When Samuel was just a little boy, his mother Hannah brought him to the Temple of God to live and work with Eli, the priest. It was a tearful promise she had given the Lord in her barrenness, but she kept it when Samuel had been weaned.
As Samuel grew, the Lord found favor with him. He assisted Eli with anything necessary at the Temple and received yearly visits from his mother and father.
One night as Samuel was sleeping, he heard, “Samuel! Samuel!”
Samuel assumed it was Eli calling for him and showed up in his room saying, “Yes, what is it?”
Eli knew he hadn’t called Samuel and sent him back to bed.
This continued two other times. The first two times Eli sent Samuel back to bed, but the last time, it dawned on Eli that this was indeed the Lord calling out to Samuel. He instructed Samuel on what to say the next time the Lord called out to him. Samuel obeyed and went back to bed, but this time he was listening and ready to answer. (Found in 1 Samuel 3)
This interaction makes me consider a few things:
1. Samuel was still young when he first heard from the Lord, but he didn’t recognize the Lord’s voice. I wonder how often we miss the Lord’s voice, because we don’t recognize it? I wonder if it’s because we don’t know what God’s voice sounds like, what His character is, or even how to listen through time spent in his word. There are many “voices” vying for our attention and much of the time they win. Our facebook, twitter, and iphones are screaming the loudest, so we have to take steps to quiet them, allowing us to hear from the Lord, who gives instruction through his word. If we don’t spend time in it, we miss out on so many specific instructions that have already been given.
2. Secondly, notice that an older “wiser” person with more experience was placed in Samuel’s life to offer instruction and discipleship. Samuel was in the care of Eli and it was Eli’s responsibility to help him discern the voice of the Lord and respond appropriately to it. Problem was, Eli wasn’t discipling his own children, but that’s for another day. As leaders, teachers and parents, we also have that privilege and responsibility for the children placed in our lives-especially those in our own homes. If I am to ever instruct someone else on the things of the Lord, I have to begin there myself. As you begin teaching others, here are a few simple steps to get you started: Start by opening your Bible and reading scripture with your child (or someone you’re discipling). Make a few observations about the text. Then, ask them what the Bible says. Now, ask them how this applies to them. Teach them to “marinate” on it for a minute as they ask the Lord to speak to their heart. Often, after reading my Bible, I just sit for a few minutes in my chair and reflect on what I just read. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness. 2 Timothy 3:16
3. The next morning in our story, Samuel went to Eli with the information God had given him. It was difficult information, but it had to be relayed in its entirety. I believe that’s how a lot of pastors, teachers and even parents feel as they relay God’s word. The message isn’t always peaceful and comforting, but it still has to be spoken. And sometimes, (as with Eli) there are serious consequences to sin. We love to talk of grace, but the truth is, God disciplines those He loves and those we are teaching need to be taught about the seriousness of sin. (Hebrews 12:6)
So who has God placed in your life to share His instruction with? May we each be faithful to share how to listen to God’s voice through His word, receive instruction, and respond appropriately to Him.