1 Samuel: Hearing His Call
Given By: "Glenn D Blank" On Saturday, July 13, 2013

 

From the stories of Hannah, Eli and Samuel, we can learn much about hearing God’s call on our lives: press deeper to hear greater, stir yourself up to avoid dullness, and expect the unexpected.

Someone recently asked me to consider doing a series of teachings on a book of the Bible. I’ve done them occasionally—check out the web site for series on Proverbs, Psalms, Zechariah. I do appreciate your input as I seek the Lord about what He what have me share with you. Lately for the Tree of Life Bible I’ve been editing 1 and 2 Samuel, which are filled with many memorable stories with much valuable life in the Spirit lessons.

So, let’s take a look at 1 Samuel, chapter 1. First, we’ll look at Hannah. How many you like Hannah? Starting in verse 2: “[Elkanah] had two wives: the name of the one was Hannah and the name of the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah was childless.”

In ancient Israel, as in most pre-modern cultures, it was assumed that the calling for most married women was to become mothers.  So let me emphasize this point: motherhood is a special, divine calling. V’eemru? (So also is fatherhood!) Hannah and everyone around her assumed this was so, and rightly so. Proverbs 31:28 says, “Her children arise and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praises her.” In 1Samuel 2:20, “Eli would bless Elkanah and his wife, “May Adonai give you children by this woman.”

In our western culture, there is a spirit that devalues motherhood and children. As a result, not only has abortion become an acceptable or even preferred alternative to God’s calling of motherhood yet many young people in our culture think it’s better not to have children or have few.

When some people find out that John and Andrew come from a family of ten, they react as it’s strange. I think it’s wonderful! All of John and Andrew’s younger siblings are wonderful people with God’s calling on their lives. Their mother, Jade Wikkerink, knows her motherhood is God’s special calling. Right, John, Andrew?

I remember her wedding day. We had Adam with us… he was about 7 weeks old. Jade announced that she was going to have six children…with such a gleam of excitement and faith. So, why stop at six? Even though many people around her wondered about it… every child is precious! V’eemru? Can we all agree that God’s word strongly affirms human life… every human life has eternal significance.

Yet there’s a spirit of this world that denies the value and holiness of human life. It’s a spirit of Malthus. who predicted the world world’s population would outstrip its food supply… 200 years ago. That hasn’t happened yet, but there is a worldwide fear of overpopulation; It’s a spirit of eugenics and totalitarian concentration camps; it’s a spirit of mother earth instead of our Father in heaven. O God, help us! I Secular western civilization is destroying itself. If we believe the Bible is true, then let us agree resist a lying spirit that devalues human life, and let’s affirm motherhood is a blessing and a calling of God. V’eemru?  (And let us say…?)  

In1Samuel 1:9-11, After eating and drinking in Shiloh, Hannah got up. Now Eli the kohen was sitting on his seat by the mezuzah of the Temple of Adonai. While her soul was bitter, she prayed to Adonai and wept. So she made a vow and said, “Adonai -Tzva’ot, if You will indeed look on the affliction of Your handmaid, remember me and not forget Your handmaid, but grant Your handmaid a son, then I will give him to Adonai all the days of his life and no razor will ever touch his head.”

The lesson of Hannah is: press deeper to hear greater. Hannah knew she had a call to motherhood; if the call was delayed, what should she do? Press deeper into the presence of God our Father.  When God delays a calling, He has a purpose. Consider the matriarchs of Israel—Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel—who also experienced waited many years before bearing children. But when they did, they each knew their children were each a gift of God

Hannah pressed in deep, crying out to God in the tabernacle, not giving up on her calling but going deeper, and then she promised to dedicate her son (how did she know her first child would be a son?) to God, to serve HaShem as a kohen or priest with a lifelong Nazerite vow. God heard her prayer, and Hannah kept her vow, giving him to Eli when he was a toddler, to serve HaShem in the tabernacle as a kohen. This boy went on to have two books of the Bible named after him!

How many of you think God had a plan regarding Hannah’s calling? How many of you think God wanted Hannah to press deeper to hear greater from Him? How many of you think maybe you should follow Hannah’s example? Press in deeper to hear greater!

Because she did, God revealed something deeper about motherhood than many mothers ever know. God answered Hannah’s cry by blessing her with an extraordinary heritage. 

