Your Servant is Listening

1 Samuel 3-4 and John 17

When was the last time you were purposefully silent?  No headphones on with iTunes or Netflix playing in your ears?  No talking with someone else, just you in silence?

One respected Christian writer says: “Silence is a kind of substance in which we are able to experience eternity. It is a substance that enters into our souls and if we don’t have it, our souls become impoverished.”- Dallas Willard, Dmin. Lecture, Fuller Seminary 2012

We are constantly surrounded by noise, aren’t we?  In actual fact, I think most of us like it that way.  Having noise going on makes us feel less… alone.  Of course, we don’t like too much noise all the time.  We can also relate to The Grinch:

“For tomorrow, I know, all those Who girls and boys, will wake bright and early, they’ll rush for their toys, and then… Oh the noise! Oh the noisenoisenoisenoise! There’s one thing I hate: oh the noisenoisenoisenoise!”- The Grinch in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Dr. Seuss.  

            We want enough noise to distract us but not so much noise as to irritate us.

My iPhone 12 now tells me when I’m being exposed to too much noise.  Yesterday, I was mowing my grass and decided that I would listen to a book on my iPhone’s  Audible program ( ironically the book I was listening to was about the spiritual disciplines including… silence) while I mowed with my headphones on.  In order to hear it over the loud noise of my lawnmower I had to have the volume turned up to full.  My iPhone didn’t like that and told me I needed to turn it down. (iPhones tell us when and how to do almost everything- when to wake up, how to get where we want to go, when it’s time get up and move around, and turn down that music- iPhones are now our nagging parent I guess).

I have eleven children, most are now adults, but when they were all small, noise was simply a fact in our house.  If I wanted quiet I had to go someplace else.  During that time I went to a monastery and spent several days in a silent retreat.  There was no noise. None.  We were not to speak to other people, not even a hello when you passed them in the hall, no chit chat at the dinner table.  Just 5 days of silence.  A strange thing happened to me during that time of silence.  For the first time in my life I really heard God speak to me.  Why did I hear God speak to me that week?  Because I had turned off all of the other noise, and I was really listening for God’s voice.

Can you really hear God’s voice?  A lot of people doubt that this is even possible because they’ve never experienced it.

            “The fact that we do not hear does not mean that God is not speaking to us… We know that messages from radio and television programs are passing through our bodies and brains at all hours of the day: messages that an appropriately tuned receiver could pluck from the very air we breathe… We are not attuned to God’s voice. We have not been taught how to hear it sounding out in nature — for as we read in Psalm 19, ‘The heavens announce the glory of God” — or in special communication directed by God to the individual.” (Dallas Willard- Hearing God p. 68-69)

            In today’s reading, young Samuel had to be taught how to listen for God’s voice.  As we saw yesterday Samuel’s mother, Hannah, gave him to God in gratitude for God giving him to her.  Samuel was brought to the House of God where he was being trained by Eli, the priest, to be a servant of God.   It’s interesting to notice that it says that at that time the word of the Lord was rare (3:1).  Apparently God wasn’t doing much talking, or, maybe the people weren’t doing much listening, you decide.

The priests at that time not only served in the temple they also slept in the temple. Picture the scene:  Samuel is in bed, it’s quiet, and everyone is trying to go to sleep.  Samuel hears a voice speaking in the silence.  Samuel assumes it’s Eli calling for him so he comes to Eli’s bed.  Eli says “It wasn’t me, go back to bed”.  It happens a second time, Samuel gets up and goes to Eli who again says “It’s not me, go back to bed.”  It happens a third time and Samuel again runs to Eli, who by now realizes that the boy isn’t trying to stall going to bed but someone really is calling him, and it must be the LORD.  So Eli trains Samuel in how to listen for God’s word.  Say, “Speak LORD, for your servant is listening.”  Samuel does as he is told, and God speaks and Samuel responds, “Speak LORD, your servant is listening”, and then God tells Samuel what is about to happen.  God is about to punish Eli and his family for their sin.

