“The LORD … revealed Himself to Samuel through His word.” 1 Samuel 3:21 (NIV)
Samuel was a young boy raised by a surrogate father who was the High Priest of Israel during the dark days of the nation’s history. His mother visited him every year and had dedicated him to the Lord. Samuel grew up in the presence of the Lord, the bible tells us, and even slept in the Tabernacle near the Ark of God. Yet, there is a strange verse found in 1 Samuel 3:7 that says, “Samuel did not yet know the LORD. …”
How is that possible? He was dedicated to God from birth, raised by the High Priest and exposed to all the worship in the Tabernacle from the age of three, yet he did not know the Lord. This speaks to the inadequacy of religion alone to connect us with God. We need something more; something more personal than ritual and tradition. We need a personal relationship that can only be established by a personal encounter with God.
Samuel may have been twelve years old, most scholars believe, when God first spoke to him in the middle of the night. Unaware of God’s voice, Samuel thought it was Eli calling him. Three times he heard his name called and each time he went to the High Priest, Eli, to ask him, “Did you call me?” On the third time, Eli realized it must be the Lord who was calling Samuel so he told him, “Go and lie down again, and if someone calls again, say, ‘Speak, LORD, your servant is listening.’” 1 Samuel 3:9 (NLT)
Samuel followed Eli’s advise and heard the Lord speak to him. It was his first encounter with God that changed the trajectory of his life forever. In 1 Samuel 3:19-21 (NIV), the Bible tells us, “The LORD was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of His words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the LORD. The LORD continued to appear at Shiloh, and there He revealed Himself to Samuel through His Word.”
If we are to encounter God, we must get alone with Him in His Word. We must read it with the heart of Samuel that says, “Speak, Lord, your servant is listening.” When we do, our faith will no longer be static, dry, or lifeless. It will become dynamic as God begins to reveal Himself, His purposes, and His ways to us. Consider your time in God’s Word as your Divine Appointment with Him. I like to imagine the Lord sitting in the empty chair next to where I spend my time with Him each morning. It helps me to focus on Him as I read and listen for His voice, knowing that it’s not just reading words on a page, but drawing closer to Him that matters most.
I want to challenge you to set a divine appointment of your own if you haven’t before. Set a time and place to meet with God in His Word. Choose a book of the Bible and read it systematically. Ask God to speak to your heart as you read and then be still and listen. Jot down in a journal what you sense God is saying to you from the passages you read. Like Samuel, your life will never be the same.