As we are reading 1 Samuel 3, I think it is fair to say that this is a time when Israel was in a time of spiritual darkness. In the previous chapters, we find out that the priesthood was corrupt, and that people did what was right in their own eyes. And then at the very start of this chapter, we are told that "...In those days, the word of God was rare; there were not many visions." However, it is in this context that God called Samuel.
1 Samuel 3:4-5 says "Then the Lord called Samuel. Samuel answered, 'Here I am.' And he ran to Eli and said, 'Here I am; you called me.'" I love Samuel's response here to the call that he hears; look at how alert, responsive and obedient he is to the voice that he hears. He goes running to Eli, and of course it wasn't Eli who called him, and so Eli sends him back to bed. And then in verse 6, the same thing happens! God calls Samuel whilst he sleeps, Samuel hears the call and goes back to Eli. And again, Eli sends Samuel back to bed.
At this moment in time, Samuel is unable to recognise the voice of God. In fact verse 7 tells us "Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord: the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him." God had never spoken to Samuel in this way before, and so therefore he didn't realise that it was God calling him. However, as we see as the book of 1 Samuel goes on, after God's word is revealed to him, Samuel learns to recognise God's voice.
On the 3rd occasion that God calls Samuel, and Samuel goes to Eli, Eli realises what is going on. And so he gives Samuel some good advice: Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.' And Samuel does everything that Eli says. And so when the Lord calls Samuel again, Samuel responds 'Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.'
We can learn a lot from Samuel in this chapter, and his response to the call of God. Samuel shows in his response a desire to hear, a willingness to listen, and a heart that is ready to serve and obey.
Have you heard the call of God on your life? And how did you respond? Let's be like Samuel and have that desire to hear, a willingness to listen, and a heart ready to obey.