2Samuel 2:19 says, “his mother would make him a little robe and bring it to him from year to year when she would come up with her husband to offer the annual sacrifice.” Though she made a great sacrifice of giving her son back to God and letting Eli adopt him, Hannah continued to love and bless her firstborn.

2Samuel 2:21 says, “So Adonai visited Hannah, and she conceived and gave birth to three sons and two daughters.”  I’m sure those children heard their mother story and their big brother in Shiloh.

When Hannah brought Samuel to Eli, she could have regretted her vow. How many wonder of you wonder how she could let her son go? Yet Hannah just pressed deeper into her calling. 1:27-28: For this boy I prayed, and Adonai has granted me my petition that I asked of Him. So I in turn I dedicate him to Adonai —as long as he lives he is dedicated to Adonai.” Then he bowed in worship there before Adonai.” Hannah had already raised this little boy to be a worshipper of HaShem.

Then in 2Samuel, Hannah burst out into a song of praise for the ages—
Then Hannah prayed and said,
“My heart exults in Adonai,
    my horn is lifted high in Adonai.
I smile wide over my enemies,
   for I rejoice in Your salvation.”
Hannah’s song has become an inspiration tin o many women through the ages, including Miriam, the mother of Yeshua, a millennium later, In Luke 1:46–47:
“And Miriam said: “My soul exalts the Lord,
    and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.”
How many hear the parallels? I urge you to study the parallels between these two songs of mothers. Both were extraordinary in their humility and their prompt readiness to respond to God’s calling.

Now let’s consider Eli the kohen. 1Samuel 1:12, It came to pass, as she prayed long before Adonai, that Eli was watching her mouth. Now Hannah was praying in her heart—only her lips were moving, but her voice could not be heard. So Eli thought she was drunk. Then Eli said to her, “How long will you be drunk? Get rid of your wine!”
But in response Hannah said, “No, my lord, I am a woman with an oppressed spirit! I haven’t been drinking wine or beer. Instead I’ve been pouring out my soul before Adonai. Don’t consider your handmaid a wicked woman. For out of my great anguish and grief I ‘ve been praying until now.” Then Eli responded, “Go in shalom, and may the God of Israel grant your petition that you asked of Him.”

Eli wasn’t a bad fellow. By rebuking her, he was seeking to protect the sanctity of the tabernacle. Once he understood what Hannah was doing, he didn’t get huffy or rationalize; he blessed her. Still, Eli had a problem. He was spiritually dull. Why didn’t it occur to him, in the Tabernacle of all places, that the young woman might actually be praying to HaShem?

We see more of this spiritual dullness when it came to his sons. 1Samuel 2:12 describes them as worthless men who exploited their position to take the best of the meat that Israel offered to God,1Samuel 2:22 reports that they “slept with the women who served at the doorway of the Tent of Meeting.” Oy gevolt. Eli did try to reprove them: Why do you do such things? For I hear evil reports from all these people concerning you. No, my sons! For this is not a good report that I hear Adonai's people spreading around.” It was good that Eli reproved them—as I said, Eli wasn’t a bad fellow himself—but when his sons didn’t listen to him, maybe Eli should have pressed in deeper to find out what HaShem wanted him to do next. If he had, how many think that HaShem would have told him to remove them from ministry. That would have been hard, but it would avoided worse things to come, when in their arrogance,

Eli’s sons took the ark of the covenant out to a battle against the Philistines as if the ark were a personal trophy or good luck charm, and they were both killed. Eli knew what was right and what was wrong, but the calling of God is deeper than what a man knows. The calling of God requires that one press in to know His will, even if it’s not easy or comfortable.

Yet here is how 1Samuel 3:1-3 describes Eli and his whole generation: “In those days the word of Adonai was rare—there were no vision breaking through.  One day, Eli was lying down in his place—now his eyes were becoming dim so that he could not see, and the lamp of God had not yet gone out.”

For Eli and his whole generation, “the word of Adonai was rare.” Was this happening because HaShem had nothing to say? Or because this generation wasn’t listening? The love of HaShem is the same, yesterday, today and forever. If vision isn’t break through, it’s likely that people weren’t looking. God has many ways to communicate—but they all require faith.

To those who have eyes to see, and ears to hear, the picture of old Eli is vivid: his eyes becoming dim so that he could not see…” A dullness of spirit has set in. “Yet the lamp of God had not yet gone out.”

If any of you are going through a time when you are struggling to hear God, don’t let haSatan fool you. Don’t take what the Spirit says and does for granted. Stir yourself up to avoid dullness. In 2 Timothy 1:6–7, Paul encouraged his spiritual son, “For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.”

