“In those days the word of the Lord was rare; there were not many visions…[then] The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh.” — 1 Samuel 3:1, 21.
At the start of 1 Samuel chapter three, the Lord was rare; yet, twenty verse later, the Lord continued to appear. The word ‘continued’ implies that He showed up somewhere, to someone. So what happened?
“Meanwhile, the boy Samuel served the Lord by assisting Eli. Now in those days messages from the Lord were very rare, and visions were quite uncommon…Suddenly, the Lord called out, ‘Samuel!’ ‘Yes?’ Samuel replied. “What is it?” He got up and ran to Eli. ‘Here I am. Did you call me?’ ‘I didn’t call you,’ Eli replied. ‘Go back to bed.’ So he did. (1 Samuel 3:1, 4-5)
Every time God calls us, and we immediately run to something else we end up empty. So God has to do it again, and again, and again. Samuel did this three times. You can’t really fault Samuel here because, even the scripture says, the word of the Lord was rare in those days, so he knew no better. Now on the third time: “Then Eli realized it was the Lord who was calling the boy. So he said to Samuel, ‘Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say ‘Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.’ So Samuel went back to bed.” (1 Samuel 3:8-9).
Being that the word was rare, it’s only natural for Samuel to run to Eli. He’s been assisting Eli, learning under Eli, and he’s in the temple with Eli. Who else could be calling him? So Samuel turned to the one he was closest to, to the one he knew, or thought he knew, would be there to answer.
So what are you turning to when you’re being called and don’t know where it’s coming from? Who’s the Eli in your life? Perhaps it’s not a person, but it’s a object, or an action, or a place. What is it, that when the Lord is trying to call you, you run to it because that’s the only thing know? And it’s not necessarily that the “Eli” is a destructive part of your life. Eli wasn’t destructive to Samuel. In fact, Eli was a good man, a priest, and even tells Samuel that it’s the Lord who is calling him; however, he’s still the one that Samuel ran to, and he didn’t have the answer to the Lord’s calling.
“And the Lord came and called as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ and Samuel replied, ‘Speak, your servant is listening.’ Then the Lord said to Samuel, ‘I am about to do a shocking thing in Israel. I am going to carry out all my threats against Eli and his family, from beginning to end.'” (1 Samuel 3:10-12).
I can’t imagine being Samuel here. You finally hear from God, after running over and over again to Eli, and God just flips the script. He says, ‘that man you’re running to for answers, his family is about to be destroyed.’ God isn’t just speaking to Samuel here, he’s speaking to us today.
He’s saying, that person you’re running to, that thing you always rely on, that place you need to bring yourself to, it’s going to leave you empty. It may be fulfill you for the moment, but soon it won’t be able to sustain you; yet, so often we don’t hear this message. We tune it out. The voice of God is masked by that thing, that person, that place, our Eli! God wants so bad to get you to pay attention, to recognize His voice, and He’s trying like crazy to get you to hear, but we still think it’s Eli who is calling. And when Eli says “It wasn’t I,” we end up empty, and going back to bed wondering why we were called in the first place. We weren’t called to go to Eli, but to say, “Here I am Lord. Speak, for your servant is listening.”
The Lord is trying to wake you up from bed, and when we humbled ourselves before God, the word of the Lord will no longer be rare in our lives. It will continue to be appear in Shiloh just as the scripture says.