In many Bibles, this passage is titled “The Lord Calls Samuel.” One reason is because the word “call” occurs 12 different times in this passage. This passage is about calling.
The passage starts by saying “The word of the Lord was rare.” Samuel was born into the time period of the Judges; for several hundred years, these heroes ruled Israel and protected them from enemies. During those years, we have almost no record of any prophet. There are very few references to people who regularly “heard” God calling them.
Samuel heard God’s voice calling.
1 Samuel 3:7 says, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord. The word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.”
Essentially, this was Samuel’s first “God-moment.” He had never clearly experienced the voice of God before. God’s voice was specific and noticeable, but it took time to understand.
God’s voice is clear. But we need to “attune” our lives to hearing His voice.
Life is a lot like this story. Most of the “struggle” in life seems to be actually hearing the voice of God. After we clearly understand, we usually do quite well in following His voice.
But why is it so difficult to hear?
Think about Samuel’s life. He spent each moment in God’s house. Every breath he took was inside the tabernacle. Everyday life was lived next to the ark of the covenant, the lampstand, the sacrifices, and the other holy things. Samuel was immersed in God’s presence.
Is that why he heard God? Maybe the miracle of this story isn’t really someone actually hearing God, but instead the miracle is the simple reality that someone devoted their life to constantly living in God’s presence. That is what makes Samuel unique.
Founder & Speaker