The Lord's Call
(Helpful to Sunday School Lesson of May 2, 1920, 1 Samuel 1:24–28; 3:1–21)
“The Lord called Samuel.” It is easy to understand that this was not a voice which others could hear or Eli could have heard it. The voice was very clear indeed to Samuel; Samuel was sure that someone had called him. This Scripture should show us that while others may be used of the Lord in clearing up our call and proving to us that it is the Lord and not man that is calling, yet the call must be heard by the one called and by him alone.
How foolish we are when we expect others to understand our calling! All they can say to us, in all probability, will be, “Lie down again.” How many hearts that have been called have gone to consult with others about their call, and have received this awful answer, “Lie down again.” Again and again, dear hearts, you have lain down, you have quit, when you have heard the voice and risen and made your resolution to go through with the Lord; but mother spoke, father spoke, husband spoke, chum spoke and you have gone to lie down again. Oh rise at the call of God and go again. Perhaps this time some other servant of God may answer you differently, and speak, as Eli did at last, and perceive that the Lord has really called you. You must not expect the voice to be clear to others. God is trying to bring your ears to the cunning that will understand that it is the Lord. Listen to His call again.
How wonderfully love quickens our inner ear drums. Love gives open vision. To refer to another sense that the Lord wishes to quicken, you remember how Elisha saw the horses and the chariots round about Dothan at the time of siege. His young man servant could not see the Host of Heaven which Elisha could see, so he prayed the Lord to show the young man, and the Lord opened his eyes. Pray that God will give you a keen ear to hear what you must not expect the world to hear, and to see what you must not expect others to bear you out in seeing. The blessed Holy Spirit, the Comforter, has come, to bring to our remembrance the things of Christ, to reveal Him in all of His fullness to us, and we must ask that our vision and our hearing be keen.
“And the Lord said to Samuel.” Samuel took the advice of Eli, and spoke as Eli had told him to speak, “Speak; for thy servant heareth.” If we are to have clear light from God it starts with a big “Yes.” This phrase virtually means, “I am open to anything the Lord will say; whether it be good or bad, whatever it is, I say yes.” Are you looking for clear light, for clear leading? Be sure that you have no choice, no will, but hunger to hear only what He would say unto you. Then He can speak untrammeled by your talking or the crying of your own desires. A big “Yes” always starts a flow of conversation with God.
Strange that He should speak to Samuel first of all of judgment; but since the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, God generally speaks to us of the awful consequences of disobeying God. Eli had disobeyed God in not correcting his vile sons, and God gives Samuel an awful sense of the chastening of the Lord because of disobedience.
“Hide it not from me.” Eli knew that God had talked to Samuel, and he was sure that God had talked to Samuel about him, for he (Eli) was the one to whom God should have been speaking. God had been speaking to Eli, but Eli had not heard. Now God turned to speak to the little child, and through the lips of a child prophet He reproved His old servant and announced his downfall because of disobedience.
Eli knew that the moment Samuel was spoken to he had been displaced, and he was anxious to hear the news that the Lord had sent through His newly chosen servant. Are you in the place where God cannot talk to you direct? Have you lost the close fellowship, and must others get the voice of God for you? Do not go further without an open vision, but come before the Lord alone and seek His face, lest the chastening rod fall.
“Let Him do what seemeth Him good.” Eli’s answer is like the answer of a criminal who has been caught. Evading and evading for weeks, he is tired, and when at last he is arrested, he invariably cries out that he does not care what happens. Eli had been evading God. He had not brought his boys to judgment, nor himself up short before God. Therefore he knew the doom must soon fall; and when it fell he knew it was the hand of the Lord, and answered, “Let Him do what seemeth Him good.”
There is also a blessed side to this, that he took it all from God and did not refuse the chastening rod of God. He knew that God would deal with him in chastisement and in tender mercy, since he yielded himself to the rod. It was all done because of God’s love for Eli; and all the chastening of God is because He loves us, and because we are sons and not bastards; “For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and chastises every son whom He receiveth.”