1 Samuel 3, 1-9
Something to read
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread. At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was.
Then the Lord called, 'Samuel! Samuel!' and he said, 'Here I am!' and ran to Eli, and said, 'Here I am, for you called me.' But he said, 'I did not call; lie down again.' So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, 'Samuel!' Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, 'Here I am, for you called me.'
But he said, 'I did not call, my son; lie down again.' Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, 'Here I am, for you called me.'
Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, 'Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, "Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening." ' So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
New Revised Standard Version
Something to think about
I've never been very good at visions. I'm a scientist, and I believe in things that I can see, things I can prove. And I get the feeling that the boy Samuel was a bit like this – he heard a voice and believes his senses.
He assumes that it must have been Eli, his teacher. It takes the wisdom and experience of the older man to get him to listen with his heart rather than his head.
We live in a confused and confusing world. Some of the population seems to be committed to nothing but rationality – the world of the scientists – where nothing is real unless it can be proved.
Others seem to be deep in a pick and mix spirituality filled with crystals, spirits, pseudoscience healing, and even aliens. Like Eli's time, 'the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.'
We need to pick a path through these beliefs – see the rationality and sense in science, but be aware that there is a spirit-filled life as well, the spirit and guidance of God.
There are indeed 'more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy' (Hamlet act 1, scene 5). We need to listen.
Something to do
We're not very good at listening these days, whether it's to God or to people around us. Spend some time listening today, to the birds, to the bustle of a city street, to your child (however young or old he or she is), to someone who needs to talk, or just to the silence.
And through all this sound and silence, try to hear the voice of God.
Something to pray
Help us today, to listen, rather than just to hear.
Today's contributor is Suzanne Elvidge, a writer who specialises in healthcare, pharmaceuticals, biotechnology, technology, business and ecological issues