1 SAMUEL CHAPTER 3
THE LORD REVEALS HIMSELF TO SAMUEL. — V. 1. And the child Samuel ministered unto the Lord before Eli, as a special servant of the Sanctuary, under the immediate direction of the high priest. And the Word of the Lord was precious in those days, it rarely happened that the Lord sent a message by direct prophetic announcement; there was no open vision, literally, “there was no vision spread abroad,” made public frequently. There was lacking, on the one hand, a pious, God-fearing priesthood and, on the other hand, an appreciation of the divine Spirit’s work through the Word. “Jehovah had indeed promised His people to send prophets, who should reveal to them His will and counsel, Deut. 18, 15 ff.; cp. Num. 23, 23; but since divine revelation presupposes willingness to accept the truth on the part of man, the unbelief and the disobedience of the people was able to hinder the fulfillment of this and similar prophecies, and God could in punishment deprive the idolatrous people of His Word.” (Keil.) V. 2. And it came to pass at that time, when Eli was laid down in his place, namely, to sleep at night in the room reserved for him, and his eyes began to wax dim that he could not see, this being added by way of parenthesis, in order to explain the action of Samuel, who supposed that Eli was calling him to assist him in some manner, v. 3. and ere the lamp of God, the large candlestick with its seven lamps, whose oil was replenished every morning, since they went out toward morning, went out in the Temple of the Lord, where the ark of God was, and Samuel was laid down to sleep, v. 4. that the Lord called Samuel; and he answered, Here am I. So Samuel was sleeping in one of the rooms which were built in the court of the Tabernacle for the use of the priests and Levites who happened to be on duty, and it was toward morning. V. 5. And he ran unto Eli and said, Here am I; for thou calledst me. That was the conclusion which he naturally drew, and his faithful willingness took him to the room of Eli as quickly as he could get there - a fine example to many a young man of our days. And he, Eli, said, I called not; lie down again, evidently supposing that Samuel had merely dreamed he was being called. And he went and lay down. V. 6. And the Lord called yet again, Samuel! And Samuel arose, and went to Eli, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. He was again, as a faithful servant, ready to do his master’s bidding; there was no peevish discontent in his voice for having been called out of his rest. And he, Eli, answered, I called not, my son; lie down again, still believing that the young man was being misled by some illusion of the senses. V. 7. Now, Samuel did not yet know the Lord, neither was the Word of the Lord yet revealed unto him. This is added by way of explanation. Samuel did not yet possess the special, direct knowledge of God, for this was given only by an extraordinary revelation of Jehovah, in dreams and in visions, and this form of manifestation was at that time practically unknown in Israel; hence his ignorance. V. 8. And the Lord called Samuel again the third time. And he arose and went to Eli, still with the same cheerful willingness which disregarded its own comfort, and said, Here am I; for thou didst call me. He was ready for service day or night, and without the slightest irritation. And Eli perceived that the Lord had called the child. This was the conclusion which Eli reached from his knowledge of God’s manner of dealing with His prophets. V. 9. Therefore Eli said unto Samuel, Go, lie down; and it shall be, if He call thee, that thou shalt say, Speak, Lord, for Thy servant heareth. So Samuel, ever obedient, even while he may have wondered about the strangeness of the command, went and lay down in his place. V. 10. And the Lord, who had at first manifested Himself merely by His voice, came, and stood, in a vision which must have been plainly visible to Samuel upon awakening, and called as at other times, Samuel! Samuel! Then Samuel answered, Speak, for Thy servant heareth. Samuel is not only an example of obedience, but also of willingness to hear the voice of the Lord. Like him all believers should open their ears and hearts to God and give heed to the voice which comes to us in the Word.
THE PROPHECY AGAINST ELI. — V. 11. And the Lord said to Samuel, in a revelation which was his call to the office of prophet in Israel, Behold, I will do a thing in Israel at which both the ears of every one that heareth it shall tingle, with sudden dread and horror, which almost cause a person to lose his senses over the fearfulness of the impending doom. V. 12. In that day I will perform against Eli all things which I have spoken concerning his house, the destruction foretold by the prophet, chap. 2, 27-36; when I begin, I will also make an end, He would both begin and also conclude what He had decided upon as punishment. V. 13. For I have told him that I will judge his house forever for the iniquity which he knoweth, punish him and his entire family on account of the transgression of his sons, of whose guilt he had become a partaker; because his sons made themselves vile, deliberately placed themselves under the curse of the Law, and he restrained them not, made no serious, emphatic move to interfere with them. V. 14. And therefore I have sworn unto the house of Eli, by an oath which made the sentence of punishment irrevocable, that the iniquity of Eli’s house shall not be purged with sacrifice nor offering forever. It was no longer a warning, but a definite statement of a curse which was about to descend upon Eli and his house for his neglect of the duty which he should have performed to his sons as father, high priest, and judge, by employing severe chastisement und punishment upon them. The harm done by the crimes of the priests affected the whole family, even their descendants. This story should be heeded more in our days, when mawkish sentimentality is making a farce of bringing up children. V. 15. And Samuel lay until the morning, sleeping in his bed, untroubled by an evil conscience, and opened the doors of the house of the Lord, those of the entrance to the court, so the people might come in for the morning worship. And Samuel feared to tell Eli the vision, the revelation which he had received, since it. threatened evil to the house of his master. V. 16. Then Eli called Samuel and said. Samuel, my son! And he answered, Here am I. Even the divine revelation which had been vouchsafed him did not change the simple obedience of Samuel. V. 17. And he, Eli, said. What is the thing that the Lord hath said unto thee? He felt that the revelation concerned him, and he was eager to know it. I pray thee hide it not from me; God do so to thee, and more also, in a severe punishment, if thou hide anything from me of all the things that He said unto thee. Eli’s excitement is seen in the climax formed by his words. “He asks for the word of the Lord; he demands an exact and complete statement; he adjures Samuel not to conceal anything from him.” (Lange.) V. 18. And Samuel told him every whit, placing the pathetic demand of Eli above his own fear and sorrow, and hid nothing from him. Thus Samuel entered upon his prophetic office. And he, Eli, said, It is the Lord; let Him do what seemeth Him good. He expressed his humble submission to the will of the Lord, for with all his weakness and in spite of his transgression he was a believer in Jehovah of Israel, and he realized the justice of the punishment. V. 19. And Samuel grew, he reached full manhood, and the Lord was with him, not only by general manifestations of His goodness and mercy, but also by special revelations and gifts of the Spirit which the Lord imparted to him as His prophet, and did let none of his words fall to the ground, what he prophetically announced as the Word of Jehovah was fulfilled. V. 20. And all Israel from Dan, on the extreme northern boundary, even to Beersheba, the city in the extreme south, knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the Lord, throughout all Israel, in the entire land of Canaan, Samuel was known as a faithful, trustworthy prophet, upon whose words one could depend. V. 21. And the Lord appeared again in Shiloh, He continued to manifest Himself there; for the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the Word of the Lord. God made known His will to the people by the revelation of His Word to Samuel, who was thus the first exponent of the permanent prophetic order. It has happened repeatedly in history that the Lord graciously visited His people after a season of spiritual drought and gave them His Gospel in rich measure.