Sermon 2526. "Speak, Lord!"
INTENDED FOR READING ON LORD'S-DAY, JULY 18, 1897.
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON THURSDAY EVENING, MARCH 20, 1884.
"Then Samuel answered, Speak; for Your servant hears." 1 Samuel 3:10.
The child Samuel was favored above all the family in which he dwelt. The Lord did not speak by night to Eli, or to any ofEli's sons. In all that house, in all the rows of rooms that were round about the Tabernacle where the Ark of the Lord waskept, there was not one except Samuel to whom Jehovah spoke! The fact that the Lord should choose a child out of all thathousehold and that He should speak to him, ought to be very encouraging to you who think yourself to be the least likely tobe recognized by God. Are you so young? Yet, probably, you are not younger than Samuel was at this time. Do you seem to bevery insignificant? Yet you can hardly be more so than was this child of Hannah's love! Have you many troubles? Yet you havenot more, I daresay, than rested on young Samuel, for it must have been very hard for him, while so young a child, to partfrom his dear mother, to be so soon sent away from his father's house and so early made to do a servant's work, even thoughit was in the House of the Lord!
I have noticed how often God looks with eyes of special love upon those in a family who seem least likely to be so regarded.It was on Joseph, whom his brothers hated-it was upon the crown of the head of him who was separated from his brothers-thatGod's electing love descended! Why should it not come upon you? Perhaps, in the house where you live, you seem to be a stranger.Your foes are they of your own household! You have many sorrows and you think that waters of a full cup are wrung out to you,yet the Lord may have a very special regard for you. I invite you to hope that it is so, yes, and to come to Christ and putyour soul's trust in Him-and then I am persuaded that you will find that it is so and you will have to say-"He drew me toHim with cords of a man, with bands of love. Because He loved me with everlasting love, therefore with loving kindness hasHe drawn me."
Notice, also, that while God had a very special regard for young Samuel, He had, in that regard, designs concerning the restof the family. God's elect are chosen not merely for their own sake-they are chosen for God's name's sake-and they are alsochosen for the sake of mankind in general. The Jews were chosen that they might preserve the oracles of God for all the agesand that they might keep alight the spark of Divine Truth that we Gentiles might afterwards see its brightness. And when God'sspecial love is fixed upon one member of a family, I take it that that one ought to say to himself or herself, "Am I not calledthat I may be a blessing in this family?" Young Samuel was to be God's voice to Eli. He was chosen to that end and in a muchmore pleasant way than Samuel was, I trust that you, dear Friend, favored of God, are intended to be a messenger of bettertidings than Samuel had to carry-perhaps to an aged father whose eyes are growing dim. Perhaps to some wayward brother wanderingin the world. Perhaps to some sister whose heart is careless about Divine things. I think the first instinct of one who hasbeen, himself, called by Grace, is to go and call others.
When Christ appears to Mary, Mary runs to the disciples to tell them that the Lord has spoken to her. Samuel is chosen thathe may carry the message to Eli-and let each Believer feel that he is favored of God that he may take a blessing to others-"fornone of us lives to himself and no man dies to himself." I trust that we are not like the Dead Sea which perpetually drinksin Jordan's streams, but never gives the waters out and, therefore, it becomes saltier and yet more salt-ier-the lake of death.We are not to be receivers only, taking in the good that God sends by this means or by that, but we are to pour out as fastas He pours in, working out that which God works in us to will and to do of His good pleasure.
Our subject is to be, God speaking with us. And I trust that everyone here who has any fear of God at all will take the prayerof Samuel and make it his or her own-"Speak; for Your servant hears."
I. And, first, I will speak to you upon the soul desiring-desiring to be spoken to by God. "Speak, Lord."
Oh, how often has our heart felt this desire in the form of a groaning that cannot be uttered! "Lord, I want to know You!You are behind a veil and I cannot come to You. I know that You are, for I see Your works, but, oh, that I could get sometoken from Yourself, if not for my eyesight, yet at least for my heart!" We cannot endure a dumb God. It is a very dreadfulthing to have a dumb friend-a very painful thing to have a wife who never spoke with you or a husband who could never exchangea word with you, or a father or mother from whom you could never hear a single word of love-and the heart cannot bear to havea dumb God, it needs Him to speak!
