Devotional & Reflection

Week 1, Dec 2001

1 Sam 2-3: Do You Hear What I Hear?
By Teo Kok Hong, Regional Director & Trainer, Ezra Resources

1 Sam 3:1 The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.
3:10 The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, "Samuel! Samuel!" Then Samuel said, "Speak, for your servant is listening."

The ear is a fascinating part of the human body. Able to distinguish all kinds of sounds with its varied frequency ranges; it is the gateway to one of the human five senses. Although it controls all that we hear, audible voice that is, hearing does not limit itself with the ear. There are other factors affecting our sense of hearing: age, ability to read body language, attentiveness and posture are among some of them. However when it comes to hear the voice of God, what qualities are essential if we were to walk in the ways of the Lord and to fear Him?

In 1 Samuel chapter 3, we read that while Samuel was still a boy (v. 8), the Word of the Lord came to him. Although "Samuel did not yet know the Lord" (v. 7) for "the word of the Lord was rare" (v. 1) in those days, it suggests that a direct revelation of the Lord to Samuel was happening. How then did the word of God bypassed Eli and went directly to Samuel. In chapter 2:21, we read of a fitting commentary of Samuel, "the boy Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord," and he "grow in stature and in favor with the Lord" (2:26).

It is one thing to grow in the presence of the Lord and quite another to be within the compound of the tabernacle that housed the Ark of the Covenant. The former has in mind a relational closeness or intimacy with the Lord, while the latter denotes proximity or nearness within the confines of the tabernacle. This is clear when both Samuel and Eli who served within the precincts of the tabernacle, only one was revealed the Word of God, the other heard nothing. One had a relational intimacy, the other only served. One was blessed, the other was rejected (2:31-33; 3:12-14).

Hearing the Word of the Lord has everything to do with building an intimate relationship with God. It is the New Testament equivalent of "abiding in the vine." Samuel who was serving within the tabernacle was also relating to the Lord. While we can be busy with the affairs of the church, it does not automatically qualify us to hear the Word of the Lord. There must be a relational closeness that must be nurtured and cultivated as the image of the "branch and the vine" suggests c.f. John 15. In our highly stressed society, spending time with a person does not occupy a high priority in our agendas today, but if we were to stay in tune to the Holy Spirit's prompting, "abiding" that denotes drawing nourishment from the Lord is an essential element that calm our senses and clear our "ears."

By contrast, Eli who was the judge of Israel failed to listen to the Word of God. Sadly, we read that God had rejected Eli. He failed to restrain his sons from committing gross misconduct although he was told. They defiled the animal offering made to the Lord and engaged in ritual fornication within the very compound of the tabernacle. For this fact, God quit speaking to Eli but chose Samuel instead. If we were to listen to the Lord, we must be obedient to his words, otherwise our hearing faculty will be rendered useless and the Lord would quit speaking to us.

1. How would you describe your listening ability?
2. How balanced are you in your service to the Lord and relationship with Christ?
3. Obedience is a pre-requisite in listening to God - agree or disagree. Why?