I love reading passages in the bible that are very familiar to me only to have God open up new understanding and new truth. I think, as Christians, that can be a dangerous place for us as we allow ourselves to feel like we have 'read that already' or that we 'know that story well' and therefore, we don't allow the Holy Spirit to impart new wisdom or new revelation to our hearts. We don't allow the scriptures to speak to us.
As I opened the Word to 1 Samuel yesterday, I felt myself drawn in to the scriptures and I read it like I had never encountered it before. I wanted God to show me something new. I have always loved the story of Hannah and her longing for a child and her persistence with the Lord. She yearned for a child so much that she was willing to give him to the Lord for His service. Not only was she willing, but she was obedient. As she conceived and gave birth, she didn't forget her promise to God. She was a woman of her word. She kept the vow that she made with her God.
"There is none holy as the LORD; for there is none beside Thee; neither is there any rock like our God." (1 Samuel 2:2)
Hannah's words are beautiful and they come straight from her heart and into the ears of a Holy God. A God that she trusted and a God that she loved. Hannah delivered her son to Eli, the priest, just as she had promised God and the scripture tells us that Samuel grew, and was in favor both with the LORD and with men and that he ministered unto the LORD.
We see in chapter 3 that Samuel was ministering in the temple under the guidance of Eli at a time when God wasn't speaking to His people. The spiritual leaders were corrupt and not obeying the law. The nation of Israel was experiencing the silence of God in their lives that was akin to judgement. But things were about to change. God would choose to speak His sweet and Holy Word to a young lad who had ears to hear and a heart to obey.
Samuel was about 12 years old at the time the LORD called his name. He was asleep in the temple and the lamp of God was the only source of light in the Holy place. The light that was a symbol of God's truth. It may have been burning dimly, but it was still burning. What a beautiful picture of the mercy of God in our lives. His light may be burning dimly, but there is still light and there is still the ability for that light to flourish and grow brighter!
The LORD spoke to Samuel 3 times and Samuel thought it was Eli calling. He went to Eli each time saying, "Here am I" and Eli told young Samuel that he didn't call him and to go lie down again. The third time Samuel approached Eli, the scriptures tell us that Eli perceived that the LORD had called the child.
We see in verse 7 of chapter 3, that Samuel didn't know the LORD and that the Word had not been revealed to him. I found that interesting as I just assumed that Samuel would have been close to God as he had been ministering in the temple for around 9 years. Eli tells Samuel to lie down and if the LORD called to him again, he should respond "Speak, LORD; for thy servant heareth"
God, in his mercy and grace, called out to Samuel a fourth time. In fact, the Word tells us that the LORD came and stood and called Samuel's name. This time Samuel responded, "Speak; for thy servant heareth". His response left out the title of God as he lacked a true knowledge of God and was careful not to accept it as the voice of JEHOVAH God because he just wasn't sure.
Samuel, in his obedience, heard a Word from the LORD. He had no idea about the message to Eli that had been delivered through an unknown prophet, but the Word that God spoke to this young boy, who had ears to hear, confirmed it. God found an obedient child among a land of disobedient adults and used that child to deliver a powerful message to Eli and the nation of Israel.
Samuel demonstrated a humble heart. He heard and received the message of God, yet in the morning, he still rose up and tended to his tasks. Only when Eli inquired of him did Samuel share the LORD's message. We see that Samuel grew and the LORD was with him. He had influenced an entire nation and was recognized as a prophet of God who declared the Word and the will of God. It marked a new beginning for the nation of Israel. New challenges, new blessings and new victories.
Do we desire new beginnings? New victories? If we do, it's time to open our ears and be attentive to what God has to say. We have to be listening with our hearts wide open to receive. We must be purposed deep within our hearts to walk in obedience and surrender our all to Him. We must listen with the intention of receiving. We must listen with the intention of obeying.
If we remain in the Word and we remain humble before Him, we prepare our hearts to hear and respond to the voice of God. Get still before Him and allow Him to do a new work within. When we bow our hearts before Him in this manner, in true desire and true surrender, we will hear.
"Speak, LORD, for thy servant heareth."