God heard and “remembered” (marked) Hannah’s request. When He gave her the desires of her heart (placed there by Him), she marked Samuel with God’s very name (shama – to hear with great attention, el – God) Whenever his name was spoken it would be a constant reminder that Hannah had asked of the Lord and He heard and had given her a son – and she gave him back to serve God in the temple. As a youngster, his first interaction with hearing God was to tell Him, “Speak, Lord, Your servant heareth” ( “shama”) As an older prophet, he asked of the Lord for discernment and words to give to His people; God asked of him to listen and be His messenger and voice to the people.
It is interesting to me to see the interplay of shama (hearing with attention, and intention to respond/obey) in the life of Samuel. He lived during a time when the “word of the Lord was rare”. Was it because there were no “hearers” or listeners of the Word? No do-ers? No seekers?
“He that has ears, let him hear” is an oft-repeated plea or warning of Jesus. Maybe even more of an invitation. I can tell when my kids “hear” me with an intention to obey. When they listen, really listen, they follow through. I also can tell when others are truly with me in spirit and heart and “hear” beyond my words. They hear my heart. They follow through with further questions, seeking further of me. And even make it a point of prayer or follow up with a question the next time we’re together. I’ve been heard.
Then there are times others may be listening to be polite but are just waiting their turn to speak their thoughts. They don’t get much from what I say. In fact, I may not offer much at all without an invitation to share. I may choose what I say to some knowing their ears may be stopped to deeper things I’d like to say. Maybe they have a filter or are jaded and I know I cannot share things that will be taken wrongly and not “heard”. If I drop a clue or thought and they don’t pick it up, I don’t continue. So I’ll listen, for listening is a great gift. It says “You’re worth hearing, worth the investment of my time, my heart.” I have found that there are a few listeners, but most people have difficulty listening “with intention.”
Maybe that is why the word of the Lord was rare. People didn’t value what He spoke, didn’t follow, or seek further. Why should He speak more? It certainly wasn’t/isn’t because He has nothing to say! Jesus shared many principles publicly and many were satisfied with that. But others would seek further and ask on a more personal level “what was the point of that parable?” They knew there was so much more than a nice story. They wanted more of Him. They valued Him and to those He would share more. They had ears to hear.
Lord, may I never be content to just read Your word for the content and knowledge. May I always have “ears to hear” so that You can communicate the deeper things, secrets You long to share with me, knowing I value You, I will follow them, I love You enough to seek further. I don’t want Your word to me to be “rare”, but flowing forth freely to me and through me. I long to know the heart behind Your words and for Your Word to be made flesh within my flesh.