The Word of the Lord
return to the main player
Return to the Main Player
return to the main player
Return to the Main Player

The Word of the Lord

1 Samuel 3:1–14  (ID: 3353)

After years of spiritual famine when the word of the Lord was rare and visions infrequent, God broke into the silence through the calling of Samuel. With tender persistence, the Lord called until Samuel recognized His voice. His first assignment? To deliver devastating news to Eli about the coming judgment of the priest’s household. In the same way, Alistair Begg notes, God continues to shine through our own days’ darkness by the light of His Word.

Series Containing This Sermon

A Study in 1 and 2 Samuel, Volume 1

The Life of Samuel 1 Samuel 1:1–7:17 Series ID: 109011

Sermon Transcript: Print

Well, let me encourage you to turn to 1 Samuel chapter 3 and follow along as I read. Here in chapter 3 we have the record of the calling of God to Samuel. First Samuel 3:1:

“Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days; there was no frequent vision.

“At that time Eli, whose eyesight had begun to grow dim so that he could not see, was lying down in his own place. The lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was.

“Then the Lord called Samuel, and he said, ‘Here I am!’ and ran to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call; lie down again.’ So he went and lay down.

“And the Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’ and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did not call, my son; lie down again.’ Now Samuel did not yet know the Lord, and the word of the Lord had not yet been revealed to him.

“And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ Then Eli perceived that the Lord was calling the boy. Therefore Eli said to Samuel, ‘Go, lie down, and if he calls you, you shall say, “Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.”’ So Samuel went and lay down in his place.

“And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’ And Samuel said, ‘Speak, for your servant hears.’ Then the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle. On that day I will fulfill against Eli all that I have spoken concerning his house, from beginning to end. And I declare to him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them. Therefore I swear to the house of Eli that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever.’

“Samuel lay until morning; then he opened the doors of the house of the Lord. And Samuel was afraid to tell the vision to Eli. But Eli called Samuel and said, ‘Samuel, my son.’ And he said, ‘Here I am.’ And Eli said, ‘What was it that he told you? Do not hide it from me. May God do so to you and more also if you hide anything from me of all that he told you.’ So Samuel told him everything and hid nothing from him. And he said, ‘It is the Lord. Let him do what seems good to him.’

“And Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of the Lord. And the Lord appeared again at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.”


This is one of the more familiar chapters in 1 Samuel. Everybody, if they know the book at all, know the chapter that involves David and Goliath, and if we only know perhaps one other chapter, then it probably is this third chapter, which recounts for us the calling of Samuel. Certainly for myself, growing up as I did within the framework of the church, I remember us singing what I think was a children’s hymn that began, “Hushed was the evening hymn, the temple courts were dark.”[1] And that was the intro into a hymn that recounted the events which are before us here in 1 Samuel 3.

Now, in short order, what we have in this chapter is the prophetic ministry of the word of God being restored to Israel at this time through the life and, in turn, through the lips of this man Samuel, whose progress we have been now following since birth. When you come to a chapter like this, and you are studying it, perhaps, on your own, and you are looking to find your way through it, one of the things to do is to see if it is framed in any way. And this particular chapter allows us to say, “Yes it is,” because you will notice that in verse 1, the emphasis is on the word of the Lord, and when you get to verse 21, it finishes with the emphasis in the exact same place: on the word of the Lord. And so, what we’re going to discover today—this morning and then, in turn, this evening—what that really means, why it mattered at the time, and why the restoration and the hearing of the word of God always matters.

Now, it is a while since Hannah has dropped Samuel off and left him. She’s been coming back and forth on an annual basis, as we saw last time. We also acknowledged last time that it is quite difficult, it is virtually impossible, for us to say with any accuracy or authority just where we are in the age of Samuel at each point in the story. What we do know is that he has been growing, that he’s grown quite a bit, and that as he has grown, we have seen the evidence of it. So, for example, in 2:21, he was growing “in the presence of the Lord.” Down in verse 26, he is in 26 continuing to grow. Now, what we don’t know is how much time is elapsed between verse 21 and verse 26. It’s not a matter of great import, except it’s good for us just to acknowledge the fact that progress is being made. The really significant thing that we’re told in light of all his ministrations and his progress and his stature and his favor is what we will come to in a bit, and that is in verse 7, where quite amazingly we’re told that “Samuel did not yet know the Lord.” Now, we will come to that, but only in a moment or two.


