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A Voice in the Night
by Sophia Prinsloo
with Barbara Wilmerton Haas

Hannah brought Samuel to the tabernacle when he was still very young

Text Version | Afrikaans

Jake dozed off to sleep and began to dream Jake flopped down on the back seat of the car. He and his parents had been at a missions conference in a nearby town and were on their way back after a wonderful time. It was so encouraging and exciting to hear what the Lord was doing in other countries through his missionaries. This sparked Jake's interest.

While Jake stared through the window at the lights in the darkness outside, he recalled the events of the day and wondered if he would ever be able to be a missionary when he grew up. Would the Lord maybe call him to go to far off countries to preach his Word, or would he do it here in his own country? Maybe he could do something for the Lord now, but he wondered if he wasn't too young and too little.

Slowly but surely, the noise of the car's engine made him doze off to sleep and he began to dream about a young boy named Samuel, who lived many years ago in the time of the judges of Israel.

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Samuel's mother, Hannah, was childless, but she made an oath to the Lord that if He would give her a son, she would bring him to the tabernacle in Shiloh to serve the Lord there his whole life. The Lord answered her prayer and Samuel was born.

Each year when his parents went to visit the tabernacle his mother brought him a new robe Hannah took him to the tabernacle when he was still very young, but he was not afraid because his mother had taught him that the Lord would always be with him, even if she was not there with him. Each year when his parents, Elkanah and Hannah, went to visit the tabernacle, his mother brought him a new robe and then Eli, the priest of God, blessed them.

Eli had grown old and blind and that is why he was very glad Samuel was there to help him with the service in the tabernacle. It was a very busy place, because all of Israel brought their sacrifices to the Lord and Eli had to oversee that everything was done according to the law of the Lord.

Samuel obeyed Eli in everything he commanded him to do. In the mornings, he had to open the doors so that the people could come in. He made sure that all the lamps were full of oil and burning, as there were no windows in the tabernacle to allow light to come in from outside. Then he had to polish all the gold, silver and copper things until they shone. Growing bigger, his duties became increasingly more important as Eli entrusted more and more to him.

Eli's two sons, Hophni and Phinehas — one with prowling eyes and the other with a crooked grin — also served as priests, but they did wrong in the eyes of the Lord, because they were audacious and selfish. When the Israelites brought their sacrifices, these two priests always took for themselves the best part of the sacrifice, which was supposed to belong to the Lord. Sometimes they used violence to do it. That was a big sin, because they did not respect the sacrifice of the Lord and they caused the Israelites to not respect the Lord's sacrifice either.

Eli rebuked his sons softly in his own way and not according to the law of the Lord, but they were so stubborn that they did not want to listen. Although he tried to teach them to do the right thing, he considered his sons more important than God. That is why God had decided to bring judgment upon them.

One night while Samuel was sleeping he heard a voice call his name In the evenings, when all their work was completed, while the sweet smell of incense still hung in the air, Eli enjoyed telling Samuel about all the commandments and laws, the feasts, and all the different sacrifices. Eli said the prayers of the people rose up to God like the smoke of the sacrifices, with a lovely fragrance. Yet, Samuel enjoyed hearing about God's miracles the most: About Moses who heard the voice of God himself and led the Israelites out of Egypt. About the Red Sea parting, the water from the rock, the manna and much more.

On Mount Sinai, God spoke to Moses like with a friend and told him how to build the tabernacle, how to offer the sacrifices and how to obey his commands and laws. Samuel wondered why God's voice had been so quiet in Shiloh for so long. Eli did not hear God's voice and neither did Hophni and Phinehas. Samuel wished he could hear the voice of God, but he thought he probably was too little and too young, and most likely still had a lot to learn.

Samuel went to Eli and said Here I am for you called me One night while Samuel was sleeping, he heard a voice calling him, “Samuel, Samuel!”

Samuel immediately answered and said, “Here I am!” He rose and walked over to Eli and said to him, “Here I am, for you called me.”

Half asleep, Eli told him, “I did not call you. Lie down again.” So he lay down.

Then the Lord called Samuel again, “Samuel, Samuel!”