For what reason does the soul desire God to speak to it? Well, first, it desires thus to be recognized by God. It seems tosay, "Speak, Lord, just to give me a token of recognition, that I may know that I am not overlooked, that I am not flung awaylike a useless thing upon the world's dust heap, that I am not left to wander like a waif and stray, derelict, upon the ocean.Oh, that I may be sure that You see me, that You have some thoughts of love concerning me! How precious are Your thoughtsto me, O God! If I do not know that You think of me, I pine, I die! Speak, Lord, just to show that You notice me. I am notworthy that You should regard me, but still speak to me, Lord, that I may know that You do observe me."
More than that, this desire of the soul is a longing to be called by God. When the Lord said to the child, "Samuel, Samuel,"it was a distinct, personal call, like that which came to Mary. "The Master is come, and calls for you," or that which cameto another Mary when the Lord said to her, "Mary," and she turned and said, "Rabboni," that is to say, "my dear Master." Allwho have heard the Gospel preached have been called to some extent. The Word of God calls every sinner to repent and trustthe Savior, but that call brings nobody to Christ unless it is accompanied by the special effectual call of the Holy Spirit.When that call is heard in the heart, then the heart responds! The general call of the Gospel is like the common "cluck" ofthe hen which she is always giving when her chickens are around her. But if there is any danger impending, then she givesa very peculiar call-quite different from the ordinary one-and the little chicks come running as fast as ever they can andhide for safety under her wings! That is the call we need-God's peculiar and effectual call to His own! And I would, if Icould, put into the heart and mouth of each person now present this prayer, "Speak, Lord, speak to me. Call me. When You arecalling this one and that, Lord, call me with the effectual call of Your Holy Spirit! Be pleased so to call me that, whenI hear You saying, 'Seek you My face,' my heart may say unto You, 'Your face, Lord, will I seek.'"
"Speak, Lord, moreover, that I may be instructed." I am afraid that there are some persons who do not want to be instructedin the things of God. They are afraid of knowing too much. I know some good Christian people-good in their way-who cautiouslyavoid portions of Scripture that are contrary to their creed. And I know a good many more who, when they get hold of a text,stretch it a little, or squeeze it a little, to make it fit in with what they, by prejudice, think ought to be the Truth ofGod! But that should not be your method or mine. Let us say, "Speak, Lord, and say to me what You will. Whatever You haveto say to me, Master, say on." The Lord Jesus may perhaps reply to us, "I have many things to say to you, but you cannot bearthem now." Howbeit, it is for us to ask Him to lead us into all Truths of God. If there is a Truth that quarrels with you,depend upon it, there is something in you to quarrel with! You cannot alter the Truth of God-the simplest thing is to alteryourself! It is not for us to shorten the measure, but to endeavor to come up to it. Let us lay our hearts before God andpray Him to write His Truth upon them. Let us yield our understanding and every faculty that we have to the supreme sway ofJesus and, like Mary, sit down at His feet and receive His gracious Words. "Speak, Lord, to instruct me. Tell me all aboutthis and that Truth which it is necessary for me to know."
We sometimes mean by this expression, "Speak, Lord, for our guidance." We have got into a great difficulty. We really do notknow which way the road leads-to the right or to the left-and we may go blundering on and have to come all the way back again!So we especially need the Lord to speak to us for our guidance. It is an admirable plan to do nothing without prayer-neitherto begin, nor continue, nor close anything except under Divine guidance and direction. "Speak, Lord. Give me any answer. Ifnot by Urim and Thummim, yet by such means as You are pleased to use in these modern times. Speak, Lord, for whether You pointme to the right or to the left, I will go whichever way You bid me go. Only let me hear Your voice behind me, saying, 'Thisis the way: walk you in it.'"
At times, also, we need the Lord's voice for our comfort. When the heart is very heavy, there is no comfort for it exceptfrom the mouth of Christ by the Holy Spirit. You may hear the sweetest discourse, you may read the most precious chaptersof Scripture and yet your grief may not be relieved, even in the least degree! But when the Lord Jesus Christ undertakes tospeak to you. When the great Father opens His mouth. When the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, applies the Truth of God to yourheart, then are you filled with joy!
I do not know what particular state you may be in, but this prayer of little Samuel can be turned all sorts of ways. Are youdoubtful about your interest in Christ? A great many people make fun of that verse-
"'Tis a point I long to know,
Oft it causes anxious thought,
Do I love the Lord, or no?
Am I His, or am I not?"
