26th August 2011

Tingling Ears

‘Samuel before Saul’ series (1 Samuel 3)

In those days the word of the Lord was rare…and Samuel’s word came to all Israel.”
1 Samuel 3:1; 4:1 (NIV UK)

God works through us.

Samuel was born at a time when most couldn’t care less about God. People engaged mainly in their own versions of religion. Why should God have something personal to say about how they conducted their lives? What mattered to them was the pursuit of pleasure and getting rich. Does this sound familiar? Is it a bit like the times we live in?

God was about to do something in Israel that would “make the ears of everyone who hears it tingle” (3:11). Typically God worked through human agents, but, in this instance, the priest Eli and his sons had let him down. Who was God to use? He called the boy, Samuel, whose mother had dedicated him to God’s service. “Here I am” Samuel answered, but he thought it was Eli who called him, not God (3:4). This happened three times and each time Samuel thought it was Eli. If this happens again, said Eli to Samuel, just say “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening” (3:9). It did happen again, and Samuel made his reply to God. “I’m listening”, he said.

Even though what God had to say was bad news for Eli, Samuel “told him everything, hiding nothing from him” (3:18). As time went on all Israel “recognised that Samuel was attested as a prophet of God” (3:20).

How does God work today? Of course, all ways are possible for God. Paul told believers that it was through them that “the fragrance of the knowledge” of Christ would be spread (2 Corinthians 2:14). He calls Timothy “God’s fellow-worker in spreading the gospel of Christ” (1 Thessalonians 3:2). Like it was in Samuel’s days, God works through human beings like us. It is for us to listen, as Samuel did. And it is for us to spread his message to all with whom we come into contact, just as Samuel’s word came to all Israel.

All that we are can declare the gospel. Our actions, our words, our attitudes, everything about us. It may be that some will regard the gospel of Christ as unwelcome news. It does not matter. We should proclaim it anyway, even if it causes ears to tingle!

We “have been entrusted with the very words of God” (Romans 3:2).

Father, we are listening to you. Use us to spread your message of hope to everyone around us.

Study by James Henderson

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