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  • Writer's pictureJill Ball

Audible Voice of God

As a child the story of Samuel hearing God's voice in the nighttime, was one of my favourite stories from the bible. I remember my mother reading it to me as she tucked me into bed. I could almost imagine hearing my name called in the night. The voice was so clear to Samuel that he actually thought that it was Eli calling him. I used to tell my own children the story and call out their names, to help them imagine the scene.

Samuel as a boy, hearing the voice of Good calling

The boy Samuel ministered before the LORD under Eli. In those days the word of the LORD was rare; there were not many visions.
One night Eli, whose eyes were becoming so weak that he could barely see, was lying down in his usual place.
The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the house of the LORD, where the ark of God was. Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, “Here I am.”
And he ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.” So he went and lay down.
Again the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” “My son,” Eli said, “I did not call; go back and lie down.”
Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD: The word of the LORD had not yet been revealed to him.
A third time the LORD called, “Samuel!” And Samuel got up and went to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that the LORD was calling the boy.
So Eli told Samuel, “Go and lie down, and if he calls you, say, ‘Speak, LORD, for your servant is listening.’ ” So Samuel went and lay down in his place.
The LORD came and stood there, calling as at the other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” Then Samuel said, “Speak, for your servant is listening.”
1 Samuel 3

I have never heard the audible voice of God like this, but I have heard God speak directly into my heart and mind. It is an internal voice which I just know hasn’t originated in me.

In George Bernard Shaw’s play Saint Joan, during the interrogation scenes there is this exchange:

Joan of Arc: I hear voices telling me what to do. They come from God.
Robert: They come from your imagination.
Joan of Arc: Of course. That is how messages of God come to us.

Naturally hearing voices sounds like madness.

It is important to test if something is divine or not. We need to weigh every prophecy and we can check every word we think is from heaven. It will never contradict the Word of God written in the bible and will never deny that Jesus is Lord.

I had the privilege of teaching a seminar to a small group who had travelled from Iran. Even though they had obviously encountered Jesus, several of them said they had never heard God speaking. They were clearly discounting their own experiences as somehow inferior. I’m not sure what their expectation was.

It is not our place to choose how the Lord speaks to us, but if we listen with open hearts he surely will speak. However, it may not be in an audible voice.

This is the exception in Scripture and in life.

My husband Andy has heard God speaking like to him this once. Here’s his account:

“I was walking to meet someone on campus one day. I had only been a Christian for a few months and was thinking about some Bible reading I’d been doing. I was thinking that I needed to study it more. Perhaps I could even take some time in future to attend a Bible college or similar, I mused.

It was then – suddenly – that this train of thought was punctuated by an internal ‘thump’ of God’s stamp of approval; ‘Yes, go to Bible College’.

It happened silently, internally, while walking alone, but I knew that this sudden confirmation was from the Holy Spirit.

I reached my friend’s residence and told her simply, ‘I think God just spoke to me!’'

If you hear his voice today, don’t harden your heart.

If you haven't heard the Lord speak to you in any of the ways we have been looking at in this series, The Voice of God, don't worry. Just ask him to speak. As Eli advised Samuel, 'Speak Lord, for your servant is listening.'

The facts are that God is not silent, has never been silent. It is the nature of god to speak.
A W Tozer

God loves to speak and I believe is speaking all the time. He never tries to say something to us, but we are not always listening to him.

If anyone has ears to hear, let them hear.

The Lord of sea of sky

This classic hymn of dedication was written by Daniel Schutte when he was studying at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, US. He wrote it for the ordination of a friend in 1981. Sung by the National Youth Choir of Scotland, who seem to be all boys.

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