Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" And Samuel said, "Speak, for Your servant is listening."1 Samuel 3:10(NASB)
The beautiful story of Samuel's conception and birth, and God's special call on his life, has become beloved by many. The heart-felt prayer of a childless woman whose pleading request for a baby son was answered and who was faithful in returning the child back to the Lord once he was weaned, has rejoiced many hearts and encouraged many souls.
True to her word, Hannah sang her own magnificat to the LORD. He granted her petition, and she kept her promise and gave her precious little son back to the LORD, joyfully proclaiming, "For as long as he lives he is dedicated to the LORD." And so, the young boy remained at the tabernacle of the Lord with Eli the old priest, and there Samuel worshiped the Lord.
It is suggested that Samuel was about 12 years old or in his early teens when God called him, with an audible voice, into His service. Because of the poor spiritual state of the nation, prophetic visions and dreams were rare in those days. However, unlike the spiritually weary old Eli whose eyes were dim and love for the Lord had grown lukewarm, the young man heard God's voice clearly in the night hours, and responded quickly and obediently.
God was waiting to tell Samuel that God's judgment was ready to fall on the house of Eli, because of the shocking apostasy into which the priesthood had fallen and because his two sons were sexually promiscuous. God was waiting to reveal to Samuel that He was going to do a new thing in Israel, something that would cause the ears of all who heard it to tingle!
And so, one night, Samuel was lying down in the tabernacle of the Lord, where the ark of God was located. God's call came as daylight was beginning to dawn, for the "lamp of God," had almost gone out. The lamp-stand in the sanctuary was kept burning night and day and was no doubt ready to be replenished with oil. But God was waiting to pour His own light into this spiritually alert little boy to whom He was to entrust many things. Just as the flickering lamp of God was burning low, the Lord called to the boy, but he did not recognise the voice of God. Samuel thought it was the old priest calling to him and obediently went to the sleeping Eli, to find out why he was needed. As soon as He heard the call, Samuel ran to Eli answering, "Here am I."
The old man was slow to realise the Voice that was hailing Samuel was none other than the Lord Who was calling to him in the night. So Eli sent him back to bed - twice - but eventually realised what was happening and told Samuel that if He was to call again, Samuel was to respond and listen to all that God had to say.
In today's verse we read: "Then the LORD came and stood and called as at other times, 'Samuel! Samuel!' And Samuel replied, 'Speak, for Your servant is listening.'" The words that God spoke to Samuel that night were words of shock and horror. Judgement was to come on Eli for the lethargy in his religion, but also on his two evil sons who blasphemed the name of the Lord, participated in gross immorality, and caused shame and disgrace to come upon the sacred position of the Levitical priesthood.
It must have been terrifying yet wonderful for young Samuel to hear God talking to him in the early hours of the morning and discover that he was to be used as a prophetic voice to the people of God. Samuel was ready and willing to hear the Word of the Lord, and responded with words that many others have uttered down through centuries of time: "SPEAK LORD, Your servant is listening."
The Lord is no respecter of persons, and the eyes of the Lord continue travel to and fro, looking for a man or woman who has a listening ear, a trusting heart, and a willing spirit that is ready to say: "Speak Lord, your servant is listening." The Lord is ready to use anyone who is willing to become an instrument to be used in the furtherance of His truth.
No one is too young or too old for God to use. Both men and women, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, are all people whom He will use if they are ready to listen and obey His voice and trust in Him with their whole being.
Heavenly Father, thank You for the many lessons and encouragement we can gain from the beautiful story of Samuel, the little baby born to Hannah whose life was dedicated to You and who grew into a man who listened to Your voice and obeyed the call on his life to do Your bidding. Open my ears to hear You speaking to me and use me, I pray, in whatever way You will, for Your greater praise and the glory. This I ask in Jesus' name, AMEN.