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Br Road 2 Sept 2001 am The Voice of God

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The Voice of God … as at other times

1 Samuel 3

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

V 10

These opening chapters of 1 Samuel provide us with a unique insight into the way God communicates with man – yet very often we miss the significance of the words because we adopt an over sentimental approach to the familiar Sunday school story.

Our text is in verse 10, and I believe it is appropriate to us individually, and to this place in particular, for here, over the years the Lord has spoken and sometimes He has been heard, and sometimes ignored; sometimes heeded and sometimes not.

It is the very nature of God to speak to us, and not to us only but the world that largely ignores Him.  He has spoken through men of God down through the ages and through His Son most of all (opening verses of Hebrews) – and, since the coming of Jesus, through the Holy Spirit.  (We shall consider the Voice of the Spirit in our sermon this evening.)

Consider with me:

·        The background noise

·        The Voice heard

·        The Voice heard and heeded

A.  Background Noise

These days it’s a real problem – noise. It not only stifles the voice of truth, it also causes stress and confusion.   It is the means whereby sin and Satan attempt to prevent the Voice of God being heard.   The broader context of this story (2 v12- end of 3 and 4 v12 to end) provides us with an insight into the causes of God not being heard.

When God finally broke through to Samuel it was a time like our time. It was the time of Judges when people did what they pleased, a time of human voices and God not listened to.

The boy Samuel ministered before the Lord under Eli. In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions.   V 1

As then – so now – the Word of God is rare.   The nation is spiritually bankrupt and many of it’s leaders corrupt.

ELI was an example of the failure to hear what God was saying because of the background noise.

1.     He had been sent a message before, but he had not listened to it.

V 12          I spoke …

V 13          I told him …

                … he failed …

Chapter 2 tells us how an un-named prophet came to Eli – but the word was unheeded. Like so many utterances unheeded at the time it contained a profound truth about the future

35 I will raise up for myself a faithful priest, who will do according to what is in my heart and mind. I will firmly establish his house, and he will minister before my anointed one always.      Ch2  v 35

A wonderful prophecy fulfilled only in Christ – missed because of the background noise.   Unheeded because of WEAKNESS – Eli, functioning as priest in Shiloh but not able to discipline his sons.

The noise of undealt-with sin.

2.     Even in the tabernacle God’s voice was NOT RECOGNISED


Not recognised either by Samuel or by Eli.        Experience and privilege – being in close proximity to holy things does not guarantee the hearing of God’s voice.

Eli – who had heard before, and Samuel who had not, were in the Holy Place, yet at that moment deaf to the Voice of God.

As our text says :    “calling as at other times

But not heard.

3.     Such is the strength of the background noise that even though the voice of God has spoken again and again and is now even transcribed for us into the Holy Scriptures we can remain oblivious to His Word.

You can hold it in your hand, or be within reach of it in the pew or at home – and be unable to hear God’s voice because of un-confessed sin and disobedience not dealt with.

Oh God – speak above the din. May we be sensitive again to the still, small voice!


We hear often what we want to hear – opinions like our own – views that are comfortable and do not disturb our state. We remain oblivious to the Voice of God because of our traditions or our doctrinal position, or our deeply held views.

Sometimes we do not hear because the messenger is a distraction to the message, or because we do not want to hear the Voice of God.

Jeremiah and other spokesmen knew that the people listened selectively to the false prophets who told them all was well …

God free us from the background noise!

B.  The Voice Heard

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

V 10

There is no doubt about it: God speaks.    It is not a rare happening.  All over the world people testify that they hear the voice of God.

True, it sometimes seems He is silent. We expect a voice at times of personal, even national need and we listen anxiously for this voice. But the background noise is what we hear.

The repeated words to Samuel are a reminder of an essential truth concerning God’s revelation of Himself. He is the God who speaks.

Samuel heard in three ways here in the passage:

·        Heard without understanding

·        Heard and responded

·        Heard – and his life was changed

He heard several times without recognising the voice

God’s timing was such that the background noises were stilled – that there was someone at hand to share and help him respond – and God spoke repeatedly

If He had spoken once only how different the outcome would have been.  God wants us to hear – but our senses are dulled – He repeats Himself.

We too hear without understanding.

We listen to a sermon. We sense that the word is for us INDIVIDUALLY – but often we are unaware WHO speaks.

Perhaps there is someone here who has heard A voice but has not recognised that it is HIS voice?


You’ve listened whilst folk have spoken of the Gospel, of Jesus and His love. You heard – but it is still one voice among many.


LISTEN!  He speaks:   The word is preached, read, shared, observed – it is the Lord.


Perhaps He spoke once, and you almost responded. Has He seemed silent since? He has spoken – He is speaking.

Samuel might have wondered if the Voice would speak again – it did!

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

V 10


He heard again – and responded

What was the difference?  The same Voice, the same name, the same place.

Eli had not heard, but he recognised – perhaps there had been a time when he too had heard the voice of God directly – now he helps the youth to move forward.

He gave Samuel directions:

Then Eli realised that the Lord was calling the boy. 9 So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.                           V8b 9

And the words of a response.

Before Samuel had assumed three times that it was Eli’s voice. Now he knows it isn’t and he has a response ready.

We too need forms of words with which to respond.   As regular worshippers, even in an open tradition of worship such as ours, we know the value of hymns and choruses, psalms and pattern prayers.   They help us to express our halting responses to the repeated call of God.

We could do worse than borrow Eli’s pattern prayer:

“Speak LORD, for your servant is listening.”

Eli – just for once – has a part in the unfolding drama – to open the understanding of someone to whom God’s voice has come.

I’d be happy today to be an Eli to you!

So Samuel lay down in his place and…

10 The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

This time he will respond

He knows how

He no longer confuses the Lord’s voice with Eli’s

Will God speak again?      YES!

And Samuel heard and his life was changed


God shared with Samuel the word against Eli – personal and uncompromising

15 Samuel lay down until morning and then opened the doors of the house of the Lord. He was afraid to tell Eli the vision,                                                                                              

And he knows the message must be shared – he is to become in his time a sharer of the Voice of God


“calling as at other times…”


Eli, fully aware that the message would be for him helps him with a touching phrase:

“Samuel, my son” “What was it He said to you …?”

And Samuel will never be the same again

He has heard the voice

Responded to the voice

Now he shares the voice

That is …

C.  The response and responsibility of hearing

V 17          do not hide

V 18          Samuel told him everything

V 19          the Lord was with Samuel

It is our text over again

The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!”

V 10

This is a principle of the spiritual life

To hear God’s voice

To respond personally

To pass the words on

Samuel is afraid – but he will not shirk his spiritual duty

·        to Eli

·        to all Israel

20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognised that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. 21 The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.


I leave with you these thoughts about the ministry of God’s voice and Word at a time when I know the fellowship is looking to find a successor to David.

1.     Let these be the marks of your personal experience

despite all the background noise

Hear God’s voice

Respond personally

Share the message clearly and without compromise

2.     Let these be the marks of your life as a fellowship


Help one another to hear His voice

To respond to Him

To share the Word


3.     For the one whom God will send to lead His flock here look for these evidences:

He listens to the voice of God

He responds to it

He is not afraid to share that word without fear of man or tradition

He is able, like Eli, to help you and others to respond too.

So will the continuity of God’s work be assured if we can avoid the background noises that Satan will engineer to prevent us from hearing the voice of God – tradition, personal orthodoxy and an individualistic view of what God wants and hear

The LORD who comes and stands here – calling as at other times.



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