Sermon for 01.14.24 “Speak, for your servant hears.”

01.14.24 Epiphany 2
Text: 1 Samuel 3:1–20
Theme: “Speak, for your servant hears.”

Other Lessons: Psalm 139:1–10; 1 Corinthians 6:12–20; John 1:43–51
(A) In the Name of the Father…Amen.
(B) The Old Testament lesson serves as our sermon text for this morning.
(C) Grace, mercy, and peace be yours from God our heavenly Father through
our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen.
(D) Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, let us pray:
LSB 589:1-2 Speak, O Lord, Your Servant Listens
Speak, O Lord, Your servant listens,
Let Your Word to me come near;
Newborn life and spirit give me,
Let each promise still my fear.
Death’s dread pow’r, its inward strife,
Wars against Your Word of life;
Fill me, Lord, with love’s strong fervor
That I cling to You forever!

Oh, what blessing to be near You
And to listen to Your voice;
Let me ever love and hear You,
Let Your Word be now my choice!
Many hardened sinners, Lord,
Flee in terror at Your Word;
But to all who feel sin’s burden
You give words of peace and pardon. Amen.


(A) The times were very dark.
(1) External enemies threatened the people of God.
(2) Worse yet, there were internal struggles as well.
(3) The sons of their divinely-appointed judge, Eli, were without the
character to succeed their father.
(4) But in the tabernacle, under the care of Eli, there was a youth,
perhaps twelve years old, whose name was Samuel.
(5) In the past, the Lord had spoken to Israel through the prophets, but
now He seemed to have gone silent.
(B) One night, however, as Samuel and the world slept, that was going to
(1) The Lord of Israel had formed that nation for the purpose of bringing
His salvation to all of fallen humanity, and Samuel was to be the Lord’s
next spokesman.
(2) Before he could speak, though, Samuel needed to learn and to say,
“Speak, for Your Servant Hears.”
(I) Lord, teach me who You are.
(A) There are no true atheists.
(1) Everyone has a god to whom they turn to in trouble and need.
(2) Every culture has a religion, because humanity seeks to understand a
God that they know must exist.
(3) That god might be anything the fallen mind of man wants—power, money,
(B) But the true God is known only in His revelation of Himself.
(1) Ancient Israel had come to depend on the Word of the Lord through
prophets and visions.
(2) That Word had become so rare, so it was no wonder that Samuel did not
recognize the voice of the Lord and three times mistook his voice for Eli’s
1 Samuel 3:2-8 (NASB95)
2 It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his
eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well),
3 and 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,
4 that the LORD called Samuel; and he said, “Here I am.”
5 Then he 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.
6 The LORD called yet again, “Samuel!” So Samuel arose and went to Eli and
said, “Here I am, for you called me.” But he answered, “I did not call, my
son, lie down again.”
7 Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor had the word of the LORD yet
been revealed to him.
8 So the LORD called Samuel again for the third time. And he arose and went
to Eli and said, “Here I am, for you called me.” Then Eli discerned that
the LORD was calling the boy.
(3) The reason for all this?:
1 Samuel 3:7 (NASB95)
Now Samuel did not yet know the LORD, nor had the word of the LORD yet been
revealed to him.
(C) The greatest need of all people in every age is to know the Lord.
(1) Samuel was not alone in his need to learn who God is.
a) So many of the people of Israel had forgotten the Lord who had given
them the land they were in.
(2) The same can be said of the times in which we live.
a) They are very dark when it comes to knowing the Lord.
1) Any indication of our Western societies reflecting Christianity or its
values are all but gone.
2) The Church is:
1- Openly mocked,
2- lampooned in the media;
3- basic tenets of the sanctity of human life and male and female
identities are officially rejected in legislatures and courts.
3) We are persecuted subtly but has become more and more open.
4) We may wonder if God is near to hear us.
(3) This is always true:
a) No person can find their true purpose until he or she knows their
1) Not only knows about Him, but of Him as well.
(II) Lord, teach me how You speak.
(A) Samuel became a great prophet of Israel.
(1) The silence of prophetic revelations (verse 1) was about to end as the
Lord revealed himself to Samuel.
1 Samuel 3:21 (NASB95)
And the LORD appeared again at Shiloh, because the LORD revealed Himself to
Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the LORD.
(2) The day would come when the Lord would speak to Israel through Samuel,
by whose word Israel would return from idols to the true God
1 Samuel 7:3–12 (NASB95)
3 Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to
the LORD with all your heart, remove the foreign gods and the Ashtaroth
from among you and direct your hearts to the LORD and serve Him alone; and
He will deliver you from the hand of the Philistines.”
4 So the sons of Israel removed the Baals and the Ashtaroth and served the
LORD alone.
5 Then Samuel said, “Gather all Israel to Mizpah and I will pray to the
LORD for you.”
6 They gathered to Mizpah, and drew water and poured it out before the
LORD, and fasted on that day and said there, “We have sinned against the
LORD.” And Samuel judged the sons of Israel at Mizpah.
7 Now when the Philistines heard that the sons of Israel had gathered to
Mizpah, the lords of the Philistines went up against Israel. And when the
sons of Israel heard it, they were afraid of the Philistines.
8 Then the sons of Israel said to Samuel, “Do not cease to cry to the LORD
our God for us, that He may save us from the hand of the Philistines.”
