Hearing & Heeding God’s Word (1Samuel 2-3)




This year is the 100th year anniversary for Nathan’s Hot Dogs.[1] In 1916 Nathan Handwerker, a Polish immigrant came to America and started a hot dog stand in Coney Island, NY. He sold hot dogs that were based on a recipe by his wife Ida.

Legend has it that on July 4, 1916 four individuals stood outside Nathan’s Hot Dog stand arguing who was the most patriotic and decided to settle it with a hot dog eating contest. However, 1972 is the first major and officially recorded hot dog eating contest. Every year since on July 4 an enthusiastic and emerging crowd gathers to watch a hot dog eating contest, promoted and sponsored by popular media such as ESPN.

nathans 1

Thousands of fans and friends gather to be entertained with competitive eating performances. Contestants have a variety of methods – dowsing the bun in water to let the dog & bun slide down swallowing it whole; others tear it in two to eat in smaller chunks; while still others eat and jump up and down to bounce the food from throat to gut. Whatever the method the goal is to eat as many hot dogs as quickly as you can.

The reigning female champion Miki Sudo polished off 38 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes; she out-ate the former four time champion Sonya “The Black Widow” Thomas, who finished second by downed only 34 hot dogs and buns.

The 8-time reigning male champion Joey Chestnut sought to defend his title but was upset by newcomer Matt Stonie who devoured 62 hot dogs and buns in 10 minutes, narrowly escaping Joey “Jaws’” 60 hot dogs and buns.

By the way, the record is 69 hot dogs in 10 minutes.


While these methods may be helpful for a hot dog eating contest, they are not good for spiritual growth. In our fast-paced society we rush through Bible reading and prayer devotions to get on with our days productivity. Our worship experiences are timed to fit into our hurried schedules. Discipleship for spiritual depth and social connection often are missed as we briefly attend to mark off our Sunday checklist attendance.

Many seldom take the time to leisure and linger at the banquet table of our Lord. God’s word offers us a feast of food to eat if we will pause to sit in His presence.

Psalm 119:103 “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” 

Psalm 63:1-5 “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, when I remember and meditate on you”

We live in a day of abundance of availability to God’s Word. But this was not always the case. Today’s passage helps us to see that God’s Word is a rare reward for us not to take for granted. Let us hear and heed God’s Word in 1Samuel 3.

1Samuel logoEXAMINE              1Samuel 3                 Hearing and Heading God’s Word

We can hear and heed God’s Word through our availability (1Samuel 2:12-26 / 3:1-10).

In the midst of God answering Hannah’s prayer for a son is the reminder of Israel’s depravity. Eli was a barely tolerable priest while his sons were abominably corrupt (2:12 “sons of Belial / wicked/worthless).

Eli’s intolerability & unavailability:
–        (1Sam 2:13-14) He allowed religious traditions to replace divine commands, There is no place in Scripture that commanded the priests to take a three-pronged fork to stick in a boiling pot to bring out meat to eat for the priests. Yet, this practice became the custom of all the priests.

–        (1Sam 2:15-17) He allowed reverence of God to be replaced with fear of man. The fat of meat belonged only to the Lord (Gen 4:4; Lev 3:16, 7:25, 17:6), because the fat represented a healthy and full sacrifice; not a weak or minimal devotion. Yet these priests bullied over people and took what belonged to God for themselves.

–        (1Sam 2:22-25) He allowed immorality to replace integrity. Eli was very old and kept hearing of his son’s transgressions. It is quite likely that Eli seldom or only superficially disciplined his children. He coddled when he should have challenged; he comforted when he should have confronted. Eli is a reminder of at least 3 parental applications:

o   1) Parents must take growing godly generations very seriously.

  • D6 “teach them diligently to your children…”
  • Ps 78:4 “that the next generation may know… and arise and tell their children”
  • Jesus “woe to those who causes one little one to sin”

o   2) It’s never too late to discipline a child. Adult children are equally called to obey/honor parents. Further, some adults have never matured or assumed responsibility for their own life and need a dosage of reality and consequences. Parents who fail to discipline their children should expect to be disciplined by God.

  • 3:13 “And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.”

o   3) You cannot win at ministry if you lose your family. Whether you are a vocational pastor or faithful servant Christian, we must remember that your number one priority to disciple, shepherd, and lead is your family. We should not believe the lie that you cannot have both a great family and a great ministry, but nor should we believe the lie that “serving God” means neglecting family.

è When the church allows church programs to replace being the church and following Jesus then we have become intolerable and unavailable to God.

è When Christians allow their priorities and their very best life practices to be used for things of the world and not for God, then we have become intolerable and unavailable to God.

è When Christians allow activity to replace authenticity then we have become intolerable and unavailable to God.