If they ever find themselves where some of us have been, they will not do so any more! I believe it is a shallow experiencethat makes people always confident of what they are and where they are, for there are times of terrible trouble that makeeven the most confident child of God hardly know whether he is on his head or on his heels! It is the mariner who has donebusiness on great waters who, in times of unusual stress and storm, reels to and fro and staggers like a drunken man-and isat his wits' end. At such a time, if Jesus whispers that I am His, then the question is answered once and for all-and thesoul has received a token which it waves in the face of Satan so that he disappears-and the soul goes on its way rejoicing!
Do pray this prayer-"Speak, Lord." If you will not, it shall always be myprayer. I would seek the Presence of my God and cry,"As the hart pants after the water brooks, so pants my soul after You, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God!When shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say to me, Whereis your God?" But when my heart can answer, "Here He is! He is with me," then does my soul begin to sing at once-
"My God, the spring of all my joys, The life of my delights, The glory of my brightest days, And comfort of my nights."
Use the prayer of Samuel at this moment, even if you are rejoicing. And if you are beginning to wander, if you are gettingheavy and dull and lukewarm, ask the Lord to speak to you so that you may be quickened out of that state, that your decliningmay be stopped. "Speak, Lord." I have known the time-and so have some of you-when one Word of His has saved us from a grievousfall. A text of Scripture has stopped us when our feet had almost slipped. A precious thought has helped us when we were readyto despair and when we could not tell what to do. One Word out of the Inspired Book applied to the soul by the Holy Spirithas made a plain path before us and we have been delivered from all our difficulties! I commend to you, then, very earnestly,the personal prayer of the soul desiring-"Speak, Lord."
II. Now, secondly, let us think of THE LORD SPEAKING.
Suppose that the Lord does speak to us? Just think for a minute what it is. First, it is a high honor. Oh, to have a Wordfrom God! There cannot be any honor that comes from man that can, for a moment, be compared with having an audience with God,familiar conversation with the Infinite, sitting down at the feet of Eternal Love and listening to the voice of InfallibleWisdom! The peers of the realm are not so honored when they see their Queen as you are when you see your God and He speakswith you. To be permitted to speak with Him is a delight, but to hear Him speak with us is Heaven begun below!
And while it is so great an honor, we are bound to remember that it is a very solemn responsibility. If any man here can say,"The Lord once spoke with me," my Brother, you are under perpetual bonds of obligation to Him! Jesus Christ spoke to Saulof Tarsus out of Heaven and from that hour Paul felt himself to be the Lord's, a consecrated man, to live and die for Himwho had spoken to him. "Speak, Lord," and when You do speak, help us to feel the condescension of Your love and yield ourselvesup wholly to You because You have spoken to us.
"Oh!" says one, "if God were to speak to me, I am sure it would make a change in me of a very wonderful kind." It would, myFriend. It would convert you. It would turn you right around and start you in quite a new direction. Someone said to me, concerningPaul, that he had "a twist" at that time when he was going to Damascus and everybody afterwards asked, "Is that Saul of Tarsus,the philosopher, the clever young Rabbi, the learned pupil of Gamaliel? Why, there he is, talking plainly and simply to thosepoor people and trying to bring them to Christ, the very Christ whom he used to hate! What has made such a change in him?""Oh!" they said, "he has had a strange twist! Something has happened to him which has quite altered him." Oh that the Lordwould make something of the same kind happen to everyone here to whom it has not yet happened! This is the mainspring of aholy life, "God has spoken to me and I cannot live as I used to live." This is the spur of an impetuous zeal, "Jesus Christhas spoken to me and I must run with diligence upon His errands." This, I believe, comes like fire-flakes upon the spiritand sets the whole nature on a blaze. To hear God speak, to have His voice go through and through the soul involves a greatresponsibility, yet he who truly feels it will never wish to shirk it.
To hear God speak to us will bring to us many a hazy memory. I appeal to those who have heard that Voice before. do you notremember, dear Friends, many places where the Lord spoke to you? You have forgotten many of the sermons which you have heard,but there is one sermon you have never forgotten-perhaps there are a dozen that you can recall if you think a little. Whydo you remember them? Why, because you were in great trouble and you went into the House of Prayer and the sermon seemed madeon purpose for you! You said to the person who sat with you, "I am glad that I was here, for I am sure that from the openingsentence to the close, it was all for me." Or else you were getting into a very dull and stupid state and you went to theHouse of God and there was a sermon which cut you to the very quick and woke you up. You never could go back to where youwere before God spoke to you. No, we can never forget these voices-sweet yet strong-which thrill our very soul, which windnot through the ear and so waste half their strength, but come directly to the heart! And in the heart enshrine themselves!Oh, yes, if God has spoken to you, your heart will dance at the memory of the many times in which He has done so!
