One of the greatest comforts of serving the Lord is to know that He still speaks to us today. While He wants to guide us and teach us daily, it is important that we position ourselves to hear Him. One example who has shown us how to do that is Samuel, a boy who heard from the Lord at a very young age.
We can read about the first time Samuel heard the voice of God in the third chapter of the book of First Samuel. Samuel had been serving in the temple where he resided with Eli, the priest. One night after Samuel had gone to bed, the Lord suddenly called the young boy. Samuel, who had not yet learned the voice of God, thought the voice was Eli’s. However, when he went to Eli, the priest told him he had not called. Samuel went back to bed, and a little while later, he heard the voice a second time. Samuel returned to the priest, only to have him say again that he had not called. So, Samuel returned to his bed and then heard the voice a third time. This time, when Samuel went to Eli, the priest finally perceived that the Lord must be calling Samuel. Eli told the boy he should lie back down and if he heard the voice again, he should answer, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears” (1 Sam. 3:9).
So, Samuel laid back down and indeed, he heard the voice again. However, this time, the boy acknowledged that the voice was the Lord’s, and he listened to the message God delivered. This instance marked the first of many times God would speak to Samuel. Without a doubt, God was using that first occasion as a learning experience for the boy, and we too can gain insight from his example.
One key worth noting from Samuel’s story comes in verse nine, after Eli instructs the boy to return to bed and answer to the Lord the next time he hears the voice. That verse ends with these words: “So Samuel went and lay down in his place.” I believe that short phrase holds great significance. You see, Samuel returned to his place, and it was in his place that he heard the voice of God. Samuel wasn’t even doing anything we would ordinarily call “spiritual” at the moment; he was simply lying in bed when God spoke to him. However, what was important was that he was in his place.
Just as God had a place for Samuel, He has a place for you. Samuel’s place was in the temple; your place may be on the assembly line, in the office, in the school, or in the kitchen. Wherever it is, when you are serving in the place God has called you, you are positioning yourself to hear the voice of God. So, listen for His voice today. Then, like Samuel, you can answer, “Speak, LORD, for Your servant hears.”