9 Samuel took a suckling lamb and offered it for a whole burnt offering to
the LORD; and Samuel cried to the LORD for Israel and the LORD answered
10 Now Samuel was offering up the burnt offering, and the Philistines drew
near to battle against Israel. But the LORD thundered with a great thunder
on that day against the Philistines and confused them, so that they were
routed before Israel.
11 The men of Israel went out of Mizpah and pursued the Philistines, and
struck them down as far as below Beth-car.
12 Then Samuel took a stone and set it between Mizpah and Shen, and named
it Ebenezer, saying, “Thus far the LORD has helped us.”
(3) But still they would not listen to the Lord.
(A) You would think that after everything they had been through, they would
finally return to the Lord and trust Him!
(B) But they refused to be ruled by God and His Word and demanded a human
king rather than the divine King and His Word.
1 Samuel 8:4–9 (NASB95)
4 Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at
5 and they said to him, “Behold, you have grown old, and your sons do not
walk in your ways. Now appoint a king for us to judge us like all the
6 But the thing was displeasing in the sight of Samuel when they said,
“Give us a king to judge us.” And Samuel prayed to the LORD.
7 The LORD said to Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in regard to
all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have
rejected Me from being king over them.
8 “Like all the deeds which they have done since the day that I brought
them up from Egypt even to this day—in that they have forsaken Me and
served other gods—so they are doing to you also.
9 “Now then, listen to their voice; however, you shall solemnly warn them
and tell them of the procedure of the king who will reign over them.”
(C) That demand of a king would ultimately bring disaster on the king and
his people.
1 Samuel 31:1–7 (NASB95)
1 Now the Philistines were fighting against Israel, and the men of Israel
fled from before the Philistines and fell slain on Mount Gilboa.
2 The Philistines overtook Saul and his sons; and the Philistines killed
Jonathan and Abinadab and Malchi-shua the sons of Saul.
3 The battle went heavily against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was
badly wounded by the archers.
4 Then Saul said to his armor bearer, “Draw your sword and pierce me
through with it, otherwise these uncircumcised will come and pierce me
through and make sport of me.” But his armor bearer would not, for he was
greatly afraid. So Saul took his sword and fell on it.
5 When his armor bearer saw that Saul was dead, he also fell on his sword
and died with him.
6 Thus Saul died with his three sons, his armor bearer, and all his men on
that day together.
7 When the men of Israel who were on the other side of the valley, with
those who were beyond the Jordan, saw that the men of Israel had fled and
that Saul and his sons were dead, they abandoned the cities and fled; then
the Philistines came and lived in them.
(B) To know the voice of God, we must go where it is He speaks.
(1) Consider the opening words from the book of Hebrews:
Hebrews 1:1–2 (NASB95)
1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many
portions and in many ways,
2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of
all things, through whom also He made the world.
(2) In our day there are many false prophets who claim to speak for God.
(3) But to learn what His voice sounds like, we must go to where we can
hear Him, and not someone else, speaking.
(A) Holy Scripture, the very Word of God, the very voice of God, is where
we learn to recognize His voice.
(B) We read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest that precious voice of the
(4) Yet the Lord has not left us without a human voice to speak on his
authority and in his name.
(A) That is how we hear the absolution spoken—by the pastor.
(III) Lord, teach me what to say.
(A) All the prophets bore witness to the same message.
(1) From the promise given at the fall in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15)
through John the Baptist, every word and every act of God in the life of
Israel prepared the way for the Messiah.
(2) When that One promised long ago was born, He came to be the final
Sacrifice for all of mankind.
(A) The world needs this message of salvation and hope, and that message is
found only in the Christ.
(B) He alone brings salvation by:
1) bearing all sin,
2) shedding holy, innocent blood to cleanse us,
3) entering our tomb,
4) and then breaking forth on Easter with the glorious message, “Christ is
(3) This is the message for which Samuel and all the prophets longed for
and which has been so richly poured out on you and me.
(A) In your Baptism, your own resurrection of the body is guaranteed.
(B) In the blessed Sacrament of the Altar, you receive the food of
immortality, Christ’s very body and blood.
(C) In the eternal words of the Holy Absolution, you hear the very voice of
1) “Your sins are forgiven.”
(B) All of God’s redeemed are sent to speak with His own words.
(1) You are redeemed by Jesus Christ, the Holy One promised by the Word of
God through his chosen prophets.
(A) You and I do not look forward to a promised One who is yet to come, as
did the ancient people of God.
(B) We look back to the historic life, death, and resurrection of Jesus for
us and for all the world.
(2) This truth of who Jesus is and what He has done is what we are taught
to speak—no matter what our vocation might be.
(A) Some are called to the vocation of pastor and preacher.
(B) But all are called to witness wherever God puts you:
1) Where you shop.
2) Where you work.
3) Where you live.
(C) You speak what you have heard the Lord say through His prophets,
apostles, and pastors:
1) “Jesus Christ is the Savior of the world.”
2) Oh come, let us adore and worship Him!