I think I must also say that it is a probable mercy that God will speak to you. I know that if you are a father, it is notimprobable that you will speak to your child. And our Heavenly Father will speak to His children. And the Lord Jesus Christ,who is married to us, surely will not be a silent Husband, but will be willing to speak to us and to reveal His heart to us.Only pray just now, "Speak, Lord! Speak, Lord!" and He will speak. I feel encouraged to expect that He who died for me, willspeak to me. He who did not hesitate to reveal Himself in human flesh, bearing our infirmities and sorrows, surely will nothide Himself from His own flesh! He will not be here among us according to His promise, "Lo, I am with you always," and yetnever speak to us at all! Oh, no! He waits to be gracious! Therefore, let not our prayers be restrained, but let us cry, "Speak,Lord, for Your servant hears."
"But how does the Lord speak?" someone asks. That is a very important question. I know that He has many ways of speaking tothe hearts of His people. We do not expect to hear audiblewords. It is not by sense that we live-not even by the sense ofhearing-but by faith. We believe and so we apprehend God.
God often speaks to His children through His works. Are there not days when the mountains and the hills break forth beforeus into singing and the trees of the field clap their hands because God is speaking by them? Do you not lift up your eyesto the heavens at night and watch the stars and seem to hear God speaking to you in the solemn silence? That man who neverhears God speak through His works is, I think, hardly in a healthy state of mind. Why, the very beauty of spring with itspromise, the fullness of summer, the ripeness of autumn and even the chilly blasts of winter are all vocal if we have butears to hear what they say!
God also speaks to His children very loudly by His Providence. Is there no voice in affliction? Has pain no tongue? Has thebed of languishing no eloquence? The Lord speaks to us, sometimes, by bereavement-when one after another has been taken away,God has spoken to us. The deaths of others are for our spiritual life-sharp medicine for our soul's health. God has spokento many a mother by the dear babe she has had to lay in the grave. And many a man has, for the first time, listened to God'svoice when he has heard the passing bell that spoke of the departure of one dearer to him than life itself. God speaks tous, if we will but hear, in all the arrangements of Providence both pleasant and painful. Whether He caresses or chastises,there is a voice in all that He does. Oh, that we were not so deaf!
But the Lord speaks to us chiefly through His Word. Oh, what converse God has with His people when they are quietly readingtheir Bibles! There, in your still room, as you have been reading a chapter, have you not felt as if God spoke those wordsstraight to your heart then and there? Has not Christ Himself said to you, while you have been reading His Word, "Let notyour heart be troubled: you believe in God, believe also in Me"? The text does not seem to be like an old letter in a book,rather is it like a fresh speech, newly spoken from the mouth of the Lord to you. It has been so, dear Friends, has it not?
Then there is His Word as it is preached. It is delightful to notice how God speaks to the heart while the sermon is beingheard-yes, and when the sermon is being read. I am almost, every day, made to sing inwardly as I hear of those to whom I havebeen the messenger of God. And my Lord has many messengers and He is speaking by them all. There was one man, who had liveda life of drunkenness and impurity, and had even shed human blood with his bowie knife or his revolver, yet he found the Saviorand became a new man! And when he died, he charged one who was with him to tell me that my sermon had brought him to Christ!"I shall never tell him on earth," he said, "but I shall tell the Lord Jesus Christ about him when I get to Heaven." It wasby a sermon, read far away in the backwoods, that this great sinner was brought to Christ! But it is not only in the backwoodsthat the Lord blesses the preached Word, it is here, it is everywhere where Christ is proclaimed! If we preach the Gospel,God gives a voice to it and speaks through it. There is a kind of incarnation of the Spirit of God in every true preacher-Godspeaks through him. Oh, that men had but ears to hear! But, alas, alas, too often they hear as if it were of no importance!And the Lord has to say to His servant as He said to Ezekiel, "Lo, you are unto them as a very lovely song of one that hasa pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear your words, but they do them not." Oh, that each one ofour hearers always came up to the sanctuary with this prayer in his heart, and on his lips, "Speak, Lord, by Your servant;speak right down into my soul."
