A word from the Lord was rare ∙
A word from the LORD was rare in those days, visions were infrequent. – 1 Samuel 3:1
1 Samuel 3:1-11
1 Now in those days messages from the LORD were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon.
4 Suddenly the LORD called out, “Samuel!” “Yes?” Samuel replied. “What is it?”
5 He got up and ran to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” “I didn’t call you,” Eli replied. “Go back to bed.” So he did.
6 Then the LORD called out again, “Samuel!” Again Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” “I didn’t call you, my son,” Eli said. “Go back to bed.”
7 Samuel did not yet know the LORD because he had never had a message from the LORD before.
8 So the LORD called a third time, and once more Samuel got up and went to Eli. “Here I am. Did you call me?” Then Eli realized it was the LORD who was calling the boy.
9 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.
10 And the LORD came and called as before, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak, your servant is listening.”
11 Then the LORD said to Samuel, “I am about to do a shocking thing in Israel.”
Listening is far more persuasive than speaking.
George was a master persuader. He had an uncanny ability to move a roomful of people to his perspective. How did he do it?
George would ask questions and then lapse into silence. He lets other people speak into the silence and listen quietly for the truth behind their words. He then acknowledges what he had heard (which is, most likely, more than has been said). There is almost always more substance below the surface of what people say than there is in their words. George can summarize each person’s position and articulate their thoughts.
George was always willing to learn something from others’ perspectives and to let them know when he was shifting his view as a result of theirs.
Because it was clear that George had heard them, people did not argue with him. And, because he had heard them, his perspective became the wisest in the room.
If you want people to listen, Stop Talking (Peter Bregman, HBR).
The Father is always listening. Some people talk more with their deeds than they do with their words. At the right time, He speaks.
1 Samuel 3:7 Samuel did not yet know the LORD because he had never had a message from the LORD before.
When the Father first spoke to Samuel, the boy did not yet know or recognize His voice. He never had heard the Father speak before. Samuel was working at the tabernacle, assisting Eli. He was serving the Lord, but he had not yet met Him.
Eli realized that the voice that Samuel was hearing was the Father speaking to him. The Father was calling out to the boy. Eli was wise enough to tell Samuel how to respond the next time he heard the Father’s voice.
1 Samuel 3:9 “Speak, LORD, your servant is listening.”
You needn’t wonder any longer about what to do when you hear the Father’s voice. Eli tells us the way to respond when the Father speaks. We relinquish control and with one simple sentence, acknowledge that the Father is Lord. He is the Master; we are His servants.
Samuel is seen in stark contrast to Eli and his sons. Eli was a passive and absent father. He was also a failure as a priestly leader. His sons are corrupt and wicked. They were worthless men who did not know or respect the LORD (1 Samuel 2:12).
At the same time, the people of Israel were defiant and distant from the Father. Any wonder why messages from the LORD were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon?
REFLECT & PRAY
It is all too possible to serve the Lord, without ever knowing Him (Matthew 7:23).
Father, how I long to be like Samuel. When You speak, let me be quick to say: “Speak, LORD, your servant is listening.”
Now that Samuel was ready to hear and respond properly, he did not have long to wait. But this time there was more than just a voice.
1 Samuel 3:10 Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”
This was no mysterious voice nor mystical experience. The Lord was there, physically present.
Was all that preceded this moment preparing Samuel to hear and take in what the Father said? Samuel was still just a boy, but he was a prophet, a man of God in the making.
The Father’s words were dreadful and terrifying. No doubt Samuel was already intently listening and focused. But now, undoubtedly his eyes widened, and he took a deep breath. I can imagine that under his breath, Samuel whispered, “Oh God no!” Perhaps he wept.
1 Samuel 3:11 Then the LORD said to Samuel, “I am about to do a shocking thing in Israel.”
The Hebrew could be literally translated, “when anyone hears about it, both of his ears will tingle.”
Habakkuk had a similar reaction to comparable unnerving news.
Habakkuk 3:16 I trembled inside when I heard this; my lips quivered with fear. My legs gave way beneath me, and I shook in terror.
What was the Father about to do? The world as the Nation of Israel knew it was about to collapse. “The catastrophe was the impending defeat of Israel by the Philistines, the death of Eli’s sons and Eli himself, the capture of the ark of God, and the desolation of the national sanctuary at Shiloh” (Smith).
But there was a new world coming. The time of the Judges was ending. The Nation of Israel would no longer be twelve loosely confederated tribes. It was about to become a kingdom. And Samuel was being prepared to anoint the first king, the people’s choice, Saul. But Saul was a poor choice.
Samuel would also anoint the Father’s choice, David.
When the Father is silent, it’s not always a bad thing. Perhaps He is preparing you for the day that He speaks. Get ready. His perspective is always the wisest in the room.