Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.
At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. 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, 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.
And the Lord called again, “Samuel!” and Samuel arose 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.
And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose 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 hears.’” So Samuel went and lay down in his place. I Samuel 3:1-9 ESV
[Jesus said,] “Truly, truly, I say to you, he who does not enter the sheepfold by the door but climbs in by another way, that man is a thief and a robber. But he who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger they will not follow, but they will flee from him, for they do not know the voice of strangers.
“I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” John 10:1-5, 14-15 ESV
Do you like to watch birds? Some people are really good at identifying birds. They can tell by the shapes of their wings or tails, or the color of their feathers, what kind of bird they see. Birders are also able to tell about what kind of birds they see by looking at their behavior or habitat. One other way birders can tell what kind of bird they see is by listening to their song. For example, a barred owl says, “Who cooks for you?” A black-capped chickadee calls, “Chick-a-dee-dee-dee.” And a white-crowned sparrow sings, “See me, pretty pretty me!” Some birders really enjoy birding by ear, which means identifying birds only by their songs even if they don’t see them, but it takes a lot of practice to get good at birding by ear.
Samuel didn’t know the voice of God, because he had never heard it before. In fact, when he was a boy not many people heard the voice of God. Samuel thought it was Eli who was calling him, and that’s why he kept running to Eli. But throughout his life, Samuel would hear the voice of God speaking to him many times. Samuel became a prophet of God, speaking God’s words to God’s people. He learned to know the voice of God.
Jesus said that his sheep know his voice and follow him. We are Jesus’ sheep. Jesus speaks to us often through his Word, the Bible. We can hear God speak to us every day through the Holy Bible, and get to know his voice. Most importantly, God speaks to us through Jesus. Jesus didn’t only tell us what God’s Word says, but he also did what God wanted. Jesus came to die on the cross to save us. Because of Jesus our sins are forgiven and are at peace with God. God the Holy Spirit helps us to hear Jesus’ voice and follow him every day.
Dear Jesus, help me to listen to you and follow you. Amen.