Tag Archives: samuel

Listening To God


There are two questions many of us get asked. One is, “Did you hear that?” The other is, “Are you listening to me?” There is a difference between the two. Hearing is an involuntary function. As long as your ears work, you hear things all the time whether your brain takes the time to interpret the sounds. Listening is a voluntary function. It requires that you pay attention. The brain is looking to understand the sounds and to make sense of them. There’s quite a difference between the two.

In I Samuel 3, Samuel was a boy and he was sleeping in the Tabernacle near the altar. He heard someone say his name, so he went to Eli the priest and said, “Here I am. Did you call me?” (NLT). Eli replied, “I didn’t call you. Go back to bed.” When Samuel got back to bed, he heard his name called again. Three times this happened and all three times, Eli sent him back to bed. On the third time though, Eli figured it out.

Eli realized that Samuel had never heard the voice of the Lord before. He instructed the boy to go back and respond should he hear the voice again. Verse 10 says, “And the Lord came and called as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel replied, ‘Speak, your servant is listening.'” He had heard the Lords voice three times, but it wasn’t until he learned to listen that the Lord gave him a message.

I believe God is talking to you and me all the time. Many times we hear His voice involuntarily and we interpret it as a feeling inside of us as to what we should do. I believe it is critical for each one of us pause in our prayer time to say, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” God doesn’t just want us to hear His voice, He wants us to listen to what He’s saying to us and then to obey. It’s going to require that you listen purposefully and then block out the other sounds your brain involuntarily hears. 

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Stubborn Pride

  

I’m about as stubborn of a person as they come. In some cases, I’ve spent a lifetime trying to figure out when it is advantageous to be stubborn and when it is detrimental. I don’t always pick the right one. Sometimes I’m stubborn and it pays off, while other times it gets me into trouble. I’ve learned it usually works against me when I’m so set on how I want to do something, that I refuse to listen to wisdom. In those cases, it doesn’t matter how sound or logical the opposing argument is, my stubbornness refuses to allow me to listen.

In I Samuel 8, Israel was at that same place. They knew that Samuel was a person who spoke with God and that his judgements were good. They had watched God use him since he was a boy. When he grew old, he appointed his sons as judges, but they didn’t listen to God like Samuel did. They took bribes and perverted judgement, so the leaders decided to confront Samuel about it. Instead of just asking for their removal and for new judges, they asked for a king.

Samuel was heartbroken. He felt rejected and disappointed in his sons, I’m sure. He went to the Lord about it. In verse 7, the Lord said to Samuel, “Do everything they say to you, for they are rejecting me, not you” (NLT). Then a few verses later, He finished by giving Samuel instructions, “Do as they ask, but solemnly warn them about the way a king will rule over them.” He wanted Samuel to give them wisdom before they made their final decision.

Samuel listed out the things a king would do to their kids, take from their homes, and tax. 1 Samuel 8:19-20 gives us their response. “But the people wouldn’t listen to Samuel. ‘No!’ they said. ‘We will have a king to rule us! Then we’ll be just like all the other nations. Our king will rule us and lead us and fight our battles’” (MSG). Samuel took what they said to God, and He gave them a king. He gave them what they wanted, even though it was not His will because they wouldn’t listen to wisdom. God may grant your request, but it doesn’t mean it was the wisest choice.

Reading this story reminds me that God has placed people in my life to give me wisdom. It’s my choice to listen to them or to be stubborn in my ways. Proverbs 28:26 gives us insight to this kind of thinking. It says, “It is foolish to follow your own opinions. Be safe, and follow the teachings of wiser people” (GNB). Stubbornness leads us down the path of foolishness while wisdom takes us down safe paths. If you’re facing a difficult situation, ask God to put people in your life who can give you godly wisdom, then follow it. 

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The Mom Who Was Granted Grace

I want go focus on mothers in the Bible this week. Today, Hannah comes to mind. She was the mother of Samuel. Her husband had another wife named Peninnah. She had blessed her husband with children, but Hannah had not. She struggled with infertility. I’m sure it bothered her all the time, but each year when they would travel to Shiloh to worship God, it would become a major issue. Her husband would give a portion of the sacrifice to Peninnah and to each of her children. To Hannah, he only gave one portion. Peninnah would taunt her and make fun of her for not having children.

I’m sure that Hannah struggled daily with not being able to have children. The voice in her head constantly tormented her making her feel like she was somehow less of a person because she couldn’t have kids. She must have felt like God was punishing her or that there was something wrong with her. Every time she saw a mother with their children, it was like a knife in a wound reminding her that she was barren. Having the other wife taunt her and make fun of her was just salt in the wound.

Her husband would say things like, “Aren’t I worth more to you than ten sons?” Men really don’t understand what a woman goes through. We aren’t wired the way a woman is. Instead of doing something consoling, we say something stupid. It wasn’t that she didn’t love her husband, she wanted fulfillment that only a child could bring. Her husband’ swords weren’t meant to hurt, but spoken out of ignorance, they did more harm than good. She would have preferred he prayed for her there while we sacrificed.

Since he didn’t, she did. She went into the sanctuary to pray. She began to weep as years of pain, suffering and mental anguish released. When she ran out of tears, her body dry heaved as she tried to pray. The words wouldn’t come out. Her mouth was moving, but the prayer was coming from her heart. Eli, the priest, saw her at the alter. He assumed she was drunk by her behavior. He called out to her, “Must you come here drunk?” Sobbing she replied, “I haven’t been drinking. But I am very discouraged and I was pouring my heart out to The Lord.” He said, “In that case, go in peace! May the God of Israel grant the request you have asked of him.”

She went away happy and began to eat again. She believed the word from Eli. She conceived and gave birth to a son. When he was old enough to be weaned, she took him back to Eli and gave him to The Lord. She left him there as an offering for God answering her prayer. She gave back the thing she wanted most. When I looked up the name Hannah, it meant “grace”. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines grace as “an unmerited divine assistance given humans for their regeneration.” God gave Hannah grace just like he gives it to us. When Samuel was born, Hannah became a new person. She was free of the thing that haunted her. God is still in the business of answering our deepest desires and granting us grace when no one else understands.

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