Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 22 2019 - 1 Samuel 3 – The call of Samuel

We are told that the word of the Lord was rare in the days of Eli. It seemed as if God had given up speaking to a people who would not listen to him. So when the Lord called to Samuel he did not realise who was speaking and ran to Eli, thinking it was the old priest who was calling to him. The narrative then takes on the character of a pantomime with Samuel dashing to and fro until Eli realised that it was the Lord calling to Samuel and told him to respond by saying, "Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening" (1 Samuel 3:9).

The word of the Lord to Samuel echoes the word previously spoken to Eli by an unnamed prophet (2:27-36). God's judgment is about to fall on Eli's family in such a dramatic fashion that all Israel will hear of it and be startled. Samuel passed on the message to Eli only with great reluctance and when forced to do so. This word from God seemed dark and negative, but the Lord will have much more to say to Samuel in the days ahead and much more to do through him, for we read, "The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD. The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word" (vv. 19-21).

Samuel is the last of the judges, but, unlike most who had gone before him, he is no localised leader. The whole of Israel (from Dan in the North to Beersheba in the south) is united under his rule. So the nation is being prepared for the arrival of a king.

The Lord Jesus is not only our king and priest (as we saw in our last passage from Samuel), he is also our prophet. He is the one through whom God has most fully revealed his heart and mind. He is the Word made flesh. He is the one in whom all that God has previously said now finds its focus and its great 'Yes!' The writer of the letter to the Hebrews makes this point when he writes:

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. (Hebrews 1:1-2)

Jesus is continually addressing us through his word and by his Spirit. He calls us to hear his voice and to follow him. If we do not listen to his call to follow him, we may find that he ceases to speak to us; "How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation" (Hebrews 2:3). The word of the Lord will become rare in our hearing so that we soon cease to recognise his voice at all. "Deafness" towards God is surely inviting him to respond in judgment.

Father God, we thank you that you are not a God who remains silent. You have revealed yourself through your word and especially in the Lord Jesus Christ. You have shown us the glory of your grace rather than the severity of your judgment. And you continue to speak to us by your Spirit as he writes your word upon our hearts and prompts us to respond. Help us always to be ready to hear your voice. May we have the same spirit as young Samuel who said, "Speak Lord, for your servant is listening." Keep us from closing our ears to you. May we let nothing of what you have to say to us fall to the ground. Help us rather to proclaim the good news that we have heard to others that they also may hear and believe.

Peter Misselbrook