The voice of God: Scripture for Oct. 30

I Samuel 3:1-18
Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli. The word of the Lord was rare in those days; visions were not widespread.

At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his room; the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was. Then the Lord called, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’and he said, ‘Here I am!’ and ran to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ So he went and lay down. The Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’ Samuel got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call, my son; lie down again.’ Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him. The Lord called Samuel again, a third time. And he got up and went to Eli, and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down; and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” ’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

Now the Lord came and stood there, calling as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant is listening.’ Then the Lord said to Samuel, ‘See, I am about to do something in Israel that will make both ears of anyone who hears of it tingle. On that day I will fulfil against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. For I have told him that I am about to punish his house for ever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God,* and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be expiated by sacrifice or offering for ever.’

Samuel lay there until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel and said, ‘Samuel, my son.’ He said, ‘Here I am.’ Eli said, ‘What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also, if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.’ So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. Then he said, ‘It is the Lord; let him do what seems good to him.’
This is a well-known story from the Hebrew Scriptures. Eli, who is a priest in the temple, has two sons, but God deems them unworthy to succeed their father as priests. Meanwhile, the young boy, Samuel, begins to hear God’s voice as he lies down to sleep. It takes a while, but Eli recognizes that it is God who is calling Samuel. The word from God is unequivocal: God is cutting Eli’s sons off; they will not succeed him. It becomes clear that Samuel himself is the one God has chosen. Samuel later has a prominent position in Israel’s history, and he is the one who anoints Israel’s first king, Saul. The story before us this week is an appropriate one for Reformation Sunday (October 30), because it portrays God as re-forming Israel’s religious life.

How do we recognize the voice of God in our lives?   How do we differentiate it from all of the other voices that call to us?

What does the phrase “the voice of God” mean in your life?

What kinds of re-formation are needed in the church today?

James GertmenianJim Gertmenian
Senior Minister

About PlymouthSpirit

Plymouth Congregational Church is a progressive faith community grounded in the Christian tradition. We are spiritual, loving, relevant and transforming.
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3 Responses to The voice of God: Scripture for Oct. 30

  1. Pingback: 1 Samuel 3:1-10 (11-20) –

  2. Larry Erickson says:

    Does God speak? When I was young I was taught hell is a place where God does not exist, and that hell on earth is a life where God is not given his due place. I have come to understand, and at times, exist, in a place of serenity. It is a place that would look a lot like a grape in the molded gelatin at the “ladies aid” potlucks of my youth; surrounded, static, feeling like God is in the heavens and all is right with the world. (I’m the grape)
    When I am not in that place I know it. Sometimes, I let my desire for serenity melt away and I flounder around out in the open, exposed to the problems of the world.
    But, when I’m surrounded by God’s jello, the ride in the back seat of the world’s car on the way to the potluck can get really bumpy and I jiggle, but I have never been thrown out. I’ve left of my own free will–often; but I’ve never been thrown out.
    So does God Speak to me? Are words necessary?
    Today life is good.

  3. John Humphrey says:

    How do we recognize the voice of God in our lives? How do we differentiate it from all of the other voices that call to us?

    It is a voice of peace. When I feel anger, even righteous anger, I know that that is not the voice of God in me, and that if I follow it, it will come to no good end. Kind of like keeping a gun in your house for protection. It is fine to feel anger, and understand it, and respond to it later when you have had time to think it through. Occasionally I will experience an impulse to goodness, like gving a pair of winter gloves to a homeless person on a below zero day. That to me is the voice of God (or maybe just the altruism gene ). Maybe anger in itself is okay, maybe even the voice of God, but it is the righteousness that taints it and leads us astray. It is good to be angry about wrongs, and anger drives us to do something about them, but in my experience, acting immediately and thoughtlessly on the angry impulse never leads to a good outcome.

    I wish I could hear the voice of God more when I need it. When in need, I pray, and God does not respond. I have some painful and confusing things going on in my life right now, I have asked God for more clarity, and God is silent.

    What does the phrase “the voice of God” mean in your life?

    I don’t believe in a personal God. God is beyond our knowing and understanding, but thinking about God often helps me make sense of situations. Camus describes the benign indifference of the universe–I think it’s more than that, that whatever put the universe in motion loves life and loves beauty and opts for them. For me beautiful scenes, in nature, among people, in art, are the voice of God. Communication aimed at understanding is the voice of God. When we are living up to something better than ourselves, it is the voice of God that is pointing out to us what that is.

    What kinds of re-formation are needed in the church today?

    The church should be an agent of love and beauty in the world, lifting up life. A church near my house does this by annually celebrating the family with the most children. I think they’re wrong–I don’t know what God thinks of them. They regularly protest at clinics where abortions are performed. They would say they are loving life, and I see that. If God wants fewer people in the world, God has many ways to accomplish it, most of them horrible. I think it is up to us, the human race, to regulate ourselves vis-a-vis population, the environment, crime, war, love, justice, and that we need to listen for God’s voice, and try to be God’s voice, on how to accomplish that. But obviously my neighbor church thinks they are doing so. We need to work harder at synthesis, not I’m right and you’re wrong.

    In the Bible passage, God condemns Eli’s family eternally. I don’t think God does that. I think God wants us to progress as a species–to work for and achieve syntheses that help us advance in love and justice. God has given us the capabilities. The church needs to do more in helping us understand, build bridges among people, find common ground, and survive.

    What might this mean practically? Maybe partnering with a church of a different denomination–Lutheran, or Baptist, or…?–to address a particular issue. DCEH is already doing this to some extent. What other issues are crying out? Gun control, quality of end of life, job creation, affordable child care–the list gets quickly daunting.

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