(A) Augustine once said long ago:
(1) “Where did I find you, God, so that I might learn to know you?
(2) You were not in my memory before I learned to know you.
(3) Where then have I found you, if not in yourself and above me?” (St.
Augustine, Confessions).
(B) Samuel had the very unusual experience of having the Lord come and
stand before him and speak to him face to face, God’s voice to Samuel’s ear
(1 Sam 3:10).
(1) But for most of us, even for the great St. Augustine, the very same
voice comes to us in a different but just as powerful way.
(2) Augustine found the answer to his question, “Where is God?” not within
himself or in humanity but in the Scriptures that God had given to him and
to all of humanity.
(3) There he learned who his Lord is, how his Lord speaks, and how he is to
(4) So life-changing was this for Augustine that he became one of the
greatest theologians of the Church and founded an order of monks.
(5) Centuries later, that same order trained and produced none other than
Martin Luther.
(C) A story every Lutheran knows is that of Martin Luther’s search to know
(1) Luther had his own “epiphany” of sorts.
(2) All that came about only after nearly being killed by lightning, vowing
to become a monk, and then becoming a student of Holy Scripture.
(3) It was there in the Word, and only in the Word, that Luther would learn
who the Lord is, how He speaks, and how we are to speak for Him.
(4) Luther had entered a quest for an answer as to how a sinful human being
could ever stand before a holy and righteous God.
(5) That search was finally fulfilled when he read,
Galatians 3:11 (NASB95)
11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE
(6) Everything else then made sense, and every other thought, action, deed,
and speech would be shaped by that great truth—of Scripture.
(D) The words of young Samuel, “Speak, for your servants hears,” were
spoken long ago.
(1) But the true God still teaches you and me who He is, how and where He
speaks, and what we are in turn to say.
(E) Our days may be as dark as the days of Samuel, but just as in the
former days, so today and into the future here on earth, that hope and
peace from God is present as light in the darkness.
(1) So live in His light until the day He calls you home to heaven where
there is no need for sun or stars, because the Lamb is the light. Amen.
(F) Let us pray:
LSB 589:3-4 Speak, O Lord, Your Servant Listens
Lord, Your words are waters living
When my thirsting spirit pleads.
Lord, Your words are bread life-giving;
On Your words my spirit feeds.
Lord, Your words will be my light
Through death’s cold and dreary night;
Yes, they are my sword prevailing
And my cup of joy unfailing!

As I pray, dear Jesus, hear me;
Let Your words in me take root.
May Your Spirit e’er be near me
That I bear abundant fruit.
May I daily sing Your praise,
From my heart glad anthems raise,
Till my highest praise is given
In the endless joy of heaven.
Text: Public domain
(G) The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, guard your hearts
and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen.
(H) In the Name of the Father…Amen.