The Heart That Listens

All kingdom matters are matters of the heart. God our Father knows each heart and is concerned with what is taking place inside. Our heart is central in the kingdom. He entrusts His Kingdom to hearts He can trust. As sons and daughters of the Living God, it is through our hearts that He can set the course of our lives that will shape history with His hands.

The heart of Samuel demonstrated a sensitivity to God’s presence.  He was able to lean towards God’s will for he possessed a listening heart.  His heart was also persistent in pressing towards the things of God, which we can trace this same quality of heart to his mother, Hannah.

Hannah, together with her husband Elkanah, would faithfully go to worship at Shiloh and sacrifice every year for the Lord Almighty. And all those times, Hannah wasn’t able to bore children. Despite Hannah’s emotional torment, she maintained an unoffended heart before God.

One day while she was intently praying in the temple, Eli, the priest, mistaken her as someone drunk. A man, whose sensitivity has been dulled by his own acts of unrighteousness, unjustly criticized her as being drunk with wine. Yet, the woman whose heart has been fixed unto God, responded with high respect. As a result, she was blessed by the priest. Not long after, Hannah gave birth to Samuel, who would later become one of the greatest prophet of Old Testament. Hannah’s ultimate breakthrough happened as she positioned her heart to honor God and His servant Eli in the midst of pain. God saw her heart. God’s value for heart attitude bears much weight.

“Then Yahweh came and stood there and called out as before, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, because your servant is listening.'” (1 Samuel 3:10)

We can imagine that as Samuel grew up serving in the tabernacle, he was exposed to the presence of God day in and day out. Samuel’s heart was being shaped and trained by His daily encounters with God. This reached a point where “God revealed himself to Samuel through His Word”. The impact of his personal encounters in the secret place resulted to an entire nation acknowledging Samuel as a prophet from God. Israel bore witnessed to the fact that Samuel knew God’s voice.

“The Lord was with Samuel as he grew up, and he let none of Samuel’s words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba recognized that Samuel was attested as a prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, and there he revealed himself to Samuel through his word.” (1 Samuel 3:19-21)

Daily encounters with God became the foundation of his leadership and a pillar of strength in his days as the last judge of Israel. Samuel possessed a listening heart that is sensitive to the voice of God.

When Israel clamored for their own king, it did not please God.  But when God ordered Samuel to anoint Saul, he did not hesitate and obeyed the Lord no matter what.  The beginnings of Saul were extraordinary and Samuel was there as a prophet, mentor and father, not to mention that Samuel was also the intercessor for the nation of Israel.  Along the way, King Saul made some grave mistakes. The king failed God. When God repented to have made him king over Israel, Samuel was grieved and cried out all night. But Samuel will always be on God’s side. He remained faithful to God, a compassionate intercessor and prophet of a nation.

Then when the season has come and he was to anoint a new king. He had come to the house of Jesse and when he saw the eldest son, Eliab who bore physical resemblance to Saul, Samuel immediately assumed Eliab was the logical choice.

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.’” (1 Samuel 16:7)

Although still reeling from disappointment and regret, Samuel’s heart was not misplaced. His heart was still postured to hear and lean to do the will of God. Oftentimes because of our past breakthroughs, we immediately assume familiar situations should yield similar breakthroughs. As human beings, we are experience-centric and memory-dependent that we rely too much on patterns of how things work. It might be that this was exactly what was going on in Samuel’s mind. But because Samuel had a listening heart, he was able to hear what God had to say about the situation.

Hearing and following God every step of the way, his obedience brought forth success everywhere he went. Samuel’s bias is always God’s side. The process that he went through shaped the prophet that he became – the kind of heart that loved God and His people Israel and  who knew God’s voice and obeyed His Word.

In the same manner, as we faithfully spend our quiet times with God, our hearts learn to be sensitive to His voice. Let us continue to soak in His presence daily and grow in studying His Word, relishing His love and glory. Our ability to hear God’s voice must be accompanied with radical obedience and enduring faith.

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