Now, first of all, let us consider verses 1–3 under the heading of one word: simply “Silence.” “Silence.” “The boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord in the presence of Eli. And the word of the Lord was rare in those days.” What had just happened, as we looked at it last time in the second half of chapter 2, was an unusual occurrence. Those of you who were present in the evening as we studied that were struck by the fact that God raised up a certain man who spoke the word of the Lord. That’s verse 27 and following.

And chapter 3 begins by reminding us that that kind of event—certainly when it was accompanied by a vision of God that would give rise often to the word of God—that that is actually unusual, reminding us of what we’ve seen from the beginning, and that is that the chaos at the end of Judges, where everybody did what was right in their own eyes,[2] where there was an absence of effective leadership, was in itself an expression of the spiritual darkness at that time among the people of God. It was a darkness that was almost a palpable darkness. And that darkness was directly related to the fact that the word of God was increasingly silent.

Throughout the history of God’s people, and sometimes in an expression of judgment… For example, in the book of Amos, you have the description of the people of God roaming, as it were, back and forth, east to west and north to south, on account of not a physical famine in search of physical food but on account of a spiritual famine and in search of spiritual food,[3] so that they realize, “We have not been hearing from God. The word of God is becoming increasingly rare.”

Now, I don’t want to camp on this, but there is a sense in which almost in every generation the people of God will be forced to identify this as a recurring feature. I don’t say this in any spirit of judgment, but as I travel around the country and beyond the country, I’m often struck, in going to places of worship, at the absence of the public reading of Scripture—of the Bible actually being present: being physically present, being visibly present, and being audibly proclaimed. I’m not saying that there isn’t a service. I’m not saying that there aren’t talks about God. I’m just making a comment regarding the actual sense of the Word of God. Often the way it is read, if it is read, is fairly casual. Often it’s just shot up on screens, whereby people are increasingly divorced from the sense of having their own Bible.

Because, loved ones, it is a peculiar privilege to have a Bible. It is not so long since at the height of the Soviet Empire, Bibles were removed and burned and had to be smuggled into places, and where to get a portion of the Scriptures meant a tremendous amount to many of our brothers and our sisters. It is an honor and a privilege. It’s only really in the last four hundred years or so that a minister has ever been able to say to the congregation, “Please take your Bible and turn to…” Because prior to the printing press, nobody had a Bible to turn to. In the eighteenth century, when Newton was addressing his congregation one morning, I think this must just have struck him, and he said to them, “I [count] it my honour and happiness that I preach to a free people, who have the Bible in their hands.”[4]

Alec Motyer, whom I love to quote, on one occasion, writing in a commentary not on 1 Samuel, asks these questions: he says, “Have we got a Bible … in our hands? Let us prize it, read it and commit [the] precious truths to heart and mind. It is not an inalienable possession; it may not be ours forever.” And then he says,

Is the Bible still preached in our church? Let us love to hear the Word of God; let us be urgent to bring others [in] earshot of it. It is not our guaranteed privilege; the voice of the preacher could be silenced. [And] the truth of God is our only [defense] against error.[5]

One of my good friends, my big brother Sinclair Ferguson, and I are from time to time involved in a kind of panel Q and A. And on a number of occasions when that has occurred, the question has been raised, you know, “So, tell me about your church. How many people come to your church? What is the strength of your church?” And almost inevitably, Sinclair says, “The test of the church, in terms of its hunger for the Word of God, is in the evening service. It is in the evening service.” Which, of course, nobody likes to hear, because many people have disbanded any thought of an evening service, starting with the minister, and often because the minister’s ego is unable to handle the fact that he doesn’t like to preach to smaller crowds. How many of such men would be preaching today in places around our world where the only crowds to which we might ever preach are inevitably small crowds? But it is a test, isn’t it? One of the indications of the hunger of North America for the Word of God is to be conveyed in the darkness of church buildings after four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon, the emptiness of the car parks. The same people who are prepared to say, “Speak, O Lord, and plant your truth deep in my heart,”[6] apparently don’t want to get too serious about it.

One of the challenges that all of us face living in the twenty-first century is the challenge of believing that because we’ve been privileged to live at this point in history, we must really know how it goes, we must really understand how things should be, and the way we’ve now buttoned them down is presumably the way everybody who lived a hundred or two hundred years before us would also have buttoned them down if they’d only had us, the bright people, around to be able to tell them how the thing really works. It’s a dreadful arrogance, isn’t it? It’s terrible. And so that’s the great benefit of history. And that’s why history is so important.

