Eli, the old priest, who was almost blind, slept soundly in the Jewish shrine at Shiloh. His teenage assistant, Samuel, was also fast asleep – but not for long. ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ a voice shouted in the darkness. Young Samuel immediately ran to the priest – but he had not called. Twice more Samuel heard a voice calling his name – but it was not the voice of the aged cleric. ‘It must be God!’ said the priest. So he told Samuel what to say if he heard the voice again.
Samuel waited, his heart thumping and his throat dry – would the voice speak again? ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ This time he sat up in his bed and said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening’. God was speaking, not to the priest, but to a teenage boy! He announced bad news: ‘I am going to punish Eli’s sons because of their wicked behaviour’. Then he gave Samuel some good news: ‘You will become my prophet to tell the people that I will forgive those who are sorry for their bad conduct’. ‘
What did God say?’ asked the priest in the morning. Samuel nervously told him the bad news and then shared with him the good news.
Does God speak today? Yes, but not with a voice in the darkness of the night. That would be scary!
He speaks now in a book – the Bible. This is why Christians call it ‘The Word of God’. We don’t hear a voice when we open the Bible but what we read is God’s message.
What does God say? ‘You are not what you should be. But I am willing to forgive those who are sorry for their wrong-doing and who want to mend their ways’.
Samuel’s words tell us how to listen to God: ‘Speak, for your servant is listening’. For me, it is important to spend time every day reading the Bible and praying to God. In doing this, I am listening to God. I read God’s Word because it tells me about God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, who died to reconcile me to God. It is Christ who gives meaning and purpose to my life.
Will you make time in your busy life, perhaps even today, to read the Bible to hear God’s voice?