Speak, for your servant hears… Confessional address by Prof. J.T. Pless

John PlessWednesday in Oculi                                                           27 February 2013

LTS Chapel                                                                             Pretoria, South Africa

Hymn: “Blessed Jesus at Your Word”- 904 LSB

Psalm 138

I Samuel 3:1-1-10 “Speak, for your Servant Hears”

Prayer:  Holy and Merciful Father, we give you thanks that you have given us the Word of Life, Your Son, Christ Jesus. Open our ears to hear His words which are spirit and life. In the midst of all the distractions of this present world grant that our hearts might ever be anchored in His truth and find rest in His righteousness alone. Bless the preaching  and hearing of Your Word in our midst today that by it your name be hallowed, Your kingdom come, and your will be done; we ask it in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God now and forever. Amen.

We are not told much about how the Lord spoke to Samuel in our text. In fact, it is clear that Samuel at first confused the voice of the Lord with that of the old priest Eli. We know that in the Old Testament God spoke to His people in a variety of ways – the direct prophetic words given by the Spirit, dreams, and visions also given to the prophets. This is the point of the NT letter to the Hebrews: “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Heb. 1:1-2).

God spoke to the young boy Samuel and Samuel answered: “Speak, for your servant hears.” Samuel’s response is a short prayer which ought to continually be on the lips of teachers and students of theology.  For unless God speaks, we have nothing to hear; we are left only with the emptiness of silence.  God does speak. He speaks through His holy law which shuts every mouth, holding us all accountable before our Creator as sinners. His law breaks the silence and condemns you for every thoughtless word, every impure thought, every sinful act whereby you have not honored the Lord your God. His Law accuses you for your laziness in prayer, for every time that you have deemed your own thoughts and words to be superior to the Word of God. His law uncovers the apathy that paralyzes you in your studies of God’s Word as you have closed your ears to His voice preferring instead to entertain yourself. God’s law marks every wasted opportunity to grow deeper into the truth of Holy Scripture.  Yes, you have despised preaching and God’s Word and have failed to gladly hear and learn it. Today God speaks to you again, lest you harden your hearts to His voice. So we come to this confessional service to name our sins- the sins of the closed ear and the closed heart.  We cry out with the Psalmist David: “O Lord, open my lips and my mouth will show forth your praise.”

And God does speak. He speaks to us through His Son Jesus Christ. He speaks words that are spirit and life. He says to all who repent of their sins, a word of forgiveness, not condemnation. God would not have us mistake His voice for that of another for He is the Good Shepherd who knows His sheep.  He calls them by name. His sheep know His voice and follow Him out of death and into life eternal.

We do not listen to the alluring voices that would call us away from the Good Shepherd for we know that Satan also speaks. Recall his beguiling words to Eve in the garden: “Did God really say?” And then His outright contradiction of God’s Word: “You will not die but you will be like God  knowing good from evil.”  Listen to Christ Jesus. He is the One who carried your sin – all of it- the indifference, the laziness, the lust, and the self-centeredness to Calvary. He took it into His own body and suffered and died with it as though it were His own so that you might be His own and live under Him in His kingdom, serving Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence and blessedness even as He is risen from the dead and lives and reigns to all eternity as your Brother and Savior. Our Lord speaks to you. He gives you His holy Word so that by His Spirit, you have faith in His promises and rejoice in the inheritance that He has prepared for you from all eternity.

That you might know this our Lord speaks to you today. You are hearing His voice now in the preaching of His Word. So the attentive heart says with Samuel, “Speak for your servant hears.” And in a few minutes you will kneel here at the Lord’s altar and you will hear with your own ears the most precious words that can be heard: “Your sins are forgiven you.” So come today with hearts not hard but soft and open saying “Speak for your servant hears.” God does hear the cries of the penitent and He has promised to answer for His word declares, “Call upon me in the day of trouble and I will deliver you and will glorify me.” Amen.


About Wilhelm Weber

Pastor at the Old Latin School in the Lutherstadt Wittenberg
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