The story of Samuel and how he learned to recognize God’s voice provides an important lesson for all believers. The Bible tells us that in Samuel’s day, communication from the Lord—by word or vision—was rare (l Sam. 3:l). At the same time, we are informed in verse 12 that God had been saying a lot to the priest Eli about his family and their evil conduct. It appears, however, that there had been very little listening.
Fortunately, young Samuel put an end to all that. At first he, too, was unable to recognize God’s voice. Even though he was immersed in religious activity, the Bible tells us that the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him (v. 7). When God first spoke to Samuel, the boy had to appeal to his religious superiors before he could understand what was going on.
What this suggests is that when we think we hear God’s voice, we shouldn’t hesitate to discuss it with our spiritual leaders or other mature Christians. Prayer and wise consultation of this sort can help recognize who really is speaking. The devil seeks to imitate the voice of God, so we must carefully discern the source of the message.
Once we hear from God and get our bearings spiritually, we must not shrink from testifying to what we heard. At first Samuel was fearful about sharing the message with Eli, but he finally did so. And remember, we should never ask God to speak if we are not prepared to act on the message we hear.
Dr. Charles Stanley