LINK: 1 Samuel 3 & 4
1 Samuel 3
During this time of the Judges, God was not speaking to His people very often, but it was probably because they were not listening very well anymore! Eventually, He would send His people NO signs (Psalm 74:9; Ezekiel 7:26; Amos 8:11-12; Micah 3:6). God did speak to the pure heart of Samuel, and he listened and obeyed. I love his open response: "Speak, for your servant is listening" (1 Samuel 3:10, NIV). What a hard message for a 12 year old boy to have to deliver to Eli! It was a reiteration of what Eli had already been told (2:27-36): the LORD would judge Eli because of his sons' actions and because Eli had done nothing to restrain them.
1 Samuel 4
The Philistines did not know that the "mighty gods" (4:8) were the ONE true God. The ark of God could not protect Israel though. Consequently, Israel was defeated, Eli's sons died, and the ark of God was taken. It is interesting to note that it was not the death of his sons that unraveled him but the ark being taken (4:17-19). He and his daughter-in-law both knew at their deaths that the "glory . . . departed from Israel" (4:22).
I have been discipling women since 1980. I think the MOST important thing that I want to pass on is cultivating a heart that listens to God. Listening to God is not automatic. We can have all the spiritual disciplines down pat: devotional time, Bible reading, prayer, scripture memory, etc. and never listen to God, but the heart of ALL the disciplines is having a perceptive, listening heart toward God.
All that said, all I can do is provide opportunities for that to happen and encourage it. God speaks to everyone. I think the real issue is that we do not want to slow down long enough to really listen. Eli had his faults, but he was a good mentor to Samuel when he told him three times to, "Lie down again" (3:5, 6, 9) and encouraged Samuel to say, "Speak, LORD, for Your servant is listening" (3:9).
Maybe you have heard a little nudge now and then, but you brushed it aside and went on your merry way.
Maybe you did not believe it was the LORD speaking to You. You might say, "Does He still do that?"
Maybe you are just too busy to cancel a few things so you can create space in your life to "lie down" and listen (4:8).
There may be a myriad of reasons, but I guarantee that if you create the space (and clear out known sin), He will fill it with His presence. He WILL speak.
This is the beginning of true discipleship.
The application is obvious. Create the space and listen to God.
This is my favorite book about "Listening and Obeying":
A very helpful thing is to write down what God says. I hear, but then I forget. Now, I have a tub crayon in my shower and write down anything He tells me on the wall as I am praying in the shower. It is convicting to get in the next day and see how I did not obey! This helps me to follow through on what He tells me to do.
Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening. Amen.