It’s a fairly unusual term- ‘I’m going to do something that will make the ears of everyone who hears it tingle’, and even stranger to me was the fact that it comes in a passage in the Bible which I’m really familiar with, and yet had not noticed before yesterday when I read again 1 Samuel chapters 1-3. Ok, in my defence it comes in verse 11 of chapter 3, so fairly far through the passage, but its a narrative I know well-
The main characters of Hannah and Elkanah, Eli, Phineas and Hophni are all present and correct, and then part way through the passage Samuel is born. Now this is one of the reasons that we chose the name Samuel for our son- it’s derived from the Hebrew for ‘God hears’, and like Hannah and Elkanah our Samuel was a sign to us of God’s hearing and listening. We also both love the character of Samuel in the Bible and his deep faith… and, to be honest, Samuel was as close to Samwise as we were going to agree on for a child’s name… Elrond and Frodo were right out of contention from the start.
The thing that really spoke to me from this passage, today, wasn’t just that Samuel was listening and heard the voice of God. That is of course true, and it is very cool. However, I was struck by how easily I had missed something in the passage, something which jumped out at me on this reading. Its very easy, when you’ve been a Christian for some time, to look at Bible references and think ‘I’ve read that before, and I can remember what it’s about’… as if there’s nothing further for us to learn. Its a bit like sitting down for dinner with your family, looking around the table and then saying ‘didn’t we do this last night/week/month?’ On the surface, yes, this is a repeat. But deeper down, time has passed, I’ve certainly been affected by whatever has happened in the intervening time, and ultimately, this is about relationship rather than simple process. Eating round a table, as I’ve said before, is about more than the intake of calories. Reading the Bible isn’t just about turning the pages and looking at the words.
God speaks, and we hear… and he promises things that will make our ears tingle.