We started our study of 1 Samuel last Sunday with a look at Hannah and her broken heart over her barrenness. We saw her pray consistently and fervently for a son and vowed to give the son to God as His servant. During one of her prayers, she was observed by Eli, the temple priest, who assumed her to be drunk. After Hannah explained her anguish and prayer, Eli encouraged her by validating her prayer with a blessing. After giving birth to a son, Hannah fulfilled her vow by presenting her son, Samuel, to Eli. Eli responded by worshiping God. We learned that, like Hannah, we can approach God with our frustrations and heartfelt desires, knowing we can trust Him to do what is best. We can encourage others by praying with them in agreement, sympathizing with their heartaches.
Our authors have skipped chapter 2 which starts with a prayer from Hannah as she dedicates Samuel to the Lord and leaves him with Eli. Then we learn of the wickedness and corruption of Eli’s sons, Samuel’s childhood ministry and the yearly visits from his parents. Chapter 2 ends with a prophecy against Eli’s household brought on by his failure to control his sons.
Today, we are in chapter 3 of 1 Samuel with a lesson titled “Called”, in which we see God call on a faithful follower to deliver His message. As Samuel grew, Eli helped him learn to recognize God’s voice. Today we will be looking at the importance of recognizing God’s voice when He calls.
Read “A Voice” 1 Samuel 3:1-10
How many times did God call before Eli and Samuel recognized the Lord was speaking?
Why do you think it took three times for Eli to recognize the Lord was speaking to Samuel? Eli was out of touch with God and therefore deaf to God’s voice. Evidently God had not been speaking very often. God was determined to make contact with the boy.
Why was Samuel confused about whose voice was talking to him? Samuel had never heard God calling him before.
Why was Samuel lying down in the tabernacle of the Lord? One of his jobs was to keep the lamp burning from sunset to sunrise.
What are ways God spoke in the Old Testament? The Torah or law of God as revealed to Moses, sometimes audibly or through visions given to prophets. During the time of Samuel, revelation from God was rare.
Why do you suppose God had stopped speaking as frequently to the Hebrew people? The priest, Eli, had turned from God, his sons, priests themselves, abused the office of priest and lived in complete disobedience to God.
What do we do if we want to hear God’s voice? We seek his voice and test it through Scripture. We must be diligent in studying God’s Word and listening for His voice.
When we hear His word and are satisfied it is His word, what must we do? Obey!
Do we ever have trouble separating God’s voice from our own desires? We can desire something so much that we come to view it as God’s desire for our lives too. There is God’s will for our lives and our heart’s desire for our lives and God’s will is always the best prayer.
Where was the Lord in verse 10? He was standing there.
What was the significance of how the Lord called to Samuel? Read Gen 22:11 and Ex 3:4.
Why is Samuel’s response, “Speak, for Your servant is listening,” so important: Sometimes we want to speak more than listen. We must listen so we can hear.
Read 1 Samuel 3:11-16 to see what the Lord told Samuel.
Eli’s family would be destroyed because of the evil actions of his sons. These sons, priests like their father, abused the office of priest and lived in complete disobedience to God.
Eli had heard this same message of judgment from another man of God in 1 Sam. 2:27-34.
Eli would be punished because he knew of his sons’ disobedience and did nothing to curb their evil deeds.
Why would Samuel not want to share the details of God’s message with Eli, his guardian and mentor? Samuel would have to tell Eli that bad things would happen to his family because of their conduct. Samuel did not know how Eli would respond.
Read “A Message” 1 Samuel 3:17-18
Why is “not hide anything”, in verse 17, an important aspect of a prophetic and preaching ministry? Identifying a false teacher by obvious statements or error and heresy is relatively easy. More challenging are the true but difficult expressions of truth omitted from a preacher’s or teacher’s message out of fear. False prophets are found to be so not simply by what they say, but also what they don’t say.
How did Eli respond to this hard message? Eli did not protest or reject God’s hard message of judgment that was coming to his family. He accepted that God is Lord and that God’s decisions are right.
What disqualified Eli from effective leadership in Israel? His lack of faithfulness. Actually there were times he acted with devotion to God: he did pray for and bless Hannah, he evidently was a good mentor to Samuel, he got out of the way so God could speak to Samuel and he did protect the Ark of the Covenant.
Read “A Prophet” 1 Samuel 3:19-21
What must we do to have verse 19 reflected in our life? Samuel was willing to receive and follow God’s Word, so too, must we.
What does from “Dan to Beer-sheba” indicate? All of Israel, from the northern border to the southern border.
Was Samuel’s success based on his own abilities? No, God blessed him.
What is one of the defining characteristics of God in contrast to the false idols of pagans? God spoke, the idols could not.
· Samuel’s first revelation from the Lord was a difficult message to share. What parts of the gospel message are you tempted to omit when sharing with a friend?
· What impact does God’s Word have on situations that seem desperate or bleak?
· How does God use His Word to bring hope and direction?
Close with prayer asking the Lord to speak to us