|artwork by Krista Hamrick|
AMPC: And the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, Samuel! Samuel! Then Samuel answered, Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.
ICB: The Lord came and stood there. He called as he had before. He said, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel said, “Speak, Lord. I am your servant, and I am listening.”
NCV: The Lord came and stood there and called as he had before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel said, “Speak, Lord. I am your servant and I am listening.”
WYC: And the Lord came, and stood, and called as he had called the second time (and called to him as he had called the other times, saying), Samuel, Samuel. And Samuel said, Speak thou, Lord, for thy servant heareth.
“Speak, Lord.” Oh, how often has our heartfelt this desire in the form of a groaning that cannot be uttered! “Lord, I want to know You! You are behind a veil, and I cannot come to You. I know that You are, for I see Your works, but, oh, that I could get some token from Yourself, if not for my eyesight, yet at least for my heart!” When the Lord said to the child, “Samuel, Samuel,” it was a distinct, personal call. All who have heard the gospel preached have been called to some extent. The Word of God calls every sinner to repent and trust the Savior, but that call brings nobody to Christ unless it is accompanied by the special effectual call of the Holy Spirit! When that call is heard in the heart, then the heart responds! The general call of the gospel is like the common “cluck” of the hen which she is always giving when her chickens are around her. But if there is any danger impending, then she gives a very peculiar call—quite different from the ordinary one—and the little chicks come running as fast as ever they can, and hide for safety under her wings! That is the call we need—God’s peculiar and effectual call to His own! And I would, if I could, put into the heart and mouth of each person now present this prayer, “Speak, Lord, speak to me. Call me. When You are calling this one and that, Lord, call me with the effectual call of Your Holy Spirit! Be pleased so to call me that, when I hear You saying, ‘Seek you My face,’ my heart may say unto You, ‘Your face, Lord, will I seek.’”
“But how does the Lord speak?” someone asks. That is a very important question. I know that He has many ways of speaking to the hearts of His people. We do not expect to hear audible words. It is not by sense that we live—not even by the sense of hearing—but by faith. We believe, and so we apprehend God!
God often speaks to His children through His works. Are there not days when the mountains and the hills break forth before us into singing, and the trees of the field clap their hands because God is speaking by them? Do you not lift up your eyes to the heavens at night and watch the stars, and seem to hear God speaking to you in the solemn silence? That man who never hears God speak through His works is, I think, hardly in a healthy state of mind. Why, the very beauty of spring with its promise, the fullness of summer, the ripeness of autumn, and even the chilly blasts of winter are all vocal if we have but ears to hear what they say!
God also speaks to His children very loudly by His providence. Is there no voice in affliction? Has pain no tongue? Has the bed of languishing no eloquence? The Lord speaks to us, sometimes, by bereavement—when one after another has been taken away, God has spoken to us. The deaths of others are for our spiritual life—sharp medicine for our soul’s health. God has spoken to many a mother by the dear babe she has had to lay in the grave. And many a man has, for the first time, listened to God’s voice when he has heard the passing bell that spoke of the departure of one dearer to him than life itself. God speaks to us, if we will but hear, in all the arrangements of providence both pleasant and painful. Whether He caresses or chastises, there is a voice in all that He does.
Then there is His Word as it is preached. It is delightful to notice how God speaks to the heart while the sermon is being heard—yes, and when the sermon is being read. I am almost, every day, made to sing inwardly as I hear of those to whom I have been the messenger of God. And my Lord has many messengers, and He is speaking by them all! There was one man, who had lived a life of drunkenness and impurity, and had even shed human blood with his bowie knife, or his revolver, yet he found the Savior, and became a new man! And when he died, he charged one who was with him to tell me that my sermon had brought him to Christ! “I shall never tell him on earth,” he said, “but I shall tell the Lord Jesus Christ about him when I get to heaven.” It was by a sermon, read far away in the backwoods, that this great sinner was brought to Christ! But it is not only in the backwoods that the Lord blesses the preached Word, it is here, it is everywhere where Christ is proclaimed! If we preach the gospel, God gives a voice to it, and speaks through it. There is a kind of incarnation of the Spirit of God in every true preacher—God speaks through him. Oh, that men had but ears to hear! But, alas, alas, too often they hear as if it were of no importance! And the Lord has to say to His servant as He said to Ezekiel, “Lo, you are unto them as a very lovely song of one that has a pleasant voice, and can play well on an instrument: for they hear your words, but they do them not.” Oh, that each one of our hearers always came up to the sanctuary with this prayer in his heart, and on his lips, “Speak, Lord, by Your servant; speak right down into my soul.”
The Lord has a way of sometimes speaking to the heart by His Spirit—I think not usually apart from His Word—but yet there are feelings and emotions, tenderness and trembling, joys and delights which we cannot quite link with any special portion of Scripture laid home to the heart, but which seem to steal upon us unawares by the direct operation of the Spirit of God upon the heart. You who know the Lord must sometimes have felt a strange delight which had no earthly origin. You have, perhaps, awakened in the morning with it, and it has remained with you. A little while after, you have had some severe trial, and you realize that the Lord had spoken to you to strengthen you to bear the affliction! At other times you have felt great tenderness about some one individual, and you have felt compelled to pray, and perhaps to go for some miles to speak a word to that individual. And it turned out that God meant to save that person through you, and He did! I think we are not half as mindful as we ought to be of the secret working of the Holy Spirit upon the mind.
Lord Jesus, quiet my heart so that I can hear you. Remove any distractions that would keep me from being open and attentive to what your Spirit might be impressing on my heart and mind. Please make me humble and receptive and willing to answer obediently when you call on me. Your servant is listening. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen
Take a few moments to listen to his beautiful rendition of Amazing Love/Word of God Speak by Guy Penrod.
Look Up—meditate on … pray to see what it reveals about the character of God.