The Lord spoke:
“When Samuel invited Me to speak, I spoke immediately. I did not hold back My voice from those who desired to hear it…For those who prepared their hearts and minds to come into My Presence with singing and worship. Samuel was in the place I needed him to be to hear My voice. Eli was not.
The old order of things is passing away. I am looking for those who have a heart for Me first. Those who will be bold for Me. I will fill their mouths to testify to my greatness. My holiness. They will declare repentance, justice, and holiness to my Bride.”
The Lord Calls Samuel
I Samuel 3 says,
“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. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called Samuel.
Samuel answered, “Here I am.” And he ran to Eli and sai, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down. Again the Lord called Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord. The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the Lord was calling the boy. So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie doen, and if he calls you, say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
The Lord came out and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
And the Lord said to Samuel: “See I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears of it tingle. At that time I will carry out against Eli everyone who hears it tingle- from beginning to end. For I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knew about; his sons made themselves contemptible, and he failed to restrain them. Therefore, I swore to the house of Eli, ‘The guilt of Eli’s house will never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.’ “
Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision, but Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son.” Samuel answered, “Here I am.” “What was it he said to you?” Eli asked. “Do not hide it from me. May God deal with you, be it ever so severely, if you hide anything he told you.” So Samuel told him everything, hiding nothing from him. Then Eli said, “He is the Lord; let him do what is good in his eyes.”
The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheeba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word. And Samuel’s word came to all Israel.
Out With The Old, In With The New
The book of First Samuel starts by saying that, “…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.”
Eli was the high priest, descended from the line of Aaron, and dedicated to serving the Lord and the people of Israel. He had two sons that the bible describes as wicked, saying, ” They had no regard for the Lord.” Meanwhile, the Lord was raising up a new priestly leader to steward the House of Israel as its prophet. Samuel had been dedicated by his mother to the Lord before he was born. Samuel was around the age of three when his mother gave him to the service of the Lord. Hannah was even recorded as saying, ” I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him. So not I give him to the Lord. For his whole life will be given over to the Lord.”
Samuel would be raised in the temple and learn to worship and serve God. While Eli’s sons would be committing horrific acts, the Bible says, “But Samuel was ministering before the Lord- a boy wearing a linen ephod (An ephod is a priestly garment donned by the priests who would go into the holy of holies to atone for sin and seek the Lord on behalf of his people) (1 Samuel 2: 18).
Eli would rebuke his sons for their detestable behavior, and the Bible says, “His sons, however, did not listen to their father’s rebuke, for it was the Lord’s will to put them to death.” A man of God would later come to Eli (1 Samuel 2:27-36) to foretell of the end of Eli’s legacy, saying that God, “will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what’s in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house, and he will minister before my anointed one always.”
This is the backstory that brings us to the primary passage where the Lord calls Samuel.
Samuel was in the Presence of the Lord when God called Him
The Bible tells us that, “Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was. THEN the Lord called Samuel.” Don’t miss that it also says, “Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place.” The ark of God was kept in the Most Holy Place, a small room of the Tabernacle where only the high priest could enter, yet Samuel was sleeping there. Eli had spent his entire life in service to God, and his responsibility was to overSEE all worship in Israel. It’s no coincidence that God tells us, Eli’s eyes were becoming weak and that he could barely see. The bible says that “the word of the Lord was rare and there were not many visions” (I Samuel 3:1). Did Eli neglect to address his family in his service to the Lord? Was the Lord taking his “vision” away because he was preparing to give the gift to another? Was his vision loss part of the judgement that comes with failing to carry out the Lord’s will? The man of God who came to visit Eli tells us:
the Lord said, “Why do you honor your sons more than me by fattening yourselves on the choice parts of every offering made by my people, Israel? […] Those who honor me I will honor, but those who despise me will be disdained. The time is coming when I will cut short your strength and the strength of your father’s house…” and the Lord proceeds to describe the fall of the House of Eli.
I encourage you to read 1 Samuel, chapters 1-7 to glean a full perspective of the upbringing of Samuel, and the change of hands in leadership from within the House of Israel.
The Lord Called Samuel, and Samuel Responded
The Lord called out to Samuel three times. Samuel heard his voice as the voice of a man, and thinking it was Eli, ran to his master. The third time, the Bible says, “The Lord came and stood there (in the Most Holy Place), and called Samuel for the third time. Samuel said, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening.”
I’m not saying that God can’t get our attention without us giving him permission, but in this instance, Samuel gives permission to God to speak while he simply listens. Considering the context of the circumstances, the Lord was searching for someone who valued His words more than the words of man. More importantly, he was willing to be still and listen for what God wanted to say. Samuel identifies himself as a servant of God whereas the sons of Eli served only themselves and their fleshly desires.
The definition of a servant
SERV’ANT, [L. servant, from servo, to keep or hold; properly one that waits, that is, stops, holds, attends, or one that is bound.]
1. A person, male or female, that attends another for the purpose of performing menial offices for him, or who is employed by another for such offices or for other labor and is subject to his command. The word is correlative to master. The servant differs from the slave, as the servant’s subjection to a master is voluntary, the slave’s is not. Every slave is a servant but every servant is not a slave.
2. A person who voluntarily serves another or acts as his minister; as Joshua was the servant of Moses, and the apostles the apostles the servants of Christ. So Christ himself is called a servant, Isaiah 42:1. Moses is called the servant of the Lord, Duet. 34 (Webster, 1828).
So, What Is God Saying Today?
The Lord is choosing a people after his own heart. They have been prepared in the shadows and the secret place. They have forsaken their own desires to worship and honor their king. It wasn’t the popular thing. It ended relationships. It shifted the course for many. But the time of preparation is coming to a close, and it will soon be time for the old ways to die. New “church” will not look like old “church” for the church is a building,. The Lord is sending his devoted messengers into the highways and byways to be his mouthpieces because time is of the essence. While the Elis with perishing vision stay in their usual place and neglect to deal with the Lord’s business, the Samuels will preach the Word of God to this lost and dying world.
The Story of the Great Feast
I want to leave you with a story that Jesus told. The Lord never asks us to give up something without replacing it with something better. The Lord is preparing a wedding banquet for his bride, the true church. Here he talks about the group that prioritizes their great agendas over his great commission.
But he said to him, “A certain man made a great supper, and he invited many people. And he sent his servant at the hour for supper to tell those who were invited, ‘Come, for everything is ready now.’ They all as one began to make excuses. “The first said to him, ‘I have bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please have me excused.’ “Another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I must go try them out. Please have me excused.’ “Another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’ “That servant came, and told his lord these things. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in the poor, maimed, blind, and lame.’ “The servant said, ‘Lord, it is done as you commanded, and there is still room.’ “The lord said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I tell you that none of those individuals who were invited will taste of my supper.'”