Discerning Church Learning to discern the movement of God's Spirit

We are Listening

My middle name is Samuel. When I was a kid I enjoyed hearing the story of the boy Samuel being called by God. The account is found in 1 Samuel. You might remember his barren mother (Hannah) begging God for a child. She promised to offer the child to God if her womb were opened. Her prayers were answered and she gives birth to a son. She is faithful to send her son to Eli the priest when he gets old enough. We are told,

(1 Samuel 2:26 NIV) And the boy Samuel continued to grow in stature and in favor with the LORD and with men.

This is very similar to the description of boy Jesus in Luke 2. As we flip over to 1 Samuel 3, we read of a unique encounter. To set the context, we are told that God’s interactions with men were rare at this time.

(1 Samuel 3:1 NIV) The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.

It is dark and everyone is getting ready for bed.

(1 Samuel 3:3–4 NIV) The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel.

Samuel thinks that Eli is trying to get his attention; Samuel runs to Eli presenting himself.

(1 Samuel 3:5 NIV) But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

This happens a second time. Then a third. I find the author’s comments in verse 7 intriguing.

(1 Samuel 3:7 NIV) Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.

God was calling to him, but he did not know how to listen. Eli needed to teach Samuel how to listen to God. The instructions went like this.

(1 Samuel 3:9 NIV) “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’”

Simple instructions. Just go and lie down and ask God to speak. Tell God that you are listening. This may seem elementary. Yet this posture is not always present in those of us who follow God. Samuel learned how to seek God’s voice. In time, Samuel became a great prophet who was diligent in seeking God’s voice.

(1 Samuel 3:19 NIV) The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground.

I love this description. May we be a people who let none of his (God’s) words fall to the ground. May we be attentive, paying attention to God’s voice in everything we do. Again, this seems basic to those of us who are leading churches. Yet most of us would confess that we seldom quiet our lives long enough to hear God’s voice. May we take this simple approach as we learn to discern God’s leading. Lie down (quiet our lives), listen for God’s voice and respond by affirming our listening posture. May we be a people who actively confess, Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.