1Samuel 3:1-10

Sunday Morning Bible Study

December 30, 2001


Are you listening?


Seems an elderly gentleman had serious hearing problems for a number of years. He went to the doctor and the doctor was able to have him fitted for a set of hearing aids that allowed the gentleman to hear 100%. The elderly gentleman went back in a month to the doctor and the doctor said, “your hearing is perfect. Your family must be really pleased you can hear again.” To which the gentleman said, “Oh, I haven’t told my family yet. I just sit around and listen to the conversations. I’ve changed my will three times!”

I want to talk about “listening” this morning.  But not about listening to each other, I want to talk about listening to God.

:1 And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli. And the word of the LORD was precious in those days; there was no open vision.

childna‘ar – a boy, lad, servant, youth. Jewish tradition has it that Samuel was 12 years old at this time. He has been living at the Tabernacle in Shiloh with Eli since he was about three years old.  He was a special child, an answer to his mother’s prayer.  He was dedicated to the Lord, a Nazirite.  God is going to use a child.

ministered – Samuel was kind of a little priest-in-training.

preciousyaqar – valuable, prized, weighty, precious, rare, splendid

In the time of the Judges, there only seems to be two times that God used a prophet.

Deborah the prophetess (Judg. 4:4), and the prophet who spoke during Gideon’s time (Judg. 6:8)
Jud 4:4 And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time.
The prophet who spoke during the time of Gideon.
Jud 6:8 That the LORD sent a prophet unto the children of Israel, which said unto them, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you forth out of the house of bondage;

no openparats – (Niphal) to be broken through

visionchazown – vision; oracle, prophecy (divine communication)

God’s visions were unable to “break through” to people. Perhaps it isn’t just a matter of God not speaking, but the real issue is, is anyone listening?


How rare is God’s Word?

Is God able to speak today? Is God able to get your attention?
Are You Listening?
The story is told of Franklin Roosevelt, who often endured long receiving lines at the White House. He complained that no one really paid any attention to what was said. One day, during a reception, he decided to try an experiment. To each person who came down the line and shook his hand, he murmured, “I murdered my grandmother this morning.” The guests responded with phrases like, “Marvelous! Keep up the good work. We are proud of you. God bless you, sir.” It was not until the end of the line, while greeting the ambassador from Bolivia, that his words were actually heard. Not quite knowing what to say, the ambassador leaned over and whispered, “I’m sure she had it coming.”
Even as we sit here today, there are hundreds of voices flying through the air, all around us. We can sit here quietly, but still can’t hear them. But if we turn on a radio and flip through the dial, we can begin to hear what’s being said.
I don’t think the issue is really that God isn’t speaking. The issue is whether or not anyone is listening.
To be listening, you need the right equipment. You need to be tuned in.

:2 And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could not see;

when Eli was laid down – this story takes place during the night, and Eli is in bed.

his eyes … dim – Eli had been going blind

not seera’ah – (Qal) to see; perceive; have vision

Why does the author take the time to tell us that Eli was going blind?

There’s no relevance to the story. It doesn’t seem to have any impact. On the other hand, maybe it does.


Should you be a person who sees?

If anyone should have been seeing visions, it should have been Eli. He was the High Priest. But he was going blind.
What has blinded Eli? Why isn’t he a person who “sees” visions? Just prior to this account, a prophet visited Eli and warned him of judgment.
(1 Sam 2:29 KJV) Wherefore kick ye at my sacrifice and at mine offering, which I have commanded in my habitation; and honourest thy sons above me, to make yourselves fat with the chiefest of all the offerings of Israel my people?
He put his family above God.

His sons were wicked. They were abusing their authority as priests and were causing the people to hate coming to the tabernacle. They were even seducing the women who served at the tabernacle.

Rather than disciplining them correctly, he just scolded them.

Jesus said,

(Luke 14:26 KJV) If any man come to me, and hate not his father, and mother, and wife, and children, and brethren, and sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be my disciple.

Don’t misunderstand me. God wants us to love our family and take care of them. But our family should never take a place higher in our hearts than where the Lord is.

He has become self-centered.

He has become fat on the things that his sons have stolen from the people of God. Rather than disturb his own comfort, he has chosen to let things stay as they are.

