“The Lord called Samuel a third time, and Samuel got up and went to Eli and said,” Here I am; you called me.”
Then Eli realised that the Lord was calling the boy.
1 Samuel 3: 8 NIV
At the infancy of his prophetic tutelage, the great prophet Samuel could not discern God’s voice. Eli, an older prophet, knew how well to guide the younger prophet in training to discern the voice of God and listen to his instructions. Close your eyes and imagine for a while the spiritual consequence of Samuel missing the voice of God that day. We would have missed an important part of sacred scripture. Still, imagine for a moment the consequence of missing God’s voice in our daily dealings. So many important decisions would have gone the right way. Imagine how many business decisions would have gone right, how many lives would have been spared, and how many families would not have been broken. The toll is certainly overwhelmingly enormous. We cannot imagine otherwise. We must develop a “spiritual ear” to consistently listen to and understand God.
The ways of God are dynamic, but there is a consistency in His character. It is this consistency that made the old prophet know it was Him. We were made in the image of God with a known inherent personality. Thinking of God as a person gives us a sense of him with a known personality. We have friends, colleagues, and siblings we know with different personalities. Their personalities are distinguishable by their communication style. They have different voice textures, tones, and familiar words they use. This unchangeable character in God’s personality makes his prophets not miss his voice in listening to Him.
Traits of God’s Voice
The voice of Samuel had a human sound that he thought was Eli’s. It was simple, and perhaps there was nothing special to qualify it as the divine voice of Yahweh the LORD GOD ALMIGHTY. This is why it is easy for us to miss the voice of God. We can’t define the holistic traits in the voice of God, but we can share some of the consistencies of him we have known over time for the sake of this study. God is impossible to describe. We, however, can know something of his personality that is consistent. It is from this scriptural experience over time on the consistency in the character of God this study builds.
The voice of God is not somewhat inconsistent with His divine character. His voice over time exudes the following consistency we have known over time; peace, inner witness, and consistency with scripture.
Peace: Even when God communicates his judgement, it comes with an underlying peace. The image of terror evoked by the message doesn’t strike an evil fearful horror but a sense of a holy fear that provokes repentance. Whether it’s a dream, vision, trance, or a still small voice speaking to our hearts, it comes with peace. When you feel unsettled, fearful, and restless, it’s a sign it is not the voice of God. The restlessness the voice of God evokes is to repentance or to draw us to understand the meaning of the message he has given. Nebuchadnezzar had this restlessness in understanding his dream. It is different from the fear a horror movie evokes. Evil has a presence that is noticeable with a feeling of horror. The voice of God is not accompanied by an evil presence but a feeling of peace. This is why the clause “Do not fear” is often associated with Angels in the revelation of God in the scriptures. Whether it was Abraham or Mary in the New Testament, “Do not fear” is an often associated clause indicating the voice and presence of God is not associated with a bad and fearful feeling of horror.
Inner Witness: This is a sense of knowing by intuition. Paul explains it when he says, “…the Spirit himself testifies with our spirit…Romans 8: 16 NIV. It is a deep conviction on the certainty of something that might not have an explanation. It is spiritual guts. This is like your guts on your team winning a sports competition. You don’t know how, but you know. It is knowledge known as spiritually innate. It is deep knowing with spiritual intuition. This is another trait that is associated with the voice of God.
Consistency with Scripture
This is perhaps the most consistent trait in the character of God. “I the LORD do not change…” Malachi 3:6 NIV. God can NEVER contradict his word. The revelation of God in whatever way is consistent with His Word. God can never speak to you to steal, commit adultery, or sin. This calls for us to be consistent and astute Bible students. When conversing with God’s Word, we know His character’s consistency in His Word.
While we quiet our souls to listen to God consistently as we develop our “spiritual ears” in listening to him, these traits associated with his voice are always consistent. We can use them to ascertain and discern the voice of God. This is done with consistency as we continually learn to listen to God daily in our lives. We grow spiritually in discernment as we daily learn to listen to God.
God sometimes employs a method of placing an obscure message or circumstance to draw our interest. This interest makes us seek answers. The burning bush is a classic example of this phenomenon. Whenever you hear a voice or have a dream or vision that doesn’t make sense, it may be God drawing you close to understand a message. When the message is repeated consistently, it is the established desire of God that he wants to communicate to you. When Joseph spoke to Pharaoh on this established spiritual concept, he said, “The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that God has firmly decided the matter, and God will do it soon.” Genesis 41: 32 NIV. When a dream, vision, an urge, or any way God communicates a matter repeatedly comes, it means God is calling us to an established will of His He intends we know.
When you repeatedly wake in the night at a particular hour, when you have a particular dream repeatedly when you have a feeling you can’t get off your mind when you hear his inner voice leaning you in a particular direction, pause and reflect God might be trying to communicate something, and you are not listening. We can never explore the ways and doings of God fully. Still, we can discern his voice practically as we consistently, repeatedly learn to listen to Him as we develop the “spiritual ear” in listening and discerning His voice.