1 Samuel 3:10 “And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel answered “Speak, for thy servant heareth.”
From an early age, Samuel’s whole life was orientated towards hearing from God. Serving in the temple, Samuel learnt how to know God and be about his Heavenly Father’s business, by hearing and listening. This was his sole desire and ministerial purpose. Again and again throughout his life, ‘the LORD revealed himself to Samuel by the word of the LORD.’ (1 Samuel 3:21). God spoke and Samuel both heard and listened.
Samuel intentionally placed himself in a position where he could hear God’s voice. We must be found in that place too. We will not hear God if our life is full of unnecessary distractions, preoccupations or pandemonium. We need times of rest and silence. We need frequent moments to avert our attention fully to God and listen to what He says to us in our heart through His Word.
Samuel’s life was directed by a desire to know and hear God. Is ours? What or who are our dearest longings? We are instructed to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind (Mark 12:30) and to have no other gods (or greater affections) that Him (Exodus 20:3). These are the parameters for knowing and hearing God. But how do we recognize His voice? Is it His voice, the enemy’s or our own? There are three helpful factors that help us determine God’s voice: the content, the quality and the spirit. Let’s look a little deeper at each.
Firstly, there is the content that marks the voice of God. This is about the information we hear. The content of God’s voice, though it may vary from person to person, will always conform to and be consistent with the truths about God’s nature and kingdom as found in the Bible. These are the repeated principals that God teaches in His Word. For example, God will never instruct us to lie, steal or cheat another. God’s voice is always consistent with Scripture because God never contradicts Himself.
Then there is the quality of God’s voice. This is a matter of weight or impression made upon us when we hear His voice. It is a steady and calm force which impacts us inwardly and inclines us towards assent and action. We also sense the power of God’s voice. The voice of self will argue and try to convince us, but God’s voice just speaks and has the weight of finality and authority. Jesus spoke like this. His voice had divine authority that opened up the people’s hearts and confirmed in them that they had been listening to God.
Finally, there is a certain spirit associated with God’s voice. It is a spirit of peacefulness, confidence, joy, sweet reasonableness and goodwill. God’s voice will still our restless heart and bring a sense of peace and calm and belief that as we trust Him, all will be well. God’s voice is gracious, whereas Satan’s voice will bully us or makes us feel guilty.
The spirit of God’s voice is succinctly given in James 3:17. ‘But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy.’
Samuel learnt to know God’s voice through experience. We too learn to negotiate our way through the myriad of voices that we hear each day and come to recognize God’s voice by experience. Only as we consistently spend time in His company and in the Scriptures will we become familiar, comfortable and able to quickly identify the voice that we so dearly long for. Let’s deeply yearn and patiently learn to hear the voice that brings a blessed life.