“In those days the word of the Lord was rare and prophetic visions were not widespread.” (1 Samuel 3:1b CSB)
This has to be one of the saddest statements in the Bible. It begs the question, “Why?” Why was the word of the Lord rare?
The answer comes from what was going on “in those days.” We see hints at it in earlier chapters and later verses. Essentially, the Tabernacle leadership had taken turns toward evil and slovenliness and had rejected leadership responsibilities. The two sons of Eli violated laws related to the animal sacrifices, devising ways of getting more of them for themselves. They also violated the young women who came to serve at the Tabernacle doors. Eli spoke to them about it but did nothing about it. That is, he took no action, abdicating his leadership responsibility. Further, they made a habit of allowing the Lord’s lamp in the Holy Place to go out nightly, which was a violation of what God wanted, and they were using the Tabernacle essentially as their dwelling place. Samuel slept in the Holy Place, near the Ark of the Covenant. Eli and others were apparently just doing whatever was needed to get by, and their hearts were not really in it. So, they were basically just not listening and not willing to listen. That is because true listening calls for a true response.
Can you as a believer imagine living day to day without hearing some word from the Lord? Some believers do not have a very strong devotional life, so some in fact can imagine this, but in reality, we have a ready word from the Lord every day if we have a Bible. The Bible is the word of the Lord, and we can hear from Him simply by opening it. If we are willing to listen in the true sense, God will speak to our hearts from His word.
Those who are leaders, appointed by God, need to take these verses in 1 Samuel to heart and recognize that God expects excellence from them in their leadership. God will not bless a slovenly leadership. He calls for excellence and commitment, for those who are committed to overcoming pride and fear so that they can focus their service on Him and on the needs of His people.
Lord, We ask You to speak to our hearts today through Your word, and we ask You to help each of us to commit ourselves to excellence in the ways we influence others in Your name. Amen.