Here is chapter 1 –
1. GOD SPEAKS
QUESTION: If God talked to Samuel, when he was a boy, why can’t he talk to me? How should you go about reading the Bible? At what age am I ready to be called by God as a youth?
BIBLE READING: 1 Samuel 3
TEXT: The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening’ (1 Samuel 3:10).
Wouldn’t things be so much easier if God just spoke directly to us? Some people say that he does. They hear his voice all the time. You hear them say things like ‘God told me to do this’, or ‘God told me to marry that person’. Wouldn’t life be so much better if we could have God like some kind of spiritual Google – answering our questions whenever we asked? A sort of spiritual slot machine where you put in the prayer and out comes the answer. Instead of asking ‘Siri’, ‘Echo’ or ‘Google’, we could just ask God.
But that’s not how it works. Often when people say ‘God told me’, what they really mean is; ‘this is what I felt or thought’. But our feelings and thoughts are not really the best guideline for knowing the will of God are they?
Imagine you were Samuel. A teenage boy living in Israel, taken away from your mother and father, to live in the temple and serve with the old priest Eli. Life would be quite confusing. You see things done in the temple by Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phineas, which you know are wrong. Things are not good. Wouldn’t it be great if God could speak to you? And then one night you are lying down in the house of the Lord and you hear a voice calling you by name. You think it is Eli and so you run to him. But it isn’t him and so you go back to bed. Three times this happens – and then Eli understands what is going on and he tells you that the next time you hear the voice you should reply, ‘Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.’ How would you feel lying there? I think I would be pretty scared.
When God called Samuel again, he said the words he had been told, and God then revealed what was going to happen to Eli. This was not the normal way for God to speak to his people then (look at verse 1: ‘In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions’); and it is not the normal way today. Hebrews 1:1-2 says:
‘In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.’
Verse 7 tells us that Samuel did not yet know the Lord because the Word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. Just like Samuel we need God’s Word to be revealed to us – because that is how we know the Word, Jesus Christ. We are told that the Lord was with Samuel as he grew up and he will be with you as you commit yourself to him and follow Jesus as he is revealed in his Word.
HOW SHOULD WE READ THE BIBLE?
As the Word of God. Precious. Valuable. The greatest treasure you will ever find. We should study and pray as we realise that it is a real and living Word. Even more certain than if God spoke to us with a visible voice or in a dream. The Bible brings us Jesus. This is the great thing about the Bible. Peter tells us that we have the ‘word of the prophets made more certain’ or completely reliable, and that we would do well to pay attention to it, as a light shining in a dark place (1 Peter 2:19). You don’t have to rely on your feelings, or have a vision. Nor is the Word of the Lord ‘rare’ in our day. We have it given to us in the Bible. What a wonderful gift.
WHEN ARE WE READY TO BE CALLED BY GOD AS A YOUTH?
Now. When you hear and understand the Word of God. When you know who Jesus is and hear him calling you to believe and trust in him, then you are being called to repent, confess your sins and turn to him. You are never too young! We are told that Samuel as a young person ‘ministered’ before the Lord. You are called to belong to him and to serve (minister before) him. Beginning now!
CONSIDER: When do you read the Bible? By yourself and with others. How much do you value God’s great gift to us?
From the Mouth of God – Sinclair B. Ferguson
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, I thank you that you spoke to Samuel when he was so young and I thank you that you still speak to young people today through your living and enduring Word. I thank you that the Bible is certain and I pray that you would reveal yourself and your will to me through your Word, Amen.