The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” – 1 Samuel 3:10

The night had almost passed. Three other times before this dialogue with God, the young Samuel (probably around 12 years old) had heard his name called out. This intimate approach by God happened at a time when Scripture tells us:

In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.           – 1 Samuel 3:1

So, of course, it’s understandable that this young, inexperienced Samuel thought it was Eli, the high priest and judge of Israel and Samuel’s mentor-master, who he had heard calling out to him in the middle of the night. But it wasn’t. Samuel’s sleep was being disturbed by God. Samuel’s name was being called out by the Lord Most High Himself.

After the third time of Samuel running into where Eli was sleeping to find out why his master had summoned him and how he could possibly serve him, Eli finally understood what was happening. It was the Lord’s voice Samuel had heard. Eli then counseled the young Samuel on how to respond to the Lord’s call. This true counsel came from a man who himself had failed miserably at listening to and obeying the Lord, specifically when it came to correcting his own sons. Eli’s sons, Hophni and Phinehas, also served as priests, but were known as “scoundrels; they had no regard for the LORD” (1 Samuel 2:12).

Samuel, however, listened to Eli’s instructions and did as he was told. He went back to listen for the Lord’s voice – to listen to the Lord’s words – as a humble, willing and obedient servant. And the Lord came and stood near Samuel and spoke to him. That night, an intimate, life-long conversation and relationship began with the Lord leading and Samuel following.

How simple Samuel’s response to the Lord was, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” That righteous humility, courageous willingness and ready obedience before the Lord made all the difference in this one young person’s life. Samuel’s life was powerfully transformed through his simple act of listening to the Lord. And the Lord honored and blessed Samuel’s servant-listening.

The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. And all of Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD. – 1 Samuel 3:19-20

Will we choose as Samuel did, no matter what our age? No matter what our circumstance or position in life is? Will we choose to humbly, willingly and obediently listen to the Lord? Will we choose to let the Lord into our lives in such an intimate and powerful way through the simple act of listening? It will make all the difference in our lives, if we do. And God will use us to make a difference in the lives of others.

Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening!