Scriptures : 1 Samuel 3: 1-9
” Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation. And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see, and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the Lord where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, 4 that the Lord called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!” So he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” And he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” And he went and lay down. Then the Lord called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” He answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” (Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him.) And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy. 9 Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. ”
Samuel Heard the Lord’s Voice for the First Time
There was a young boy named Samuel who ministered to the Lord before Eli the priest in the tabernacle. It came to pass at that time that while Samuel was lying down, the Lord called him. He heard his name was called, but he did not realize that it was the Lord who called him. Samuel thought it was Eli’s voice. He did not recognize the voice of the Lord because it was the first time he heard that voice. Samuel came to Eli, but Eli told him that he did not call him and told him to lie down again. This thing happened three times before Eli perceived that it was the Lord who had called the boy. Eli then told Samuel that what he heard was the voice of the Lord. He was also told how to respond when his name was called by God. (1 Sam 3:1-9)
Being Guided in Hearing the Lord’s Voice
Someone who is learning to hear the voice of the Lord will go through the same experience as Samuel did. At the beginning, he will hear from the Lord, but he will not realize or know for sure that what he hears is from the Lord. Therefore, it is very important that he is helped and guided by someone who is more mature spiritually, someone whose spiritual senses have been sharpened to hear the Lord’s voice accurately. This person should be able to identify the characteristics of the Lord’s voice and also know how to respond to this voice.
Three Important Keys in Hearing the Lord’s Voice
There are three important keys that we need to know and understand in hearing the voice of the Lord :
1. Abiding in the presence of the Lord.
The voice of the Lord comes from the presence of the Lord. Therefore, it is easier for us to hear His voice if we abide in His presence. The boy Samuel heard the voice of the Lord as he lived in the tabernacle of the Lord (1 Sam 3:3) and ministered before the Lord (1 Sam 2:18). It means to hear the voice of the Lord, sometimes we need to be at the place where the presence of the Lord is usually manifested or we need to build first a life of ministering to the Lord, that is, coming into His presence in worship.
2. Recognizing the sign of the Lord.
Before the Lord tells us what He wants us to know, normally He will give us the sign that He is about to speak. It is like a phone call. When our phone rings, we know that somebody would like to speak to us. Samuel beard his name was called as a sign that the Lord would like to speak to Him (1 Sam 3:4,6,8). The sign that the Lord gives when He is about to speak is different for each individuals. We must learn to recognize this sign.
3. Responding to the sign of the Lord.
It is important that we recognize the sign that the Lord gives when He is about to speak to us, otherwise we will not give any response. Samuel did not respond to the Lord when his name was called because he did not realize that it was the Lord who was calling his name.
Instead, he went to Eli because he thought it was Eli who called his name (1 Sam 3:5,6,8). As we respond to His sign, then the Lord will speak to us, just like He did to Samuel when he finally responded to Him, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” (1 Sam 3:10) It is like the person who is calling will begin to speak as we pick up our phone and answer his call.