Eli knew he had a calling, as kohen of Israel. He just needed to press in deeper, as Hannah did. Hearing God may seem difficult, because God is Spirit, and He doesn’t really want to shout at us. He likes to whisper gently, like a soft wind.  Yet really it’s mostly a matter of faith and paying attention. He may speak in your thoughts; He may speak through godly people; He may speak through dreams. Sh’ma Yisrael! It means, hear, pay attention, trust me, and do as the Spirit & the Word teach you!

When God began to call me into ministry as a Messianic Rabbi, he posed it as question, “Suppose I call you into full time ministry?” So how did I know it was Him? Well, I was praying to Him for one thing. That’s a good start. Take time to talk to Him! Secondly, I wasn’t asking Him about full time ministry, I was asking Him for advice about my work as a professor—something else He had taught me to do. 

So His question changed the subject. When I’m praying, and I hear a thought that changes the subject, that catches my attention. If you want to hear God, expect the unexpected, and respond with faith. Actually, m response was to argue with God, giving him a lot of reasons why that was a bad idea. After all, hadn’t He called me and equipped me to be a professor? (True enough, but sometimes God changes His call in our lives. For many years, Samuel was a judge of Israel, but then came a day when Israel wanted a king, and God told Samuel to anoint a king, and then Samuel was no longer the judge. God never changes, and we do, so God may adjust one’s calling.

Keep listening, press in deeper to hear greater, and expect the unexpected.

Now let’s consider what is perhaps the most famous episode in this section of Scripture. The call of Samuel.  It’s famous enough that I can get away with a summary. Young Sam is lying down in the Tabernacle, near the ark of God. He hears a voice call his name, “Samuel.” He answers, “Hineni, here I am.” Then he runs to Eli and says the same thing, eager to respond to the call.

But Eli says, “I didn’t call—go back to sleep.” This happens three times. (Did I mention that Eli was spiritually dull? Finally, it dawns on Eli that something’s going on here. So he tells Samuel, “if He calls you, say: ‘Speak, Adonai, for Your servant is listening.’”

That’s what Samuel does, and He hears a prophetic word, in 1Samuel 3:11, "at which both ears of everyone that hears it will tingle.” In other words, now that I’ve finally got your attention, listen up. Listen up, everyone! HaShem really does have something to say, about judging sin and restoring righteousness!

Between young Samuel’s eager obedience and Eli’s simple advice, there’s some helpful wisdom Here about how to hear God’s call on your life: “Speak, Adonai, for Your servant is listening.” If you want to hear God, it helps to have the faith of a child. Ladies and gentlemen, some of us may not look like little children, but there’s still a little child in each one of us, that needs to responds to the wonder of the love of God. V’eemru? If you want to hear God, it helps just to trust that God will actually speak. You cannot please God without faith. And you certainly cannot hear Him without faith, the faith of little child—like Samuel. V’eemru?

If you want to hear God, you have to be humble, desiring to be God’s servant. Your servant is listening. God has a hard time with proud people. Proud people think they know it all already. But the humble know that God is great, and it’s always great to hear from God.

When I pray, I expect to hear God. It’s not the same all the time… God picks His spots with me. Nor do I claim that my hearing perfect. So if it’s important I usually confirmation from godly counsel. But I tell Him, Lord, it’s the best thing of all to hear you speak! How I love your word to me!

Finally, if you want ot hear God, you have to be willing to be His servant, and do His will. As Jacob (James) 1:22, “be doers of the word and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.” Young Samuel was obedient, and spoke the hard to Eli, even though it was tough on the old man. Why should God speak to people who don’t trust Him enough to listen, or won’t do what He says? God delights to speak to people who trust enough to hear and want to do His will. How about you?

The best place to start hearing God is spend time reading the Bible, trusting that it’s true, and asking God to show you how to live according to its teaching. God has a calling on each of our lives. That calling may change over time. Are you listening with faith?

Press deeper to hear greater; stir yourself up to avoid dullness; expect the unexpected. V’eemru?

Are there any questions about hearing God’s call?
Let’s pray…  Pray faith to hear God’s calling (first to follow Yeshua as Lord and Savior)…
Pray for conviction to press deeper to hear greater…
Pray for deliverance for spiritual dullness…
Pray to expect the unexpected … with amazement and delight.