1 Samuel 3


Yahweh Calls Samuel

        • The boy Samuel served Yahweh in the presence of Eli. In those days the word of Yahweh was rare and there were no frequent visions either.

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “God was not disclosing his will through prophets or priests, so the period was spiritually dark. However, that darkness was about to end when God communicated with Samuel.”

        • One night Eli, who was almost blind by now, was lying down in his place. The lamp of God had not gone out yet, and Samuel was lying down in Yahweh’s Tabernacle where the ark of God was.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible adds, “The priests were responsible for keeping the lamp of God burning through the night (Exod 27:20-21; 30:7-8).”

        • Then Yahweh called, “Samuel, Samuel!” and he said, “Here I am.” He got up and ran to Eli and said, “Here I am; you called me.” But he replied, “I didn’t call you. Go back and lie down.” So he did. Once again Yahweh called, “Samuel!” Samuel got up again and went to Eli saying, “Here I am; you called me.” But he replied, “My son, I didn’t call you. Go back and lie down.”

        • Now Samuel did not know Yahweh yet, and the word of Yahweh hadn’t been revealed to him yet. Yahweh called Samuel once again, for the third time. He got up again and went to Eli saying, “Here I am; you called me.” Then Eli realized that Yahweh was calling the boy, so he told Samuel, “Go and lie down. If He calls to you, say, ‘Speak, Yahweh, for Your servant is listening.” So, Samuel went back and lay down.

          • In Bob Deffinbaugh’s article on this section of 1 Samuel, he writes, “Like Eli’s sons, Samuel does not know the Lord (compare 1 Samuel 2:12 and 3:7). The difference between Samuel and the sons of Belial is that Samuel does not yet know the Lord. It is obvious that Eli’s sons did not know God, and never would. It is important to see, however, that Samuel is not saved at the time of his calling. He, like Saul (Paul) in the New Testament (see Acts 9), is saved and called sometime during his encounter with God.”

        • Then Yahweh came and stood there, and called out as before; “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel replied, “Speak, for Your servant is listening.”

          • This passage is absolutely breath-taking to me. Some attempt to soften the meaning here by suggesting that Yahweh didn’t appear, it was just that the audible voice seemed to come nearer to Samuel. However, as these commentaries point out, the text will not allow it:

          • Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: “The Heb. is emphatic: presented himself. The Voice became a Vision (1 Samuel 3:15). Cp. Genesis 15:1; Numbers 12:6-8. The visible manifestations of Jehovah or the Angel of Jehovah in the O. T. were foreshadowings of the Incarnation.”

          • Pulpit Commentary: “It is something more than a voice; there was an objective presence; and so in ver. 15 it is called, not hazon, a sight seen when in a state of ecstasy, but march, something seen when wide awake, and in the full, calm possession of every faculty.”

        • Yahweh said to Samuel, “Look, I am about to do something in Israel that will make the ears of everyone who hears about it tingle. On that day I will fulfill everything against Eli that I have said concerning his family- from beginning to end. I told him that I would judge his family forever because of the sin he knows about: his sons were blaspheming God and he didn’t restrain them. Therefore, I swear to Eli’s family: the sin of Eli’s family can never be atoned for by sacrifice or offering.”

          • NLT Illustrated Study Bible writes, “They were expressing contempt for God through their actions. Eli rebuked his sons, but he did not restrain them..Neither blood sacrifices nor offerings would be acceptable on behalf of Eli and his sons. The offerings of Lev 4-5 were for sins committed inadvertently, whereas the sins of Eli and his sons were deliberate and rebellious.”

        • Guzik notes, “What a terrible judgment! This means, ‘It’s too late. Now the opportunity for repentance is past. The judgment is sealed’…Do we ever come to a place where our sin cannot be atoned for by sacrifice or offering forever? Only if we reject the sacrifice of Jesus for our sin. As Hebrews 10:26 says, if we reject the work of Jesus for us, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins.”

        • Samuel lay until morning, then he opened the doors of Yahweh’s house. Samuel was afraid to tell Eli the vision. However, Eli called Samuel and said, “Samuel, my son.” And he said, “Here I am.” And Eli asked, “What message did He give you? Don’t hide it from me. May God do so to you and more if you hide anything from me that He told you.”

          • Guzik says, “Of course, he didn’t sleep at all. We see young Samuel laying on his bed, ears tingling at the message from God, wondering how he could ever tell Eli such a powerful word of judgment (Samuel was afraid to tell Eli).”

        • Deffinbaugh adds, “When morning comes, Samuel seems to avoid Eli. He goes about his regular routine, just as always, as though nothing has happened. Eli knows better. He knows that God has called Samuel three times during the night. He knows it is God who is about to reveal something to Samuel. He does not know what it is, although he surely has his fears. The last message he received from a prophet was a foreboding one. And so Eli presses Samuel to tell him all that God spoke to him. He does not allow Samuel to hold back…”

        • So, Samuel told him everything and didn’t hide anything from him. And he replied, “He is Yahweh. He will do what is good to Him.”

        • Yahweh was with Samuel as he grew and let none of his words fall to the ground unfulfilled. And all of Israel, from Dan to Beersheba, knew that Samuel was established as a prophet of Yahweh. And Yahweh appeared in Shiloh again because Yahweh revealed Himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of Yahweh. Samuel’s words went out to all of Israel.

        • NLT Illustrated Study Bible notes, “The whole nation, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, acknowledged that Samuel was God’s prophet. The reliability of Samuel’s message made it evident that God was speaking through him.”

          • Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: “Manifested himself in visions. Cp. 1 Samuel 3:10; 1 Samuel 3:15; and the ancient prophetic title of Seer (1 Samuel 9:9). By the communication of prophetic messages to Samuel. The state of things described in 1 Samuel 3:1 was now reversed. The ‘word of Jehovah’ was no longer ‘rare,’ there were visions ‘published abroad.’”

          • Pulpit Commentary: “Literally, ‘added to appear,’ i.e. revealed himself from time to time on all fit occasions. To appear, literally, ‘to be seen,’ is the verb used of waking vision (see on ver. 15).”

          • My favorite is the explicit summary of Gill’s Exposition of the Entire Bible: “And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh,…. In the tabernacle there; he had appeared before to Samuel, when he called him, and declared to him what he designed and resolved to do to Eli and his family, and now appeared again to him in the same place before the battle of the Israelites with the Philistines, of which there is an account in the following chapter. Such appearances had not been usual in Shiloh for a long time, but were now renewed and repeated: for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel by the Word of the Lord; by Christ, the Word of the Lord, who appeared to him, it is probable, in an human form, as he was wont to do to the patriarchs and prophets, and by whom the Lord revealed his mind and will unto them, being the Angel of his presence, and the messenger of his covenant; or by giving him a word of command to be delivered by him to the children of Israel, and which is expressed and delivered, in the next chapter.”

          • NET Bible adds this interesting information about the LXX’s longer version of verse 21, “The LXX has a lengthy addition here: ‘And Samuel was acknowledged to be a prophet of the Lord in all Israel, from one end to the other. Eli was very old and, as for his sons, their way kept getting worse and worse before the Lord.’ The Hebraic nature of the Greek syntax used here suggests that the LXX translator was accurately rendering a Hebrew variant and not simply expanding the text on his own initiative.”

        • Also, I have opted (as many translations do) to place the first portion of verse 1 of chapter 4, here at the end of chapter 3 instead. (Of course, chapter and verse designations were added much later historically, and not part of the original text.) NET Bible explains, “The chapter division at this point is inappropriate. 1 Sam 4:1a is best understood as the conclusion to chap. 3 rather than the beginning of chap. 4.”