1st Samuel 3:3 And ere the lamp of God went out in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep; 4 That the Lord called Samuel: and he answered, Here am I. 5 And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down. 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the word of the Lord yet revealed unto him.
This passage of scripture relates to us the beginning of the word of the Lord to Samuel. When God called Samuel the first time, it was a distinct call, but as the scriptures show, Samuel could not yet distinguish God's voice from any other voice. This experience which took place at the beginning of Samuel's ministry as a prophet, is fraught with instruction for us. In many cases when a person enters into a new covenant relationship with God, there is usually an impatient eagerness to be able to hear and recognize God's direct voice, and while this is not to be discouraged, there are certain issues we should understand before this takes place.
In most cases it takes time for a person to recognize distinctly, the voice of God. There is usually a preparatory period of several years of faithful adherence to the scriptural knowledge we have at our disposal, before God makes His direct voice distinguishable to us. This is evidenced by the years of faithful service that had elapsed before God spoke directly to Samuel. Let's read:
1st Samuel 2:18 But Samuel ministered before the Lord, being a child, girded with a linen ephod. 19 Moreover his mother made him a little coat, and brought it to him from year to year, when she came up with her husband to offer the yearly sacrifice.
The phrase "The Lord told me" is often used very loosely in Christian circles without a careful analysis or understanding of what is being said. Samuel was walking in obedience to all that he knew to be right, before God spoke to him directly. As a matter of fact, a willingness to obey all that God says constitutes one of the main requirements of being prepared to hear God's voice, for as the scriptures show, God's voice does not always speak palatable or smooth things. When God spoke to Abraham concerning the sacrifice of his only son, it was not a smooth command that was given, yet Abraham obeyed. The same was true of Samuel, who, at the beginning of his ministry was given a direct revelation pertaining to Eli and his sons, whose probation had been closed in heaven.
This revelation of portending doom given to Samuel, caused him to tremble in his little boots all night, and it is possible that he could not sleep for the rest of the night after being told that his mentor, Eli, and his sons had exhausted God's grace and mercy, and were no longer eligible to receive forgiveness. Yet Samuel obeyed when asked by Eli to relate what God had told him. Let's read:
1st Samuel 3:11 And the Lord said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle. 12 In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house: when I begin, I will also make an end. 13 For I have told him that I will judge his house for ever for the iniquity which he knoweth; because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not. 14 And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, that the iniquity of Eli's house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering for ever. 15 And Samuel lay until the morning, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel feared to shew Eli the vision.
The timing of Samuel's call is also important, for it occurred during the quietest moments of the night. This is a very important point, since the hustle and bustle of everyday life often crowds out the voice of God so that we do not hear Him speaking to us distinctly. We are surrounded by many other voices in our lives such as the television, with its numerous and incessant round of shows, games, news, soap operas, comedies and movies.
Then again we are bombarded with the voices of many different genres of music, bringing differing, and sometimes conflicting messages to our ears. And again, we spend so much time on the information highway of the internet, that when we finally lay down to rest, our minds are still running at high-speed so that the still small voice of God is often drowned out and gets lost in a mirage of other discordant voices.
In order for us to be prepared to hear, recognize, and listen to the voice of God, we must first be willing to live by His every word that is written in the Bible, for the same God who speaks, is the very same God who gave the scriptures to us. If therefore we desire to graduate to His direct voice, we must be willing to follow His every word as is written in the Bible. We should also put aside quality, quiet time with God on a regular basis, time that is not interrupted by the noise and bustling of household duties, for it is in these quiet hours that the voice of God becomes distinct.
We therefore end with two passages of scripture, reminding us in the twenty-first century, that God's voice will again be heard directly, by those who consecrate themselves unreservedly to His service. Let's read:
Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.
Joel 2:11 And the Lord shall utter his voice before his army: for his camp is very great: for he is strong that executeth his word: for the day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?
It is therefore incumbent upon us to make the necessary preparations through surrender and obedience, so that as this prophecy unfolds before our eyes we may be able to recognize distinctly, and obey implicitly, the voice of The Eternal God. May this be our experience from this day forth and forever. "Good night" and God bless!