1 Samuel 3 See, Hear, and Speak

1 Samuel 2:1-10  gives us Hannah’s prayer to God which  is the longest prayer in the Old Testament.  Her prayer and Mary’s Prayer in the New Testament are similar in nature and many parallels can be made about the prayers.

1 Samuel 2:11-17  Tells us more aboutEli, who thought Hannah was drunk, and how he had two sons. His sons also worked in the temple of the Lord but they were abusing the sacrifices to the Lord and even abusing the people that came to the temple.  They were like false pastors of the day who took advantage of the people for their own gain and pleasure. These young men sinned so much that they could no longer see the sin they were committing against God and His people. Those who continue to sin will eventually not even realize they are sinning.  Their consciences are seared and convictions are lost to the point that they do horrible things even in the name of God. Some of the people that came to worship even tried to correct them but they would not listen to them because their selfishness had grown so strong that they justified everything they were doing. James 3:1 says those that teach will be held in a stricter judgment and God will hold these sons and Eli in strict judgment very soon.

1 Samuel 2:18-21 Every year Samuels parents would travel to come and worship at the temple. Hannah would bring Samuel a Robe that she made in order for him to carry out his priestly duties. It was the only way for him to get new clothes as well as an outfit that represented his service in the temple. Samuel at a young age was already carrying out his priestly duties or ministering to the Lord. We should not put age restrictions on young, mature students but train them to serve. The youth are not the church of the future but are the church when they accept Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.  Those who are fittest to rule have already learned to obey and we need to provide young people with opportunities to fulfill the call God has on their life.

Eli blessed Hannah for diligently providing for Samuel  and she had five more children. A woman who could not have children soon had six in total although she had to give Samuel away. Samuel grew up in the literal presence of the Lord because he worked right outside the Holy of Holies. Samuel was a blessing to Eli whose own sons did not even seem to care for their own father or the fact that he was blind.

1 Samuel 2:22-26 Eli hears about the abuse of his sons and he makes a halfhearted attempt to tell them to stop. Some believe Eli was benefiting from their wrong behavior so they would not listen to him. It is hard to tell your children to stop doing something when you do the same things. An example is more important than words when it comes to parenting.

1 Samuel 2:27-36 God issues a warning to Eli about the upcoming judgement that He will pour out not only on him but his family. What is interesting is that Eli does not seem to do anything to change the mind of God. He is acting like the three monkeys that represent, Hear no evil, See no evil, and Speak no evil. Instead of not seeing evil we ignore the evil that is right in front of us. Instead of not speaking evil we stay silent when we should speak out against those things that we know are wrong. Instead of Hearing the word of God we close our ears in case He might call us to action.

Read 1 Samuel 3:1-10

Our story today is about a man who was in the temple of God yet he could no longer hear Gods voice. A young man by the name of Samuel heard God voice because he had not allowed his heart to grow cold to the things of God.

People that do not hear the voice of God


1)   Do not see

Many Christians are living their lives like the monkey who is covering his eyes. If I act like I do not see it then I do not have to do anything about it. Eli the Priest not only lost his physical sight but he lost his spiritual sight as well. Samuel slept close enough to Eli that if he heard him cry out he could minister to him in the night. The way this is written that Samuel was trained to minister to others. It was ingrained in him to see the needs of others and to do something about them.

Notice it says that the word of the Lord was rare in those days because there was no vision. Interesting that seeing the things of God helps you hear the word of God. Selfishness and self-centeredness will rob you of the voice of God.

Matthew 9:36 When he saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.

If you want to hear from God then you have to first look around. God will burden you for something in your community and He will use you to accomplish His will.

The Lamp of God had not gone out

The Lamp was placed outside of the Holy of Holies and it was Samuels’s job  to keep the lights burning through the night. From evening till Morning according to this passage. (See also Leviticus 24:3) This meant that it was probably close to sunrise when the Word of the Lord came to Samuel.

John 8:12 Again Jesus spoke to them, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”

Matthew 5:12 You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.

Jesus is our light and we are to be the light to others. Proverbs 29:18 says  where there is no vision the people perish. We usually apply that to building plans and ministry strategies but the reality is it applies to people walking in darkness until they meet their own destruction. Eli had lost his vision and needed a Samuel to guide him. People in our world have lost their vision and they need us to help show them the way but we act as though we do not hear their grumblings in the darkness. Proverbs is talking about a child or society who is out of control and how we are supposed to show them the way to go. If we are going to hear from God then we have to be able to see and then help others to see.

What has God laid on your heart?

What things drive you to do something about the problems you see?

“How long will the church go to sleep dry eyed while the rest of the world cries itself to sleep?” Dr. Jay Strack.

2)   Do not hear

Eli was in the tent of God as well but yet he did not hear God speaking. The one that should have known the voice of God the best did not even understand that God was now talking to Samuel. We already gave said  that Eli was overlooking evil that was taking place right in the Temple of God. Eli had allowed evil to corrupt him to the point that the man that was supposed to hear from God had grown deaf to Him. Sin had not only clouded his spiritual vision it was clouding him from hearing God.