Samuel went to Eli and said Here I am for you called me Samuel went to Eli again, “Here I am, for you called me,” but again Eli, who was a bit more awake now, told him that he did not call and that Samuel could lie down and sleep on.

As soon as Samuel lay down to doze off, he heard the voice again, “Samuel, Samuel!”

Samuel thought, “This time Eli must really need me,” and he went to him and said, “Here I am, for you called me.”

This time Eli was wide awake and realized that it must have been the Lord Who was calling Samuel. He told Samuel, “It wasn't me calling you, but lie down again and if you hear the voice again, tell Him, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.’”

Samuel went back to lie down at his place and the voice called again, “Samuel, Samuel!”

Eli told Samuel lie down again and if you hear the voice again tell Him Speak Lord for your servant is listening Samuel answered, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.”

The Lord told Samuel, “Behold, the thing I am going to do will make people's ears tingle from shock, for I am going to judge and punish Eli's evil sons for all the wrong things they have done. I am also going to punish Eli, because he did not rebuke his sons sternly.” Samuel listened with wide eyes but lay till the morning. He was quite afraid to tell Eli about the bad news, because Eli was like a dad to him.

After Samuel had opened the doors, Eli called him and said, “Samuel, my son, what is the message the Lord has given you? Don't you dare hide something from me; otherwise the Lord will punish you.” Then Samuel told Eli everything and he held nothing back. Afterwards Eli said, “He is the Lord, let Him do what seems good to Him.”

Because Samuel was faithful to share the word of the Lord with Eli just like it was, the Lord entrusted more and more messages — both good and bad — to Samuel to tell the people, and ALL of his words came to pass. Samuel grew up and everybody knew that the Lord was with him, and they were very glad that God spoke again to his people in Shiloh.

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“Jake, Jake!” Half asleep, Jake heard somebody calling him and he felt someone shaking his arm. When he opened his eyes, he saw his dad's smiling face right in front of him, “Jake, we are home and you can go and sleep in your own bed now.”

“Dad, Dad! I am so glad! I had a dream and now I know that I am not too young or too little to be used by the Lord!”

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1. Who was the dad of Hophni and Phinehas?
2. Why did God want to punish Eli and his sons?
3. How many times did Samuel go to Eli and tell him, “Here I am”?
4. How many time did the voice of the Lord call Samuel?
5. What did Samuel tell the Lord?
6. Are you too young or too little to be used by God?
7. What do you think you can do for the Lord?


You are never too young to be used by the Lord.


“Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity” (1 Timothy 4:12).


Why do you think God spoke to Samuel and not to Eli? Did Samuel recognize God’s voice at first? Do you believe God wants to speak to you and use you today? Are you willing to not only hear what He has to say but also obey what He wants you to do, or are you afraid of what He might say? How could you recognize God’s voice? How could you know for sure that it’s God Who is speaking to you?

[After discussion:] The Word of God says that, nowadays, God speaks to us through his Son, Jesus Christ, by the Holy Spirit. His voice can come to us in many different ways, such as through Scripture, or in dreams or visions, or by quietly placing thoughts in our hearts, or even with an audible voice. Everything He says will be in harmony with his Word, the Bible. That’s why you must read the Bible daily and ask the Holy Spirit to help you understand what He wants you to do.

Sometimes God’s message or the thing He wants you to do is hard, just as it was hard for Samuel to tell Eli about the judgment of God coming upon them. But if your heart is right and you’re willing to obey his Word, God will speak to you and entrust you with more and more each time. He wants you to be faithful. Remember the parable of the sower? It’s the good, tilled ground that produced a plentiful harvest. Well, it’s the good, faithful, obedient heart that’s fruitful to God.

So when you hear his voice today, don’t harden your heart. Instead, immediately obey Him. You are special in God’s eyes. He called you by your name and you are his. Ask Him now to help you. Also, if you’re not sure if you belong to God, tell Him you want to become his child and give your life to Jesus today.


Dog and boy praying

Heavenly Father,
thank You that You want to speak to me
and that I am not too young
to hear your voice or to be used by You.
Please help me to hear your voice and to obey it,
to honor You and to always do my best for You.
In Jesus' Name. Amen.



           1 Samuel 2:1-26; 3:1-21

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Last updated February 21, 2022

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