• Tony Birkhead

Week 1-Recognize and Respond!



Speak, for your servant is listening!

INTRODUCTION

There are voices we hear from every day. We learn to recognize certain voices the more we hear them. Have you learned to discern the voice of God when He speaks into your life? Sometimes it’s a whisper in His Word. Sometimes it’s a whisper through your circumstances. Sometimes He’ll even whisper to you through people He’s placed in your life. Lean in, start a conversation and don’t forget to listen for His whispers.

KEY SCRIPTURE

1 Samuel 3:1-3

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions. 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.

1 Samuel 3:7

Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.1 Samuel 3:10The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”

1 Samuel 3:19

The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

What are you earliest memories of prayer? Share a story or memory.

Can you share a time when you know for sure you were hearing from God in your life?

The boy, Samuel, was hearing an audible voice from God. Do you think that would be easier or more difficult today?

What are some distractions that get in the way of you hearing from God? How can you quiet those more and lean in to hear God’s whispers to you?

PRAY TOGETHER

Jesus, thank you that you still whisper to us today. Help me to remember that my prayer is to be a conversation. Help me to lean in and hear your whispers to me this week. And, when I hear you help me to respond by listening. Amen!

MOVING FORWARD

  • Take 10 minutes each day this week to get alone with God. Speak to Him for 5 minutes and then be quiet for the other 5 and listen for His whisper.

  • Write down each time you sense God’s whisper this week and share your list with someone.

  • Go to mylivingwater.cc Click the “More” tab. Choose “Pray4everyhome” and register to pray for your neighbors.

COMMENTARY

3:1-3. Samuel, as a youthful Levite, was providing service to the Lord under Eli’s tutelage. In the days of Eli, prophetic revelations in the form of visions and divine words had been “rare” (v. 1; lit., “precious”), a circumstance that can be linked to divine displeasure (see 14:37; 28:6) and helps explain why society was so degenerate at that time (see Prov. 29:18; Amos 8:11). Background details provided here are laden with symbolism relevant to the events that follow; Eli’s eyes—and by extension his spiritual insight—were “so weak that he could barely see” (v. 2). The mention of “the lamp of God” (v. 3) still burning in the midst of Shiloh’s darkness provided not only a temporal setting—the predawn hours (see Ex. 27:21)—but also a symbol of Samuel’s presence in that spiritually benighted worship center. Samuel lying down in the Lord’s temple, “where the ark of God was,” positions the youth not only spatially but also spiritually; he was of all Israelites closest to the Lord’s throne (see 4:4; Num. 7:89).

3:4-14. While Samuel was fulfilling the Torah obligations to tend the lamp of God (see Lev. 24:3; Num. 18:23), the Lord called the youth and delivered a message of judgment to him. In a form paralleling Abraham, Jacob, and Moses’ obedient responses to divine calls (Gen. 22:1, 11; 31:11; Ex. 3:4), Samuel responded, “Here I am” (v. 4). Because he did not initially know the Lord, however, Samuel at first went to Eli for further instructions (vv. 5-6, 8). Eli twice turned Samuel away (vv. 5-6), perhaps because Eli essentially was blind to the possibility of the Lord’s revealing Himself in a personal manner. Eventually, however, the elderly priest came to understand that the Lord was calling the youth and advised him to respond submissively.

On the climactic fourth approach to Samuel, the Lord called the boy’s name twice and also “stood.” The repetition of the personal name is reminiscent of the divine call to Abraham at Mount Moriah (see Gen. 22:1,11) and the one to Moses at the burning bush (see Ex. 3:4). The similarity suggests that this moment was as important in Samuel’s life and for all Israel as the parallel moments were in the lives of the earlier heroes of the faith. Samuel obediently identified himself as the Lord’s “servant” (v. 10; 1:11) and urged the Lord to speak.

The Lord’s terrifying revelation was in fact a confirmatory repetition of the judgment against the house of Eli given by the unnamed prophet (2:30-36). Though prophetic messages could be conditional—warnings of possible consequences resulting from continued disobedience (see Jonah 3:4)—in the case of the words spoken against the house of Eli they were certain. Every promised outcome—“from beginning to end” (v. 12)—would become reality. And Eli, as the family patriarch, would bear the brunt of the blame because “he knew about” (v. 13) his sons’ “contemptible” sins but “failed to restrain them” (Deut. 21:18-21). Eli’s conscious failure to enforce divine law in his own family amounted to a high-handed (i.e., deliberate) sin; as such it could “never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering” (v. 14; see Num. 15:30-31). Furthermore, the magnitude and form of God’s judgment would be so shocking that it would cause “the ears of everyone who hears it to tingle”—that is, to give rise to great fear and dismay (see 2 Kings 21:12; Jer. 19:3).

3:15-18. With the coming of morning, Samuel “opened the doors of the house of the Lord.” The description of a dawn marked by the prophet’s reopening the way into the Lord’s presence is an obvious double entendre: on the one hand, Samuel was merely performing his daily duty as a temple servant; on the other hand, he was ushering in a new era of spiritual consciousness in Israel.

But Samuel did not enter into his role as the Lord’s spokesman without hesitation (v. 15). Eli’s fatherly reassurances and stern admonition provided the encouragement the lad needed to perform his duty. The interaction between Eli and Samuel in verses 17-18 conveys an idealized model of prophetic activity in society: the addressee encourages the prophet to speak the full revelation, the prophet does so, and the addressee accepts it willingly. In these verses both the seriousness of the prophetic responsibility and a model of its proper discharge are presented. Samuel’s alert, expectant reception of the divine message (v. 10b) and his full disclosure of the Lord’s revelation (vv. 17-18a) in spite of personal misgivings (v. 15) are the proper responses of a prophet to a revelatory divine visitation.

#prayer #whisper #hearingGod

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