Samuel didn’t deny or dismiss the Voice he heard. He accepted wise advice, and he listened and obeyed in faith. Let’s work harder to listen and obey rather than make excuses and to answer God’s call the way Samuel did: “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
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