Be still and know that I AM YHWH
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Read: 1 Samuel 3
Samuel was raised by Eli from the age of three and was taught the Torah. We read in this chapter that Eli was reliant upon Samuel, as he was blind and needed assistance in getting around the Temple. This explains why Samuel responded to the voice by jumping up and running to Eli’s bedside, an indication as to the dedication and servant-heart of the young boy.
In verse 1 Scripture tells us that Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. This shows that not only is Samuel dedicated in serving but he is obedient and assists Eli daily. We read that Eli’s sons were rebellious and that Eli had turned a blind eye to their sinful ways. It is interesting to read that Samuel served the Lord by assisting the priest, in other words there is no indication of a living-relationship between God and Samuel. In fact in verse 7 we are told that Samuel ‘did not know the Lord yet’ and it is for this reason that he did not recognise the voice of YHWH. Samuel would have been very aware of who YHWH was and through learning the Torah and serving in the Temple he would have had a good knowledge of what YHWH had done, yet this knowledge did not translate to a relationship with Father YHWH. This knowledge only translated once Samuel recognised the voice of YHWH.
In John 10:27, Jesus said, “My sheep will recognise My voice; I know them and they follow Me.” The words recognise and follow indicate a relationship, to follow someone you need to know them. For Jesus to say that His sheep recognise His voice points to a personal knowledge of what His voice sounds like and the fact that He has been able to get to know the sheep. The Bible tells us however that before Samuel stepped into his calling as a prophet the voice of YHWH was rarely heard. This signals that sin and crookedness inhibits a relationship with the Father. Eli realised that Samuel is being called by the Heavenly Father, YHWH, and he instructed the youngster to go back to bed, to lie down and to respond with the words, “Speak, Your servant is listening”, and not to jump up but to lie down and listen.
One of my flaws is that I start to listen, then I rush off using my assumptions to complete the instruction. This frustrates those who are speaking to me and it is only after getting things wrong so many times that I have learnt to stop, listen and make sure I understand what I heard. All too often we hear, jump up and run off, much like Samuel who was so eager to serve, jumping in and out of bed but not stopping to listen, to recognise the voice calling. We are all guilty of this, when often all that is required of us is to be still, know who is speaking and listen. Being still and knowing the voice of YHWH is necessary in preparing to serve and fulfil our purpose, we need to ask for spiritual ears that hear and listen.
There is a distinct difference between hearing and listening. Hearing is a verb that is used to describe what happens when your ears capture a sound. You hear a noise/sound but unless you listen you do not engage thinking to focus on the noise/sound and make sense of what it means, what action it requires you to take. As a mother and teacher I would often ask, “Did you not hear me?” The answer often given was yes, and this would annoy me as I would want to know why the required action to the statement or question had not been taken. I should have asked, “Did you listen to what I said?” I can assure you the response would have been different. How often do we hear Father, but because of our busyness we jump to action and run off with our own agenda, without double checking we understand what He wants? Should we not take more time to be still and listen?
When you listen it means you are making sense of the sounds you hear. You recognise the source and allow your brain to translate the sounds into meaningful phrases. Listening involves understanding and even questioning if you are not sure. One of the best ways to listen is to paraphrase what you heard, do we take time to be still and do this with YHWH? In verse 15 we read that Samuel lies down and listens. He obeyed Eli and because he listened he was able to answer the call with , “I am listening.” He was not distracted, he was focused on the voice of YHWH. This takes a servant-heart, to listen so we can obey and serve.
We read that after Samuel received the prophetic word, he did not jump up and run to Eli, but stayed in bed lying down, still and quiet. It was only when Eli directly asked him what God had said that Samuel spilt the beans. There is a lesson to be gleaned from this, a lesson about attitude. Samuel had a servant-heart, he was obedient and he listened by lying down and being still. We are told at the end of this chapter that Samuel received many more messages from YHWH and that he became known as a man that heard from the Father.
Eli was told by God that he would loose his sons on the same day because of their sinful ways. However Eli heard but did not listen. I am of the opinion that if he had listened he would have heeded the warning and taken steps to rectify their wayward behaviour. Eli was not only physically blind but he was spiritually blinded as well, even spiritually deaf. I think that his sons became so wrapped up in the world that they stopped listening to Father and to Eli, they became deaf and this caused their death.
Life bombards us with noise and sound. We have voices coming at us from screens, radios, music, peers and life. It is so hard to listen to all of these voices telling us how to dress, how to eat, how to exercise, what to drive, buy and be….We need to choose which voice we are going to listen to, which voice we are going to trust and seek to hear. We need to become quiet and listen to the beautiful voice of YHWH. I am reminded of the scripture, where Elijah listens for the voice of the Lord God Almighty. The voice of Elohim is not in the windstorm, earthquake or fire but in the gentle whisper (1 Kings 19:11-13). To listen to a gentle whisper you need to be still and listen BUT also recognise His voice distinguishing it from all other noise.
Ask Father God to speak to you, take time to build up a relationship with Him, where you recognise His voice, where you know when He is close and can distinguish the faintest of whispers. Know the voice of the Shepherd and you will find peace, grace and loving-commitment. You may still need to jump up and do something but it will be because you have been told to jump up, because you have listened to His voice and you are following His plans. Be still and know that He is YHWH and that His plan for your life is for good, take time to ask Him and seek His answers and voice (Jer 29:11 – 14).
Abba Father, I wish to hear your voice, even the faintest of whispers that I will serve you without distraction, I wish to hear from You and intimately know the sound of Your voice. I ask that You would unblock my spiritual ears and make me deaf to worldly noises, so that my ears distinguish Your Set-Apart Spirit of Truth, and that I may recognise the voice of my beloved Saviour. Amen