“The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. The 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. Then the Lord called Samuel.”
—1 Samuel 3:1-4 (NIV)
The kind of attention people give to a speaker depends on who the speaker is. There are people who would talk but they are ignored, what they are saying notwithstanding. That brings me to ask a question: Does it matter what one says or it matters who the person is? Who you are affects what people make of what you say.
When God called Samuel, the young boy didn’t know that it was God calling him. Thrice, he responded by going to Eli, the priest who was mentoring him. There are a number of things to learn from this encounter.
God Preparing Samuel
First, God’s initial calls were meant to: i) wake up the boy; ii) make him find out who is calling.
Sometimes God would not speak until you find out that He is the One calling. You can hear the call but the instructions and commissioning would come later.
It is not enough to hear a voice calling. It is equally important to know whose voice it is.
God Preparing Eli
As God was preparing Samuel to recognize Him, he was equally preparing Eli to know that God was calling the young boy. The three times the boy Samuel went to him served as a witness. It was therefore established for Eli that God was calling the boy. This preparation was important because of the kind of message God would pass to him through Samuel.
Samuel was able to deliver the message because he knew WHO sent him; Eli was able to receive the message because he had also known that it was God calling the boy. Note that Samuel was afraid to tell Eli what he was told. Eli had to urge him (v.15-17).
Things would have been different if God called Samuel and straightway started speaking before the latter found out who was speaking. Or if God spoke to him through a dream.
(See 1 Samuel 3:1-18).
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Daniel, that is a powerful and true statement, "It is not enough to know there is a voice calling." There are many voices calling, and we must distinguish who is doing the calling. Until reading this, I had not thought about the purpose of the way God spoke to the boy, Samuel. As always, a good and thought-provoking article.