It is amazing how much sin we overlook not only in our own lives but also in the life of the church. We wonder why we do not see or hear from God and it is because we have allowed sin to cloud our vision of Him and then it blocks our ears from hearing.

Eli should have kicked his sons out of the temple for their actions against God and God’s people. We do not think this way as a church because we know we all have sins in our own lives. The Bible is clear that you should not tolerate habitual sin in the church or with the people of God. (See 1 Corinthians 5)

Eli turned Samuel away twice because he could not imagine that God would reveal Himself in such a personal way. His priestly duties had become a job for him instead of a calling from God. The day in an day out ritual had ruined him in believing that the very things he was doing had eternal significance. We as Christians can fall into the same trap as Eli when we do our Christian duties while forgetting the reason we even do them. We take communion to remember what Christ had done for us but it has been done so often that people do not even pause long enough to reflect why they are doing it. People who feed the homeless or teach a class at church forget many times why they are even doing what they are doing it and let alone who they are doing it for. Our relationship with Christ is what compels us to action and when we lose that fellowship with Him then everything turns to nothing more than a Christian job that you do not get paid for.

It was in the quietness of the morning that God spoke to Samuel and this is why I encourage you to take a few minutes out of your day,  turn everything off, and get alone with God. Like any relationship if you are not working on building it then you will slowly lose the intimacy you once had. It happens in marriages all the time and it happens to followers of Christ who allow the busyness of the day to rob them of their time with Him. Samuel was in a place to hear God or put himself in a posture to hear God.

God spoke and said “Samuel, Samuel”  which the way it was written demonstrates that it was a voice of love. This is what God wants for each of us not just to know about Him but to have an intimate relationship where we walk and talk with God throughout our day not just Sundays.

Speak for your servant hears (10)

Matthew 13:14-16  Indeed, in their case the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled that says:”‘ “You will indeed hear but never understand, and you will indeed see but never perceive.” 15 For this people’s heart has grown dull, and with their ears they can barely hear,  and their eyes they have closed, lest they should see with their eyes and hear with their ears and understand with their heart and turn, and I would heal them.’ 16 But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear.

See Also: Jeremiah 5:21; Isaiah 6:10; Ezekiel 12:2; Acts 28:27

It was a sad commentary about Eli and the spiritual darkness he was in as one that could no longer see or hear from God. The worse place you can be is where Eli was and that is you no longer see your actions or the actions of those around you as wrong.

Is your heart in the right place to even hear from God?

3)   Do not speak

1 Samuel 3:11-18

Have you ever thought that God is not giving you anything new to hear because you are not doing what has already been told to you?  Samuels first assignment from God was to speak about the judgement that was to come upon Eli’s family. God had already told Eli previously and maybe if Eli would have repented then the circumstances would have changed like the people of Ninevah in the story of Jonah. Truth has to be spoken in order to be heard.

Romans 10:14-17 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?[c] And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” 16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed what he has heard from us?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.

Verse 19 says “Then Samuel grew and none of the lords words fell to the ground ”

We will stunt our spiritual life if we grow silent with the truth of God.  God speaks to Samuel again in verse 21 because Samuel was faithful before with the words God gave him. The news is not always good to say to some people but we have to say it. Eternity is at stake and people need to know the truth especially in a society that does not believe in absolute truth.  Eli was not speaking the truth boldly to his sons and they paid the price for it. (See Hebrews 10:26)

Ezekiel 3:17-21 “Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel. Whenever you hear a word from my mouth, you shall give them warning from me. 18 If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, in order to save his life, that wicked person shall die for[a] his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. 19 But if you warn the wicked, and he does not turn from his wickedness, or from his wicked way, he shall die for his iniquity, but you will have delivered your soul. 20 Again, if a righteous person turns from his righteousness and commits injustice, and I lay a stumbling block before him, he shall die. Because you have not warned him, he shall die for his sin, and his righteous deeds that he has done shall not be remembered, but his blood I will require at your hand. 21 But if you warn the righteous person not to sin, and he does not sin, he shall surely live, because he took warning, and you will have delivered your soul.”

Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam are not quiet about what they believe but somehow we have been duped into believing we should not tell others about Jesus Christ.  People say; “If they want the truth they will ask me.”  but we have a responsibility to speak the truth of God whether they want to hear it or not. You need to do it in a loving way and not be one of those people who are disrespectful to them but we do have to share.

Colossians 4:6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

In Romans 15:19 Paul says he had fully preached the gospel of Christ meaning he did all he could to make sure that everyone would hear the message of Jesus Christ. We all have a ministry before the Lord and we all have people in our lives that God has placed there for us to tell the truth to.

“Many are just like Eli, unwilling to stir themselves, unwilling to get busy. The majority of professing Christians do not want to get involved or make any commitments that might tie them down. They want to be at liberty to go from one church to another, to go to an early Sunday service and then head for the lake. Most are certainly not going to take on anything that requires self-sacrificing discipline. A secondhand faith is all they have, and a peripheral knowledge of the Bible is all they want.” (Exploring people of the Old Testament, John Philips, PG. 55


What do you see that is a need at our church or community?  What do you hear God telling you to do about it?  Have you grown so spiritually cold that you no longer hear Him? Ask God to open your eyes and your ears to know where you are to speak the truth.

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