Now the boy Samuel ministered to the Lord before Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no widespread revelation. And it came to pass at that time, while Eli was lying down in his place, and when his eyes had begun to grow so dim that he could not see, and before the lamp of God went out in the tabernacle of the Lord where the ark of God was, and while Samuel was lying down, that the Lord called Samuel. And he answered, “Here I am!” So he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” And he said, “I did not call; lie down again.” And he went and lay down. Then the Lord called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” He answered, “I did not call, my son; lie down again.” (Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him.) And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. So he arose and went to Eli, and said, “Here I am, for you did call me.” Then Eli perceived that the Lord had called the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, “Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He calls you, that you must say, ‘Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.’ “So Samuel went and lay down in his place. Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.” (1 Samuel 3:1-10)
Teaching Children The Voice Of God
There is a moment in a new baby’s life that is magical for the parent. As newborns, the young child is discovering the world in many facets of expressions, experiences and reactions. They open their eyes soaking in the faces of their parents with eternal awe and wonder. What is most heart pleasing is when they hear the voice of their mother or father and they open their eyes seeking for that voice. And then they laugh or smile. The heart just about busts wide open. As the child grows, the voice is reassuring and comforting. This bonding is what secures the heart of the child to the parents and will form the basis of one of the most important relationships in life.
There is another moment in the child’s life that is more important than any and that is when the child recognizes the voice of God. This comes from the parent who instills the story of God and His Son in the heart of the child as they grow. Before a child can speak, they learn the music of the Bible as songs about the little boy David and good old Noah building an ark. Children learn that Jesus loves them because the Bible tells them so and there was a wee little man that climbed in a tree to see Jesus. The most important thing a parent can do for their children is to sit and read the Bible stories to them. Children need to learn what the voice of God sounds like so they can respond to His will.
Samuel would become one of the greatest prophets of Israel. He had been dedicated to the Lord by his parents serving with Eli the high priest. The Lord called to Samuel three times before Eli realized what was happening. During the time of Samuel’s childhood, the word of the Lord was rare and no widespread revelation was given. As he served with Eli, God called him but Samuel did not yet know the Lord, nor was the word of the Lord yet revealed to him. This sounds like many homes in the church today where the word of the Lord is rare and children do not know the Lord or the word of the Lord. Like Samuel, they are confused and restless. When the Lord calls, they do not know who He is. Finally, Eli knew it was the Lord calling Samuel and he tells the boy to say, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant hears.” The Lord did call again and Samuel responded he heard the voice of God. Parents must learn the need to teach children what the voice of God sounds like.
Children are sponges that soak in everything around them. We have filled their minds with technology where they know more how to fix a smart phone than adults. The generation of youth today is science savvy with all the modern conveniences of computers, applications, tablets and electronics. What is sadly lacking in many homes is the voice of God. This cannot come through an electronic gadget that sparkles and shines but taking time to listen and meditate on the mind of God. Parents must take the time to sit and read the word of God to their children from day one. Little babies may not respond by asking questions or look as if they are learning anything but like all the impressions we received as infants, the voice of God must become a familiar part of life. Parents mistakenly believe the Bible is only helpful when the child is able to read, communicate and drive a car; and by that time without any benefit of previous time spent with the Lord, they have little interest.
Teenagers who read the Bible learn that from the earliest of ages. Test your family traits: how often do your children read the Bible or speak about stories in the Bible? It may be as often as you do. It is important to know what reading, writing and arithmetic is but what about the stories of the Old Testament, the life of Jesus or the work of the New Testament church? A reminder that if you think your child is going to get all they need from less than two hours of church Bible class a week – you are making a serious mistake. This time is important but that leaves 166 hours where they are getting nothing. The home should be a bastion of God’s glory in the heart of the child so they will know the voice of God and say like Samuel, “Speak, for your servant hears.”