At breakfast the next morning Eli asks Samuel what God said and warns him to tell the truth.  Samuel delivers the bad news to Eli and the priest accepts this as being a true word from the LORD.  As the story unfolds, God backs up His word.  The Philistines defeat Israel in battle, they take possession of the Ark of the Covenant, where’s God’s glory resides, and Eli’s two wicked sons are killed.  When the report is given to Eli he falls out of his chair and breaks his neck and dies.  From then on God keeps speaking to Samuel.  Why?  Because his servant was listening. 

Samuel was faithful and took the words God gave them and shared them with the people.  Jesus did the same thing.  He listened for the voice of his father and he faithfully shared them with his people.  In John 17 Jesus says: “I gave them the words you gave me and they accepted them.” (John 17:8)  The words that Jesus spoke were the words that came from his Father.  Jesus spent much of the first 30 years of his life studying the scriptures and committing them to memory.  He began his ministry by spending 40 days in the wilderness in solitude and silence.  His daily habit was to rise up early while it was still dark and pray- you can be sure that his prayers weren’t simply him telling God what he wanted, but included much careful listening.

The word of God was rare in the days of Samuel, was it because God wasn’t speaking, or was it because no one was listening for God’s voice until Samuel?

If it feels to you like the word of God is rare today ask yourself, is it because God isn’t speaking, or is it because we aren’t listening?  Try this… turn off the noise, find a place to be silent and place yourself before God and say, “Speak LORD, your servant is listening”.  God may speak to you through His written word, the Bible, or through His creation, or through a dream, or maybe even a still, small voice.  But you won’t hear God if you don’t shut off the noise and listen for Him.

-Jeff Fletcher

Today’s Bible reading passages can be read or listened to at BibleGateway here – 1 Samuel 3-4 and John 17

Listening Like a (Faithful) Child

matt 7 24 (1)

This week I am going to talk about what it means to have faith like a child. I am currently an assistant teacher in a YMCA child development center, for a toddler classroom. The children that I work with the most are around the ages of 2 and 3. Throughout my day as an assistant teacher, there are many different elements that go into the teaching and caring for my 2 and 3 year olds. They have to listen, share, trust, sometimes they need comfort and sometimes they cry just because they do not yet have the vocabulary to fully tell me what it is that they need.


Today’s topic is listening like a child, especially when we are listening for God. Some verses about listening are here:

Luke 11:28 “He replied, ‘Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.’”

James 1:22 “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Proverbs 16:20 “Whoever gives heed to instruction prospers, and blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord.”

Matthew 7:24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house upon the rock.”

Philippians 4:9 “Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me -put it into practice and the God of peace will be with you.”


All of these verses are about listening, but many of these verses include the two parts that listening is made up of: hearing and doing. When I am speaking with my toddlers there are some things they need to do; hear what I am saying and do what I ask, even if they do not see or understand the reason. For example, when we walk the hallways in our center, on the way to different activities we ask our toddlers to hold onto the railing. This is an extra measure that keeps them safe, however some of them do not understand how or why it could be dangerous to them if they let go of the railing. God is the same way- there are things he teaches us through his word that will be harmful to us; we may not understand but we should listen to him anyway. There will be times in our own lives when God is going to be telling us something, asking us to hear and do, and we may not always understand the reason behind it.


Daily I am amazed by my toddlers, because most of the time when I ask them to hold their railing, or move their milk cup closer to the center of the table, or to walk in the classroom, they hear me and do what I see, even if I do not give them a reason. This is because I have a relationship with them, and they trust that I am doing what I can to protect them, care for them, teach them, and make sure they are safe. This is one way that faith like a child is important for us to recognize and practice in our own lives. Do you hear what God says to you, and do it without question? If not, maybe we should consider that call to listen, that call to have child-like faith. Today, I challenge you to try to listen for God and do what he asks you, without question and see what happens in your life.


Tomorrow I am going to talk more in-depth about the trust of a child, since that will follow today’s topic nicely. I also saw that Andrew Cheatwood, who wrote for last week included a song that he was impacted by each day, and this is something I have done in the past and have enjoyed, so I would like to continue the trend this week. The song that I have chosen for today is “Trust in You” by Lauren Daigle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n_aVFVveJNs


~Jana Swanson