So the Lord called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, “Here I am for you called me.” Then Eli discerned that the Lord was calling the boy.
I Samuel 3:8
It is a rare occurrence, but every now and then two people will pick up the phone and discover that one was going to call out while the other one was making an incoming call without the phone ever ringing. Sometime as luck would have it we are nearby the phone and can answer it on the first ring. Today so many people have phones or systems that identify the caller before one ever answers the phone. Upon screening the callers, the person may choose to accept or decline the call. While people may let the phone ring and ring, we may often get tired of waiting for the call to be answered, hang up and then decide to call at a different time when the person or business is less busy. For some reason “3” seems to be a magical number for people to answer the phone when it rings.
As we have seen in this story of Samuel, the Lord called three times before Samuel answered now knowing that the Lord and not the priest Eli was calling him. The boy Samuel had been ministering to the Lord before Eli. The lamp of God had not yet gone out and Samuel was lying in the temple in the presence of the ark. When Samuel heard his name called, he thought it was the priest Eli calling him, so he raced to his room. Samuel said, “Here I am for You called me.” Eli informed Samuel that he did not call and bid him to go and lie down again. The Lord called Samuel again and once again he thought it was Eli who had called only to be dismissed by the priest and admonished to go lie down again. Furthermore, the priest counseled Samuel that if he should hear his name called again he was advised to respond, “Speak, Lord, for Your servant is listening.” The Lord announced to Samuel that He was about to do something new in Israel that would make the people’s ears tingle. Samuel had to relay some bad news to Eli concerning the family’s priesthood. Samuel would serve as a trustworthy prophet of the Lord.
One contemporary hymn that has garnered great popularity is “Here I Am, Lord” which draws from this Biblical and provides some of its lyrics.
O God, You continue to call Your children to serve You. When we hear You calling us and as we discern it is Your call, help us to respond as did Samuel: “Speak Lord, for In Jesus’ name, we pray. Your servant is listening.” In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.