So we spent a week on some women in the Bible, a week on some lesser known men, and what does that leave? Children, of course — children of the Bible — and we begin with the story of one of Israel’s greatest prophets when he was a boy. His name, Samuel, means “asked of God,” because he was the answer to his mother’s prayer. In her barrenness, she had promised God before Eli, her serving priest, that if He gave her a son, she would offer him back to the Lord, which is exactly what she did. As soon as she was done nursing him, she brought Samuel to Eli and he began serving God in the temple even as a child.
One night, young Samuel was awakened by the sound of his name being called out. Assuming it was Eli, who now was old and nearly blind, he went to him and asked what he wanted. Eli replied, “I didn’t call you … go back to bed.” Which he did, until he heard his name again. So again he went to Eli, and again Eli said, “I didn’t call you … go back to bed.”
By the third time, Eli knew something was up. So this time he said, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’”
The scripture says, “Samuel did not yet know the Lord because he had never had a message from the Lord before.” (1 Samuel 3:7) Apparently it takes a message from the Lord to know the Lord. Fortunately for us, we have all kinds of messages from the Lord in the form of the scriptures and His gospel. Based on that, we can know Him.
So Samuel crawled back into bed, and, sure enough, the voice came again, so this time Samuel said, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” And God spoke, and delivered a message, the first of many, for Samuel would become the voice of God to Israel’s first kings … Saul, and then David. What a tender scene, and what a beautiful picture of obedience. “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.”
Would that we all had this attitude of the heart. We may not hear the audible voice of God today as Samuel did, but we can nonetheless hear from Him. What’s important is the attitude. It’s a childlike attitude of faith and anticipation that I believe should be common to us all.
“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” That little statement is packed with so much truth. First it’s a statement of our identity as servants of the living God. Second, it’s a statement of humility. We are happy and proud to be His servants. Third, it’s a statement of attentiveness. It says we are alert and awake. Our ears are attuned to God. We are on frequency. All three of these things are statements of a way of life.
“Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” It’s not just an answer in the night; it’s a way of living, day and night.