1 Samuel 3:9-10 “So Eli told Samuel, ‘Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place. The Lord came and stood there, calling as at the other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ Then Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’”
“Speak, for your servant is listening” is a refreshing response from Samuel. God’s very first words for Samuel were going to include some unpleasant news. The Lord was about to bring his judgments against the family of Samuel’s friend and teacher Eli. But Samuel understands the right attitude of God’s children to God’s word. There is not a hint of Samuel wanting to debate the Lord, as though Samuel were his equal, or even his superior. “Lord, let’s discuss these ideas of yours. Why don’t you sit down and let me tell you what makes sense.” He doesn’t try to offer the Lord advice.
No, Samuel is merely a servant, who is listening. It is not a servant’s place to lecture his master, nor to follow his own ideas. It’s not a servant’s place to search for new and different meanings for his master’s words, to fit them to his own preferences, so that he does not have to believe or do what they plainly say. A servant has set aside his own ideas. He listens. He believes. He obeys.
Why? Because those same words have won us as his servants. He doesn’t drive us to serve him with threats. He woos us to service with his promises. For Samuel, living at the tabernacle, the daily sacrifices were another word. They introduced him to a Master who would not make us pay for our own sins. He is the Master who provides the way out himself, because he loves us.
For us, Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection from the dead communicate the same thing. We have a Master who gave his own life to pay for our sins. We have a Master whose love for us has won our trust. When his word comes calling, we are his servants, who listen, believe, and obey.
God was on speaking terms with Samuel. Though his means are different, he is still on speaking terms with you and me. That is not a burden. It is a privilege. Listen, when his word comes calling.