Jesus said,

(Mat 16:24-25 KJV) Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. {25} For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.

Eli is blinded because his priorities are in the wrong place.

:3 ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the LORD

Every night the priests would light the seven-branched candlestick, the Menorah. It would burn all night, and at daybreak, the priests would enter into the tabernacle to put the lamps out. That places this event somewhere before dawn.

:5 And he ran unto Eli

Samuel doesn’t know what is happening. He thinks that the voice he heard was Eli.

:7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD

knowyada‘– to perceive; find out and discern; distinguish; to know by experience

revealedgalah – (Niphal) to be uncovered; to be disclosed, be discovered


You can hear the Lord without knowing Him

God speaks to all kinds of people who have never come to trust in Him.
You say you will never forget where you were when you heard the news On September 11, 2001. Neither will I. I was on the 110th floor in a smoke filled room with a man who called his wife to say “Good-Bye.” I held his fingers steady as he dialed. I gave him the peace to say, “Honey, I am not going to make it, but it is OK...I am ready to go.” I was with his wife when he called as she fed breakfast to their children. I held her up as she tried to understand his words and as she realized he wasn’t coming home that night. I was in the stairwell of the 23rd floor when a woman cried out to Me for help. “I have been knocking on the door of your heart for 50 years!” I said. Of course I will show you the way home - only believe in Me now.” I was at the base of the building with the Priest ministering to the injured and devastated souls. I took him home to tend to his Flock in Heaven. He heard my voice and answered. I was on all four of those planes, in every seat, with every prayer, with the crew as they were overtaken. I was in the very hearts of the believers there, comforting and assuring them that their faith has saved them. I was in Texas, Kansas, and London. I was standing next to you when you heard the terrible news. Did you sense Me? I want you to know that I saw every face. I knew every name - though not all know Me. Some met Me for the first time on the 86th floor. Some sought Me with their last breath. Some couldn’t hear Me calling to them through the smoke and flames; “Come to Me... this way... take my hand.” Some chose, for the final time, to ignore Me. But, I was there. I did not place you in the Tower that day. You may not know why, but I do. However, if you were there in that explosive moment in time, would you have reached for Me? September 11, 2001 was not the end of the journey for you. But someday your journey will end. And I will be there for you as well. Seek Me now while I may be found. Then, at any moment, you know you are “ready to go.” I will be in the stairwell of your final moments.


God speaks to us, but will we listen? Will we pay attention? Will we respond?

:8 the LORD called Samuel again the third time … Eli perceived

the third time – Aren’t you glad that God doesn’t stop after the first two times?

(Isa 55:6 KJV) Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:

If you are here today and you can hear my voice, perhaps it’s not too late.

perceivedbiyn – (Qal) to perceive, discern; to understand, know (with the mind); to observe, mark, give heed to, distinguish, consider; to have discernment, insight, understanding

You have to give Eli a little credit here. He finally realizes that God must be speaking to the boy.

:9 Go, lie down…Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth

lie down shakab – to lie down; to rest, relax (fig)

servant ‘ebed – slave, servant

heareth shama‘– to hear, listen to, obey. This is the first part of Samuel’s name, “hearing”. In a sense, Samuel’s name would be prophetic because he, Samuel, would “hear” (shama) from God (el)

:10 And the LORD came, and stood, and called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel …


God wants to speak to you

(John 16:13-14 KJV) Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will show you things to come. {14} He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.
shall show it unto youanaggello = (ana) into the midst + (aggello) a messenger, an angel; it means to announce, make known. Of the ways it’s used in the New Testament it seems to carry the idea of not just sending a message or shouting at someone, but coming into their presence and giving the message.

When Paul came back from one of his missionary journeys around the world, preaching the gospel, and arrived back home in Antioch ...

Ac 14:27 And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles. (AV)

I kind of get the idea that everyone was gathered together, maybe at a church potluck, with Paul and Barnabas in the middle, telling the stories of all the people they met and ministered to.

The work of the Holy Spirit is a very personal work.
He doesn’t:
... send you junk-mail, addressed to “occupant”.
... send you a cold, lifeless e-mail, duplicated to thousands of people at a time.
... take out space in the newspaper and print an open letter addressed “to the whole world”.
He wants to come right into the middle of your life, and personally tell you things from Jesus and about Jesus.
We talked earlier about having a radio to hear the voices around you. The Holy Spirit is like a living radio, giving you the ability to hear Jesus.
I find it fascinating to hear what each of you get out of our Bible Studies. I know what things speak to me, but it’s amazing to hear what the Lord speaks to you.