One of the indications of the hunger of North America for the Word of God is to be conveyed in the darkness of church buildings after four o’clock on a Sunday afternoon.

So, for example, you read of the church in Geneva in the sixteenth century, and the Genevan church extended its reach and gave its guidelines for the clergy of the day. And those guidelines went in part like this:

Each Sunday, there is to be a sermon at St. [Pierre] and [then at] St. Gervais at [the] break of day, and at the usual hour [at 9 a.m.] ….

At midday, there is to be catechism, that is, instruction of little children in all [of the churches].

At three o’clock [there is the] second sermon ….

Besides …, on working days there will be a sermon at St. [Pierre] three times a week, on Monday, [Wednesday] and Friday.[7]

So you wonder at the impact of the Reformation church. What they were doing was on account of six sermons a week. What some of us are trying to do was on account of one sermon a week. There might be just a direct correlation between the impact, separated by four hundred years. You say, “Well, this is not very nice of you to say.” Why not? Why not?

Where are the young people on a Sunday morning, scattered throughout North America? Forget about Sunday evening. Having never been raised within the framework of the instruction of God’s Word, it is no surprise that as soon as freedom abounds, there is nothing within them that would draw them to that place.

Now, if you think about this, and you think about a famine of the Word of God, and you project yourself a few years forward, just a couple of decades, and you go back and you visit western Europe, and you say to yourself, “Why are all those places so empty in western Europe?” I think the answer is just this: hold on, because you’re about to find out. Because the same decline, the same disinterest, the same superficial sense of going through the motions, absent the reality of laying hold upon the great and precious promises of God’s Word, accompanied those in that context.

Now, all of that simply to say that the silence is a virtually deafening silence. And the word of God “was rare in those days,” and “there was no frequent vision.” It’s a dreadful time when that’s the case. That’s why the Reformation, the cry of the Reformation or the description of the Reformation, is what? “Post tenebras lux,” is “after darkness, light”—that the darkness of the Middle Ages was a darkness that was directly related to the absence of the Word of God. Incidentally, you will notice in that Genevan expression, it doesn’t say that services are to be heard. It says that sermons are to be preached. There are no absence of services, people going through motions of religious ritual. It is the rarity of the word of God, the prophetic word of God that says, “This is what God says, and because it’s what God says, it’s vital that people hear it.”

Now, it is in that context of silence that we read verse 2. You say, “Goodness, verse 2! After all that time, verse 2!” Yes, we will not get very far, so relax. Don’t get upset. “At that time…” At what time? Well, at the big time of the rarity of the word and the absence of frequent vision, but at the specific time of this evening hour, “Eli, whose eyesight” is failing—we’re going to discover in chapter 4 that he’s also increasingly heavy—and his eyes have “begun to grow dim so that he could not see.” And he “was lying down in his own place.”

I don’t know if you’ve conjured up an Eli in your mind. What does he look like? If we all had to draw an Eli, you know, we see who we think or what we think he looks like. But anyway, he’s “lying down in his own place,” and his “eyesight had begun to grow dim.” So we’re getting this picture of the aging man—and there’s something of a metaphor there, isn’t there, that his “eyesight had begun to grow dim”? This is a physical statement. We’ve also become aware of the fact that his spiritual eyesight is increasingly dim. I mean, he thought that Hannah was a drunk, he can’t see what’s going on with his own boys, and we’re about to discover more evidences of his lack of perception.

“The lamp of God had not yet gone out.” The lamp of God you can read about in the earlier parts of your Bible. In Exodus, I think around chapter 27 or so, the very express and specific instructions are given about the lighting of the lamp, where it is to be, how it is to be tended, and the privileges of being there to make sure it is burning, and then realizing when it is to be extinguished.[8] And so this lamp had not yet gone out. That gives us, then, a time reference, because it burned until the morning hours; it burned virtually until dawn. And so we know then that what is taking place here is in, if you like, the watches of the night. “The middle watches of the night,” perhaps, in Shakespearean terms.

And the physical picture that you have is of Eli, who’s in his own bed, “lying … in his own place.” You would expect that to be the case. And yet Samuel now, we’re told, is “lying down in the temple of the Lord.” I think it’s striking, isn’t it? Because we would be tempted to say that Eli, since he is the priest of God, would be lying down in the temple of the Lord, at the tent of meeting, in the context of the ark of God, which contained the tablets of the commands and an expression of God’s covenant, that you would expect that would be the priest, and he would say, “Now Eli, you go over there; you’ve got a place for yourself over there.” But it’s actually reversed. Eli is now somewhat distanced, at least visibly, from this, and Samuel is “lying down … where the ark of God was.”