Samuel’s availability despite circumstances: 1 Samuel 3-10.png–        1Sam 3:1 “The young man Samuel was ministering under Eli and the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent visions.”

o   Samuel was young… (cf 1Timothy 4:12 “Do not let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”)

o   Samuel was under Eli… a desperate day

o   The word was rare (precious/valuable) with no frequency. God’s silence was a form of discipline on Israel.

o   (3:2) Eli’s eyesight was dim (physically and spiritually)

o   Eli, as well as Samuel, were each sleeping in their own place (so it was dark)

o   (3:3) The ark of God was present!

o   (3:4) The Lord called Samuel

o   (3:7) Samuel did not yet know the Lord, the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him

o   (3:4-8) It took Eli the priest three times to perceive the Lord’s calling Samuel

–        1Sam 3:10 “And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel, Samuel!” And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant hears.”

Samuel’s availability was due to a praying/faithful mother (1:27/2:19) and a gracious God (3:10).

è Our availability to God must be a daily priority. Samuel learned to minister and present himself before the Lord each day of his childhood. Samuel learned the discipline of availability and attended to Eli’s needs – over three times he went to what he thought was Eli’s request for help in the middle of the night.

o   1Sam 1:28 “He worshiped the Lord there”

o   1Sam 2:18 “Samuel was ministering before the Lord, a boy clothed with a linen ephod.”

o   1Sam 2:26 “Now the young man Samuel continued to grow both in stature and in favor with the Lord and also with man.”

o   1Sam 3:1, 3 “Now the young man Samuel was ministering to the Lord under Eli… Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was.””

o   1Sam 3:19-21 “Samuel grew and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground… Samuel was established as a prophet… for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel.” 1 Samuel 3-19.png

Likewise, we must daily present and dedicate ourselves to the Lord.

o   Psalm 1:1-2 “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, not stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”

o   Luke 9:23 “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.”

o   Romans 6:13 “Do not present your members to sin as instruments for unrighteousness, but present yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life, and your members to God as instruments for righteousness.”

o   Romans 12:1 “present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”

The ark of God in your life…

  • Start your day with a psalm and prayer… not perusing social media or work requests.
  • See people and opportunities to serve… not avoiding or isolating – even if you’re an introvert there are ways you can interact with others in small groups or from afar in prayer, planning, and productive means of service.
  • Strategize ways to be available to God by meeting regularly with your church family.

What would it look like if…

ü  All parents of same school gathered to pray for children, classmates, faculty, and then found ways to serve the good of those schools?

ü  All professionals of similar domains/fields came together to discuss and deploy services in local and global missions?

ü  All older Eli’s mentored young Samuel’s?

o   Note: One of Eli’s punishments was that future generations would not have older people with their invaluable experience, leadership and wisdom to utilize and distribute to future generations. 1Sam 2:31 “Behold the days are coming when I will cut off your strength and the strength of your father’s house, so that there will not be an old man in your house. Then in distress you will look with envious eye on all the prosperity that shall be bestowed on Israel, and there shall not be an old man in your house forever.”

We can hear and heed God’s Word through our availability and our receptivity (1Samuel 3:11-21).

The Lord gave Samuel a prophetic message concerning the nation of Israel and the house of Eli. It was a message of trembling and ear-tingling judgment (cf. 2Ki 21:12; Jer 19:3). As the temple priest, Eli would bear the responsibility for the iniquity that he failed to confront yet knowing his sons were blaspheming God.

The message was overwhelming to Samuel as he lay in bed until the next day and afraid to share the message with Eli. Undoubtedly, Samuel had seen how Eli’s sons responded to those who crossed them and wanted to part of such conflict or violence. Nonetheless, Eli wanted to hear God’s message and was ready to receive the bad news. Therefore, Samuel followed with a faithful telling of God’s message.

Samuel was receptive

–        To Eli, telling “everything and hid nothing” (3:18).

–        To the Lord, “Samuel grew and the Lord was with him” (3:19)

–        To Israel, “And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord” (3:20)

How are you receptive

–        To “speak truth in love” with hard but hopeful conversations to those (of faith) living contrary to God?

o   Hebrews 3:13 “But exhort one another everyday, as long as it is called ‘today,’ that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.”

o   James 5:20 “whoever brings back a sinner from his wandering will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins.”


–        To be salt & light as those established as God’s people and prophets in a depraved and dark world?

o   1Peter 2:9-12 “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; one you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.”



We can only be available to God because He has made Himself available to us…

–        In grace He has revealed His Word and ways

–        In grace He has called our name


Your prayer response

–        “Speak Lord, for your servant is listening”

–        Draw Me Close To You…




[1] http://www.nathansfamous.com/story/extended-history

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s