Lent Day 12: Hearing God’s Voice in the Darkness
1 Samuel 3:10 ESV
And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant hears.”
When it comes to effective communication and giving people information, I have heard that if you want people to really hear an announcement in church, you have to make the announcement five times before everybody hears it and understands it. We are often so distracted or unaware of what is being said it takes five times before we really hear the announcement of new information.
For Samuel this was true, not because he was distracted but because as the previous text in the story reveal, “And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision,” and, “Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.”
At this time in Israel, because of the disobedience of spiritual leadership, the lamp of God had almost gone out.
This story takes place at night when the word of the Lord comes to Samuel. Many of us would prefer things to happen during the day, but the Lord often shows up to reveal himself at night and in darkness. When we are quiet, alone and not distracted by the world. He uses darkness as a covering of His glory, not to harm us, but as means to reveal Himself. We can tell our children, and adults, they do not have to worry about the boogie man at night, because our Lord is with us when we lie down and rise up.
He bowed the heavens and came down; thick darkness was under his feet.
He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him, thick clouds dark with water.
5 My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips, 6 when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night; 7 for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.
These verses remind us of God’s ever-present help, protection and provision, whether it is day or night.
Nighttime and darkness are uncomfortable to us because it often speaks of the unknown. Brueggemann speaks powerfully on the implications of the night. “Night is a time we cannot see. Night is when we cannot control. Night is when children are frightened, because the shadows seem lively. Night is when things are unclear and beyond explanation. Night is when we are terrorized, and so we have bright lights all around the house to fend off the darkness. Night is even when adults are out of control, and we are visited by our haunted past and our feared future, and we dream and have nightmares.”
Our world seems pretty dark right now and it may appear that the word of the Lord is rare, and the lamp of God may be going out. But even in the apparent darkness, it is not dark to the Lord. Because darkness and light are the same to Him.
Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.
Perhaps when it is dark or night, we too can experience the bright light of God’s love. “For it is in such odd moments that we sort out the voices of address, and God works the newness of nurture and vocation, demand, and promise and healing. So, think of this place, as did the boy Samuel, as a place of the nighttime, when new voices utter our name.”
During this season of Lenten reflection, allow yourself to be open to hear the voice of God, even at night.
“Divine thief in the night, you come to us in the darkness to unsettle our expectations and certainties. Open our hearts to bewilderment, that we may be open to your wisdom. Amen.”
Brueggemann, Walter. A Way Other Than Our Own: Devotions for Lent. Kentucky: Westminster John Know Press, 2017.