How can I hear God speak?

1. Be quiet.
Samuel had to go back to his bed and “lie down”.
Psalm 62:1 Truly my soul waiteth upon God: from him cometh my salvation.

waiteth - duwmiyah - silence, still, repose, still waiting

NAS Psalm 62:1 My soul waits in silence for God only; From Him is my salvation.

Elijah was running for his life, and hid out in a cave, he was trying desperately to get some answers from God about his situation. (1Ki.19)

As he was in this cave, first he was met with a strong wind, then an earthquake, and then a fire, but in all these things, God didn’t speak to him.

But then came a gentle blowing, or, as the King James puts it a “still small voice” (1Ki.19:12).

It was with the still, small, voice, that God began to speak to him.


Sometimes at our house, the phone rings, I pick it up, and I have a hard time hearing the person on the phone.  Usually it’s because the TV is so loud.  You need to turn the volume down on the TV to hear.

I wonder if sometimes we simply have too much going on, too much noise from TV or radio, too many things to worry about in our brains. God says,

(Psa 46:10 KJV) Be still, and know that I am God

2. Wait.
Samuel was to wait until he heard the voice again.
Being quiet is only one part. We must also learn to wait for the Lord to speak.

Ps 27:14 Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD.

Ps 130:5 I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

Don’t just be quiet for a second, and then rush off without waiting on Him. Give God time in your life.
3. Listen.
Eli told Samuel,

…thou shalt say, Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth.

When Moses was faced with a tough question, and needed an answer from God, he said:

Numbers 9:8 And Moses said unto them, Stand still, and I will hear what the LORD will command concerning you.

Isaiah 55:3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David.

4. Surrender
Samuel was to tell the Lord that he was the Lord’s servant.
The person who surrenders to the Lord and is willing to listen will always learn God’s will.
5. Know His voice
Samuel would soon learn to know the Lord’s voice.
When someone familiar calls you on the phone, they don’t have to identify themselves, because you know the sound of their voice.
The sheep know the sound of their master’s voice:

John 10:2-5 “But he who enters by the door is a shepherd of the sheep. 3 “To him the doorkeeper opens, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name, and leads them out. 4 “When he puts forth all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 “And a stranger they simply will not follow, but will flee from him, because they do not know the voice of strangers.”

How do we become familiar with the sound of His voice?

Spend time listening to what He’s already said.

Spending time in the word.

That way we’ll be able to tell whether it’s the Lord, or the pizza we had the night before.


Are You Listening?

Back when the telegraph was the fastest method of long-distance communication, a young man applied for a job as a Morse code operator. Answering an ad in the newspaper, he went to the office address that was listed. When he arrived, he entered a large, busy office filled with noise and clatter, including the sound of the telegraph in the background. A sign on the receptionist’s counter instructed job applicants to fill out a form and wait until they were summoned to enter the inner office. The young man filled out his form and sat down with the seven other applicants in the waiting area. After a few minutes, the young man stood up, crossed the room to the door of the inner office, and walked right in. Naturally the other applicants perked up, wondering what was going on. They muttered among themselves that they hadn’t heard any summons yet. They assumed that the young man who went into the office made a mistake and would be disqualified. Within a few minutes, however, the employer escorted the young man out of the office and said to the other applicants, “Gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, but the job has just been filled.” The other applicants began grumbling to each other, and one spoke up saying, “Wait a minute, I don’t understand. He was the last to come in, and we never even got a chance to be interviewed. Yet he got the job. That’s not fair!” The employer said, “I’m sorry, but all the time you’ve been sitting here, the telegraph has been ticking out the following message in Morse Code: ‘If you understand this message, then come right in. The job is yours.’ None of you heard it or understood it. This young man did. The job is his.”

We live in a world that is full of busyness and clatter, like that office.  Yet God is speaking.  One of the things He’s been saying to some of you is, “Will you follow Me?”  Are you tuned in to God’s voice? Do you hear Him when He speaks to you?

Are you listening?