Listen Up!

Week 6, Day 1

I Samuel 3.1

(The full text for this week is below)

Ist Samuel 3.1—“Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.”

This first line in chapter 3 is a hint to the reader that something is about to change. God hadn’t been seen or heard from in quite a while—or perhaps people were just not listening. In any event, the writer is preparing us for an important shift.

Ist Samuel marks the turnover of leadership and power among the tribes of Israel from the period of the judges (as remembered in the Bible books of Joshua and Judges) to the formation of the kingdom of Israel with Saul as the first king.

The time of the judges was not known for promoting peace, justice and human rights. The final chapter of Judges is a frightful illustration (read it at your peril!). The last verse in Judges tell us much of what we need to know about the times into which Samuel was born: “In those days there was no king in Israel, and all the people did what was right in their own eyes”.

So when we turn the page from the violent “God is silent” times of the Judges to the slightly less violent “God is about to speak” times of Samuel, there is a welcome moment in which hope is possible. That hope is centered in God's speaking and people listening.

Hope is always centered, it turns out, in God speaking and people listening.

The world of Samuel’s day was, as our world often seems today, an uncentered, uncertain, dangerous place. Into that time of trouble God spoke. And the fortunes of the people, ever so slightly, took a turn for the better.

The deeper truth here, I suspect, is that God is always speaking into the world; that God’s concern for the Creation does not wax and wane with some Divine whim. God is always speaking, but that word becomes effective when someone—say an Abraham, a Moses or a Samuel, comes along with the ears to hear, the heart to understand and the willingness to speak.

What do you imagine God is saying today? Who is listening? What is the message for us?

Prayer: God, we don’t live in a world where the word of the Lord is rare; we live in a world where the word of the Lord is rarely heard. Speak up!, Gracious God and break through our reluctance to pay attention. Amen.

I Samuel 3. 1-21

1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.

2 At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; 3 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. 4 Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ and he said, ‘Here I am!’ 5 and ran to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ So he went and lay down. 6 The Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call, my son; lie down again.’ 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

8 The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” ’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

10 Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’ 11 Then the Lord said to Samuel, ‘See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. 12 On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. 13 For I have told him that I am about to punish his house for ever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. 14 Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering for ever.’

15 Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. 16 But Eli called Samuel and said, ‘Samuel, my son.’ He said, ‘Here I am.’ 17Eli said, ‘What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.’ 18So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, ‘It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.’

19 As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

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