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A boy’s eager response

August 1, 2023

Daily Scripture

1 Samuel 3:1-10

1 Now the boy Samuel was serving the LORD under Eli. The LORD’s word was rare at that time, and visions weren’t widely known. 2 One day Eli, whose eyes had grown so weak he was unable to see, was lying down in his room. 3 God’s lamp hadn’t gone out yet, and Samuel was lying down in the LORD’s temple, where God’s chest [traditionally ark] was.
4 The LORD called to Samuel. “I’m here,” he said.
5 Samuel hurried to Eli and said, “I’m here. You called me?”
“I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go lie down.” So he did.
6 Again the LORD called Samuel, so Samuel got up, went to Eli, and said, “I’m here. You called me?”
“I didn’t call, my son,” Eli replied. “Go and lie down.”
(7 Now Samuel didn’t yet know the LORD, and the LORD’s word hadn’t yet been revealed to him.)
8 A third time the LORD called Samuel. He got up, went to Eli, and said, “I’m here. You called me?”
Then Eli realized that it was the LORD who was calling the boy. 9 So Eli said to Samuel, “Go and lie down. If he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD. Your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down where he’d been.
10 Then the LORD came and stood there, calling just as before, “Samuel, Samuel!”
Samuel said, “Speak. Your servant is listening.”

Daily Reflection & Prayer

The mother of the Hebrew prophet Samuel dedicated him to God’s service from the time he was born (cf. 1 Samuel 1:20-28). While he was still a boy, God called to him in an extraordinary way. Samuel didn’t know what to make of it at first. The older, wiser priest Eli realized that Samuel needed to pay attention to what was happening. Guided by Eli, Samuel listened to God—and, for the rest of his life, he never stopped.

  • We might think God often spoke audibly to people in Bible times. But the Hebrew historian said, “The Lord’s word was rare at that time.” “Hearing” takes more than just sound waves striking our eardrums. An inattentive mind may not “hear” even rather loud sounds. When you read the Bible, worship, sing hymns or talk with friends, are you attentive? Has God ever “spoken” to you in any of those ways? Can you “hear” God even without an experience as tangible as Samuel’s?
  • If we read on (cf. 1 Samuel 3:11-18), we find that Samuel heard a message of divine judgment on Eli’s wicked sons, who used their priestly position unjustly and immorally. It saddened and alarmed Samuel, but he faithfully delivered the message to Eli. One vital key to hearing God (even inwardly) is being willing to do what God asks. Can you recall a time when you needed to set aside your own plan or desire to follow what God wanted?

Loving God, sometimes I wish you’d speak to me audibly the way you apparently spoke to young Samuel. Help me develop a listening heart, willing to hear and obey however you choose to communicate with me. Amen.

GPS Insights

Picture of Denise Mersmann

Denise Mersmann

Denise Mersmann serves as the Care Coordination Director for the churchwide Care Central department at Church of the Resurrection.

I always thought that in Bible times, God talked regularly and directly with people. You know, if He had something that he wanted you to do, He let you know. Clear, succinct, straightforward.

But this passage specifically says that the Lord’s word was rare at that time. These clear conversations that I thought were happening all over the place with all God’s people were, in fact, not the norm.

In the passage, Eli tells Samuel to go and lie down. If God calls again, to say “Speak, Lord. Your servant is listening.” It goes on to say that Eli realized that Samuel needed to pay attention to what was happening. Eli guided Samuel to listen. As I read this passage, over and over, so many things ran through my mind.

Samuel didn’t realize it was God talking to him. How many times has God “talked” to me that I thought came from somewhere else?

When Samuel heard God’s voice again, he said, “Speak. Your servant is listening.” In the few times that I might have thought God was speaking to me, I didn’t encourage it. In fact, if anything, I questioned if it was really God and then doubted it was really a message for me.

At that point, Samuel began to listen to God and did so for the rest of his life. Samuel learned to focus on listening for and to God. It wasn’t an automatic behavior. In fact, it took the guidance of someone older and wiser to learn from.

So, what does this passage really mean for us today? How does it apply to our 21st century lives? I would contend that this message may be even more important to us today. Amid the noise and chaos of technology, activities, social media, and so many other things, we must stop. Just as Samuel went to lie down, we need to clear away the distractions. We must pause and focus, create quiet time, and make space to truly listen.

We need to ask God to speak to us and commit to listening. Samuel said, “Your servant is listening.” What a powerful impact us saying that phrase would have! Not only am I listening, but with a willing heart to do what God asks.

Samuel was seven years old when he first heard God’s voice. Such a great reminder that God speaks to each of us, no matter how young or how old. And even as someone older, it’s never too late to learn to listen for God’s voice. 

Sometimes what we hear won’t be what we want to hear. God doesn’t call us to do what’s easy. He doesn’t ask us to stay comfortably in our lane or avoid things that make us a little short of breath. God calls us to do what needs to be done.

I truly believe this passage came to me for a reason. I didn’t hear an audible voice, but somehow, someway, I think there was a message for me–and I would contend for all of us–that it’s time to hear God’s voice. It’s time to stop and let God know we are listening. It’s time to vocalize “your servant is listening” to claim our position as one who is here to serve. And it’s time to do what God calls us to do; outside of our safe space, perhaps taking a stand for what’s right over what’s comfortable, maybe doing the hard thing instead of the popular thing, and to invite others to do the same.

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Scripture quotations are taken from The Common English Bible ©2011. Used by permission. All rights reserved.