But the Lord has a way of sometimes speaking to the heart by His Spirit-I think not usually apart from His Word-but yet thereare feelings and emotions, tenderness and trembling, joys and delights which we cannot quite link with any special portionof Scripture laid home to the heart, but which seem to steal upon us unawares by the direct operation of the Spirit of Godupon the heart. You who know the Lord must sometimes have felt a strange delight which had no earthly origin. You have, perhaps,awakened in the morning with it, and it has remained with you. A little while after, you have had some severe trial, and yourealize that the Lord had spoken to you to strengthen you to bear the affliction! At other times you have felt great tendernessabout some one individual and you have felt constrained to pray, and perhaps to go for some miles to speak a word to thatindividual. And it turned out that God meant to save that person through you and He did! I think we are not half as mindfulas we ought to be of the secret working of the Holy Spirit upon the mind.
There are certain fanatics who get delirious and dream that they are prophets, and I know not what. But we just put them tothe side. This is a very different thing from being guided by the Spirit of God in all the actions of life so as to obey thewill of the Lord, sometimes, in cases where we might not have known it to be His will, or might have omitted it. Wheneveryou feel moved to do anything that is good, do it! Do it even without being moved, because it is your duty, for, "to him thatknows to do good, and does it not, to him it is sin." But, above all, when there comes a gracious influence on the conscience-agentle reminder to the heart-quickly and speedily do as the Spirit prompts, taking note within your heart that the Lord haslaid this particular burden upon you and you must not cast it from you.
I would like to imitate one dear man of God with whom I sometimes commune. On one occasion he seemed to feel in his soul thathe must go to a little port in France to deliver the Lord's message. And as the boat went in, a person on the deck spoke tohim and he said, "You are the one to whom I was sent." Within a month that godly man was in Russia, seeking the souls of othersof whom he knew nothing! But God had guided him and they were brought to the Savior's feet. I know him as one who, I believe,lives so near to God that the Lord speaks to him in other ways than He does to the most of men, for all Christians are not,alike, favored in this respect. One may be a child of God, like Eli, and yet so live that God will not speak with Him. And,on the other hand, one may be a child like Samuel-obedient, beautiful in character and watchful to know God's will, praying,"Speak, Lord; for Your servant hears"-and then God will speak to you. It is not to all that He speaks, but He would speakto all if they were ready to learn what He had to say.
III. Now I must close with just a few words upon the last part of my subject, which is THE SOUL HEARING. We have had the souldesiring and the Lord speaking-now for the soul hearing. "Speak, Lord; for Your servant hears."
And, first, I think we have, here, an argument. "Lord, do speak, for I do hear." "There are none so deaf as those that willnot hear," so I fear that some people are very deaf, indeed. But, oh, when you feel, "Only let the Lord speak, I will hear;only let Him come to me and I will set the door wide open for Him to enter, glad if He, my gracious God, will come and bea sojourner with me"-He will come, He will speak to you! It is a good argument and you may use it if you can. God help youto do so!
Yet it appears to be an inference as well as an argument, for it seems to run like this, "Lord, if You speak, of course Yourservant hears." Shall God speak and His servant not hear? God forbid! Strangers and sojourners may not listen, but His servantwill. "Speak, Lord; for if You will but speak, I must hear. There is such a force about Your voice, such wisdom about whatYou say, that hear You I must and will." It is an argument from God speaking, but it is also an inference from God speaking.
"Speak, Lord; for Your servant hears," seems also to contain a promise within it, namely, that if the Lord will but speak,we will hear. I am afraid that sometimes we really do not listen to God. Suppose that we pray the Lord to speak to us andwhen we have done praying we go away and engage in worldly conversation? This is surely not acting consistently. I rememberbeing asked to see a person and I thought that he wanted to learn something from me. But when I saw him for three-quartersof an hour, he spoke the whole time, and afterwards he told a friend that I was a most delightful person to converse with!When I was told that, I said, "Oh, yes, that was because I did not interrupt the man! He was wound up and I let him run down."
But conversation means two people talking, does it not? It cannot be a conversation if I do all the talking, or if my frienddoes it all. So, in conversing with God, there must be, as we say, turn and turn about. You speak with God and then sit still-andlet God speak with you. And, if He does not at once speak to your heart, open His Book and read a few verses and let Him speakto you that way. Some people cannot pray when they wish to do so. I remember George Muller sweetly saying, "When you cometo your time for devotion, if you cannot pray, do not try. If you cannot speak with God, do not try. Let God speak with you.Open your Bible and read a passage." Sometimes, when you meet a friend, you cannot begin a conversation. Well then, let yourfriend begin it. Then you can reply to him and the conversation will go on merrily enough. So, if you cannot speak to God,let God speak to you.
