Monday, September 21, 2020

Hearing God's Voice; 1 Samuel 3


Audio Link

Hearing God's Voice 

1 Samuel 3:1-4:1a; Remsen Bible Fellowship ; 09/20/2020

Introduction: Our Need

  • Do you long to hear God’s voice?

    • Do you desire a word from the Lord?

  • If you do: fantastic. That is a right desire, and it’s our topic this morning

    • If you don’t have that desire, if you feel sufficient on your own, let me lean on you a little here - you have no greater need than to hear the word of the Lord

  • Not having the word of the Lord, not hearing his voice is pictured in Scripture as a form of God’s judgement: Amos 8:11-12, Isaiah 8:16-22

    • Not to hear from God is to be cast about in utter darkness. Contra, Psalm 119:105

  • As we come 1 Samuel 3, the whole nation is seen to be under God’s judgement, as the word of the Lord has become rare

Read the Chapter

God’s Call

  • The Setting of this chapter is early morning in the temple, pre-dawn light, v2-3

    • The lamp was to stay lit-apparently a job for Samuel because he is young and spry

    • Note the description of Eli-eyes have grown dim. Physically and spiritually

    • The whole nation lies in the darkness: but dawn is coming 

  • In v4-10 the Hebrew verb for call, which we have as call or called depending on the tense, occurs 11 times

  • I want to note 3 characteristics of God’s call to Samuel-2 apply to us, the third does not

    • 1) It is personal. God calls Samuel by name

    • Every time God calls to someone in Scripture it is by name. This extends to you today

    • 2) It is persistent. God calls Samuel four times

    • Do you feel like you’ve missed your opportunity to listen to God because you have failed to hear him in the past? 2 Cor 6:2; cf, Ex 3 happens after 40 years in the wilderness for Moses

    • God isn’t going to speak to you in the same form he did to Samuel, but the the call to hear and heed his word remains the same today

      • Note v7, Samuel did not yet know the Lord-why? He hadn’t received God’s word

    • After Eli finally realizes what is going on (how should we feel about this guy?), he gives Samuel wise advice: wait for him to come back, and be ready to listen

    • When God returns the fourth time, we read of what seems to be a theophany (v10a), and the Lord calls Samuel’s name twice (Ex 3:4)


    • 3) the third characteristic of God’s call to Samuel, the unique part, is it’s to a prophetic ministry

    • Samuel receives a direct word from the Lord, and his ministry is to deliver that word

God’s Message

  • In v11-13 the Lord unfolds for Samuel a reiteration of the unnamed prophet’s message from chapter two: the sin is very great, Eli’s sons blasphemed God, Eli failed to restrain them, there remains no sacrifice

  • Is God being too harsh? Number 15:27-31

  • Samuel doesn’t seem eager to deliver this message to Eli (v15)

    • Receiving the word of the Lord is of no value, indeed is dangerous, if we are unwilling to act upon it. Cf Isaiah 8:16-22, God hides his face because they are disobeying

    • This is the message from Eli to Samuel in v17

  • In v18 Samuel delivers the uncomfortable news, all of it

    • This is the task of any messenger of Christ

    • 1) for all of us, sharing the good news of the gospel includes sharing the bad news about sin. 

    • 2) This is particularly true for preachers of the Gospel. God’s kills & makes alive (1 Samuel 2:6) by his word (John 1:2, Revelation 19:11-15)

    • Hold me accountable, and should I die or move (hopefully decades in the future), this is the #1 criteria in a pastor-will he preach in season and out of season? 2 Timothy 4:2

  • This sort of proclamation, whether in a personal conversation or in the public preaching, demands a response

  • Are you willing to hear this kind of uncomfortable word from the lord? v18

Our Response

  • In v19-4:1a, Samuel is established. He grew, none of his words fall to the ground, Dan to Beersheeba (the whole nation) knows that he is a prophet, God reveals himself to Samuel by his word, and all the nation hears it

  • Note the close association with what the prophet says and what God says, 3:21, 4:1

  • But this takes us back to the distinctness of Samuel’s call, and the difference between his day and ours

    • It that day, the word was rare (3:1), and it comes common (4:1) via God speaking to one person, and that person relaying the message to everyone

    • This actually marks a shift in Israel’s history: Samuel is the first in a continuous line of prophets

  • We won’t turn there, but Deuteronomy 18:15ff gives a prophecy of a great prophet like Moses to come, and then the test for any other prophets who come in between Moses & the one to come (their words had to prove true)

  • With Samuel, the word of the Lord goes from being rare and uncommonly heard, to there always being a prophetic presence in Israel, speaking God’s word to his people. This continues to be the case until the close of the OT canon, some 400 years before the birth of Christ. 

  • But then God goes silent-until the last of the OT style prophets hits the scene: John the Baptist

    • But John is not the Prophet (John 1:21)

    • He point to the One who is

  • Hebrews 1:1-4, God has revealed himself perfectly in the person of his Son

  • No longer are visions (v2) needed, Jesus is the vision, the icon, the perfect picture

  • God reveals himself to us through this written word-the Scriptures-all of which (John 5) point to the Living and Eternal Word, the Lord Jesus Christ

  • We receive him by believing all that this book says about him Romans 10:17

  • The great gift of our day is that we are no longer having to wait on God to send a special message through any particular mere human: he sent the perfect man, the God man, to reveal the full character of his nature. 

  • To hear the voice of God in our day no longer requires some out of body experience or a voice from heaven: we can simply open the book and pray, show me Christ

  • We come to church, coming as the body of Christ, and the task of the preacher is to make clear to the gathered body the word of the Lord

    • “God’s word—written, preached, welcomed—is the token [sign] of God’s grace to God’s people.”

    • We come to hear Our Lord whom we are to obey, we come to hear our Savior whom we are to trust, and we come to hear our Bridegroom and closest friend who will comfort us in every affliction.

Brothers and sisters, you need to hear the voice of God. You need to hear the word of Christ.  Pick up the book and read! Turn on your audio Bible and listen! Gather with the church week by week as we come together in submission to his word, to hear from the only One whose words give life. Hebrews 2:1-3a

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