Well, I think there’s a metaphor in that lamp as well, isn’t there? Be very, very careful about suggesting that this is why it says what it says. When it says “The lamp of God had not yet gone out,” it’s talking about the physical lamp that had not yet gone out, okay? That’s what it means. It doesn’t mean something other than that. But given what we know, we recognize that it is virtually a metaphor for the fact that in the darkness, in the spiritual darkness, in the absence of the word, it is actually true as well that the lamp has not yet gone out. And that’s the significance of little Samuel. Here is the light in the darkness—a failing, distanced Eli in sharp contrast to the emerging Samuel. So the lamp is still burning, the tent is still standing, and as the poets tell us, the darkest hour is just before dawn. For me, that’s the Mamas and the Papas, if you’re interested: “Each night before you go to bed, my baby,” ’cause “the darkest hour is just before dawn.”[9] Well, that’s exactly what we find here.

The Silence Is Broken

So, verses 1–3, silence. Verses 4 essentially to 14, the silence is broken. The silence is broken. And it’s broken by God calling out to Samuel. And Samuel quite understandably assumes that it must be Eli who’s calling him. And you will notice that he gets up and he runs to Eli. So you have this picture of Samuel being just a really good young fellow. Up and out of his bed: “If Eli’s calling, I’m listening. And I’m going to run over there; I’m not going to trudge over there.” And so he arrives, and he says, “Here I am, for you called me,” only to discover that Eli did not call him. And so he directs him, “I did not call; lie down again,” and “so he went and lay down.” Verse 6: “And the Lord called again, ‘Samuel!’ and Samuel arose and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’ But he said, ‘I did[n’t] call, my son; lie down again.’”

Now, let’s just pause and notice something here. Some of you are teachers. I had teachers—good ones. I was gonna say “bad ones and ugly ones,” but that wouldn’t be fair. But I had teachers. We’ve all had teachers. I was not very good at many subjects, number one being mathematics. And I didn’t need a teacher who said to me, “Look, if you don’t get it the first time, you’re on your own.” I needed a teacher who realized, “Begg, I’m gonna have to say this to you again and again and again until you get it.”

Now, notice the gracious dealing of God in speaking out his word to his servant who doesn’t get it—in fact, to two of his servants who don’t get it. Remember, Jesus says to his followers, “I have things still to tell you, but you’re not ready yet to understand.”[10] And in the quadruple call of God here we have, at least in passing, a reminder to us of his tenderness and his kindness—of the way in which, if you like, he stoops down to the situation.

And in verse 7, the writer gives us something of an explanation. How do we account for the disconnect? If this little fellow Samuel is consecrated to the Lord, if he is a Nazirite for his life, if he is growing in favor and growing in stature, if he’s doing such a good job, why doesn’t he, as soon as the Lord’s voice sounds out, why doesn’t he just get up out of his bed and says, “Yes, Lord, here I am!” Answer: “Samuel did[n’t] yet know the Lord.” Well, what does that mean? Isn’t that what we just saw about the sons of Eli? Verse 12 of chapter 2: “Now the sons of Eli were worthless men. They did not know the Lord.”

Well, this is a reminder to us again about the way in which we study the Bible. The context of a statement determines the way in which a statement, an expression, an explanation, is to be understood. And if you’re not careful, you will notice that the two statements are actually not identical. In 2:12 it says that the sons of Eli “did not know the Lord.” Here in chapter 3, of Samuel it says he “did not yet know the Lord.” The reason that Hophni and Phinehas did not know the Lord was because they didn’t want to know the Lord. That’s the reason that some of you don’t know the Lord: because you don’t want to. If you wanted to, you would know him.

No, you see, you cannot defy God and know God simultaneously. You cannot turn your back on the place where God meets with you—namely, his cross—and still meet with God. Because he keeps all of his appointments at the same place. So the reason that the “worthless” sons did not know the Lord was different from the context of Samuel. In Samuel’s case, we’re actually told that the reason he didn’t know the Lord was because God’s word “had not yet been revealed to him.” He was involved, he was ministering, he was engaged, but there was a personal dimension that had not yet been his experience.