It is also true communion with the Lord, sometimes, just to sit still, look up and say nothing. But just, "in solemn silenceof the mind," find your Heaven and your God. "Speak, Lord; for Your servant hears. I have prayed to You, I have told You mygrief and now I am just sitting still to hear if You have anything to say to me. I am all ears and all heart. If You willcommand me, I will obey. If You will comfort me, I will believe. If You will reprove me, I will meekly bow my head. If Youwill give me the assurance of Your love, my heart shall dance at every sound of Your voice. Only speak, Lord; for Your servanthears."
I have finished my discourse, but I do wish that some poor sinner here would say, before he goes away, "Lord, speak to me!Speak to my soul. Let this be the last night of my spiritual death and the birth-night of my spiritual life." As for you wholove the Lord, I am sure that you will pray this prayer and that you will keep on praying, "Speak, Lord; for Your servanthears." And then what blessed conversations there will be between you and your Father in Heaven! The Lord bless you all, forJesus' sake! Amen.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON! 1 SAMUEL 3
Verse 1. And the child Samuel ministered unto the LORD before Eli Samuel was but a child, yet he was a faithful servant ofGod up to the light he had received. The grown-up sons of Eli were rebelling against God, but "the child Samuel ministeredunto the Lord." It is a great aggravation of sin for ungodly men to persist in it when even little children rebuke them bytheir careful walk and conversation. It made the sin of Eli's sons all the worse because "the child Samuel ministered untothe Lord before Eli"
1. And the Word of the Lord was precious in those days; there was no open vision. God spoke with very few and His speech tothem was private. "There was no open vision." What was spoken was very rich and rare, but there was little of it. The Lord,in anger at the sin of Eli's sons, took away the spirit of prophecy from the land.
2. And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, and his eyes began to wax dim, that he could notsee. He was a good old man, but he was almost worn out and he had been unfaithful to God in not keeping his family right.He must have found some comfort in having such a sweet and dear companion and servant as little Samuel was.
3-5. And before the lamp of God went out in the Temple of the Lord, where the Ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down tosleep; that the LORD called Samuel and he answered, Here am I. And he ran unto Eli, and said, Here am I; for you called me.And he said, I called not; lie down again. And he went and lay down. Servants and children are to be attentive and obedientto the calls they hear, but masters must also be gentle, kind and considerate to them. Eli did not call the child a fool,or speak harshly to him. He knew that Samuel had a good intention and even if he had been mistaken and no one had called him,yet it was a good thing on the part of the child to act as if he had been spoken to. And Eli quietly and gently said, "I callednot; lie down again. And he went and lay down."
6. And the LORD calledyet again, Samuel And Samuel arose and went to Eli, andsaid, Here am I; for you did call me. He feltsure of it, confident that he had not been mistaken.
6, 7. And he answered, I called not, my son, lie down again. Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord. There was the beginningof the work of Grace in his heart. He was well-intentioned, but, as yet, God had not revealed Himself to him. "Samuel didnot yet know the Lord"
7, 8. Neither was the Word of the Lord yet revealed unto him. And the LORD called Samuel again the third time. We do not blameSamuel, for he was but a child, and spiritual understanding had not yet fully come to him. But what shall I say of some towhom God has spoken for years till their hair is gray-and yet they have not understood the voice of the Lord even to thishour? I pray God that He may call them yet again! The Lord did not disdain to call Samuel four times, for when He means effectuallyto call, if one call is not sufficient, He will call again and again and again! "The Lord called Samuel again the third time."
8, 9. Andhe arose and went to Eli, andsaid, Here am I; for you did call me. And Eli perceived that the LORD had called thechild. Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down: and it shall be, if He calls you, that you shall say, Speak, LORD; forYour servant hears. So Samuel went and lay down in his place. It was a chastisement to Eli that God did not speak directlyto him, but sent him a message by another. And it must have been very humiliating to the aged man of God that God should selecta little child to be His messenger to him. Yet, as Eli had not been faithful, it was great mercy on God's part to speak tohim at all! And, no doubt the old man did not resent the fact that God, instead of speaking to one of his sons, or to himself,spoke by this little child. Eli loved Samuel and, finding that the Lord intended to use this child, he did not grow jealousand angry and begin to dampen the child's spirit-he gave him wise directions how to act in case God should speak to him again.
