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The God Who Hears


Do you believe God listens to your prayers? Do you listen for God’s voice? As a young boy, the prophet Samuel heard God calling to him in the middle of the night. This dramatic moment prompted our theme for this month’s study of the book of 1 Samuel: Listening for God’s Call. Although named for the prophet Samuel, this book focuses on David, Israel’s most famous king. For both men, listening to God’s voice would play an important part of directing their path.

Samuel’s mother, Hannah, was one of two wives to Elkanah, an Ephraimite priest from the hill country of Ephraim. Hannah was probably Elkanah’s first wife. Elkanah may have taken Peninnah as a second wife, an accepted practice in those days, to ensure that he would produce an heir. Peninnah’s ability to have children, combined with Elkanah’s obvious preference for Hannah, resulted in a painful rivalry between the two women. Hannah was subjected to daily torment, not only because of her situation but also because of Peninnah’s cruel words. Elkanah’s blundering attempt to offer comfort did not make Hannah feel any better because it was the Lord who had closed her womb (v. 6). Even Eli, the old priest who sat outside the tabernacle in Shiloh, added insult to injury when he mistook Hannah’s agonized prayer for drunken mumbling (v. 14). When Hannah explained her actions, Eli’s harsh criticism changed to blessing.

The only one who had nothing to say in this narrative was God. He was not talking; He was listening (vv. 19–20). Hannah acknowledged this in the name she gave to her son, which may be understood as a pun on a Hebrew phrase meaning “asked of God.”

>> In this account, Hannah speaks to God more than anyone else. He is a God who speaks to His servants. But the first glimpse we have of Him in this book is of the God who hears. Be assured that God hears your prayers, and He is listening.

BY Dr. John Koessler

Dr. John Koessler, who retired as professor emeritus from Moody Bible Institute, formerly served in the division of applied theology and church ministry. John and his wife Jane enjoy living in a lakeside town in Michigan. A prolific writer, John’s books include Dangerous Virtues: How to Follow Jesus When Evil Masquerades as Good (Moody Publishers), The Radical Pursuit of Rest (InterVarsity), The Surprising Grace of Disappointment (Moody), and True Discipleship (Moody). John is a contributing editor and columnist for Today in the Word.

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