“Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel answered, ‘Speak, for Your servant hears.’” 1 Samuel 3:10
When I was a boy I used to love to hear the story of how God came and spoke to Samuel. It was great fun to hear the story teller call out, “Samuel!” And then to imagine him running to Eli and waking him up and saying, “Here I am, for you called me.”
By the third time when it came to the part where God would call to Samuel all of us children would call out together, “Saaaammmuuueeelll! “Saaaammmuuueeelll!
And many times the story teller would point to one of us and ask, “What did Samuel say?” And that child would answer back just like Eli and told Samuel to, “Speak Lord, for your servant hears.”
When God speaks to us are we listening?
That night the message God gave Samuel was for Eli. It was a message that God had sent Eli many times before. It was a message that God should have never have had to send to the High Priest through a young boy. But Eli had shown by his refusal to correct or discipline his sons that he wasn’t listening to God.
The scriptures available to Eli taught him what he as a parent ought to have done to correct his sons but he hadn’t obeyed scripture. God’s presence, through the Holy Spirit, was also working on Eli’s heart trying to impress him about the steps he ought to take as a father and as High Priest but he hadn’t obeyed the Holy Spirit. God sent a prophet with a message of warning but Eli hadn’t listened to the prophet. One more time God attempts to reach Eli, this time through a little boy who looks to him as a father and who he looks upon as a son, but does Eli really listen?
In the morning Samuel fears to give Eli the message but with Eli’s firm prompting he does. Basically the message tells Eli that God is going to do exactly what he has said he would do. To this message Eli’s regretful reply is the fatalistic response, “It is the Lord. Let Him do what seems good to Him.”
One more time God has called inviting Eli to open the door to repentance and once again Eli turns away choosing to accept God’s judgment rather than do what was needed to receive his mercy.
Are you listening to God’s call of mercy? Am I listening when God calls me to repentance?
Eli’s story is a sober reminder that even those with the highest religious responsibilities aren’t immune to the need for repentance or less prone to avoid confessing their sins to God and making things right.
God will keep calling to us as long as there’s a possibility that his message might get through, but it’s not enough that God calls he have to listen, we have to be willing to be corrected, we have to repent, confess our sins, and stop doing what God’s telling us not to do.
O God help me to listen. Help me to repent. Help me to obey.