And what is so wonderful about this is that God takes the initiative—that not only does he take the initiative, but that he’s gracious enough to persist by issuing the call repetitively. Some of us would be here this morning, and in a different dimension, but applicable, we would say, “You know, I went and listened to that many times,” or “I read More Than a Carpenter twice and could make nothing of it.” “Somebody told me I should read C. S. Lewis, and I read C. S. Lewis, and it meant nothing to me at all. And then one day,

“I heard the voice of Jesus say,
‘Come unto me and rest;
Lay down, O weary one, lay down
Your head upon my breast.’
And I came to Jesus as I was:
I was weary, I was worn, I was sad;
I found in him a resting place,
And he has made me glad.[11]

“But up until that point, no, I didn’t know.” Isn’t that what we have here?

And so the Lord called a third time. We’re now in verse 8, making steady progress: “And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli and said, ‘Here I am, for you called me.’”

Now, I have to confess, I find a significant measure of humor in this now, by this point, in reading this. When I’d been reading it out loud for myself, just in my study—’cause I like to read it out loud and get the sense of it—but you will notice, every time Samuel informs Eli—to say, “I am here”—he doesn’t say, “I’m here, and somebody’s shouting in here, and I don’t know who it is.” No. Every time, he comes and he says, “I am here, for you called me.” That’s funny! ’Cause Eli says, “No, I didn’t call you; go and lie down.” Off he goes and lies down.

Now, again, we don’t know, was there five minutes? Did he fall asleep again before the second one? And did he get wakened again? Or did he only have to wait a couple minutes, and then the voi—I don’t know! But if it had any protracted period to it at all, you’ve got to imagine that he dozes off, gets wakened up again, goes back, and goes through the same whole program. And old Eli, his eyesight is dim for sure. But now what do we discover? “Then,” all of a sudden, “Eli perceived…” He “perceived.” It’s a good verb, isn’t it? Because, you see, what he was lacking in was spiritual perception. We all are. By nature we are blind. When there is perception, it is an indication of the work of God. “Open my eyes, that I may behold [wonderful] things out of your law.”[12] “Until you open my eyes, I can read them and I don’t behold hardly anything at all!”

Eli’s going about the business, the ministrations of the temple, in increasing darkness, in increasing uselessness. Why would he think on the first instance that it was the Lord who was speaking? Well, he’s a priest, for goodness’ sake! Yes. But what do we know in verse 1? “The word of the Lord was rare.” Therefore, his immediate response would not be “Oh, this must be the word of the Lord.” Because there wasn’t a lot of the word of the Lord. And if he’d had an inkling in it that it was the word of the Lord, then it would have caused him to say, “Well, wait a minute. If it’s the word of the Lord and I’m the priest of the Lord, surely the Lord would be speaking to me so that I could tell Samuel, rather than speaking to Samuel so that he could come and speak to me.”

By nature we are blind. When there is perception, it is an indication of the work of God.

There’s another sidebar in that: when old ministers and old pastors are wary lest the boys among them are gonna hear what they don’t hear and see what they don’t see and are called to preach in a way that the old boys no longer have a platform. J. C. Ryle has a wonderful section in that in volume 7 of his Works of J. C. Ryle by Banner of Truth, where he says, “Don’t worry about it when the old ministers die.” He says, “God has got much better ones that are coming behind.” And that is certainly true here, isn’t it? Eli was over there lying in his own place, and Samuel was ready.

So there we have it. He says, “Now I get it. Now I want you to go back and lie down again. And if he calls you, you shall say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” “So Samuel went and lay down in his place.” The coming and going is terrific. And then look at verse 10. The audible is now accompanied by the visible. The vision was infrequent, the word was rare; now we have both, if you like, vision and word combined: “And the Lord came and stood, calling as at other times, ‘Samuel! Samuel!’”

I don’t suggest you spend a lot of time speculating about the mechanism—about how it was that there was this appearance, who it was, what it means for a theophany, and so on. It’s the kind of thing that will get you off track in the average home Bible study group. What is the point here? The point is that now Samuel is addressed. Notice, he’s addressed in a twofold way. This is not unusual in the Bible. “Abraham, Abraham!”[13]—which is before he is to take his boy and sacrifice him. “Jacob, Jacob.”[14] “Moses, Moses!”[15] “Samuel! Samuel!” You see, this is crucial. This is pivotal in this chapter—and we’re going to stop here. But this is pivotal in this chapter. Because now what is happening in this instance is that the role of the prophet is being assigned to Samuel—that God has now reached down into the life of this young fellow, and he is setting him in the place of his appointing. It’s going to be radical for him. It is gonna have implications beyond anything that he could ever imagine.