10. And the Lord came, and stood.-From which we learn that there was some kind of appearance to Samuel such as that whichwas manifested to others. Some spiritual Being was before him, though he could not make out the form thereof-"Jehovah came,and stood."
10. And called as at other times, Samuel, Samuel This time the child's name was spoken twice, as though God would say to him,"I have called you by your name-you are Mine! It was no doubt to make a deeper impression upon the child's mind that his namewas twice called by the Lord.
10. Then Samuel answered, Speak; for Your servant hears. You observe that he did not say, "Lord." Perhaps he hardly daredto take that sacred name upon his lips. He was impressed with such solemn awe at the name of God that he said, "Speak; forYour servant hears." I wish that some Christian men of my acquaintance would leave out the Lord's name a little in their prayers,for we may take the name of the Lord in vain even in our supplications! When the heathen are addressing their gods, they areaccustomed to repeat their names over and over again. "O Baal, hear us! O Baal, hear us!" Or, as the Hindu say when they cry,"Ram! Ram! Ram! Ram!" repeating the name of their god. But as for us, when we think of the infinitely-glorious One, we darenot needlessly repeat His name.
11-13. And the LORD said to Samuel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel, at which both the ears of everyone that hears itshall tingle. In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house. When I begin, Iwill also make an end. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows. What a strikingexpression-"the iniquity which he knows." There is a good deal of iniquity about us which we do not know-that is a sin ofignorance. But deep down in his heart Eli knew that he had been afraid to speak to his sons about their sins and that whenhe had spoken, it had been in such lenient terms that they made light of them. Possibly he had never chastened them when theywere young, and he had not spoken to them sharply when they were older. Remember that he was a judge-he was a High Priestand he ought not to have allowed his sons to remain priests at all if they were behaving themselves filthily at the door ofthe Tabernacle. He ought to have dealt with them as he would have dealt with anybody else, but he did not. So God said, "Ihave told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knows."
13. Because his sons made themselves vile, and he restrained them not A man said to me, one day, "I never laid my hand uponmy children," and I answered, "Then I think it is very likely that God will lay His hand upon you." "Oh," he said, "I havenot even spoken sharply to them." "Then," I replied, "it is highly probable that God will speak very sharply to you, for itis not God's will that parents should leave their children unrestrained in their sin."
14. 15. And therefore Ihave sworn unto the house ofEli, that the iniquity ofEli's house shallnot be purged with sacrificenor offering forever. And Samuel lay until the morning. I wonder whether he went to sleep? I should think not. After suchvisitation and revelation, it is a marvel that the child could lie still! One wonders that he did not go at once to Eli, butthen the message was so heavy that he could not be in a hurry to deliver it. "And Samuel lay until the morning."
15. And opened the doors of the House of the Lord. Dear child! There are some of us who, if God had spoken to us as He hadspoken to Samuel, would feel a deal too big to go and open doors any more! If God were to come and speak to some who are poor,they would run away from their trade. If God were to speak to some who are young, they would give themselves mighty Sirs!But Samuel meekly accepted the high honor God had conferred upon him and when he rose in the morning, he went about his usualduties. "He opened the doors of the house of the Lord."
15. And Samuel feared to show Eli the vision. The old man must have felt that it was nothing very pleasant. Still, he wantedto know the Lord's messages. I hope he was in such a frame of mind that he could say, "Lord, show me the worst of my case!Let me know all Your mind about it and let me not go on with my eyes bandaged in ignorance of Your will concerning me."
16-18. Then Eli called Samuel, and said, Samuel, my son. And he answered, Here am I. And he said, What is the thing that theLORD has said unto you? I pray you hide it not from me! God do so to you, and more also, if you hide anything from me of allthe things that He said to you. And Samuel told him every whit, and hid nothing from him. Samuel was obeying the Divine commandwhich had not, then, been given-"He that has My Word, let him speak My
18. And Eli said, It is the LORD: let Him do what seems Him good. This was a grand speech of old Eli. Terrible as it mightbe, he bowed his head to the Divine sentence and acknowledged that it was just.
19-21. And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him, and didlet none ofHis Words fall to the ground. AndallIs-rael from Daneven to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a Prophet of the Lord. And the LORD appeared again in Shiloh; forthe LORD revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the Word of the LORD.