1 Samuel 3:4 / ESV
Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, “Here I am!”
I remember when my son was a little boy, one of his very favorite bible stories was that of Samuel and Eli. He loved the part where Samuel first learned to recognize God’s voice. Samuel was only about eleven years old when he heard the Lord calling him. He thought it was Eli, the priest so, when he heard it, he would run to Eli and say, “Here I am, for you called for me.” Three times this happened, and each time Eli would send Samuel back. At the fourth time, Eli realized that it was the voice of God calling out to him. This time, he instructed Samuel to go back to bed and if he heard it again, to respond by saying, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.” This was the beginning of the ministry and call on Samuel’s life as a prophet, the young man who grew up to later anoint David as king. I believe the reason my son loved this story so much was because he had a desire to hear God’s voice in his own life, and this story proved to him that not just adults could hear from God.
Things are different now than they were in the Old Testament and the audible voice of God is rare to be heard. However, that’s not to say He doesn’t still speak. First and foremost, He speaks through His written word that gives us clear direction and instruction for our lives. The word of God is “living and active” (Hebrews 4:12), so what He has spoken in the bible, He is still speaking today. When we study and learn His word, we learn of His nature. We learn what pleases Him and what it takes to walk close with Him. We learn that He is always with us and never leaves us. We learn of the things He loves and the things He hates. As we become more and more familiar with God, we become more familiar with His “voice”, just as Samuel began to respond to God’s voice until it became easy for him to recognize.
It’s not a spooky or difficult thing to hear from God. I think sometimes we either believe He no longer speaks, or we think that His voice is reserved only for a select few. When things get crazy around us or we’re searching for an answer to prayer, we must have the ability to recognize the voice of God in the crowd. How do we do this? Well, it doesn’t come without responsibility on our part. The more we study and learn His word, the easier it becomes to hear and recognize His voice. The bible tells us that the sheep hear His voice and do not follow the voice of a stranger. Hearing the voice of God goes hand-in-hand with learning and knowing the Word of God. He speaks through His word. It is through His word we learn of Him, we become familiar with His sound, and anything that we may “hear” outside of that must line up with His word.
Over and over in scripture, Jesus spoke the words, “he who has ears to hear, let him hear”. This was a call for us not only to hear, but to listen, to learn and to obey in response to what we hear Him saying. May we have ears to hear and recognize His voice and be like young Samuel with the ready answer, “Here I am, for you called for me.”
John 10:27 / ESV
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.
Romans 10:17 / ESV
So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.
Luke 11:28 / ESV
But he said, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and keep it!”