And he is immediately aware of this, because when he replies—and he misses out a word in his reply, because remember, Eli said, “You’re supposed to say, ‘Speak, Lord, for your servant hears.’” Apparently, he misses out the “Lord,” and he just goes straight to it: “Speak, for your servant hears.” You can see that.

And “the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Behold, I am about to do a thing in Israel at which the two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle.’” This is not a unique phrase, incidentally. You’ll find this phrase at least a couple more times where the word of God comes in a way that is going to be quite devastating. I find it an interesting phrase; I hope you do too. “At which two ears of everyone who hears it will tingle,” as opposed to, like, “one ear of everyone,” you know. It’s a two-ear tingler, not a one-ear tingler. Or why it says “the two ears of everyone.” It’s like, we’ve got a lot of people here that only got one ear, or what’s going on? Why does it not simply say, you know, “And the ears of everyone will tingle?”

“Well,” you say, “now you’re doing what you told us not to do. Because you told us that the main things are the plain things, and now you’re off on the ears of people, and that’s not good.” No. So what is the point? The point is that what is about to come out of the mouth of God to be put in the ears and the heart of this boy Samuel is a nerve-jangling, heart-stopping, radical, back-on-your-heels encounter with the living God which he in turn is going to have to deliver to his boss, who’s called Eli, who is the priest of God, and he is facing the judgment of God. “Now, Samuel, welcome to the ranks of the prophets! Let’s get up and get on.”

No wonder, verse 15: “And Samuel had a long lie.” Samuel lay in his bed in the morning. “But he’s been up and down all night! Of course he should be lying in his bed in the morning. The poor fellow’s tired!” Yeah. But you know that when you don’t want to get up, and it’s not because you’re lazy; it’s because when you get up, you know you’ve got to do, or you know you’ve got to say. And what you’ve got to do or what you’ve got to say is so devastating in its impact that you try and squeeze as much time in your bed as you possibly can.

We’re gonna have to leave Samuel lying in his bed, at least until this evening.

So, let us pray:

God our Father, thank you that you are the God who speaks—that into the darkness, into the famine, you deliver your word; that on the days when it would appear that hope is gone, that your voice is no longer to be heard, you shine out in the light of your Word and in the service of your prophets. So we thank you that the word that is spoken by him, which will prove to be a word of judgment, is nevertheless a word of hope, a reminder that there is one who is going to come who is going to fulfill all that it means to be a Prophet in speaking the word of God to us; he’s going to fulfill all that it means to be the Priest of God in sacrificing his very self on our behalf; who will be the King who out-kings all the kings so that he might rule and reign and subdue our rebellions. Thank you that this hope does not make us ashamed and is part of our birthright as a result of the fact that your Word, in the person of your Son, has come to us and changed us. And in his name we pray. Amen.

[1] James D. Burns, “Hushed Was the Evening Hymn” (1857).

[2] See Judges 21:25.

[3] See Amos 8:11–12.

[4] John Newton, “Of a Living and a Dead Faith,” in The Works of John Newton (1820; repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1985), 2:558.

[5] J. A. Motyer, The Message of Amos: The Day of the Lion, The Bible Speaks Today (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 1984), 187.

[6] Stuart Townend and Keith Getty, “Speak, O Lord” (2005). Lyrics lightly altered.

[7] John Calvin, “Draft Ecclesiastical Ordinances: September and October 1541,” in Calvin: Theological Treatises, ed. and trans. J. K. S. Reid, Library of Christian Classics 22 (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1954), 62.

[8] See Exodus 27:20–21.

[9] Lowman Pauling and Ralph Bass, “Dedicated to the One I Love” (1967).

[10] John 16:12 (paraphrased).

[11] Horatius Bonar, “I Heard the Voice of Jesus Say” (1846). Lyrics lightly altered.

[12] Psalm 119:18 (ESV).

[13] Genesis 22:11 (ESV).

[14] Genesis 46:2 (ESV).

[15] Exodus 3:4 (ESV).

Copyright © 2024, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Alistair Begg
Alistair Begg is Senior Pastor at Parkside Church in Cleveland, Ohio, and the Bible teacher on Truth For Life, which is heard on the radio and online around the world.