1The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. 2 One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place. 3 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. 4 Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 5 And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. 6 Again the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” 7 Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. 8 A third time the Lord called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. 10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” 11 And the Lord said to Samuel: “See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. 12 At that time I will carry out against Eli everything I spoke against his family—from beginning to end. 13 For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons blasphemed God, and he failed to restrain them. 14 Therefore I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’” 15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, 16 but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.” Samuel answered, “Here I am.” 17 “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide from me anything he told you.” 18 So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.” 19 The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word. (1 Samuel 3)
When we considered the theme “A world in Need” in 2020, little did we know how much Covid-19 would lay bare the fragility of “normal existence”. The need for believers to serve as God directs is crystal clear, and none of us should be on the side-line. Our assigned tasks from God may be big or small by human standards but in God’s economy our part is always a big part because we serve a big God. So, if not you, then who?
For our Group Bible Study this year we will consider the story of God calling Samuel (1 Samuel 3). Over the next three days, we will consider this passage under the following headings: 1) Call, 2) Confusion, and 3) Confirmation & Challenge.
God’s call of Samuel has unique elements but there are broad lessons applicable to us as we consider our response to God’s call(s). Let’s start by considering how God called Samuel. Please prayerfully read the passage above and consider the questions below.
- Have you ever heard people talking about God’s call on their lives and it sounds like a game of hide and seek? Based on verses 1 – 4, how would you characterize God’s call of Samuel (e.g., direct or indirect, transparent or shrouded in secrecy, specific or general)?
- Of course, God speaks to us in a variety of ways. In what ways have you experienced God’s call on your life?
Sharing your thoughts could be a big help to someone else. Please leave a comment on the blog.
February 17, 2021 at 6:52 am
My Pastor has spoken of different callings from God for himself and for people that he knows. Some of the people knew that God was calling, but were hesitant, while others got into action immediately.
Although Samuel didn’t realize what was going on, God’s call on him was direct. Samuel literally heard the voice of God.
For me, God’s call on my life mostly comes from either reflecting on his Word and taking action with what I’ve learned after reading my devotions, or God speaking to me through a Bible study like this.
No matter how we feel about a calling from God, nervous, bold, or seemingly ill-equipped, we should always heed God’s calling.
February 17, 2021 at 7:51 am
I think sometimes we can hear or understand our calling by analyzing our experiences or situations. It’s difficult to distinguish it as a call from God, but after you look back and reflect on what had happened in the past and what is going on in the present, you can tell that God is sending you a message, either about your call or something you need to do to grow as a Christian. One good example for me was when I accepted a part time work as English teacher here in Japan for retired Japanese. I’m doing it for 4 years now since I came back to Japan after my husband’s posting in Oman. When i I accepted the job, I thought I would just simply teach these retired Japanese (usually their age ranging from 50-80 years old) to speak English. Some of them just need to practice their English by conversing with me in English. When covid19 was not existing yet, I used my English class to invite my students to my church which is kind of international and with American pastor. I used this opportunity to be able to share with my students about the gospel of Jesus Christ. Special events like Christmas, Easter, and Thanksgiving are good Christian events that helped me a lot to share the gospel to my Japanese students. I realized that being in Japan, my call is to continue to share the gospel to Japanese in every situation I’m in. Even just exercising in the gym, I also feel that my call is to spread the gospel and it can even start from my daily activities as well. Although the situation now is not as encouraging as before because of the pandemic, I still believe my call is really to serve the Lord in every capacity and chance available to me. The Lord has given me courage and determination to continue sharing the gospel even in ways that seemed to be not so obvious, but later it still paid off to not give up as the Lord will always empower us with His Holy Spirit. We just have to keep praying and being obedient to His word and surely our call will be revealed to us!
February 17, 2021 at 8:20 am
God’s call of Samuel in this passage is not necessarily direct, but I don’t characterize it as indirect either. The odd thing is that God could have simply stated to Samuel that it was He who was speaking, which would have removed some of the back and forth between Samuel and Eli. This must mean that there is importance in Eli’s role of conveying to Samuel that it was the Lord speaking to him. I think this speaks on the importance of not just God’s call on your life, but who He might use to speak to you. When you are unsure of God’s voice, there are others around you who may have more experience to be able to guide you.
February 17, 2021 at 9:36 am
The call by God of Samuel seems to me to be direct, persistent and specific. Lacking experience in recognizing the voice of God, Samuel went to the person who he believed made the call.
February 17, 2021 at 4:17 pm
From the retelling of the encounter I would characterize God’s call as direct. The confusion came because Samuel didn’t know the voice of God, YET.
I have experience God’s call through His still, small voice, the scriptures, the prompting of the Holy Spirit and through the words or counsel of others.
Of course, God speaks to us in a variety of ways.
February 17, 2021 at 8:21 pm
God’s call to Samuel was direct and specific. It was sufficiently clear to get Samuel’s attention. The call came when Samuel was still and both he and Eli had settled in for the night. This tells me you are more likely to hear God’s voice when there are no distractions and when you least expect it. The passage also suggests that God still speaks even when it is rare for His people to hear his voice.
The most consistent way God’s speaks to us is through the Bible. We today are very fortunate to have the Bible – God’s voice is in its pages. Samuel and Eli did not have such a powerful tool through which God speaks, we are very fortunate indeed. I have also heard God speak to me, not audibly but as though it was audible, and always while praying and only a few times. It happened when I least expected it. And I was delighted. So delighted, I expected him to continue speaking to me in prayer and respond directly to my every entreaty, and then it came to a complete stop. So disappointed was I. Alas, i think the point God was making, is I should not expect to hear Him speak to me audibly or even through signs and wonders, but to read and study the Bible and I’ll find His voice there. I used to have dreams and seen signs, and heard what I thought was God’s voice while in prayer, only to learn as real life events unfolded that it was not God’s voice at all. So I’ve learned there are other voices speaking besides God, and one must use understanding to discern whether it is God speaking or ask a Godly person who will speak the truth, and hopefully you can accept when truth is spoken. (Strong desires I have learned can evoke visions and dreams that are not from God)
February 17, 2021 at 10:13 pm
I think it is a direct call.
I really don’t know after reading the other commments.
February 17, 2021 at 10:30 pm
Your point of view (i.e., direct call) is well supported Yasmin.
February 17, 2021 at 10:56 pm
Dear friends – Thank you for your commentary! Each year I really do look forward to the words of challenge and encouragement that you share. Throughout this year’s journey we will be coming back to many of the issues you have raised today. May God richly bless you as you participate in this journey.
February 18, 2021 at 9:28 pm
I think it was both direct and specific but Samuel did not recognize it to be God’s call, mainly because of his immaturity and the fact that he was accustomed to hearing Eli call him so he responded to Eli. God’s call (voice) was so clear that the young boy answered his mentor but since he did not yet know the Lord and the word of the Lord was not yet revealed to him (v7), he answered the wrong person! But Eli’s experience and discernment eventually guided the youngster and he was able to answer God’s call.
Like Samuel, I was in the right environment with the presence of God (symbolically represented by the ark) but I did not recognize that God was calling me for a specific purpose until persons who were more spiritually mature (my parents), helped me to answer the call. Others affirmed me along the way but at times I needed the assurance that God was speaking to me and I wasn’t the one making my personal decisions. I used to ask, “How can I know what is God’s will?”