Unfamiliar Call

1 Samuel 3:1-10

1The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. 2One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

6Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” 7Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Call Centre

Have you ever had received unfamiliar calls? It’s surprising if you have telephone and had not received calls from strangers. It may not necessarily be wrong number calls. Call centers randomly call phone numbers to offer vacation packages, sell products they represent or just conduct surveys.

Most often, someone calls the office phone and ask for prescription. Our office phone number is very similar to the phone number of Shoppers Drug Mart in McPhillips Street. Maybe, it’s a wrong number call in disguise. It is possible that God allowed them to call the office because they also need prayers or hear about Christ. I pray that they may seek and find the Ultimate Healer eventually.

Christians may ignore God’s call when they think that the call they heard was intended for somebody and not for them. Many believers want to serve God, but they choose the most convenient way for them. They dictate how they want to serve the Lord. Well, such service is good starting point for new believers.

As we grow more mature spiritually, we serve God not according to human choice but according to God’s preference for us. We need to pray and ask God to confirm more clearly when He is calling us to serve Him in ministries He prefers.

When Samuel heard the Lord’s calling for the first time, he was sleeping. He thought that it was Eli the priest who called him. It implies that Samuel was obedient to the authorities or to Eli the Priest when he responded very quickly.

1. Respond

1The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. 2One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the Lord, where the ark of God was. 4Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.

After he heard a call, Samuel ran to Eli. He didn’t delay. He responded very quickly when his name was called. It is very opposite to the disobedience of Eli’s sons. When Eli prayed for Samuel’s parents that they may have more children, he may have hoped that Samuel’s siblings would grow like him.

It says in 1 Samuel 2:20, 20Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, saying, “May the Lord give you children by this woman to take the place of the one she prayed for and gave to the Lord.”

As a father with disobedient sons, Eli the priest had valued Samuel’s help.

Eli may have been very observant if Samuel would be the faithful priest whom the Lord told that He would raise. Eli may not have expected that his sons will be chosen by the Lord because they did not even want to listen to him.

It says in 1 Samuel 2:35, 35I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his priestly house, and they will minister before my anointed one always.

God said, “I will raise up for myself a faithful priest.” He did not say, “I will choose a priest if he is faithful.” What does it imply? To become faithful servants of God does not depend upon human effort, why? Faithfulness comes from God.

‘Faithfulness’ is the fruit of the Spirit of God. Christ has chosen His Apostles but Apostle Judas Iscariot was not faithful. Good or bad, Christ chooses leaders whom He deem necessary for His purposes. It says in Romans 13:1-2,

1Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. 2Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.

We obey leader not because they are faithful or unfaithful to God but because they are God-chosen instruments for His purposes. It is possible that God chooses leaders who are tough or not gentle individuals, why? Just to bring judgment to criminals. One president of America was very humanitarian in nature but he has the worst performance as president. Another individual was egoistic or even unsympathetic to others but he performed greatly according to experts.

Is it possible that one is not sympathetic but also obedient to the Lord? Actually, King Saul was sympathetic to the king of Amalekites whom the Lord ordered to be destroyed. Saul sympathy was considered disobedient to God.

Believers are called to lead in different measures, magnitude or degrees. Some believers are called to lead a few but still some are called to lead hundreds or thousands. The sons of Eli were chosen to lead few servants in malpractices. In comparison, the Lord has chosen Samuel to lead the entire Israel spiritually, and Eli the priest may have realized that Samuel was raised up by God.

2. Realize

6Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” 7Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

Like Samuel, many believers have not recognized the voice of God just yet. Church-goers hear preachers preach but cannot discern when God speaks to them, much more when the Lord call them to repent or go for a mission.

You may have heard this story about a church-goer attentively listening to the preacher. And, each time he hears a very touching message, he would says, “Oh, how I wish my neighbor is here to listen to the pastor’s message!”

The reason your neighbor is absent is because God is talking to you not to your neighbor. God speaks to everyone in His right timing. God calls His chosen servant at the right time. We only need to realize and recognize the voice of God.

God called Samuel at a very young age, why? Samuel did not recognize God’s voice, and Eli advised Samuel, “Lord, speak for your servant is listening.” Similarly, do you recognize when God speak? If so, are you listening to Him?

Samuel did not recognize God’s voice because the word of God was not revealed to him yet. Such is one great reason we need to read God’s word to discern which one is God’s voice and which one is just a preacher’s voice.

Most often, we want to listen to voices that would confirm what we wish or desire. Normally when God speaks, it opposes to things we want to do.

King Agrippa

When Apostle Paul testified before King Agrippa he said in Acts 26:27-28, 27King Agrippa, do you believe the prophets? I know you do.” 28Then Agrippa said to Paul, “Do you think that in such a short time you can persuade me to be a Christian?”

King Agrippa may have believed God secretly and didn’t practice his belief openly because he was afraid that it may complicate his political status. He loved the temporary benefits of politics more than the eternal benefits of believers.

Like King Agrippa, many believers are very slow in their spiritual maturity not just because they cannot recognize the voice of God but they are more inclined to follow the desire of sinful nature. Sad to say but it’s real.

In the case of Samuel, he heard someone calling him but didn’t realize it was God’s voice. He responded quickly but he thought it was Eli the Priest who called him. It illustrates that God speaks in understandable language, not vague.

As we grow mature spiritually, we may hear it when the Lord speaks to us. But perhaps, like Samuel, some among us may respond very quickly but not necessarily know the difference between God’s voice and preacher’s voice.

Check your heart. If you hear a message and resist, that’s normal attitude of disobedience. If you respond, ‘Lord speak, I am listening!” God will tell you the next thing you need to hear. Be attentive and ask Christ to help you listen to Him.

To hear more of God’s voice, be attentive when you are reading His words.

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